Nueva Cuauhtémoc

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Nueva Cuauhtémoc
Government Aguamala Syndicate
System Mentta
Tech Level 4
Population Hundreds of Millions
Atmosphere Inert
Biosphere No Native
Temperature Warm
Planet Tag 1 Gold Rush
Planet Tag 2 Warlords

The World of the Falling Eagle. Its first inhabitants were the survivors of battle, and all of their descendants have since followed suit. From the geography to the people, the history of this place has been shaped by violence. It is likely that its future will hold more of the same.

Order and chaos intermingle among peaks reaching towards the sky and the valleys that wind between them. Bandits clash and revel in the name of mighty warlords whose legacies are built on foundations of sand, their names lost to the test of time. In the brief interludes of peace, when gunfire rattles to silence and blades are sheathed, these outcasts gaze to the horizon. They dream of distant worlds and hunts that span the firmament. By starlight they dream, oxygen reserves spiraling towards nothing – when the bright sun rises the next morning, it is back to hardship and struggle.

Nueva Cuauhtémoc is cast between extremes. Continents clad in high desert and barren mountains dominate the surface, giving way to humid and tropical oceans at the planet’s poles. Rising from the waves, terraformed archipelagos form the base of advanced habitation on the world. Imported biodiversity is hosted among glittering arcologies and orbital resorts that hang in the sky above. Many off-world visitors will never set foot beyond these isolated locales, and will leave with the impression of an idyllic beauty planet crafted to an exacting ideal. They will never know of the thousands who bleed and struggle on distant shores – those who wish to be noticed, and are desperate to be seen.

Physical Characteristics

Sun and Atmosphere

Nueva Cuauhtémoc circles the A-type star of Mentta, which bathes the world in a white-blue light and oppressive heat. At night, three moons hang in the sky, and the light they reflect from Mentta means even the darkest hours never fade below a dusking radiance. The harsh sun hangs low in the sky, its projected heat trapped close to the world below by a dense atmosphere of noble gasses. Swirling winds of neon, xenon, and argon circle the planet, choking out any potential life save for tailored microorganisms and flora imported in vain terraforming efforts. Less than half a minute of breathing the open air, as opposed to a supply of oxygen, can rapidly lead to inert gas asphyxiation, convulsions, and cardiac arrest.

These gasses, while acting as a major impediment to urban expansion, provide stunning views when electrified in the roving storms common to a warm water climate. Arcing bolts of lightning charge the atmosphere, leaving behind jagged afterimages of glowing neon that dissipate into the open air. During the night, the land is cast in vivid halogen luminescence as solar winds from Mentta flare the dark air with sudden bursts of color, a more violent and spontaneous cousin to the auroras of other worlds.

Above the storms and colors, the three moons of the world circle and spin – Alcis, Re, and Cern, caught forever in their cycles. Alcis, small and feeble, circles the planet once every eight days or so in a tight orbit. Re, the brightest and largest of the moons, makes rotations of thirty-two days. The loyal hunter, Cern, is always close behind in the outermost orbit of the three with a forty day rotation. Alcis and Cern are more so glorified asteroids pushed and pulled in the wake of Re, yet the searing brightness of Mentta sets all three alight - staring directly at the lunar cousins of Nueva Cuauhtémoc leaves spots in one’s eyes, and their glowing passages cast shadows across the deserts. It is by their motions and cycles that the Aguamalan lunar calendar – a confusing arrangement of holidays and hunting rituals to offworlders – takes its shape.

Terrain and Climate

The days are long and the nights are short on Nueva Cuauhtémoc, and most inhabitants retreat indoors or underground during peak hours. The Burning Eye, another name for Mentta, has sapped most moisture from the earth and air with its halogen-bright rays. The landmasses here are largely high desert, harsh yet beautiful; rolling dunes of sand flow into expansive salt flats, which are cut apart in turn by grandiose fault-block mountains typical to the fierce tectonics of the planet. Only when one nears the polar coasts, where warm saline waters froth along rocky inlets and jagged cliffs, do the ambient temperatures become suitable for open habitation. Though communities exist in the deserts, they are largely subterranean for the purposes of pressurization, temperature control, and protection – environmental dangers are not the only threats in the rocky wastes.

Throughout the glimmering polar oceans, which are the only freestanding sources of water on the world, constant volcanic activity has created thousands of islands that arrange themselves into a multitude of archipelagos. Originally just collections of cooling volcanic rock among the surf, terraforming efforts and copious investments by the Aguamala Syndicate both in and around these prized seas have allowed life to flourish in a controlled sense. Seaside oxygen processors draw dissolved carbon dioxide from the deeps, supplying it directly to offworld flora and island arcologies; the inordinately expensive process has extended beyond a display of luxury and is now taken as a point of pride among Aguamalans who live down the gravity well, symbolizing their mastery of the elements.

Life simply cannot survive without assistance here, whether it is found in frothing tanks of algae stored deep underground or in the lush jungles of island retreats. This basic principle results in a constant resource deficit for populations not supported by offworld shipments – banditry is a valued social activity among the deserts, in lieu of communal starvation.

Orbital Habitation

Given the harsh conditions of the world below, most of Nueva Cuauhtémoc’s advanced infrastructure is housed in latticework skyhook stations that float in stable orbits, while the planet’s Lagrange points are dedicated to major shipyard facilities. These voidports serve as trade hubs, floating arcologies, military installations and more; every facet of Aguamalan life is represented in these expansive constructions.

Despite their importance, these habitats are not nearly extensive enough to support the entirety of the planet’s population. With oxygen at a premium, the Syndicate carefully selects those who are pulled up the gravity well on a basis of ‘rapid aptitude acquisition’ – members of the planetary communities who show promise under observation are forcibly relocated into orbit, whether they want it or not. Even with breakneck construction schedules in low-orbit skipyards, those below continue to outpace their spacebound counterparts in terms of population growth, meaning that the Syndicate never wants for new membership.

It is, supposedly, the fate of Nueva Cuauhtémoc to one day be left abandoned, for all those below to cross the void in an eternal hunt. There is no love lost between Aguamalans and their brutal, uncaring home; while others in the sector have quested for a world to call their own, the Syndicate labors to abandon its cradle forever. Yet with every passing day, this fate slips further and further away, crushed under the weights of necessity and scarcity.


Approximately 300,000,000 souls call Nueva Cuauhtémoc home, while 38,000,000 individuals see the planet from above in orbit and lunar settlements. Most of the planetary population can be found among ‘core tower’ cities which have been constructed in massive boreholes that wind deep into the bedrock below the desert, capped off with pressurized domes and solar arrays that meet the unrelenting sun. Tens of millions live within and around each of these pits, which are clearly visible from space as yawning wounds into the earth. These spiraling urban centers are the only places down the gravity well that offer a semblance of normal life, so long as one ignores the omnipresent whine of oxygen recycling plants far above and below. Light is reflected throughout these inverted towers with complex arrays of mirrors that adjust with the passing sun, setting the vertical cityscape alight in dazzling colors – even so, natural illumination is a premium in the lower reaches of the metropolitan funnels, where bright UV lamps replace the light of Mentta. Curated parks cut between housing units in vertical swathes of greenspace which boast imported biodiversity from across the Veil.

Mining settlements and isolationist communities are more common further into the continental highlands – without the infrastructural base of tower cities, these groups simply seal themselves into existing cave networks to eke out an existence. Such sites are often willfully ignored by higher authorities, for the threat of banditry has instilled a ‘shoot first, ask never’ mindset into those who embrace such grueling lives.

Alcis, Re, and Cern also boast habitation, though at no small cost. Over the course of centuries, hollowed lava tubes beneath the lunar regolith have been sealed and para-terraformed, creating underground tropical landscapes that contrast the blasted, radioactive void above. From the walls of these tunnels, the largest of which are hundreds of meters in diameter, statues of Aguamalan heroes and living saints have been carved from moonstone and silicate in grandiose scale. With the constant influx of new arrivals from Nueva Cuauhtémoc below, these buried paradises are packed wall-to-wall with the clamoring, riotous throngs of humanity at all hours of the day.


Gold Rush

Nueva Cuauhtémoc boasts massive untapped reserves of radioactives and rare earth metals below its dunes, while countless ruins from its tumultuous history are constantly subsumed and unearthed by shifting sands. Despite the heat and sand, hundreds arrive in Aguamalan voidports every day to descend down the gravity well for a chance at riches.

Many industries have devoted themselves to the support of incoming prospectors, from the provision of exploration equipment to speculative investment firms offering predatory loans. These businesses rise and fall like the tides, yet the flow of refined minerals and ancient artifacts continues unabated.

This is to say nothing of the dangers that prospectors face on their own. Radioactives are highly toxic in their own right, and most miners don’t have sufficient protective equipment for long-term excavations. Many prospectors leave Nueva Cuauhtémoc wealthy, sterile, and riddled with cancers, forced to burn their riches seeking medical treatments among the experienced oncologists of the Syndicate’s medical facilities. Buried ruins have their own dangers, of course – dormant defense mechanisms, traps, and architectural instability are only a few of the perils faced by mercenary archaeologists in the field.

Meanwhile, the human element of these operations is fierce and untamed. Prospectors are often killed in disputes over lucrative mineral-claims. Archaeologists spend more time hunting down their rivals than actually exploring the continental highlands. Armed and belligerent claim-jumpers clash with desert bandits as the sun beats down, and a settlement can go from a boomtown to a burnt-out ruin in a week. Despite the smoldering homesteads that leave pillars of smoke on the horizon, despite the mines collapsed with explosives and the lead staining the sands, the poor and the desperate still continue to come. After all, where else can you go from rags to riches with a handful of bullets and a dream?


While the tower cities are hubs of metropolitan life, the undeveloped highlands are home to roving armies who bend their knee to the caudillos, charismatic commanders who fight amongst one another for land and resources. These military leaders nominally owe allegiance to the Aguamalan Lodges, yet the connection is tenuous at best; the warbands only bow when the Cartel launches retributive hunts into the highlands to strike down particularly ambitious warlords. Otherwise, they occupy a unique social sphere in the affairs of Nueva Cuauhtémoc, content to rule and pillage lands that city-folk do not care about or acknowledge.

These adherents of caudillismo have crystallized since human habitation of the planet – while they once represented those discontent with the rule of the Syndicate, they have since morphed into a series of warrior-cults, hidden temples of zealous assassins, and various ideological strains devoted to the projection of power. Though cast in a thousand different varieties, these groups are all, to some extent, cults of personality framed around warlords both living and dead. The fiercest soldiers of the Cartel are drawn from these groups like poison from a wound, taken for indoctrination and deployment across known space in the interest of the Lodges.

The carcasses of settlements left behind by constant warfare are quickly subsumed by dust and the tectonic activity of a young world. Among Aguamalans, the concepts of ‘tribal war’ and total conflict are one and the same; while the sane refuse to venture inland, the bold suffer from no such restraint. Keen-eyed prospectors have deduced that, while gripped by warfare, the lands of the caudillos are largely untouched in terms of subterranean exploration or radioactive mining. Of course, the private armies that roam the high deserts in their land cruisers and dune-bikes are not fond of intruders, much less offworlders. Bloody examples of overeager miners are common demarcations of territorial boundaries between neighboring caudillos.

So long as the conquerors stay inland, and the tower cities hold to their own, Nueva Cuauhtémoc exists in tenuous equilibrium. Yet out in the holiest of deserts, banners gather and sigils twist in the burning wind. The caudillos have united in common cause more than once, and may yet rally their warrior-cults again should the need – or opportunity – arise. One can only hope they distract themselves with battle for a while longer yet…

Notable Locations

A place for notable locations on the planet to be listed and described, potentially linking to a more detailed page. For example faction bases of influence, cities, spaceports, etc.

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