Zerzura Picture

A new desert planet with some new techniques for lighting and atmosphere. Named for the mythological desert city of Zerzura, "The Oasis of Little Birds," this world is an example of one of the more typical habitable worlds to be found in the known galaxy. While Earth-like planets with large surface oceans and continents are by no means rare the most common type of "Earth-like" planet is what humans would likely--albeit somewhat incorrectly--refer to as a "desert planet." While most of Zerzura is covered in dry, sandy deserts the southern hemisphere has a good deal of vegetation and two large, salty seas. Water evaporates from these seas and forms clouds before falling back to the surface as fresh water and flowing down into the seas again as rivers. Seasonal rains are erratic as Zerzura has no moon to keep it from tumbling around on its axis and thus no set seasons: unlike on Earth winter, spring, summer, and fall can come in any order each year to each hemisphere and can last anywhere from a few weeks to most of the year. Life on Zerzura has adapted to this by evolving various means of storing nutrients for periods of scarcity and highly developed senses to detect subtle changes in climate to warn of impending turbulent weather or sudden seasonal climate change. A native sapient race, the Zerzurans, gave the world their name when they were first discovered and the scientists studying their planet nicknamed them "doves" due to the feather-like down coating their bodies and their soft, cooing languages (other than that, however, they don't resemble birds at all). Many of them live hunter-gatherer lifestyles but several interesting nomadic civilizations seem to have developed from pastoral people who, unable to engage in sedentary agriculture due to the planet's erratic seasons, have instead come up with ingenious ways of carrying their entire civilization with them as they drive their massive herds from one grazing ground to the next. While one would expect technological development to progress slowly in such an environment it seems to have instead advanced at a swift pace with the Zerzurans having abandoned bronze for iron almost as soon as they had discovered it. Without a sedentary lifestyle it is unlikely they would have ever developed an industrialized, space-faring civilization of their own, but it appears as if they had previous contact with some other space-faring race that engaged in limited colonization of their planet long ago and traded with them. The Zerzurans have described their co-habitation of the planet with this race as amicable and claim to have been treated quite fairly by the colonists, who only wished to harvest some of the planet's rich diamond deposits for their homeworld's industrial base. According to the Zerzurans the colonists were wiped out by some kind of illness centuries ago, but many of the Zerzurans had been educated by the colonists and a small minority now live sedentary lifestyles in the alien colonies manufacturing goods for the nomadic majority (objects of convenience like radios, medication, water filters, and solar cells). The Zerzurans have expressed no interest in exploring space or colonizing new worlds but do frequently engage in trade with willing species for resources and goods they cannot otherwise acquire on their own.
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