CT: World Generation - Honi C844789-7 Ag S "The Coin"

Honi C844789-7 Ag S "The Coin"

With both sci-fi and fantasy games, we Hex On Up and generate a random setting. Because the dice are always right. 

As with the fantasy setting, we go deep rather than broad. You don't need a starmap of a 12,000-system Galactic Imperium - the players will never visit them all. At most they will visit one world each game session, typically weekly. In a year that's at most 52 sessions, and given holidays and life happening, 40 is more likely - plus if a world's interesting the players might spend a few sessions there. Probably a dozen worlds will do before someone says, "Look, I just wanted to play Mechwarrior." 

Here's the summary.

  1. select a starting world, and using this random generator, create a system for it. 
  2. develop this world in detail, using Zozer's Universal World Profile (UWP), and not forgetting its starport, if any.
  3. and its system
  4. create a subsector, using random generation. You may choose to do this manually with CT Book 3, or use an online generator
  5. now replace one of those worlds with the starting system, and otherwise edit the subsector's worlds as you see fit
  6. generate a map of this subsector, and print it out
This article is about the first two steps. 

The HONI system consists of,
  • B5 IV Blue-white Subgiant
  • Honi   C844789-7
  • rock planet
  • ice planet
  • Jovian planet with 3 large and 33 small moons
Let's start with the star itself. What the hell is it? Doing a websearch for B5 IV class stars, we find that they are a class of variable stars - over a period of days they produce more or less light. In fact most of these are thought to be quite young, so it'd be strange for them to have habitable worlds - but the real universe has thrown us surprises before, and this is science fiction, not science, so we don't worry too much. A class B5 star will be several multiples of the Sun's mass, and twice as hot on its surface. And Honi's orbit is the first occupied. Is it close to its star, or were the closer planets torn apart by it? Could it be tidally-locked? Let's try that, just for fun.

Honi has a Class C starport (routine quality, unrefined fuel available, repair but not construction facilities), is about the same size as Earth, it has a thin, tainted atmosphere which requires the use of filter masks but not suits, its surface is 40% water, it has tens of millions of people, is run by a civil service bureaucracy, has a restrictive law level, and can produce things of tech level 7 - the 1980s on Earth. It has a scout base, but no naval base. 

The environment

If Honi is tidally-locked, then the face towards the star will be much hotter than the other. A thick atmosphere would distribute the heat more evenly, but it has a "thin, tainted" atmosphere. One side burns, the other side freezes - and there's a narrow habitable zone alone the sunset/rise boundary. Almost none of the 40% water will be on the sunward side except locked up in rocks, so the dark side must be nearly 80% water. In our own system, Mars has a "very thin, tainted" atmosphere, but it gets much less light than Honi would, and from day to night its temperature varies from -74 to -7°C. Honi has a thin rather than very thin atmosphere, and is closer to its star which is brighter, so let's arbitrarily flip it and make it -7 to +74°C. The Dark Pole has ice, and at the Light Pole you can cook eggs without flame. This is where the planet gets its nickname: "The Coin". 

Thin, tainted atmosphere, UWP tells us, is 0.43 to 0.7 Earth atmospheres. That's a range of 0.27. Normally we'd throw the dice to see what it is, but given the tidal-locking and the big temperature difference from one side to the other, it probably varies across the planet and with the weather. What's the tainted part? UWP suggest things like lots of carbon dioxide, nitrogen - or sulphur from volcanoes. Given the world's close to a big star, the tidal forces probably encourage the guts of the planet to slush around a lot, so there'll be fissures in it spewing carbon dioxide and sulphur. In fact this may explain why a world close to a start producing a lot of light still has much atmosphere - it keeps producing more from volcanoes. That means frequent earthquakes, by the way. 

But the atmosphere is breathable with filters - not with oxygen tanks, but filters. That means there's some oxygen in there. Which means there's some kind of life on the planet. Interestingly, while a 40% water world would not be, an 80% water world (compared to Earth's 70%) is a "water world" - so it's a water world on the dark side. And where there's water, there's life. But note - there's no moons for this world, and it's tidally-locked, so there are no tides, and waves only from the weather and any tectonic action. One thought about Earth animals is that they came onto the land by accident, so to speak - with high tide drifting out and leaving them behind, and some adapted and became land-dwelling. With no tides that won't happen. 

Flora & Fauna - "What's good to eat? Or will it eat us first?"

So the native flora and fauna are mostly in the seas. The land will have a few native plants and bugs - but no larger animals. Animals straight from Earth wouldn't survive, either, though some plants might, but acid rain from the sulphur would probably kill most of them. There might be some under rocks, or some acid-resistant mosses or lichens. 

Still, with atmosphere of 4, hydrographics of 4, and population of 7 - the world actually qualifies as "agricultural." Obviously the food's coming from the seas. You know, the ones with sulphuric acid rain going into them. Incidentally, consuming sulphur-heavy water leads to diarrhoea. We'll assume the locals are acclimated to this, but for others it might be an acquired taste. Honi Sulphur Eels, anyone?

If it was good enough for Riddick... 

Lifestyles of the local and infamous

How will they live? Nobody can wear masks all the time, so they'll want homes with airlocks and filters. Back on Earth people deal with frequent earthquakes in three ways: denialism (USA), fragile but easily-rebuilt buildings (historical Japan), and heavy buildings whose rocks settle more solidly into each-other with each shakeup (Inca Peru). The first two would lead to frequent mass death in which case the population code would be 0 not 7, so we'll assume heavy rocks. 

Being TL7 they can have fossil fuel power, hydroelectric, wind, solar, fission or geothermal. The planet's probably not old enough to have much in the way of fossil fuels, and doing hydroelectric in earthquake-prone areas with acidic water seems like a losing proposition. Solar would generate a lot on the light side, but maintenance would be an issue, likewise wind. Fission in an earthquake-prone area is imprudent (hi there, Fukushima!) But with all those volcanoes and water, geothermal looks pretty good. 

Agricultural exports will dominate, but a volcanic planet would also have heavy metals and radioactives, probably in ore form since the thin and tainted atmosphere would make many refining processes difficult. 

That border between night and day is really going to have some crazy weather. 

A further thought on masks: these are never perfect, some of the unfiltered atmosphere will seep through. Not enough to make a difference in a visit, but what if you live your whole life there? 

The starport

This is generated randomly. This gives us both an upport (orbiting station) and downport (on the ground). We'll just look at the downport, and call it The Hive. All are "average" quality unless otherwise noted. 

Bars: Stardust Lounge (poor), Shead Licensed
Drugstore: Outerrim Trading Company
Hostel: Litz-Garlton, Brasfield
Local Bank: Hortalez Et Cie (very good), Rascon Co
Pawnshop: Neace Co (excellent - can buy/sell illegal goods here)
Personal sleeping pods: Pozos, Seeds, Reuss
Restaurants: Robal Cultured Meats (poor), McCorydon
Ship Repairs: Ubrikkian Yards (very good)
Starliner Terminals: Intergalactic Transport (poor), Tukera Lines
Unrefined fuel: Pegasus, Kyrpton
Warehouse: Ming, Gudmundson (poor, stuff goes missing)

A few orbits and listening to radio and television transmissions of the world will tell the crew the code C844787-7 Ag S. They'll learn more from talking to people who've been there, and this is how I present it to the players - some guy talking in a bar. He may or may not know the whole truth, or tell them. 

Outline of Honi

"Honi? I'll tell you about The Coin."

As Captain Dallas tells it:

"There are complex hierarchies of government departments and individual social statuses, and you need a permit for everything, including using a public toilet. Social class too low? They won't give you a permit. Going in your pants is an offence, too. Criminal underworld? Well, technically everyone is a criminal. 

"But maybe they're just like that because they have to be to survive in that shithole. We've got a contaminated atmosphere with changeable weather conditions, rough seas all the time, lifeless rocks, earthquakes all the time, a bright blasted wilderness on one side and a frozen wasteland on the other, and masked humans squeezing out an existence in between. Yep, you gotta wear a mask. Come to think of it, I've never seen an old Honi guy... I had a crewman got drunk and was dared to take a whiff, by the time we got to him - well, he lived, but the cough was worse than the one you get from vacc-bite. Don't try it. 

"So they live mostly in carved stone buildings half into the ground, with airlocks, and they don't even have fusion power, they've got turbines running on volcanic steam. They eat a lot of fish and seaweed, if you've got the coin you can get some greenhouse-grown Earth crops. Forget about imported food, only the top brass get the permits for that. Don't eat the fish, it'll give you the runs.

"What? No, of course you can't carry guns, haven't you been listening? But if you're not too obviously a rube then Neace's might take care of you, just be careful because every second person on that planet is an informer to the Freedom Bureau. That's the real reason they call it "The Coin." Yeah, yeah - the planet has two faces. So do the people. Neace gets a lot of good stuff from Gudmanson's, one of the big warehouse chains. They smile a lot. 

"What's there to do? Not much. Though I did hear about Captain Bodhi's crew - kitesurfers. They did a job on Rascon, cleared it out of all its platinum credits, then head out to the Boundary, where the water dries up and the sand kicks up from the Light Side and the thunder rides - they say you can get a kite up to a couple hundred klicks. Nobody's seen the credits or the crew since. That could be a tourist visit for you, if you don't mind dying. 

"They do some mining, sulphur mostly, but also some heavy metals. There's a scout base, they're Commonwealth so you can at least scratch your crotch without filling in a form first. They've got a team looking at that wacky star and doing a detailed survey of the moons of Old Yeller - that's the gas giant out on the edge of the system, it's all sulphur, too. Oh, and the place smells like Lambert's farts. All the damned time."

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