Campaign of the Month: January 2012
Star Trek Late Night
- Planet Name: Bajor (Bajor VII)
- Class: M
- Moons or Rings: Five moons
- Gravity: 1.0 G
- Climate: Standard atmosphere, 68% hydrosphere, moderate temperatures
- Demographics: Billions of natives
- Civilization: Artistic and religious, secular and religious governing councils
- Resources: Minerals, native arts and crafts
Bajor is the homeworld of the Bajorans, a venerable humanoid race with strong religious and artistic traditions. In the 24th century Bajor had to endure decades of brutal occupation by the Cardassian Union, which exiled much of the native population and stripped the planet of its natural resources. After the Cardassians withdrew, hopes for Bajor’s spiritual and cultural revival coincided with the discovery of a wormhole between Alpha and Gamma Quadrants in the Bajor-B’hav’el system; Bajoran religious authorities immediately declared that the wormhole was the traditional home of their gods, the Prophets.
Bajor is the seventh planet of the Bajor-B’hava’el system, which is located in Alpha Quadrant near Cardassia, at the edge of Federation space.
Bajor’s climate falls very much within Class M norms. It’s cold at the poles, hot at the tropics, and somewhere in between in the sub-arctic and subtropical zones, making them the places where life flourishes most easily. Rain falls most heavily in coastal areas and in mountain valleys, which is where visitors will find most of the planet’s flora and fauna.
Visiting Humans often comment on the lush natural beauty of Bajor. Since the Bajorans turned their back on planetary exploitation, and the Cardassian occupation was aborted before it could strip the planet of resources, many areas still have pleasant temperatures, occasional rains, and verdant flora.
Most Bajorans live on the continent of Bha’hagh, which by itself accounts for 60 percent of Bajor’s landmass. Islands, several of them large enough to be called continents, dot the oceans and account for the rest of the landmass. Bha’hagh lies astride the planet’s equator, and it is criss-crossed with mountain ranges that shelter the lush and fertile valleys that has cradled Bajoran civilization for millennia.
Under the Bajoran Provisional Government, Bha’hagh is divided for administrative purposes into quadrants: the Northwest Quadrant, the Northeast Quadrant, the Southwest Quadrant and the Southeast Quadrant. Each quadrant is in turn divided into provinces based on traditional Bajoran political entities, and the largest of these are Tozhat, Musilla, Hedrikspool. Dahkur, Lonar, and Rakantha.
To say the Bajorans are deeply spiritual fits the very definition of stating the obvious. Religion permeates every facet of Bajoran life, as it has since time immemorial. Bajoran religious belief centers around the Prophets, divine beings who provide the Bajorans with wisdom and spiritual guidance through the vedeks, or high priests. Many Bajorans believe that the enigmatic aliens who live in the Bajoran wormhole (see “Places of Interest,” below) are the Prophets, although this notion is by no means universally accepted.
According to Bajoran religious belief, the Prophets also communicate through visions transmitted by mysterious objects known as Tears of the Prophets, or more commonly, the Orbs. The Orbs are hourglassshaped artifacts of unknown origin that the Bajorans have discovered scattered throughout their solar system. They seem to function as energy vortices, and direct contact with them can have an unsettling effect on the central nervous system, producing hallucinations that the Bajorans understand as spiritual revelations. Cardassian occupation forces took eight of the nine Orbs with them when they left Bajor in 2369.
Two central ideas run through the Bajoran religious tradition. One is the strength and importance of the soul, or pagh. It is the repository of one’s life energy, and if you lead a pure and upright life, the Prophets will bless you and strengthen your pagh. Bajoran funeral rites also place much more emphasis on the soul of the deceased than on his physical remains. They pay almost no attention to the body, and yet the traditional Bajoran death chant has the priest and mourners recite sacred text for over two hours to usher the soul into the afterlife. The second tenet is that the Bajorans share an indivisible bond with their homeworld, as expressed in the ancient proverb, “The Land and the People are One.” This belief has been stretched and altered a bit as the Bajorans began colonizing other worlds, but it remains more or less intact. On the one hand, it made the mass exile caused by the Cardassian occupation all the more traumatic for those who left, but for those who remained and formed the Resistance, it inspired them to fight all the more fiercely for their home. These beliefs also influence Bajoran attitudes toward resource exploitation; many Bajorans still live pastoral lives with technology that most Federation citizens would consider limited at best.
Before the Cardassian occupation, the rigid caste system known as d’jarra shaped Bajoran society. D’jarra seems to have originated in the feudal phase of Bajor’s history, in which noble birth determined who had the right to rule, and one’s occupation strictly determined one’s place in society. Under this system, every Bajoran family was part of a d’jarra, or caste, based on the trade or occupation it had traditionally followed. If a family belonged to the peasant caste, every member of that family was destined to work the land; if it belonged to an artisan caste, everyone in it became a craftsman, and so on. During the Cardassian occupation, however, the d’jarra system broke down under the strain of the mass deportations that almost destroyed Bajoran culture, and those who remained chose to ignore traditional caste distinctions as they reorganized themselves to fight the invaders. After the occupation ended, the system was never re-imposed, although from time to time reactionary political and religious leaders suggested a return to it.
When the Cardassian Union occupied Bajor in 2339, the planet could best be described as a federation of regional nation-states. Each political entity selected its leaders by election (although only members of privileged castes could vote). Local vedeks, of course, could exert considerable influence over the electorate by the force of their moral authority. The Cardassians, of course, swept away or co-opted existing governmental institutions, in the latter case delegitimizing them in the eyes of most Bajorans.
After the Cardassians departed, only the Vedek Assembly was left with any power to shape Bajor’s future. The vedeks, led by Kai Opaka, understood that they could not (and should not) take the functions of civil government for themselves. Instead, they used their influence to assemble regional and faction leaders from all over Bajor for the purpose of forming a provisional government to oversee the planet’s reconstruction. The Chamber of Ministers emerged from these deliberations as Bajor’s new central legistlative authority. Once every six years, the Chamber of Ministers elects a First Minister to preside over it. Factionalism runs deep in the provisional government, as ambitious leaders who see opportunity in the chaos that the Cardassians left behind jockey to see who will benefit the most as Bajoran civilization rebuilds itself.
For its part, the Vedek Assembly tries to remain aloof from politics, even as it tries to shore up the provisional government’s legitimacy. In essence, it functions as a religious shadow government; it prefers to remain in the background, although their followers know that they can turn to it for guidance when the civil authorities seem paralyzed. The ambitious Kai Winn, who succeeded Kai Opaka in 2369, was an exception to this rule; when First Minister Kalem Apren died in 2371, she took control of the civil government as well as the Vedek Assembly and served out his term.
Bajorans can trace the history of their civilization back over the course of 30 milliennia, and by the fact of sheer longevity they have experienced almost everything that can happen to an advanced race, both good and bad. They have known periods of global peace and prosperity, periods of chaotic intramural warfare, and periods of just about everything in between. More recently, they have known both brutal occupation by a foreign power, the end of which left them with almost as many problems as their oppressors had inflicted, and spiritual exaltation from the possibility that they had discovered their gods in corporeal form.
The Bajorans developed space travel in the 16th century, using huge yet light craft powered by foil “sails” that caught Bajor-B’hava’el’s solar wind. These craft proved surprisingly durable, and archeological evidence found on Cardassia in the 24th century showed that they were even able to make the journey across systems.
In 2328, the Cardassian Union, which had long coveted its uridium-rich neighbor, formally annexed Bajor. After a bloodless invasion (traditionally, the Bajorans maintained only token planetary defenses), Cardassian forces occupied the planet. Over the next four decades, the Cardassians depopulated the planet, sending most of the population into exile. The Bajorans who remained were impressed as laborers, stripping the planet’s natural resources for the Cardassians’ benefit. Many Bajorans, however, escaped the Cardassian net and fought the occupation guerrilla-style, using sabotage and sneak attacks to make life as miserable as possible for their tormentors. Eventually, it worked. The drain on military resources that they caused had some in the Cardassian Central Command making reference to “the Bajoran ulcer.” Finally, Cardassian forces withdrew in 2369.
Left with the daunting task of rebuilding their society, the Bajoran provisional government turned to the Federation, which had also been the Cardassians’ enemy at one time, for economic aid and diplomatic cooperation. The Federation took over a former Cardassian orbiting mining depot and converted it into a Starfleet deep space station, christened Deep Space 9.
The Bajoran provisional government assumed that a Federation presence in their solar system would act as a guarantee against any future foreign aggression, but the destinies of the two intertwined more quickly and closely than either side reckoned. Almost immediately after Starfleet occupied DS9, station Science Officer Jadzia Dax discovered the mouth of a wormhole in a part of the Bajor-B’hava’el system previously unexplored. Subsequent investigation led by DS9’s commanding officer, Commander (later Captain) Benjamin Sisko discovered an advanced alien race living in the wormhole. On Bajor, the vedeks immediately declared that the aliens (whose identity has never been firmly established) must be the Prophets of their religion, and the wormhole the Celestial Temple in which they were said to live. By virtue of his discovery, the Bajorans acclaimed the reluctant Commander Sisko as the Emissary, a messianic figure foretold in their religious tradition, who would serve as a direct intermediary with the Prophets.
The discovery of the wormhole and the deep religious significance that they ascribed to it reinvigorated the Bajorans. They used it to send starships into Gamma Quadrant, even setting up the colony of New Bajor near the other end of the wormhole. Their elation did not last long, however. The Bajoran outpost (as well as the presence of Federation starships) drew the attention of the Dominion, the aggressive interstellar empire that controlled much of Gamma Quadrant. In 2371, the Dominion’s Jemm’Hadar shock troops destroyed New Bajor as a prelude to invading Alpha Quadrant through the wormhole.
The demise of New Bajor dealt a severe blow to Bajoran morale, but worse was yet to come. In 2373 the Dominion and their new Cardassian allies captured DS9, formally inaugurating the Dominion War. Powerless to resist an attack without Starfleet’s aid, the Bajoran provisional government, reluctantly acting on Captain Sisko’s advice, made a separate peace with the Dominion.
Bajor applied for Federation membership in 2369, and its application was finally accepted in 2373. However, Captain Sisko, acting on strange visions he had experienced since visiting ancient ruins at B’hala, advised the provisional government to withdraw their application. The Federation Council was taken aback by this turnabout, but left their invitation open. They formally tabled all discussion of the matter until the conclusion of the Dominion War.
In 2380 Bajor finally accepted the Federation membership and since that sime has become extremely active in Federation politics. Nine all Bajoran ships now serve in Starfleet.
PLACES OF INTEREST
The seat of the Bajoran Provisional Government is the city of Musilla in the province of the same name. The Chamber of Ministers meets in the Palace of the Akorem, which was built by a clan that ruled Musilla as royalty centuries ago. It is the largest royal palace to survive the Cardassian occupation. The Vedek Assemble meets nearby, in the stately Temple of the Prophets. All important government functions have been transferred to Musilla, including the Central Archives and the headquarters of the Bajoran Militia.
The orbiting station called Terok Nor by the Cardassians was renamed Deep Space 9 when Starfleet occupied at the end of the Cardassian occupation. Although Stafleet operated the facility from that point on, the Bajoran Provisional Government insisted that DS9 fall under its jurisdiction and that it would be subject to Bajoran law. DS9 also hosts various Bajoran festivals and ceremonies, including the annual Gratitude Festival, pending reconstruction of appropriate venues on Bajor. Captain Benjamin Sisko was DS9’s first commanding officer, and he served in that capacity with considerable skill and courage through the Dominion War. Upon his disappearance at the end of the war in 2375, Colonel Kira Nerys of the Bajoran Militia succeeded him.
The Bajoran wormhole is the only completely stable wormhole known to exist, and it is so named because one end opens in the Bajor-B’hava’el system, within the charged plasma field known as the Denorios Belt. The wormhole links Alpha and Gamma Quadrants, and it was created by a mysterious race that lives inside it. The Bajoran religious establishment preaches that these aliens are, in fact, the Prophets of whom their faith speaks, and they reject all scientific explanations of the wormhole and the beings that reside in it. Nonetheless, those with a scientific bent continue to study it (although all civilian expeditions were cancelled during the Dominion War), and their best estimates set the size of the wormhole at 70-90,000 light years in length.