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Composite Worldbuilding

For Traveller and other SciFi – by Anon

I'm going to use a few posts to illustrate the

"blended" Traveller/SWN system detailing
process we often talk about here. Using the
rosette posted above, I selected Tionale more
on a whim than anything else. Checking that
system at Traveller Map, I get:

C674321-8 901

That means:

Starport C Routine
Size 6 9,600km
Atmosphere 7 Standard; Tainted
Hydrosphere 4 40%
Population 3 Thousand
Govt Type 2 Participating Democracy
Law Level 1 Nasty stuff prohibited
Tech Level 8 Quality Computers

The 901 bits means there are 9,000 people, no gas giants, and 1 planetoid belt. Despite being an
Imperial client state, the world is an Amber Zone meaning travellers are cautioned when visiting. A non-
human minor race, presumably native, is present too. Traveller Map has lots of other stuff which I'm
going to ignore. I'm ignoring the system's stars, forex, because I'm not interested in exploring this
planet's climate. I want it to be "shirtsleeve" world, one where the players can walk outside without lots
of equipment. So Tionale won't be a snowball, oven, or have poisoned air.

Speaking of poisoned air and wanting the "climate" not to be too big a hurdle, I decide that Tionale's
tainted atmosphere is a result of the planet's plant life. Most release spores/pollen to which some
humans are allergic at varying levels. Rolling 1D10, results in 30% begin effected in some manner with
daily and locally produced medications required.

The hydrosphere rating of 4 (40%, really 35% to 45%) seems low until you remember that Earth's
Atlantic Ocean rates as a 2. That's right, the Atlantic Ocean, like the Indian ocean, "only" covers ~20% of
Earth's surface. The Pacific "only" covers ~46%. So, Tionale's 40% rating still means there are some
pretty big oceans.
Switching to SWN's "world tag" system next, I make two 1D100 rolls
give me "Alien Ruins" and "Local Specialty". The ruins result fits nicely
with the natives and the specialty result gives me some ideas about
why 9,000 humans are living on Tionale. (Speaking of the natives, I'll
leave off detailing them for later. I've used GURPS Uplift in the past to
good effect.)

I'm going to stick the natives in a millennia-long boom/bust cycle with

different regions peaking at bronze-using, hydraulic civilizations like Ur
or Harappa only to collapse back to villages of hunter-gatherers when
soil degradation occurs. The various "fertile crescents" of Tionale are thus dotted with ruins - ruins the
natives don't much like anyone disturbing. Thanks to their contacts with the human colony along with
the subsequent "leakage" of technology and ideas, the native societies near that colony seem to have
escaped the boom/bust cycles.

Turning to the human colony and using the "local specialty" result, I'm going to have the humans
harvesting something along the lines of ambergris; a rare organic substance used in a variety of luxury
products. Let's call it "tinbroxan". Rather than having them chasing Tionale's sperm whales for parts of
their feces, I'll make the substance plant based. There's a fungal infection which causes certain trees to
grow burls. When the burls reach a certain size, a few kilos of tinbroxan can be found within them. Most
of the work in the colony involves the cultivating the trees, purposely infecting them with the fungus,
and harvesting the resulting burls for their tinbroxan after several years. Apart from the cultivated
variety, traders pay natives to gather "wild" tinbroxan as it's perceived to be superior than the "farmed"
version. A few human backwoodsmen harvest the wild variety too.

The tinbroxan trade has also caused an increase of violence among the natives as tribes and village fight
each other over access to the areas where the trees grow.

Next decisions have to do with the human colony and it's starport. Being lazy, I'll just borrow something
from Earth. No matter how you measure it, the Amazon's estuary is freakin HUGE. It's so big that an
island, Marajo, the size of Switzerland sits in it. The same sort of thing exists on Tionale. The human
colony is located on several large islands in the mouth of the planet's largest river. The starport and
what passes for the colony’s urban center occupy one island with small villages and "tree farms"
scattered across several more. None are linked by bridges, so river boats are a must. Boats also travel
upstream 1000s of km and along the coast to trade with the natives. Because occasional native raids still
take place, placing the colony on islands also helps with the defense of the outlying settlements.

Natives in the immediate region around the colony live at a higher TL and have more advanced societies
relative to those on rest of the planet. Iron working, sophisticated trade, settled agriculture are among
the practices adopted. Many natives hire out as labor within the colony sending home both goods and
plastic trade tokens manufactured for the purpose. Small city-states have developed, and, in a very
recent development, a handful have been "unified" by political and military means. The wealth of these
city-states attracts raiding parties from the native cultures of the interior. Those raiders occasionally
target the outlying portions of the human colony.

All able-bodied adults in the colony are theoretically part of the colony's militia. A small cadre of full
time professionals provides officers and NCOs for a battalion of native infantry. The few full-time police
mostly patrol the port and startown. Humans rarely if ever go about unarmed.

While the planet has been mapped from orbit, very little has been explored. The colony knows about
the nearby native cultures and languages and nothing about those further away. Thanks to the many
uprisings such expeditions sparked, the colonial authorities prohibit the examination of all native ruins.
That prohibition only extends as far as their reach however. Explorers and ships landing some distance
from the port may not even be detected.

The colony's government is a direct democracy with a share voting system held over from the colony's
founding by a corporation. Each citizen has as many votes as they have shares. Those born on Tionale
are issued 5 shares when they turn 18. Share can be bought and sold, but only through the government
and at a fixed price. Shares cannot be inherited. Most of the day to day business of the government is
handled by professionals hired off-world for each specific purpose. As a client state, Tionale's port is run
by the Imperium. The IISS visits the system on occasion while Navy visits are rarer. During the 4th
Frontier War, a battalion of Imperial Marines was landed, and preliminary work began on a
supply/patrol base. The base wasn't completed when the war ended. The Zhodani occupied Tionale
early in the 5th Frontier War to prevent the Imperium from operating from it.

That's it. Believe me, it took far longer to type all this than it did think about. Using the many tables and
charts in Traveller and SWN - plus having no shame about stealing ideas from elsewhere - will allow you
to detail any star system quickly.

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