Ferenginar

PLANETARY PROFILE
  • Planet Name: Ferenginar
  • Class: M
  • Moons or Rings: None
  • Gravity: 1.0 G
  • Climate: Standard atmosphere, 70% hydrosphere, cool temperatures
  • Demographics: Billions of humanoid natives
  • Civilization: Expansionist and Inflexible, plutocracy (transforming to democracy)
  • Resources: Investment capital, latinum

Ferenginar is the capital planet of the Ferengi Alliance and the homeworld of the Ferengi, the sharpest traders in Alpha Quadrant. No one visits Ferenginar for the climate, however; an unusually active water cycle makes it a wet, clammy world in which it is almost constantly raining. Much of its landmass is swamp, or at least constantly soaked, and precious little of it is usable for large-scale construction unless it is thoroughly drained first.

LOCATION

Ferenginar is the fifth planet in the Alpha Krellek system, which is located in Alpha Quadrant. Alpha Krellek occupies a strategic location, nestled alongside the Federation and the Cardassian Union on the one side and the Gamma Quadrant-based Dominion on the other, with the Romulan and Klingon Empires in close proximity. Their homeworld’s place as a galactic crossroads ensures that the Ferengi prosper in times of peace, while clever diplomacy preserves their independence in wartime.

CLIMATE

On Ferenginar, it doesn’t rain every single moment of every day; it only feels that way. No matter the latitude, precipitation is a pervasive fact of life on the planet, so much so that the Ferengi language has 178 different words for rain. For reasons that have never been fully discovered, Ferenginar’s water cycle is unusually active, even for a Class M world, so that the atmosphere absorbs a great deal of water through evaporation and constantly dumps it back on the surface. The only regional difference in climate on the planet is that the rain is colder near the poles than it is at the tropics.

GEOGRAPHY

Ferenginar has only one large continental landmass, known as Ulang. Most of it is flat, since constant rainfall eventually erodes any geological feature that tectonic activity raises up. Much of the land surface on Ulang is also swamp and difficult to use, especially along the coastline.

CIVILIZATION

The government of the Ferengi Alliance centers around the venerated figure of the Grand Nagus, who personally controls the most important aspect of Ferengi life – access to trade concessions and other business opportunities. No Ferengi can embark on a commercial venture, great or small, without the personal approval of the current Grant Nagus (in practice, however, the lower rungs of the civil service bureaucracy handle the smaller requests for ventures). The very first Grand Nagus, Gint, was a wealthy merchant whose success had earned him widespread admiration, and ever since it has been an unspoken assumption underlying Ferengi politics that skill at turning a profit proves that one is fit to guide the fortunes of the entire race. The Grand Nagus gets to choose his own successor, and most since Gint have been selected based on professional success (some Grand Naguses have opted for hereditary succession, but this has not always turned out well). Each Grand Nagus serves for life, or until voluntary retirement.

Much of the symbolism of Ferengi government reinforces the personal nature of the Grand Nagus’ rule, and outsiders sometimes jokingly refer to him as the Ferengi Godfather, using the 20th century Human term for an organized crime boss. The Grand Nagus requires personal interviews (sometimes more than one) before granting important business concessions, and he may also choose to hear appeals of decisions made in the criminal and civil courts. He also carries an ornate cane with a gold knob in the shape of a Ferengi head as a symbol of his office, and it is customary for supplicants to honor him by kissing the head of the cane. When a Grand Nagus dies, his physical being becomes something of a fetish object, as his body parts are vacuum-desiccated and auctioned off as collectibles by his successor.

However, the Ferengi Alliance has grown so rapidly since the 21st century that no individual can properly oversee all of its activities. The Grand Nagus may appoint up to a dozen sub-Naguses to assist him by taking charge of a particular territory or industry group. Each sub-Nagus may in turn appoint any number of Apprentice Naguses to serve as sub-lieutenants. Below them – and to a certain degree, independent of them – an army of civil service bureaucrats toil away, making sure that the small matters that the Ferengi Alliance is supposed to oversee get taken care of. These range from resolving civil and criminal court cases to licensing freighters to granting small trade concessions. In theory, the civil service must strictly obey policy dictates laid down by the Naguses, but in practice they tend to see themselves as the true authorities of the government and interpret Ferengi law codes according to local circumstance. The Naguses, after all, are political appointees whose term in office is relatively short, while many civil servants spend their entire adult lives within the bureaucracy. Naguses come and go, but the bureaucrats are eternal.

The fact that Ferengi law can be applied flexibly is one of the great ironies of their society, as they regard contracts and regulations as sacred. Breaking a contract is one of their deepest taboos. It results in loss of face, and the offender may have his business licenses revoked and all his assets seized to pay the party he offended (with the government keeping a cut for itself, of course). In addition to the Rules of Acquisition, Ferengi law books are filled with more specific sets of regulations covering every aspect of business and social conduct. In practice, all laws are subject to interpretation, and even the lowliest functionary of the Ferengi Alliance will interpret freely when he feels it necessary to do so.

The Ferengi Alliance maintains a modest, but potent military establishment headquartered on Ferenginar. They use their warships to patrol important trade routes, ensure the Alliance’s territorial integrity and protect Ferengi business interests abroad, if necessary. The Ferengi do not hold military service in high esteem, and it is a popular truism that those who serve in the fleet must have failed in some way at every Ferengi’s true calling, commerce. Nonetheless, the wealth has bought the Ferengi Alliance a fleet of warships as modern as any in Alpha Quadrant and lucrative enlistment bonuses have lured enough competent officers and crew to make them a respectable adversary. The Ferengi Alliance could well afford to employ mercenaries, but they have never had to do so.

HISTORY

Whatever else it may be, the Ferengi way of life is certainly venerable. The Rules of Acquisition date back nearly 11,000 years, when they were written down by Gint, the first Grand Nagus. Even so, it is clear that Gint was simply codifying in catchy aphorisms a set of existing beliefs and practices. In other words, the Rules of Acquisition didn’t change Ferengi society one bit, they simply put into writing accepted ways of doing business that had probably existed for many centuries.

For most of their history, the Ferengi economy operated as a closed system. Undiscovered by starfaring races and lacking warp capability themselves, they could only practice their trading skills upon each other, and it’s hard to gain advantage when your opponent already knows your most cunning tactics. Around the turn of the 21st century, however, the Ferengi acquired warp technology, purchasing it from another starfaring race whose identity they promptly and purposefully forgot. The ability to travel to other star systems with ease opened up for the Ferengi of the day access to tradable resources and new markets of which their ancestors could scarcely have imagined.

As Ferengi spread out from their homeworld and established trade colonies on other worlds (to exploit their resources, shill to the natives, or both), they expanded their plutocratic governmental structure to adjust to the fact that many of their race now lived off-planet for extended periods of time. Some of them lived in small colonies among alien races, and had to adjust themselves to foreign ways of life. The government of Ferenginar re-christened itself the Ferengi Alliance to accommodate this new reality.

Warp travel ushered in a period of unprecedented prosperity, even by Ferengi standards, which lasted several centuries. Generations of Ferengi knew nothing but limitless business prospects and endlessly growing profits. Trading in commodities futures contracts and the price of joint-stock companies bought and sold in the Sacred Marketplace on Ferenginar reflected the widespread mood of boundless optimism. The Ferengi Alliance used much of their wealth to build a military that could protect their far-flung interests. Although not a warlike race, the Ferengi Alliance military could give even a large star empire like the Federation a fight at the height of its power; Starfleet judged the Ferengi Marauder-class vessels the near equal of a Galaxy-class starship.

In 2349, centuries of perpetual prosperity ended in a disaster that had always been conceivable but never taken very seriously as a possibility. A consortium of Ferengi investors began talking up a newly discovered planet, Kritis Major III, as a rich source of natural resources and precious metals, particularly latinum. They sold contracts on the Ferenginar Futures Exchange against the natural wealth that would shortly be exploited, and shares of their venture on the Stock Exchange. Unfortunately, investors who put their money in Kritis Major III did so based on blind and excessive optimism on the part of the project’s original backers. They had hyped the planet based on only sketchy survey data, and when more definitive surveys were completed, they revealed the planet had no discernable latinum reserves and much less exploitable resources than had been assumed. Overnight, the value of all shares and contracts related to Kritis Major III became worthless. This sparked a general crisis of confidence in both the Stock and Futures Exchanges on Ferenginar, and share prices on the Stock Exchange plunged. Grand Nagus Nith responded by pumping vast quantities of money into the economy to make up for the wealth lost in the stock market collapse. This only succeeded in devaluing the Ferengi currency and sparked massive inflation instead, further eroding the value of everyone’s assets. This crisis, known as the Great Monetary Collapse, halted the Ferengi economy in its tracks. It took two decades for the Ferengi Alliance to recover from the shock.

The Ferengi made first formal contact with the Federation in 2364 when a Marauder-class ship and the Enterprise-D simultaneously came upon the last outpost of the Tkon Empire on Delphi Ardu. The Federation had long heard rumors of the existence of a technologically and commercially sophisticated civilization that lay beyond Cardassia and Bajor. The Ferengi, for their part, had also pieced together from fragmentary intelligence that vast, racially diverse new markets awaited their discovery elsewhere in Alpha Quadrant. A flurry of diplomatic activity followed first contact, including an offer that Ferenginar join the Federation as a full member. The Ferengi turned it down, however, understanding that any form of political union with the UFP would undermine their sovereignty and their right to do business according to their time-honored practices.

Nevertheless, individual Ferengi began to filter into Federation space in search of business opportunities; some also prospected for latinum. One such Ferengi was Quark, who opened a bar on Terok Nor, the Cardassian-built mining station orbiting Bajor, and stayed on after the Federation took it over and renamed it Deep Space 9. There, he became an actor in history as well as a front-row spectator to it, as he smuggled staple goods to the Bajoran Resistance during the tail end of the Cardassian occupation. In 2369, he became the first Ferengi to meet a member of the Dominion and later led a Ferengi trade mission to Karemma, a Dominion subject world.

A combination of prudence, shrewd diplomacy and military strength allowed the Ferengi Alliance to remain largely aloof from the Dominion War. Their Rules of Acquisition state, after all, that war serves just as well as peace when it comes to turning a profit (assuming you don’t let sentiment about who wins get in the way of business). The Ferengi also knew that they could trade profitably with whomever won the war, although their contacts with the Federation were much stronger than with the Dominion. After the war ended, they made themselves useful to the Federation as a source of investment capital for reconstruction, as well as spare parts for Starfleet.

The close of the Dominion War saw a shake-up for Ferengi government as the new Grand Nagus Rom (brother of Quark) continued the institution of various changes first proposed by his predecessor, Zek. In an uncharacteristic show of compassionate, hew-mon like behavior, Rom set about reorganizing the bureaucracy along lines similar to the Federation – probably as a result of his long exposure to Federation policies during his time as an engineer on Deep Space 9 (and thanks to his son Nog, who served in Starfleet). In 2387 the Federation accepted the Ferengi Alliance into the UFP. This has caused turmoil in both the UFP as well as within the Ferengi Alliance. Six months after joining the UFP an assassination attempt on the Grand Nagus nearly sparked a war between Ferngar and the Klingon Empire.

PLACES OF INTEREST

There isn’t much land on Ferenginar that is sufficiently dry and solid to support very large buildings at all, much less support a sufficient density of them to form a major city. Fereng, the capital city of the Ferengi Alliance, is built on the largest such spot. The city itself is a cramped cluster of domed structures that become larger and larger as one approaches the center.

At the very center of Fereng is a vast, low-slung complex of domed buildings known as the Sacred Marketplace. Here, traders from all over the Ferengi Alliance meet to negotiate deals, or simply to refresh old acquaintances before they grow stale and profitless. The Fereng Commodities and Stock Exchanges, the largest such exchanges in the entire Alliance, are located in different corners of the complex. Although the Ferengi are not much given to aesthetics or grandeur, they did design the front entrance of the Sacred Marketplace to grab attention; here, broad steps made of imported white marble that, on most days, gleam against the dull gray of Ferenginar weather, lead up to a tall portico. Whenever the Grand Nagus has an important pronouncement to make, he will emerge from the portico and declare it from the Grand Steps.

The seat of the Ferengi Alliance’s central government lies in the Tower of Commerce, a 200-story spire that rises from a vast courtyard in the heart of the Sacred Marketplace. The Grand Nagus keeps both offices and a luxurious apartment at the top of the building, and as many of his Sub-Naguses as are based on Ferenginar also keep offices immediately below him. The vast bureaucracy that keeps records and attends to all of the other small, routine matters of the Ferengi Alliance occupy the remainder of the building. If you need to do some kind of official business on Ferenginar, chances are you will have to come to the Tower of Commerce to do it.

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Ferenginar

Star Trek Late Night StephenWollett