While I am working on the framework to generate the low-level detail, I can’t help myself but to work on the larger picture – and some actual setting data. Keep in mind that I already created one sector last year; I consider it my “draft”, and it will certainly inform many of the decisions I will be making.
For the first sector, I simply created a small grid of 3×3 sectors with a rough drawing of what I thought local space should look like. (In reality, these should be rectangular.)
I’ve refined this method somewhat. I created the following in The GIMP:
Black are “sparse” or “rift” regions, white are regions of greater star density,
The process to create such an image is fairly simple:
- Create a new image. I used landscape, A4 size. But this doesn’t matter.
- Filters -> Render -> Clouds -> Plasma. I used the maximum Turbulence.
- Colors -> Desaturate
- Colors -> Threshold. Play with the sliders until it looks nice
- Filters -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur. I used Blur method “ILR” and radius 30×30, though you may have to change this depending on your image. You want to significantly soften the edges, while keeping the general shapes recognizable.
- Create a second layer.
- On the second layer: Filter -> Render -> Clouds -> Solid Noise. I used detail 15, x and y size of 16, and both Turbulent and Tilable disabled.
- Move this new layer underneath the original layer.
- Set the original layer’s mode to “multiply”.
- Merge the layer down.
- User Colors-> Threshold, play with the sliders again until you get nice distribution.
- If you dislike the results, try inverting colors or different random seeds for your plasma clouds.
- Don’t be afraid to manually edit the image after step 11 – I did!
Placing our Sector
Note that the image doesn’t have any sort of scale, which gives us some flexibility. I used Inkscape to place the same 3×3 sector grid, and I resized it a few times until I had the “right” fit. I decided on this location:
As is the tradition, X marks the spot – the sector of my setting. I picked this location because there is a lot of “interesting geography” adjacent to it.
Here’s the zoomed section, with subsectors stenciled in as well:
Looking at the map, I think that these are good probabilities:
I estimate a total of 236 systems for this, or just over half the number of systems in my draft sector. If this ends up feeling too sparse, I can obviously shift the probabilities up a bit.
We’ll do that next time.