Centuries ago, in the early days of the Old Republic, Mustafar was a verdant and prosperous world, a showplace of the galaxy. The planet was the home to a great Jedi temple, a place of learning and research into the nature and potential of the Force. Then, something went wrong. Some have said that the Jedi of Mustafar went too far in their studies, opening a tap into the pure essence of the Force that they could not close. Whatever may have happened, Mustafar was broken. In a very real sense, the world was turned inside out — the molten core of the world broke through the outer crust and turned the once-green orb into an angry, flaming hell.
Even though it was horribly disfigured in the cataclysm, Mustafar continued to be an important world to the Republic. Although rendered all but uninhabitable, the broken world presented an irresistible opportunity to a certain turn of entrepreneurial mind. The cataclysm had brought the rare mineral riches of the planet’s core to the surface. Resources that were, on other worlds, rare and almost impossible to reach were literally lying around for the taking on Mustafar. It was a hard and dangerous world, but the prizes were more than worth the risks involved in claiming them. So Mustafar became a mining center, and then a center of refining and manufacturing as well, as the miners of Mustafar sought to maximize their profit by cutting down on the necessity of expensive off-world shipping of the planet’s resources. Although there were only a few hardened souls who could call it home, Mustafar occupied an economic and strategic niche far more significant than its tiny population would suggest.
The planet remained savage and geologically chaotic. Every few years some random shift would annihilate the major mining facilities, requiring the miners to rebuild elsewhere. They found it well worth the cost in credits and in lives to cope with these periodic disasters. The most recent major upheaval occurred at the end of the Clone Wars. The central Mensix complex was spared major damage — this time — but prospectors surveying the remote regions of the planet reported that several ancient, monolithic ruins of the precataclysmic world were brought to the surface once again, after resting for centuries beneath the lava flows. Notable among the ancient wreckage is the hulk of a great Old Republic cargo freighter, and what seems to have been the central structure of the ancient Jedi temple itself.
The workers of Mustafar filed the required paperwork for newly discovered points of archaeological interest, and returned to their shafts, pits and assembly lines. The Imperial bureaucracy filed the paperwork as per regulation. It’s only now that word of these discoveries is starting to catch the attention of the galaxy at large.
A world like Mustafar attracts a peculiar sort of citizen. They are intelligent, because the stupid don’t last long, but they’re also hard and fiercely independent. The people of Mustafar, as a rule, do not have pasts — either they were born there, and their lives have been spent working in the mines or the factories, or they came there of their own free will and for their own reasons. As far as the Mustafarians are concerned, whatever draws you to their world ceases to exist once you arrive. It’s not surprising, then, that Mustafar has little time for either the Empire or the Rebellion. As long as the minerals keep flowing and the assembly lines keep rolling, all at acceptable prices, the Empire is content to let Mustafar define itself however it wishes, up to a point. The Rebellion needs manufactured goods and minerals as well, and the credits of a Rebel officer buy just as many drinks in a miner’s cantina as do those of an Imperial functionary. After the Clone Wars, in the early days of the Empire, Mustafar was the home of a separatist faction who sought to keep the planet out of direct Imperial control. Darth Vader dealt with this faction in his usual fashion, and the movement collapsed due to the sudden and total absence of its leadership.
Mustafar does not have any cities, as such. The only modern, permanent structure on the planet is the spaceport complex at the Mensix Mining Facility.