Friquan

  • Purpose: Mining planet
  • Temperature: –5 degrees Celsius
  • Gravity: 1.1 standard

Water and ice cover almost 80% of the surface of Friquan. The remaining 20% consists of small land masses, more akin to islands than continents, which were formed from a chain of ancient volcanoes. Some 2000 of these islands make up a semi-circular archipelago running from the north to south pole. Groundquakes and tidal waves are common occurrences, as well as intermittent ash and lava eruptions from the active volcanoes. In spite of this, over 75% of the islands are inhabited for at least half of the cycle; the rest of the time, the population lives on houseboats and floating raft-cities which circle the islands.

Friquan’s many volcanoes, both on the surface and under the seas, are rich with rubic crystals – a vital component of most navigational computers and guidance systems, as well as an extremely valuable trading currency within the Uncharted Territories. The crystals were discovered a scant ten cycles ago, with drastic consequences for Friquan’s pre-spaceflight society. There is no central authority on the planet; any negotiations between offworlders and the natives must be done on a case-by-case, island-by-island basis.

The planet’s inhabitants consist primarily of deep-sea fishermen, a very small group of agrarian farmers, and a few clans of aggressive raiders who have traditionally preyed on the first two groups. Lately, the predatory clans have turned to mining, commerce, and trade with alien visitors, since these have proven more profitable than raiding their poor cousins. They are fragmented and divided however: each clan controls its own piece of territory and doesn’t coordinate with any of the others, which makes it very easy for off-worlders to manipulate them. Claim-jumping and crystal-smuggling are everyday occurrences, and various consortiums have expressed interest in bringing the planet under their authority in order to reduce the price-gouging and uneven distribution of raw materials. Unless the native Friquanians establish a reliable agency for regulating mining and safety on the planet, one of the planet’s many ‘customers’ will likely make a strike on the system in order to control the situation. It is unlikely that the Friquanians could resist such an effort, since their technology level is pitifully low. The raiders have begun taking their mining fees in weapons over the last cycle.

The fact that the highest-quality and largest cache of crystals lie near the most active volcanoes, which are subject to deadly groundquakes, has not made the situation any easier. Offworlders sometimes recruit locals for diving expeditions and mountain expeditions to retrieve crystals, but those most knowledgeable of the dangers are usually the least likely to attempt such excursions. The price for a reliable guide is incredible – the inhabitants would rather simply charge for mineral rights and allow the offworlders to mine themselves. The mortality rate for offworlders on the planet has risen sharply over the last five cycles, as more of them take greater risks working the richest claims.

Friquan

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