REPHAN

Story:

Rephan was a dying star when humanity began its first great voyages through the galaxy, its surface swelling to a reddish, bloated orb as its nuclear fires cooled. No matter, since the importance of the Rephan system was not in its potential for colonisation, but in its mineral wealth. The early human explorers found vast mineral deposits on all six of the system's rocky planets - ores of iron, manganese, titanium, iridium and many other valuable metals.

Mining companies moved in to exploit the resources of Rephan's planets. Vast orbital docking platforms were built for the immense cargo craft to ferry the ores to other worlds. The Rephan system became a vital industrial supply hub for humanity's expanding empire.

Two hundred years after the arrival of humanity, war came to Rephan. The Arrendis saw that the capture of this star system could starve a dozen manufacturing worlds of raw materials, crippling humanity's fighting ability in this sector of the galaxy. A great armada of Arrendis warships swept through the system, annihilating the poorly-maintained orbital defences within hours. The fragile solar collectors and hab-domes of the mining settlements shattered beneath a rain of fusion rockets.

Retaliation was swift and bloody. A lightning assault from the neighbouring system of Kalsedon dislodged Arrendis forces from three of Rephan's six worlds and decimated the Arrendis battlefleet.

Battles raged through the Rephan system for decades. Wave after wave of warships fought for control of orbital space, their fighter escorts jinking and weaving in desperate dogfights. The dockyards and landing pads crumbled under the ceaseless bombardments of laser fire. Yet slowly, it became clear the Arrendis were winning.

As control of the system slipped away from them, the human commanders made a desperate decision. If Rephan's planets were to be lost to humanity, the Arrendis must never profit from their conquest. A final wave of battleships was launched against the system, carrying a deadly cargo. Bombs carrying capsules of lethal viruses rained down through the atmosphere, slaying the Arrendis troops within hours. Chemical missiles cratered the desert sands, poisoning the few survivors.

With its planets rendered uninhabitable to both humans and Arrendis, both sides withdrew from Rephan. Environmental cleanup plans using chemosynthetic bacteria were proposed, but the discovery of a mineral-rich belt of asteroids in the Quadratus Epsilon system made the resettlement of the Rephan worlds uneconomical.

For centuries no human being returned to Rephan. The system remained cold and lifeless, a graveyard for a hundred thousand shattered spacecraft.

Unseen by human eyes, the inexorable forces of gravity tugged insistently at the dead spacecraft. Tiny shuttle-pods slammed into massive freighters. Great battleships orbited one another in a ponderous waltz, spiralling slowly but inevitably together. Metal sheared and tore, spilling the last of the spaceships' air supplies into icy vacuum. Wings and gun-turrets impaled cabins and cargo bays, locking the broken ships haphazardly together in a twisted mass of metal.

Yet few of these craft were completely non-functional. Many were equipped with the finest self-repair and damage-control systems their creators could devise. As the mangled conglomeration of craft grew, auto-repair systems began welding the torn metal to make it airtight, switching in backup circuits for the solar collectors and artificial gravity machines, even repressurising cabins and corridors.

Centuries after the battles that ravaged the system, the long-deserted Rephan hyperspace gate disgorged a single, diminutive scout ship. For some, the deserted system still had value. Not the planets, with their dormant plagues and poisoned soil, but the salvage rights to the thousands of lost spacecraft. To the salvage team, the vast orbiting scrapyard was a fortune waiting to be claimed. One of the few surviving orbital docking platforms was swiftly converted into a centre for the salvage operation, and teleport links were set up between the platform and the largest of the great conglomerations of wreckage.

But although the crew of the wrecked spaceships are long dead, it might be a mistake to assume the floating hulks are uninhabited, let alone undefended...

Area:

There are two parts to the area:

Rephan Waystation:

Rephan Waystation is a converted orbital docking platform which the salvage team are using as a base for their operations. It will have about 15 locations and be suitable for all player levels. The station will have reasonably reliable supplies of food, water and other such essentials. The waystation has a teleport link to the Kraken, as the salvage team have dubbed the gigantic scrap-metal monster.

The Kraken:

The Kraken (navigational designation: Rephan Orbital Debris Agglomeration Alpha) is a vast collection of space debris, held together by gravity and the emergency welding of auto-repair robots. It is a place of constant danger, with shifting debris, chemical leaks, auto-defences, hard vacuums... to say nothing of the many and varied creatures that have made their home on the gigantic hulk.

There will initially be about 35 locations, but more will be added later to represent further exploration by salvage workers. All players should be able to enjoy the exploration and puzzles here, but inexperienced players should be very cautious as the NPCs will be aimed at mid- and high-level players.