This map (eventually a series of maps) comes as a byproduct of working on my entry for the May/June 2011 Lite Challenge ( http://www.cartographersguild.com/sh...-Survey-Report ). As I was working on that map, a story started to take shape in my thoughts. That story, however, needed more space to develop properly, and, as it happens, there was more space to be had given that the initial map showed some of the details for only one star of a binary pair.
Now, I’ll readily admit that I’m no astrophysicist, nor am I a world class mathematician, so there is likely to be some unrealistic data involved in this series of maps. I have, however, done the best I can (probably just enough to make a fool of myself) in trying to be accurate in terms of the science.
The first “glaring” error in the science is likely to be the distance between the two stars in question. All I had to work with was an observed separation (epoch 2000.0, I believe) of 543 A.U.s. I didn’t have any data on their orbital period, how close they came to one another or how far away they got from each other. Ultimately, I just started playing around with that initial number of 543, looking at it as a percentage of both their minimum and maximum distances from each other. I also kept in mind that I needed room for planets to develop around both stars. The suggestion here is that anything beyond 1/4th the minimum separation would be negatively affected by the opposing star. Once I settled on these numbers, I had to determine their orbital cycle. With nothing better to go on, I calculated that cycle as a function of the observed radial velocity for the system. Ultimately, the numbers looked like this;
Period : 851.21 years
Semi-major Axis : 604 A.U.
Periastron (Minimum) Distance : 302 A.U.
Apastron (Maximum) Distance : 906 A.U.
Year in which periastron occurs : 2365
Maximum Stable Orbital Distance : 75.5 A.U.
I have yet to work out the visual magnitudes for the stars at Periastron and Apastron, and I’m not sure just how important that data will be in regards to the actual maps. Other data that was missing for these stars included Age and the Abundance of Heavy Elements, both of which would have an effect on the development of planets. For creative purposes, I fabricated these values such that they would fall in a reasonable range in terms of story development.
The next “glaring” error is most likely to be seen in the orbital distances of the planets around each of the stars. The problem here is that, from what I’ve been able to garner, Bode’s Law doesn’t necessarily hold true for star systems other than our own, as evidenced by the discovery of several extra-solar planets. The other problem is that even if Bode’s Law did hold true for other star systems, it would then suggest that the third planet of every system would be the one most suitable for supporting life of some sort. Personally, I found this to be a bit too boring and/or consistent. To that end, I fell back on Stargen to create some fundamental data in regards to the planets as far as Type (i.e. terrestrial, rock, gas giant, etc.), Atmospheres, and Orbital distances go. A lot of these numbers ended up getting tweaked here and there to get a balance between what the “Law” says, the powers of Random Chaos, and a sense of variety.
At this point, I’ve laid out some basics for the first of this series of maps. It depicts the binary system at the point of Periastron. All sizes and distances are proportional to the cube root of their actual values. I haven’t laid in any of the planets just yet, but the stars and orbital markers are finished up and, for the time being, laid against a star field background generated in FTPro per Waldronate’s tutorial ( http://www.cartographersguild.com/sh...actal-Terrains ) with a little bit of color added on my part. I hope to generate a nebula or two that I can add to the background just to give things a bit more flash. The next big push for this first map will be generating textures for the various orbital bodies and laying them in place.
As far as the story goes . . .
This map is set some 48 years after the previous map. Captain Horatio Ellington has been drummed out of the Consortium Fleet for disobeying orders. He had been ordered to set a return course for Consortium controlled space, however, he pushed the envelope, so to speak, to survey one last system (LTT 7002). In the process, he and his crew discovered a planet suitable for colonization by mankind. To their surprise, that planet already hosted a sapient alien species, the first ever to be encountered. The Captain took it upon himself to establish communications with this alien species. As a result, he was stripped of his rank, and, for all intents and purposes, exiled. The crew of the Elysian, most of whom were loyal to the Captain, effectively mutinied, and have joined him in exile.
Over the course of time, the relationship between mankind (represented by Horatio and his crew) and the alien species has developed rather well. Of particular note in regards to the alien species is the following;
1 - They are not technologically oriented. They gravitate towards arts and crafts. To that end, in terms of technology, they might be described as being in a renaissance age at best.
2 - On a physiological level, they are far advanced when compared to mankind. Their immune system is exceptionally versatile, capable of handling new diseases with relative ease. In a similar fashion, they adapt to their environment in ways that go well beyond anything mankind has hoped to achieve through genetic alteration. This adaptability even goes so far as to allow for the potential of crossbreeding with other predominantly humanoid species. (I know, far-fetched, but it will serve well as a plot device.)
3 - They have demonstrated limited telepathic abilities. This typically takes the form of those who can Send only, and those who can Receive only. On very rare occasions, however, one who can both Send and Receive may be encountered. The range of this telepathic ability has yet to be tested in full, but it has been demonstrated at distances up to roughly 18000 Km. (Again, a bit far-fetched, but an absolutely needed plot device.)
Only recently has the former Captain learned of a dark part of this new world’s history. It seems that another alien species exists in the stellar neighborhood. To be more precise, they exist on a planet orbiting the companion star of the binary system. This second alien species is far more war-like in nature and much more technologically oriented. They have developed limited interstellar travel, but, to date, have reached no other worlds besides this particular one. At the last point of Periastron, they raided this world for slave labor and have plans to do so again as the two stars approach Peraistron once more. With limited resources (and no help from the Consortium who have effectively quarantined the region), Horatio, his crew and the native inhabitants of the world will have to find a way to defend themselves from an immanent invasion. (I’ll have to work out a semi-viable reason why the second alien species hasn’t further advanced their interstellar travel capabilities. I’ll also have to work out a viable reason why they haven’t been detected before through radio transmissions.)