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Torco's north pole of a moon

Posted: 04 Jan 2021 00:39
by Torco
so during 2020 I had a lot more free time than usual. good thing is, a bunch of conworld ideas ended up congealing in my mind and taking shape. I'll put some of that on this thread.

The Premise

Inanna started its life as a body not unlike a runt mars: a small (for a planet) chunk of metal and rock we might have classified as a dwarf planet a tenth the mass of earth orbiting a faraway sun, its chilly surface covered in various ices of water, carbon dioxide and ammonia. It was one lifeless icy terrestrial rock amongst many, and for countless eons nothing much happened. One fine day it became captured by Enki, a warm neptune, and has been a moon of it ever since. Many hundreds of thousands of years later, an extraordinarily sophisticated technological entity arrived from the plutonic night of interstellar space.

The Probe had been sent from a distant star with the purpose of terraforming. It was highly intelligent, relentlessly methodic and seldom given to communication. For the first thousand years or so it did nothing but build various machines: solar farms, laser emitters, reflectors and receivers, robot factories. It turned itself, initially something like a starship, into a swarm of semi-autonomous robotic spacecraft. When the time was right it began to, with inexhaustible patience, contrive the alteration of the world’d surface to match its idea (it’s program?) of what a world should look like: from memory or samples it reconstructed a version of the biosphere of its makers and adapted it to the realities of the new world. It found problems along the way, and solved them as best its enormous intellect could and, after hundreds of thousands of years of management of the planet’s geology, climate and biosphere it began to break down.

While enormously capable and designed by the finest minds of Earth, given sufficient time all complex systems break down. Its memory was simply too vast, its programming too full of updates and workarounds. It could and did update and improve its own programming, but all of the patches had been written by itself and, therefore, carried the very same unstated assumptions, the same bad habits and inflexible paradigms. Entropy catches up with all things, and by the time its terraformation megaproject was complete, the Probe was forced to turn itself into but a shadow of itself: the vast fields of gigantic machinery that had turned the icy Inanna eventually became scuttled, and to this day many of the inhabitants of the north pole, where most of the infrastructure was located, make some use of various found parts, mostly as extremely good quality metal called Yao so Long, or Ancient Metal.

The world had been already seeded with microbes, fish, insects, fungi and the ecology had been stable for a thousand years. The last proper act it carried out was to seed the world with macrofauna, including humans specimens. Because it didn’t have the time to engage in extensive trial and error it tweaked the genetic code of most of the specimens that were stored in its memory: it made humans smaller, and more resistant to disease and muscle loss. It had lost some of its archived data, and other species it predicted wouldn’t be able to adapt to the microbial systems that had developed on the moon. (you can never know with microbes what you’re gonna get, as all terraformers know). So it modified what it could, figured out its best approximation of an equilibrium, sent down the specimens along with simple machines to assist early development of the first generations and then, after millenia of uninterrupted activity, the Probe went to sleep inside another of Enki’s moons, a small body not 300 kilometers wide with no atmosphere or geology, to wake up seldom and for a short time.Some version of this story is more or less known by a many inhabitants of this world, though for many it is more a legend passed down throughout the generations than a matter of well attested historical facts, and there’s likely no one in the surface which fully understands the concepts of relativistic STL interstellar travel or autonomous machine intelligences. Still, the probe sometimes comes online and communicates with whoever it can. It lacks the initiative to come up with its own grand revelation, but it can still keep up with the evolution of the languages on the ground, and is inclined, in general, to answer questions posed by humans.

Re: Torco's north pole of a moon

Posted: 09 Jan 2021 04:03
by Torco
Day and Night
The moon is tidally locked around the planet and revolves once around it every 41 hours: thus it has a 20,5 hour day and a 20,5 hour night in the outside hemisphere. The inside hemisphere is, however, a bit more complicated: the planet in the sky looks very large and at any time in which it is night time it will be there in the sky, shining in all its glory, and shines so brightly in the sky that one can read by its light easily. Only during eclipse time, which lasts three hours every day, does the inside hemisphere know a night that is actually properly dark. It was not obvious to me that a tidally locked moon should have this property where the inner hemisphere will always either have the sun or the planet shining in the sky, but it's enough just to play around with a ball and a lightbulb.
The gas giant Inanna orbits is large and has a lot of water, which gives it a high albedo. it looks like a pale blue orb with many white clouds. The thing is so large and close to Inanna that it takes up 27 degrees of arc. by contrast, the moon on earth takes up half of one.
Low Tech GPS
A tidally locked world's main reference in the sky is its primary, the planet around which it orbits: the fact that it's always directly over a specific point in the surface that geography is a lot easier. The most obvious way to get your bearings is by looking up at Enki, as the large gias giant is an immovable feature of the sky and, so, there's always an obvious, absolute direction that's towards the planet. This is, of course, very useful for people.
But having a large neptune-like thing on your sky is even better! you get two free known directions for the price of one, only looking up at the sky. Gas giants have bands, and though some are more obvious than others (jupiter's are very obvious, neptune's not so much), and those bands give you a perfect idea of what direction north and south (and west and east) are. What's even more is that if you've paid attention to the planet before, and have decent eyesight, then you know which way north is: just like on Jupiter the red spot is in the south, there's plenty of permanent-ish features on the clouds of Enki: storms, cloud streaks, that kind of thing. Furthermore, it's not hard to figure out your distance from the subplanetary point simply by eyeballing the elevation of the planet in the sky. Simple observations, then, yield one's coordinates without the need for any technology: it all can be derived from basic mathematics and simple measurements such as the shortest shadow of the day and the path of the sun with respect to Enki's position in the sky, or which way the bands of the planet are pointing. Low tech GPS has had a profound impact on the human cultures of the planetwards hemisphere of Inanna: most notably, reliable intercontinental navigation and cartography existed by the bronze age. Geomancy (the kind of thing feng shui is) is also much more popular.
Directions - Retrograde and Prograde
On Inanna north and south work basically the same as on earth, but east and west are different: while there is a north pole on earth, there is not a west pole, a point that is the most west that you can be, and so we're forced to speak of east and west as a sort of abstract direction, towards an infinitely distant point: indeed, if you go west far enough you'll just reach where you started: However, on a world such as Innana, you can identify a point that's to your west, or to your east, that's absolute and immovable and all observers anywhere on the world can agree on: the prograde and retrograde points can also be found by traveling westward until the planet is exactly halfway into the horizon and keeping to the equator. One of these points, however, is not a place where it's easy to

Retrograde just means the opposite of prograde: in orbital mechanics, prograde means in the same direction of motion that the body has as it orbits whatever it orbits. everything that orbits something else, such as a planet orbiting a sun, or a moon orbiting a planet, or a spaceship, everything has some bit of it that, at any given time, is pointing in this concrete, specific direction. The thing is that if you're tidally locked, there's a specific point, or at least a small region of your geography (since planets aren't generally exactly perfectly tidally locked, and some libration happens) that's pointing towards prograde.

In summary, there are more absolute points of reference on the surface: there's the north and south poles, there's the subplanetary pole and its antipode, the subplanetary equator, the antipodal equator, and of course four noticeable meridians. looking down from the north pole and going clockwise, they're the prograde, antiplanetary, retrograde, and subplanetary meridians.
For the technical minded reader, this world’s star is 0.7 solar masses, an old and reliable K4 type star without significant solar flares anymore. It orbits Enki, a large gas giant, once every 41 hours and a bit: one could call this the world’s planetary year (by contrast to the solar year). The moon itself is not as big as mars, 3,6e6km in radius, and due to it being somewhat denser it has a surface gravity 40% that of earth. It has a terrestrial, nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere that is thicker than earth's at something like 1.5 atm, and because of the gravity it stretches out from the planet much higher, kind of like titan's: this has a number of interesting effects, like the fact that the mountains are basically as warm as the lowlands. They are also rarer, since heavier winds and higher-reaching precipitation tend to wear them down to just large hills. Flying is a bit easier, though not as much as you’d think. You get fewer clear skies simply because there's more volume of air where you can get clounds and more mellow lighting because of scattering, as well as the most spectacular dances of colour at twilight.
The movement of the Enki-Inanna system orbit around its star (its solar year, as it were, by contrast to its planetary year) takes almost precisely 9 months, as in the amount of time it takes for a human pregnancy to complete, and this is a coincidence that has not gone unnoticed by the most religious inhabitants of the moon. Indeed it’s even closer to the period of a human gestation: It takes 287 earth days: this works out to a bit under seven thousand hours (6888 if you must know), or just the tiniest bit under 162 and a half of its own Inannan days. (162.4911).
seasons are mild to non-existent: the axial tilt of the moon is just a bit over 6 degrees. The moon is mostly ocean but here are only two major landmasses, two large islands and a number of extensive island chains. The climate on this moonworld is less varied than on earth, on account of it being a smaller planet, having more of its surface covered in ocean and having a thicker atmosphere, which all makes it easier for heat to circulate: as a result, the north pole landmass has temperate conditions for a pole, rarely below -10. the lands along the equator are warm but not tropical.

Re: Torco's north pole of a moon

Posted: 10 Jan 2021 14:31
by DesEsseintes
I’m enjoying this, especially since some of the terraforming ideas in the first post are similar to things I have in mind for my own conworld.

I hope there will be more. [:)]

Re: Torco's north pole of a moon

Posted: 10 Jan 2021 22:51
by gestaltist
Great stuff Torco. This is the kind of worldbuilding I enjoy reading about. I hope this thread is continued.

If you need inspiration for further posts here, I'd like to know about:
- the machines left by the terraforming AI
- human cultures on the hemisphere facing away from the gas giant

Re: Torco's north pole of a moon

Posted: 11 Jan 2021 01:41
by Torco
Thanks, guys. I've a a fair bit of stuff I've already written, so there's likely going to be more on this. I too want to zoom in into the terraforming facilities and the various leftover infrastructure from the Probe, so there'll be a fair bit of that. Alas, about the people of the outside hemisphere I don't know much yet: but I do know that in there exists a big continent, as big as the north pole itself (which is kind of half an australia or so) and that it's smack dab in the middle of the equator, so it should be very different. A lot of different species of gnu (wildebeest?) live there cause the Probe failed to implement deer or horses.

The people on the outside half of the north pole (above the red line) are a mixture of adari settlers and nomadic hunter-gatherers, but that's as far as I know.


Early History of Adar

Roving Bands
It is unknown when the Probe introduced the first human specimens into the planet, but for something like twenty thousand years the inhabitants of Adar lived as hunter gatherers. Some agriculture was practiced, as well as limited domestication of animals such as dogs and goats, but most of the calories consumed came from gathering wild plants, fish, fowl and game. Different bands had different economies and uses for technology, but the majority of tools were made of wood and bone. Flint is very scarce in Adar, and was traded up and down the many hundreds of kilometers between the Fjordlands and the Adar heartland. The people groups of the territory were extremely diverse, speaking thousands of different languages across the region, polyglotism was high. When somebody ventured outside their home territory, which was often, they would go around armed with a quarterstaff: spears and bows meant you were a raider, and anyone who saw an armed stranger in their turf would come back with friends, whereas if you're carrying a simple stick you'd just be seen as being careful and sensible. Then again, raids were not that uncommon either. The time before agriculture is shrouded in a sort of mythical veil, since legends is the only historical source for it.
Villages and Cities - 2600 to -1700
The invention of agriculture was not an overnight affair, but as time went by more and more groups became first seminomadic and then then permanent inhabitants of river valleys or other fertile places. Around 2600kya there emerged a particularly successful culture, the semi-mythological Pianar, who developped a lifestyle and system of economic and social organization that swept across the coast of Adar through expansion, warfare and sometimes peaceful cultural radiation. The Pianar expansion seems to have been caused by two technological innovations: first, the domestication of the Krittar (1) opened up the possibility of much more intensive farming. This was because the krittar is a strong animal that can take a fair amount of work. And secondly, the Pianar brought with them the institution of Oath Trading, which allowed for a dramatic increase in sophistication of the economy, as well as a much stabler political landscape.
Towards the last centuries of the period the Pianar way of life had increased social stratification to the point where a class system emerged. It had always been the case that some families or clans were more productive than others: perhaps by having larger populations, better territories, better social technologies or more judicious use of resources. Similarly, some clans were, for any of a number of reasons, better at getting good deals out of their oath trading with other clans. Through these two means clans prospered, and eventually some came to control large networks of trade and production. Through the coordination of these large scale supply chains they managed to both increase economic productivity vastly and also appropriate a great deal of this surplus production: they became in, a word, aristocrats, and their labour came to be less and less invested in farming, and more and more invested in business, which in turn made their territories into important places where more and more people came to live: ultimately, this gave rise to city-states.
These city states of the late period between 2000ya and 1700ya were often at war, and many oaths entailed periods of military service should it be required by the aristocrat. These irregular armies were gradually replaced by professional military clans whose sole business was war, and which were much more loyal to their senior partners.
Herders of Sheep - 1700 to -1200
Introduced by humans from Freagh, the Tranr (2) had a profound impact on the north pole continent. The southerners had been breeding domestric tranra for thousands of yerars by the time they brought them to the continent, and had developped a lifestyle based on nomadism and animal husbandry. By then, the agricultural revolution had pretty much run its and at least in most of Adar and the Fjordlands people lived as farmers, loosely ruled by the cities from where aristocratic clans exerted authority. By 1700 the average standard of living of Pianar clans had dropped drastically. There were a number of factors for this development.
The primitive agricultural methods employed, such as shallow tillage and monocultivation, reduced soil fertility over time.
Various practices enacted by aristocrats, such as exclusivity (the prohibition of oaths with anyone other than a ruling clan itself), made exploitation increasingly viable, which channeled resources away from non-aristocrats and towards aristocrats.
Inter-city warfare drained economic resources and manpower away from farming, and into the destruction of social and material infrastructure.
The spread of the model of the military clan, solely dedicated to soldiery, reduced the bargaining power of the peasants, which made exploitative oath relations more likely.
The steady increase in the living standards of the cities and decline in that of the farming clans, which now more resembled peasants, tended to reduce the legitimacy of the whole system, at least in the eyes of the peasants, and uprisings or seccesions became common. A different neighbouring aristocrat offering better conditions acted as something of a check on the exploitation of the peasants by their lords, but this process was generally difficult and very dangerous, and was often decided by military means.
The Tranr and the nomads who rode them unbalanced this already precarious system immediately: they were able to settle territories unsuitable for farming, which changed the political landscape complete, they did not abide by the oath system, which destabilized those relationships that did, and most destructive of all had the terrible capacity to raid a town more or less with impunity, since Tranr are much quicker than people on their feet. Within 20 years of their arrival the whole Pianar civilization had completely collapsed, leaving behind a patchwork of subsistence farmer communities, grazing land roamed by herdsmen, and a great many abandoned cities. Of course a great many Pianar people adopted the new herding lifestyle, particularly those of lower socioeconomic status, and in terms of human migration only a very small number of Freaghar people migrated to the north, no more than one for every seven thousand native northerners, so it was mostly Adari abandoning the Pianar lifestyle, and the resulting upheaval, rather than southerner invasions destroying the local population. By 1620ya the population of the Adar dropped to 40% of what it had been.

1 Krittar (pl Krittara) are a type of wooly ass native to the Adar region. While they have been exported to a great many regions and many domestic breeds exist, the wild variety is native to Adar: they are strong animals, normally 700k and as tall as a person at the shoulders. They have stout legs, short faces and wooly coats of a greyish-tan colour. Wild Krittara are taller at the shoulders and have thick coats of wool, and a great many breeds keep these traits. For riding krittara, however, a flat back and shorter hair is preferred. Whenever this wiki speaks of a donkey, it probably refers to a krittar.
Krittar are used extensively by most cultures around the world as a work animal. While they aren't excellent at running they can bear a rider at a pace of 20 kilometers per hour when pressed. their most common use is for pulling carts, bearing loads on their backs and for pulling plows. Krittar have high endurance, and are easily bred to be tough and slow to tire. While they have a reputation for being cowardly and headstrong, experienced caretakers understand that krittar are relatively smart animals and have a strong self-preservation drive: they will bear a rider across terrain that a man would be scared to cross on foot without hesitation, but most krittar simply won't walk towards a fight, or continue to work once it has become exhausted.
In addition to work and transportation, krittara are also used for their milk and meat. their milk is, like that of equids in general, too high in lactose for direct human consumption, so people make various dairy products out of it, including cheese. The animal's leather is very tough and rigid, which makes it suitable for shoes, backpacks, very heavy coats and armor... not so much for comfortable pants.
2 Tranr (pl. Tranara) are a domesticated bovid first introduced by the probe to Freagh that is distantly descended from the african wildebeest. It is larger and more muscled than its ancestor, has larger horns and is faster and more agile than it. Normally 400k in mass and 1,5mt tall, it has been domesticated by humans to fulfill much the same role warmblood horses do on Earth. Tranr are temperamental animals: very intelligent and prone to developping deep bonds of friendship and loyalty to humans, krittara, and even dogs and domestic birds, they're notably different from horses in that their natural stress response is more anger than fear: tranara are given to bite, kick, headbutt and tackle animals that it feels threatened by instead of running away. Their horns are exceedingly dangerous. No tamer can get a tranr female to reliably let herself be milked, and so their milk is not consumed. They are used as mounts in war, but for this purpose only females are suitable: the males are too given to displays of bravado like bucking, galloping and spinning around when they're stressed, and so have a nasty (and dangerous!) tendency to drop their riders when things get dangerous. They are generally black or grey, but about 3% of them are blonde.

Re: Torco's north pole of a moon

Posted: 13 Jan 2021 13:58
by gestaltist
I'm greatly enjoying this thread. :)

I'm wondering if 20 years for a complete collapse of the Pianar civilization isn't too quick? Or is this whole region smaller than I imagine? (I think you tried to upload a map but all I see is a marker of an image that failed to load.)

One small suggestion: can you please add empty lines between your paragraphs so it's easier to read?

Re: Torco's north pole of a moon

Posted: 13 Jan 2021 15:44
by Torco
Sure, I'll do that.

The fall of the pianar was more of a collapse of a system than anything else: a lot of Pianar culture and institutions kept existing, but even for a territory that was maybe as big as new south wales, an economic and political system based on oaths and promises can, I figure, be pretty fragile.

Re: Torco's north pole of a moon

Posted: 20 Jan 2021 03:15
by Torco
A few maps
(hopefully they now are visible)

A polar view of the north pole continent. the red thing is the horizon past which you can't see the Jovian anymore. Adar is the bit I've done any work on. It's a pretty wet and mostly covered in a sort of perpetual spring in Oregon kind of thing.
(yeah, I should have drawn it with that horizon being on the horizon but I guess I just didn't for whatever reason)

a world map.

A bit of a climate map: I've collapsed the complexities of climate into these few categories cause the moon is a)seasonless (which, I mean, is probably a huuuuuge deal that I can't adequately cogitate yet, but at the very least it means that you don't have the whole rainy winter/dry winter distinctions to the thing, so it's mostly going to be about how much rain you get and the average temperature), so I just painted temperate forest, rainforest (of both warm and cool varieties, I'd figure the pole has mostly cool rainforest and Freagh, the big continent on the left would have mostly warm rainforest.
the boringness of the climates also have to do with the fact that I've decided/guessed that the moon has two hadley cells: air rising from the equator and falling down on the pole: I don't at all know of any way to calculate this (and am likely underqualified to run exoplanet climate models lmao), but since the day is longer and the moon is smaller it kind of makes sense. I did some work on rain patterns and wind and so on.
yellow is dry and... what is that colour, blue? that one means especially wet. the unpainted bits are some vague version of "yeah, it rains from time to time". maybe 40 to 80 mil a month on average.