While humanity has stretched its wings to explore the Orion Arm for 1,000 light-years in every direction, only about half of that space has been annexed by the stellar nations. Within this area, called the Stellar Ring, well-defined borders divide the stellar nations into recognized territories. Beyond the Stellar Ring is Open Space, full of stars that have been explored but have yet to be annexed by any stellar nation.
The heart of the Stellar Ring is Old Space, the region within 200 light-years of Sol. Each nation began its expansion here, and the first-world planets of Old Space represent the core of human territory. Old Space’s planets are marked by miles-high megatropolises that stretch almost endlessly over the surface. The poor, the working class, and the ultrarich alike dwell on these city-planets. Though urbanized from pole to pole, first worlds feature incredible diversity. Some portions are pristine and beautiful, graced with grand architecture and public art. Others are run down and filthy, crowded with the destitute and the criminal. In between, winding along the wide avenues and around the magnetic highways, the commercial districts full of shops and restaurants are painted in the kaleidoscopic light of advertising boards, holo commercials, and garish interactive placards. On most first worlds, humans and aliens live and work side by side.
Capital planets and stellar homeworlds are almost universally located in Old Space. These awe inspiring showcase worlds are the height of the stellar nations-paradise first worlds, clean and beautiful. As the saying goes, everyone comes to the capitals; these worlds are the pride of the stellar nations, and rightly so. The capitals are grand examples of the best the nations have to offer, and in their buildings the nations’ business, politics, and diplomatic pasturing never end.
Outside Old Space lie the second-world planets that form mast af the remainder of the Stellar Ring. Most are colonies that have reached the second stage of development, and most have good prospects for continued growth. A few have yet to complete the extremely expensive process of terraforming to render them habitable to unassisted human life. Others are planets that will never attract the population Dr develop the resources to gain first-world status. At least one continent or significant portion of territory must be developed for a planet to be classified as a second world.
Third-world planets are those where civilization has yet to extend its grasp. Most third-world planets are established colonies or planets with neither the resources nor the strategic importance to merit significant development. Usually, at least one city must be developed to classify a planet as a third world. Not every world in Old Space has been urbanized. Many planets are holdings, undeveloped worlds featuring wildlife preserves, natural environments, and immaculate communities. Typically, these utopias are populated by the human elite, such as political leaders and the wealthy. All others must obtain a visa to visit, dwell, or gain employment on a holding, and alien species are usually barred. Holdings can be found throughout each stellar nation, in Old Space and beyond.
Similarly scattered throughout space are alien reservations. These are worlds that have been established for a nation’s alien citizens, and worlds that belonged to the alien species when the nation subsumed them. The conditions on these worlds depend on the nation that claims them. Some have been left almost exactly as the humans found them. Others are little more than glorified prison camps. A select few are as beautiful and peaceful as the human holdings, living monuments to alien civilizations.
The newest divisions of space are the Concord Neutralities, the territories administered by the Concord. These regions are found in each stellar nation, but far more important are the three major Neutralities: Concord Prime, Concord Taurus, and Concord Sagittarius. Each neutrality is considered neutral ground, whether in a stellar nation’s territory or in Open Space.
Colony worlds are the backwaters of a stellar nation, and they retain most if not all of their original environmental conditions. They haven’t been terraformed, industrialized, or covered in layers of steel and plastic. Life can be hard on a colony world, but it can also be uplifting and good. To many, the colony worlds are more real than the overdeveloped first worlds or the bioengineered perfection of the holdings. Some even feature all of the modem conveniences of a nation’s first worlds while being far removed from the crowded conditions of Old Space, making them especially attractive to those who yearn for a bit of freedom and breathing space. Colony worlds can be found in any region settled in the last century and a half, both within the Stellar Ring and out along the frontiers.
Concord ambassadors serve throughout human space, enforcing the terms and conditions of the Treaty. While many fill posts in the Concord Neutralities, they also poke around on colony worlds, alien reservations, the Verge, Open Space, and disputed regions of the Ring. Wherever they serve, they foster good relations and negotiate differences of opinion.