Wednesday, April 12, 2017


Once famous as a semi-lawless place, far from the bright center of the galaxy, and ruled by the Dhangeti and other gangsters, Oerken has undergone quite the transformation in the last 1,000 years. Oh, it's still harsh desert, with the vast fields of dunes covering much of the surface, and the Cragland wastes cover other large areas. And it's still lawless. If anything, it's in fact quite a bit more lawless than it was under the Dhangeti. 
As the home world of Simon the Arch-Knight and the nameless scientist who's super-weapon created the plague (and who may have permanently destroyed the ecosystem of what was once a fertile planet), Oerken has become a major pilgrimage site for knights, historians, and more who all want to see what makes this hot wasteland so special. Indeed, some have developed philosophies that the harsh environment is what led to the strength and fortitude of Simon and his original Knights of the Zen Cross.  Would-be utopian communities of various stripes dot the surface here and there. Some of them thrive, after a fashion, but many more wither and die as their philosophical fervor fades and they move on to other things, or fall prey to hostile natives... or worse. 
Many of those who now live on Oerken either serve the needs of the pilgrimage tourist trade, or parasitically feed on it. Oerken is still a dangerous place, and one haunted by mercenaries, bounty hunters, criminals and worse. While the Dhangeti gave up on the planet in disgust rather than fight Sacristan pilgrims and more over such paltry resources as the planet afforded, the only powers to fill in the void left by their departure have been regional and highly unstable. One does not ask which crime lord is ascendant on Oerken one asks which crime lord is ascendant today.
System: Oerken
Hex Location: 1536
Star Type: Double star (close) F9 V, M1 V
Number of Worlds: 5 (three of which are in an extremely close triple planet arrangement, although only Oerken Prime, the main world, is inhabited.)
Gas Giants: 2
Planetoid Belt: Scattered asteroid belt

Starport Type: D
World Size: Earth-sized
Atmosphere Type: Earth-like
Surface Water: 5%.  Some subsurface aquifers do exist, however, and the uninhabited planets are mostly airless ice-rich worlds.
Population: Medium (300 million)
Political Affiliation: Independent
Notes: A desolate frontier world that yet sees a fair bit of traffic, Oerken is a bit of an embarrassment to all.  The Dhangeti used to rule here, but even then, their role was light.  They were more interested in harvesting what resources the planet had than in developing it as a a colony.  Diamonds were once plentiful here, and it's reputed that they may be the remains of a former thriving ecosystem, blasted under heat and pressure by an ancient super-weapon until their carbon content was crystalized.
Typical Oerken landscape
Today, Oerken is a harsh, xeric world.  If that is something other than myth, then whatever ecosystem used to exist on Oerken is long gone.  Some life forms persist, including large herds of sandkine and mannoths, as well as various dangerous predators.  And an old, legacy population of humans live here as dervish-like desert dwellers and subsistence farmers who drill deep into the crust to access small amounts of aquifer water.  The Oerkenites are wary of the greater galactic community, and interact with them infrequently, if they can.  Other people live here as well, including the reptilian Oerks.  They are probably not native, but are the descendants of slaves brought to Oerken by the Dhangeti.  When the Dhangeti left, some were either inadvertently left behind, or had escaped, or otherwise went somewhat "feral" and adapted to life in the desert.

Oerk tribesman
Since the departure of the official Dhangeti rulers, a number of other outworlders have either continued to thrive on the planet, or even arrived in greater numbers, and a number of settlements still dot the surface of the planet.  These are cosmopolitan slums and dives, for the most part.  Gang-related turf wars are common, and life is cheap.  Bandits, restless natives—both Oerkenite and Oerks—criminals and more make up these wretched communities of humanoid refuse.  There are also small communities built along ideological grounds.  Usually these are based on some strange utopian fantasy, and although more crop up all the time, few thrive or last more than a few generations before being swallowed by the desert or abandoned by less zealous future generations (or both.)  The probable exception here is the Crusader State of Oerken-Toth, established by Sacristan psionic knights as a warrior-monastery and associated civilian community.  Technically, they claim the entire planet as their birthright (a dubious claim in every possible sense) but in reality, their control is limited to the area immediately surrounding their temple and the surrounding city and a few scattered villages that are connected via ephemeral roads and are usually within only a few days travel from their temple at most.

The reason so many continue to come to Oerken, which otherwise seems a rather uninviting place, is the legend that Simon the Arch-Knight himself was born and raised on this planet and founded the original Order of the Zen Cross here.  In spite of this, nobody has found his original temple, if indeed he had a temple in the traditional sense.  There are also old ruins that are often attributed to the Grays although these ruins are generally quite picked over (the Dhangeti were not archaeologists, but had a keen eye for potentially valuable loot.)  Rumors continue to persist of more interesting archaeological treasures just waiting for the right sandstorm to come along and unearth them.

Oerken continues to be important also because of its placement as a convenient hub for travel through the sector.  Because of this ongoing strategic importance, it is unlikely that it will be left to flounder in anarchy and barbarism for long; eventually one of the Great Powers will pacify the planet and settle it for real. Or, at least, such is the prevailing wisdom.

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