Folks that follow my blog will know I’m a fan of Traveller and even worked on a hack version for Savage Worlds. My Dark Sun game has been going a while but after picking up the new science fiction companion, I’ve got a bee in my bonnet to run another game. So all things sci-fi have sort of been on my mind as of late.
While I have my Traveller hack I really didn’t want to visit that again. I love the feel of the Traveller universe and likely will use it as a basis for my game, but I just didn’t want to juggle different game stats and rule books at my table. I wanted to just use the sci-fi companion and run with it. There are still some tweaks I’m making with the sci-fi companion, but they are pretty minor. Pretty sure it’ll be easy for myself and the players to jump in between different genres as we switch back and forth from sci-fi and Dark Sun.
So I’m slowly in the process of creating a few star systems. I wanted to get some manner of a map to plop down on the table and entice the players to explore some. I appreciate the relatively simple world creation rules in the sci-fi companion but it can create stuff that is all over the place due to every planet characteristic being unrelated random rolls. Because of that I began to eye the world creation system in Traveller.
I love Traveller’s idea of the UPP. A universal planetary profile that quickly provides key information on a planet’s characteristics. However I didn’t want to delve into using that that too deeply to create my maps, as again, I’d be trying to merge rules and stats from one system to match another. Instead I opted to work on my own version that primarily used the tables in the Savage Worlds sci-fi companion with some tinkering. The biggest change is that gravity and atmosphere would have some interaction and impact on the relative tech levels of the planet. I also scooped up Traveller’s tables for governments and culture quirks to flesh out planets some.
The main idea is that all star systems are classified using a universal planetary profile (UPP) for one planet that is the major, inhabited, economic, and political power in that system. It’s a 7 number/letter profile that conveys basic information on the planet. Along with the UPP, there is usually another designation indicating the type of government and any other notable planet characteristics (like trade codes). Each star system typically takes the name of the planet represented by the UPP. As an example:
Floria: NBW523X-L, Po, Ag
Reading the profile from left to right, we see Floria is a normal gravity planet (N) with a breathable atmosphere (B). It is dominated by oceans (W) and has a world population in the tens of thousands (5). It has a typical law level (2) and a below-average technological level (3). Primarily because of this, there is only a haphazard starport available (X) which is likely no more than a flattened plateau just above the sea level. The planetary government is run by a dictator which inherited the title (L) and is not well liked by the populace. Floria also has trade codes of being a poor (Po) and an agricultural (Ag) world.
What is especially nice about using UPP codes is I can whip up a spreadsheet to generate a planet on the fly. So now I can cut and paste a random string of d20 rolls and spit out a UPP for any system. Couple that with some awesome stuff out there for making up sector maps for Traveller and now I’ve got a means to quickly create several sectors. Add in a list of random planet names and I’m good to go. Hope folks get some use out of this for their games.