Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Invasion of the Hawfax: South America

The Haxfax live in South America, sharing a border with Columbia,Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil. These countries greatly benefit from their new neighbors and trading partners, and the Hawfax  changed the political landscape here like nowhere else.  

Balance of Power:

The Hawfax try to keep their neighbors balanced with one another. Their support and rising mineral prices produced a strong Bolivia capable of defending its territory against its neighbors. Brazil has not grown at the same rate as Bolvia or Peru, though it has hardly 'suffered'. Its lost rubber industry is replaced by a rich if irritable trading partner with an appetite for bauxite and who prefers to run goods down Brazil's rivers rather than the Andes railways.

The Hawfax brokered a ceasefire zone in the territory disputed by Bolivia and Chile through  economic and technological pressure. While both countries have rights to the land, it acts semi-autonomously and in many ways is a Hawfax protectorate. The three cities of Arica, Iquique, and Antofagasta boom with trade and industry.

Columbia was in the midst of a civil war when the Hawfax made themselves known, and events have only exacerbated the conflict. Columbia lacks a quick way to profit from the Hawfax, and it also lacks the resources to make a long term investment in this new opportunity. Foreign powers see Columbia as the best location to create a puppet government with access to the technological marvels in the far Amazon, but all they've done so far is pour money into the war.

Europe is dismayed at South America's unexpected source of wealth. The American reaction is only slightly less negative, as American interests were well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities. American Military intervention or interference in South America has gotten much more difficult.The Hawfax try to stay aloof from foreign affairs, but the sovereignty of its neighbors is one of the affairs they actually car about.

The four neighbors (if you can count poor Columbia) occasionally try bargaining with the Hawfax as a group. This generally breaks down on all but the simplest of demands. They have much more success setting rules for outside powers to follow, generally along the lines of tariffs and customs.

The rest of South America lies in the shadow of the four neighbors. Their new wealth comes with strings attached, and each has a neighbor unexpectedly growing in power. Chile took this with the most grace, giving up territorial demands for trading rights. With its supply of copper and partnership in the Bolivian ports, Chile functions as a fifth neighbor of sorts, closely allied with Peru and Bolivia. Contests for influence over the other nations is more fluid. Brazil has better access to the Atlantic coast, but the historical ties between the Spanish nations level the playing field.

Copper vs. Aluminum

The Hawfax greatest requirement from the outside world is metal. Specifically, they need conductive metals for conveying the huge amounts of power they produce and use. Either Copper or Aluminum will work. In a turn of fate, aluminum is a major product of Brazil, while copper is a major export of Chile, who ships it through Bolivia and Peru. Copper and Aluminum have come to symbolize political situations in which the Hawfax favor one neighbor or another. Regulations and boycotts on each metal are a significant form of leverage. The great powers would happily provide these metals, but none of the neighbors are about to let someone undercut them in such a way, and tariffs on the metals are sky high.

The dominance of either copper or aluminum changes every two years or so, according to the unpredictable public option of the Hawfax media. The Hawfax would really prefer to produce their own wiring, but they don't have access to the mineral deposits they'd need. And even if they did, most Hawfax consider mining to be drudgery.

The politics of metal imports have driven Peru, Bolivia, and Chile together. If they stand united, they can hike up copper prices and both make enormous profits. They squabble endlessly, but the potential for profit ensures they always come up with some sort of arrangement.

Much as copper has brought Peru, Chile, and Bolivia together, it has driven them apart from Brazil. The Hawfax discourage war, so the political rivalry takes a more underhanded course, with propaganda campaigns, cold shoulders, and simmering disputes.


While the Hawfax mostly import electrical conductors, they export their technology. Or at least some of their technology. Careful laws restrict selling many items, but enough products are legally traded to power a thriving economy. Of course, transport through the thick jungles and high mountains that surround Hawfax City is not trivial, even when you're not engaged in smuggling.

The Amazon, the cheapest route, snakes through the Brazilian states of Amazonas, Para, and Amapa. Towns have sprung up along the entire route, but the most important are Macampa at the mouth of the river, and the old rubber capital, Manaus, most of the way in. Duties and Tariffs for this route are often high, but with the size of the Amazon and the rampant corruption of the Brazilian law enforcement, smugglers abound. There is a separate tariff for each state, and one for the national government as well.

The western routes stretches railroads across the Andes mountains into the jungle through Peru and Bolivia.  Each nation built its own route, though Bolivia's passes through the cease fire zone it shares with Chile. Both railroads are fantastic feats of engineering, with awe-inspiring tunnels and bridges. The funds for these monumental projects largely came foreign investors. Germany owns a particularly large share of the Peruvian debt, while the Bolivian route features prominent British ties. The comfortable rail routes are disliked by smugglers, as train stations and other choke points make inspections easier. Fortunately, the right bribe will get most goods through.

If a traveler must truly avoid Brazil, Bolivia, and Peru, they could try braving the jungle, mountains, and conflict of Columbia. Rail routes lead through the mountains passes, if you can find one held completely by one faction or another, but the jungle has only dirt paths. All the rivers run into Brazil, forcing travelers move by foot, bearing the heat, crossing major rivers, and navigating without any real landmarks or even an open sky, and braving the snakes and insects.


Columbia has neither copper nor bauxite to offer the Hawfax, and it has the worst routes into or out of the area. But it is a route in, and sometimes politics dictate its use.

Unfortunately (or Fortunately, depending on how you look at it) Columbia entered a civil war shortly after the Hawfax landed. Tensions had simmered for years, but the sudden importance of Columbia triggered foreign meddling and conflict burst into violence. Officially, the ruling "Conservatives" attempt to defend themselves from the rebel "Liberals"*.  In fact, the great powers fund various splinter factions and the ranks of the forces are filled with as many foreign mercenaries as native patriots. Fear of Hawfax reprisal (economic, not military) keeps official involvement by great powers low key, but each year sees more overt meddling than the last.

*This war is based on the thousand day war in real history. It takes a very different route, due to the increased resources.


The Federal Republic of Brazil is more of a federation than a republic. Its governors elect the president, rather than the direct vote of the people. The governors generally rig the elections in one way or another, and so are functionally independent. Their reactions to the  Hawfax vary widely. 

The three states controlling the Amazon struggle to keep up with their booming prosperity. Infrastructure is in a constant state of half-finished construction. And just as the civic improvements lag behind, so do the political machinations that gave the governors their power for so long. Many Brazilians migrated north to these states, but a larger segment hails from Europe. Italy, Germany, Britain, Spain and Portugal contribute the largest numbers of European immigrants. Large numbers of people from "The States" and Japan have arrived as well. The newly formed boom towns thrive with opportunity. The very highest and lowest of society mingle, and towns can sport both brothels catering to dock workers and five star hotels catering to medical pilgrims.

The area inland from Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo enjoys a much healthier bauxite boom. Immigrants flow to the mines of Mias Gerais, but the area has an established local population who  keep the immigrants in their place. Rumors abound of alternate bauxite reserves in less populated states, but as of yet no one has started up rival mines, and sky high tariffs ensure foreigners can't get a piece of the pie. At least in theory.

The population centers to the north and south of this area haven't grown as fast as these hot spots, and push for a national government with the power to distribute the wealth to their regions.  Meanwhile their young men move away to seek their fortunes. Despite this, these states are actually thriving economically. The booms enrich the whole country, but with some states growing faster than others, the old dominant states look for ways to maintain their power.

The Pacific Nations

"Civilist" Party of Peru stands for civilian rule (as opposed to military). This is harder than it sounds: military coups are common, though they almost always fail. While the wealthy elite of the country control the Civilists, they've recently faced competition from foreign powers, particularly Germany.

The railroad and new wealth transformed Bolivia more completely than the other neighbors of the Hawfax. The new ruling power of Bolivia, the Liberals, was already looking for something to revitalize Bolivia when the Hawfax became known to the outside world. The government, if not the entire country, attempted to reorient itself to take advantage of this new opportunity. They've been opposed by rivals, of course, but the old animosity between tin and silver interests keeps them from uniting. Not to mention support from the great powers.

Many Bolvians have attempted to adopt the Hawfax's philosophy and art as well as their science and technology. The frequently flawed translations and conversions both flatter and bemuse the Hawfax. The Bolivians especially mangle the art and cuisine, tweaking the awkward parts so they do work for humans, and then presenting whole to the world as "Hawfax Culture". Its not particularly accurate, but is new, exotic, and much more accessible and appealing than the real thing.

Chile does not border the Hawfax, but its supplies of copper and involvement in the initial treaties more than compensate. Chile is tends to be closer to Bolivia than Peru, but plays with both to ensure it gets the best deal. It has also leveraged its initial wealth advantage. Chilean politics is subdued: it is said in Chile there are two kinds of problems: problems that fix themselves and problems that cannot be fixed. Unusually for Latin America, its legislative body has more power than its president.

Immigration into Peru, Bolivia, and Chile is more orderly and subdued than Brazil. Most workers are brought in by the railroads, and most are from the sponsoring nations. Workers also commonly travel between the three countries. In contrast to the colorful and sporadic communities of the amazon, the new towns of the pacific are more orderly, more staid, and oddly homogeneous.

The Rest of the Continent

The rest of the continent hasn't benefited quite as much from the Hawfax, and look on with concern as their neighbors grow in power. Ecuador, Paraguay, and Uruguay are too small to do much about it. They generally look for who will give them the best deal and try to become close to those nations. Ecuador doesn't have much of a choice, already mostly under Peruvian sway, but Paraguay and Uruguay try to play Brazil off of the various nations of the Pacific.

Argentina saw the greatest loss in prestige. Before the Hawfax it produced twice as much wealth per person as any other South American nation. Now it's position is unreliable, and it previously made rivals of both Brazil and Chile.

the Guianas have seen renewed interest from their colonial masters (The British, French and Dutch), who see them as vital ports and footholds on an increasingly important continent. They are also beginning to explore the bauxite deposits. The existing neighbors won't allow their own monopolies to be overturned, but the situation could change. The war in Columbia could be resolved and open a route to the Hawfax, or pressure could lower those astronomical tariffs. For now, opportunists must wait, pay the tariffs, or try to smuggle massive barges of ore down the amazon.

Venezuela has so far been insulated from the changes by the Guianas and by the civil war of Columbia. It continues on much as it has.

Adventuring in South America

South America is pivotal part of the Hawfax setting, and there is lots of dirty work to be done. One of the simplest jobs in smuggling goods along the amazon. Or catching the smugglers! Peru's Civilist party has weathered many coups in the past, but now the stakes are even higher. What will happen in the next one? Propaganda plays a huge role in economics, as it determines the ever changing pendulum of the Hawfax political climate. Will they favor Brazil's bauxite or the Pacific's copper? Diplomatic incidents are central to this question, and such incidents can be manufactured! Or perhaps your PC's want to try something truly difficult and end the Colombian war.

on the other hand, maybe the PC's just want to get to the Hawfax.To do so, they must pass through the transformed lands of South America. Which route will they take? who will they meet on the way?

This article is meant as a stage for PC's to play out their stories on. I hope you find it useful.

1 comment: