Where there possibly used to be a small, innocent and attractive blue dot in the cosmos, is a world that has been through the wars, seen some catastrophic action, and is now hanging out quietly trying not to draw attention to itself.
Described as an ‘oblate spheroid’, Crud occupies a much-sought-after position in the temperate zone of a star system at the optimum distance from its one sun to maintain mostly liquid water, frozen opposite poles at north and south, and a combination of states of matter including a range of gases and solids.
It features two point four moons that almost never crash into one another, and on closer inspection a number of dense rings of space-debris, evidence of former civilisations.
Unfortunately, these prior civilisations of Crudlings were virtually wiped out during a little apocalyptic cosmetic work, and life on Crud was reduced to a bottleneck before gradually re-establishing itself under the new conditions.
Geographically, the surface of Crud is divided longitudinally into an eastern and western hemisphere by a range of plateaus crisscrossed with deep ravines, called the Shatter. The ravines, with rivers or glaciers at the bottom, are sparsely populated, while the plateaus, known as the Cloud Islands due to the weather systems in the ravines below, are home to others. Some Cloud Islands are connected by bridges, while other communities are more insular.
The eastern hemisphere is the Crater Zone, a honeycomb of impact craters caused by a devastating meteor shower from an exploding comet or giant asteroid event many millennia ago. The Craters vary in size, from the small, only a few dozen miles across, to the large, several hundred miles in diameter. Not all of the Craters are habitable – some contain lakes of poisonous mercury, hostile plant-life, or other natural hazards which are relics of the meteor impacts. However some have freshwater lakes and springs (a premium in living condition terms), inland tidal seas ruled by the complex machinations of the two point four moons, fertile land, and are highly productive. They feature a range of climates from north to south, and various degrees of civilisation.
The Crater inhabitants tend to be isolated, due to the treacherous Ridgeways, the mountain ranges that divide the Craters. Mostly impassable, these ridges provide protection from the hostile conditions (or contents) of other Craters, but they are also home to the Ridgeway communities themselves, reputed to be bandits who attack unwary explorers trying to traverse the mountains, and they are also rumoured to launch occasional assaults, after resources the Craters may have. Some of the more advanced Craters have built domes over their entire communities, to protect themselves from invasion or from toxic weather systems originating in neighbouring impact areas.
Wildlife in the Craters has evolved as it would in closed ecosystems, and is wildly variable from one Crater to another. The most sapient population is very interested in the subsurface strata, the evidence of previous habitation and its technology. One or two of the more curious Craters have found subterranean installations that might be dormant or obsolete life-support units, and are working on establishing whether they pre-date the meteor event, or arrived as part of it. Some of the ancient space debris encircling the planet may yet prove to have working use, as archaeological digs in academic parts of Crud hope to establish the original purpose of it.
The western hemisphere is the Catacomb Zone. Although a few Craters pock-mark the west, mostly the planet’s western crust was split and separated in the shockwaves from the east, forming a mass network of caves and sink-holes, featuring waterfalls, subsurface river systems and tropical underground rainforest. Light is brought to the underground Crudling population by means of reflection, using mirror-traps.
The western hemisphere also features the Only Ocean and the Pinnacles, a chain of towering islands formed when an entire mountain range was blown out of a former continent. Fishing is the main means of survival here.
A number of things are ascribed to the meteor shower that devastated and dictates the landscape of planet Crud. Any unexplained happenings, magic, miracles, deviations from genetic normality or ability are traditionally blamed on the event, although scientific minds are now seeking further evidence.