Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Traveller Universal World Profile extensions

I found these thoughts on Traveller world profiles the other day, and thought they might be worth spiffing up and posting. I hope you find them amusing, even if they don't fit into your view of what Traveller worlds can be like.
As a completist, the fact that in Traveller, certain Universal World Profile (UWP) codes do not extend to ‘F’ (15) has always bugged me a little. For some, like Hydrographic Percentage (0-A), it makes sense. But for Population and Government, it seems that there could be a good scifi use for these “extra codes”.

Population

The population digit is the exponent of 10, represented in hexadecimal. For example, with 7 billion people on Earth, our Population would be 9. Soon, we'll hit A.

Population D: Uncountable Population

These worlds are "Hive Worlds" with a large number of (most likely alien) sophonts who are not countable in a practical way, either due to their life cycle or living arrangements. Good examples would be “bugs” or a planet full of the creatures from “Pandorum”. The salient characteristic of Population D is that there are more physical creatures than can practically be counted.

Population D worlds often have Government type F (see below), but could be any government type. The Government would determine the character of the planet; whether it’s one giant mass of seething telepathically linked worms, a dense hive of SmartAnts™, or some other probably unsettling situation.

Population E: Incorporeal population

These worlds are peopled by non-physical or virtual intellects that can have zero or more bodies and thus are not easily accounted for, as they can create and destroy physical forms somewhat at will. The referee should generate a "True population" number that is the number of intelligences if the concept of individuals still applies. Note that the Gov type can be just about anything, and should be generated from the True Population number rather than the E rating.

Scenario Idea: It's possible that the inhabitants of the Pop E world have a way to determine their true population, and could desire to "set the record straight" with the Imperial Survey Department, depending on their cultural leanings.

Population F: Intelligent Ecosystem

Fully symbiotic intelligent ecosystem (ala Chtorr). In effect, the entire ecosystem is the population. May be difficult to communicate with, though often will have a member species that can interface with the outside world. As with a Type E government, the referee should separately determine the size of the "interface" population species, if one exists. Often but not necessarily paired with Gov F. 

Government

The additional forms of governments proposed allow for specifying some common scifi themed cultures. In some cases, (as with the existing Balkanization government type) the Referee may need additional notes to fully detail the situation.

Government E: Trans-physical Ascendancy

All citizens live in a virtual environment or separate plane of existence, subject to the whim of who or whatever controls the environment. This situation implies either current or past High Tech ability (The Matrix) or some form of Psionic environment (like Avatar but more so, or Stargate "Ascended"). It’s possible that the inhabitants’ physical forms are still maintained in some way (as in The Matrix).

Scenario Note: It is likely that Travellers will only interact with whatever watchdog systems have been left to guard the planet from outsiders unless they can “get in” somehow. And once in, it may prove difficult to get back out.

Government F: Hive/Communal Mind 

All "citizens" share a common will and memory. The hive will either Ignore, Attack or Assimilate outsiders as determined by the Referee. Examples range from Starship Trooper “Bugs” to Star Trek’s Borg. The Referee should determine how many such hives exist on the planet, and if more than one, what “government” they operate under (roll from the number of hive minds, not population). Government F does not require any particular population codes, though the examples found in fiction often match up well with D or F.

Note: Law Level on these worlds represents how aware the commune/hive is of outsiders. An example might be the early Borg episodes of Star Trek™, The Next Generation™ - humans could move about inside their cube ships unmolested for the most part.