Saturday, April 9, 2011

Worlds of the Pluton Zone arising from Inchoate Tables and Pips...

You know what's better than a random planet generation system? Using multiple planet generation systems at the same time for the same world.

The probability curve of using 2d6 to determine planet characteristics, especially when it utilizes some variety of nested recursive averaging mechanic, can ultimately result in a bunch of samey, prosaic worlds: "breathable atmosphere, average gravity, 50% hydrographic, human-compatible biosphere, neither over of under populated, pedestrian government, middling law level" again and again and again. One

thing a person could attempt would be the usage of a d12 instead of 2d6 to get swingier, more random results; I'll have to try this and see how it works out.

For the generation of the worlds of the Pluton Zone I am simultaniously using the tables from Starter Traveller, Terminal Space and Stars Without Number. That way I can pick and choose from, or combine/remix the results to avoid the endeless sprawl of space suburbs phenomenon.

I've been using the Terminal Space system to generate the other bodies in the system aside from the marquee world, but out of a combination of laziness and real-life-science-fetishism (which is actually counterproduction as with my aesthetic I should be using the Spelljammer rules to generate batshit insane werido planets in order to facilitate crazy space D&D; perhaps for the wilderness hexes?) I've googled up and tried both WinStarGen and AstroSynthesis TRIAL VERSION to generate random solar systems.

Both programs generate the planets of your system with data such as rocky or gas giant, average temperature, size, gravity, atmospheric composition; with StarGen you get a HTML graphic of your solar system and planets with useful tags like "Low Gravity," "Breathable Atmosphere," "Boiling Oceans," "Venusian" and the like which is pretty awesome for RPG useage; with AstroSynthesis you don't get the quick tages but it does generate ASTEROID BELTS and MOONS, both of which StarGen do not.

What I've found is that it's pretty easy to generate a planet using Traveller, Stars Without Number, etc.; and than generate a solar system or three with StarGen or AstroSynthes for the rest of the system; in most cases it's pretty easy to find an approximate match for your random planet among those generated.

But please note that most of these worlds are going to be boring Boring BORING! It's no fault of the generators, it's just the nature of approximating semi-realistic solar systems. I really need to take a look at Spelljammer.


  1. I suspect that our understanding of 'real-life solar systems' is too hypothetical due to the sample sizes involved. Remember how surprised everyone was about the superhot gas giants?

  2. Man, I suppose that you are the 25% of the world users of the Terminal Space! :D

  3. We've been building tqables to help expand on the planet generation thing. Some of them are slated to go up at netherwerks--and we were just working on expanding the Terminal Space tables for planet options Friday. Blog telepathy again? Have you taken a look at the worldbuilding links we have compiled?

    Book 6: Scouts from the classic Traveller series was a great system for generating what were then considred to be realistic solar systems...but now we have discovered Super-Earths, Hot Gas Giants and some other things that just totally change-up the whole range of what is 'realistic' and what is 'too far out there.' Real Life has given us some very bizarre stuff to work with, and out rpg-systems haven't quite caught up just yet...

  4. I don't see the point of many boring planets – boring stuff makes cool stuff even cooler! Although I do get the point of Star Trek like gaming :D

  5. I really need to take a look at Spelljammer.

    Of what relevance could a generation system allowing for living, cuboid, tetrahedral, annular and/or crescent-shaped planets possibly be? Rest assured that there is nothing in Spelljammer that could be of any interest or utility to you. ;)

    ("My Precioussss. Mine it is!")

  6. @ Huth: I am mortified to admit that you just clued me into the existence of superhot gas giants :(

    @ Omlet: I love Terminal Space!

    @ Netherwerks: Thanks for the linkl; I've been following your awesome system tables!

    @Il Male: Huh? Don't you ever change! :)

    @ Chris: I check it out and was kind of underwhelmed :( Regardless, I'm going to attempt to incorporate some of the SJ tables as an experiment.