A collage of in-game homeworld planets for Stars in Shadow. Clockwise from top left: Gremal (Gremak), Bacabs IV (Orthin), Verrold (Yoral), and Tendao (Phidi).Gremal
: Violent tectonic activity has created a dual-layer geography of high-altitude highlands and very low-altitude basins. The extreme altitude of the highlands concentrates all cloud activity into the central equatorial basin, resulting in very heavy regular rainfall in the lowlands, and an extreme desert climate in the highlands. Global temperatures are high, which help to drive constant rainy weather. The western hemisphere lowlands consists of dense rain forest river valleys that drain into a large muddy southern sea. The eastern hemisphere lowlands are dominated by fetid freshwater lakes and marshlands. Gremal is native to the Enfi, who arose in the western rain forests, and the Gremak, who arose in the eastern marshes. At the time of the Collapse, Gremal was subjected to a devastating bombardment from orbit, even more severe than those that occurred on other inhabited systems of the period, which drove the majority of the native species to extinction. The Gremak survived, and the lowland ecosystem has substantially recovered from the catastrophe. The highlands are almost completely lifeless, the native high-altitude ecosystem having never recovered from the bombardment, the scars of which are still obvious from orbit.Bacabs IV
: Like many iceball worlds, though Bacabs is well outside the normal habitable zone of its primary star, its core still generates enough internal heat to melt and maintain a planetwide subsurface ocean. Bacabs’ mantle is especially active, producing powerful geothermal plumes that melt the ice all the way through the frigid crust, exposing the ocean in spots to the surface, generating and sustaining a thicker than normal atmosphere for this type of planet. These plumes drive an unusually diverse chemosynthetic ecosystem which produced the Orthin, the only known sentient species to evolve on such a world.Verrold
: Millennia ago, Verrold was a garden-type world on the outer edge of its sun’s biozone, with a cold climate but verdant forests and seas teeming with life. The Yoral evolved from arboreal creatures and had developed into the earliest stages of a primitive culture when environmental catastrophe struck, and Verrold was plunged into a deep ice age, from which it is only now starting to recover. The ice sheets advanced almost to the equator, driving most terrestrial life forms to extinction and destroying the forest habitat in which the Yoral had lived. The hardy and adaptable Yoral coped with the catastrophe admirably well; one group migrated to the coastal areas and learned to live off the remaining marine life, which had not been as hard-hit as the land ecosystem. The remaining portion of the Yoral retreated to the caves and learned to cultivate Verrold’s cave molds and exotic fungi. This “tunneling” group’s inventiveness made them very successful, carving out great underground fortresses, eventually re-colonizing the frozen surface, and ultimately developing high technology. The self-contained, sustainable mold farming practices of the tunnelers would serve the Yoral well when transported to new colony worlds, and the Yoral can thrive on marginal systems on which other races struggle. Verrold is just now starting to warm, but the surface is still dominated by the great ice sheets.
Tendao: A large portion of the worldwide ocean is shallow, making an ideal habitat for the native Phidi and the marine ecosystem which supports them. Tendao is comparatively poor in metals and industrial minerals, but it is abundant in Opil Crystal, a rare and exotic substance that is a key trade good for the Phidi. Phidi settlements tend to cluster around the ancient underwater calderas that are rich in the crystal. (The image depicted above is actually the generic ocean/island world, which is the current stand-in for Tendao.)