Below is a little more detailed write-up of Tol-in-Gaurhoth, the first system you will be visiting in your tour of the Twilight Sector. After this visit, you will have complete freedom to choose where you will visit next. So you might want to pull out your Encyclopedia Galacticas and take a look at the write-ups for each of the systems; Dorlas, Helix, Ratan, Argos, Netherell. Unnight is described in a Star of the Plains issue. You might want to begin discussing this among yourselves, I'd appreciate as much advance warning as you can give me. Thanks!
Tol-in Gaurhoth is Orion League Sovereign territory. The primary of this system, Gaurhoth, serves as one of
the major prisons of the Orion League. Consignment to this planet is considered one of the toughest sentences that
can be received. Completing a sentence here can be quite difficult as all prisoners are subject to brain scans
and extensive psychological testing to determine if rehabilitation has been achieved. Needless to say, many short
sentences have turned into life sentences, because of the tough exit requirements. Often the only hope of relief
is a civil rights suit, which with proper representation stands a fair chance in the very Libertarian Orion court
The planet itself is semi-arid, hot, with a thin atmosphere, and resource poor. With the help of a specific drug it is rated as marginally habitable. Despite the hostile nature of the planet both physically and socially, several prisoners have carved out fortunes for themselves here, providing goods and services, or producing raw materials and products to ship to other systems. The Orion wardens encourage this activity, believing it is a good way to rehabilitate prisoners.
A Federal Scout Service (FSS) vessel discovered the Tol-in-Gaurhoth system in 2340 while on a routine survey
mission. The planet Gaurhoth was found to be marginally habitable. It contained a thin, tainted atmosphere. The
atmospheric problems could probably have been overcome with terra-forming. However this would have involved the
commitment of extensive financial and industrial resources. With the presence of the earth clone Terra so close
by, and the systems relative dearth of resources this just didn't make sense.
The system quickly became a haven for illegal activities as Gaurhoth at least provided an easy enough staging area and the system had two extensive asteroid belts to hide in when the heat was on. The Colonial Administration Bureau (The CAB), charged with the development of this new system attempted to find a way to put it to more constructive uses. Initially it proposed the idea of terra-forming, which found little support for the previously stated reasons. Next it attempted to interest corporations in the development of the system. It offered exclusive rights and a virtual free hand in developing the system. When the only interest this offer received was from a VoidCorp front corporation, the Federal government back on Jaeger quickly shelved it. The CAB now getting desperate to do something with the system given the increasing presence of pirates and smugglers, proposed that it be made a prison planet. The Orion League already had two other such planets, and they were considered to be highly successful. The CAB viewed this as the perfect remedy to unload their headache on the Orion Wardens Service (OWS). Much to their displeasure they were out maneuvered by the OWS which quickly agreed to their request with the stipulation that the CAB provide military units for planetary security, which had proven a problem for them on the other two prison planets which they administered. The Federal Government in Jaeger quickly agreed to this plan leaving the CAB left holding at least part of the bag.
So in 2352 Gaurhoth was named an Orion Prison Planet and within six months began receiving it's first inmates, as well as POW's. The CAB was responsible for raising three Colonial Divisions for planetary security which with GWII just beginning would prove to be a difficult proposition, and would continue to be so until the end of the conflict.
Tol, the primary is a class G single star system. Two asteroid belts, one inner and one outer and three planets
orbit it. The inner belt occupies the closest orbital position to Tol, and is followed in order by, Gaurhoth, Mytoka,
Gysilar (a gas giant) and the outer belt.
Even with two asteroid belts the system is resource poor. The asteroid belts do not contain a great abundance of mineral wealth, a situation that scientists have not been able to satisfactorily explain to date. Gaurhoth itself is also resource poor but not destitute.
The fatal flaw of Gaurhoth is it's thin tainted atmosphere and torrid average temperature. Volcanic activity
has produced a high percentage of carbon monoxide in the atmosphere. Given the atmosphere's thin nature, the carbon
monoxide tends to build up in the bloodstream leading to carbon monoxide poisoning and eventually death. To overcome
this problem a drug was developed (oxyre® by TransGen Corp) that only allowed the bloods hemoglobin to bind
with pure oxygen. This eliminated the problem of carbon monoxide poisoning and allowed much more efficient use
of the available oxygen. If one were to attempt to survive on the planet without the use of oxyre® or supplemental
oxygen, it would be like breathing at an altitude of approximately 3500 meters (10,500 feet) on Terra, and the
average individual would succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning in 14-16 earth standard days.
The thin atmosphere has lead to an unusual business on Gaurhoth, oxygen bars! These are very popular in the Orion administration settlements, and are even available in some inmate-controlled cities. After becoming acclimated to Gaurhoth's lower oxygen levels, taking in additional oxygen creates an intoxicating effect. Taking oxygen in conjunction with oxyre® heightens the experience even further. Several deaths have been attributed to excessive use of oxyre® with introduced oxygen. The experience has been described as much more intense than alcohol or most other commonly used recreational drugs.
The planet has created quite a bit of interest in the geologic and scientific community. The Tol-in-Gaurhoth system is geologically quite old, and research indicates it has been quite geologically active during it's existence. Therefore the planets thin atmosphere is quite puzzling. It does not possess an unusually slow rotation speed or low gravity to explain it's thin atmosphere. No scientific explanation has yet been advanced to explain this phenomenon.
The planet currently houses an inmate population of 15.2 million. An additional .8 million account for the Orion administration personnel, bringing the total planetary population to 16.0 million. The support personnel include 63,000 in three Colonial Infantry divisions, 110,000 Warden Service (OWS) officers, with the remainder accounting for other support personnel and dependents.
Gaurhoth needless to say is a rough and tumble planet. With 15.2 million of the most hardened criminals in Orion
space it could be little else. The laws of the Orion League apply no less on Gaurhoth than any other planet in
the league, however as a matter of practicality their enforcement is less strident. The worst offenses such as
murder and assault are pursued as much as possible, however things like witnesses can be scarce in a society of
All this is not to say that the Wardens Service has no tools to control the inmate population. All have chips embedded in the base of their skulls bearing a unique numerical signature. These devices give off low frequency radio waves allowing location of any inmate with the use of the proper equipment. Inmates are also controlled by the physical limitations imposed on them by the planet. Oxyre® is required for survival and the Wardens Service distributes this monthly to each inmate. Food and clothing are also distributed to inmates. The need for these necessities allows some control over inmates, and serves to keep them in line. However in some recorded instances inmates have managed to remove the embedded chips. Presumably this was done by physicians who although rare are represented in the inmate population. Some of these individuals then survived for extensive time periods apparently without collecting their ration of Oxyre®. No explanation has ever been offered to account for this phenomenon.
No Grid is available in the Tol-in-Gaurhoth system. No system or stellar communications devices are permitted to inmates. Inmates may not posses any modern ranged weapons. Not surprisingly this rule is one of the most frequently broken. However Warden Service personnel make periodic attempts to limit the numbers of these weapons with city sweeps and undercover identification of the owners.
Inmate society has predictably evolved into a hierarchy of gangs. Many criminal organizations have contributed significant numbers to the population of Gaurhoth and these inmates have naturally followed their old allegiances. Rumors persist of some crime-lords continuing to oversee their empires from incarceration here, this despite the fact that no outside communications are allowed.
A carrier task force of the Orion Star Force, anchored by the carrier Vestibule protects Tol-in-Gaurhoth. She is attended by 2 cruisers, 5 destroyers and 7 scout craft. In addition Gaurhoth is orbited by 2 planetary defense platforms.
GM: Michael Cross (e-mail)