Life in Tau Ceti
There are five planets that orbit Tau Ceti, each with it's own flavour and stories to tell... Below are descriptions of each world, from the one closest to the star Tau Ceti (Balrog), moving outwards to the system's cold edge (the aptly named Frozen). Note that each planet has a central space port hub of variable size dependant on the planet in question, though population centres are more town sized and spread to where liquid water is easier to gather rather than bunched near their space port.I've also included Planetary Issues in each world's profile in red that make good sample adventure and plot hooks for games set there, outside of the bunch of hooks I've seeded through the entire thread.Tau Ceti Vehicles for Dirtside Transport:Airships aka Dirigibles
: With hydrogen as a ready supply (see Frozen below), every world uses these blimps, built with bird-like wing-fins to aid flight.Sailboats
: Nano-enforced wooden sailboats can be found on the outer three worlds to travel their waters. Of course there are many tales of pirates that sail these seas...Cart
: Commonly pulled by hooved beasts called Equus
, this is a common land transport across the four outer worlds. People also ride Equus as they are and they are a common steed and pack animal for adventurers to this day.On Decadent, some experimentation is being undertaken using steampower to create smaller scaled combustion engines. Some prototype trains exist on that particular planet, though for now people enjoy the romanticism of sail and steed still.
A Common Life
Life in Tau Ceti veers toward that of medieval fantasy, set in the later Classical 'Age of Sail' of the early 19th century. Slavery is replaced here by serfdom, a common feudal lifestyle in the system. Coin
acts as currency in the system, simple flattish gems used to trade for goods.
For protection from bandits and sex traffickers via Knights/Samurai, a serf gains a single Coin a day for work (covering their food and board) by the Lord who owns said property. Many will live in their ancestor's family hovels with no chance to advance in any way. So many adventurers are disenfranchised youths in their late teens or early twenties that break away to battle Monsters and go exploring, hoping for a much more grander life!(Note; A serf is basically a legalised slave... As such 'slave raiders/traders' focus on either capturing freefolk and selling them into serfdom or the darker sales of 'debauched luxuries', these sold by the traders get it way worse than a serf as they're usually thrown away (read: killed or left for dead) after their use is up for zero pay or upkeep once bought).
Prisons in the setting exist for each world, outside perhaps of Balrog, which has no laws to enforce. These prisons take the form most often of Prison Hulks, beached or afloat ships (on Crusade these are often Treeship wrecks in the middle of the sand dunes) and they function mostly like the gaols of the 18th century. Mainly corrupt and paid for through the prisoner's own pockets of doing hard labour each day outside their assigned Prison. Often stuck in the middle of the nastiest monster infested places of a planet, whilst being pretty low security, without ways to defend oneself, it's a tough trek back to civilisation.
Day to day, whilst work is hard, people have their luxuries... The printing press is a thing and people can read daily gazettes
which are essentially the same as newspapers. People write letters using ink-pots and quills. Outside of mail courier, settlements communicate with each other using large semaphore line signal towers
to spread important news quickly.
Basic mechanical alarm clocks are available that wake people for work each day (as are wrist-watches), whilst people cook their food on brickwork fire stoves with stove-top kettles for coffee/tea. Even toast can be made with special wireframe tongs heated using their stove. Continued refridgeration is still a mystery that magik has yet to practically implement, at least in mass production. As food cannot be refridgerated or frozen long-term (food can be frozen using actual ice, -ice cream is a popular desert of the rich- though ice melts unless burying food on Frozen), any kept
food not immediately eaten from street vendors is mainly sold dried out or cured with salt, though sugar-coated fruits and jars of pickled foods such as onions and gherkins exist.
Indoor lighting is achieved through a coal fireplace, oil lamps or by candle, with many places such as inns having simple candle chandeliers hung from the ceilings. Bathrooms have washstands (actual sinks don't exist), pull-chain flush toilets and bathtubs with showers exist. Deoderant and shampoo do not exist, however soap bars are available and shavings of these help wash hair. Alum powder deoderises the body and is applied via toothbrush to clean teeth. Plumbing is in it's infancy, pumps move waste-water through wooden pipes that flow into nearby rivers or seas. To this end on the desert worlds where liquid water is in short supply and mainly drank, cleanliness is achieved near completely with alum powder applied to the hair and body.
Standard Tau Ceti Years
Because each planet orbits Tau Ceti at different speeds, each planet has different year lengths. As such, time is measured a little differently for what the people call Tau Ceti's System Standard Year
. The year is split amongst the old Earth term known as 'fortnights' (an equivalent of 14 Earth days, each 24 hours in length). Whilst every planet has a different orbit, it has been agreed since ancient times that 26 fortnights (364 days) make up one Standard Tau Ceti Year
, when it comes to a person's age and measuring historical timelines.
BalrogFor those who like: Dark Sun, Bioshock Infinite crossed with Mad Max Faction
: Degenerate Anarchist Society.Designated Trade Codes
: Desert, Non-Industrial
: Hordes of Chaotic Islands, Decadent Warships are Coming, A Cult seeking a DownfallUnique Goods
: Crystals & gems, Oil, Pharmaceuticals and Drugs, Radioactives, Spices, Textiles, Rare Elements (gold, silver etc).
The closest planet to Tau Ceti. Only 0.1 AU from the star, it is a roasting world temperature-wise, whose year equals a fortnight. Liquid water is a rarity. The atmosphere is incredibly dense going down to the hellish surface, so the populace tend to live on floating settlements. These are on the whole village sized and supported by nano-enforced balloons, centred around where water can
be gathered along with dredging up soil containing valuable elements and the native squat spice-cobs here. It is home to Incubi and Succubi-like folk who live without law and as such is often seen as a wondrously chaotic hive filled by what the Balrog peoples call their 'Scum culture'. Animal life tends to be small due to the size of settlements and kept for distinct purposes. The most popular being the pair of carnivora known as Felis
, as both are good at killing pests and are excellent companions on the harsh world.
Population numbers are unknown; Decadent estimates them to be tens of thousands though not so numerous to be near a million. Notably none of the locals outside of militia (known mainly as warbands, raiders or reavers) wish to go to the nearby Crusade, instead doing grey market business on other planets in the system. The world seems plentiful enough for it's people despite it's flaws and a real lack of rule, though there are
rumours of a Demon Royalty located in a larger town-sized floating settlement. However, the existance of such rule has so far gone unproven, despite the ongoing raiders that sail to Crusade.Balrog is a boiling lava world with large balloon supported floating villages, known for a more lawless populace.Balrog characters tend to be more skilled at larceny, though are fairly blunt and intimidating socially.CrusadeFor those who like: Dune, the history of the Middle Age Crusades. Faction
: Austere Merchant Society.Designated Trade Codes
: Desert, Non-Industrial.Planetary Issues
: Guild Credits on The Silk Road, The Mystery Cause of the Crusades, Demons spreading in the SandsUnique Goods
: Same as Balrog, though different types of the items are available. However there are in some locations drug laws and smugglers, if found, can be punished.
A hot world, where temps are around 30+C, so cooler than Balrog, though still it's very much a desert world of rolling sand dunes, arid plains, steppes and the odd oasis filled with reeds and spice-fungi. It is 0.2 AU from the star and has a year of just over two fortnights. Here the atmosphere is too dry and short in the rocky hills that dot the landscape, so the population (which numbers just under a million) keep to the sandpits and craters of this vast desert world. Crusade has a Balkanisation of government, with a 'Silk Road' of villages and towns dotted through the planet's craters. No central authority currently exists and it has no planetary Navy, leaving Crusade to be fought over by the demons of Balrog and the Homonin forces of Decadent, in a plight known as The Crusades (aka The Crusade Wars and The Inquisition).
Some of the people of Crusade do actually venture to visit Balrog, due to that world's lax (read: non-existant) contraband laws. It's a lesser number than those who venture to Frozen for their coin and many more wish to find work on Decadent, though they do exist. This is in comparison to Balrog whose average citizen has no wish to visit Crusade. Unfortunately due to being caught as the battleground for two other worlds, only certain fearless Free Traders will venture (outside of Militia forces) to pick these locals up. It is unknown just what could be on Crusade that has the other two planets fighting over it... Crusade has a vibe of Middle Eastern culture with it's home residents and of the historical Crusaders fighting Sumerian demons in dark blood-pitched sands.Crusade characters are charismatic and get good deals in stores, though aren't so good at melee fighting.DecadentFor those who like: Clockpunk and Magitech fantasies. Faction
: Underhanded Industrious Consortium.Designated Trade Codes
: High Population, Industrial.Planetary Issues
: Vermin & Depravity in Dark Alleys, A Secret against Chaos in the Supercities, Sunless Cabals infiltrating KingdomsUnique Goods
: Advanced Nanotech, Technological advances, Manufactured Goods, Weapons and Vehicles, Luxury Goods, Medical Supplies, Drugs & Pharmaceuticals, Polymers.
Another hot world, though here is a place with a Victoriana gothic Industrial Revolution cyberpunk feel. Orbiting 0.38 AU from the star, it's year equals about six fortnights. Decadent brims with the ancient sealed cities constructed by The First as their original settlements here, whose sizes can be as large as supercities, though there aren't any skyscrapers about. The technology behind these sealed environments is unknowable today, classed by the people who have never known anything but these large domed settlements as some kind of warding magic. Because of this belief, it has become over the many thousands of years impossible to maintain them, though luckily few breakdowns have occured... yet
. There are small oceans of water that dot the surface, many sealed cities are coastal or on riverway edges and so have docks for water trade. However, for those who would venture outside, a filtermask is required, the barren and tropical heated wastelands hold a tainted atmosphere that is filled with carbon dioxide.
Decadent is named as such for it's strong industry and for the sheer amount of Homonin itching to come to the planet to find their fortune; however it is also a smog-filled hive-world, overpopulated by billions of Homonin in gas-lit undercities. As it's cities are sealed, there are a number of kingdoms across it's vast surface. It's local culture differs from place to place, though it is consistently most similar to Victorian London and Paris mixed with the dark feel of the cyberpunk genre...
Despite this being the home of nanoproduction and innovation, technology is still low on this planet, such as people carrying crossbow pistols as their weapons... This is very likely due to underhanded corporate sabotage that is also widespread with many adventurers taking freelance jobs from fat cat patrons...Decadent characters are skilled with technological lore, but suffer when it comes to lore on nature.ExcessFor those who like: Edo-era Japan, yokai, samurai and ninja. Faction
: Secretive Trade Federation.Designated Trade Codes
: Agricultural, Garden, Rich.Planetary Issues
: Cults of Feudal Edo Debauchery, The Emperor is Coming, Chaos behind a Hidden TruthUnique Goods
: Gas, Live Animals, Luxury Foods, Spices, Textiles, Rare Elements (gold, silver), Wood, Poison, Debauched Luxuries.
The planet in the most habitable point in the system. Sat at just about 0.55 AU, at the lip of the hot end of the habitable zone. Excess has a year of about 11 fortnights. Whilst still as tropical as Crusade and Decadent, Excess is a world where a resident does not need a filtermask or choose a sealed place to stay, the lands are verdant with all kinds of plant ecosystems and the cavern mines on this lush world are also built to be more temperate for it's settlers. A success of terraforming in the past, Excess is a wet world and has large oceans, not as much as Earth, though easily half the world's surface holds water now. With a population measured in the tens of thousands, Excess holds small feudal villages mixed with a few larger towns, ran by the competing Daimyo Houses
A line of oligarchal rulers known as Shogun
, stemming back from a single bloodline seems to rule over each continent, though it is rumoured that Excess' central authority is actually a captive government... Hushed rumours may be heard of an Empire of Elves
that originate from the deep space of the system, holding sway over how the world is run, though most fob this off as a conspiracy theory. Economy-wise, Excess now has it's trade mainly in the feudal farming of the local flora and fauna here. The mines that are still producing now look for materials that go to minting coins or jewellery. Being the most Earth-like planet in regards to it's garden world state, Excess has a mix of culture depending on where one goes on the planet, though it does have a stronger feel of the historical Edo period of Japan.Excess characters specialise in a chosen trade, but tend to suffer in regards to leadership qualities.FrozenFor those who like: North of The Wall in Game of Thrones, At the Mountains of Madness by HP Lovecraft Faction
: Secretive Merchant Society.Designated Trade Codes
: Fluid Oceans, Low Population, Water World.Planetary Issues
: Ancient Ruins Promising Power, Let Sleeping Gods Lie, Sites of Incomplete Blood RitualsUnique Goods
: Gas, Luxury Foods, Oil, Pharmaceuticals, Precious Metals (gold, silver), Radioactives, Spices, Poison, Drugs, Debauched Luxuries.
The fifth and final natural planet of Tau Ceti, this is a Mini-Neptune water world, a ball of mostly iced over water. It's orbit has it flit in and out of the cold lip of the habitable zone at 1.35 AU from the star. It has a much more sweeping orbital period than the other worlds, a year takes roughly 1.75 Earth years for this icy planet. On it's cold surface it holds a small community of a few thousand, who mainly work as hydrogen skimmers, others are strange alchemists of the various fungal spores and compounds found here, so rare 'wizard towers' do appear in the tundras. Due to the small number of people here, only a few skim-villages can be found across it's landscape, leaving masses
of unexplored mountains of madness and freezing cold seas and rivers bridging gaps between the skim-villages.
Frozen's skim-villages are survivalist by nature, governments are localised to them and exist as a tribal/collective sort. Locals bound for other worlds notably only wish to venture to Decadent or Excess. Some seek better work conditions, others save their coin to live pleasureably on a warmer and more habitable planet, safety being another reason to not bother with the pair of amber desert worlds after braving the colds.A secretive place where not too many eyes watch, trade does
occur with anyone who would venture out this far...
Frozen's food is seen somewhat as a rare delicacy with others in the system, such as the Gigantic Cetacea
meat, along meats from the blind man-sized albino Aptenodytes
which live in the ice-crags. However, Frozen is far more
well know for various other
useful things that can be found by the right buyer
... Law is a bare
minimum enforced here, village guards do
exist, though a 'don't tell' mentality pervades, maybe down to the hushed tales of strangeness that may exist in the icey mountains... Culture varies from skim-village to skim-village, though blue collar worker culture and 1930s antarctic pioneer feel is felt fairly strongly with many expeditions taking place here
.Frozen characters are good with self-sufficiency, though really suffer in the hotter climates.The Sunless Sea; everything past Frozen
The area of space past Frozen is known as the Sunless Sea, a vast amount of barren cold space that leads outward to a vast Debris Disk
('The Diamond Belt', 30-50 AU) filled with asteroids that marks the very edge of the system. Any ships attempting to find anything past this disk have either come back empty-handed (save for finding prior hulks of ships that tried before) or have not returned at all.
Because the inner three warring planets pay well for ore that may use it in their war economy (moreso than what would be paid for raw materials taken from Excess), there is a small trade of asteroid miners that venture into the far off Disk to earn their fortune. These ventures are more long-term affairs due to the time and distance (a journey into the disk takes years from Frozen) needed to reach these asteroids, laying out farther than any of the interplanetary distances in the system. It is also not without risk; due to gravitational forces it is known for asteroids to get pulled from the Disk and flung into the system. The risk is somewhat offset thankfully by the exceptionally
good pay for those Treejammers who'd work a full term as miners.
Also past Frozen, in specially known deep places in the system there are specially crafted crystalline moons
which act as pit-stops for Disk Miners. It is thought that behind closed doors that Elves lead in a feudal capacity and Halfling servants tend to the hydroponic fields, forests and gardens on these advanced nano-crafted wet worlds. Whilst this was assuredly true in Tau Ceti's past (infact the Halfling's first real homeworlds were the crystal moons), the Elves and halflings of the crystal moons seem fairly timid and reserved, if somewhat uniform...
The system of Tau Ceti has moved on a long way from their origins of a feudal based colony looking to make a new home for themselves... Whilst the various locations have all become something quite unique, rumour spreads of occasional strange sightings of overtechnology
, where science and Magik seem to mingle into the truly strange, which occasionally
in the form of treasures, finds it way into certain hands
...That may depend on whether the legendary High Elven Empire of old that apparently could and may actually hold vast power through the system is real or not... And if such an empire did it exist, what would happen if it were to be discovered by the bravest of Tau Ceti's adventurers if they dare to venture that far out into the Sunless Sea seeking to challenge such a well-armed and clearly shadowy Empire?