Miros, the Devouring World
'Captain's log, date unknown. We have been exploring a region of dead space, wandering between the dull cinders of dying suns, looking for an explanation to what happened in this sector of space. Our charts show that this sector should be bursting with life - young stars and verdant worlds - but all we have seen is a stellar wasteland.' -Log entry recovered from a derelict exploratory vessel on the fringe of the Miros Waste
Miros is a dead world; a once-verdant paradise rendered barren by an act of war in the distant past. What the attackers failed to realize was the immense latent psionic power of the natives, a web of awareness and energy the spanned and infused their world; when they all died in a single day, their agonized bodies withering away as their tormented minds were snuffed, their pain and sorrow was so great that it shook this psionic web, filling it with the dying spark of their collective lifeforce.
Now, Miros is a wasteland of a world, the nascent planetmind driven mad by the anguish of those who birthed it, filled with an insatiable hunger for energy to sustain it. It is a nomad world, the psionic might of the planetmind having long ago torn it loose from gravity's moorings. Now it wanders a stellar wasteland, hungry and insane, drawn to any spark of life and mind that it finds.
The surface of Miros is cold, the atmosphere long since frozen in the depths of space; air and warmth must both be provided by those unwary or foolish enough to set down. Eerily, light already exists - a heatless flame that dances across every surface of the planet. Those who set foot soon find the strange flame licking up the surface of their own suits and ships, eventually seeping through any seals and lighting up the interiors and their own flesh.
To call Miros desolate would be an understatement; those who remain long enough to dig beneath the frozen atmosphere will find the remains of all the living things that once dwelled upon the world, perfectly preserved as they died - all the animal life with expressions of untold anguish etched upon their bodies. Unfortunately for those who discover this, it is inevitably too late to avoid joining them.
A Hungry World
Most planetminds are sustained by the continual energy of the race which birthed them; due to this, they are both protective and benevolent, sheparding the race which birthed them into golden ages of which legends are told. Miros, born from the suffering and death of the race which it was part of, has no such wellspring to feed it. It is a planetmind ever on the brink of starvation, and has learned many tricks to fuel itself over the eons. Beginning with learning to steal lifeforce from living things on the surfaces of other verdant worlds - those who had unleashed the weapon upon it being the first to feed it this way - it has progressed to drawing the energy from other planets, and then extinguishing entire stars to feed itself. This is the source of the stellar waste in which it dwells; a place of prematurely dead worlds and stars, consumed to feed the starving planetmind wandering it. Little by little, the Waste continues to grow as Miros strives to remain alive.
Those slain by the voracious huner of the planet have little warning or notice of their impending demise; the eldritch rimfire that covers the world swirls up around them, the visual manifestation of the world's attention, and then moments later they are snuffed out, all life in their body simply being sucked dry.
Attuned as it is to the suffering that birthed it, the planetmind finds terror to be a delicious treat, and has been known to disable landing craft and toy with those foolish enough to land on it for days before finally devouring the last of them. Invariably, the planetminds stirs from a dim slumber when explorers first land, draining the comparatively massive energy of their landing craft and, if the main vessel is in close orbit, extinguishing it as well.
Then it begins to play with the lives upon it - inflicting psionic figments upon them to spook and frazzle them until one of them finally snaps, at which point Miros feeds on the peak moment of terror; the torment continues until the last victim is snuffed, at which point the planetmind scans local space, hopeful for more sport and nourishment, and then settles itself back into a dreamless torpor to await the next explorer or the next stellar system to feed upon.
The Miros Waste
Miros will, one day, become a threat to known and civilized space - the Waste is spherical for the first few hundred million years, even as it slowly expands, but in time the planet will venture in one direction, reaching first toward nearby globular clusters and then into the more densely-inhabited sectors of space, where a feast like it has never dreamed of awaits it.
Old starcharts recovered from derelicts will most clearly show the growth of the Waste - and likel civilizations now lost to the planetmind's hunger. Only another elder planetmind stand a chance of halting Miros; and even then the devouring world will simply swing off in a different direction, looking for easier prey to be had, rather than fighting to oblivion.
-A derelict vessel is found on the edge of a strange stellar wasteland. Aboard are starcharts showing the wasteland to be much smaller, as well as log entries about exploring a rogue planet; the entires become progressively more worried, and then panicked, before the last one cuts off in the middle.
-The players are exploring a stellar waste when their long-range sensors pick up a world that seems to be glowing strangely. They, along with a large crew of NPCs, are either on the landing vessel when all but the emergency power dies, or aboard the main vessel when the engines are snuffed out. Then, one by one, the crew begin to suffer hallucinations, until the engineer dies in a burst of the eldritch flame that covers the planet. Can the players rig up a way to escape before they, too, feed the hungry planetmind?
-A particularly psychic race begins experiencing premonitions and nightmare visions of a starving world drifting toward them; scans of the sky show that Miros has emerged from the Waste, and is heading straight toward a heavily inhabited globular cluster at incredible speeds. Can the cluster be evacuated before Miros arrives? Is it possible to stop or divert the planet?
-An ancient member of the race which birthed Miros is found, drifting in stasis at the fringes of the Waste. Here is a chance to set things right for the devouring world, if only enough members of the race can be cloned and brought to it; but can enough be born and brought to their ancestral home to feed the world before it begins snuffing them out? And can the insane, sadistic planetmind be rehabilitated to care for them?
-A psionic weapon is found that can kill planetminds; unfortunately, it must be delivered in pieces, by living creatures; unfortunately, this means that those who deliver it will die, eaten by Miros. And, in turn, this means it must be delivered by expendables. What will the players do when one or more of the delivery creatures die en route, leaving the weapon incomplete unless the players themselves choose to become a part of it?
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? Responses (7)
A very hard thing to fight-an entire planet gone warped.You don't mine this planet, this planet mines you.
I do believe 'very hard to fight' is a classic horror trope, yes. As is the shock of unexpected power failure, and seeing the lives of your fellows abruptly snuffed without warning.
Now this is interesting. It calls to mind Original Series Star Trek, but darker.
My only concern with it is the wide scale between being able to snuff stars, and being the slightest bit aware of individual beings. I can't help but lump power of that degree into the field of magic.
Planet minds, I haven't seen that in a while.
I really liked this, I thought while it lacked personality specifics (aka the mind is described as nothing more than insane and the dead culture is glossed over), the tone and themes were well expressed by what I thought was very strong prose. The visuals and physical specifics of the planet are also very well explained.
I echo some of axlerowes comments. I would like to know more about the culture that gave birth to the crazed scourge of the Waste. In and of itself though its creepy and nice.