Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Time of War Companion System Generation

I jumped in excel today and spent a couple hours making a spreadsheet that can easily use the system in ATOW to generate, well, tens of thousands of systems in <1 second on my machine.  I now have gone through the whole system generation rules, and its fell short in a few ways.

  • The rules state that orbits 2-4 are in the life zone.  However this means that often there are 2 or even 3 occupied terrestrial planets in a single system.  There is no difference in these systems, all 3 could be a high population colony, or whatever.  So in essence, many times, there is no single world in a system that is predominate.
  • The USILR code (p366-376 ATOW), or the A-B-A-D-E thing planets have is said to need to be created, but there is no way to do this without, well, pulling numbers out of your ass.  You don't have any idea how many of any type of world there may be.
  • Giant/Dwarf terrestrials are mentioned to be habitable sometimes, but no rules, nor sizes, nor any details can be gained.
  • The stellar subtype, a number between 0 to 9, which can be considered a decimal number between 1 start type and the next, is on a 2d6 table.  In stellar terms, this should be a 1d10 and there should be a pretty equal chance of each, not mostly 5's
  • Nothing whatsoever on terrain generation
  • The record sheet has stats for only a single habitable world, when a system could have up to 3.  This isn't really a flaw, as you would use one of these per world.  However, it would have made a lot more sense to have a simple system sheet on 1 page, and a world sheet on another.
  • Overall its a very generic and abstract system without really giving much detail.  If your a GM, and want a world, just make one up on your own and avoid this whole section.  If you really want to generate a detailed system, avoid these rules entirely and go get GURPS Space 4e (or some of the older GURPS Traveller or Traveller products) which does a far better job at creating a more realistic system.
  • No details for moons, but we have lots of MW/MC games that have had moon based battles :(
  • I'm sorry, but who really cares what the highest form of life is on a planet???  Isn't it always humans anyway? :)  This is something that I think long ago should just be ignored, as it isn't very relevant when BT isn't as much about "exploring the universe" but "exploring ruins".
Some EASY potential fixes:
  • For a system with 2+ terrestrial worlds in the life zone, roll a 1d6/2 if 3, or 1d6/3 if 2, to determine which planet is the predominate one.  Other planets are always lesser population.  If the predominate planet is a colony, other planets must just be settlements.
  • Random USILR codes.  Roll 2d6.  2-3 is an A, 4-5 is a B, 6-7 is a C, 8-9 is a D, 10-11 is E, and 12 is F.  Roll Technological, Industrialization, Raw Material, Industrial Output, and Agricultural dependence in order.  To make more sense add modifiers.  If Technology A, -4 to other rolls, if its a B -2, if its E +2, if its an F +4.  Raw material is never modified.
  • Giant terrestrials are 14000+1d6*1000 km in diamater, dwarf are 1000+1d6*1000.
  • Stellar subtypes are a d10 roll, treating a 10 as 0.
Overall like I mentioned, I'd use GURPS/Traveller to create a system.  They have rules for everything ATOWC has, and lots more, plus the ability to detail things out a lot.  Granted, their rules are far more complex, so go download Heaven & Earth and have a fully detailed system in minutes.

I had an epiphany last night on how to generate my own universe that feels like BT, but isn't.  One word:  Supernova.  More to come soon.

Oh, if anybody wants the spreadsheet, make a comment below or send me an email, its a bit under 300k with 50 worlds and a crappy record sheet generator.


  1. If Interstellar Operations hasn't been ironed out yet, I could see them being reluctant to say how population gets distributed across multi-planet systems or what the USILR codes should be. I dunno.

    I'd like to see your spreadsheet.

    "Heaven and Earth" was interesting; I keep hearing good things about Traveller.

    Looking forward to supernova.

  2. Please send me a copy of your record sheet generator.

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