As I mentioned in last week’s post, I am a pretty big fan of Civilization: Beyond Earth. I think it represents a good transition from Civ V and a well formed “spiritual successor” to Alpha Centauri. However, there’s one element of both of its predecessors that C:BE is, startlingly, lacking: landmarks.
Why is this startling? Well, in Civ V, natural wonders were a fairly important element of the game. Hell, Isabella’s special ability was tied to them, and they went a pretty long way to increase happiness in a globalized society. As for Alpha Centauri, that’s where the concept of special areas of the map debuted in the series with the awesomeness of the Monsoon Jungle (plant forests on it for the win) and the irritation of the Sargasso Sea (stupid fungus). They were critical and interesting, a lethally effective combination in any game element.
So why were they overlooked in C:BE? I have no idea, but I wish there were some scattered about these alien worlds. Since this blog is all about creativity, and obviously Legendary Pants is one of Sid Meier’s first stops when he seeks inspiration for DLC, I’m going to come up with some landmarks that would be awesome for the game.
First, as a structural note, let me explain these. The bold will be the name of the landmark, the italics will be the associated Civilopedia entry, and the rest will be the effects of it. Since, I’m in the world of make believe, I’ve decided that each landmark will have a worked value (IE what it generates if a citizen is working the hex) and a meta function (some sort of impact on the game beyond it’s worked value). Also, I imagine that these would be impassable terrain a la Civ V. Let’s get started!
Clearly an alien structure, The Borehole was already drilled and productive before humanity laid eyes on this world. To the best of human science’s ability, tests show the structure to be several millenia old at least, raising interesting questions about how it has stayed in such good repair and remained productive after having been abandoned for so long. Clearly, there are new and wondrous materials at work here.
Worked: +2 production, +6 energy, +2 science
Meta: +6 geothermal resources if within cultural boundaries.
Named for its entry in the scientific reports of the first recon sweeps of the planet from orbit, Cube? is an immense, half-buried cube of titanium. It is clear that no natural phenomenon could create such a monolithic and geometrically perfect deposit of the metal, so it is assumed to be an artifact of an ancient civilization. It remains unclear as to why any civilization would see the need to create such a structure, but tests show it to be a simple cube of titanium several kilometers on a side. Having found nothing more academically interesting about the artifact other than its enigmatic presence, it has been relinquished to mining and logistics organizations to break down and utilize Cube?’s immense deposit of titanium.
Worked: +6 production, +2 energy, +2 science
Meta: +6 titanium resources if within cultural boundaries.
This large complex of drilling stations and refineries rests atop one of the richest petroleum deposits on the planet. What’s unusual is the complex’s alien origin, and the fact that it remains intact and operational after centuries, at least, of being vacant. The drilling and refining techniques are not, in their fundamentals, revolutionary, but they are much more precise and clean than those so far developed by humans, giving industrial scientists something to ponder.
Worked: +4 energy, +4 production, +2 science
Meta: +6 petroleum resources if within cultural boundaries.
The rather abrupt and unplanned landing site of a very large unmanned probe launched by a collection of scientists from Stanford University decades before our own travels. It was packed with state-of-the-art technology and power generators intended for a decades-long mission of data-gathering on this world. It was supposed to remain in orbit, but obviously something went wrong, and it’s reentry and impact have scoured a kilometers long scar into the face of this planet. Though much of it is useless scrap, scientists have been able to glean useful data from the wreckage, and the people are comforted, somewhat, by the wealth of Earth artifacts at the site.
Worked: +4 science, +2 culture, +2 energy
Meta: The first time Stanfordfell is within a faction’s cultural borders, that faction gains a free virtue. This bonus can be achieved by more than one faction.
At first, The Uplink was mistaken as a another typical progenitor ruin. However, an extensive expedition to the site revealed how expansive, and intricate, the ruins were. It was also discovered that a strong energy source turned out to be an active uplink to a distantly orbiting communications satellite. This satellite is constantly beaming data to The Uplink, and human scientists are spending long hours trying to decipher the information.
Worked: +6 science, +2 culture
Meta: Counts towards discovering “The Signal” if within cultural boundaries.
The Boneyard represents the largest repository of deceased alien life found on this planet. Its specimens seem to go back several thousand years, creating a window into the biological past of the world. No fossil bed on Earth was ever discovered to be so large or complete, causing some scientists to speculate on possibly artificial origins. Regardless, it has a wealth of biological knowledge stored beneath the soil and the surrounding land is rich in biological diversity.
Worked: +4 science, +2 food, +2 energy
Meta: Each hex surrounding The Boneyard yields an additional +1 food.
The Floating Mountain
The Floating Mountain is the largest and densest vein of floatstone yet discovered. A several kilometers wide mountain floats several feet of the ground, revealing the unnerving power of the strange ore. There is much to learn from such a deposit.
Worked: +6 production, +2 science
Meta: +6 floatstone resources if within cultural boundaries.
The Verdant Mire
The Verdant Mire is a large lake of xenomass which stretches for several kilometers. Such a concentration of the stuff has never been seen before, and the amount of research that can be conducted on the alien bio diversity alone is staggering.
Worked: +6 food, +2 science
Meta: +6 xenomass resources if within cultural boundaries.
The Ringing Maw
The Ringing Maw is a huge, gaping canyon lined in rich deposits of firaxite. These crystalline structures are sensitive to seismic activity, causing a distinct ringing to resonate through the canyon with each slight tremor of the planet. This is the largest forest of firaxite yet found and scientists are eager to see what they can learn.
Worked: +6 energy, +2 science
Meta: +6 firaxite resources if within cultural boundaries.
What was once, long ago, the largest kraken that has ever been found is now a verdant reef rich in alien sea life. Plants and animals of a million different species have gathered in and around the immense carcass, harvesting it for its precious organics and creating an intricate and compete ecosystem. Estimates suggest that the kraken perished some two or three thousand years ago, but unfamiliar levels of radioactive elements have made this dating imprecise and uncertain. What is certain is that no kraken has since been found, dead or alive, as large as this.
Worked: +4 food, +4 science, +2 energy
Meta: +4 health if within cultural boundaries.
Holy Shit Crater
Named for the first phrase its discoverer uttered, Holy Shit Crater is positively immense and surprisingly intact. It represents the largest impact crater of its kind found on a geologically-active planet in such pristine condition. The meteor which created it seems to have been a wayward asteroid with an unusually hard outer crust. Scientists suggest that this crust remained relatively intact as it entered the atmosphere, causing the meteor to strike in one, large and cohesive chunk. Though the impact likely devastated local ecologies and altered the climate of the planet for hundreds of years, the meteor itself spread over a surprisingly small area, with the crater itself remaining high in concentrations of platinum-group metals. A strike of such disposition has never been seen or even theorized, so scientists around the globe are eager for samples and research.
Worked: +4 production, +4 science
Meta: Each hex surrounding Holy Shit Crater yields an additional +1 production.
Well, those are my ideas. Feel free to let me know what you think.