An updated collage of all six in-game homeworld planets for Stars in Shadow. Clockwise from top left: Gremal (Gremak), Rastaban II (Ashdar Teros), Bacabs IV (Orthin), Verrold (Yoral), Ashdar Prime (Ashdar Haduir) and Tendao (Phidi).
9/6/14 edit: Added the Rastaban and Tendao images. The current build now supports rings, cloud shadows, and specular highlights.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.Rastaban II
: Rastaban is a young system, and the second planet has a high rate of rotation and experiences violent weather and occasional impacts from the debris that still litters the system. A thin ring of pulverized rock circles the planet. The native life forms are still primitive, and so the ecology is dominated by the descendants of the Teros Ashdar that colonized in ancient times before the Collapse, and the transplanted life forms that were brought with them. Rastaban’s geology reveals a long history of periodic asteroid impacts, but the enormous impacts from the time of the Collapse which created the large-scale cratering seen today were surely no coincidence. The Ashdar survivors of the impacts, mostly of the hardy Teros sub-species, slowly rebuilt their technology and civilization in isolation from their homeworld. Trained to fly in the violent and unpredictable weather of Rastaban’s skies, Teros pilots are second to none.
: 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.
: The Ashdar homeworld is a ruined planetwide megacity, once the capital of a great empire spanning a great portion of the galaxy. The empire fell in the same ancient catastrophe that destroyed the warp lanes, and the capital, cut off from the trade that sustained it, descended into anarchy and consumed itself. Millennia later, the descendants of the Ashdar still cling to the crumbling ruins of the capital. It is now a colossal graveyard, but ancient technological secrets still lurk within the depths of its crypts, and the ancient stargate, now dormant, still hangs in orbit. Ashdar of both sub-species live here, united under the rule of Haduir Emperor Heiropolin XXIV, who claims descent from the Ashdar emperors of old.
Tendao: Tendao is a large ocean-covered world, comparatively ancient and poor in heavy elements. The planet’s crust is quite porous, allowing circulation between the ocean and the hot mantle, resulting in many hydrothermal vents, but few full-blown volcanoes. At some point in the distant past, Tendao was more tectonically active than it is now, and a large part of its surface is dominated by a vast equatorial plateau that was thrust up high above the surrounding deep-water basins, forming a single supercontinent. Though tectonic activity has since greatly reduced, the planet continued to warm over the millennia, and sea levels rose to cover the supercontinent. Only the peaks of the vast southern mountain range still rise above the surface of the planet-wide ocean; wave action has eroded all other dry land below the surface. Today, Tendao has especially warm and calm weather, especially in the crystal-clear seas of the central plateau; stronger currents in the deeper water carry nutrients and warmth even to the poles, which are ice-free year round. The planet has negligible axial tilt, and so very little seasonal variation in weather. The seas of the central plateau are very shallow, making an ideal habitat for the native Phidi and the marine ecosystem which supports them. The deeper waters are largely uninhabited, the Phidi preferring to stay near the surface, away from the deeps and the large predators that still lurk there. Though Tendao is poor in heavy metals and industrial minerals, it is abundant in Opil Crystal, a rare and exotic substance that is formed in the plateau’s unique hydrothermal calderas, from which hot water rich in light minerals constantly bubbles. Opil is a key trade good for the Phidi, and their settlements tend to cluster around the calderas that produce it. Tendao once had a single distant moon, but it was pulverized at some point in the distant past by an unknown catastrophe. A belt of debris still exists in the moon’s former orbit, and a thin ring of finer debris orbits close to the planet.