Whew! Week one of the blogging challenge is just about done. I was doing okay until day five. I didn’t start working on this post until 9:00 p.m. last night, which, after the week I’ve had, is a bit after my bedtime. Still, with drooping eyes, with throbbing temples, I plodded through, Pandora playing a mix of 50s doo-wop, reggae, and 80s new wave.
I’ve been using A to Z as an excuse to get more writing done for Tiamat’s Throne, focusing on the different planets in the sector conquered by the dragons. This post is supposed to be a more detailed write-up of Elanor, similar to what I’ve done recently for Castor and Deneb. Alas, this was not to be. Instead, you get this, namely me writing about how I come up with planet descriptions.
Here’s the big secret: It’s almost entirely random, using the various tables found in the Stars Without Number rules. I tweak things a bit here and there, but pretty much what you end up reading about is what I generated with my dice. For example, here’s the very-rough-draft-indeed version of Elanor:
Atmosphere: Breathable mix
Population: Tens of thousands
Tech Level: 3
World Tags: Heavy Mining, Altered Humanity
Reason for Colonization: Research outpost
Original Government: Autocracy
Current Government: Republic
Traits: Resigned, Warlike
Conflict: Land – The land is just a proxy; one side simply wishes to destroy the other, and so uses the dispute as an excuse for conflict. Both sides are confident that their diplomats can force a concession, and are holding back from war at present. Outsiders are vigorously recruited for the struggle for possession.
What I need to do now is take this raw, mostly random data and make it fit into Tiamat’s Throne. I say “mostly random” because I added the Altered Humanity tag without it coming up via a die roll. Elanor is the planet where one is most likely to encounter the malgrandegulos, the gengineered dwarf-like race created by the Eugenics Commissars for mining work.
What I think is most interesting about Elanor is the comparatively small population and the nature of the conflict on the planet. I’m envisioning a few, mutually hostile city-states. Each city-state controls an important mining interest and associated territory, but as resources in the territory become scarce, pressure to expand and remain profitable leads to conflict over unclaimed land. Diplomats from the various city-states vie against each other for negotiated advantages, preferring bloodless politics to the sort that comes out of the barrel of a gun.
The one thing I’m not sure I like about Elanor is the low tech level. Tech level 4 is imperial standard. Elanor’s lower tech level greatly limits her ability to engage in interplanetary travel and trade. This seems odd for a planet whose natural resources are vital to imperial interests. Perhaps this can be explained away by including an imperial fleet stationed off-world but still in Elanor’s system. The malgrandegulos mine using tech roughly equivalent to what we have today, and imperial agents take care of the shipment to extraplanetary markets.