The Unwashed Masses (High Population Worlds, Part 2)

Now that I’ve brought those mega-high-population worlds a little bit in line with the rest, let’s take a look at each of them in order to figure out what conditions might be like. For this post I will omit worlds with less than about 15 billion people.

I won’t post detailed analysis for all worlds in the sector, but this should serve as a good example of the way I work, and of how you can turn the simplistic UWP codes into actual places.

(As a note, yellow fields are how I mark data I’ve changed from the original dice rolls in some way.)

(5)Temperate 1429 AA8ABB9-G Hi Ht Wa HI5 127.000.000.000 (5)Temperate

The most populated world in Colonial Space is an interesting one. It is a large (A = 16,000 km) waterworld with a dense (1.5-2.49) atmosphere. It also has the highest tech level of any system (16), and it absolutely needs it.

What fresh, natural food is being produced is entirely aquatic. Most food is produced in vats and by synthesizers. The human population lives under water, on the water, and in floating cities and there’s probably a sizable off-world presence that gets counted in the total (a billion or two on the moon).

I say “human” because the world is actually quite hostile to human habitation. The gravity is too high, the air unpleasant. Yes, they have the technology to compensate, but I will assume that there is also a sentient aquatic species present. Since you can’t really develop technology underwater, they’ve either been uplifted by the colonists, or are being suppressed and exploited. Perhaps both.

The world is governed by a king and severely restricts contact and trade with off-worlders. The government is keenly aware of their technological edge over the other worlds and seeks to maintain it.

(3)Temperate 2614 BAA5AD9-A Fl Hi HI3 45.100.000.000 (3)Temperate

Another huge world, this one must be even less pleasant to live on. On top of its high gravity, it has an Exotic atmosphere and half the surface is covered in some sort of non-water. I wonder why anybody would want to live on such a planet, and it’s quite amazing that they managed to grow to 45 billion! I don’t want to assume non-humans, that’s a cop-out.

The planet’s government may give us a hint: code D is a “religious dictatorship”, which the Mongoose Traveller rules book says could be a “cult, trasncendent philosophy, psionic group mind”. None of those are very pleasant, and the implications are clear: The world was originally settled by religious outcasts, and they have some sort of inverse China syndrome. That is, instead of banning people from having children they strongly encourage or even force people to have a large number of children.

Why would they do this? I actually rolled on the Cultural Difference table and got a result of 55 – “Unusual Customs: Lifecycle”. Thanks, dice, I guess I was ahead of you.

Let’s leave the exact motivation up for later, but a large population is a large power base. These guys are certainly not up to anything good.

Last but not least I am going to go out on a limb here and assume that the fluid oceans are hydrocarbons, which serve as basic ingredients for the local synthifoods.

(8)Temperate 2917 B888AA9-9 Ga Hi HI8 68.400.000.000 (8)Temperate

Compared to our first two worlds, this one is almost boring. Yes, massive population, but also quite close to Earth: Size 8, about 80% water, just a bit of a denser atmosphere. It’s still classified as a Garden world and the only downside is the fairly low technology. It’s still high enough that they use carniculture vats, hydroponics, and maybe even imported food synthesizers, but the quality of the food will be a lot worse than on that tech level 16 water world.

With the environment fairly normal, and a Charismatic dictatorship (probably still revolutionary leaders in place from the war), this planet may seem like a fairly pleasant one. However, the massive population and the high law level do mean that the citizens’ daily lives are controlled to a great extent. Unlike the religious planet, this one probably does have strict family planning laws in place. Think fertility boards similar to what Larry Niven’s flatlanders have to deal with.

(3)Temperate 2611 A400A96-D Hi Ht In Na Va HI3 63.200.000.000 (3)Temperate

Ah, something completely different – a small vacuum world. Small as in Mars-sized, and without oceans this still means about the same land surface as Earth. To accommodate 63 billion people, this world is riddled with caves. The high tech level easily supports all these people, and the surprisingly low law level means that this world is probably the most pleasant to be a citizen on of all the high population worlds we’ve looked at so far.

The planet is probably an economic powerhouse – Industrialized trade code – supported by vacuum industries which in turn are fueled by mining. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that there are several dense asteroid belts, ringed gas giants, and many moons in this system that are all used to provide ore for the main world.

(8)Temperate 1418 C785A96-8 Ga Hi HI8 21.700.000.000 (8)Temperate

Next up, another overpopulated Garden world. With a size close to Earth’s, a dense atmosphere and extensive oceans it’s actually as close to the dystopic visions of an overcrowded Earth as we’ve got so far. The tech level is only 8 – about what we have on Earth today, maybe a little bit higher – which means 21.7 billion people is about the maximum the society can support, especially considering the C class starport implies a limited amount of interstellar space travel and the tech level is not high enough for a lot of “domestic” interplanetary travel.

Government code “A” is a charismatic dictator again, but I think this world – due to its location, if nothing else – was a supporter of Empire. So the local government is essentially unchanged under the Republic, and the locals support their leader because they realize that tight government control is necessary to cope with the large population. This is supported by the relatively low law code – much as on the previous vacuum world, the government is as hands-off as it can be.

If we’d ever want to set any sort of “cyberpunk” sort of adventure in the Contact Light setting, this world is a good candidate for it.

(7)Temperate 2135 B784A89-A Ga Hi HI7 31.000.000.000 (7)Temperate

This is another overpopulated garden world. The higher tech level supports more people than on the previous world. The government is a civil service bureaucracy, the rules book names communism or technocracy as examples. With the higher law level, this one might be a good candidate for a communist state and in a setting that derives inspiration from 1950s golden age science fiction, communist states make for great antagonists.

Beyond that, the UWP is fairly boring in my opinion.

(5)Temperate 1113 A8A5A89-D Fl Hi Ht HI5 30.500.000.000 (5)Temperate

Didn’t we already do this world? It’s very similar to #2614, except for the government type and for being smaller. A lot will depend on why people settled this world, but we can’t deduct that from the UWP. Alien ruins…

(4)Hot 1935 B743A88-9 Hi In Po HI4 15.700.000.000 (4)Hot

The first thing I notice about this world is the Hot climate; interestingly it’s still got oceans! The atmosphere is thin and tainted, so this world is certainly no paradise. It is industrialized, but poor – the reasons for this are the low tech level and its location in subsector O, outside the Empire (and now Republic). Perhaps the civil war caused it to lose what markets it had, or perhaps the Empire was supporting it and that support now vanished.

On the other hand we’re now looking at a world with “only” 15 billion people. Merely twice what we have on Earth today. And with the amount of dry land this planet has there is a lot of room for these people to spread around. It’s got crowded cities, for sure, but it doesn’t have the massive population problems of some of the other planets.

0.7atmospheres, the upper limit for this atmospheric code, is about equal to a height of 3000m on Earth. A quick check shows that this is below the tree line in some regions, so it’s entirely possible that this planet actually has quite a bit of vegetation.

(3)Temperate 0305 B410AD9-B Hi In Na HI3 14.200.000.000 (3)Temperate

Another Mars-sized world, and with its trace atmosphere it is very much like Mars indeed. The most interesting thing about this world is its location: It is situated in subsector A, which is very much on the edge of a major rift. It’s also a religious dictatorship.

Why did all these people come here? The UWP won’t give us anything. With law code 8, I think that this world serves as a base of operations to explore the spaces beyond, but the powers that be permit no contact between travelers and the locals (change law level to 7). What are they hiding? It’s a mystery for our protagonists to uncover at some point…

Conclusions

The UWP codes give us surprisingly much to work with, considering it’s just a handful of numbers. At the same time, I am very happy I reduced the number of systems in the sector. The more worlds we have, the higher the chances for similar results.

It does make a lot of sense to use the additional rules Mongoose added – such as various power groups and the cultural difference table – and I will do that for all systems when I work out detailed profiles for them.

Finally, we should never be afraid to override the dice. The random results are a guide, not the law. But this should go without saying, right?

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