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World classification -- sociology

In practice, historians who don't mind seeing their work unpublished by the Imperian Inquisition (unpublication used to be much more of a threat than it is now) divide star systems and individual worlds into 5 categories, based on how integrated with the greater galactic culture they are. Note that "world", in sociology, may refer to either a planet or the star system whose cultural center is that planet. Since most systems only harbor one planet that is habitable without life support, the distinction is only made in the rare cases when there is more than one. "World" can also mean the primary population center in a system that does not have a habitable planet but, for example, houses large construction complexes in asteroid belts.

High-integration worlds comprise a narrow plurality of the worlds in the territory of the old Empire, and the primary worlds of the various breakaway states, simply due to the volume of commerce and business travel that ends to happen between them. For example, it's not uncommon for a Trenzalorian to know more about the news from Neotrantor a full twenty kly away than on the happenings of the worlds that provide the industrial world with its daily bread.

Medium-integration worlds are present in the Empire's periphery and constitute the majority of worlds in the breakaway states; there, culture can diverge significantly from the average (for example, one religion may be dominant, or religions may be prohibited altogether) while remaining aware of what the greater galactic society is. Interstellar travel isn't common, and finding spare parts for high-end starships would be difficult or require local fabrication, but some medium-integration worlds are hotbeds of innovation. Local politics tend to be robust and rowdy, and there are often plenty of opportunities for freelance police and the like.

Low-integration worlds are uncommon but present in the old Empire, usually being worlds that have suffered catastrophes (Hame is the textbook example) or aren't considered strategically important beyond requiring a token of allegiance and a small levy; low-integration worlds outside the Empire's former boundaries tend to be agricultural or mining backwaters, but may also be places that have developed a complex and variant culture but have no interest in exporting it past their home planet or solar system (The Kerbol system is, again, a textbook example of this). In general, interstellar travel isn't so much unavailable as considered not very worth it, with some worlds only seeing a large liner a dozen times per standard years.

Sporadic-integration worlds see fewer than two dozen starships per standard year; some have even reverted to pre-spacefaring cultural mores (At the extreme end, the Kanstuckians have determined that space travelers who use GGG drives are in fact demons due to their violation of canonized Newtonian physics: caution is advised if intending to visit).

Unintegrated worlds are either uninhabited or sparsely habitated, unknown to the Imperial cartographers, or scourged during the Damnatio Memoriae. A dedicated space explorer may yet find an unknown but inhabited world, with uncontacted tribes living there, over the course of their lifetimes.

Planetary classification -- ecology

Oceanic planets: These planets are mostly covered by water, with only small islands or archipelagos dotting the surface. Life on these planets is typically aquatic, and any land-based life tends to be limited and highly specialized.

Arid planets: These planets are dry and barren, with little to no surface water. The landscape is often rocky and desert-like, with little vegetation. Life on these planets tends to be hardy and adapted to extreme drought conditions.

Volcanic planets: These planets are characterized by frequent volcanic activity, with lava flows, geysers, and other volcanic features dotting the surface. The air is often thick with ash and noxious gases, and the terrain is treacherous. Life on these planets tends to be highly specialized, with creatures adapted to extreme heat and toxic environments.

Ice planets: These planets are extremely cold, with a surface covered in frozen water or other volatile substances. The landscape is often rocky and barren, with little vegetation. Life on these planets tends to be highly adapted to extreme cold, with creatures possessing antifreeze compounds and other adaptations.

Jungle planets: These planets are characterized by dense rainforests and jungles, with a wide variety of plant and animal life. The climate is often warm and humid, with frequent rainstorms. Life on these planets is diverse and highly specialized, with a wide range of creatures adapted to life in the dense jungle canopy.

Gas giants: These planets are massive, with thick atmospheres composed mostly of hydrogen and helium. They lack a solid surface, and any life present would likely exist in the upper atmosphere, adapted to the extreme pressures and temperatures.

Gaian planets: These planets have a land-to-ocean ratio of approximately 1/3, and a diverse range of climates and environments. Life on these planets can take many forms, depending on the conditions present, and can range from simple microbial organisms to complex, intelligent species.

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