January 2nd 2014
“Magnus: On the Edge of the Unknown!” or so reads the slogan favored by Newcastle’s Tourism Board. In truth, the phrase better describes Magnus a century ago; recent decades have seen increasing settlement and improved standards of living in a system that considers itself the unofficial capital of Human frontier culture.
First discovered in 2499, Magnus was a small, entirely undistinguished system: three planets orbiting a type K main sequence star. Dimmer than Earth’s own sun, only a single world, Magnus II, was cleared for terraforming. Magnus’ distance from well-traveled space plus the availability of heavy metals and the anticipated ease of terraforming Magnus II resulted in a military-commissioned closed-terraforming starting in 2533. By the late 26th century, Magnus had become a large-scale naval base and the source of a great deal of ship construction. This lasted until 2631 when budget cutbacks and the desire to focus operations in other systems, like Kilian, lead to the overall scaling back of operations in Magnus.
Even after terraformation, Magnus II was a relatively barren desert world which had the effect of generally reducing overall interest in resettling Magnus once the influx of Navy credits dried up. The result was an eerie, depopulated ghost world with decaying structures full of refining and shipbuilding equipment considered too expensive to move elsewhere. During this period, the system’s population declined to less than 30,000 with a significant portion of that squatting in abandoned government property.
Magnus’ inhabitants became a ragtag group of outbackers, claim jumpers and other similar, less-savory types. The result was a system with a reputation for a wild, anything-goes atmosphere, where Humans could live along the margins of the law. A culture supporting this system has since arisen organically, with a ‘kill-or-be-killed’ attitude that has developed into a strictly held frontier-style code of honor.
In recent years, Magnus II, Borea, has become more civilized, increasingly playing its reputation and fading ghost towns for tourist dollars. It’s still among the more dangerous Human-settled worlds despite recent pushes by the Advocacy and local militia to clean up the system. However: for all the perceived lawlessness, Magnus is seen as a place where anyone can start anew, a system that strongly believes in ignoring an individual’s past in favor of his or her potential. For this reason alone, settlement on Borea is increasing, year by year.
Magnus I is a chthonian planet, a former gas giant which has had its atmosphere fully separated by its proximity to the star’s sun. The result is a tightly compacted mass of rock rich in high value minerals. Dating back to the system’s time under stricter Naval control, the UEE still maintains full mining rights over Magnus I, and oversees all contracts for shipping or refinement. Magnus II’s senatorial representatives have tried repeatedly to get control of these rights to little avail. Owing to its cosmology, Magnus I is also a source of high grade gemstones used for a variety of industrial and decorative purposes.
Borea is the terraformed center of the system. Classified as a near-Earth planet, Borea has a harsh climate and is dotted with dozens of centuries-old abandoned UEE naval facilities which are slowly rusting away.
Some have been settled by frontiersmen, while other prefab cities have sprung up elsewhere unrelated to the original settlements. Subsistence farms can be found in the planet’s more temperate zones closer to the poles.The capital of the world is Newcastle, but most inbound traffic is headed towards the industrial city of Odyssa, which can be considered Magnus’ busiest starport.
Odyssa, formerly a shipbuilding city before the UEE’s abandonment of Magnus, has been revitalized in recent years with the development of Drake Interplanetary. Vast tracts of empty warehouses and rusting construction yards have been modernized and returned to life building Cutlasses and Caterpillars. Gangs are still a serious problem in the city, and squatters have claimed the rights to many former UEE facilities, which have been converted into various mom-and-pop industrial operations.
Magnus III is a super Jupiter gas giant, a huge multi-colored sphere hanging at an extreme distance from Magnus’ sun. Rumors claim that Magnus III’s LaGrange points are common meeting places for outlaws. Local authorities, already stretched thin, simply recommend most travelers avoid the area.
Magnus IV does not exist. A common “trick” played by locals is to claim that the system has a fourth planet, usually named Triggerfish in the local legends. Depending on who you talk to, this nonexistent planet is said to contain everything from a lush paradise somehow supporting life outside the green zone to long lost secret Navy vaults.
“It seems to me that right and proper course of action would be for the senate to cast aside any mining right claims, much as the rest of Magnus was so long ago. If our government is not prepared to carry the burdens of my system, why should they be allowed to reap the rewards?”
- Senator Arie Olan, address to Congress, 2814.04.08
“From its rich and proud Naval history to the colorful people you find around every corner, Magnus has much to offer the traveler looking to get away from hustle of everyday life in the Empire.”
- Newcastle Tourism Board, Magnus: On the Edge of the Unknown!, 2912.09.11