Belizo: Geophysical Data
Air and Water                
Surface Atm Pressure: 1.85 atm
Atm Composition: Standard O2-N2, with sulfur compound taint, high CO2
Atm Terraforming: Underway (also naturally)
Hyd Percentage: 50%
Hyd Composition: Water
Hyd Terraforming: No
Temperature                  
Base Mean Surf Temp: 16° C
Axial Tilt: 19° 14' 51"
Axial Rotation: 25 hrs 36 mins 0 sec
Orbital Eccentricity: 0.03
Weather Control: No
Greenhouse Effect: Yes (Natural)
Mapping Data                  
Nbr Tectonic Plates: 12 (only limited activity)
Native Life: Yes
Terrain Terraforming: No (soil terra-forming only)
Major Containents: 3
Minor Continents: 1
Major Oceans: 3
Minor Oceans: 0
Seismic Data                  
Stress Points: Straights of Eumasia
The "Great Rift"
Notable Volcanoes: Mountains of the Straights of Eumasia
Northern Farland

GeoHistory

If there is one word which can sum up Belizo it is the word "Impact". In fact, when this word is spoken or written on Belizo it with a capital "I". This is because about five million years ago Belizo was struck by a nearly planet-busting asteroid. That impact was probably as large as could be without literally breaking the planet apart. Anything much larger, and Belizo as we know it would not exist today. This collision profoundly affected the history of the planet. From that calamity Belizo has sprung forth with land and soil and life.

Before Impact (BI) Belizo was a nearly dead world. With few internal radioactives the planet's interior was relatively cool. There was no techtonic activity at all. Thus there were no techtonic plates, thus no mountain or continent building, and thus no continents. Erosion had long since eroded any early continents away, and with no techtonic activity there was nothing there to build them back up again. The surface of the planet was worn to uniform altitude, and water covered the entire planet. There was the occasional planetary hot spot, and, on occasion, volcanoes would push up an island or two, but they too would eventually be worn away. For billions of years Belizo remained a uniform world covered with shallow oceans. These oceans did harbor life, but it was limited and weak.

But that was before Impact.

Approximately five million years ago a large asteroid, thought to have originated in the nearby "Life Belt", hit Belizo head on. The impact left a massive crater, and forced up continents from shock waves that nearly ruptured the planets crust. The energy of the impact has continued to heat the planet, and drives minor convection currents within Belizo. This has given rise to some limited techtonic activity.

The initial force of impact along with the shock waves and techtonic activity have caused the formation of two massive continents. Between the continents, and directly opposite the planet from Impact, lie the Straits of Eumasia; a depression left after the shockwaves subsided. The straits, and the edges of the continents which border the straits, are home to areas of very heavy volcanism.

The formation of the continents forced the remaining water on Belizo to form deeper oceans. These oceans have average depths of roughly 5000 feet (~1500 meters).

The new continents have given Belizo a new lease on life. And in the chaotic environment evolution has thrived. Life crept forth onto the land, and in the five million years between Impact, and the arrival of the Ancients, the continents on Belizo were covered with plant life. Mostly these were grasses, lichens, and mosses, but entire "forests" of bushes and tall shrubs grew in large tracts at many spots on the continents.

But for all the life and activity Belizo is still a dying world. The life bringing effects of the asteroid's impact are slowly fading away, and there are insufficient local forces to keep the limited techtonic activity going. Fortunately this process is expected to take at least another five to fifteen million years.

Thus Belizo could be considered to be in its Golden Age. It is in the middle of a window of life anywhere from ten to twenty million years wide. Five million years ago, just prior to Impact, Belizo was a water world. All of its continents having been worn away, and no tectonics to build them back up again. In five to fifteen million years from now it's expected to be a water world again. In the meantime, in terms of usefulness to humankind and the Imperium, Belizo is sitting pretty.



Geographics

Atmospheric Taint:
The Impact has caused significantly increased volcanism along with the other techtonic activity. This has had the fortunate effect of giving Belizo a fairly heavy blanket of CO2, thus the planet is significantly warmer than it would have been otherwise. Unfortunately this has also lead to a tainted and dense atmosphere. The taint is in the form of Sulfur compounds and other particulates which are irritants to the lungs. This irritation can cause death if a person is forced to breath unfiltered air for an extended period of time.

The effects of the taint on the human body are cumulative, usually resulting in unconsciousness in a day or two, and death within three or four days. To determine the effects of the taint roll (2D6) against Endurance or less to escape harm. This roll is made every six hours with a positive DM for every roll after the first. Thus the second roll has a +1 DM, the third has
Damage from Taint Rules:

  • Roll for damage every six hours. Damage if [ Roll > Endurance ]
  • When End. is exceeded by a damage roll, End. loses one point
  • Roll against Endurance until zero (Character becomes unconscious)
  • Each roll has positive DM of: [ (HoursExposed / 6) - 1 ]
  • When character unconscious the process starts over using Strength stat
  • When Strength stat reaches zero the character dies.
  • Use of a filter mask halts damage, but does not heal damage already done.
  • Damage heals at rate of 1 point per 2 days in hospital (with non-tainted air)
  • Permanent damage may result while unconscious.
  • If Strength takes hit, then 50% chance of permanent loss of point to End.
Example:

Character has Endurance of 10. After the first six hours 2D6 are thrown. The result is 7 so no damage has been done. After 12 hours 2D6 are thrown again, this time with a +1 DM. 5 is thrown resulting in a throw of 6 after the DM. This is still less than the endurance of 10. After 18 hours 2D6 thrown again, this time with a +2 DM. A 10 is thrown. With the +2 DM the result is 12 which exceeds the endurance of 10. This means a point of damage has been done. Now the character temporarily has an endurance of 9.

After the 24 hour mark 2D6 thrown again with a +3 DM. A 4 is thrown, the result is a 7 which is still less than the endurance of 9 (note the character's endurance continues to remain at the damaged level ). After 30 hours 2D6 is thrown again with a +4 DM. A 7 is rolled which results in a throw of 11 after the DM is applied. This is greater than the Endurance factor of 9 so an additional damage point is taken, and the character's Endurance is now 8.

This continues until the character's Endurance reaches zero at which point the character loses consciousness. Note that after about three days the DMs are so high that even a character who initially had an endurance of 12 is going to get a hit point every six hours. Thus the effects are cumulative and increasing. The longer you go the faster you deteriorate.

After unconsciousness the whole process starts again against the character's Strength attribute. After Strength reaches zero the character dies (dexterity is not used so this is a little different than normal combat where all three characteristics need to be zero before death results).

Finally if a character accumulates damage to the point of unconsciousness there is a risk of permanent damage to the lungs resulting in a permanent decrease of Endurance. During the unconscious damage phase there is a 50% chance with each hit point taken to the strength stat that a permanent damage point will be taken to the Endurance. Thus each time there is a hit against Strength roll 1D6 with a 4,5, or 6 resulting in a permanent hit point taken to the Endurance value. Endurance, however, should never be reduced below 1 with permanent damage.

a +2 DM, etc. A failed throw results in a subtraction of 1 from the character's Endurance. This damage can be recovered from in a hospital with an untainted air supply at a rate of one recovered point every two days. Hospital recovery is based on Belizo's technology, decrease this time by 200% * tech level above Belizo's [5] (thus a tech 15 hospital [or ship's sick bay] would probably cure one point of damage as an out-patient from a single visit, and even significant damage from extended exposure could be cured in a full day).

Damage is cumulative and increasing. The more exposure you have to the taint the faster you take damage. If there is continued and untreated exposure to the taint the damage will continue until the Endurance stat reaches zero. At this point the character will lose consciousness. While unconscious this process is continued again against the Strength stat. After Strength reaches zero the character dies. There is also the possibility of permanent damage while unconscious. See the example for more details.

In cases of extended exposure, and significant damage the character's ability to function will begin to become impaired. A character who has suffered one or two points of damage will be coughing often. A character who has suffered three or four points will be coughing heavily. A character who has lost over half of their endurance to atmospheric taint damage will be coughing, will have significant difficulty breathing, and will fatigue far faster than normal. Finally, as a character approaches an endurance of zero they will be almost completely unable to function. They may not have the strength to stand, and would probably be crawling on the ground gasping for air. At this stage they may even be coughing up blood.

Cases of extended damage should be dealt with subjectively by the GM, but it should not be the case that a character is running around acting normally until their endurance drops to zero.

Despite all this the taint is really not too bad. A normal person can get by without a filter mask usually up to six hours without any harm. Thus in normal city life on Belizo people don't where masks very often. Vehicles and buildings are sealed, and filtered air is pumped in. All garages, bus stations, airports, etc also have similarly filtered waiting areas. Enclosed skywalks in downtown areas are very common. The short walk from the car to city interiors can be tolerated without a mask even on a day to day basis.

Note that some people can have allergic reactions to the taint. These are rare. Roll 12 on 2D6 for a character to have a more severe reaction to the taint. The severity of the allergy can be determined by the GM.

Note also that, while breathable in the short term, the air is generally unpleasant. It has a distinct sulfur smell similar to the stink-pots of Yellowstone Park (Wyoming USA). Characters who are hypochondriacs or who have high anxiety can experience significant mental distress. Characters & referees should play this as they see fit.

Radiation:
Belizo does not have a metallic core, and BI Belizo had no magnetic field. Without a magnetic field Belizo had no Van Allan radiation belts. This meant that BI Belizo was washed with solar radiation and particles from the solar wind. For reasons still not entirely understood Impact has caused Belizo to form a weak magnetic field. This field is not nearly as strong as Earth's, but it's enough to form weak Van Allan belts which deflect some of the more intense solar radiation. Also, since Belizo now has a strong biosphere there is abundant Oxygen to allow an Ozone layer to form. This too shields the planet from deadly radiation. A person out in the open will receive a higher dose of radiation than a person out in the open on Earth, but it's not unacceptably high. As a side note, the weak Van Allan belts allow enough solar wind through to form planet-wide Aurora. All latitudes have frequent, and usually spectacular light shows.

Water:
Like many planets in this range Belizo has accumulated oceans (or ice-pack) from cometary impact. It is thought that BI Belizo had significantly more water, but much of it was blown away by the impact blast. Whether or not the water was in the form of liquid water or ice is not completely certain though it's clear that life was present on BI Belizo so it's known that liquid water was common at least at some latitudes. Most scientists think Belizo BI had ice caps which extended to about the 60th or 50th parallel (some scientists think they went as far down (and up) as the 40th or even 30th parallel). Current day Belizo still has ice caps to about the 80th parallel. There is a small continent at the Southern pole, and there is an ice pack on this continent, but the ice is only about 1000 feet thick at its highest point.

Current Belizo Atmosphere
Nitrogen N2 72%
Oxygen O2 19%
Argon Ar 4%
Carbon Dioxide CO2 3%
Other   2%
Gas Composition:
It is assumed that BI Belizo had a dense atmosphere. However, there is still a great deal of debate over this, and what happened to the atmosphere during and after Impact. Some scientists assume that Impact blew off much of the atmosphere, yet they can't explain, then, why current day Belizo still has a dense atmosphere. Other scientists think that the atmosphere did not get blown off, but they can't explain, then, why more water was blown off the planet by Impact than atmosphere. Some scientists theorize additional comets contributed to the current day atmosphere, but they can't explain why there would be a recent increase in cometary impacts. Still other scientists think that volcanism may have replenished the atmosphere after Impact. Suffice it to say the geohistory of the atmosphere is still hotly debated.

It is known that BI Belizo had some Oxygen, probably in the 5% to 10% range, as well as Nitrogen and, even then, slightly higher than normal CO2 levels. The atmosphere of current day Belizo is very similar to Earth's except there are significantly higher levels of Carbon Dioxide and Argon and, of course, the taint compounds.

Terra-forming:
Terra-forming is currently underway on Belizo. Genetically modified soil bacteria, plants, and mushrooms have been introduced to break down Sulfur compounds in the soil and in the air, and to fix the Sulfur into relatively inert minerals in the soil. Additionally, genetically modified bacteria (which also consumes Sulfur compounds) has been and is continuing to be introduced into the atmosphere. This Terra-forming was introduced about 750 years ago, and is progressing very well and according to plan. At the start of the project more significant filter masks were needed, and they needed filter replacement much more often. Before Terra-forming a human would have suffered much more damage if exposed to the atmosphere (use the table above, but roll every hour instead of every six). New bacteria with additional modifications were introduced about 1100, and they have sped up the Sulfur binding. It's hoped that within 100 to 200 years Belizo will have so few Sulfur compounds in the atmosphere that it will no longer be considered tainted. It's also hoped that CO2 levels will drop to about 1% (though ecologists don't want this to go too low since it's needed for planetary warming). Note that the Terra-forming work is conducted by contracted imperial mega-corporations, and thus is accomplished via modern (tech 15) methods.

It should also be noted that Belizo is also undergoing natural terra-forming. Since the effects of Impact will eventually wear off the volcanism which has introduced the Sulfur and extra CO2 into the atmosphere will die out. Left on its own Belizo would return to the state it was in roughly five million years ago: a cleaner, colder, and much more stark waterworld. Fortunately or unfortunately this won't happen until the continents have mostly been eroded away.

The current terra-forming operation is due to be complete anywhere from 1200 to 1300 (even if minor problems arise it shouldn't take longer than 1400). The terra-forming species were originally introduced in the early 370's (experimental versions were actually introduced in the early 350's). New introductions have continued since then. Additionally as time has gone on the original engineered species have been tweaked along the way. The goal is to make an exponential growth pattern of Sulfur and CO2 fixing species which by 1200 are so numerous that they modify the entire atmosphere. At the same time this growth pattern and its affects on the native life of Belizo are monitored to ensure there are no adverse affects. The exponential growth elbow was reached at the end of the 1070's. At that time scientists approved the project to enter into its final phase. To date, everything is proceeding smoothly.

Life:
There are three distinct origins of life on Belizo. BI Belizo was a water world with, on occasion, a few islands. It was also a much colder planet, and had a significantly higher level of solar radiation since there were no Van Allan belts, and the Ozone layer was thinner than After Impact Belizo. Additionally there were very few minerals available since there was no significant techtonic activity, and no continents to erode. Despite this considerably harsher (than current day) environment there was life on Belizo. It is assumed to have formed probably billions of years ago (many scientists think that very early Belizo was warmer and had more significant mineral sources, and that life formed in that era, and survived into the colder, more barren era).

Most of the life of early Belizo was plankton and phytoplankton with the occasional larger species. However, at no time on BI Belizo were there organisms larger than krill or small floating plants (which were very much smaller than Kelp). It is assumed that on occasion, plant life crept onto the few islands that formed. Sometimes this life was able to migrate to other islands before the original ones were worn away. Yet no plants ever became truly and only land based.

The ancient Belizo biosphere was weak, but present. And it was sufficient to add (barely) breathable amounts of Oxygen into the atmosphere.

After Impact, and once there were true continents on the planet, Belizo's intermittent plant and animal life exploded onto the continents. With the radically new environment evolution blossomed. The massive geologic changes added minerals into the environment, the new magnetosphere shielded the planet from the most intense radiation, and the volcanism added CO2 which significantly warmed up the planet. For over four million years native life thrived. On land, life evolved up to the point of mite-sized insects, and in the oceans the equivalent of shrimp and muscles evolved. However, after four million years there were still no significantly large creatures on Belizo.

At this point, roughly 350,000 years ago, the Ancients (it's assumed to be the Ancients due to the time frame, but they left no artifacts to prove it) found Belizo. The Ancients introduced several new species to Belizo. Most scientists believe these were intentional introductions since the species they left form a complete mini-ecosystem, but this view is not unanimous. A minority of scientists question the purpose of the theorized intentional introduction. The ecosystem does not seem to serve any terra-forming function, and there is no evidence to suggest that it ever did. Did the Ancients eat these species? Some think it's possible, but others simply think the introductions were not intentional at all, and instead were simply introduced, over time, accidentally. This alternate theory proposes that there were actually very many accidental introductions, but that only the ecosystem we see today has survived.

Whether these species were introduced accidentally or intentionally is not known, but what is known is that none of the species introduced in this era originally came from Belizo. It is known from DNA evidence that all of these species originated somewhere else. It's not clear whether or not the introduced species themselves all originated from the same location, but it is clear that it wasn't Belizo.

One interesting note about Belizo is there are no parasites of animals (such as leeches, ticks, mosquitoes, etc) since there are essentially no animals to be parasites of. Similarly, nothing on Belizo is poisonous to humans. Furthermore nothing has thorns or stingers. In this regard Belizo is a pretty nice place to live.

When human settlers arrived they brought with them a wide variety of species. Besides the terra-forming species (plants, mushrooms, some ocean krill, and bacteria), humans brought all sorts of species for utilization. This included many different species of farm animals (chickens, farm-raised fish, cattle, dairy cows, sheep, and some others), harvestable crops (wheat, corn, beans, oats, potatoes, and others), and harvestable lumber (both deciduous and coniferous trees, hemp, and others). Humans also brought many species for beauty such as trees, flowers, vines, and other plants. After over 700 years of settlement Belizo hosts a huge variety of species. Almost anything you'd expect to find in the non-wild parts of the USA can be found on Belizo. For example, in about the 800's clover and bees were imported so Belizo could grow its own honey, and in the 900's a few Groat farms were set up.

Despite the variety, however, the introduction of species to Belizo is conducted under extremely strict controls. Each and every introduction is rigorously evaluated to determine the effects of the new species on the native species (true native and from the Ancients). Furthermore most species are given strict geographical ranges over which they are allowed to exist. Migrations are carefully monitored and controlled. In some cases species are genetically modified to introduce a weakness or a need which can only be fulfilled in a certain region. In this way animals which do manage to escape their designated range either starve, or are unable to reproduce. In almost all cases introduced species are picked or modified in order to allow local species to have the advantage.

Geologic Activity:
One of Impact's legacies is significanlty increased (from BI Belizo) techtonic activity. While still not nearly as active as Earth's techtonic activity Belizo does have internal convection currents, and twelve major (and many minor) techtonic plates which ride on those currents. Actually a probably more descriptive term would be that the techtonic plates jiggle and bounce. The convection currents are not so strong that they are causing significant sea-floor spreading or subduction. There are a few plate interaction areas where there is some subduction going on, and running north and south of Impact is a new fault line where there is some sea-floor spreading. Still, these actions could not be characterized as major players in Belizo's techtonics. Instead they are incidental to the most common feature which is simply the continued settling of pieces left over after Impact.

As a result of this techtonic activity and settling earthquakes are very common on Belizo. By far most of these quakes are minor in comparison to Earth's. The average Rictor reading is usually around 4. However, the occasional 7 or 8 can occur, and in general this it true in almost any part of Belizo. As a result, from their inception Belizo building codes have required quake-proof building practices.

Finally, it should be noted that with frequent earthquakes come frequent tsunamis. Again though, in comparison to some of Earths more devastatin Tsunamis, Belizo's are usually minor. This is due to the fact that the originating quakes are in general more minor, and due to the fact that the oceans are only about a third to a quarter as deep as Earth's oceans. The exception to this is near Impact itself, and in the straights of Eumasia. These hold Belizo's deepest ocean depths, with the Straights of Eumasia setting the record at 35,200 feet.

Noteable Planetary Features:
At the site of Impact there is still a massive crater which is still geologically very active. The planetary crust is extremely thin at the center of the crater.

On the opposite side of the planet are the straights of Eumasia. This deep ocean trench was formed by shockwaves from Impact. There is a very high level of techtonic and general geological (left over from Impact) activity in this region. As a result this is a biologically rich stretch of water and surrounding coastal regions.