Retak - Crater Town
The locals aren't very friendly and the whole place smells like rot, but that isn't even close to the worst thing about the place.Retak is a city dug into the inner slopes of a massive craters, protected from the blighted winds of the Surface by the crater's walls. Once lured by the deposit of metals left behind by the impact that created the caldera, rival families cling to the crater and quarrel over what they can find. It is an lawless city of suspicious locals and fortune-seekers, only common ground being maintained by outsiders and star-chasers. Trash is strewn along the distance down to the bottom of the crater, accumulating every day. The sun has dried filth into streaks and the stench has given Retak its other name: the Dreg Crater, referring in equal parts to the denizens and their waste-filled crater.
Referred only to as "the Hole" by locals, the crater of Retak is several miles apart and deep enough to breach the tunnels of the outer shell. The slope is not so sharp that people can't walk it, gradually becoming steeper towards the lip of the crater. Wind and time has worn the jagged edges down to broken, waist high rocks called 'the teeth'.
Though shielded from the worst the Surface has to offer, the caldera isn't entirely free of radiation. In addition, there is little protection from the sun during the day and as such most of the work is done during the night.Not quite one single city, Retak consists of a scattered group of enclaves and ramshackle buildings. The buildings are made out of stone or salvaged parts of dead surface creatures. The enclaves can be several hundred yards apart, with some digging out moats or building walls towards particularly hated clans. These turfs are spread out along the slope, separated by generations of bitter, bloody feuds as much as distance. Paths have been dug out of the slope for safer travel and each family has its own lift for heavier goods, or one shared with their allies. Two channels have been cut out of the lip of the crater, at its northern and south-western ends and widened to function as tunnels in and out of the crater. During the day, these exits are covered to keep the winds out. Foot paths lead out towards the glaciers to the north, or the descent to the Outer Shell to the south. The bottom of the crater is littered with garbage and waste, with the inhabitants simply throwing their filth down the crater. During hot days, the smell from the piles of refuse reach the homes above.
This is a place for those who wish to live their own lives. Ain't no king or queen to tell me what to do.Retak is not ruled in the traditional sense. There is no central authority that commands the entire town but functions more like a patchwork of fiefs that sometimes work together but more often feud and compete. Families, or clans, rule their enclaves and their enclaves alone and are akin to particularly large, extended families. Who exactly rule each family can be vicious disputes.
Outsiders sometimes marvel how Retak function at all: others simply number its time in weeks or months. In truth, Retak has come apart in the past and been reconfigured. When tensions inside a family comes to a boil, they can erupt into brutal struggles for power and control. So far, most clans have survived these transitions. They are, after all, family.The town is notoriously lawless, with each enclave making its own rules and the no-mans-land between them subject to little but individual morality. Outsiders must see to themselves and those who make their home in Retak learn to seek their own justice for any injury. As such, Retak runs on frontier justice. The feuds between families run as deep as the crater, some stemming from some ancient wrong that some sought recompense for and that provoked a response in turn. While each enclave run their business in different ways, there are similarities. Most mind their own business, struggle with their traditional rivals and try to keep the peace within their sprawling families. Whatever trouble might emerge within the family stays inside the family, and any trouble caused outside it is only a concern if it follows them home.
Never have there been a less pleasant bunch, save for the current audience.The people who live in Retak are alternatively described as sullen, suspicious and proud. It is a rough and tumble town, with those who live there considering themselves as true freemen and this idea sometimes draw those who seek isolation or seclusion. With time, the families have only closed their ranks as the strife with the other continue and the result have been generations of inbreeding, made worse by the mild radiation inside the caldera. Some families are allied enough to intermarry and these do better than others. Retak is an uneven mix of degeneration and function, even within some families. Most who are born in Retak never bother to leave. No matter what family thay are from, the denizens of Retak take matters of hospitality and self-determination very seriously. The home is a sacred place and to invite someone there is to mark them as protected. In turn, guests are expected to be well-behaved and failing to be is the genesis of yet another feud - and the clans of Retak can have very long memories.
No slaves are allowed within Retak and merchants who bring them there can expect at best a cold reception - but often worse. While not all of the families care equally, with the Karothvay and the Saamraeam as noticeable exceptions to this view, enough do that it has become an unspoken law in Retak.
Even with the deposit from the impact long since exhausted, Retak is primarily a town of miners and prospectors. Meteorites regularly strike the plains surrounding the crater and only occasionally inside of it, providing ores to be hauled off. Most of it is sold and bartered for things the settlement needs, while the rest is used to repair or create tools, weapons and whatever else they happen to need.
With little access to hattick beyond what they can trade for, the people of Retak has learned to make due without. Bone, carapace and debris take its place in endlessly inventive ways.With no water inside the crater itself, most of the city's needs is filled by the nearby glaciers. It is a near-constant effort to carve sufficient amounts of ice from the glaciers and haul them back to the crate. Smaller amounts are gathered by hollowed out shells from desert beetles which trap small amounts of moisture from the air. Mushroom and fungi farms are dug deeper down into the earth and away from the harmful sun. These subterranean vaults provide the town with staple crop and their larder is further filled by hunting. It's hard to tell how extensive those sprawling tunnels are, with each family maintaining their own.
Brewing is a common hobby in Retak, with drinking being the most popular form of entertainment. The typical drink of choice in Retak are fungi-derived spirits, spiced with boiled bone-marrow for flavor. Quantity is usually more important than quality for Retak brewers and this priority is reflected in the taste.
Power over the city is split among the familial clans who make their home across the Retak crater. Each stay to their own or close allies and compete with and despite the rest in equal measure. Only rarely do the major families agree on a common course of action or meet to deliberate, with age-old feuds still festering between them.
Guilds & Factions
The Major FamiliesThe Rakratei Clan live on the east side of the crater's edge in a meandering string of hovels and homes. They are neither wealthy nor poor, maintaining a moderate standing in Retak. They are content to mind their own business and be left alone, but are more willing to mingle with outsiders and the minor families than some of the others. The family has not degenerated as far as some of the others and have more ties to outsiders than any other. Still, the Rakratei clan will never relinquish a grudge. They cling to their feuds like a starving man to the last piece of meat: their pride demands it and nothing matters more to the Rakratei than their pride. The Karothvay Family are feared by the other families. Their enclave grows out from the northern gate out of the crater and the palisade around their sullen homes are to guard as much from what comes from the wasteland as it is to keep the other families out. No one is quite sure where the Karothvay draw their wealth from, or to what entity the strange, braying chants are meant for in the dead of night. The other families watch with greedy eyes and would keenly like to know just where all the gold the Karothvay sell comes from, though there is always a quiet fear that they may not like the answer. The Chamneh Clan holdings are clustered in a few pockets on the south-western side of the crater's inner slope. Fortune has not favored them, with blight and mutations running rampant through their ranks. Some think they are cursed, but none out side of the Clan know how severe the issue has become. The Chamneh keep extensive tunnels and caverns deep inside the crater's slope, more elaborate than any other Family. These house the largest gardens of crop and ranches Retak... And things kept away from the sun that gibber and blaspheme in the dark. In addition to these major families, there are a scattering of smaller ones spread out across the crater, ranging from a single household to a minor clan.
Where others see a sullen bunch of inbred bastards, we see opportunity.The Crater Caravan Guild is the only organization in the city that does not belong to any of the families. They are an enterprising group of merchants and explorers who facilitate much of the trade between Retak and the rest of the world. They are resented by the locals, both for their constant presence and their necessity. The Guild has makes periodic attempts to convince the families to form a more cohesive government but to little avail. More than a few of their members have been murdered or vanished since they established their enclave near the southern gate. But that, they say, is the cost of doing business in Retak.
Besides trade, one of the principle pillars of the Guild is to fund and host the Star-Chaser expeditions. Many end in little but another group of desperate prospectors marching to their death, but enough return with the precious celestial metal to make it worthwhile for the Guild.The Saamraem Family embody much of what is worse of Retak. They are insular to the point of isolation, keeping no other company or mates but their own. Whenever something (or someone) goes missing in Retak, the Saamraem are the first to blame. Even the Chamneh gossip what forbidden habits the Saamraem keep behind the closed doors of their decrepit hovels.
It is not known when the crater of Retak was first created, but the town owes its creation largely to the plot of con-men and tricksters who sold the deposits of metal at the caldera's bottom as endless. The first miners who moved here settled to exploit the wealth left by the impact and their success drew others. As more and more people came, the fighting started and each share grew smaller. Even as the fighting spiraled out of control, the easy to reach mineral deposits began to dwindle. Since then, the city has been in a slow decline. Ever so often, stars fall or new deposits are found and the city experiences a surge of fortune before inevitably settling back into decay.
Located The Surface
To the Deep The bottom of the crater had tunnels that connected to the Outer Shell in the past, but the accumulation of filth and junk have made them almost impossible if not unpleasant to travel. Most merchants and visitors instead chose to take the route from a different breach to the surface, located a mile or so from the crater. It sees enough travelers for a small gathering of buildings to have sprung up underneath the surface, catering to merchants and star-chasers. Many visitors prefer to stay here instead of lodging in Retak itself.