Demographics of the Spinward Frontier: Building Sectors


Emperor Mongoose
This is what I get for trying to "fix" The Beyond. A mini White Paper on sector design.

To build a plausible model of the political state of the regions Spinward of the Imperial border we need to look at settlement and growth patterns over time and treat the region as a whole.

First, we need to build a physical model. Generate the sector with stars, gas giants, belts and the three physical characteristics of the main world. Essentially a Survey Index 8 map.

Then we can populate it. This is a multi-step process that will take more time than a straight sector generation but should build a plausible political structure.

Let's start with the beginning, or the Ancients. First, remnant Droyne and Chirper worlds. These would be scattered a few to each sector, decreasing per sector distant from the Spinward Marches, though a roll of 6 should leave one in the sector regardless.
The Ancients left modified humans on a number of worlds. Based on known demographics, this should be no more than one extant human minor race per sector, decreasing in likelihood again as we travel beyond Imperial Space.

Native minor races seem more prevalent, perhaps one per subsector, invariant by distance.

(Kursae are a left-over enigma that can be ignored as extinct as far as canon goes.)

These categories of "native" inhabitant worlds by definition did not form interstellar states. The Droyne just don't seem to do so and minor races are by definition minor because they do not have Jump Drive. A few might have used NAFAL sleeper or generation ships to settle a few worlds, but nearly all would be primitive races.

This leaves a scattering of inhabited worlds, mostly primitive, one or two per subsector as a "base" frontier region. Populations on these worlds can follow a random distribution and the individual inhabited systems have virtually no impact on any others.

Next comes settlement waves. For this region of space, we're only going to consider the Humaniti and Aslan major races.

We'll start with Humaniti. Vilani and Zhodani reached the region first. The Zhodani are more focused Coreward, but there is a Zhodani colonial state in the far corners of Far Frontiers and Vanguard Reaches. We'll leave that alone and assume that, like Zhodani space in all but the Coreward direction, it is static unless pressed by external factors. There may be a few "rogue" Zhodani settlements, potentially thousand of years old, but these can be treated almost like Human minor races: One per sector at most, with frequency decreasing rapidly as you move beyond the Zhodani frontier. Likely none of these built interstellar states, but it remains a possibility.

Next Vilani: The region is far beyond the First Imperium border. AoE and Vanejen demonstrates that distant settlements did exist, but as above, this should be limited to no more than one per sector with a pretty steep drop-off, given that the Spinward Marches is already two sectors beyond their frontier.

Next up comes Solomani or mixed settlements from the Long Night period. Essentially, see above again, although here we have multiple examples (Sword Worlds, Darrian, Sindal) of interstellar states arising from Solomani settlement or contact. Scatter as above but add a chance that each has or had a small, subsector-sized area of secondary settlement. Also, these states could have a tertiary effect of transferring technology to neighboring human or native minor races, potentially sprouting more small interstellar states.

Turmoil in these small states, possibly scattered a few more settlements from refuges or the losers in power struggles. The Sindalian Empire likely scattered humans to a few worlds in the Beyond, though not likely further.

All of these effects happened more than a thousand years prior to the founding of the Third Imperium, before the Aslan crossed the Great Rift.
Aslan borders are well established, and those worlds need no modifications, but they did cause secondary effects, a new wave of refugees from the scattered human settlements they overran. Again, most of these would be Sindalian remnants or other Long Night settled or influenced worlds with interstellar technology. Waves of ihatei leave a "shock zone" perhaps a subsector deep beyond the Aslan border. Here, there will be abandoned human settlements, scattered Aslan holdings and human bastion worlds resisting the advance, like Drinax before its fall.

All of these worlds, native, Human or Aslan, can be treated with normal generation rules. They are thousands of years old and can have any population or technology level (within reason and environmental limitations).

The Aslan Cultural Purge adds another wrinkle. For the first three centuries of the Imperial Era, a scattering of the losers of that conflict likely fled beyond Aslan borders. Add a few worlds of "aberrant" Aslan. These have a pattern like the Long Night settlements, some forming pocket empires.
Next comes the wave of settlement from the Third Imperium. We know that by the early seventh century, the era of the first Frontier Wars and the Civil War, the Spinward Marches was at least lightly settled throughout and that new settlements were filling in the gaps in the Trojan Reaches. The rate of advancement beyond that frontier is not known. It is reasonable to assume that the settlement frontier became more sporadic and slower after this era, but a general advance of at least the front of thin settlement advanced perhaps a sector per century unless limited by astrographic or political boundaries. But like any supply line, the advance gets slower and more sporadic the further you get from base.

So, let's assume the "thick line" of fairly dense settlement creeps across the "-6" sectors (Foreven, The Beyond) in the seventh century (600-700), then takes two centuries to cross the "-7" line. And then continues to slow. A chart is in order:
(this didn't survive the paste process well, so I'll try to make it readable, at least on my screen. I apologize in advance if it's not)

Sector SI | Thick Wave I Thin Wave | Ancient* | Zhodani**| Vilani | Solomani† | Aslan†**
Foreven 10 | 600-700 I 400-500 I 1D-2 | 1D | 1D-3 | 1D-2 | 1D-2
The Beyond 10 I 600-700 I 400-500 I 1D-2 I 1D-3 | 1D-4 | 1D-3 | 1D
Touchstone 9 I Aslan only I 600-1100 I 1D-4 I 1:D | 1:D | 1D-4 | 1D
Far Frontiers 9 I 700-900 I 600-700 I 1D-2 I 1D | 2:2D | 1:D | 2:2D
Vanguard Reaches 9 I 900-1100 I 700-900 I 1D-3 I 1D-2 | 3:3D | 2:2D | 1D-1
Iphigenaia 9 I none I 900-1100 I 1D-4 I 1D-4 | 4:4D | 3:3D | 1D-1
Yiklerzdanzh 9 I 900-1100 I 700-900 | 1D-3 I 1D | 3:3D | 2:2D | 3:3D
Fulani 9 |none I 900-1100 I 1D-3 I 1D-2 | 4:4D | 3:3D | 1:D
Theron 9 I none I none I 1D-4 | 1:D | 4:4D | 3:3D | 1:D
Tsadra 9 I none I none I 1D-4 | 1D | 4:4D | 4:4D | 4:4D
Astron 9 I none I none I 1D-4 | 1D-4 | 4:4D | 3:3D | 2:2D
Theta Borealis 7 I none I none I 1:D | 1:D | 4:4D | 3:3D | 1:D
Tsadra Davr 3 I none I none I 1D-4 | 1:D | 4:4D | 4:4D | 4:4D
Chiep Zhez 3 I none | none I 1:D | 1:D | 4:4D | 4:4D | 2:2D
Mavuzog 6 I none I none | 1:D | 3:3D | 4:4D | 4:4D | 2:2D
Further Sectors†† 3 I none I none I 1:D | 4:4D | 4:4D | 4:4D | 3:3D

SI is the general Imperial Survey Index value of the Sector. This is a floor for the IISS, a ceiling for civilian knowledge. Thick Wave indicates a settlement "front" where most systems are occupied. Thin Wave is a scattering off "useful" or opportunistic worlds. The other columns indicate the number of worlds with extant settlements per sector (D) or the chance of a single settlement (X:#D= roll X or less on #D). Native races remain about one per subsector throughout.

* Roll separately for Droyne, Chirper, Minor Human, but limit Minor Human to one per sector
† Roll once for primary settlement. If present, for each roll again for secondary settlement or "scatter" events, each resulting in 1D additional settlements.
** Beyond established borders
†† Minimum chance is 4:4D. Make Ancient and Aslan rolls with an additional D for each Sector beyond the first "Further" adjacency.

Now let's look at population growth. Clearly, we only have real-world historical models for a habitable world with primitive through mid-tech technologies. Population growth can vary from negative in much of the current developed world to high in the developing world to near static and variable in ancient times. Variation can be handled by the standard 2D-2 roll, especially for longstanding established populations, so let's look at the extremes: What is the largest likely population growth from a settlement over time? Obviously in the Thick Wave region, this can be significantly influenced by rates of immigration, but let's take an example of a thin or scattered settlement world with a reasonable initial population and a feasible high growth rate (this excludes armies of clones, but we'll assume that's a special case outlier).

For the sake of argument, we'll use a doubling of population every generation and a generation increment of 25 years. This gives us four doublings in a century (2^4 or X16) per century. For a settlement established in the Frontier/Civil War era, five centuries before present this is 2^20 or about X 1,000,000. So, an initial population of 10,000 yields 10 billion.

Add a century or so and you could fill a sector. Given that, any world more than five centuries old can have a population that matches the standard generation procedure and any sector with at least one interstellar technological civilization that predates the Third Imperium can have a sector that follows standard generation procedures, though in general, scattered interstellar states should have an influence of settlement and political control little more than a subsector broad, limited by astrographics to gaps less than the maximum jump range of the technology (or 2, given a double jump). Vilani tech should have a hard 2 parsec limit, Solomani is more flexible, 3 for TL12, and at least two examples where local tech level popped up to 15 or 16, allowing a range of 6 parsecs.

Where these pocket empires intersect a local native race, that race could acquire jump technology, by trade, war or accident, giving them the potential for pocket empires of similar size and scope.

Another way to look at growth is to assume an initial colonization (Population = 2D6/2, round down) and a growth rate of no more than one population digit per century, if no immigration follows. Twice that rate of growth is possible with immigration during the Thin or Thick wave period for populations at the start of the period of 6 or less for Thin Wave, 8 or less for Thick Wave.

The final step is to look at recent pocket empires. Any world with a Class A or B starport and population TL9+ (for B, we'll assume government yards can produce starships or import them) can dominate local worlds of lesser population or tech level. Assume if a world has pop + TL greater than pop + TL of a neighboring world, it could control that world.

So, to summarize and proceduralize:

Step One: Physical Sector Map to SI 8. Or use the existing Sector map.

Step Two: Place minor native races, either one per subsector or roll 2D each system, 12 = native. If atmosphere is vacuum or trace: 1D = 1-5 ruins of outpost or colony, 6 = exotic race or colony of advanced race.

Step Three: Detail minor races: Pop, Gov, Law as usual. Initial starport type roll is DM -2. For TL, no bonus for physical characteristics. Adjust Starport by TL: Min for B = 7, C = 5, D = 4, E =0.

Step Four: Determine scattered Ancient, Zhodani, Vilani, Solomani and Aslan worlds as indicated in the table. Pick appropriate worlds (atmosphere 4-9) for each instance.

Step Five: Detail these worlds: Pop, Gov, Law. Minor Human races use the native minor race starport and physical characteristic procedure, Chirpers are automatically Starport Class X if they are the only native species, but half the time they will coexist with another scattered population, if appropriate.

Step Six: Determine secondary effects of the scattered worlds. Build Pocket Solomani or Aslan empires. Technology transfers to enveloped, adjacent or nearby minor races may cause tertiary effects. Referee discretion should be heavily applied to make rational and interesting results.

Step Seven: Determine settlement wave effects. Thick Settlement patterns call for normal system generation, which can overlay the "historical" structure if so desired. Population DM is determined for recent waves, If Thick Wave began in 900 or more recently DM -2. If no Thick wave, DM -1 per century less than 5 for Thin Wave (e.g. 1000, DM -4, 900 DM -3, 800, DM -2, 700 DM -1). Apply strict TL limits for Thin Wave only systems. If final TL does not support the settlement, drop starport to E or X and Pop, Gov, Law, Tech to 0 or consider the world an abandoned or "Dieback" world.

Step Eight: Adjust political borders to build-destroy-modify pocket empires determined by previous steps. Current pocket empires should have dominant systems with Class A or B starports, TL 9+ and (TL + Pop) dominance (or equivalence for federal or confederate states). Any decent sized viable pocket empire should have at least one Class A starport or all commercial vessels are imports or surplus government vehicles.

Step Nine: Determine trade routes, political structures and current diplomatic status as appropriate.
Impressive work. I can see some real potential with this approach, particularly if you can at least partially automate the process - it would allow you to rapidly create some large sandbox regions which would be at least reasonably internally consistent, which has historically been somewhat of a problem. I definitely like the idea.
Galadrion said:
Impressive work. I can see some real potential with this approach, particularly if you can at least partially automate the process - it would allow you to rapidly create some large sandbox regions which would be at least reasonably internally consistent, which has historically been somewhat of a problem. I definitely like the idea.

Thanks. The Deepnight Revelation kickstarter is what prompted all this. I want to build something usable for that trip in more detail than I'm sure the author intended. The Beyond is my current effort, and I've made it harder by trying to preserve as much of two versions of the sector as makes sense.

It's sort of like fixing a parachute after you've jumped, but it's on a gas giant, so if it doesn't get done, you just eventually slow into a hot soup of gunk. How about that metaphor?

In any case, I'm documenting my mutilation of the sector, so if I finish and throw it out there for consideration, people can pick apart the decisions I've made. Luckily I've built a few sectors before for fun, so I have a few tools and processes I can fall back upon. And travellermaps is a fantastic resource, especially since I can import the results and see how they look in the poster and booklet makers.
*Nods* I can remember wanting to build this sort of development process based on the T4 Pocket Empires supplement/subgame. It turned into a bit too big of a job for me at the time, though, at least partially because of the notorious editing problems which plagued that entire product line - between getting my degree, working to pay for getting my degree, trying to find career possibilities, and just generally trying to get through the business of living, I just didn't have the time to rebuild a system which really needed a team of editors and then take the processes involved on to the logical progressions. It looks like you're aiming to do something similar, but creating most of the process yourself - an approach with a number of advantages, from what I can see.
Ah, yes T4. Lovely idea, that. But execution did leave something to be desired. Vland population 3 was about the point I threw up my hands. In retrospect the artwork by Chris Foss is what I most fondly remember.

This process ate my weekend. I've spent more than 20 hours on it, but managed to get through most of the preliminary steps on The Beyond. I've finished subsectors D and H to the point of compiling world data and writing a brief description of the subsector plus single-paragraph write-ups of four worlds per subsector.

Weaving existing material together is probably harder than generating it fresh and it isn't feasible to automate the weave. What I frankensteined is about 4 parts Kallenbach, 2 parts OTU-Rapp, and 1 part Zeitlin. But the weave and the write-ups to put makeup on this monster is all mine.

Too bad I have to go to work tomorrow. That will slow progress and increase the risk of distraction.
Just out of curiosity, has anyone ever tried using the applications for displaying custom traveller maps?

For instance, imagine taking the steps outlined by the original poster - and you want to be able to send that to the app that makes sector maps for you. You can label them by the year when you make your sector maps. Thus, you could for instance, have a sector in the year 0 (Milieu Zero) with various world empty, some worlds detailed, but not the same as they will be in the year 1105. Do a map for the year 100, 200, 300, etc making a map for each century. You can thus see how your sector evolves at the organic level.

Just a thought.
I've used travellermap's tools for making custom sectors. It's fun. But it takes a bit of work to tweak the metadata to get the results I want, so not a causal undertaking. It is a great tool set, though. Using it now (well, yesterday) to test out my version of The Beyond data.
If I weren't trying to code a universal data file reader (those downloadable sec.txt files do not use a fixed field set up - this requiring the file to be parsed) I would use those illustrations from SPINWARD MARCHES CAMPAIGN. That might be a fun try.

What I want to do is create a campaign manager for Traveller that will work for any sector, using the sec.txt files. Then I'll look into using those poster files listing the x-boat routes so I can create a database of information for my TRAVELLER campaign...

If only there was a GURPS TRAVELLER: FAR TRADER trade route xml database. ;)