Jackson's Whole began — or, rather, grew — as the base of a conglomeration of criminal gangs. It evolved into a group of semi-respectable Syndicate monopolies. Originally a nexus for fencing goods, resupply, and the frequently illegal scientific research necessary for further profit. Slowly the separate gangs melded or evolved into distinct families, and the system of Houses established itself. The Houses seized different (and usually criminal) monopolies, and held onto them tenaciously. Jackson's Whole became a place that sold everything, legal or illegal – weapons, false identities, mercenaries, altered replicants, clones, slaves, and even covert replicator immortality. The last they may be their own best customer for.
While it has no central government, a powerful oligarchy of Major Houses sets the tone of its diplomacy with the rest of humanity. There is no centralized military, but the various forces belonging to the separate Houses create enough of a deterrent to possible invaders (and law enforcers). Besides, the helpful citizens of Jackson's Whole will sell their services in any case …
Jackson's Whole is a cold and mountainous world, temperate only at the equator with a notable axial tilt making the seasons alternate between springlike and very cold. Most weather involves some form of wind, snow or sleet, and is part of what drives the Deal – people need shelter and warmth. All of the Major Houses have some establishment on the surface, ranging from mildly fortified to extremely fortified, as do most of the Minor Houses.
Freiporto is the most famous (or infamous) city on the planet. It is the only one not dominated by a House (unless you count Freiporto itself), and provides a safe neutral ground for the others to meet and outsiders to do business with the Jacksonians in relative safety – it is the only place on Jackson's Whole that purchased arrest orders will not be enforced (though if a Freiporto administrator finds the arrest order legitimate it will be carried out). Because of this, it is where embassies from outside civilizations are established. On the downside, disturbing the peace and most forms of free expression are ruthlessly policed and punished with fines. If a fine cannot be paid, the the offender is expelled, or if they have a mesh, work it off under a lens. Also, being a vagrant here is grounds for expulsion.
Being descended from criminals all over the human diaspora, Jacksonian culture is a mishmash. They have common language – the Jacksonian Patois, which can barely be understood by most outsiders, given its shifting vocabularies and deliberate attempts at obfuscation by its speakers.
Architecture leans towards fortresses or a neo-brutalist style. What decorations Jacksonians have are inside the buildings (and thus the defensive perimeter). There they tend to as opulent as the owner can afford, and not always that tasteful. “As garish as Jacksonian magpie nest” is a common saying among the outer galaxy.
Clothing tends to be utilitarian, with the wealthier Jacksonians being made out of higher quality materials and having some decorative elements. Color is very important to Jacksonians – the Houses use three color combinations as badges of membership.
A House on Jackson's Whole begins as an association of individuals that all made a Deal to be a House; it is something between a business corporation, a 20th century Mafia family and a 21st century Eastern European mafiya. After that first generation, the core of the House is usually a specific family or group of families, with additions by the Deal.
Houses generally have a single ruler, who holds power through a mixture of ability, experience, craft, and cold-blooded ruthlessness. There will invariably be rivals who would be delighted to replace him. Most Houses have several sub-divisions and departments, which cooperate with varying degrees of effectiveness, thanks to the prevailing culture. In all honesty, it is the ruler of the House and his or her advisers opinions that matter and shape House policy. Each House is autonomous to itself, with its own laws and customs, but generally falling within the limits of Jacksonian Law.
Jackson's Whole is currently home to 93 Great Houses (or Houses Major), and countless Houses Minor, the distinction being wealth, influence and military might. The Great Houses are usually significantly more powerful than the Houses Minor (and if they become less powerful than a House Minor, that House is not long for the world). A very old or very powerful House Minor can often claim the honors of a House Major, and be given due respect and bargaining weight by the Great Houses.
The oligarchy of the Houses forms what government there is on Jackson's Whole. So far all they have agreed upon is to keep other civilizations from annexing them or otherwise compromising their unique way of life.
On Jackson's Whole, belonging to some sort of organization which can provide shelter, backing, finances, and firepower is vital. For most of the locals, this would be a House. Any sort of rank inside a House, however menial, is preferable to existing as part of the underclass outside the Houses. A House's associations can reach seamlessly down to the lowest levels of society, involving street gangs and informers: should they perform well, they can hope to be formally absorbed into the House.
Those outside the House system have no guarantees of protection, shelter, or food: they lack the money to be able to obtain the tools to do better for themselves, whether weapons or ships. The only hope for an them is to provide some skill or service to a House, and to earn a place in their ranks. Other than that, there are no civic measures to care for the poor – and nobody who is interested in their plight. While many of them would dearly love to leave, transport is expensive, and outsiders can only rarely earn enough money for it.
Jackson's Whole follows five precepts:
- The Deal – Once a Deal is established, both parties must fulfill their sides of the bargain.
- The Golden Rule – Whoever has the gold makes the rules.
- The Eleventh Commandment – Thou shalt not get caught.
- Caveat Emptor – Buyer beware.
- Property Rights – even when they extend to human beings.
There is only one thing sacred on Jackson's Whole: The Deal. There are no laws, no automatic rights, no protection for the weak, and no government. Only the Deal can set boundaries and establish rules to be followed. Without a Deal, everyone is alone, and nobody can be trusted. Whether it is the usual Deal of belonging to a House, or some personal Deal involving private profit, every citizen of Jackson's Whole understands that the Deal is sacrosanct. Once a Deal is established, both parties must fulfill their sides of the bargain.
Unless the Deal gets broken later, for a greater profit. But then, this is Jackson's Whole – everything is for sale.
A Deal usually begins with the fact that both parties have something to offer which interests the other, and the phrase, "Let's Deal." In the discussion leading up to this, it is good Jacksonian etiquette to state that if the answer to a question matters, then it is information for sale or trade, not free. When a conclusion is finally reached, both sides may state that, "It's a Deal." It is not uncommon for a certain amount of short-changing to take place in the later payoffs, where one side believes that they can get away with it, but total betrayal is unusual. Though not impossible.
There is no such thing law between the Houses on Jackson's Whole, only Deals. If an individual has the allies or power to back up his or her wishes, then he or she can do as he wants on his own territory. However, when interacting with other civilizations, some of the planet's basic principles are generally quoted as law.
The most frequently mentioned of these rules is that property belongs to the person who paid for it; this will be enforced by any local Jacksonian authorities as long as the buyer has the finances to pay for it. This applies to all intellectual, physical, and potentially claimable property, while on Jacksonian territory – including replicants created for specific purposes. When off Jacksonian territory, such claims may be put forward through the nearest Jacksonian consulate, upon payment of suitable sums to whichever House is operating it. Generally, this is good for amusing or infuriating judges unless it is very well documented or presented in an extremely persuasive manner. Alternatively, the Jacksonian's "moral" right to "property" may be dealt with by using force to fetch said "property" back, irrespective of the laws of whatever planet the "property" is currently inhabiting. Because of the gap between Jacksonian law and the rest of the human universe, many Houses use the second option.
One extension of that is replicator immortality. Unlike the Replicants that make it available for all, the heads of the Houses keep it for themselves, their favorites and those that are willing to pay and keep it secret. As a result, there is a thriving trade in the wealthy visiting Jackson's Whole for 'The Treatment' and returning home with careful plastic surgery, or leaving it all to a 'long lost relative.' Most governments consider this a form of suicide (and thus the new person a non-person, or simply a new person), and the Replicants and the Stored find it disgusting and reprehensible.
The most visible application of the Golden Rule is arrest Orders. On any Jacksonian territory, except Freiporto, "arrest orders" can be purchased by anybody who wishes to lay charges against someone else. The cost varies, depending on the severity of the crime, the probable ease of arrest, and how rich the bidder appears to be. When caught, the person who is being arrested can outbid the person who bought the arrest order, and is always offered the opportunity to do so. If the purchaser is not outbid, then he will be taken to the nearest Jacksonian prison, and held there until the purchaser can collect him. The purchaser can withdraw the bid at any time, but will lose the deposit. The hirelings sent to arrest the target usually carry less lethal weapons (shock-sticks or vibro-clubs, electrolasers, neuroducers and webbers). There are surcharges for unsuccessfully resisting arrest, to be paid by the target: these consist of any money he has on him, or failing that, a thorough beating.
Once Jackson's Whole emerged as a minor civilization, the rest of humanity collectively shrugged its shoulders. To most, Jackson's Whole is barely a step above a Cargo Cult (an erroneous but understandable impression), and an obnoxious one at that. The Transcendentals have been unusually closemouthed about the Jacksonians, but they do (generally) pay their patent fees on time. Patent Office Inspectors have been repeatedly dispatched to inquire into and deal with this, and other issues.
Psychohistorically, Jackson's Whole is very fragile – it has only a single identified core value. A single CV indicates a lack of cultural cohesion - the only thing they have holding themselves together is that they are Jacksonians. Its not something you can assemble a complex and subtle set of values around. Forecasts have it dissolving into civil war, consolidating under one House (with or without the civil war), popular revolution, splitting into competing minor civilizations or Cargo Cults, collapsing entirely or declining into just another organized crime society.
Jacksonians get along with all civilizations – so long as they pay in advance and in cash. More seriously, being from Jackson's Whole is a reason for careful inspection by custom's inspectors. The Association of Eternal Life, does not care for the Jacksonians at all given their attitude towards replicants. It seems to be one of the few things that they and the Stored have in common. Everyone else watches them carefully for industrial espionage and hired espionage. Taoist historians are in negotiations with several Houses Major and few Houses Minor for access to their records about the founding, as they are considering it for a possible entertainment.
All societies from the core book can be found on Jackson's Whole, though it seems redundant to mention that organized crime isn't hidden there. Survivalists, Mushashi Flex, Social Engineers and Cognitechnicians are also found here.
Common Name: Jacksonians
Benefit: Gangster at level 4. This can function as either the Criminal, Crisis Control or Soldier Professions and can be improved as a normal profession, but at the cost of two Potential per level.
Inspector Status: No regular status. Only individual Deals with Houses.
Core Values: Profit
Profit is what drives Jacksonian society and individuals. They can use this to resist attempts to give up attempts to profit in transactions, or not create opportunities to profit.