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Up-to-date "realistic" star system and planetary generation info


Shaira

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Hi all,

I'm looking around for an up-to-date star system and planetary generation system - the sort of thing we had in Traveller Book 6, 2300AD, Space Opera, Worlds Beyond etc, but up-to-date with latest astrophysics and planetary science thinking. It doesn't have to be a RPG system - I'd be happy with the "raw" info and generate my own system from it.

Does anyone know where I can dig up the "best" in current thinking for this?

Cheers!

Sarah

"The Worm Within" - the first novel for The Chronicles of Future Earth, coming 2013 from Chaosium, Inc.

Website: http://sarahnewtonwriter.com | Twitter: @SarahJNewton | Facebook: TheChroniclesOfFutureEarth

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Hi all,

I'm looking around for an up-to-date star system and planetary generation system - the sort of thing we had in Traveller Book 6, 2300AD, Space Opera, Worlds Beyond etc, but up-to-date with latest astrophysics and planetary science thinking. It doesn't have to be a RPG system - I'd be happy with the "raw" info and generate my own system from it.

Does anyone know where I can dig up the "best" in current thinking for this?

Cheers!

Sarah

Oh... an acquaintance I gamed with briefly showed me a site detailing an entire galaxy with fantastic depth and backstory... I'll try to find it again.

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You could also take a look at "World-Building" by Stephen L. Gillett, a soft-

cover of almost 200 pages in Ben Bova's Science Fiction Writing Series.

It contains all the necessary informations plus a lot of interesting ideas,

and it would make a very good "supplement" to "GURPS Space" 4e.

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Thanks guys - that's some great information. For starters I've order a copy of World Building - I'm holding off on GURPS Space due to the price (and the difficulty in buying a quick PDF!), though it does look like my next port of call if World Building isn't "up-to-date" enough. Galaxiki I did know about already - not quite the right level of "exposed" info, but still a cool site!

Cheers,

Sarah

"The Worm Within" - the first novel for The Chronicles of Future Earth, coming 2013 from Chaosium, Inc.

Website: http://sarahnewtonwriter.com | Twitter: @SarahJNewton | Facebook: TheChroniclesOfFutureEarth

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As a matter of interest, why do you want it?

I always make up Sci Fi settings on the fly without much regard for the hard science part of it. Most of my inhabitable planets are about earth-sized and are about the same distance from their star. I've never really bothered about realistic climates or continents and only have a faint grasp of Tech Levels and similar things.

Perhaps that makes me a bad Sci Fi GM.

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The Worldbuilding Hub has updated stellar generation tables for Traveller Book 6. For the planets themselves, the new Mongoose Traveller has somewhat updated data, allowing three progressively more realistic sets of options.

In my experience there is a very good reason for using up-to-date astronomical science in generating worlds for an SF setting: the real deal is invariably far more exotic than I would ever have imagined. It also seems to me (and I may be wrong) that our star type is a lot less common than we were told when I was in school*, so Earth-type worlds might be fairly rare. I like to throw in noticeable differences just to remind players that they are not at home. For example, plants will tend to have red or purple leaves on worlds orbiting a red star.

*Mind you, that wasn't yesterday ...

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As a matter of interest, why do you want it?

I always make up Sci Fi settings on the fly without much regard for the hard science part of it. Most of my inhabitable planets are about earth-sized and are about the same distance from their star. I've never really bothered about realistic climates or continents and only have a faint grasp of Tech Levels and similar things.

I guess it depends on the style or genre of game you're running. SF in particular is a pretty broad church, ranging from Han Solo's magic blaster (single-kill on power-armored foes), huge snake beasts with big mouths living in caves in asteroid belts (what *did* that thing eat apart from spaceships?), and Ninja Wizards in Space, through the brave pseudoscience attempts of Star Trek ("subspace distortions are affecting the warp core, captain - we're losing structural integrity", etc, etc), to the simple wonder of 2010, where everyone gets in a flap about chlorophyll and people get nauseous on spacewalks.

I personally like to know that my astrography and planets are "realistic" according to our current understanding - especially when PCs have skills like "Atmospheric Analysis" and enormously sophisticated sensor suites. With fantasy settings you always have the option of explaining away unrealistic geography and climate by saying "the Gods done it" (ie Glorantha), or you can try and make sure the basics of geomorphology, etc, are followed and then overlay your setting on a "realistic" world - sort of Harn, Tekumel, etc. I remember once buying the enormous map of Arduin and the *huge* world book provided by Emperor's Choice; I waited with great anticipation, but when I opened them the geography was so off whack I could never bring myself to use it - my players would just laugh. Mountains just ain't like that.

The moreso with scifi. I also find that following reasonably realistic worldgen frequently throws up results more exotic that I'd come up with on my own, and I have a reasonable satisfaction that things like temperature, gravity, atmosphere will "make sense" for when I need some chrome to throw into my descriptions. As a GM I need to believe in the integrity of my creation if the players are too :)

Recently all the brown dwarf and exoplanet stuff, plus findings from Mars and Titan, the nature of Saturn's rings, that weird hexagonal storm at its pole, etc, have made me realise that my star and worldgen stuff are probably outdated, and as I'm not an astrophysicist I'm looking for a "crib sheet" of the major changes and discoveries.

*But*, it's a personal preference. If your game is light on chrome and pseudoscientific gobbledigook (which I like :thumb:), and plays more like the Stainless Steel Rat than Larry Niven, then you probably don't need much astrophysical blurb, and can make do with a series of fairly similar "Earths in Space". Heck, IIRC even Foundation barely described the chrome of the worlds of Hari Seldon - they could've been anything.

A long answer to a short question! ;)

Cheers,

Sarah

"The Worm Within" - the first novel for The Chronicles of Future Earth, coming 2013 from Chaosium, Inc.

Website: http://sarahnewtonwriter.com | Twitter: @SarahJNewton | Facebook: TheChroniclesOfFutureEarth

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The Worldbuilding Hub has updated stellar generation tables for Traveller Book 6.

Now that looks good - thank you! I'll have a read of those articles - especially the brown dwarf one - and digest the tables. Excellent!

In my experience there is a very good reason for using up-to-date astronomical science in generating worlds for an SF setting: the real deal is invariably far more exotic than I would ever have imagined. It also seems to me (and I may be wrong) that our star type is a lot less common than we were told when I was in school*, so Earth-type worlds might be fairly rare.

Agreed. Personally I'm *fascinated* by the current exoplanet discoveries and the latest Mars probe - things like the relative available of planets in the habitable zone and the presence of water (in whatever form) will hugely affect how civilizations will approach colonization. Only a little of either, and colonization is a long, hard slog, with outposts in marginal places (asteroid bases, deep-space stations, habitat domes on airless or exotic worlds), people geneering livestock to survive in domes, terraforming, and a lot of conflict over resources, a high-tech entry level for colonies; a lot of both, and life is everywhere, we eat lots of weird local fauna, no need to terraform or populate airless worlds unless they're strategically importance, plenty of room for populations to expand into, possibilities for small groups to set up their own low-tech colonies, etc, etc.

Admittedly it's hard to future-proof a scifi setting, especially with the speed at which the goalposts are moving these days!

Cheers,

Sarah

"The Worm Within" - the first novel for The Chronicles of Future Earth, coming 2013 from Chaosium, Inc.

Website: http://sarahnewtonwriter.com | Twitter: @SarahJNewton | Facebook: TheChroniclesOfFutureEarth

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Astrosynthesis is a cool piece of software which allows you to generate star systems. It comes with a data file for all star systems within 20 ly of Sol IIRC, but on the downloads page there are downloads for the following, provided by Terry Kepner (who has written books on extra-solar planets etc):

Three data files of real universe star positions in .csv format that can be imported into AstroSynthesis. Files included are:

* All stars within 50ly of Sol

* All stars within 100ly of Sol

* All stars within 1000ly of Sol

* A text file describing the source for the data and methodologies used.

Astrosynthesis: AstroSynthesis v2.0

Kepner data sets: AstroSynthesis Downloads

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Astrosynthesis is a cool piece of software which allows you to generate star systems. It comes with a data file for all star systems within 20 ly of Sol IIRC, but on the downloads page there are downloads for the following, provided by Terry Kepner (who has written books on extra-solar planets etc):

Three data files of real universe star positions in .csv format that can be imported into AstroSynthesis. Files included are:

* All stars within 50ly of Sol

* All stars within 100ly of Sol

* All stars within 1000ly of Sol

* A text file describing the source for the data and methodologies used.

Those data files sound nice, specially since my SciFi campaign takes place within 20 ly of Sol. Thanks for posting the link, I forgot about Astrosynthesis and had originally wanted to check it out!

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Astrosynthesis is a cool piece of software which allows you to generate star systems. It comes with a data file for all star systems within 20 ly of Sol IIRC, but on the downloads page there are downloads for the following, provided by Terry Kepner (who has written books on extra-solar planets etc):

Three data files of real universe star positions in .csv format that can be imported into AstroSynthesis. Files included are:

* All stars within 50ly of Sol

* All stars within 100ly of Sol

* All stars within 1000ly of Sol

* A text file describing the source for the data and methodologies used.

Astrosynthesis: AstroSynthesis v2.0

Kepner data sets: AstroSynthesis Downloads

This is a great product :thumb: from NBOS and you can also load in planetry maps from the Fractal Mapper companion software into Astrosynthesis thus building a link between star mapping and planet surface mapping.

Very Nice!

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Thanks Jason - those are very cool. Especially the Planetocopia - I'm going to spend a few hours drifting through those -right up my street!

Cheers!

Sarah

"The Worm Within" - the first novel for The Chronicles of Future Earth, coming 2013 from Chaosium, Inc.

Website: http://sarahnewtonwriter.com | Twitter: @SarahJNewton | Facebook: TheChroniclesOfFutureEarth

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