Every good story or rather – the setting of the game - starts with the definition of the place where the plot will unfold. In our case the scene for the adventures of our protagonist, Jack Sharp, is a desert planet, former mining colony called by the locals K’Tharsis.
In this big lore update we would like to tell you about the discovery of this planet and the roots of the local society that has developed according to the laws of the Space Frontier, resembling in many ways the rules and habits of the real Wild West colonization period on Earth.
The discovery of the K'Tharsis: an (un)happy accident
Three hundred years before Mister Sharp set foot on the surface of this dangerous planet, no one knew or cared much about the remote double star system named in charts, Tharsis-831. It was situated deep in the poorly explored territory, which will be named Rogue Worlds a couple of hundred years later, after the devastating Human-Orha war. For most of the space travelers Tharsis-831 was just an ordinary binary white and red dwarf star system, the type that rarely gives birth to any life on its planets and contains enough valuable resources to risk one’s neck exploring it. The system was neglected and avoided by prospectors, merchants and even outlaws on the run because it was situated too far from contemporary trade paths and too close to the Orha autocracy space, to the home space of the race that was always overprotective when it comes to trespassing their borders, even potential threats. In short – this system was an ass-end of the galaxy and would have stayed like that if not for the laziness of one very irresponsible smuggler captain. Ironically, the first town on the planet was named in his honor, if being connected to this particular town that way could do any honor at all.
Every desperate adventurer that travels to K'Tharsis in hopes of striking it rich in mines or robbing those who already did, ends up in Brennigan's Landing – the first and biggest town on the planet, as well as the only place on K’Tharsis that has a free (from the control of the Terraform corporation) spaceport, or at least something that could pass off as one. The history of this town is tightly connected to the history of K’Tharsis’ discovery, followed up by Antigravium Crystal Rush and booming colonization of the pre-war decades.
If captain Marcus Lee Feng Brennigan had always paid his ship’s maintenance bills and never installed a secondary market or spare parts bought from illegal war-wreck salvagers or obtained these parts God knows where else, then there would probably be no such town on K’Thasis’ map and the planet with its primitive native inhabitants would never have had a chance to “enjoy” the fruits of the highly-developed technological civilization. One day our careless smuggler captain, whose hunk-a-junk transport ship was almost destroyed by his moribund hyperdrive malfunction accident, found himself in an unexplored remote star system unremarkably named Tharsis-831 in navigational charts. Brennigan, though, was not in the position to complain.
Our captain felt happy as hell to be alive and close enough to ANY star that had planets, where he could try to find materials to repair his ship, instead of drifting billions of kilometers away from any material object bigger than a couple of stray hydrogen atoms, at a distance that would mean his distress signal would take thousands of years to reach someone’s antennas. The habitable zone of the system thanks to the strong radiation of the star duo was stretching farther than usual for the stars of this class and the planet Brennigan took his chances to land on was eleventh from the star (the 10 closest ones were either small Mercury-like planetoids scorched by the double star radiation or Jovian-type gas giants, surrounded by a small crowd of lifeless satellites). According to the standard terran procedure for charting new systems, Brennigan named the planet he chose to take chances on Tharsis-831-K, for this was the 11th letter in the alphabet of Engall – the lingua franca of the Terran domain.
Lee Feng managed not only to find a planet with breathable atmosphere within reach of his surprisingly still functioning ion interplanetary engines, but to land his wrecked bucket without killing himself and five dozens of illegal migrants he was transporting from the Wolf’s Stone to one of the Core Worlds. The lucky captain was the first human to set foot on the surface of a dusty planet, later known as K’Tharsis.
Brennigans' gamble: how to dig your own grave!
After a quick recon of the surroundings and a sleepless night of precise calculations and less precise guessing, Brennigan came to the conclusion that his situation was quite desperate: the local super gravity anomaly created by the exploded hyperdrive turned Brennigan’s crewmates to quite intricate mass of press-dried human body tissue and crushed metal-and-plastic stasis pods. Only the captain, whose capsule was the farthest from the drive, walked away from this incident without a scratch only to be stranded on a desert planet with no signs of colonization or any high-tech civilization presence. It would take years for Brennigan alone to dig out the ship from a ditch it made when it landed, patching the hull and restoring the basic life support and energy-producing functions, not to speak of the completely busted hyperdrive. Our captain needed helping hands and there was only one option left.
The problem was, that Brennigan actually didn’t plan on delivering his living cargo to one of the more or less earth-like and well-developed old colonies as it was intended, but sell them off at a slave market on the anarchic Freeport 13 space station situated in completely different sector and representing the true Star Frontier society. For the passengers it meant, that instead waking up in a world with open sky that probably doesn’t rain acid or alkali, and had water in a liquid state, they will end up on human organs black market or in numerous illegal asteroid mines in Tartaros sector. In any case they would not be happy to find that they are doomed to die in a wasteland on a god forsaken exoplanet with no means of escape or sending a cry for help. Brennigan deleted his ship’s navigational logs, checked his guns, put together a semi-plausible tale about the events that led to the current situation and started to wake up the first party of the passengers, hoping that the poker face he practiced while gambling wouldn’t fail him.
The guys whom he was going to sell were a tough bunch. Born on a Wolf’s Stone, a massive planet with 1.6 standard gravity and unbreathable atmosphere, which 2 major export wares were uranium ore and soldier recruits. They were accustomed to hard labor and tough environments. They accepted their imprisonment on a remote planet as a challenge on their hard way to better life and started to work. The majority was busy digging out and patching the ship, while the others searched for food and water supplies and protected the camp. For a few months Brennigan’s carefully fabricated lies about the condition of the hyprerdrive and his ability to fix it were able to secure the fragile illusion of hope. Their salvation was at hand, he told them. They just had to wait a little longer.
When all possible repairs were done and all possible distractions were used, Captain Brennigan’s luck seemed to run out. It is unknown what followed when prisoners of K’Tharsis realized the truth and why they didn’t finish off their captain on site. Brennigan was cornered. He was to blame for all their misfortune and sentenced to die. According to the most popular legend, the passengers made him dig his own grave. Brennigan, trying to buy some time, led them to a remarkable wind-eroded rock formation, which is known to us as Brennigan’s Tomb and started to dig. It is on the bottom of the almost finished grave that he found the first crystal of a precious mineral — the antigravium. The unwilling colonists of Tharsis 831 K, doomed to isolation, slow degradation and death, found themselves sitting on a pile of treasure and with means to build the one-off improvised hyperdrive on a more or less functional starship (in fact, they did a pretty good job and many of the ship’s systems were in better condition than ever under command of its captain).
Fortune was kind to them and the volunteers made a safe jump to the nearest inhabitable world. The majority stayed on the planet that changed from a prison into a contemporary Klondike region. Brennigan, who returned to civilization with his cargo stuffed with purest quality crystals, left the smuggling ways and started living the high life. He and his new crew kept a secret about the source of his riches, but secrets of that kind tend to find a way to publicity in the end. Six years after his triumphant return Brennigan was found dead in his luxurious orbital villa. The marks on his body suggested he was brutally tortured.
The first town on K’Tharsis was named after the smuggler captain, who found immense wealth in his grave and then, ten years later was buried in it. Now the rock formation called Brennigan's Tombstone is one of the most famous sights on K'Tharsis.
We call it Jackpot-town!
After Brennigan's death the word about the new antigravium Klondike spread faster than lightning. In no time, K'Tharsis was flooded with prospectors, adventurers and of course those, who prefer to take their share of precious crystals by force. The population was rising fast, and Brennigan's Landing was thriving: saloons, brothels and casinos were springing up like mushrooms. Every night they attracted lots of customers, whose money was burning holes in their pockets. Soon little colonial outpost grew exponentially and became a place that had quite a reputation: in Brennigan’s Landing just in a matter of hours you could spend a fortune earned with months of hard labor. You can buy any pleasures that a human being can think of and endure. Big money deals were made here, and soon the population started calling it the Jackpot-town.
During three hundred years of its short history Jackpot-town went through a lot. In the days of human-orha war it shrank to its initial size of a camp populated with a couple of hundreds of men. It became a hollowed shell, a grid of abandoned streets and buildings. It was almost completely destroyed at the time of corporate wars. But at the end it always rose from the ashes and ruins just like always, full of dangers, sin and promising dubious entertainment for those with green crystals to spare.These guys dwell in the side alleys of Jackpot-town. Your purse or your life - they will take both. After the Terran Federation engaged in the bloody conflict with the Divine Autocracy of Orha, which led to mutual destruction of those major interstellar powers, Jackpot-town was in a tough spot: star cluster Tharsis became a territory of a new Orha dynasty and was isolated from the rest of humanity. The Orha, however, weren't concerned about it, though even now the planet is visited by transport ships "Terraform" who made a deal with Ors. And of course by the most desperate smugglers, who managed to slip past the patrols of militant theocracy to reach the Brennigan’s Landing. K'Tharsis became a planet that was almost impossible to get away from; its human populace rapidly shrinking. Though Jackpot-town, still called by some locals the Brennigan’s Landing, is still there, and just as always ready to help you get rid of your hard-earned cash in minutes.
Playing as Jack Sharp, you will visit this legendary den of adventurers of all kinds and walk its dangerous streets, making immense profit or losing everything you have. You’ve got to play smart on the streets of the Jackpot-town, or your journey will end in a shallow grave, and most likely you won’t be able to step out of it as easily as the famous Captain Brennigan once did.