A moon of the second gas giant Pan, it’s a rocky ice world with a large starport, which is the centre of a cluster of stations and orbital habitats that surround the giant. There are spacer tales though that something living lurks within the gas giant.
Located just outside the border of Imperium space, Wildeman is one of the two common stopover points for travellers traversing into and out of the Imperium. It’s a small moon, with an icy crust and rocky core that orbits the gas giant Pan, the fourth planet in the system.
Coming out of jump almost thirteen million kilometres from the gas giant, it can take a good part of a day to approach Wildeman. Many starship captains choose to come out just above the planet’s equator, in order to get a good view of Pan’s rings on the way in. Approaching Wildeman, the moon is a small icy world, which also has its own rings which become apparent on approach. These are man-made though – orbital habitats where three quarters of the population live. There are two long cylinder habits (Ashiga Starport and Suukha Habitat) as well a range of smaller stations.
Each rotating cylinder is about two kilometres long and 500m in diameter, with a population around a million people. Docking bays are at either end, and the interiors are filled with a mix of gardens, residential, commercial and industrial buildings. Of the two, Ashiga is the richest but Suukha is more residential in focus.
For many travellers, Wildeman is the first port of call outside of the Imperium, and they’re aren’t always prepared for the fact that the starport here is not Imperium territory and does not follow Imperium law. What may be legal (or illegal) in an Imperium starport may not be legal (or illegal) at Wildeman.
However, the Ashiga Starport Authority (the official name for the highport is Ashiga Highport) takes pains to ensure that it’s close to Imperium norms. Several of the standard franchises can be found here, such as the Jaice Group1, Astroburger2, Bank Janus3 and a TAS hostel. On the law side, visible armour and heavy weapons aren’t allowed to be carried outside of a ship (though they may be traded as long as they stay safely sealed in the cargo containers).
Wildeman tries to take advantage of the fact that outside of the Imperium it has a lot more leeway in what it allows, and though piracy is not permitted (and there is a small fleet of in-system ships and fighters for protection) pirates themselves are as long as they don’t cause trouble in-system. As the presence of the Jaice Group and Bank Janus suggests, there is a lot of money laundering and exchange of Imperium-illegal goods and services here.
The second surprise for some, is that leaving Ashiga Starport for the other settlements requires a border check. Wildeman isn’t a single polity, but controlled by five different major factions. The highport at Ashiga and the downport at Lashu Starport are different nations, and though they aren’t entirely enemies, they aren’t particularly friendly to each other either. It has been known for Travellers to be arrested and accused of spying for another nation, though Imperium citizens are rarely kept for more than a few hours unless there is actual evidence of such.
At the downport of Lashu, docking bays are cheaper but the quality is somewhat compromised and there are fewer ship repair facilities. There is however the Ice Hotel, carved directly out of the ice of the mountain that towers above the starport. The ice is almost pure water, and transparent enough that curtains need to be used around the walls of hotel rooms to provide privacy. A clever cooling/heating system keeps the hotel from melting whilst the rooms stay suitably warm.
Most of the downport makes use of grav plates to ensure standard gravity, though low-gee areas are available for sports, and for those wanting to venture outside, there are a number of places offering Ice Sledging, where you get to run down almost invisible tracks in the ice. The main risk is loosing traction in the low gravity.
For the most part though, Wildeman is a simple trading hub, a J-2 stop-over for those coming from Cordan, Tech-World, or other planets along the trade route to the Aslan Hierate at Tyokh. Few have reason to leave one of the two starports, and most decide that the risks involved given the friction between the various nation states aren’t worth it.
For those who really want something out of the ordinary though, there are the Listeners. They are a group of volunteers funded entirely by donations who listen for signals coming from Pan. The Wildeman system is noted for a large number of disappearances and sightings of an unusual nature. Travelling within the rings of Pan is not recommended, since some ships vanish never to return. If you want cheap refuelling, it is recommended to try one of the outer ice moons or the outer gas world of Dryope.
There are two listening stations on Wildeman, both recording all electromagnetic signals that come from Pan, as well as a number of listening posts around the system. Sometimes calls for help are heard. These are rarely identified, but when they are they can be dated to hundreds or thousands of years ago. There is rumoured to be a small collection of signals which come from the future.
Sometimes ships appear on sensors, seemingly out of nowhere, only to vanish minutes or hours later. A smaller number of signals come from deep within the gravity mask of the star itself. Though fewer in number, they tend to last longer. Some people claim to have seen ‘ghosts’ when they head either too close to Pan or to the parent star, and some crew have gone insane. Wildeman itself seems to be safe from these events, but the Listeners are always looking for donations, and sometimes for crew willing to take the risk to investigate closer.
- The Jaice Group, A diversified manufacturing and services business known for sailing very close to the wind as far as laws are concerned. It has ship repair yards here, which a no-questions asked policy on how damage was sustained. Referees Briefing 1: Companies & Corporations, p.16.
- Astroburgers. A well known fast food chain. Referees Briefing 3: Going Portside, p.6.
- Bank Janus. Specialists in the storage and transfer of electronic communications, both data and currency. Guaranteed confidentiality. 101 Corporations, p.38.