Gatecrasher’s Almanac #3

Name: Artifice

Location: Unknown; system appear to be in a nebula

Atmosphere: Earth-like, higher concentrations of ozone in upper atmosphere

Gravity: 0.64G

Planetary Type: Terraformed

Artifice is a world accessible through the Vulcan Gate and Portal, and it’s only a matter of time before xenoarchaeologists swarm the world to pick it apart. Between the system’s location in a nebula cloud, the low gravity of the planet, and the apparent age of the star at the heart of the system, there’s no doubt that this world is at the very least heavily terraformed, if not engineered to an alarming degree.

While the life on the planet has plenty of biodiversity, and shows plenty of evidence of evolution, early tests suggest that sometime in the last few million years, every living thing on the planet was engineered from raw stock, with the individual species groups only looking genetically similar because they were built to be biocompatible. Prior to the point they were engineered, none of the life on this planet even existed.

Worse, the entire landmass seems to be a nice, solid layer of rich soil laid down over unyielding basaltic rock; the entire planet’s surface only varies from spherical due to rotation, without a single mountain or valley in sight. Rainfall seems to be evenly distributed across the surface, with a rainstorm rolling past each point on the planet around the local midnight, with evaporation during the day seemingly fueling the eternal storm-band as it swings around the planet.

No one has dug down yet, but Artifice is weirder yet; it has no fault lines, no instability in the crust, and seems to be a thick ball of rock sculpted by alien hands – but it has a powerful magnetosphere that aids the heavy ozone layer in protecting the surface from radiation. Likewise, there don’t seem to be any minerals to harvest, other than those needed for the biosphere and the basaltic rock layer.

Likewise, no one has yet gotten off-world – the influence of the magnetosphere, the electrostatic fields in the nebula, and the weirdness of the planet itself have kept anyone from doing more than launching a few canned satnets to map the featureless globe – but there’s sheer weird up there, as well. Half a dozen moons comprised of collections of various useful elements, likely culled directly from the planet during the engineering, hang in a neatly regulated set of orbits around the planet, their surfaces darkened by exposure to the nebula. There’s enough raw material sitting there in a tidily refined form to let an entire civilization kick-start from a group with a single unrestricted fabber.

The local star looks like an ancient red dwarf, but that’s not the case, either; when someone gets around to looking that way, a web of exotic matter is woven, gossamer-like, in a torus around it. It seems likely that the star was magnetically squeezed, mass vented into the void, to make the star smaller and more long-lived.

As for the builders of this weird single-planet system… Well, there don’t seem to be any direct signs of them, just ample evidence of their handiwork.

And if that doesn’t creep a group of PCs out… Well, they’re not paying attention.

Gatecrasher’s Almanac #3

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