Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Designing a Planet Part 5 - History
The shout outs will keep coming the more people talk to me and let me join the ranks of their blog networks. This time its for International House of Paincakes, who are one of the most renowned blog networks out there, they have probably hundreds of blogs with them, the majority of them good (at least in my experience). So follow the link to their page on my website by clicking the banner on the right and check them out.
While originally I was going to continue the bit on culture but that will come after this one. I was writing for the second culture article (on military culture on a planet) but I realized while I was doing it that so much of it was dependent on what had happened in the past of the planet for the current style of how things work and people interact that the history bit should be done after the purpose bit. So for all intents and purposes at the moment consider the order for designing a planet to be ecosystem, geography, purpose, history, and then culture. Writing this blog is really helping me to develop my skills as well since I never really documented how I did things like I am now, so with this new knowledge at the front of my consciousness I will now continue.
History is going to be one of the most important parts of your planet/city/nation/whatever the heck you are scaling this series down (or up) to. This will give direction for personalities on the world and a certain mindset that follows various events, perhaps helping you to make decisions on political situations or current events that you were unsure of before. Defining the history requires taking into account all the players that might have a part in events on the planet, being the ecosystem, geography, things to fight for/over, people in the immediate area or that have a stake in the place, and also potential random events. The potential of random events is nigh unlimited, from natural disasters to warp storms to freak mutations to great economic boom. Lets focus on the effects of history upon the economy as this can change a lot of different things. If a planet ends up being well off throughout history then its soldiers will be better equipped, its citizens happier and healthier, every part of it would be bigger and in general better off, allowing for facilities that might not be seen on poorer planets such as a fully outfitted space port that is able to repair space cruisers or similar items that require a significant deal of wealth. The events that might be more likely to happen in history when a planet is wealthy would involve gangs and politicians that are economically powerful and well funded, having battles for money and for the higher profiting markets instead of the less profitable (though still nice) drug or slave trades. Pirates would probably be more apt to attack the planet or ships near its space, perhaps the attention of Orks or other xenos could be attracted because of the splendor of the region. If the planet is poor certain elements not seen in wealthy places become commonplace such as disease and a very large and dangerous crime world. People could be reeling from a plague that killed billions of them due to poor living conditions and bad medical facilities only twenty years ago or even several millenia, the impact of that would have left a very long lived impression upon the people. Gangs could have more strength and influence in cities than the local militia because so many people need to resort to crime to survive, perhaps gang wars are a permanent feature in the hives, destroying a different block every day from the scale of the battles. Finally chaos cults are far more likely to permeate certain parts of society because of the lack of imperial supervision over all aspects of society like they are in wealthier settings, so potential demon incursions or just chaos uprisings against the local forces have happened or are building up to the point that the current event is the uprising. Defining how the economy is or has been opens up avenues to take the planet's history down.
What defining the history of the planet does is it provides support for future developments in your setting, helping provide strong reasons for why things are as they are and allowing for a natural progression of development with the planet. It adds an element to your story that you can refer back to if you ever need inspiration on where to take your story when you are at a dead end or having writer's block, perhaps it is something that your characters can discuss and how the problems that they are facing are not new but originate all the way from when the planet was first colonized.
The Jungle Planet was settled to keep the Eldar in check so that brings one potential player and event into play. Because it is a jungle disease would be far more common and would travel far faster due to the high population density of bugs that might carry bacteria or viruses. Settling the planet was never an economic endeavor so the economy would be either poor or average, defining what kinds of problems might have happened on the planet. Governors of the planet would almost always come from the Generals in the Army or Navy, so how the leaders would react to problems could be categorized and determined by the process of the military's procedures and ideals. Based on all of this the planet has been colonized for about 3000 years and a lot has happened in that time. The initial claiming of the planet took about four months, time where the Army was deployed onto the planet and painstakingly searched the majority of its area seeking out potential hostiles. After that time the engineers and workforce were brought down and they cleared large swathes of land and began building the structures and fortresses that are mostly still up today. This took three decades to finish the development of the planet, during which nothing significant really occurred. This was followed by several centuries of peace and boring history. After some time the Dark Eldar chose to make a raid upon the planet, swooping in and terrorizing the place for about a week and kidnapping thousands of people and taking much plunder before disappearing back into space without a trace. Because of how the Imperium of Man works and its propensity to blame the wrong people for everything they became furious with the Exodites and so built up a massive force and prepared to send out forces to attack the worlds. Because the Eldar are so psyker dependent and look into the future they determined that they were going to be attacked and so the Exodites and two craftworlds launched a preemptive strike against the planet, crippling key ships and killing billions of guardsmen and thousands of tanks before the Eldar finally were driven back. At this point the defenses were rebuilt, the garrison reinforced by the local population as well as by off world imperial guard soldiers, adding some more diversity to the ranks of the soldiers. From here a cold war with the eldar began where the imperium would put a massive army very close to the eldar who would respond with a massive force of their own or some piece of super technology and so on. This continued for a while before a massive Ork Waaagh! Swept into the system having been drawn by the escalating tension and seeing a potential for much fighting and plunder. This unified the Eldar Exodites and the Imperial administrators of this sector and so they fought the Orks for several decades before finally ending the threat of the Orks. To this day Ork warbands still pop up on the planet due to the spores created by the Orks that had gotten onto the planet those millenia back. From there the only thing that has happened is the building of a massive space port made to repair just about any Imperial ship in the galaxy aside from those operated by the space marines.
What happened after this point now is current events which will be one of the last things we work on for this planet.