Humanity is fantastically diverse. All the hundreds of colony worlds have their own styles and attitudes – no two worlds are really all that alike.
However, the major interstellar polities have their own overall cultural features – especially among the interstellar diplomats, governors, and military leaders (who tend to work on many worlds).
These notes are a guide to that overall cultural tenor. Not everyone in the polity concerned will look or behave in the way described – but the stereotypes are a useful shorthand in developing distinctive role playing characters within these worlds.
The Earth Empire
As the oldest political entity, evolved from the old Solar Republic, Earthers have a strong sense of tradition.
In the case of the political and diplomatic personnel, their clothing tends to be formal, perhaps vaguely reminiscent of the 19th Century British Empire. They tend to be a bit arrogant towards everyone – but based on a natural (and unconscious for the most part) sense of superiority.
Imperials in formal occasions tend to dress with an understated gaudiness with just the right amount of gold braid, and just the correct size of epaulette. That said, the members of the Twelve First Families do tend to be sartorial laws unto themselves.
Young, vibrant, thrusting. The Greater Federation of Asteel (GFA) is a highly colourful and rich society. Most Esteelers might be characterised by sterotypical 1950’s American tourists (bright colours, loud checks etc).
Their politicals tend to be more formal than the general population, but still not as much ‘stuffed shirts’ as the Earthers.
Esteeler additional comment (John Rutherford): Esteeler women are notable for a profound love of unsubtle jewellery and showy dresses. Both men and women have a weakness for jazzy accessories; mirror sunglasses, silver hats and hologramed bags are often in fashion.
Portable electronic toys and gadgets; minicams, phones, hifis, are seen as essential. Their children are also very expensively dressed. Advertising logos and the names of sports teams, tri-vid stars and musicians often appear on their clothes. Esteelers are generally aware that they are regarded as ‘tasteless’ or ‘vulgar’ by other peoples and have a slight inferiority complex which makes them eager mimics of other, supposedly ‘cooler’ styles. But they usually get it sadly wrong.
Esteeler politicians will often affect a ‘tough’ image, appearing in space armour or military uniform; but always with a touch of flamboyance.
Typical is former Governor Elgon of Quadrant Seven, who frequently dresses in a bright orange asteroid miner’s suit decorated with GFAN military flashes and the corporate logos of his pharmaceutical company.
A solid frontier type. Martians value freedom and self determination.
They have a ‘take me as you find me or feck off’ attitude. Not given to display or bright colours, they dress in an almost determinedly casual way.
They have a strong martial tradition, but are not keen on bullshit – it’s a ‘get the job done with minimum fuss’ sort of attitude. This is reflected in their military uniforms which are practical and plain.
Cast as the ‘bad guys’ in the Universe, they are not all that bad. They do have a fairly highly centralised and authoritarian government, and unusually harsh military discipline. In general they go for plain clothes, with a slightly militaristic / uniform style. In fact uniforms are very much in vogue – even Venerian street sweepers have particularly smart jackboots and long leather-look military style coats!
Their military tend to go for closely shaven heads and very plain uniforms (grey or black usually). Any similarities with Soviet military uniforms is entirely accidental.
Venerian additional comment (Graham Attfield): One-piece jumpsuits seems fine for general day wear, Black for the Space Navy, Dark Blue for the PAC pilots, Grey for the Marines and Green for the Ground Forces (Ground Forces use a variety of camouflage for field operations). For formal wear, follow similar colours and something sort of mixed between 1940’s German and 1960’s Russian in style. (basically Russian below the waist, Russian style trousers with knee high boots, German style coats with braiding on the collar and cuffs and Russian style shoulder boards, then a variety of hats from either country)
Venerian addiitonal comment 2 (Stephen Brown): the Venerians have an egalitarian culture – ie. “if you do what you’re told and work hard you WILL rise to the level you deserve”, that is no discrimination on race, gender etc. – ok the regime is authoritarian, the justice is (very) harsh, but its FAIR – and officials really do get appointed on their abilities – no benefits of birth (like the Earthers), no using attitude/flash dress sense to impress people (Esteelers), no endless democratic debates (Martians), just a fair, efficient and dare I use the ‘S’ word in the 21st century ?, oh why not, Socialist regime – ie, BIG government, BIG ideals, under efficient market, too many forms to fill in, but a system which strives to look after its people as fairly as it can (which includes keeping the unruly ones in line of course….). So to sum up the Venerian Republic in 3 words: “Harsh but Fair”
See extra note on Venerian Dress Codes
Additional material (Jurrien deJong): The Sirian Socialist Republic is the only real existing socialism in space. Red tape in the bureaucracy is legendary and Sirians always insist on proper procedures. Most Sirians have a strong sense of egalitarianism and duty.
The appearance of its inhabitants represents the variety of all the human peoples confined by the limited options of a planned economy. Mao suits and Eastern European 1960’s style are combined with traditional African and Asian design. A particular feature of Sirian society is its ample use of robots to ease the working and living of its population.
General Note on Military Uniform
All polities military have jumpsuit type uniforms which are practical on board ship (to be worn under spacesuits or space armour). They also have dress uniforms, worn on official occasions like diplomatic dinners, guards of honour, that sort of thing.
These will vary, obviously, with national style. For example, the Martians don’t have dress uniforms at all – they just put on a clean jumpsuit!