Tag Archives: Starmap

The Nine Sectors

If you recall, local space in this setting looks roughly like this:

adj-02aThe highlighted area is the area covered by our map – 3×3 sectors – with the central one, marked with a small “X”, the main sector the setting is all about. Coreward is up, Outward is down, Spinward is left and Trailing is right.

In order to create this central sector, we do need to know what’s just outside them, so I have been creating those other eight sectors’ worth of planets. I will not really check them or fix them up, except for regions that are actually important to my effort. This means all systems that I need to create trade routes to (so I can add them to my map) and a small section in the right-hand sector into which Empire has extended.

These are the tentative names I’ve picked:


Some notes:

Core: This is the core of colonial space. The empire/republic are here, and most of the important colonies. The border of this sector is pretty much the “edge of civilization”.

Expanses: Imperial colonisation and expansion was mostly directed towards this sector. It is a fairly sparse sector.

Frontier: This is an attractive sector with a dense population of star systems. From the Imperial/Republic Core sector it is only reachable via two key routes, and it is almost entirely unexplored.

Nebula: Dense interstellar gas clouds dominate this region, and many systems in this sector are fairly young. There is little usable real estate in this sector, and astrogation is hazardous.

Void: As the name implies, systems are scarce in this sector, but it is essentially divided into two regions. The more coreward void region, and a more outward-laying cluster of star systems.

Sentinel: The original colonists approached from this direction; it is a sector comparable to Core in terms of system density. Several smaller interstellar nations exist close to Core sector, and Empire (and now Republic) does extend about one subsector into the Sentinel sector. Exploration does not extend far into this direction, however, and all of the logs and astrogational data from the original fleet has been lost.

Islands: Several small startclusters dominate this sector, separated by great distances which make travel complicated.

Marches: Another frontier region pegged for expansion by Imperial authorities. However, since it is slightly further away and several other nations are in between Empire and the Marches sector, exploration projects had emphasized the coreward directions. It is unknown what, if any, expansion the Republic will undertake. The sector itself is fairly sparse in star systems close to Core sectors, but the outer region of the Marches is dense in stars.

Tempest: This sector is remarkable for an unusually high number of asteroid belts, nova remnants, and dead worlds – that is, worlds where life had once existed, but which are now sterile. The cause is unknown.

People, People Everywhere (High Population Worlds, Part 1)

One thing you will remember from when we looked at the dice results for this sector was the insanely high total population – 2663 billion people – for what is supposed to be frontier-ish.

This is really due to four population code B worlds – that is, 100 billion or more inhabitants. I’ve already downgraded one of them. In addition, the sector contains 8 worlds inhabited by between 10 and 100 billion people:

(5)Temperate 1429 AA8ABB9-G Hi Ht Wa     HI5 834.000.000.000 (5)Temperate
(8)Temperate 0516 A763BD9-C Hi Ht       HI8 482.000.000.000 (8)Temperate
(3)Temperate 2614 BAA5BD9-7 Fl Hi       HI3 (3)Temperate
(8)Temperate 2917 B888AA9-7 Ga Hi       HI8 95.700.000.000 (8)Temperate
(3)Temperate 2611 A400A96-D Hi Ht In Na Va HI3 (3)Temperate
(8)Temperate 1418 C785A96-8 Ga Hi       HI8 61.700.000.000 (8)Temperate
(7)Temperate 2135 B784A89-7 Ga Hi       HI7 (7)Temperate
(5)Temperate 1113 A8A5A89-D Fl Hi Ht     HI5 30.500.000.000 (5)Temperate
(4)Hot 1935 B743A88-9 Hi In Po     HI4 15.700.000.000 (4)Hot
(3)Temperate 0305 B410AD9-B Hi In Na     HI3 (3)Temperate
Xoth 2219 A576A85-A Ga Hi In     HI7 (7)Temperate

Is this even possible?

From a pure math standpoint, absolutely. Earth’s population has increased dramatically over the past few centuries, as better agriculture and medicine reduced mortality – especially child mortality. When I was a kid, the world’s population hit 5 billion people. I remember the TV gala; for some weird reason people actually celebrated it. 2011, it was at 7 billion. Call it 25 years for 50% growth. Simply continue to feed all these people and you’ll have run-away, exponential growth.

Earth's Population over time, in Billion
Earth’s Population over time, in Billion

Of course, things aren’t as simple as that. First off, the Earth is a closed system and at some point – we are not sure where it would be – there simply won’t be enough food, energy and water. Population would hit a wall and things would turn ugly.

In reality, even if there was no limit to food, energy and water (say because of interstellar imports)  it won’t work out that way.

People adapt to their environment – we’re really good at that. Better health, more wealth, and especially better education also limit fertility. Women simply give birth to fewer children. In the 1950s, it was 5 kids per woman. In the early 2000s, it was half that. The UN expect it to eventually drop to just above 2.05. In other words, a balance will set in, and the best guesses place this at ~9 billion people.

A regular Sunday shopping in Chennai. A good example of the sea of humanity. cc-by-sa, McKay Savage
A regular Sunday shopping in Chennai. A good example of the sea of humanity. cc-by-sa, McKay Savage

In other words, a super-densely populated world isn’t going to happen in any natural way. Population growth is a byproduct of technological progress. If that progress stops, or even reverses, the population becomes unsustainable and will either crash or find an equilibrium. If technological progress continues unabated, then attitudes will change with it and population will find an equilibrium eventually as well, just at a higher level. To put it bluntly, people simply have better things to do with their lives than to raise kids continuously.

Genre Considerations

I am obviously not worried as much about building a realistic population model as I am about creating a setting that fits its genre and is internally consistent and, well, hopefully interesting.

Massively populated worlds are definitely in-genre. Asimov’s Trantor is of course the grand-daddy of them all, and had anything between 40-500 billion inhabitants. Coruscant has a trillion inhabitants. Then there are the many city-worlds of the Warhammer 40k empire (and probably others). Massive, galactic-scale societies support these worlds and absorb their effect on the economy.

In Niven’s “Known Space”, Earth has a population of 18 billion and is described as a crowded hell. Heinlein assumes 11 billion in “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” and it’s not exactly doing us any good. (Of course in “Starman Jones”, Heinlein assumes that 4 billion people are a lot). In both cases, space travel is fairly limited for various reasons – all those Terrans can’t just mass-emigrate, which limits the effect on other worlds.

The World-Builder’s Solution

My gut reaction was to simply downgrade these worlds – as I did with #2021. However, I reminded myself of the reasons for using a random generator in the first place: It is supposed to spur our imagination, right?

Here’s a map of where those >1 billion people planets are:


The 1.2 in Subsector K is our world #2021, which originally had 786 billion people. Okay, so the absolute numbers are quite too high. But do you notice what I am seeing?

Subsector H, birthplace of the rebellion, has two super-high population planets. Lots of cheap manpower for the war. And that subsectors H-J axis I mentioned? Another super-high population world in subsector J – and the world with the highest tech level in the entire sector! Now, the 834 billion (and 482 billion) are just ridiculously high numbers, but if we fix it like so:


We’ve effectively preserved the random generator results, improved them significantly, and used them to explain the campaign’s political situation.

This brings the population of the sector down to 508 billion people – a fifth of what it was initially.

Next up, we’ll take a look at these planets’ individual UWPs to figure out just how these people might be living.

Welcome to Sector 256

It’s been a while since I worked on world generation. Needless to say, the layout of composition of “Imperial Space” is one of the big fundamentals that needs to be settled before I can work on the details of the setting.

I did consider reworking the random generator into generating entire solar systems (Evil Dr Ganymede has posted a great revision of the 2300AD system generation rules that seems about perfect for the purpose) and perhaps into a less grid-based 2D map, or even a pseudo-3D map.

In the end, I think I should not do either of these. For a space opera setting, a realistic map isn’t necessary – in fact, it’s probably a distraction. Most people can’t visualize 3D space very well.

As for Dr Ganymede’s system – it would create a lot of nice detail but in the end I also want to make some progress. If whatever audience this thing gets prefers, I can always retcon. 🙂

To cut to the chase, I played around with a few random seeds, and 256 looks great. Here is the map:


The green circles indicate “habitability”, the darker the better. The lines are “travel routes”, basically they connect all A/B class starports that lie within a certain distance of each other.

What I like about this sector is its structure. Subsectors F, G and H are probably the “core” of the (former) Empire. I think that J might make a good place for either the Imperial capital – adding physical distance to the social detachment that led to the civil war – or the rebel capital – explaining why the Empire didn’t see it as a bigger threat.

Subsectors M and N, as well as subsectors O and P make for one nice “fringe cluster” each. There’s a small group with two very habitable worlds in subsector A – a nice “outpost” area – and a number of colonized worlds in subsector B, which might prove interesting – since none of them is a nice place to live there must be something fairly important there to warrant settlement.


The sector contains 262 worlds with a total population of 2,663,284,385,714. That’s a lot of people and I’ll definitely have to reduce it – there are a number of population B systems.

Tech level distrubtion:


World classes:


Starport classes:


I think this is going to be a very nice sector. Do let me know what you think of the layout!

Next step: Clean up the map, and turn it from a generic sector into our colonial space.

Hacked Version of the Subsector Map Script

I don’t really speak Perl and I know nothing about the format of .svg files, but… I’ve created a version of that subsector map script that maps sectors. It doesn’t have a generator yet – sorry, this will have to wait until another day -but I did include some rough sample data.

Anyway, maybe someone finds it useful. And if you want to work on it, be my guest, it’s of course GPL like the original.