Last week I was rolling up worlds to populate my subsector of space, and came across this stone-age tech planet:

Planet X572873-0

  • 5: 5,000 miles (8,000km)
  • 7: Standard, tainted atmosphere
  • 2: 20% water
  • 8: Hundreds of millions of residents
  • 7: Balkanization: No central authority, rival governments compete for control
  • 3: Weapons of a strict military nature (machine guns, autos, etc) prohibited
  • 0: Stone age, primitive

Sat in a system with no space port, no scout base, and no gas giant, it’s an obvious backwater, possibly even untouched by spacefarers, ripe for “first contact”. Most of it’s stats make sense as written. The large, stone-age population with no centralised governing structure puts me in mind of warring tribes, each holding their own hunting and foraging grounds. The only detail that seems a little off is the law level, which I’d replace with no law whatsoever, and a healthy fear of anything more advanced looking than a pointy stick.

Prehistoric who?

One interesting question is who these millions of stone-age inhabitants actually are, and why they haven’t managed to improve their technology levels at all. One way to play the planet would be to have them be some new race of proto-humanoids, freshly evolved (in geological time frames!) and still at the very beginning of their cultural timeline. Another would be to have them as a “fallen” civilisation, descendants of a failed colonisation program that has has some apocalyptic disaster befall them, sending them spiralling back to the stone-age, with perhaps a distorted oral history of the Time Before.

Meddling PCs in trouble

Should players end up on the planet, there’s going to be trouble. First, the atmosphere is not exactly pure; this is no Garden of Eden. Secondly, the population is large. This makes me think two things:

  • The PCs will inevitably meet the natives, who are wont to be brutish, slow, mistrustful, and quite possibly in awe and insanely jealous of the PCs’ technology.

  • The local population is large, and essentially still at hunter-gatherer levels. What exactly are they hunting that could provide so many calories?

Almost from the moment they land, I’d want the PCs to be chased into the hills by a large angry mob of club and spear-wielding Neanderthals, who are in turn hotly pursued by a rampaging lizard the size of a small building.

Still, there are rewards to be found. Eggs, for example, of various indigenous dinosauria could be interesting and potentially lucrative curios. Perhaps the PCs can win over a local tribe through bribery and sharing of some simple science; unscrupulous types might see a way here to install themselves as de facto god-emperors, or ruthless slave masters. And who wouldn’t like to try and tame a dinosaur to ride into battle?