Wednesday, April 14, 2021

More Kronos Musings: Geography

Now that we know something of its history, what does it look like today? I generally don't like "island worlds" though on some level it's unavoidable. Most games can't handle one fully detailed world (Earth) and even your most far ranging fantasy games rarely escape a single continent. Still, we can add a few more details than just "one city." Nonetheless, let's start with one city.



The Shield Spire, Grand Nexus and the Pit


The Spires of Kronos are gargantuan structures built by the Eldoth themselves. They have a mile square base, and extend up into the atmosphere to about 20 miles in height, and extend down into the crust to an unknown depth (at least 20 miles down). They're extraordinarily resilient, but not indestructible. They contain the machinery of the Deep Engine within them; they are some of the largest such Deep Engine sites known, and Kronos has the most such Deep Engine Sites known in the Galaxy. These spires remain largely inaccessible today, though some groups have managed to unlock a portion of a few different spires.

The Shield Spire is the most well-known of the spires. It is so named because of the "shields" that surround it. The Shield Spire is located at the 30th parallel above the equator, at the prime meridian. The Eldoth designed the area to be a primary base of operations, and it remains the central “capital” of the world.  The area immediately around the spire, out to a distance of 5 miles in radius, was originally a clear area.  Over the millennia, a city sprang up around the spire of high rises, temples and grand palaces, including the cathedral-sized factory complex of House Mistral and the current imperial headquarters, the imperial security ministry building and the governor’s palace.  This area is known as Grand Nexus, and is the capital of Kronos, housing about 3 million people. It’s dark, neon-lit night skyline dominated by the vast structure of the spire is perhaps the most iconic image of Kronos.

Arrayed around the spire are five vast, hexagonal "shields,” from which the spire gets its name. Each of these shields measures 10 miles to a side, and is constructed of a mixture of alien metals and ultra-advanced concrete 100 feet thick. The shields are elevated above the planet’s surface at a height of 20 stories (10 stories of which is just the structure of the shield itself).  Contrary to popular depictions, these are not domes meant to keep out the elements; they are bunkers meant to resist orbital assault, with most of their defensive structure aimed upwards, at the sky.  In fact, several of the shields have had sections of their walls demolished to allow easier access to the bunker within with no ill effect. Past the much thinner walls or doors on the sides of the shields, one enters the bunker itself, which his an inverted pyramid that extends into thThe Shield Spire is the most well-known of the spires. It is so named because of the "shields" that surround it. The Shield Spire is located at the 30th parallel above the equator, at the prime meridian. The Eldoth designed the area to be a primary base of operations, and it remains the central “capital” of the world.  The area immediately around the spire, out to a distance of 5 miles in radius, was originally a clear area.  Over the millennia, a city sprang up around the spire of high rises, temples and grand palaces, including the cathedral-sized factory complex of House Mistral and the current imperial headquarters, the imperial security ministry building and the governor’s palace.  This area is known as Grand Nexus, and is the capital of Kronos, housing about 3 million people. It’s dark, neon-lit night skyline dominated by the vast structure of the spire is perhaps the most iconic image of Kronos.

The interior of the shield consists of “blocks” that are twenty stories tall and about 80 yards long and wide. The blocks is unique, and may be set aside as office space, living space or machinery.  Each “block” can be treated as its own building with its own internal structure: the top-most structures tend to have interior gardens, flowing fountains and decent lighting, while those lower down consist of bare concrete corridors with interspersed metal doorways and dorm-sized rooms. In some places, the “block” may be absent, creating a vast open area or a yawning void in which people might construct monuments, or gardens, or they may fall into disrepair and become great, gulfs of darkness.  Between these “blocks” are large, 20-yard wide corridors that form a grid; these corridors extend the entire length and width of the shield, and extend all the way from one 20-story “floor” to the next 20-story “floor.”  Those who enter the Shield from “street level” can look up all the way up to the barrier of the shield above. Lights usually hang on the underside of the floor above, as to the interior transport trams.

One travels about the interior of a shield, or from one shield to another, either on foot, walking down the great corridors, or they take a train.  The trains are attached to the roof of the floor “below” the current floor, and generally reached via a staircase to a catwalk that leads to the “subfloor” train. To get from one floor to another, one takes either a staircase, or an elevator. A few high-speed elevators reach the whole structure, but these are reserved for emergency use by the authorities, with per vertice of the hexagon, located halfway between the vertice and the center of the hexagon, with one more emergency elevator at the center of the hexagon.  Other elevators handle a maximum of 10 floors and one must travel from one elevator to another to make their way the full distance from the top to the bottom.

Not every shield is fully occupied.  The primary occupied shields are the so-called “northern shield,” which sits north-east of the avenue that stretches from the Pit to Grand Nexus, and the “southern shield” which lies on the southern side of the same avenue.  The Southern Pit, sometimes called “the South Side” is home to many secondary industries and a vast working population of cheap laborers.  It has the largest alien population of the region, and seethes with crime. The north shield, or “the North Side” has a more (though not exclusively) human population and tends towards middle class, or lower-classes working in the service sector and aspiring towards Imperial Citizenship.  It has a fairly strict law enforcement presence, with numerous checkpoints to maintain the peace.   These two shields have the largest populations, each with around a billion people. There’s also the “Far Shield” which is on the other side of Grand Nexus from the two “main shields” which mostly consists of industry that serviced House Mistral and the pit on the far side, which is still actively mining.  Today, much of the shield has been decommissioned or has been taken over as an exclusively imperial part of the city, and houses no more than a million people.  Given its spaciousness and the grandness of much of its design, those who live in the shield are the envy of the other shields.


Between each shield is a great avenue a mile wide.  Originally, these were kept clear: a straight avenue of concrete and alien metal that led directly between the shields to the Spire. Today, they have become cluttered with “sprawl,” as people have built houses or shops up against the walls of the shields, between which roads and traffic wends their way.  The main avenue between the Pit and Grand Nexus is frequently used as a commercial district and home to the so-called Night Market, where local merchants and street food vendors will open stalls at night, when the night shields the planet from the dangerous solar flares of the Star of Kronos.

At the far end of each of the five avenues, away from Grand Nexus, lies a great shaft.  Each is ten miles across, and goes all the way down to the planet’s core.  Most of these pits have collapsed in on themselves, or begun to fill up with water, but two remain active.  The most active one, simply called the Pit, is ringed with a great, eye-shaped spire that rises up above the rest of the city to the second largest structure in the area.  This is the Starport of Kronos.  It houses numerous ship repair and maintenance facilities, and given the enormous size of the pit, it can house even imperial dreadnoughts.  The depths are still used for mining the planetary core, and the ores found in the core are brought directly up and placed on waiting cargo ship sin the Pit.  Between the deepest depths and the starport, one can find impromptu housing structures built into abandoned mines. These low-level living quarters and communities extend for a depth of about one hundred miles, and those nearest the pit have reasonably good air quality, despite the fumes from the mining below, given their open access to the atmosphere above.  As cargo vessels travel up and down the shaft to access ores, they often see children swinging their legs on the balconies of their shoddy homes, watching the traffic go up and down and enjoying what light spills down the shaft.  The population in the mine shafts are a fluid group, interacting with the miners below and the starfarers above; those who are fleeing from other worlds often find themselves hiding in the depths of the Pit.  This is a very anarchic part of Kronos, as the denizens of the pit belong to no “official” community, and the tunnels are too convoluted for the Empire to readily assert their dominion.  Thus far, as long as groups don’t interfere with the operation of the space port above or the mining below, they’re left to their own devices.  The Empire estimates that upwards of 100 million people live in the Pit.


Beyond the shafts and the shields lies the sprawl.  This consists of homesteads, apartments buildings, communities and townships that have grown up on the continent around the Shield Spire.  These tend to be less densely packed: people may have a house with direct access to a road, or even a lawn or a garden. Travel in the sprawl is generally by repulsorcar, and communities cluster around urban centers with tall buildings: essentially, the sprawl consists of endless smaller cities that have all grown together, but see themselves as distinct from the Spire itself, which they call “the City.”  The Sprawl collectively has about 100 million people in it.

The total sum of Grand Nexus, the Shields, the Pit and the Sprawl comes to about 3 billion people, the majority of which live in the shields or the Pit.

The Other Spires

The Shield Spire is but one of twelve spires, spaced equally across the globe of Kronos.  Each governs a unique and distinct region of the world.

The Dead Spire: The northernmost spire, it was damaged heavily during an orbital bombardment and created a region of intense twisted psionic energy.  The ruins of past civilizations remain there, haunted by psionic ghosts and malevolent presences.  The only living being there are either scavengers, darting in to salvage some part of a broken civilization, and an outpost of imperial scientists, who are studying the strange pyschic phenomenon around the broken spire and its ruins.

The Jungle Spire: On a distant, southern continent, the Eldoth may have attempted to create a region of sustainable agriculture: the ruins of hydropnic plants and greenhouses can be found beneath the overgrown foliage of the region.  The spire, still humming at the center of the verdant continent, evidently does something to the fertility of the region, and things that grow their grow to towering and dangerous proprotions. The Ranathim Tyranny noted the fertility of the region and transplanted some of their favorite plants to the region, especially some of the more dangerous plants of Hekatomb.  The continent has become an emerald nightmare, but farmers to eke out what they can from the lush soil at the edges of the region.

The Sea Spire: Despite the reputation of Kronos as an entirely urban world, it has geographic features like seas and oceans.  The most prominent sea has a great spire jutting out of its center, around which what must have once been floating citysteads remain, great metal drums miles in diamter that slowly float around the ocean like great artifical island-ships.  The ocean itself has darkened with pollution, but the spire keeps the algae and plant life of the ocean alive, even if no biological fish swim its depths.  That doesn’t mean nothing swims its depths, though: dark shadows sometimes move in its greatest depths and send sensor systems on the fritz; the current theory by imperial researchers is that oceanic warmachines of bygone eras still move in those depths.

The Storm Spire: Another of the shattered spires, this one lies to the south-west of the shield spire.  Like the Dead Spire, it too was shattered in an ancient war, and the energies released in its shattering roiled up the atmosphere around it: a continent-sized hurricane raged around the spire after it died, and that hurricane rages still today, with the spire at its eye.  Worse, the region is haunted with twisted psionic energy, and giant shadows shuffle about within the tempest, barely visible from the outside. The rain that falls in the stormhas black particles in the raindrops that sicken and twist those exposed to it. The eternal storm wrecks the weather of the rest of the planet and makes weather control nearly impossible.  Worse, the storm sometimes migrates slightly spreading its black rain to other parts of the world.  Grand Nexus in particular needs to remain alert, and issues warnings whenever “the Black Rain” gets too close.

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