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September 26, 2008, 12:13 am

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Piel -- Border


On their beacon, such that it was, we came in from the east, low across the wet and mud.  When you get close to the Pielshome Field, the beacon is pretty useless. Visibility was good and I saw the oil lamps that lit the green circle we had been assigned by the controller.  As soft as a leaf, I sat us down. A perfect landing graced with a perfect sunset filling our windscreen. The sun set rose, as the sinking began.  The paving bricks they use to line the landing circles they only hold so much weight. The mud is everywhere here.

A Firefly world
Aka Piel’s World or Cyrus Delta IV

Most worlds with three moons do not develop actual ecologies. With a little Human help, this one did. It is of standard size, good composition, and on the middle to outer end of the Lifeband.  Piel has a hydrographic percentage of 85% at any time. While the three moons are small and have a tiny tidal effect, they create a complex sloshing of water. Having so much surface water to begin with and little geotidal forces (1), the planet has limited elevation change.  A "mountain" on this world is only about 300 feet above the water level. But to be fair, the deepest the water gets is merely 1100 feet.  Water deeper than 300 hundred feet only covers about 30% of the planet. The average altitude of all the land on the planet is a mere 20 feet. Any location at "ground level, which is the average water level plus/minus +15 feet, could be underwater at any time depending on the moons and the sloshing (there is never really a wave or tide here). To say Piel is swampy is an understatement.

The weather is actually very calm for a planet with such water mass. This can be attributed to slow average rotation (30 hour day), the number of mangroves acting as shades and sunbreaks, the shallowness of the water (limiting the amount of heat energy exchanging) and the planets place in the outer lifeband (limiting solar energy in).  So the weather will be much like The Gulf Coast.

All the life here is adapted to a semi-aquatic environment. The Trees are like giant mangroves: broad, wide, branching in both boughs and roots. The grasses grow long and reed like. There are hundreds of types of molds and mosses here. Most evolved from the few that were brought with the ecologist.

Despite their being so much water, there arent any big fish such as there was in the Earth-that-Was. In the deeps, the biggest fish is the local Tuna. They are smaller than Old Earth Tunas, but they will feed a family for a couple of days. However, most everything is shallows. So the best you can get is the Elder Catfish.

Surface life happens. The Birds, Snakes, and Squirrels have all adapted to an amphibious lifestyle, even if they are air breathers. Everything can swim in and on the water. The Wild Cats, which were domesticated ones that escaped, have learned to love the water. They hunt the other surface critters. These stripes critters have no fear of humans and can put on a pretty mean bite or scratch that can get infected something fierce if not looked after. Humans and their dogs are still trying to stay dry though.

The water has an odd tasted to it, due to the mineral content, but is consumable by Humans. If you are used to it, it is okay. If you are not, it can cause cramping, kidney pain, and painful urination. But after a couple of weeks of the "punks", you get used to it. Water stills and purifiers are found in every community, for those who want "sweet water".

There are three strata of Piel Society and it relates, like so much does on Piel, to its level above water.

The Richer folk, Highs in the local speak, live on the high ground in somewhat fancy houses of bricks with glass windows and metal hinges. Only during a once a hundred year storms that their homes might get wet floors. Highs are the big owners. Their properties are usually rice or water corn plantations; but they own the factories and the banks too. There is only frontier tech here, but still there is enough of it. Pielshome produces enough bricks and boats that they export them off planet.

The Stilts are what most people would call dirt poor people - if there was that much dirt around here. They live out from The Land.  Lands are what the locals call the areas that are dry more often than not, usually having an average height of 30 feet above water. Around each Land is usually an area that is ten times to twenty times its size of shallows. They are called "Nears" by the locals. Here the water is only 5 to 25 feet deep. The Nears also tend to have a lot of wildlife, especially low fish. (Lowfish are bottom feeding critters that anchor the food change).

Stilts get their name from the stilt houses they live in. These huts can be free standing, just on a steady patch under the water or built in and around a Mangrove tree.  They work for the Highs in their plantations or their fishing boats, or eke out a living hunting water squirrel or fishing.

Some Stilt families live alone, but most cluster together (usually in Mangrove forests or larger "shallow" areas.) They tend to have a tight community and tend to be very friendly. Community dinners and such are common. There is some of "Us" vs "Them" mentality in the Stilt community. They dislike any of those dry folks. However, they seem to make individual exceptions, so certain dry land people are "good folk" on The Stilt’s side.

Mudders are those in the middle. They live in brick houses too, but their houses are often wet. In fact, they are normally narrow and two stories tall. The bottom story is always sealed up and waterproof.  The entry to the house is usually a set of stairs down to ground level. Many have a floating dock tied to their stairs. When the water is high, there is a boat right there.

Mudders are your shop keepers, photographers, they run the factories and foundries owned by the Highs, they oversee the High’s boats and sometimes run their own, and they hold the world together. 

Houseboats are an option. They are normally owned by mudder folks. However the cost of keeping them up makes them less desirable. 

People travel about on flats (rafts) and small rows.  Most people, even some of the better off Stilts, ride on Cornboats. These are Fan Boats, swamp cruisers that run of corn alcohol. They can get going pretty good, being flat bottomed and wind pushed. They don’t get stuck very often in the very present mud rises and mangrove roots. In fact, watching The Races(which happen fairly often) can be a lot of fun.

The Piel Clan owns most of the good places and good things on the planet. There are three branches, Piels (the main branch), Peldons (Who own most of the southern hemisphere) and the Kyais (country cousins who own plantations). Since the families are separate, Alliance law does not see it as an owned world.  Each branch of the family runs what passes for a starport here. While they aint fancy, there are some spare parts about and fuel available.

Additional Notes
Shorthands for this world: Old New Orleans, Venice, and Swampboats.

Pielshome is the largest town/ city on Piel. What makes it so amazing is that it is fairly dry and high. Pielshome, which has the Piel mansion compound on the top the largest hill, is one of the largest lands. It also has an unheard of average altitude of 60 feet. It is full of Mudders a lot of Highs, limited electrical power and telephone service, a number of wave stations, and a High Chapel of the Book. The broad meadow on the north side of the land is the home of The Pielshome Space Port.

It is also home of the best Anual Race, The Parsen Engine challange. It is the showpiece of the Annual Founding Day festival.  There are lots of other competitions and a fun jams and jelly contest (given the local fruits, this is more of an odd eating contest).

There are three families of the Piels that came from the original Piels. Combined they own pretyt much all of the planet. In some ways, the work together. None of them will work against the "clan’s" interests on the planets. They do, on the other hand, manipulate the family bonds, practice dirty business practices, and occasionaly commit crime against each other. Everything is seems so "polite" on the surface. However in the shadows and the background, they are as savage as any crime families.

One thing you might find out. The Higher Folk, they practice The Religion of the Book. They get all fancied up for Seventhday service. Now the Stilts, and secretly a lot of the Mudders and High Folk, they practice an old religion. The Stilters call it The Spirit’s Way. The origin of the religion is obscure, it could be from the old world OR native. It is one that deals with the Spirits of the Great Water. These spirits can do things for a man, if they sacrifice the right things and ask purdy (nicely). Some say The Piels’ first met the Spirits of the Great Water. They created the religion. And, that they still practice this secret religion. They just hide behind the Respectability of the Book of the Word.

(1) The moons complex gravity interferes with the geotidal forces from its core, thus there is less tectonic plates motion. Thus there is less building up and breaking down of mountains. 

Add to this the ever present water. This is wears down the mountains and any exposed rock and soils. The planet is fairly flat all told.

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Comments ( 4 )
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Voted Scrasamax
September 27, 2008, 11:29
Any volcanic activity? Not bad, the local culture makes it interesting. A second question, have any of the locals attempted to build dykes or levees?
September 29, 2008, 16:46
Nope, no volcanos. Welcome to the joys of terraforming.

I thought about how they might do that. However they have issues of not having enough materials to conviently hold it and proper equipment to hold them. And given the regular surges, the water table, the degree of wetness, lack of useful rock materials, and the locals finding it easier to adapt than to reshape, the factors are against it.

You might have a few small projects, but nothing of note.
Voted valadaar
September 29, 2008, 11:54
Another neat monotype world - I could easily see this converted to Star Wars use as well.

Could use a little more conflict :)
September 29, 2008, 16:39
There is the classic conflict between Rich (Highs) and and poor (Stilts). There is the conflict between the Piel Clans, which is only slightly covert. The Piels hiding their secerts can lead to "dead".

The conflicts tend to be on personal level, like most Firefly plots. Being outside agents they become new pawns in the local power games. If you get them entangled in local politics, "family matters", or religious elements, you get to play "in middle" with two rocks.

The various sets of players have been there "just to drop some stuff of" and they thought about joing the reaces. Each time, by not knowing what is going on, they have nearly got themselves killed off. There is enough drama.

It does have Lucas Syndrome. That is fact. There are hot and cold latitudes, just not intensly so. The shallowness and mass of water is that their won't be an icey area (or overly warm) as currents will move through nearly unobstructed evening things out. Minimal temp exchanges mean less weather.

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