Ancient Trails - A Spacer's Guild Campaign Played via Virtual Tabletop
Dorlass is often thought of as the red-headed
stepchild of the Twilight sector. It is certainly the
hot, dry one.
Dorlass is Orion Confederation territory. The
primary, Dorlass, is home to some 72 million
Orion citizens, mostly humans. The population
contains mainly separatists groups. These are
groups that want to live out their lives by their
own codes or according to their own religious
beliefs separate and apart from the main body
of Orion society. These groups always seem to
function better in lightly settled areas, and Dorlass
and the Twilight Sector are certainly that. The
world itself is semi-arid, and the natives are in the
process of doing minor terraforming of the planet.
They are attempting to use a large reservoir of
internal water, as well as some ice ball asteroids
to increase the free water available on planet. This
will, if all goes as planned, increase the size of the
temperate bands on planet, making more land
available for settlement. Certainly it will make the
planet more productive agriculturally.
Even with Dorlass’ heat and water problems it
would probably get a Class One type if it weren’t
for its unique chemistry. The result of this unique
chemistry is that native life is incompatible with
standard terrestrial life. Standard human flora and
fauna can’t be grown on planet without significant
modification. In short, standard terrestrial life can’t
digest native lifeforms and vice versa.
The system was discovered in 2836 by the Seti-
Tallos mining corporation survey ship, Mistress of
the Belt, the same ship which discovered Terra/
Sol. This discovery, however, did not generate
nearly as much excitement. Seti-Tallos still has a
very active presence on the planet and the system
in general, especially the Kressler Asteroid Belt.
After the initial wave of settlement on Terra/Sol
the system immediately drew the interest of some
groups there who could see the writing on the
wall – Terra would soon be swarming with people.
*System*The Dorlass system is composed of ten planets
and one asteroid belt; the primary Dorlass is the
second planet. The first planet, Hope is a super
gas giant. The other planets in the system in order
going outward from Dorlass, are Serendipity, a
gas giant, Vormoot, a cold super terran planet,
Behemoth, a gas giant, The Kressler Asteroid Belt,
Oleander, a gas giant, Champaign, a cold terran
planet, Rockfall, a cold sub-terran planet, Hastings,
a cold sub-terran planet, and Driscoll, a tiny cold
Seti-Tallos has set up extensive gas mining facilities
in orbit around both Hope and Serendipity. Several
large space stations service each of the mining
operations and are guarded by at least three
frigates in system at any one time. Each facility
also houses a squadron of fighters. Seti-Tallos
officials contend that all this firepower is to ward
off any lawlessness that might spill over from the
Kressler Belt, and truth be told there has been the
odd incident involving piracy against Seti-Tallos
assets in the last decade. However, others wonder
exactly what the corporation is mining. Certain
rare gases are mined from many gas giants, but
the initial mining surveys did not reveal any such
opportunities and the corporation is mum on the
topic, which of course leads to speculation.
The Kressler Asteroid belt is home to over two
million miners, claim jumpers and pirates. Most are
SIMs, genetically altered to withstand the rigors
of deep space without artificial gravity. The two
centers of “culture” in the belt are the Ram’s Head
and the Cavern asteroids. Both are hollowed out
and have enhanced rotations to provide some light
gravity. Ram’s Head is the capital while the Cavern is
headquarters to most of the belt’s criminal element.
Dorlass is an extremely arid and hot planet,
with most areas receiving less than 5 inches of
rainfall per Dorlass year (289, 22.9 hour days).
Average heat in the mid-latitudes is 98° F at
midday, dropping to 46° F during the night.
The temperature extremes and arid conditions
however are not the prime deterrent to human
habitation, as the planet has an extensive
underground water table and technology can
deal with the extreme heat. The main problem
the planet suffers, from a human perspective, is
that the native animal and plant life is biologically
incompatible with human chemistry.
In short humans can’t digest the local food without
extensive and expensive processing. This means
that humans have had to import Terran plants
and animals. Cattle ranching, which would be
the most logical agricultural pursuit on Dorlass, is
hampered because the Terran cattle can’t digest
the local fauna. So ranchers must plant plots of
Terran grasses, for their cattle to eat. All of this is of
course expensive and time consuming. It also takes
quite a bit of land area away from native life forms,
which provides even more ammunition for the
Most life on Dorlass, both native and imported,
is centered on the gorges that slice the surface
of the planet. These gorges were created in an
earlier geologic age, when water ran freely on the
surface of the planet. They are now the center of
life on the planet, sheltering its only freestanding
water. They are also road maps to the greatest
concentrations of underground water. Small
intermittent streams and rivers run at the bottom
of many of these gorges. They have carved out
extensive cave complexes where they cut into the
planet’s surface to deliver their precious water to
the underground water reservoirs.
Cold Suits – Somewhat of a misnomer, these
form-fitting garments can provide both heating
and cooling. The suits can also be outfitted with
hoods, to provide full body protection. However
social custom has evolved so that women will
wear the hoods, and men for the most part will
not. They often add a hat with environmental
controls in lieu of the hood.
Cyna Worms – Small (ranging from ¼” to 5” in
length), worm-like creatures. These creatures fill
the insect analog role in the Dorlass ecosystem.
They look like worms but are quick moving.
Many species create communal nests and have
developed castes. The breeding caste does
nothing but procreate, while the worker caste
sees to the needs of the colony. Some species
have developed warrior castes as well. The
creatures acquired their names because they are
commonly symbiotic with the Cynafea plant.
Cynafea Plant – This large plant (2’ to 4’ tall when
leaves are fully extended) has roots that reach as
far as 30 meters into the sandy soil. The leaves
of these plants are the only things visible above
ground. During the cold nights the leaves actually
fold up and retract underground. They will also
do this when threatened, for example, by a heard
of Uberdeen. With a long straw (at least 10’) like
instrument, water can be extracted from the
central trunk of these plants.
Gorges – One of the main natural features of
Dorlass. These long (often 80 kilometers or more)
thin (seldom over a mile wide) natural features
are attributed to the underground water table of
the planet. In effect they are long, thin sinkholes
formed by underground rivers. Streams usually
run through the bottom of these features at
least intermittently. They appear at one end of
a gorge and eventually return underground at
the terminus. Gorges are one of few sources of
fresh water on the surface of Dorlass, and so most
native life is found around them.
Uberdeen – Large buffalo analog grazers. Mainly
herbivores but they sometimes scavenge on
carcasses as well.