The map on this page got me to thinking about automated terrain generation again. I’ve discussed the inadequacies of most terrain generation before, and I stand by it. On the other hand, as Realmwright says, there are advantages to exploring and filling in an existing map. Much as die rolls serve to spur the imagination in the generation of other planetary parameters, so does a randomly genned map. That’s not to say I’d use a generated map exactly as is. As a geography guy I feel it’s a matter of honor to improve the terrains and maps I’m presented with.
I’ve been off the Sadwillow project for awhile now, and I’ve since adapted the existing map to use in a competition as Kazh, the homeworld of the Klarr. Well, I needed to alter it a bit for the UNSEA universe anyway. The skeleton of the world remains: it’s a fairly hospitable little world with no native intelligent species settled by some extremely left-wing, freedom-loving folks. The people are pretty much a funhouse-mirror reflection of my own politics, only taken to a greater extreme. This will be in a future a bit nearer to our time, and the interstellar society is still alive and healthy.
Ironically, the planet Sadwillow, the second planet in the… system, was named for, “The Chronicles of Sadwillow,” a classic series of fantasy novels published during the early years of interstellar settlement.
Walther Clegg, the author of, “The Chronicles of Sadwillow,” was a supporter of the astroprimitivist movement, a group of artists and poets opposed to space colonization and technological society.
In the stories, the evil Nar and their various loathsome minions and allies, like the chuggums are part of a sort of magical steampunk empire ruled by the soulless Vampire Lords.
The empire of the Nar and their vampiric masters has expanded to the point where it threatens the land of Sadwillow, an idyllic valley inhabited by the stoutlings, a pleasant, socialistic race of small, kindly humanoids living in close harmony with nature and each other. A small party of stoutling heroes sets out to try to find the legendary wizzuns, a race of wise magical beings who may have the power to save Sadwillow, and perhaps all of the lands of Burpwallow from the power of the Vampire Lords.
The popularity of, “The Chronicles of Sadwillow,” spread well beyond the astroprimitivist movement. In fact, although the writing was excellent, much of the astroprimitivist and neoluddite sentiment of the story is lost in the noise of the pseudo-mediaeval steampunk setting.
Sadwillow was first surveyed in 2142 by an automated probe launched by the Indonesian LRAN(Layanan Ruang Angkasa Negara – State Space Service) under UNSEO auspices. The International Astrophysical Union(IAU) decides to give the bodies in the system Welsh names, but after fans of the “Chronicles of Sadwillow” series of books petition to get a habitable body named “Sadwillow”, the habitable planet formerly known as Bran is renamed Sadwillow. Sadwillow’s moon retains the name Branwen and its major surface features vary, some are named for Welsh mythology, some are named based on the Sadwillow Chronicles and others have descriptive names translated into Welsh. Minor surface features and cultural features are even more of a mixed bag as usual, since the IAU seldom bothers with anything much smaller than continents, seas and sometimes mountain ranges.
Being well out on the periphery of human exploration, in a region that would come to be known as The Ragged Edge, Sadwillow was not a high priority for settlement. It wasn’t until 2187 that a group of socialists mostly from Earth, seeking isolation, began to settle on Sadwillow. For their major settlement, they selected Zendoria, a moist temperate region on the north coast of the Zendor Zee just west of the Sendagar Mountain Range. Smaller settlements are placed along the Akronis Cosmodrome’s major orbital launch track, mainly to facilitate recovery of launch vehicle lower stages. In keeping with the Welsh theme, these are named Gorsaf Dau, Gorsaf Tri*, Gorsaf Pedwar and Gorsaf Pum*. Akronis Cosmodrome will eventually come to be known as the Gorsaf Un Starport even as the other Welsh-numbered Stations shed their original names.
By 2209 settlement of the rich agricultural plains east of the Sendagar mountains. Most settlers refer to it as Far Sendagar, which they eventually contract to Farsendagar. In 2223, after a major rare mineral strike in the mountains near Gorsaf Tri, that settlement expands to become Mecklenoria. The Mecklenite mines attract the first new stream of outside settlement since the original emplacement of Zendoria, eventually growing bigger than the original colony. The boom quickly peters out as economical mineral sources are discovered closer to the more populous core of human space. By 2238 immigration has largely dried up and Mecklenoria has largely become a ghost town with a comparable population to Zendoria. While Sadwillow has largely dropped out of interstellar trade, Mecklenoria’s economy supports technological independence for Sadwillow.
Faced with independent status, the three very different colonies of Zendoria, Mecklenoria and Farsendagar try to form a united government. Strangely, the Acts of Confederation creating the Sadwillow Federation aren’t signed until 2243, after the population of Sadwillow drops below the million person threshold. The independence of Sadwillow isn’t officially confirmed until the Interstellar Court of Justice decision in their favor comes down in 2257.
In 2241, a group of wealthy investors from the mineral-rich asteroid belt of Samekh 724 less than nine light years from Sadwillow’s system set up a sort of vacation settlement in the Ariontos Archipelago near Gorsaf Pum. By the time their legal challenge of Sadwillon independence fails, their colony is well-established. Faced with a lengthy legal battle to have the Arion settlements removed, the Sadwillow Federation considers the offer by Ariontos to join the Federation. While the majority in Zendoria vote to pursue the expulsion of Ariontos, Mecklenoria and Farsendagar overwhelmingly support Ariontos membership to avoid a further legal battle. The results of the Ariontos Membership Decision(AMD) cause a great deal of resentment between Zendoria and the other boroughs. The 2259 vote to increase social services and top-bracket income taxes largely allays resentment between Zendoria and its neighbors Farsendagar and Mecklenoria. An undercurrent of contempt between Zendoria and Ariontos will continue to be a source of conflict on Sadwillow.
After the AMD extremist Zendorian political group secretly supports illegal immigration to a small settlement on the Morba continent near Gorsaf Pedwar. After the Pedwar Affair is exposed in 2268, there is a narrow vote against removing the settlement, greatly angering most of Ariontos.
In 2275, Setliad Pell is admitted to the Sadwillow Federation. Pell becomes the Federation’s fifth borough and the third borough on the Zendor continent.
It is currently the turn of the 24th century. Many on Sadwillow are finding their splendid isolation threatened as interstellar colonization begins to encroach on their neighborhood. Others are eager to embrace the greater human civilization and take advantage of the opportunities it presents. Friction between the boroughs continues even as the formerly illegal immigrants of Pedwar make a bid to become Sadwillow’s sixth borough, and the possibility of creating its own interstellar colonies beckons.
This is one small corner of the rebooted world of the Solar Union.