Campaign of the Month: January 2012
Star Trek Late Night
- Planet Name: Betazed
- Class: M
- Moons or Rings: 3 moons
- Gravity: 1.0 G
- Climate: Standard atmosphere, 78% hydrosphere, temperate
- Demographics: Billions of natives
- Civilization: Matriarchal bureaucracy
- Resources: crystals, artwork, timber, philosophical treatises
Home to the telepathic Betazoids, Betazed is near the center of Federation space and is a prominent member world. Although not a founding member of the Federation, Betazed occupies a strategically important location. In addition, it is well-favored for its combination of good climate and outgoing, friendly inhabitants.
Betazed is the third planet in its system, a small collection that includes three gas giants and an uninhabitable rock. Located near the heart of the Federation and conveniently close to the Tagus/Kaelon trade route, Betazed has a fair share of tourism and trade. Because of its strategically important location, Betazed became the site of a Dominion invasion during the Dominion War – an event that would prove to have severe negative repercussions for the Dominion.
Visitors and natives alike describe Betazed’s climate as “lush,” “heady,” “tropical,” and even “paradisical.” The Betazoids themselves, as natural empaths and telepaths, prefer to have their communities remain pleasantly happy with their surroundings. Fortunately the planet has a native clime that accommodates most humanoids, and the Betazoids have encouraged minor climate adjustments in some areas to make sure that the weather is often calm and pleasing.
Betazed also hosts a wide range of natural flora and fauna. Widely-habited areas tend to be well-kept, and a Betazoid city is a cross between architectural experimentation and park construction. The combination of Betazoid care for their surroundings and steady climate means that all manner of heavily-leafed plants and trees thrive across much of the planet. In areas away from habitation, undergrowth is often thick and wild, with a jungle-like appearance – vines, dense trees and ground cover.
Thanks to Betazed’s strong ecological programs, the world still hosts a wide variety of native fauna that aren’t found anywhere else in the Galaxy. These range from the elusive nightwind falcon, a type of raptor that can be domesticated through empathic training, to the mysterious whispering men, a sort of proto-humanoid similar to Earth’s legendary sasquatch and named for the fact that they telepathically have a sort of quiet whisper that never quite reaches the level of language. Many Betazoid plants and animals have very specific tolerance requirements. On Betazed, where the ecology is strong and the planet not subjected to unusual heat or cold, such requirements are not harmful, but this does mean that efforts to export Betazoid creatures, whether for transplantation or for conservation programs, almost always fail.
Despite being a technically-advanced Federation world (in the 23rd and later centuries), Betazed eschews the use of invasive weather control technology. Combined with the influence of its three small moons, this means that Betazed’s weather patterns can be somewhat unpredictable. While the planet’s minor axial tilt leaves the seasons temperate and mild, mild typhoons remain an occasional danger. Betazed does, of course, employ a conscientious advance warning system as well as a well-trained hazard operations squad to deal with visitors or unfortunates caught in the midst of a nasty squall.
Looking like a large cloudless oceanic planet from space, Betazoid is a shockingly blue world. Still, even though its hydrosphere is slightly more prevalent than Earth’s, the temperate (albeit occasionally stormy) weather means that more of the land masses are habitable. Betazoids therefore live on just about every part of the planet, and the continents are riddled with a disproportionate number of placid lakes.
Thanks to Betazed’s five well-watered continents and many archipelagoes, the Betazoids developed quickly as a species. Lots of habitable room translated into fast population growth, which in turn led to rapid technological development. For much of their history, this combination of climate and geography kept Betazoid a peaceful planet.
Because Betazed is less geologically active than Earth, mountains are rarer and less severe on its continents. Only two of the continents have more than a single range of central mountains. Betazoids who see the more severe mountains of Earth and Andoria often have difficulty comprehending their sheer starkness at first. Indeed, the climate and geography of Betazed combine to give Betazoids a feeling of security. Used to temperate climes and forgiving geography, many Betazoids find other worlds stark or even hostile by contrast.
Betazoids have a pseudo-religious, semi-matriarchal society. Ruling houses, descended from various legendary figures, make up a planetary council that speaks for all citizens; each house broadly encompasses the interests of millions of people, in rough geographic locations (and along certain familial lines). The system of representation can be complicated by the fact that Betazoids can petition along their matrilineal lines in order to be heard, in much the same way that a citizen might write a letter to a representative in a representative democracy. Each house claims its mandate from its legendary founder, an acolyte of the Betazed mythic hero Krystaros.
Fortunately for them, the Betazoid telepathy and empathy meant that warfare was a largely foreign concept for much of Betazed history. The earliest records of conflict in Betazoid history indicate a spiritual war with noncorporeal entities – described as demons in ancient religious texts. Most modern anthropologists assume that these entities were similar to the emotion-feeding creatures like the “Redjac” encountered by the Constitution-class USS Enterprise. Betazoids presumably evolved their telepathic abilities to combat such beings, and in the process created a society whereby honesty and compassion were paramount: few Betazoids could bear to feel the pain or discomfort of fellow citizens, especially on a large scale.
Betazed wholeheartedly contributes to and partakes in Federation science and technology projects, and this shows. Their cities are built with large mushroom-shaped structures that rise up on thin spires, leaving more of the ground open for natural growth. Betazed contributes its telepathic expertise, psychological experience and philosophical developments to Federation civilization, and in return the Federation’s strongly technical members help with advanced replication technology, engineering, and land reclamation. The result is that the average Betazoid has a very high and enjoyable standard of living, while the citizenry have little fear of discontent; an unhappy Betazoid is often quickly discovered and counseled by friends, neighbors, and family, all of whom want to re-establish the pleasant environs.
The combination of telepathic sensitivity and pleasant climes meant that Betazoids evolved peacefully and rapidly. While their world provided for all of their needs and they felt little need to explore beyond, the Betazoids did eventually develop space travel, although they lagged behind in that area compared to their advances in sociology and similar “soft” sciences.
Early Betazoids had a strongly religious outlook stemming from a combination of their telepathic sensitivity (giving them insight into communities and the well-being of their fellows) and their forgiving homeworld (which gave them a sense of placement – the feeling that the world was designed to suit them). The earliest legends told that the clergy formed around Krystaros and his followers, a group of legendary saviors who honed Betazoid telepathy in order to fight off incorporeal “demons.” For millennia afterward the clergy also served as the heads of secular government. Armed with the combination of righteous responsibility and the artifacts of Krystaros, the priests defused potential conflicts, directed the growth of civilization and comforted their brethren with the knowledge that Betazoids held a cherished place in the scheme of life. Of course, this peaceful civility meant that Betazoids had little impulse to move beyond their homeworld. It wasn’t until a religious schismatic named Dainara proposed the formation of a separate, secular government that Betazoid industries started to evolve beyond their religiously-ordained roles. Even the discovery of other worlds and of space travel wasn’t enough to put the nail in the coffin of theocratic authorities.
Betazoid history took a turn with the discovery of nearby Terab IV. The Terabians at first seemed amicable humanoid neighbors, but later proved to be suspicious of the Betazoids’ telepathy. The non-telepathic Terabians eventually took to scapegoating Betazoids and even interring them based solely on suspicion of the telepaths. Conflict erupted between the Betazoids and Terabians, until Betazoid diplomats succeeded in negotiating a peace. As a result the Betazoids embraced a Code of Sentience, developed by Dainara, to outline the limits of their dealings with non-telepathic species. Hand-in-hand with this Code, the Betazoids initiated the difficult process of migrating power out of the hands of the clergy (who made it difficult to negotiate with outsiders due to their extreme position of the Betazoids as “blessed” or “chosen” people) and into the hands of local, then global, secular authorities.
Shortly after the Terabian incident, the Betazoids encountered the Federation. While at first the Betazoids feared another dispute – with the realization that a great many other species weren’t telepathic and, as a result, were predisposed to suspicion and dishonesty – the nascent Federation did have a positive outlook. Vulcans, while wildly different from Betazoids on an emotional level, could deal with other telepaths. Human optimism and compassion, combined with the drive and loyalty of other Federation species, won over the Betazoids, who finally dissolved the remaining religious requirements of their matriarchal world government and joined the Federation.
Betazed stayed a peaceful background member of the Federation up until the Dominion War in the late 24th century. While Betazoids served in Starfleet as counselors and occasionally in other positions, the overall proportion of Betazoids traveling offworld remained low. Unfortunately for them, the Dominion decided to conquer Betazed as a staging ground for attacks against the core worlds of the Federation, and as a sign of strength – the ability to penetrate deeply and take even important worlds. Betazoid’s outdated and minimal planetary defenses were not enough to fight off the occupation, and millions died from the orbital bombardments and Jem’Hadar assaults. This tactic came back to haunt the Dominion, though. While the Betazoids were not violent by nature, their innate telepathy made it impossible for Founders to infiltrate or cause terror. The ability to sense incoming troops and read battle plans made it also nearly impossible for the Founders to blockade the system without exhaustive resources, and thus failed to keep Betazoids from being able to leave and supplement Federation resources elsewhere. Most tellingly, the fall of Betazed galvanized Captain Benjamin Sisko in a risky scheme to falsify evidence that eventually brought the Romulans into the Dominion War on the side of the Alpha and Beta Quadrant powers.
During the Empire War, Betazed opened its arms and greeted thousands of refugees from the Romulan Star Empire. This has created much unrest amongst the Betazoid population as the refugees brought with them much crime.
PLACES OF INTEREST
Betazed’s capitol is Medara, an ancient holy city turned civic center. The center of the city still contains tremendous temples, academies, and monasteries. Government buildings surround this center in a hublike fashion, and residences then spread outward along giant ring patterns. While Betazed government centers here, the city retains a powerful contingent of religious and mystic factions. As a result, the architecture also bears distinct differences from many other parts of Betazed. While modern cities have reclaimed natural areas and high-tech construction, the temples of Medara garner the occasional restoration project but almost never have a technological makeover. As a result, the center of Medara is a sort of mecca of stone buildings, cobbled roads, and wooden arches – all often containing soothing, meditative patterns or historical artwork and statuary – that offer a look back into the history of Betazoid civilization. As one travels outward from the hub, the technology involved improves, until reaching the residential rings, which are built with state-of-the-art designs.
Betazed’s many islands often remind Human visitors of the Pacific Islands of Earth: Warm, tropical, mountainous, with wonderful jungles and beaches. Betazed may not be a deliberately formed vacation world like Risa, but it certainly places a close second.
Betazed’s museums and historical displays contain everything from the early writings of Khrystaros to the sacred items of his followers, like the Sacred Chalice of Rixx. Some families still hold these artifacts in their own homes and lands, and while religious significance is not as great as it once was, these artifacts still have great cultural value. Mystics especially have a tendency to find these items intriguing. While there’s little evidence that the Betazoids ever built psionic weapons like the early Vulcans, some of the ancient artifacts seem to resonate with an eeriness that suggests a purpose. Perhaps the difference lies in the fact that the Betazoid mystics battled against non-corporeal entities instead of using devices to augment psionic abilities against physical foes. For obvious reasons, many such artifacts remain under lock and key. Nevertheless, some Betazoid mystics claim that the items have the ability to perform miracles. Khrysaros’ personal artifacts are believed scattered among the monasteries of several orders, but nobody is certain exactly where they lie.