Thoughts about Kraatar's geography, climate, gravity

JCab747's picture
JCab747
April 15, 2016 - 11:21pm
I have an incomplete adventure that I am setting on Kraatar that takes place a while before the events of the Dark Side of the Moon module. As such, I've tried to expand on some of the original descriptions and would certainly welcome any additional thoughts or critiques on what is presented next.
Joe Cabadas
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JCab747's picture
JCab747
April 15, 2016 - 11:24pm

Gravity and Movement

Since Kraatar’s gravity is only 0.6 Earth normal, it impacts characters in many ways including:

·         each character’s carrying capacity is increased by 20 kilograms

·         the distance a character can leap and vault is increased by 20 meters

·         the distance a character can jump safely is increased by 5 meters

·         the damage a character suffers in a fall is decreased by 10 points

·         Yazarians have a maximum gliding distance of 150 meters.

These figures are based on the Alpha Dawn rules on “Gravity, Weight and Mass.”

Atmosphere and Climate Conditions

For more general information about Kraatar and the Triskar star system, see the system handout for the players.

Kraatar has a thinner atmosphere than most other settled planets. Only in the low lying Flatlands is the air dense enough to breathe without assistance. However, newcomers trying to do strenuous activities such as fighting, climbing, running, swimming, exercising, etc. will lose 1 point of Stamina every 10 minutes of such activity. If the character’s Stamina reaches 0, they will fall unconscious for 1d10+10 turns. For every turn of rest, the character will regain 1 point of Stamina lost this way.

Natives are not subject to the effects of the thin atmosphere in the Flatlands.

Meteorite strikes are common in the mountains and Uplands especially during certain times of the year, when Kraatar passes through meteor clouds. The natives call these times the “blaze days.” Space rocks occassionally make it to the ground in the Flatlands.

Solar radiation on Kraatar is another hazard, which can cause severe sunburn during peak sunlight hours. Humans tend to wear full-body clothing outdoors, even in the summertime, though such garments are made of breathable materials. Various sunscreen lotions are also available for Humans, Dralasites and Vrusk. A spray-on sunscreen protection is available to Yazarians that won’t mat their fur down. Of course, sun goggles and sunglasses are a must.

Sunburn can be more than just a discomfort. Unprotected characters could potentially receive 1d10 points of burn damage in the Flatlands if they are walking around outside during peak daylight hours. If the exposed area is left untreated and re-exposure occurs within a short time, sunburn causes cumulative damage – meaning more damage to a character’s Stamina.
Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
JCab747
April 15, 2016 - 11:28pm

The Gozzorf Depression

The largest of the Flatlands on Kraatar, it is found in the northern hemisphere and has access to the largest concentration of water on the planet – the Yatiz Sea. Because of the planet’s orbit around the planet and its 20 degree axis inclination, the northern hemisphere is tilted toward the star Tristkar during the winter and more away during the summer, making its seasons far more mild than the southern hemisphere.

Nearly half of the world’s population lives in the Gozzorf Depression. Fresh water is obtained from many springs, lakes and rivers, but the Common Council is planning on the day where it may have to build large desalination plants for the growing numbers of thirsty inhabitants.

The Yatiz Sea

This salt water body has most of the planet’s water supply. Human fishermen have been making a living off of the sea for generations before the Vrusk arrived and, given the bug’s aversion to water, they control this industry. As Kraatarians have become more prosperous, an expanding number of pleasure craft also can be found on the water.

The Yatiz Sea doesn’t have an apex sea predator such as a shark or Volturian Jaw Fish or the like, but it does have a few potentially deadly hazards such as red algae blooms and the Yatiz Sea amoeba (see the “Flora and Fauna” section.

Also of note, in recent times, surveyors discovered the largest impact crater of any habitable planet in the Frontier was located under the sea’s waters. An easy way to annoy a Kraatar resident is to claim that their planet’s spelling should be changed to “Cratered.”[1]

The Azzort Flatland

As the second largest flatland in the northern hemisphere, this depression is home to the city of Azzort and is where the Azzort giraffe’s were initially found in abundance. It has several lakes and rivers, but no major bodies of water.

The Quazzt’s Depression

Home to Quazzt, a city of 500,000 inhabitants (about 75 percent Human and 25 percent Vrusk), it deals primarily with agricultural products and has some light industry. It is a known hotbed of Kraatar Liberation Corps supporters. The Quazzt Depression is a vast sea, though its salt content is diminished by the snow melt from the mountains during the summer time. It’s other major community is Bunada, on Quazzt’s south shore. Another notable institution in the area is the High Peaks Sanitarium, a type of resort hospital that caters to the well-to-do, especially tired Vrusk executives.

Stindang and Clarist Flatlands

Two smaller regions in the southern hemisphere, the Stindang Flatland is home to the city of Stindarg, a community of 180,000. Automated farms surround the city while some of the planet’s major copper and iron mines are in the mountains to the east and west of the city.

The Clarist Flatland is home to two major communities, Clarist, a city of nearly 120,000 and Eldarg, a city of 80,000. These are mostly human settlements with no monorail service. Isolated from the tensions elsewhere on the planet, the KLC has made few inroads here.

The Uplands

In the hilly and mountainous Uplands, where the atmosphere is even thinner, newcomers and natives need to wear a breathing apparatus. Otherwise, newcomers will lose 1 point of Stamina for every turn of strenuous activity and 1 point of Stamina every minute for minor activities such as walking. Native Kraatarians would lose 1 point of Stamina for every 10 minutes of strenuous activity and 1 point of Stamina for every 30 minutes of walking. If the character’s Stamina reaches 0, they will fall unconscious for 1d10+10 turns. For every turn of rest, the character will regain 1 point of Stamina lost this way.

Characters traveling overland by foot in the Uplands near the equator also can face high heat during the day (40-60 degrees Celsius) and would require 2 to 4 liters of water per GST day to survive; however, their movement rate is reduced by half. Characters can move on foot at their maximum rate but must double their water intake. A referee should take into account any precautions the characters have taken to save water.

Hot weather effects can be mitigated if they are wearing desert survival suits or are riding in environmentally controlled vehicles. Characters can also reduce their water intake requirements by 1 liter per GST day by taking 2 salt pills per GST day.

At night, temperatures in the Uplands can plunge to near freezing conditions. Characters whom are not adequately dressed or sheltered could become chilled after 4 to 8 hours of exposure depending upon wind conditions and the quality of their clothing/equipment. (A character who is barely dressed could suffer this condition in as little as 20 minutes). If a character fails a Stamina check, they will begin to suffer a -10 percent modifier to all ability and skill checks until they are warmed up.

Once a character enters a warmed enclosed space or is near a heat source, the effects of being chilled end. Also, if the character enters a tent or shelter and spends 4 to 6 hours in his sleeping gear, the chilled effect wears off.

Characters who are in a prolonged chilled state for four hours need to make hourly Stamina checks (keep the -10 percent modifier in mind) to avoid hypothermia, which is when the person’s core body temperature begins to drop. If a character fails his Stamina check, he will suffer -20 percent to all ability and skill checks.

Each hour the character must make a Stamina check (with the -20 modifier). Each failure results in an additional -10 percent modifier to all ability and skill checks. When a character’s cold penalty exceeds his current Stamina score, he will fall unconscious. Death will occur in a number of hours equal to the character’s STA score divided by 10, rounded up. A medic can save such a character, but they will need at least two days in the hospital to recover.

Fortunately, Kraatar’s night is relatively short, so very few unlucky travelers suffer hypothermia in the Uplands unless they are near the polar regions or in the hemisphere that is undergoing winter.

Spring through autumn, fog and mists tend to form in lower areas of the Uplands the early morning hours but usually burn off by mid-morning. Little rain falls here but when it does, there is the potential for torrential downpours lasting 2-20 minutes or longer. Such rains may cause flash floods, especially in gulleys and dry river beds.

Mountainous Regions

While the Uplands has its share of mountains, Kraatar’s mountainous regions offer truly stunning craggy peaks to view along with many challenges to overland travelers. All natives and newcomers cannot function in the mountainous regions without a breathing apparatus unless they are in environmentally sealed vehicles. Unprotected persons in these regions will lose 1 point of Stamina per turn until dead.

Not only are breathing apparatuses a must, but the temperatures significantly drop at higher elevations. Near the equator, some of the highest peaks can be snowcapped part of the year. In the upper and lower latitudes – and especially in the polar regions – some mountains are covered with snow and ice all year round.

Again, the chilled and hypothermia rules can be applied. A breathing apparatus does not protect against the cold.

Characters risk frostbite if caught in sub-zero temperatures. Each day a character must make a current Stamina check to prevent frostbite if they have been chilled for 4 continuous hours, hypothermic or unconscious. Roll a 1d5 to determine the number of locations affected – normally these are exposed areas such as the nose/snout, ear/antenna, fingers and toes, mandibles for a Vrusk and a Yazarian’s patagium.

Frostbite represents the death of tissue from the cold, but fortunately biocort and other advanced medical treatments can reverse tissue damage. (See “Catastropic Settings,” by Thomas Verreault in Star Frontiersman, Issue 18 for more information.)

Kraatar’s Desert Plateaus   

Kraatar’s deserts tend to be in lower lying depressions than the Uplands, meaning the air is passable to breath, but they are located around the equatorial zone. The hot daytime temperatures and chilly nights offer a severe challenge to unsheltered characters similar to travel in the Uplands.

Characters traveling overland by foot face heat temperatures of up to 60 degrees Celsius – or hotter in some extreme cases – and would require upwards of 4 liters of water per GST day to survive. If a character is trying to conserve water, their movement rate is reduced by half. Characters can move on foot at their maximum rate but must double their water intake (8 liters of water). A referee should take into account any precautions the characters have taken to save water.

These environmental effects can be mitigated if they are wearing desert chill suits or are riding in environmentally controlled vehicles. Characters can also reduce their water intake requirements by 1 liter per GST day by taking 2 salt pills per GST day (or reduce their intake requirements by 2 liters per day if they take 4 salt pills).

If moving at their maximum speed at night, a character could survive on 4 liters a day while taking 4 salt pills.

Characters who do not have enough water to survive quickly become dehydrated suffering -5 to all abilities. Dehydrated characters who continue to not get enough water become heat exhausted and suffer a -10 penalty to all abilities in addition to the penalty for dehydration.

Heat exhausted characters who continue to not get enough water will suffer heat stroke incurring another 15 penalty to all abilities in addition to the former penalties. Unconsciousness occurs if the character's Stamina drops to 0. Even if a character suffering from heat stroke does not become unconscious, it will happen soon without medical help and will be followed by death.

A lot of variables go into when dehydration sets in so a referee will simply have to take note of the fact that the characters are at risk and apply the penalty when he thinks best or require all characters to pass a STA check to avoid dehydration.

Characters will transition from dehydration to more severe effect in as little as an hour to 1d5 hours depending on shelter, activity level and lack of medical remediation for the conditions.

Sand storms, dust devils and the like are other challenges.


[1] Adopted from a Feb. 2, 2014 post by user “Blankbeard” on the Star Frontiers Network forums, http://www.starfrontiers.us/node/8036

Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
JCab747
April 15, 2016 - 11:29pm

The Transglobal Monorail, Roads and other Means of Travel  

Although the Transglobal Monorail is considered the easiest way to travel around the planet, there are other ways to travel across Kraatar including roads and limited shuttle travel.

The monorail is detailed in the planetary briefing, but instead of just one line between cities and regions, there would be multiple lines. No doubt there is a dedicated freight rail, side rails to smaller communities and cargo terminals, etc. However, in certain long stretches in the Uplands, across the deserts or through the mountains, one monorail line may be all there is to serve the area. Dedicated sidings will be available for a train to wait for another one to pass.

Thus one can imagine that a natural disaster or act of sabotage could strand a train and its passengers for some time. But, following most monorail routes are overland roads including highways, especially in the northern hemisphere.

A few roads and trails cut through the Uplands and mountains to connect major cities that are not served by the monorail, such as roads between Eldarg, Bunada to Hargizt in the southern hemisphere, or between Quazzt and Clarist.

Alpha Subsection 7: Planetary Notes

As the Star Frontiers Alpha Dawn rules explained, many planets have only been surveyed from space and once outside of major communities, areas are poorly explored. Kraatar is no exception.

By the time of this adventure, the Flatlands have been fairly well explored along with parts of the Yatiz Sea and the land along the Transglobal Monorail. So far, there are no signs of any previous sentient life on the planet. the only clue that an ancient alien race, possibly the Tetrarch Societies, ever came to Kraatar is the presence of the Dentz Ripper birds.

Many of the Human settlers feel that the planet is theirs and that the more recent arrivals by other races, especially the Vrusk, is a form of invasion. While a vast majority of Humans would not stoop to the Kraatar Liberation Corps’ terrorist tactics, many support separating the races.

Prior to the events in the module “The Dark Side of the Moon,” Star Law has a minor presence on Kraatar. Its agents are mostly looking out for Sathar agents, dealing with interplanetary smugglers and other issues that rise to the United Planetary Federation’s purview.

Since the UPF has not declared the KLC and similar Human-first organizations on the planet as criminal organizations, Star Law has not tried to go after them directly, but they try to monitor these extremist groups.

Alpha Subsection 8: Planetary Military Forces

Besides the Ral’Ik’Ka (RIK), a Vrusk security trade house, and similar corporate security forces and Human community police agencies, Kraatar lacks any kind of standing army. Since Tristkar was considered a “dead end” system at the edge of the “impenetrable” White Light Nebula, few saw any need to create a large military force on the planet.

During the First Sathar War, Tristkar was unmolested. Even space piracy is rare, but some Kraatarian officials have become increasingly alarmed over Sathar incursions against the White Light and Theseus systems. When the Saurian refugees appeared in Theseus with tales of the Sathar’s efforts to exterminate their species, the Common Council has tried to take steps to form a military but have met steep resistance from the Human populace who see it as a Vrusk trick to seize more control of the planet.

Some human communities have loosely organized citizens’ militias, but they tend to be poorly armed and armored. In case of a Sathar invasion, the best they could hope to form are resistance groups because they will not be able to defend Kraatar’s cities.

Alpha Subsection 9: Future History Extrapolations

The fate of Kraatar will hinge later on the events in “The Dark Side of the Moon.” This adventure does not have the existence of the planet’s life hanging in the balance. Assuming the players later foil Jack Legrange’s plot in that module, the UPF will rule the KLC as a terrorist organization and empower Star Law to find and arrest its leaders.

Military-wise, it remains unlikely that the planet will muster a formal military until after the start of the Second Sathar War. Most likely, Kraatar will be one of the first planets to fall to a Sathar invasion.

The Star Frontiers Forums (http://www.starfrontiers.us/node/3672) provides a few other fan-created tidbits about Kraatar and its future. One such story is from the “Star Law Modules” managed by member Darknight888 and provides scenarios on the planet during a Sathar invasion of the planet.

The “Star Law” scenario also mentions that prior to the Sathar invasion, a small clan of Saurians migrate to Kraatar, apparently somewhere in the Flatlands between Gozzorf City and the desert city of Trizz't.

Joe Cabadas

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
April 16, 2016 - 6:01pm
JCab747 wrote:
Because of the planet’s orbit around the planet and its 20 degree axis inclination, the northern hemisphere is tilted toward the star Tristkar during the winter and more away during the summer, making its seasons far more mild than the southern hemisphere.

Okay, the astronomer in me has to comment on this part.  This doesn't work.  By definition, summer happens when the axis is tilted toward the star.  The star is up longer in the sky and the radiation is more direct, both resulting in increased solar flux and thus higher temperatures.  The only way I can think to do as you describe is to have a very highly elliptical orbit which causes all sorts of other problems.

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JCab747's picture
JCab747
April 17, 2016 - 11:58am
TerlObar wrote:
JCab747 wrote:
Because of the planet’s orbit around the planet and its 20 degree axis inclination, the northern hemisphere is tilted toward the star Tristkar during the winter and more away during the summer, making its seasons far more mild than the southern hemisphere.

Okay, the astronomer in me has to comment on this part.  This doesn't work.  By definition, summer happens when the axis is tilted toward the star.  The star is up longer in the sky and the radiation is more direct, both resulting in increased solar flux and thus higher temperatures.  The only way I can think to do as you describe is to have a very highly elliptical orbit which causes all sorts of other problems.



Opps. A typo! I'll correct it in the text in a bit. thanks for the feedback.
Joe Cabadas