On paper, it’s a match made in heaven: Traveller subsector generation, a well established practice, easily translated into a program, and I implemented it once or twice. Once such app is hosted on Campaign Wiki. It was based on Mongoose Publishing’s Traveller 1st ed., because that’s what I was using at the time. Then somebody asked for Classic Traveller, and then somebody else asked for the Merchant Princes extension. Sure, why not.
The problem is that the map is based on the Universal World Profile (UWP) list, and the UWP list is pretty austere. When running a game, the information can be used to infer some information, but it takes some familiarity. It’d be great if we could “expand” these codes into something that can be used at the table. And by that I don’t mean to say that we should expand the following to “Starport class A, 3200km diameter, no atmosphere, no water, a few ten thousand people, representative republic, weapons of a strict military nature are forbidden (machine guns, automatic rifles).” The trade codes are derived from the numbers given. In the example I’ve been using, those dry stats result in the trade goods “high Tech, non-industrial, vacuum.”
And of course, there are the bases and the presence of gas giants: in the example given, we have “an imperial consulate, an establishment by the Travellers’ Aid Society (TAS), a naval base, and a gas giant.”
Sogeeran 0502 A200443-14 CT N G Ht Ni Va ||||||| | | Ag Agricultural ||||||| | Bases In Industrial As Asteroid ||||||| +- Tech Lo Low Population Ba Barren ||||||+- Law Lt Low Technology De Desert |||||+- Government Na Non-Agricultural Fl Fluid Oceans ||||+- Population Ni Non-Industrial Ga Garden |||+- Hydro Po Poor Hi High Population ||+- Atmosphere Ri Rich Ht High Technology |+- Size Va Vacuum Ic Ice-Capped +- Starport Wa Water World Bases: Naval – Scout – Research – TAS – Consulate – Pirate – Gas Giant
All of that we could surely turn into a “hex description” … but I had a problem: Hex Describe doesn’t parse the UWP – it parses the output of Text Mapper. So either I had to adapt Hex Describe so it parses the UWP of my Traveller Subsector Generator (and other UWP generators), or I’d change Text Mapper to produce output I could use in Hex Describe.
I chose the second option: Text Mapper already has various algorithms, and I already had an experimental “Stars” algorithm based on some Stars Without Numbers ideas, but it hadn’t gone anywhere. I started making another effort.
It is all work in progress, but here’s the current state of affairs.
Text Mapper now has an algorithm for subsector generation, based on Classic Traveller. As I wrote previously, I have bought all this old stuff on PDF. So now I’m using the info in The Traveller Book (TTB) and in Merchant Prince (MP). Ironically, the Traveller Subsector Generator I linked to above also generates Sector maps. 🙄 The code in Text Mapper does not. Furthermore, the Traveller Subsector Generator also generates multiple colour-coded “spheres of influence” with their own “languages”. The current Text Mapper code does not. The current Text Mapper code also doesn’t generate the kind of routes I’m looking for, but I’m going to work on it.
With that in place, I could turn to Hex Describe, at last. I started a new proof of concept set of random tables, beginning with starports. I went back to Text Mapper and tweaked the output so that the textual representation of the map also included suitable tokens for Hex Describe (such as “starport-A”) which I could then refer to. And soon I was really into it. A starport must have some buildings that indicate the presence of fuel tanks and refineries, shipyards where new ships can be constructed, dockyards where ships can be unloaded, landing panels, names of companies involved, a building for the administration, be it a harbour master or a toll station, security, and so on. And all of those need new tables!
If you want to give it a try:
Better routes is done! I indicate good trade routes based on what it says in Merchant Prince. The text description is a bunch of paragraphs like the following but I’m just using the table on page 37: if there’s a positive modifier, it’s a trade route, independent of direction, for distances 1–2.
Agricultural: The world has climate and conditions which allow extensive farming and ranching. It is a producer of relatively inexpensive foodstuffs. Agricultural goods market well t o worlds which cannot produce their own agricultural goods (Desert, Fluid Seas, Poor, Water Worlds, lndustrial Worlds). Agricultural worlds are good markets for goods from lndustrial worlds, other Agricultural worlds, Barren worlds (for new plant and animal strains), and Rich worlds.
I also connect all the class A starports and navy bases. I remember working out that minimal spanning tree based on a Wikipedia article. What a nightmare! But I still use it, so it was time well spent!
Things I want to work on: more tables. Things I’d like to add is naming the actual products for sale. I’d like to have a table that generates actual ships, with crew and loads. I’d like to have a character generator. I’d like to have a patron generator. I’d like to have plot ideas using the above. “Find the Blue Heron and bring it back. They’ve been missing their payments.” Whatever. Start simple, as always. 😇
I also need to get the name and UWP from the map into the hex description itself. Some more programming required, I guess.
If you want to help out, here’s how to do it:
Or just work out your own random tables.