Stars Without Number
Although ruggedly beautiful from altitude, Sepulchre is deadly in many ways. Its thin atmosphere is difficult to breathe for anyone unaccustomed, its daytime temperatures rarely range above freezing, and its plant and wildlife is indigestible by humans. Because Sepulcre's mountains are rich in rare earth minerals, but its environment is so hostile, the Terran Mandate turned this planet into a penal colony, in the days before the Scream. The prisoners mined the rare earths, which the megacorporations then shipped back to the jump gate near the aptly named planet of Gateway. Early in the Silence, the guards all fled Sepulchre, leaving the prisoners to fend for themselves.
In the intervening years, the pre-tech prison spires and mines have deteriorated considerably, and most are now nothing more than a barrier against the wind and snow. A handful of ingenius residents manage to grow food, but most subsist on spacer rations. Fortunately, Sepulchre still draws visitors, who bring new supplies. Some seek to draw their fortunes from the old mines. Other wish to set up their own petty kingdoms on this lawless planet. Most bring weapons, and all bring precious rations.
The population of Sepulchre is concentrated in a few mountain top spires, each divided into constantly shifting tribal territory, with the lowest (and warmest) levels of the spires generally seen as the most desirable. The tech level of the planet vacillates wildly, depending on what gear has been confiscated recently. Inevitably, whatever is gotten breaks down, leaving Sepulchre hovering around the steam era, until the next ship arrives to be plundered. Rare earths burn dirty, turning the air in the tunnels toxic, but they provide the only source of power in between new arrivals.
Gateway, the nearest semblance of decent civilization, maintains an orbital refueling station here, ostensibly as part of a plan to eventually send a sustained aid mission to Sepulchre. Some theorize that the refueling station is actually set up for a planned drill to Zadak territory, but no official voyages have been made on that route in centuries.