Star Wars Planets

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TristramEvans

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In SciFi its pretty common to have mono-environment planets. Star Wars is likely best known for this: the desert planet of Tatooine, the forest moon of Endor, the ice planet of Hoth...I assume Yoda's Dagoba was a "bog planet", etc. My attention was actually originally called to this at a young age with the WEG Star Wars RPG that addresses this conciet pretty blatantly in the GM's section. Star Wars being space fantasy I don't have much of an issue with this, they could essentially replace "Planet" with "Realm" and its essentially the same thing in the context of the Star Wars milieu. But this extends to even more (arguably) "realistic" or "harder" sci-fi.

Best example I can think of here is Dune. Arrakis. The Desert planet. There's one over-riding question I have about these types of planets;

How do they have any type of breathable atmosphere?

That isn't a rhetorical question or me trying to be witty or clever. I'm not looking to nitpick fantasy with Science! I don't mind a pseudoscientific explanation (I'd be a little surprised if Herbert hadn't come up with one, but I just couldn't find it). I'm just looking for a harness for some suspension of disbelief.

I see the advantage and usefulness of this concept, especially in games. Much as I see the usefulness of Archetypes and Stereotypes in the form of races and classes in games. But its always wrinkled my brain.
 
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The only standard pseudo-scientific explanation that comes to me would be that these are carefully regulated terraforming projects, but that doesn't work. Dagobah and Hoth certainly aren't that, and Tatooine has moisture condensers as a prominent technology working in opposition to the local environment.

The only other explanation that comes to mind is that the humans of the movies are humans in the same way as Pure Strain Humans in Gamma World. They look like us, but they were genetically engineered in the distant past to survive in a wide range of environments that would kill us dead. It doesn't hold up to close scientific examination, but it makes sense on a Science! level. I guess it doesn't really explain native wildlife though...

I'll just add that it is entertaining that Dagobah, Hoth, and Tatooine are all perfectly cromulent words according to my spellchecker.
 
The only standard pseudo-scientific explanation that comes to me would be that these are carefully regulated terraforming projects, but that doesn't work. Dagobah and Hoth certainly aren't that...

Why would Dagobah have an atmosphere problem?

Baulderstone said:
I'll just add that it is entertaining that Dagobah, Hoth, and Tatooine are all perfectly cromulent words according to my spellchecker.

Not mine. Your spellchecker must have been seeded with extra geekery. :p
 
How do they have any type of breathable atmosphere?

Having an atmosphere by itself is nothing unusual. Planets retain their atmospheres by dint of gravity. Bigger planets (e.g. gas giants) generate strong enough gravity to retain even the lightest (lower molecular weight) gases, hydrogen and helium. Atmospheres may be depleted by heat, solar winds, photolysis secondary to stellar os cosmic radiation, blah blah.

As for having a breathable atmosphere, that's actually easy. Primitive Earth had a mostly carbon dioxide atmosphere, much like Venus and Mars today. What made it oxygen-rich was the emergence of life that figured out how to eat carbon dioxide and shit oxygen. Having a magnetic field does help.

Therefore, if you assume — as space opera settings often do — that the emergence of life on Earth was the most statistically likely outcome given our astrophysicochemical sweet spot in the Universe, and that a similar sequence of events will arise in any planet in close enough conditions (maybe a bit warmer like Tattooine, maybe a little colder like Hoth; a few million miles closer or farther from their parent star, which in turn may be in a distinct spectral class and age from our own), including the emergence of phoyosynthetic life, and voilà: one Earth-like atmosphere coming up.

That, or diffuse terraforming projects, some abandoned or gone wrong. Not much of a stretch in a Universe as storied and as diffusely occupied as Star Wars' galaxy.
 
After 30 years I just decided to re-read Dune; as far as Arrakis (Dune) the Imperial Planetologist Kynes does address why it does have a breathable atmosphere: it's in the lifecycle of the Sandworms.

Playing Traveller, and in my near future SF campaign, I don't use the mono-environment trope, unless it's vacuum and regolith; if it has a biosphere, it will be varied.
 
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