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The Colonial Civil Service On Mars

An Overview of an Empire at Work

by John Gannon

This description of the colonial bureaucracy is loosely based on the colonial regime established throughout the Indian Sub-Continent from the mid-1700s until 1946. I used this model as Colonial India was quite similar to the description given for British Territories on Mars. As author, I have taken steps to simplify some aspects of the colonial service for the sake of game flow and playability. After all, the idea is to give players a structure to work for (or against!), not to leave them confused and befuddled - our own governments do that quite well enough!

This description could also be used for other game systems and other locations to represent similar power structures and organizations. As always, in the end, it is the interpretation that you, the Game Master, choose to put upon this work which will determine it's use...


In 1889, the hand of Queen Victoria stretches not only across the Earth, but throughout the Inner Worlds of our Solar System as well. In all corners of the sprawling British Empire groups of dedicated men, known sarcastically as "Victoria's Sons", work to ensure the smooth rule of each domain and that commerce and wealth continue to flow uninterrupted.

These are the dedicated men of the Colonial Office, and this is the story of their work and organization on Mars. While the Foreign Office has a tendency to garner more profit and glory, it is the daily work of the Colonial Office which allows for many of these Foreign Office successes in the first place. Until now unheralded, it is hoped that his article will bring the true value and worth of the Colonial Office and it's work on Mars the appreciation and recognition it so richly deserves.

An Overview Of The Colonial Organization

Within the Crown colony of Syrtis Lapis, there are three distinct political divisions. These divisions are the Colonial Territories of Syrtis Lapis (composed of Syrtis Major, Avenel, Moeris Lacus, and the currently rebel city of Shastapsh); The Regency State of Parhoon (covering the Cities of Parhoon and Gorovaan and their adjacent territory); and the Trucial Protectorates (consisting of Meepsoor and Haat). Collectively, these three political entities make up the British Crown Colony on Mars, known as Syrtis Lapis.

Each of these political sub-divisions has a branch of the Colonial Office operating within its boundaries, the structure of which is identical from state to state. This structure consists of a three-level system of Stations, Districts, and Commissioners. The first level, the Stations, are responsible for overseeing individual areas of the colony (approximately 40 square miles per Station). Within their area, the Stations provide basic government administration and services.

The next layer, the Districts, are directly responsible for the supervision of the Stations in their area. Each District Office is responsible for 20 Stations (covering approximately 800 square miles total - or one map hex). The District Offices provide more in-depth and detailed services to the citizens of the colony, as well as providing support to the Stations themselves.

Above these Stations and District Offices are the Commissioners and their staffs, who are responsible for control and supervision of all Districts within their particular State, and for the supervision of the cities as well. The number of Districts in each State vary depending upon the size of the State. In the Colonial Territory of Syrtis Lapis there are 51 separate districts, while in the Regency of Parhoon and the Trucial Protectorates there are 10 districts each. In total, the British Colony on Mars is sub-divided into 71 Districts.

At the top of the bureaucracy is the Office of the Viceroy. The Viceroy is appointed by Her Majesty Queen Victoria, and the Viceroy oversees the colony in the name of the Queen. The Office of the Viceroy, under the auspices of his advisors and staff, administers all three regions as the Crown Colony of Syrtis Lapis and controls the activities of the Colonial Office on Mars.

The Colonial Station

The basic element of the Colonial Office is the Station House. In its simplest and most primitive form, the station is a single building and at its best a sprawling compound with several buildings, including offices, storage, living and recreation areas. A Station is composed of four different people. These are The Magistrate, The Registrar, The Collector, and The Assistant. Working in conjunction with each other, these four men are responsible for approximately 40 square miles of territory per station. It goes without saying that in larger Stations, each of the four officers named above would have designated assistants, but for the purposes of this article, an examination of the four primary officers will suffice.

The Magistrate is responsible for the implementation and administration of the Queen's justice within his area. To assist in this mission, he may coordinate/command sections of the Constabulary, deputize local peace officers and hire bailiffs. As a Magistrate, he has the power to sit in judgement on civil and criminal matters, and to issue rulings in the name of the Crown. In game terms, knowing a Colonial Magistrate (or being one) could make dealing with the various authorities and agencies in the colony that much easier. Of course, if you are on the wrong side of one, that Magistrate may take advantage of his position to undermine and impede your character whenever you have the misfortune to enter his jurisdiction.

The job of the Registrar is to maintain accurate records of births, deaths, marriages, ownership of property, etc and a host of other statistical information which will allow his superiors at the district level to prepare reports and assessments concerning the lifestyle and occupants of each station and district. In the simplest terms, the Registrar is a one-man Department of Vital Statistics for his Station. Accordingly, the Registrar has access to all sorts of information that could be extremely useful to players since amongst the records will be deeds, land claims, patents, escrow estates, personal records, leases, etc. The opportunity to access and manipulate these documents (perhaps by Fenian Radicals or Pro-German Agents) makes the position of the Registrar an important one in the Colonial Service and an important position to be held (or formerly held) by a character of the right background.

The Collector is of course a Tax Collector, but he is much more. He is also responsible for maintaining the finances and expenses of the station as well as overseeing the fiscal aspects of Colonial Office contracts and projects within the station area. In a rich and prosperous part of the colony, the Collector would have access to large sums of ready cash, negotiable securities, bank accounts, gold, gems and other precious substances, plus tax records. The opportunities for manipulation of these items by mischievous players is unlimited.

The final member of the Station is known simply as The Assistant, however his job is anything but simple. He is not there to help the others with their tasks, but to manage the day to day activities of the station and to ensure the smooth function of all colonial office activities within the Station area. Do you need transport? That's the Assistant's job. Does the Registrar need to hire clerks? The Assistant finds suitable people. Does the Collector need to hire a canal barge to ship revenue? The Assistant will hire one. Anything that ever needs to be done to make the Station run, The Assistant handles. A player who has served as a Colonial Office Station Assistant is probably a master scrounger, jack of all trades, a fast talker, and one of the most well-connected and knowledgeable people in his area.

Prior to the Shastapsh Rebellion, there were some 1420 Stations in the Crown Colony, with 1020 in Syrtis Lapis, 200 in Parhoon, and 200 in the Trucial Protectorates.

The District Officers

These are the men responsible for overseeing the operations of the various Stations within their District. Each District is under the direction of a District Commissioner. This Commissioner is responsible to the States' Chief Commissioner for the activities of his District. He is aided in his work by an official known as the Senior District Officer. Under these two men are five Junior District Officers, each one responsible for four Stations. These seven men are known collectively as The District Officers. They are supported in their administrative efforts by numerous clerks and assistants, all of whom ensure the smooth flow of reports and papers between the Stations and the State Commissioners Office. The officials of this office are usually all career administrators of long service, though there may be one or two up and coming young officials will to lend a friendly ear to a character in need.

The Resident

In each city of the colony, there is one individual who holds the title of Resident. In effect, he is both Mayor of the community and Crown's Representative to whatever form of Martian government or leadership might remain. The Resident employs a staff that oversees the day-to-day operations of city services and handles the staffing of paperwork to the Chief Commissioner. The Resident is also responsible for coordinating with whatever Martian administration may exist in each city. Within Parhoon and Gorovaan, the native administration is quite extensive and fairly independent of human control, likewise to a lesser extent in Meepsoor and Moeris Lacus, though both cites are moving closer to the British Model of Civil Administration. Within the Crown cities of Syrtis Major, Avenel, and Haat the Colonial Administration has superseded the former Martian civil administrations and thus, the Residents of these cities are not required to liaise or coordinate with any of the former local hierarchy. The Residents are all long-service career men within the Colonial Office, and many of them are being groomed for eventual elevation to Commissioner.

The Office of the Chief Commissioner

This individual is effectively the ruler of his specific state. Within each state, the District Commissioners and the Resident of each city all report to the Chief Commissioner. Assisted only by a small staff of clerks and personal assistants, The Chief Commissioner is responsible for overseeing the development of the colonial territory assigned to him. This individual is always a senior Colonial Office official of long service and high social standing. His initial desire to turn away "annoying" adventurers might be tempered by an impressive title, the Victoria Cross on a uniform, the despairing eyes of a "Lady in Distress", or perhaps even a nephew or niece!


While the above descriptions define the various levels and functions of the British Colonial Service on Mars, there are a couple of variations worth noting. For one, in the Regency of Parhoon the Chief Commissioner is known as the Regent-Commissioner and possesses special powers not available to the other Chief Commissioners. The reason for this is that Queen Victoria is still the official "Queen-Regent" for the Prince of Parhoon. As the Queen's representative, the Chief Commissioner is also empowered to carry out the duties of Regent and conduct state business in the name of the Prince. Thus, he also possesses all the powers of the Ruler in addition to his duties and obligations as Commissioner. For this reason he is known as the Regent-Commissioner.

Also, as the Colonial Territory of Syrtis Lapis is a full-fledged possession of England unlike the other two states, the position of Chief Commissioner is replaced by that of Colonial Governor. The Governor possesses all powers of the Chief Commissioner, as well as having authority over Army and Naval forces within the colony, the power of decree, and full judicial authority within the Territory of Syrtis Lapis.

Rule Britannia: The Colonial Government On Mars

With the plethora of Commissioners, Chief Commissioners, Regents, Governors, Admirals and Generals that seem to abound in the British Martian territories, the question arises: Who Is Actually In Charge On Mars? The answer to this question is surprisingly simple, despite what seems to be the innumerable layers of bureaucracy and overlapping authority of many of the persons involved.

The supreme governing authority for the British on Mars is a man known as "The Viceroy".

The Office of the Viceroy of Mars

The Viceroy effectively "rules" the colony. The Viceroy is an appointed ruler, charged by Queen Victoria with overall responsibility for all British Territories on the Red Planet. It is from the office of the Viceroy that orders, commands, royal decrees, changes in policy, etc issue forth in the name of the Queen. While only one man may hold the title of Viceroy, it is through the efforts of others that the necessary directions are drafted, defined, proposed, and proclaimed. This work is carried out by the members of the Viceroy's personal staff and a group of appointed officials, known as the Viceroy's Council.

The Council is composed of a Colonial Treasurer, a Colonial Secretary, a Foreign Office Representative, the Commander of British Ground Forces on Mars, the Commander of the Martian Colonial Fleet, the Chief Commissioner, the Regent-Commissioner, and the Colonial Governor. The Council is responsible for making local policy decisions, acting as an advisory body to the Viceroy, and ensuring that the Queen's will is carried out on Mars.

The Colonial Secretary

While the Commissioners and Governor may command the apparatus of the Colonial Civil Service, the administrative coordination of the three regions, supervision of records, matters of personnel staffing, central registry of files, etc. falls to the Colonial Secretary. Additionally, the Colonial Secretary is also responsible for the operation and conduct of the Colonial Police Force (much as the Home Secretary in London is responsible for the Metropolitan Police Force there). The Chief Commissioner of the CPF reports directly to the colonial Secretary, who represents the concerns and requirements of the CPF to the Viceroy. The Secretary's other special portfolio is the Colonial Building Authority (CBA). The Director of the CBA also reports to, and takes his direction from, the Colonial Secretary.

The Colonial Treasurer

The Colonial Treasurer is responsible for all financial matters pertaining to the Martain Colonies, from the payment of invoices to the handling of transfer fees for use of the British Dockyards by other nations, processing of tax revenues collected, and handling trade-related matters with other powers on Mars. He prepares the budgets and allocates finances for all governmental activities on Mars.

The Foreign Secretary for Mars

Due to the distance between Earth and Mars, as well as the relatively slow speed of communications between the two worlds, it was determined early on that the Martian Territories would require special consideration in regards to foreign policy matters and foreign relations. With all the indigenous Martian governments, as well as representatives of the Great Powers of Earth present, the solution was to create for a Mars a semi-independent Foreign Office. The result was the creation of the position Foreign Secretary For Mars. This man (who holds the rank of Deputy Minister in the Foreign Office) has some limited authority to make foreign policy decisions concerning Mars. He is also the higher authority for the Foreign Office representative on Venus.

Other Councilors

The other five members of the Viceroy's Council act in the role of advisors to the Viceroy, each providing specialty knowledge of his particular position. General Willis and Vice-Admiral Harcourt-Smythe have been added to the Council since the outbreak of the Oenotrian War, though both had been consulted before in regards to military matters.


As there are no elected members to represent the Syrtis Lapis Territory, there is a 5-man Governor's Council which makes and enacts policy on behalf of Syrtis Lapis. This council is composed of the Colonial Governor and the four Residents, who act in a manner similar to the Viceroy's Council. The Viceroy is not a member of this Council, though he is of course, consulted. The Viceroy's role is to act as Queen's Representative and to give Royal Assent to any edicts enacted by the Governor's Council. While there have been occasions where the actions of the Governor's Council have conflicted with the Viceroy's Council, these have been both rare and of a minor nature.

Statistical Notes On The Colonial Government

Overseeing All British Domains on Mars:
1 Viceroy - George Cecil Orlando Bridgeman, 4th Earl of Bradford

(Viceroy's Council)
Colonial Governor of Syrtis Lapis - Charles William Cavendish, 3rd Baron Chesham
Chief Commissioner of the Trucial States - Sir Douglas Winn, ISO, JP
Regent-Commissioner for Parhoon - Sir Walter Temple, Lord Dundas
Colonial Treasurer - Jerrold Berke
Colonial Secretary - Phillip Twyford, ISO
Foreign Secretary for Mars - The Right Honourable Peter Goddard, KC, JP
GOC Colonial Military Forces - General Sir George Harry Smith-Willis, KCB
Commander Martian Colonial Fleet - Vice-Admiral Sir Brian Harcourt-Smythe, KCB

Within the Crown Colony:

1 Colonial Governor -Charles Compton William Cavendish, 3rd Baron Chesham
4 Residents
Syrtis Major - George Thomas
Avenel - Henry Withers
Haat - John Elliott
(Shashtasph) - (Jeremy Strutt - deceased) (From the Adventure "Mission To Shastapsh")
51 District Commissioners
1020 Stations (Manager/Registrar/Collector/Assistant)

Within The Trucial States:

1 Chief Commissioner - Sir Douglas Winn, ISO, JP
2 Residents
Meepsoor - Charles Wright
Moeris Lacus - Jeffrey Bosley
10 District Commissioner
200 Stations (Manager/Registrar/Collector/Assistant)

Within the Regency State:

1 Regent-Commissioner - Sir Walter Temple, Lord Dundas
2 Residents
Parhoon - Peter Staples
Gorovaan - Charles Eglantine (From the Adventure "Cult Of Doom")
10 District Commissioners
200 Stations (Manager/Registrar/Collector/Assistant)

Districts and Stations

One District = 800 square miles of territory
(There are 71 Districts in the Crown Colony)
One Station = 40 square miles of territory
(There are 20 stations per District/1420 in the Colony)

Posted Monday, 04-May-2009 19:51:55 EDT

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