Sphinx Forestry ServiceWelcome to Sphinx

The Sphinxian Forestry Service has compiled a list of advisories for Sphinx so newcomers don’t get injured. Sphinx is a largely uninhabeted planet, with nearly 230 percent of the land area of Old Earth. These are advisories, the planet is untamed and there’s a lot we don’t know.

That being said, there are a number of things we do know, and they are dangerous to you.

Gravity, Geology and Atmosphere

Sphinx’s surface gravity can be dangerous to newcomers unaccustomed to a heavy gravity world. In addition to feeling that you’re carrying a third again your own body weight, your reflexes are going to be off. Things will not only take more effort to move, but will fall faster in a given span of time. It is entirely possible for a healthy adult to break their neck from falling out of a chair, or to injure themselves getting into bed. When estimating the dangers, think of the fall as being from 75 percent greater height than you would on Earth. Personal countergrav units are strongly recommended, but they won’t reduce the risks of objects falling on you.

Sphinx has an unusually thick mantle compared to planets of similar mass and diameter, which means it has lower tectonic activity than Meyerdahl and significantly lower tectonic activity than Quelhollow. This does not mean that the tectonics are as mild as Old Earth’s however. The Stubleford Traps in the northern hemisphere are estimated to be less than a million T-years old, and Richter scale 2 and 3 temblors are a weekly occurrence near many of the Sphinxian mountainous regions. Even in relatively stable locations like Tannerman Gulf, new construction for Sphinx needs to be properly quakeproofed, and the routine precautions of “When the ground shakes, be in the air if possible, and away from heavy objects if not” always applies.

While Sphinx has a higher atmospheric density than Old Earth’s, the higher gravity means that the rate of change in pressure as altitude increases is steeper. Normal Earth atmospheric pressure occurs at roughly 1600 meters. The upper range of human breathable atmosphere is around 3,000 meters, which is nearly 3,000 meters lower than the breathable threshold on Earth. Do not let your experience with atmospheric conditions on other planets put you at risk.

Be aware that leaving a high atmospheric pressure world will give a mild form of the bends as dissolved nitrogen is released from your blood. Sphinx’s CO2 percentage is higher than Earth’s, or Manticore’s, and can cause rapid breathing when someone isn’t fully adapted to the native atmosphere. If you suffer from any respiratory ailments or related issues, please ask your doctor about nanotech treatments to alleviate the adaptation discomfort of changing environments.

The other effect of Sphinx’s atmosphere is that sound will travel farther than you’re expecting it to, especially lower pitches, which can be disorienting for new arrivals.

We strongly advise the use of countergrav gear while you’re acclimating to Sphinx. Sphinx isn’t such a high gravity planet that countergrav is always necessary for mobility or comfort. It is still strongly recommended. Countergrav units are available to all new arrivals.

Wildlife

Over 90 percent of Sphinx is uninhabited, and much of the planet remains unexplored. Because of the very mountainous terrain, there are lots of pocket habitats and biomes. What we know about them is small, and humans are newcomers to Sphinx. Wildlife will surprise you, and even if you live in a large community, you’ll be encountering it daily.

Many Sphinxian animals are territorial, have large hunting ranges, and high caloric needs. Stripped of its scientific terms, this means that a hexapuma weighing 650 kg (some specimens are larger) needs to consume about 60 to 70 kg of meat per day. To you, a hexapuma is a six limbed predator that’s longer than a groundcar. To the hexapuma, you are a smallish single serving prey animal. To a peak bear, you are but a snack.

Humans are interlopers. Most Sphinxian predator species do not have millions of years of selection pressure to recognize you as a threat. In general, do not make eye contact, and understand that a predator that is looking at you is sizing you up as a meal, not trying to make a friend, and it may not be startled or terribly intimidated by a gun fired in warning.

There are a number of Sphinxian animals which have protected status, due to conservation efforts, concerns about species displacement with terrestrial imports, or because they merit further scientific study. The penalties for hunting protected species are quite stiff.

The Elysian rules, about minimizing the impact of humans on local wildlife and biomes, are in full effect on Sphinx. In over a thousand T-years, refinements of this policy have prevented large scale disruptions of planetary ecologies, and it forms the core of the Sphinxian Forestry Service’s ethos.

As a reminder, if you must shoot local wildlife, do it with a camera. If you encounter something you haven’t seen before, take photographs or video footage. You may use lethal force against an unknown animal only when human lives are in immediate danger. If you can move away, or fly away with countergrav, you are not in immediate danger.

Do send video footage and photographs of anything you encounter to the Sphinxian Forestry Service. We pay small bounties for documentation of new animal species.

Importation of Offworld Species

Much ink can be written about the hazards of reckless species introductions into new biomes. With Sphinx, all species stocks being introduced must have full genome transcriptions submitted to the Forestry Service for assessment of their biological impact parameters. Introduction of a prey animal without a predator to balance it can cause terrific strain on a biosphere; even something as innocuous as the introduction of fertile rabbits can cause a species dislocation, which will cause predators to change their ranging patterns searching for suitable prey. Because Sphinx has undergone a geologically recent species extinction period, this is of particular concern, as there are already a number of large predators seeking new prey ranges. Don’t let them think your homestead is one.

The majority of Sphinx’s native plants are non-toxic to humans, and Sphinxian animals can survive off human feedstocks. Sphinxian native plant stocks are less opportunistic than earth-based ones. Sphinx’s summers are long and cool on the coasts; inland they are hotter and drier, but do not reach the same levels of hot-and-dry that Old Earth does. Currently, the Sphinxian summer only produces five distinct growing seasons for terrestrial plant stocks; further agronomical research looks to take full advantage of the longer growing season by adjusting terrestrial crops to better match local conditions. Consult the Royal Agronomy Service if you wish to contribute to this project as a researcher, or by growing plots of test crops.

While there are ongoing attempts to domesticate Sphinxian herbivores, these are research projects at this time, and it’s expected that the bulk of the meat eaten will be from terrestrial imports.

Of particular concern is the introduction of ground covering plants like grasses. There is a lot we don’t know about Sphinxian plant life. We do know that grasses are not native to Sphinx, and that there is nothing on Sphinx adapted to eating them natively. We also know that grasses spread across Old Earth in a geological eyeblink 66 million years ago, and that spread left profound biome disruption in its aftermath. With the exception of the pig, every terrestrial meat animal has adapted to grassland living . . . and at the very least, introduction of grasses can cause soil to dry out, and, in large areas, change rainfall patterns. Please consult with the Sphinxian Forestry Service before introducing grasses outside of controlled areas; we have a number of varieties that have been tailored to be digestible to local wildlife with minimal problems, and which have slow germination patterns so that we can keep the intrusions under control.

Disease Risks

The Star Kingdom of Manticore has suffered a population drop due to two bouts of a “virgin field introduction” plague. A native Manticoran pathogen similar to a coronavirus has crossed over and proven infectious to humans. There was an initial outbreak outbreak of a respiratory illness roughly forty T-years ago. While it proved dangerous to the elderly, it was deemed to be no more severe than the common cold or a light influenza. What was not understood then, but is understood now, is that this pathogen was able to mix DNA with existing human coronaviruses; most of these mixes proved unstable and unable to reproduce. One of them proved to be both infectious and to have a protein shell that triggered extreme immunoglobin responses.

This more dangerous infection caused widespread fevers and pulmonary obstructions, as it infected the lungs and was airborne. As there was an extensive reservoir not only in humans, but in pigs raised for farm animals, it proved difficult to combat. The initial outbreak was in 1480 PD, and vaccines were cultured in 1484. A second outbreak of a new strain occurred in 1487 PD, which proved immune to the 1484 vaccine. A third strain emerged in 1489, but was less immediately dangerous. There is now a multi-strain vaccine that has proven to be more than 99.99 percent effective; this vaccine is part of your immigration inoculations.

While we deem it unlikely, we cannot rule out the possibility of another crossover virus. The Star Kingdom takes outbreak reports and new disease reports very seriously, and has extensive quarantine procedures, shown in pamphlet SKM-RNG-1490-PQ.