Smith Island

The Planet


Smith Island is an old human colony world, located 28.64 parsecs from Earth. It is somewhat smaller than Earth, but with a similar atmosphere. Smith Island's sun is the G7 V star 138 Doradus (visible from Earth in the constellation Dorado).

Smith Island was so named because of the unusual landform that is the planet's most distinctive feature. Some time around 30 million or so years ago, a massive asteroid impact formed a crater covering almost a quarter of a hemisphere. This blast left a central peak in the crater, now surrounded by an ocean that fills the rest of the crater, thus forming a vast island. All of the surface water now drains into this ocean, making the planet look like a giant eyeball when seen from space.

The climate of the island (also referred to as Smith Island) is temperate. The first explorer, Jebedon Smith, landed there first and found a perfect colonisation world. Unfortunately, he then ventured on to the rest of the planet and met an untimely and gruesome end.


The reason for Jebedon Smith's death was the native vegetation. It blankets the entire land surface with the exception of Smith Island, and poses several kinds of deadly danger. Many species release aggressive seeds which attach to organic matter and burrow deep inside while sending out exploratory tendrils. Some have razor sharp limbs which swing freely in the wind, cutting down anything standing too close. Others have explosive seed pods which shatter the generating tree and anything else within several metres into shards of hypersonic shrapnel. Yet other species produce powerful psychoactive drugs or poisons which are sprayed into the air.

In all, the forests of Smith Island are extremely unpleasant and dangerous. Luckily for potential colonists, the asteroid impact produced a sterile landmass in the middle of a vast ocean. In 30 million years, no plant species have managed to cross the ocean, so Smith Island remains a haven for human and imported plant and animal life.

As a safety precaution, no flying creatures or creatures capable of swimming across an ocean have been imported. Trees are not planted near the ocean, lest they produce driftwood or floating seeds. (Native trees and seeds are all denser than sea water.) So far, the precautions have worked.


Smith Island supports 740 million humans and some aliens. As noted, the population is confined to the island of Smith Island, which provides ample resources for growing food and operating an industrial society.


Smith Island utilises the double-edged sword of its native life by operating chemical research and drug extraction facilities based on the local plants. Some of modern medicine's essential drugs are made only on Smith Island, since no other planet wants to import living specimens of the plant life. All collection and processing vehicles which visit the mainland are thoroughly sterilised before returning to Smith Island.

Smith Island imports those products which its strict quarantine laws do not allow to be produced locally. These include food derived from birds, seafood, silk, honey, and other such products.


Smith Island is governed by a somewhat repressive bureaucracy of people who slowly work their ways upward in power. The highest office is that of Chief Executive, elected by a board of Planetary Directors, in turn elected by those on the next rung down, and so on. Laws are enacted by the Island, a group of 100 people who supposedly represent the citizens, but who are in fact elected by the next lower rung of the bureaucracy.

Laws are strict on Smith Island, partially because they have to be to preserve the planet's inhabitability, and partially because the system of government has entrenched the need for control. Weaponry is regulated, with only light sidearms permitted on the island. Regulation on the mainland is of course virtually unenforceable.

Although freedom of the media and of speech is somewhat restricted, most of the population are reasonably happy with the quality of their lives, which are in fact on par with most other planets. There are some minor voices of dissent, but nobody expects a revolution in the foreseeable future.

GURPS is Copyright © by Steve Jackson Games Incorporated.

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