2021-02-06 Governments for Traveller

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.


There are so many things to consider. The Traveller system allows systems to have a population of 0 (less than ten people) and a government type up to 5. If you look at the first result of the government-5 table, however, you see that it doesn’t make sense:

The entire system has been divvied up between a handful of tech giants that provide civil full services for their customers. Entire families and buildings “belong” to their [with company name], [and company name], or [and company name]. Their homes, their schools, their transportation, it all belongs to one of these companies. It’s a feudal technocracy.

So now I’m writing specialised government descriptions for systems with no populatin. Like this one:

0107: This is Fleflu, UWP 200032-7. There is a gas giant in this system.

Fleflu is a small planet, about the size of Luna, with a diameter of about 3200km.

The mining opportunities favour the construction of underground settlements.

While unsettled, there’s an old satellite system still in operation that provides a forum for visitors. A bunch of ship captains calling themselves the Friends of Fleflu uses the forum to deliberate on rare policy decisions and enforces them, using the surveillance systems of satellite network to identify trespassers. No hunting on Fleflu!

Fleflu has a class C starport. A small frontier style Galactic Corporation installation is here for small repairs. A bunch of water tanks nearby tell you all there is to know about the fuel situation. Unrefined fuel only!

OK, cool. And “no hunting” seems to make sense. But check out the UWP: 2000 means a small size, no atmosphere, no water, and no population. What now? Do I need to special case this as well? Or rewrite all the special case to make sure it doesn’t refer to an atmosphere? Or do we assume that there is some sort of underground life form that is adapted to the vacuum. Headache!

– Alex 2021-02-07 11:39 UTC

Just interpret it liberally. “No hunting” could also mean “no bounty hunting of fugitives.”

Sean Conner 2021-02-07 19:50 UTC

Ouch, cruel! But it does make me want to add a scene where the party follows a well known criminal to the system…

– 2021-02-08 07:48 UTC

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