Golden Worlds are a finite and heavily contested resource in Outward Realms. These rare worlds are quite Earth-like without the need for terraforming. But what is a seedship crew looking for when building a home meant to last for generations?
The basics are: an oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere, liquid water on the surface and gravity within 20% of Earth norms. But these requirements are just the baseline. From there the world must be reasonably geologically stable. There should be some volcanic activity, but it should not be so much that structures are at risk. The parent star or stars must be stable as well. They cannot have solar weather which would cause debilitative effects to colonists in regards to flares or bursts of hard radiation.
The world cannot be in the middle of recovery from a recent asteroid impact. Nor can it be in the middle of an ice age or runaway warming from greenhouse gases. It must be able to support life, and almost every Golden World which was colonized has existing flora and fauna. While the ability to harbor life is defining characteristic, this did lead to issues. Often there would be bacteria which could cause problems for colonists. Or plants whose presence introduced toxins or hyper-allergens into the air. There were even highly dangerous fauna, excellently adapted to their world and inimical to human life. Surveys and short trips to the surface can only provide so much data meaning every colony faced their own surprises and dangers.
Every Golden World in Realm space is claimed by the government or by a House. But regardless of who claims ownership, the Realm ensures compliance to the Edicts by building and maintaining a station on the perimeter of every solar system containing one or more of these worlds. These stations have a variety of functions but one of their most critical is the observation of these worlds, and supporting a contingent of Beggars garrisoned there. These Agents of the Realm, if few in number, have an outsized presence on the minds of every planetary governor or House leader. They also personally visit each of these worlds once a decade to collect the Beggar’s Due and remind each House that they exist at the largesse of the Realm government.
But for every story of woe befalling a new colony, there were more tales of success. Of colonists adapting and persevering to make their new home what they had envisioned. Humanity is spread among the stars and the loss of a single world is no longer an existential threat. Though given the rarity of Golden Worlds, it is of little surprise that conflict is drawn to these places. For the Realm they are the glittering jewels in its crown. Pride and necessity in equal measure. For the Batra, the planets most compatible with their physiology are the only places in which they can reproduce. For the Hexagota they are the easiest worlds to terraform and convert to their preferences. For the Niphal, they are places where sentient life is concentrated and so a target for their particular form of predation.
Which world will fight for in Outward Realms?
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