Terraforming – An Introduction

When a theme park isn’t big enough and an attraction isn’t immersive enough, how do you take your guests to the next level? You buy a gas giant with dozens of moons and terraform them until they are exactly how you want them to be!

I am Randal, host of the biweekly article Groundbreaking. Recently, I began watching the HBO reimagining of Westworld and immediately loved the show. Having just read Andrew Marlowe’s take on a Cinematic Universe Campaign my brain instantly tried to find a way to merge the Westworld canon with the rebooted Battlestar Galactica canon. As I wrestled with the idea, I was reminded of a one off post I made about Theme Parks in Starfinder and thought “what if Hitchhiker’s Guide had it right about custom made planets?” The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea.

Welcome to Terraforming!

We are going to spend every other week tackling the grand task of creating a sandbox adventure site for Starfinder by (eventually) creating an entire solar system. In case you follow Groundbreaking, we are going to approach things differently here. The granularity with which I approach a single region there is not going to be conducive to creating entire worlds en masse. Here we are going to touch on the key elements that will make each little piece fit into the whole while also being unique and interesting so that your players will want to know more and you will have enough to expand upon. This will leave you with the ability to expand each world as your imagination sees fit. Without further ado, let’s set the foundational elements behind who and what the main focus of this endeavor is.

World Builders Intergalactic (WBI), a company well known for terraforming luxury moons for the (insanely) super rich, decided that they wanted to get into the entertainment business. The board members were fans of a popular chain of theme parks known as GetParks (Galactic Entertainment Theme Parks), specifically the success and revenue generated by them, and decided they wanted to partner with the entertainment giant Galactic Entertainment (or GalEnt, pronounced Gallant). Unable to negotiate an amenable contract, WBI bought majority stake of the GetParks through a series of calculated partnerships and market transactions. To show that they truly were fans with no intent of changing the parks, they made no operational changes and simply made use of the intellectual properties, engineers, and designers they gained access to with the purchase.

While the GetParks had been having some PR issues, this sudden change in ownership was eventually seen as a positive by all sides. WBI was able to talk up their entry into the entertainment business as a way to bring their previously untouchable products to the common people. Their new subsidiary was able to point to new leadership as cleaning up the messes of the old guard. In truth, this was simply more positive PR for both sides to sweep their shady dealings under their respective rugs while continuing to pursue the same back alley business dealings that had made them so rich to begin with. Only now, they each had new markets in which to subtly expand, while parading a brighter future for for all.

The first order of business was to find their primary build site. After a number of ideas were proposed and rejected, it was decided that they would choose a gas giant. As they already have stripmining equipment around a number of gas giants (used to get the raw materials needed for their terraforming business), they simply needed to figure out which one they could negotiate complete ownership or usage of. They were eventually able to secure “usage rights” to a massive gas giant named Trellidon. Trellidon is thought to be a failed 4th star that orbits one star of a trinary star system in which the other two stars orbit each other. Although it is the only planet in the system, there is a very extensive asteroid belt thought to be the remnants of planets torn apart by this unique orbital arrangement. With dozens of moons, some large enough to be dwarf planets, Trellidon was considered to be the perfect choice for the future of WBI’s themed moons. WBI immediately set into motion a series of design and engineering tasks bigger than anything their teams had worked on to date.

The second order of business was to use the data collected by their new theme parks to put together the largest known aggregate of likes and dislikes by entertainment patrons across the known universe. This enabled to them to begin work on converting moons to parks that would appeal to all the major species known to travel the stars. Beginning with humans, a series of time periods from lost Golarion seemed to be the biggest attraction, and so they were given the biggest priority. In an attempt to make all parks accessible to all patrons, WBI learned that mixed species attractions were not nearly as popular as infosphere propaganda and polling suggested. They therefore relegated those venues to the smaller moons and used the larger moons to replicate specific time periods for single planets in which the expectation was that only natives from that planet would enjoy such a vacation. Naturally anybody could visit, but no special accommodations would be made for species not native to the planet in question.

The third order of business was to create a new form of animatronic that could be quickly repaired, reconfigured, and redeployed. Originally, they made use of androids, creating versions to match each of the species for which parks were made. To make them indistinguishable from other guests, and thus make the experience more immersive, they were modified from the inside out so that they were actually made of the same biological materials as creatures of their intended species. As android freedom became a hot-button issue, WBI engineers were forced to reconfigure the components and software that ran their androids, to ensure that they were not breaking any laws when androids gained their freedom. Lucky for them, they were able to skirt the issue of creating and enslaving an intelligent race … on paper. Unlucky for them, their engineering efforts were for naught, as the Biodroids (named by the engineers) retained the spark of sentience and the gift of souls that ensures androids’ freedom.

Design Notes: I am still learning the ins and outs of Starfinder’s rules, so I might goof up a thing or two (such as the layout of organizations and planets). I also am in no way an astrophysicist, so please do not pick apart the choices I make for planet sizes, masses, orbits, or other “real” factors. I do love the field and will try to research to make sure my ideas are possible so that I know when to hand way and say “magic” or “new laws of physics.” For instance, the gas giant I created can actually occur, as seen by following the link beneath the image of the orbital path. Whether the size is right, or if it is indeed a failed star, or if it can have this many dwarf planet sized moons … well … maybe?

World Builders Intergalactic
Luxury Moon Terraforming / Theme Park Creators
Leader: Founder and CEO Jebbidson Danarko
Headquarters: WBI HQ, WBI HQ Moon, Trellidon

Endless Paradise
Diameter: x15
Mass: x1200
Gravity: x10 (at the “surface”)
Atmosphere: Special
Day: 10 days; Year: 550 years

Randal Meyer

As a lover of crunch (rules and numbers), Randal is always tinkering with rules options. His love of magic users has led him to always fuss with the mechanics of magic and magic items. Years of GMing on the fly have given him endless ideas and content from which to draw on for adventures (ideas, plots, NPCs). When not working, gaming, or playing with his kids, Randal is likely working on improving Sage (his Discord bot for immersive play-by-post gaming that you can see in action on Know Direction's Discord in the Know Direction Societous PFS channels) over at https://www.patreon.com/rpgsage!