Traveller has a subsector generation system where about half the hexes have a system, then you roll 2d6 for the characteristics of the various worlds, with the numbers influencing each other, generating a list of Universal World Profiles (UWP).
You end up with data like this:
Xushi 0101 C69A595-6 SG Ni Wa Stengo 0103 E610679-7 G Na Ni Shudro 0104 D345876-2 S
It provides starport class, planetary size, atmosphere, hydrographic percentage, population, government, law, and tech level, plus the presence of other aspects: in this case S stands for a Scout base and G stands for a gas giant, and the trade codes are based on the characteristics already determined with Ni standing for non-industrial, Wa for water world (the A in fourth place means it’s 100% covered in water), and Na for non-agricultural.
I mean, cool, right? Government-7 means “Balkanization. No central ruling authority exists; rival governments compete for control.” But a few more words wouldn’t hurt, I’d say. It’s a bit too raw for my kind of prep.
The system has fallen apart into multiple polities: each urban centre claiming sovereignty, involved in border disputes, internal squabbles, unable to deal with the imperial order in the subsector. The starport falls within the sphere of influence of Laifo. It’s a mess.
I like this much better. And so I’ve been spending my time describing all sorts of things using random tables for Hex Describe to generate an entire subsector description. There’s still a long way to go, but I’m already happy with the governments.
It’s a bit tricky because in theory some of these descriptions interfere with each other. Very small systems have microgravity. Some have no atmosphere. Some systems are water worlds and have no significant land mass. So you can’t write descriptions assuming normal gravity, atmosphere, or land mass. That’s hard.
But even with all these problems, it’s still great. It generates small ships with crews, their characteristics (but no equipment), it sometimes generates a little backstory for small settlements or some government types, and so on.