Terraforming – Dwarven Asteroid Clans

When looking at creating a sci-fi fantasy sandbox, take a loot at how you would accomplish the feel you want in traditional fantasy, and then try ways to adapt that to space. Thus, dwarven mines become an asteroid field …

Hello again, and welcome back to this week’s Terraforming. Dwarves were always one of the top humanoid races known for their mining. Being underground, digging tunnels, and building impenetrable fortresses to protect themselves was kinda their shtick. Let’s take that mentality and move it to an asteroid belt.

The Asteroid Belt. Not unlike the Diaspora of the Pact Worlds system, as well as Earth, this asteroid belt is a ring of rotating debris that became stuck between two rocky planets due to the competing gravity from the system’s sun and a large gas giant further out.

The Dwarves. When the first clan ships entered the system, they were drawn to the belt for similar, but different reason. One clan saw an asteroid shaped as an anvil, and took that as a sign that they should continue their ancestor’s traditions as smiths. They landed and found it contained a high concentration of Horacalcum. Another clan, respected for their unbroken chain of clerics to Torag, landed on a rock that thought Torag called them to … and began reshaping it into a giant statue of Torag. Other clans claimed other rocks for various reasons, all based on heritage, faith, or way of life.

The Wow Factor. Traveling between asteroids frequently can be a pain when everybody needs a ship, so other solutions were created.

  • The Bridge-Tunnels. Over time, as the dwarves began claiming more and more rocks for their clans, they began to move and connect them. As has been the dwarven way since the time of Golarion, dwarves still take pride in their craftsmanship. Tunnels were created using state of the art technical engineering using transparent tubes. Bridges were then crafted “above” and “below” the tubes to protect them, reinforce them, and mostly to remind the dwarves of being in vast underground caverns walking across bottomless pits.
  • The Gravity Trains. By moving asteroids around, and creating a channel of sorts within the belt, various engineers and technomancers realized that they could make some use of gravity assist to send ships across longer distances of the belt using less energy/fuel. When they started experimenting with creating specialized ship plating and magnetic pulse generators using horacalcum, they discovered that they were able to use the time altering properties to move these shuttles at previously unheard of sub-light speeds.

The Villains. As a longer lived species, the clans are still settling into their new homes. Aside from using mined materials to finish building their new keeps, they are still working on prototypes of their creations, and the mines are sending their excess goods to the gravity train engineers currently. This has kept them fairly isolated, and thus they don’t have many enemies at the moment.

  • Rival Engineers. It is highly likely that there will be competing variations on the gravity train model. This could turn into an arms race of sorts, espionage to steal secrets or damage progress, or it could signal outsiders that there is something here worth taking.
  • The Faithful. Building a statue of your god the size of a small moon isn’t something that you take lightly. There are certainly going to be those within the clan that begin to think they are better than the other clans that aren’t as faithful, just as other clans are going to start thinking that clerics are taking their faith too far. Just imagine what will happen when the followers of Torag’s enemies discover this and decide that destroying this statue/asteroid/keep will win great favor with their god.

That’s all we have time for this week, I hope this sparks some ideas for you!

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!


  1. Quo

    Great concept. Love the ideas here.