By Colin Steele

This world was inspired by "Sheva's War", by Christoper Moeller, published by DC Comics.


The most salient feature of Chasm is its landscape. Chasm is a small world, with too little gravity to keep much of an atmosphere. The planet's clay-colored, barren surface is scarred by enormous canyons and fissures created when the planet was still forming. The huge valleys - chasms - are the what permit human life to exist on an otherwise inhospitable planet. The valleys average over 20 kilometers in depth, and near the bottom, the atmosphere is just dense enough to support life. The flat, asteroid-scarred high plateaus are also raked with solar radiation, but the chasms are protected by their atmoshphere, and by the long and dark shadows of the chasm walls. Further, the carbon-laced upper atmosphere, while too thin for human life, does insulate the valleys below.

The chasms average about 60 km in width, but in some sections are as narrow as a few hundred meters, or as wide as 80 km. Life in the chasm shadows is a bit different than what we're used to.

A point on the chasm floor midway between the walls is in direct sunlight between 1/2 and 3/4 of the daylight hours (ie., 6-9 hours). The remaining daylight hours are much like various degrees of twilight on Urth. A point on the chasm floor at the foot of a chasm wall is in direct sunlight only 1/4 - 1/2 of daylight hours (3-6 hours). This varies with season, of course.

The geography of the chasm floor is varied. There are mountain ranges, hills, old-growth forests, rivers, lakes, swamps, and a chasm-locked freshwater "sea".

Chasm's ecosystem, despite the relatively harsh conditions, is one well suited to Chasm's only real industry - agriculture. There are no hurricanes and few droughts. The climate is temperate, with 4 seasons, fairly mild winters, and rainy springs.


Chasm was first visited by unremembered Diasporan settlers, who passed it by in search of greener pastures. It was not settled until late in the Second Republic.

Chasm was one of the rare worlds that needed no terraforming. Yet, it remained unappealing to the explorers, corporate interests and Church of the Second Republic because its habitable surface area was so small. As such, it was largely overlooked in the expansion of the Known Worlds.

Eventually, its native and unspoiled geology and ecology were too good for several disparate groups to ignore: small agribusinesses competing with the agribusiness divisions of the conglomerates, recreation companies, eco-preservationists, a small sect with a very Puritanesque and survivalist theology/ideology, lesser noble houses in search of land holdings (*any* land), and the marginalized members of the major ruling houses.

At the zenith of the Second Republic, Chasm boasted a population of over 14 million souls. Most were engaged in the planet's main economic activities: agribusiness and tourism. Despite this, the planet's local government policies were decidedly business-averse, due to the large constituencies of eco-preservationists and Velachi. Much of Chasm's rugged wilderness terrain remained untouched by Human urbanization.

Chasm was settled for a relatively short period of time before the fall of the Second Republic; only about two hundred years. As the Second Republic entered its death throes, Chasm's star, like many others, began to darken. This, coupled with millenial religious fervor, caused a violent and radical splinter group of Velachi to form. Led by "the Mad Friar" John Cooper, they developed a plan to "save" Chasm and the souls of its people: the Solitude Solution. The Coopers, despite their lack of real military training, manged to pull off foolhardy raids that left Chasm's computer networks and systemwide communication grids down. In the ensuing chaos, John Cooper himself locked Chasm's jumpgate, shutting Chasm off from the rest of the Known Worlds. The year was 4005.

Worldwide panic ensued. The furor did not die down for nearly twenty years. It was not until almost two full generations of Chasmers had lived and died that the cold, undeniable implications had been fully absobed by the people and society of Chasm.

The Coopers secondary legacy, besides disabling the jumpgate, was the full and complete discredit of the Velachi. The sect was never well liked, and after blistering persecution over the ensuing quarter century, it had vanished entirely.

The chaos and dislocation of the post-jumpgate Chasm had utterly destroyed the economy. Feeding the population would never be a problem, but due to restrictive local laws, Chasm lacked all but the most rudimentary technology, manufacturing, banking, and service industries. The capitalism-minded individuals and groups quickly moved to fill the gaps, but ran headlong into the surprisingly adaptable and well supported Eco movement. A century later, the two groups had evolved into nation states. Fifty years after that, they fought the first of three wars that would leave Chasm in a downward technology spiral from which it would never escape.

The last of those wars was by far the worst. The Greens had slowly pushed the New Republicans into a geopolitical corner. Like any cornered animal, it got nasty. Bioplague. In late 4357, plague-bearing warheads ended the war, but almost ended Man. Sadly, the remains of the Second Republic ultratech that might have produced a cure had been destroyed in the previous war. The plague pushed humanity nearly to the brink of extinction.

An ironic twist of fate saved the humans.

At the height of Chasm's glory, the safari industry was Chasm's greatest tourist attraction. Chasm's indigenous flora and fauna were fearsome and challenging. But there were those who needed even greater challenges... and those amoral companies and individuals who would capitalize on this need. A long-forgotten safari company called Wild Hunt created Anima opponents for its customers.

During the years after the Cooper Incident, Wild Hunt's owners vacilated about what to do with their small "kennel" of dog/humans. They were far too valuable to dispose of, in the event that the gate reopened, so they were allowed to live. They grew in numbers, too, until one day, some of them escaped, unbeknownst to Wild Hunt. They fled deep into the wilds of Chasm, and disappeared. Not long after, the remainder of their kind were destroyed by the Wild Hunt owners.

From time to time over the hundred or so years following the Cooper Incident, there would be sporadic reports of the "dogmen" in the wild inner reaches of Chasm's valleys. But the Greens and New Republicans were far too busy trying to annihilate each other to take much notice.

Lucky for the race of Men that the Dogmen were immune to the New Republic's bioplague. Not only that, but in the century or so after their escape, the Dogmen had developed a fairly sophisticated social system. Their population had exploded. They were bred to be exhillarating prey, hunted in the backwoods of Chasm, but this very breeding had made them excellent predators.

The scattered human survivors would not have made it through their first few winters without the help of the friendly tribes of Dogmen.

Humanity on Chasm was now reduced to feudalism, albeit with the remaining ultratech. Even that would pass, in time.

Fast forward through the present, and you'll find that despite a precarious start after the Plague, Man has progressed quite quickly on Chasm, from the humble days when the Dogmen kept the huddling few alive, until now, when Chasm's technology is nearly equivalent to the early Renaissance of Urth.

It is very interesting, and to the pious, gratifying, to note that Church has not only survived, and flourished, but that its doctrine is *uncannily* similar to the modern Orthodoxy of Palimedes' Church. This is not completely surprising, since the Church had a strong presence on Chasm prior to the Cooper Incident.

It is a testament to the blood of the great houses of the modern Known Worlds that even in isolation, they continue to represent the best leadership of humanity. The nobility of Chasm is now divided among four families: Hawkwood, Decados, Khemai, and Jacksons.

Chasm's mercantile interests are only now beginning to emerge, in the form of guilds. This coincides with the first surge in a proper middle class, and is a matter of much debate among the nobility and Church.

The feature perhaps most interesting about this now-balkanized early-Renaissance backwater world is not its geography, although that is spectacular. It is "the Dog", as the race of Anima Dogmen has come to be known.

The Dog, first created by Man, and then the sole reason that Man continued to exist, is now the bitter enemy of Man. The Dog is seen by Men as savage, warlike, shiftless and nomadic, violent and unpredictable. He is the thing Man wishes most to deny about himself: that he is an animal, ruled by base instinct. The four human kingdoms are not only constantly at war with one another and with the tribes of human barbarians, but also with the Dog.

And the Dog is a formidable foe. In many ways, the Dog is far better suited to life on Chasm. But for reasons unfathomable to even the most astute and pious of human thinkers, the Dog seems incapable of the cooperation that Men can achieve - at least, from time to time.

Chasm's history prior to the Plague is now a matter obscured by legend and the weight of years. Coupled with the imperfect understanding of the natural world that Science has achieved since the Plague, and the result is that no living human on Chasm has the faintest inkling that Chasm was once a part of a star-spanning Republic.

"Starships? What are those? Blasters? Is that like a coach gun or a musket? Psychics? You mean Warlocks, right?"