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I talked a bit on why colonise planets, now lets move on to which planets to colonise.

Well, first you need a star, no point colonising anything that’s 4 Kelvin on a good day, but even with a large solar body in the area you really want to aim for something in the Goldilocks Zone. In this area liquid water can exist on the surface and the planetary body can hold atmosphere, though so far no world found in this zone has actually possessed any form of eukaryotic life. In Vast Worlds, you can also aim to colonise in a much broader range (generally referred to by the scout core as the Sweat Spot) which, not possessing natural liquid water, can be altered by biological or mechanical means to support life.

This, for the purposes of the story, gives you a planet in a Sweat Spot every forty light-years or so, but a few other factors tend to drive this number up. Gravity is a big problem as it is phenomenally expensive to run Grav’ panels twenty four seven and it rather defeats the point of living on the ground, so worlds tend to have a surface pull of about .75 to 1.25 G, any more and it starts to get extremely difficult for terrestrial life to survive and humans tend to fall apart under lifetimes of high or low G.

Also to consider is the makeup of the system. If the heaviest element for a couple parsecs is Lithium then you are going to have to ship in water, and that gets uneconomical fast. Likewise, if the topsoil is ninety percent uranium you don’t have a prayer of settling anything permanent.

Element mix also affects the cost of colonisation. Too much water can doom a colony because to get a surface you’d need a temperature of -5 and even then the majority of the land is under a glacier. Likewise, have too much nitrogen and by the time the air is breathable the pressure is at ten bar. There are at least a dozen such worlds, some with small outposts, which are all slated for colonisation ‘when the money is there’. Privately, the governments and corporations controlling these just want to make sure no one with a clever idea takes the planet while they still consider it unfeasible.

Finally, we have rotation. Now this is often the final nail in the coffin for a prospective Sweat Spot world. Too much spin sends the tectonics crazy and tends to give you weather than can scour a mountain down to the bedrock. On the other hand, too little spin and you get wild temperature fluctuations and a day night cycle that will kill all photosynthetic life unless it is modified to an extent it might as well be alien.

Getting a planet in these bands is understandably rare, which is why they are so highly prized when they are discovered, and why you can get a mini-turf war when a good world is found. After all, it is not who finds a world first who owns it; it is those that survive long enough to call the surface home.

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