Space Hermits

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The next stage of Worldgen is to flesh out the framework for generating settlements in a Traveller-like game setting. I’m starting with some simple options – low population settlements with relatively simple economic structures.

Broadly, these are classed as Hermits – colonists who have sought out a quiet place where they can be alone, or at least left alone by the rest of civilisation. They generally have small space ports, and are relatively self sufficient.

Commonly, they tend to be space hippies, libertarian anarchists or religious zealots. Sometimes their societies work out, sometimes they can fail spectacularly.

Rock Hermits

Rock Hermits
A rock hermit station, from Oolite.
Rock Hermits are small groups of people who want to cut themselves off from the rest of the galaxy. To do this, they find a small asteroid in an uninhabited star system, and build their homes into it. Populations tend to run from dozens to hundreds or at most thousands. Such large Rock Hermit settlements are quite rare though.

Often they will take over an abandoned settlement, such as an old prison base or depleted mining station. Such places were often abandoned for good reason in the first place, so rarely meet health and safety guidelines. Some may even still be radioactive or contaminated with biological hazards, though the inhabitants consider this a small price to pay for some peace and quiet.
The most common inhabitants of such hermitages are actually religious zealots, who wish to practice their religion or cult without interference, in which case they will be a Theocratic Dictatorship. The law level tends to be high (4+), but often driven by the whim of the leader rather than a codified set of laws.

They tend to be hostile to visitors (and may even be listed as Amber or even Red), though will trade to the minimum amount necessary.

Hippy communes are at the other end of the scale. Often there is no leader, instead all inhabitants living free to do as they please, sharing resources fairly and looking after each other’s needs. Such will be considered Communist. In reality, there are often internal factions and personalities that hold more sway than others, and resources may not be entirely evenly distributed.

Visitors are accepted, as long as they fit in with the culture of the settlement and don’t try to cause trouble. Often, the inhabitants are too drugged out to care that much anyway. Sex, drugs and other recreational activities are often quite easy to find.

Population sizes tend to be in the hundreds.

Some settlements are libertarian anarchists, living here just to get away from the rules and regulations of the galaxy at large. They will often be indistinguishable from a typical corporate station, except that they will be more insular than usual, and there will be no restrictions on trade. They are considered to be an Anarchy, though they are generally stable. Populations will vary, from dozens to tens of thousands. The larger settlements are the most dangerous, and may be rated as Amber. Smaller settlements consist of groups of people who simply way the freedom to do as they please. Over time, they attract people running from the law, and the larger the settlement the larger the chance of criminal elements taking over.

Out of the three common types, they are the most likely to welcome traders. They also tend to have a higher tech level than the others, though in general it is rarely higher than 7. None of them support the level of population necessary to support the production of high tech goods, though libertarians especially will happily consume and use such goods. It is societies such as this that complicate the definition of a settlement’s technology level – though it may provide all the facilities of a much higher (even 14+) TL, it’s inability to fix things which break, or produce new products of high technology means that they are rated much lower.Except for libertarian groups, the star port type will rarely be above an E.

Dust Farmers

Illustration of Tabby's Star
Illustration of Tabby’s Star

Protoplanetary discs exist around young stars which haven’t yet formed a full planetary system. The discs consist of dust and gas which contain all the elements necessary to build planets. However, such dust is incredibly dispersed, and a very inefficient way of obtaining resources.

However, such ‘farming’ of these dust rings isn’t impossible if you have the right technology, and it isn’t unheard of for people to settle in such systems, surviving by scooping up resources around the star using ships equipped with huge magnetic scoops originally designed for use in old style interstellar ram-jets.

The types of people who settle such systems are often outcasts from their own societies, or those seeking a life of peaceful solitude. A system can potentially support millions of such settlers, but normally it is limited to a few thousand, often split across dozens or hundreds of ships. Each ship will tend to hold a single family group – anything from a single couple to an extended family including children and grandparents.

Such colonies often have no single hub, or if they do, it is a simple automated trading post. Interest in the affairs of the rest of the galaxy is often low, so star ports are generally limited to E.

Government types are often listed as Anarchy or Communist, though such a society is so distributed it often doesn’t make sense to give a classification. The former is generally used if the different groups tend to be non-cooperative, the latter if they tend to be cooperative. Tech levels tend to be around 5, though use of high technology equipment is common.

Though the reason for wanting solitude may be religiously inspired in some cases, the distributed nature of the colony means a dictatorial government type impossible. 

Ice Farmers

Similar to dust farmers, ice farmers live by grazing off highly dispersed resources found in a star system. Unlike the former though, they tend to live in the outer edges of a system – in kuiper belts or even oort clouds. This means they can co-exist in a system that is populated with a more sociable society. The great distances involved in moving between the outer and inner systems though often means its quicker to use a Jump drive to trade than it is to move through normal space.

Ice Farmers tend to live in ships rather than fixed stations, but tether themselves to an icy asteroid or comet, mining it for resources until it is time to move on. Other than that, they are similar to Dust Farmers in terms of the type of society they tend to have though are nearly always listed as Anarchy.Due to the huge distances (often hundreds of AU) between different groups, communication is difficult, and they tend to be the most insular of the types given here. It makes absolutely no sense to have a centralised space port of their own, so they don’t. If you want to trade, you will need to find individuals and trade with them personally. This also makes them the most self-sufficient due to necessity.

Samuel Penn