Tech Level & Populations
I’ve been doing research into things to try and make sense of Fading Suns and their varied tech levels. In my game, a discussion started with some of my players about the disparity of technology. One of my players simply could not believe that you would have “people going to work in carts” in the same universe as one with starships in orbit. His view was history did not support that in reality. However, there were some assumptions made that flawed much of his debate.
With some research and reading, I was able to at least settle it in my mind. A lot of what was at issue was the assumption that the populations of these worlds were all relatively the same throughout the known worlds and that’s not ture. Only a handful of the worlds have over a billion in population. Most have under a billion.
This is what the main Victory Point rulebook states…
|0||Stone age||Flint dagger|
|4||Mid-20th century/FS era||Aircraft, early computers|
|6||Early 2nd Republic||Advanced starships, advanced computers|
|7||Second Republic||Shields, robots (early A.I.)|
|8||Vautech/ Late 2nd Republic||Terraforming, adv. A.I.|
|9||Lesser Urtech||Soul Shard|
A planet’s tech level refers to the most advanced technology with which the planet’s artisans can interface (see the Tech Level Chart in Chapter Seven: Tech). Only a Planet’s upper echelons have access to this level of technology, however. The vast majority of the Empire’s populations live in a Victorian-era level of technology (level three), although a sizable minority of serfs live in medieval conditions (level two) or even below. Some human settlements are reverting to near barbarism. This is especially common on the poorest, or “pariah,” planets. The highest tech level generally available to roost citizens is 4 (mid-20th Century), while powerful local groups may have access to 5 (Diaspora Tech) or, in rare cases, 6 (Early 2nd Republic). Empire planets with a rating of 6 are exceedingly rare, though a few may even approach 7 in some areas of technology (There may be even higher technology in hidden research complexes.) Most planets in the Empire have a top rating of five.
A planet’s tech level is a major factor in all facets of life on the planet. It decides what sort of medical care is available on the planet. Do the citizens drive a car to work, or ride a cart? (Most people ride carts.) Technology also affects people’s entertainment, methods of communication and almost every other aspect of their lives. Just because a planet has a high level of technology does not mean that technology is common throughout the planet, however. As a rule, most people live one or two levels below the optimum. This is for a number of reasons. The economy is generally stagnant and the mass production quantities are not nearly sufficient to reach the vast majority of people. Furthermore, powerful interest groups such as the nobles, the Church and the guilds monopolize the best technology for themselves, although certain egalitarian or enterprising traders wish to make technology more freely available to the populace at large. They are especially common among the Charioteers, although they have sympathizers in almost every League organization. The other powers watch these groups carefully. Most people see technology as “sinful,’ although those in power are accorded special exceptions to this rule.
The number of humans living on the world. On most Imperial worlds, humans constitute the vast majority of the population. Most planets have a human population of no more than one billion. Most planets average from 400 to 800 million people, while some have as few as a hundred thousand. Mining colonies have a few thousand, and some known planets (Wu worlds) have a human population of one. No one is sure of the real human population numbers on Stigmata anymore. Imperial giants such as Leagueheim and Holy Terra boast populations of as high as four billion. Byzantium Secundus tops the chart with six billion people to oil its bureaucratic Machinery. These three giants are followed by Delphi, Severus and Criticorum at over two billion each. Kish, Aragon and lstakhr round out the top ten list of planets. The current population trend on most planets is downward.
Although many aliens may think otherwise, humans vary greatly from planet to planet. Almost three thousand years of space travel, genetic manipulation and inbreeding has created a vast panoply of human genotypes. Cultural differences vary even more widely, not only from world to world, but from hamlet to hamlet. At the same time many smaller population groups have become increasingly isolated by the receding tide of the Second Republic. As population groups diminish, inbreeding occurs, Genetic “misfits such as hunchbacks, dwarves and “village idiots” are becoming far more common. Such inbreeding is not just relegated to the lower social strata, however. Many serfs believe that they can detect a Decados or Hawk wood “look.”
There is other notes about alien population but in the humans worlds they rarely get over a quarter of a billion.
So now, the question is what level of technology can maintain populations at these levels. Based on historical data I was able to find at the US Census bureau.
The population broke a billion in 1802… prior to the Victorian Age of technology (ie Level 3). So Level 3 can maintain a majority of the planets in the known worlds, if all factors are equal … i.e. resources are the same or close to Earth’s at that time, etc.
And all things are not equal, really, because not all planets were created equal. Thus many of the worlds are less than a billion and continue to decline in population.
Now, Byzantium Secundus is the one planet that has A LOT of people … 6 billion. Its tech level is fairly high compared to the rest of the known worlds. So people aren’t going to work in carts. The land mass is pretty tight for the world of 6 billion so they are really packed in.
Here is a rundown of the Known Worlds of the Realm. It does not include the Vau worlds. But running down the Tech Level verses population, most worlds are proportional between tech and population. Those with higher populations in the billions will have more tech available to them, but most of the planets with less than a billion people have 1950s tech at best available to the common folk.
Divestiture: One very important factor in this that I did not bring up and should have was as part of the Divestiture, the Church used the fading suns phenomenon to manipulate the public to hate technology. Technology became the primary blame of the fading suns. Many worlds volunteerily gave up vertain technologies.