Campaign of the Month: January 2012
Star Trek Late Night
- Planet Name: Qo’noS (Federation Standard spelling “Kronos”)
- Class: M
- Moons or Rings: Qo’noS had two satellites, the larger of which, Praxis, was once a major energy production facility. When it exploded in 2293, leaving a shattered remnant in orbit, only the smaller moon, Corvix, remained. Today, the latter houses an early warning defense station and several mining operations.
- Gravity: 1.23 G
- Climate: 64% hydrosphere, standard atmosphere, variable temperatures
- Demographics: Billions of Klingons
- Civilization: Agg ress ive and Inflexible, governing council
- Resources: Starships, advanced weapon systems, other advanced industrial goods
Qo’noS (pronounced Kronos) is the homeworld of the Klingons and the capital of the Klingon Empire. A rough-hewn and geologically active world, the planet is home to many rough and aggressive forms of life (including the Klingons themselves) who have had to fight to survive in a home that is at once hospitable and potentially deadly. The Klingons have given Qo’noS a bloody and entertaining history, filled with episodes of valor, intrigue and bloodlust.
Qo’noS is the third planet in the K’thar System, located in the Beta Quadrant. Its proximity to both the Federation and the Romulan Star Empire made contact (and conflict) between the Klingon Empire and those entities almost inevitable.
Qo’noS is a lush Class M world on which life has always thrived, but its axis tilts at a steep angle that causes unusually severe seasonal variations in climate. Snow has been known to fall in the tropics in the winter, and even the sub-arctic zones know blistering heat in the summer.
Interestingly, Qo’noS is quite harsh for Class M conditions – many of its life forms and weather patterns are acidic or poisonous to external creatures.
Most of Qo’noS’ landmass is concentrated in a single, large continent formally known as Kling, but rarely referred to by that name. Small islands appear and then disappear into the planet’s vast ocean, signs of Qo’noS’ constant geological activity. On Kling, this activity manifests itself in the continent’s jagged mountain ranges and many active volcanoes. The landscape remakes itself so frequently that little erosion takes place. Features of the terrain are sharp and sudden rather than rounded and gradual.
At the same time, frequent volcanism enriched the soil so that many parts of Qo’noS are exceptionally fertile, even by Class M standard. It wasn’t that difficult for life to take root here, although life forms on Qo’noS – like the Klingons who emerged at the top of the food chain – have had to be tough, hardy and utterly ferocious in order to survive challenges both from their dynamic environment and from each other.
The Second Klingon Empire had no Emperor from 2069 to 2369. In this period of history, the Klingon High Council ran the government, and the Chancellor headed the High Council. Each Chancellor served until death or retirement and had the right to name an Arbiter of Succession who would choose his successor. The members of the High Council in turn came from the great clans, or houses, that comprised the feudal nobility under the First Empire. This arrangement did little to ensure political stability, however, as the great houses intrigued against each other just as they always had, sometimes breaking out into open conflict. House Duras’ effort to overthrow Chancellor Gowron and replace him with Toral, which culminated in the civil war of 2367-68, was just such an episode. Gowron survived that challenge and remained in office through most of the Dominion War, but as a general rule, only skillful or fortunate Chancellors manage a graceful retirement and die peacefully.
On the whole, the Klingon Empire’s system of government is not designed to serve its subjects, but to accommodate the ambitions of its most prominent clans. The great houses, whether they are represented on the High Council or not, carve up the Empire’s wealth between themselves, making alliances and plotting against enemies as circumstances dictate. Some houses have even been known to ally themselves with foreign powers, such as the Romulans or the Federation, against fellow Klingons. This system of social organization has created strains within the military in modern times, as a typical officer in the Klingon Defense Force serves the Empire through his allegiance to the KDF, but also owes allegiance the house that sponsored his nomination into the armed forces.
Ruled by a political system that hardly ever takes their interests into account, the subjects of the Klingon Empire are expected to soldier on, no matter what. They do have a religion (of sorts) that helps them find the conviction to do so. They claim that they have no gods because their ancient warriors slew them all. Instead, Klingon religion centers around the first Emperor, Kahless the Unforgettable, and the body of legend that surrounds his life and deeds. Klingon warriors often pray to him before they go into battle, and even into the 24th century, they believe that if they died honorably in battle, they will join him in the afterlife, known as Sto-Vo-Kor. In fact, religious cults dedicated to his memory sprang up shortly after his death in the mid-9th century. When the Klingons developed space travel in the late 20th century, a religious order called the Followers of Kahless departed for the K’gah system and set up a monastery there, on a Class M planet they named Boreth. They took as their inspiration the legend that Kahless, just before he died, pointed to K’gah in the night sky and foretold that he would someday return to his subjects there.
Klingon culture hews closely to tradition and collective history. Klingon warriors revere their ancient weapons, particularly the two-meter long scimitar known as the bat’leth, or “sword of honor.” Even contemporary Klingons train rigorously with traditional weapons despite the practical superiority of hand disruptors. Klingon entertainments, whether literary or musical, lean heavily toward historical or mythological subjects (such as the deeds of Kahless) and stress the importance of traditional Klingon values, such as honor and physical courage.
The Klingons honor military service above all other professions. The Empire’s best and brightest flock to the military, and discharge from service under less than honorable terms is a disgrace worse than death. Conversely, induction into the Order of Bat’leth, a warrior’s reward for showing exceptional courage and strength, is a distinction that outshines anything a Klingon could do in civilian life. Even in the age of starships and energy weapons, the Klingon Defense Force continues to place the most stock in the physical prowess and ferocious bravery of its personnel. But it is much to their credit that they have not blinded themselves to the importance of advanced technology. When the opportunity arose in 2268 to acquire Romulan cloaking technology, they seized it. In any era, their hand disruptors have equaled the Federation hand phaser as an effective sidearm, and the specifications of their warships have always matched those of Starfleet’s most advanced vessels. The extent to which Klingons esteem scientific research correlates to its relevance to weapons development.
According to tradition, the Klingon Empire traces its origins to the turn of the 9th century, when Kahless the Unforgettable united the disparate tribes of Qo’noS in opposition to Molor, a tyrannical local monarch who came dangerously close to realizing his ambition of ruling the entire planet. In the commonly accepted version of events, Kahless slew Molor in single combat as became leader of all the Klingons by popular acclamation. What firm historical knowledge exists of that period establishes that important leaders named Kahless and Molor existed, and that Kahless defeated Molor in war, but beyond that mythmaking takes over.
Kahless reigned as the first Klingon Emperor for over 50 years, but not always by unanimous consent. As great a figure as he undoubtedly was, he had to fight off challenges to his rule throughout his reign. Many of these rebellions form the backdrop for the feats of arms that comprise the majority of the legends that surrounded him after his death. The fact that Klingon tradition celebrates Kahless as a warrior without peer who fought his own subjects points out the central paradox of his legend. He became “The Unforgettable” because he gained the support of all the Klingons, and yet he spent most of his reign fighting noble clans that refused to accept his legitimacy. Kahless’ prominent role in Klingon tradition only makes sense once one realizes that the stories involving him (and many of them are based on history, after all) express characteristics that are important to Klingons: dauntless courage, martial prowess, and a keen sense of honor and how a great warrior should behave in moments of crisis.
Warrior-Emperors ruled the Klingon Empire until 2069, when the Emperor Koth died without naming an heir. Fearing that the Romulans would seize this moment of weakness to violate their peace treaty and attack, the Emperor’s council of advisors, the Klingon High Council, declared that they would assume the reins of government. The Chancellor of the High Council would act as interim head of state until a new Emperor could be decided upon. Over the previous 30 years, the High Council had assumed responsibility for more and more of the Empire’s vital functions, reaching the point where they believed that an Emperor was hardly necessary at all, and that a weak one would actually burden the Empire. They had no intention of ever surrendering control of the government, and over time they dropped the pretense that they were still looking for a new Emperor
The High Council would rule for the next 300 years, and they always took pains to refer to their era as the Second Klingon Empire. The First Empire knew nothing but tyrants who invited insurrection by attempting to concentrate power in the person of the Emperor – or so went the propaganda that they disseminated to legitimize their coup. In the Second Empire, on the other hand, the High Council would balance each other’s opinions and selfish interests, creating a more stable and popular government. In practice, Chancellors of the High Council tried to impose their authority as absolutely as any Emperor had, and the other members intrigued against him and each other as intently as any rebellious house during the First Empire.
What distinguished the Second Klingon Empire from the First was the growing importance of space travel and contact with other starfaring races. The Klingons launched their first impulse-powered ship in 1985 and colonized nearby Class M planets by the turn of the 21st century. They made first contact with the Romulan Star Empire in 2041, and the two empires promptly began fighting each other to define their mutual border. The Romulans finally agreed to a peace treaty in 2069, taken aback by Klingons’ ferocity.
The Klingons developed warp travel in the early 22nd century, and continued to expand the Empire, bumping up against Starfleet in 2151. A century of skirmishing followed, ending only when the advanced race known as the Organians imposed the Organian Peace Treaty upon both sides in 2267.
Hemmed in by two powerful rivals with whom they could not fight openly, the Klingons chafed at the diplomatic restrictions binding them to uneasy peace. In 2271, eager for opportunities to expand and conquer, the High Council authorized a surprise attack on the Romulan mining colony of Dumok’azen. Badly defeated, the Romulans did not strike back, but relations between the Romulan Star Empire and the Second Klingon Empire deteriorated until the Romulan Senate officially revoked their peace treaty in 2292.
This slide into open warfare could not have happened at a worse time. In 2293, the energy generation facility on Qo’noS’ only moon, Praxis, exploded, showering the planet with radioactive debris. The catastrophe all but sank the Klingon economy, and Chancellor Gorkon concluded that the Empire could not afford a military large enough to confront three foes at once (they had made a hostile first contact with the Cardassians in 2286). The controversial peace initiative to the Federation that followed cost him his life, as a cabal of Starfleet and KDF hardliners assassinated him. His daughter and successor Azetbur carried his initiative through, however, and she and UFP President Eteon tar-Chereos signed the historic Khitomer Accords later that year, formally ending 70 years of both hot and cold war. The Klingon economy recovered with aid from the Federation, and the Romulan massacre of 4,000 Klingon colonists on Khitomer in 2346 only solidified the relationship. Six years later, the UFP and the Second Klingon Empire signed a formal treaty of alliance.
In 2269, the High Clerics of the Servants of Kahless descended upon Qo’noS, bringing with them a Klingon warrior whom they claimed to be none other than Kahless the Unforgettable. Later investigation showed that the religious order had cloned Kahless from genetic material preserved in Kahless’ tomb on Boreth. Chancellor Gowron, though loath to give up formal leadership of the Empire, could not deny the popular furor of this event. He persuaded the High Council to grant this new Kahless a ceremonial role as head of state, while they would continue to govern.
During the Dominion War, the Klingon Empire fought alongside longtime former foes – the Federation, and later the Romulans and the Cardassians – against the Dominion. During the Empire war they once again fought alongside former enemies. With the acceptance of Cardassia and the Romulans into the Federation there has been much unrest throughout the Klingon Empire. Talks of succession are commonplace and most experts believe it is only a matter of time before the Klingons will break with the UFP.
PLACES OF INTEREST
First City, as it is known in Federation Standard, is the capital of Qo’noS and, by extension, the entire Klingon Empire. The Klingon High Council meets here in the old Palace of Kahless, which is located in the exact center of the city. The present Palace of Kahless is a large and thoroughly modern structure, but it is built on the site of the ancient residence of Kahless the Unforgettable. When the Followers of Kahless unveiled their clone of Kahless in 2369, the High Council cleared out a wing of the current palace for his use.
Traditionally, First City has been treated by all sides in the Klingons’ various civil wars as neutral ground. Here, warriors who had just tried to kill each other in the most ferocious ways imaginable – and would undoubtedly do so again the next day – could meet and even fraternize, celebrating their respect for each other as peers. Many bar and restaurant owners made small fortunes in times of civil war from such meetings, but foes also fraternized with each other in more formal occasions that took place in a large courtyard known as the Place of Honor. During the Second Klingon Empire, the Klingon Defense Force also used the Place of Honor as a parade ground.
The K’tahth Mountains run east to west about 200 miles south of First City, and it is the tallest range on Qo’noS. Many peaks in the K’tahth are active volcanoes, and it is also reputed to have the most difficult climbing spots on the planet. The Klingon Defense Force regularly conducts strength and agility training exercises among its jagged cliffs and perilous crevasses.