Quppa-Psi-12 appears as a verdant, green planet from orbit, its surface dotted by innumerable large lakes and small, inland seas. Sufficient water is to be found in the subsoil to support the verdant plant life that covers the majority of the planet’s surface, although the equatorial regions are noticeably dryer scrublands and the poles have small ice caps. The remainder of the planet’s liquid reserve is to be found in a light cloud layer, which is concentrated in gentle belts around each of the tropics. Lacking as it does any major surface water features, Quppa-Psi-12’s weather system is remarkably stable, with only slight variations in weather patterns across its surface.
The vegetated areas of the surface are most dense at the tropics, and consist of sub-tropical forests. These are largely dominated by a range of tall, fern-like trees, many of which reach heights in excess of twenty metres. Where these are especially thick, the forest floor is devoid of other plant life, making the going easy beneath the shade of the thick canopy above.
Quppa-Psi-12 teems with fauna, the vast majority of it insectoid. A high proportion of oxygen in the atmosphere has allowed many of these species to attain an impressive size, with the largest of their kind, a sinuous, wasp-like creature with three separate sets of wings along its thorax, so large it could pose a threat to a lightly armed shuttle. Although broadly classifiable as insects, such creatures exhibit a wide range of features; multiple sets of wings, hundreds of legs, and even more than one head.
A staggering variety of amphibious life can be found near the lakes and seas, most of which eats the insects. These range from tiny, blood-sucking frogs to gargantuan, newt-like beasts with prehensile tongues used to capture the largest flying insects.
Note that none of these beasts have been given proper names, only handy nicknames, because no one has ever been in a position to catalogue them. This should help to instil in your players the notion that they really are on virgin territory. They might even like to name what creatures they encounter, based on their appearance, mode of attack or the name of the Explorer who first saw one.
- Crimson Stingers: A swarm of bright red, flying insects, each about the size of a clenched fist, with a vicious proboscis. These creatures are encountered beneath the fern canopy, and are attracted to their prey by scent.
- Dragon Hornet: A single, almost luminous, green flying insect the size of an Aquila shuttle. Although the beast is slow and cumbersome in its flight patterns, it has sufficient bulk to crush an Explorer caught in the open or to inflict damage on a vehicle.
- Whippers: Packs of fast, ground-based insects, with a dozen legs, twice as many eyes, and barbed stingers at the ends of their whip like tails. They are well-camouflaged amidst the dried leaf litter of the forest floor and will lie in wait for their prey, leaping from their hiding places in a well-coordinated ambush.