Heyo. Well this is my very first question here so it might be a bit, I guess crude/blunt or unpolished. Anyways!

This is for a world I've been building set in the nearish future (around 200-300 years) in the Solar System, called Warlords. So the belt in this universe is populated by three main groups of people:

Corporations: Usually Terran or Martian based who make money in one of two ways: mining like everyone else. Or controlling the space stations (ex: renting out property to businesses, selling fuel, and tariffs on shipping goods to the other colonies)

Clans: The Clans are large groups of mining families that have banded together into a couple of fleets for mutual protection. They are usually only considered a proper 'Clan' if they are able to demand tribute or 'bump' (knocking another ship off of an asteroid) smaller families.

Free Miners: This one is pretty vague. Free miners can be anything from small families with a few ships, a one ship operation, or migrant workers that go the stations to be hired out by guilds or larger clans.

Now the Hegemony (government that controls the inner planets) is the official ruler of the belt, but lacks direct control for the majority of the belt only controlling major population centers(Ceres, Vesta, etc are under their control). The Hegemony has also set prices and regulations on certain materials and businesses (ex: fuel, rations, and water) to prevent economic abuse by the clans or companies and to minimize conflict in the belt. Finally the Fleet patrols the belt dealing with piracy and other threats, but the patrols are spaced out and rare.

To actually control the stations not under their direct control the Hegemony uses their fleet and economics. They threaten stations that don't comply to their standards with occupation (which means less profits). They also make special deals with corporations and clans that cooperate giving them under the table financing inexchange for the groups helping to maintain order in the belt.

Would a system built around those three groups and the government work/does it make practical sense?

note: (been edited so some of the comments below may look out of place or look like I repeated something already said)

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    $\begingroup$ There isn't enough information to answer this. What is the system you've put in place? Telling us "there is a system" doesn't give enough information for us to tell you if it makes sense. $\endgroup$
    – Aify
    Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 15:29
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    $\begingroup$ The 'parts' of you question should be different questions. Otherwise you run the risk of having the question being closed as 'too broad'. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 15:29
  • $\begingroup$ How are ships built/maintained? Right now it sounds like corporations are the only ones who can do that; why are they even selling them, instead of just renting them out? $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 15:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Aify I'll try and edit it when I get on my pc (currently on mobile) $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 16:02
  • $\begingroup$ @elstevenson The idea is that ship building companies exist where miners or independent groups buy older models of ships. Also the guilds use a rent system (same with the corporations). Sorry for not making this clear $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 16:05

3 Answers 3


Summary: Yes

  • Space is a big place. Really big. The Hegemony may well control just enough activity in the Belt to be an important player, but probably lack sufficient boots on the ground to make themselves an effective imperial force in the region. The Hegemony may "object" all it wants to powerful Clans bumping off smaller outfits, but really, law enforcement out that far is largely a game of whack-a-mole. The Hegemon is smart enough to realise this and will tolerate a certain amount of Clans throwing their own weight around. Perhaps the principal Clan chiefs even have an Arrangement with the Hegemon? They provide regional "law" enforcement and in exchange enjoy a certain amount of legitimacy of action.
  • The tripartite system you've outlined has historical precedent. Back on Old Earth, the Hegemony could be likened to the distant and waning power of the Emperor: a force to be reckoned with, but not of immediate consequence; the Corporations could be likened to smaller regional powers, outposts of the Empire, dangerous to cross directly, but not really powerful enough to enforce their authority everywhere; the Clans could be likened to the various Barbarian kingdoms ever on the periphery of the civilised world, sometimes allied with the Empire, sometimes working for their own ends, sometimes settled, sometimes on the move; the Free Miners could be likened to small unaligned tribes, fleas in the imperial ermine. I see these guys as part-time miners, part-time free-loaders, part-time freelancers and part-time freebooters / pirates.
  • The system works simply because the volume of space involved is too large for even a powerful central authority to rein in. There are something like 200 asteroids larger than 60 miles in diameter. If all the resources of every country on Earth could be pooled to build and launch a large mining vessel every year for the next two centuries, we'd be able to set up shop on those largest planetoids. That's a lot of energy & resources that the Hegemony must expend just to get out there! There is plenty of opportunity for smaller industrialists to fill in the gaps and thus give rise to the smaller Clan operations. The Hegemony will just about be able to outfit, supply and protect maybe half the stations on those two hundred asteroids. They'll have to, eventually, rely on the services of sub-contracted Clans to protect their other interests.
  • The one piece of the puzzle you don't bring in is criminal syndicates. Surely, 300 years from now, there will be some kind of criminal activity out there in the Belt? Possibly controlling one or more Clans and hiring the services of some of the Free Miners?
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the answer! Let me dress two things. So it does make total sans for the Hegemony to use larger clans to enforce order for this I think someyhing like the colonial marshals from the aliens franchise would work. Now for the crime angle: due to size piracy, smuggling, and other either illegal or frowned upon acts/businesses would take place. Usually the Hegemony only deals with the major threats. (Ex: pirate group that has repetitively attacked shiping lanes) Some of the stuff like drugs or opioids would be illegal on the more "civilized colonies" but is ignored in the belt $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 17:41
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    $\begingroup$ I kinda assumed that criminal activities would either be sanctioned by Clans (either "we'll look the other way" or "do this and don't ask questions") or done is the usual sneaky, anarchic fashion. As Clans are the controlling power, they can ignore or enforce laws as they see fit. And if a criminal organization is powerful enough to order a Clan, it might as well be a Clan itself. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 18:02
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah some clams could make a living off of criminal enterprises. As long as it doesn't get to large, dangerous, or make a scene the Hegemony usually just ignores it. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 18:19
  • $\begingroup$ @PinionMinion good points, though maybe not "a Clan itself", especially if the Clans enjoy some level of Hegemonic legitimacy. A criminal Clan would probably be seen as the worst kind of competition and be ostracised at the least. Perhaps the start of an internecine dust up. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 19:31
  • $\begingroup$ @CelestialDragonEmperor Agreed, it does make total sense for the central government to do that. In fact, I would posit that a wise Hegemon will not only use larger Clans as its muscle, but will probably also play the Clans against one another. Especially around contract renegotiation time. I don't know how colonial marshals or alien franchises fit into your story. You didn't mention anything or anyone coming from beyond the Solar System. That of course could change things immensely! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 19:35

Summary: No

  • A central government (your Inner Colonies) with enough power to fix prices on fuel and rations must have enough of a presence that it would object to Clans 'bumping' smaller outfits. Either there is law and order or there isn't, it is extremely difficult to have control only in some sectors of the economy.
  • Corporations by and large believe that contracts should be fulfilled. Sure, they might try to wiggle out of unprofitable ones, but general lawlessness will hurt their bottom line.

Those two factors will make life hard on your Clans.

  • The Asteroid Belt is not territory where one can easily draw boundaries for territories. It is a slightly-more-dense-than-average collection of rocks on different orbits. Two major asteroid settlements may be close to each other today, far apart a decade from now.
  • The idea that the owner of an asteroid also owns, say, a sphere around it with 1,000 km radius also gets problematic when two asteroids pass closer than 2,000 km. Who is entering whose 'exclusive' space? What in the improbable case that three claimed asteroids meet?

So the idea that somebody holds a "stretch" of the Belt does not work. Perhaps somebody can own one or more asteroids, but not the volume in between.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the answer! The idea is that the Hegemony has a fleet presence in the belt with Ceres being its main base of operations. I had in mind employing a "hands off" approach to the belt only stepping in when necessary ex: pirates, skirmishes, wide spread abuse $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 16:08
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    $\begingroup$ @CelestialDragonEmperor, no regarding beacons, because those beacons would move and the asteroids would also move relative to the beacons. A rock that is next to one beacon today might be next to another beacon a year from now. What if there is a mining station on that rock? $\endgroup$
    – o.m.
    Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 16:23
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    $\begingroup$ @CelestialDragonEmperor, also no regarding the light fleet presence. If they can control the price of rations, they must have a state with enough power to take control of part of the economy. This requires a vast bureaucracy, $\endgroup$
    – o.m.
    Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 16:24
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    $\begingroup$ @CelestialDragonEmperor, a beacon on an asteroid would work in principle, as long as it is understood that it applies only to that piece of rock and not to the general area. $\endgroup$
    – o.m.
    Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 17:45
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    $\begingroup$ Also note that due to how orbital mechanics work, asteroids are closer to the Inner Worlds than they are to about half the other asteroids $\endgroup$
    – Eth
    Commented Jun 11, 2018 at 18:07

Summery: Plausible enough to work

Let's see if I understand this:

The organizations with the most power (i.e. money) are the Corporations stationed on Earth and Mars. While they have a lot of influence due to their resources, like everyone else, they lack the manpower to control the asteroid belt in any meaningful way. I'm guessing they can hire private military contractors to perform specific operations, but mostly have to negotiate with the clans to get things done. Still, they would likely be responsible for selling the mined ore outside the belt.

Clans are a combination of mob and union, likely formed in response to the Corporations forcing unfavorable conditions. By unifying, the Clans developed the ability to go on strikes and rally against the Corporations' mercenaries. Of course, not only does the money and power lead to corruption (tributes and extortion), but the Corporations would put a lot of effort to keep the Clans from unifying further. That's why there would be a lot of Clans that hate each others guts.

Free Miners would have it very rough. At best, they would be independent contractors that operate in less profitable zones sense the Clans would call dibs on everything else. In this system I'm describing, Free Miners would be the mom-and-pop grocery stores across the street from Walmart (the Clans).

The Hegemony would likely be underfunded and hated. The Corporations wouldn't want any authority over them and the Clans would see them as just another corporation to deal with. They might have more influence in older/larger territories, but even them they might be just figureheads. I wouldn't count of them to be able to fix prices, so the free market might rein unchecked in the asteroid belt.

Lastly, space is kinda weird for borders. When it comes down to it, territories would be determined by what the organization can control and protect, which would fluctuate a lot. Rather than actual borders, there would be contested/demilitarized zones where two or more Clans both claim as theirs. This would be a lot of fighting goes down and would probably be avoided by travelers whenever possible.

If I am understanding this right, I think the political system makes a good amount of sense (assuming there aren't any technological wildcards I don't know about) and I'd give it a go as is. Oh, but avoid mentioning robots, cause drones are a hell of a lot cheaper and more effective than paying a bunch of human miners.

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    $\begingroup$ Thank you for the answer! You got it right on the mark of what I was going for. The free miners are pretty much the mom and pop shops/seasonal workers. I might have too make another question on the fuel issue. The idea was to keep the belt from completely breaking down the Hegemony up set prices for necessities in the stations they control and then "encouraged" the corporations to do the same. But I had the corporations then making their own fuel/knock offs (pretty water downed stock but fuel) $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 16:51
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    $\begingroup$ Oh, if that's basically all the Hegemony does I would totally buy it. If someone reports that they were sold fuel at above the standard price, the Hegemony would fly over and raise some litigated hell. Enough people would appreciate this service to give the Heg-fund some currency for ships, wages, and (probably) ammo. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 17:09
  • $\begingroup$ It was a hard call between accepting this answer or the one I did. I loved your answer though and already plan to incorporate some of the ideas into the universe. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 9, 2018 at 12:39

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