Traveller: World Stats: Native or Colony

World Stats: Native or Colony

In the “Generic: Government Types” post, populations are assumed to be native and population size and tech both start low and increase more or less in tandem (as tech level generally limits maximum population size).

However in a Syfy setting a lot of the systems are likely to be colonies of some kind – particularly resource extraction or refueling stops between more important systems – and the normal rules relating to govt. type don’t necessarily apply to such colonies.

So the first step in deciding govt. type is deciding whether the world type is:

native + colony



Traveller only has a few aliens in 3I space that are unconnected to the Ancients so “native” here will generally mean a colony from a previous space empires that has become native over thousands of years and critically could have had at least one tech and / or population crash in that time so their current state could be anything from stone age to space age and any possible govt type.

A planet with a native population i.e. one that has potentially had thousands of years to grow ought to have a large population (9+) unless it has been limited by technology level or the harshness of the planet.

Taking earth as an example then Traveller population code 9 (billions) became possible at a tech level of around 8 but a population code 8 (hundreds of millions) had been feasible over a broad range of tech levels.

So population 9+ = native

  • pop 9+ and mid/high tech would be the standard successful planet
  • pop 9+ and low tech might  require an exotic explanation for how such a large population can be sustained at low tech levels


pop 9+ = definite native
pop 6-8 = possibly native



If very large populations are generally assumed to be “native” then very low populations (5-) can be generally assumed to be a colony.

Colonies can be associated with a dominant star faring species / civilization or be contrary to it. A “contra colony” will be made up of people trying to get away from the dominant civilization.

High tech colonies will be more likely to be 3I related and low tech colonies more likely to be contras.

The kind of 3I connected colonies referenced here would be: navy or scout bases, some element of the non-executive parts of 3I like prisons, nature reserves, research facilities etc and commercial colonies (usually resource extraction of some kind) whether noble, corporate or free company (Belters).

Contra colonies include cults of various kinds, historical fanatics, ideological fanatics, simple living clans, freedom orientated groups and the kind of Belters too anti-social even for Free Companies.

low pop (5-) definite colony
mid pop (6-8) possible colony

contra colony
  • more likely to be low/mid tech
  • more likely to be off the main trade routes
3I colony
  • more likely to be high tech
  • more likely connected to the trade routes


Pop 6-8, Native or Colony?

Populations of 6-8 can be native or colony. The general rule of thumb being they are either colonies that have done unusually well or natives who have done unusually badly.

Successful Colony (mostly pop 6)

Requires explanation why the population is higher than most colonies.

  • prime colony – a colony being green housed by the 3I e.g. building a fortress system on the border or opening up a trade route. These systems will be primed by ship loads of colonists from the core under 3I’s Colonial Service.
  • resource extraction colony where the resource is particularly valuable or labor intensive
  • contra colony that got lucky
Stunted Native (mostly pop 7-8)

Require an explanation why the population never reached higher levels if they’d been around thousands of years.

  • harsh planet – population is limited by something in the world stats: size, poor atmosphere, water world, desert etc
  • okay planet with hidden flaw – population is limited by something *not* in the world stats: strange orbit, tide-locked, lack of critical element like wood or metal
  • okay planet with cultural restriction – religion or ideology restricts tech
  • population recovering from a catastrophe

tide-locked is particularly useful as planets with nothing obviously wrong with them can be set to that.

One exception to the idea of stunted native is the “Elf” form of native society, prime planets that currently have mid pop & high tech, where the population had reached high pop & high tech in the past and then consciously decided to let the population decline until it reached an ideal balance. These societies are (or were) focused on medical high tech and as a result have high longevity and low reproduction.

In my 3rd Imperium a necessary condition for a utopian society is tech > pop so “Elf” societies can be utopian (as high tech > mid pop) but if boredom and decadence set in they can also turn dystopian e.g. fantasy genre “Dark Elves”.


Native + Colony

In the context of govt. types this is where a population that meets the conditions for “native” has been brought into the empire of one of the dominant star faring polities so the colony part is the military and executive colony of the empire on that planet.

This can mean either that the planet has a native govt. type modified by the presence of the Imperial colony or that the 3I colony is the govt. type.

The main deciding factor whether a native system becomes native + colony will be the trade network map.

Most of the Alpha systems (high pop + high tech) within an empire will be native + colony – a native base population and a 3I military / admin population plus some of the more important systems along the main jump routes between the Alpha systems.

(As the Alpha systems would generally have run their own pocket empire before the 3I showed up they may have done the same thing to nearby worlds in their hinterland before the 3I showed up.)

Outside the 3I there might be systems with native + multiple competing colonies, for example a planet with a large native population and both a 3I and Zhodani colony on the same world.

(nb Many systems with a native society could also have colonies which aren’t relevant to government type e.g. a large mid tech (not space faring) planet might also have a 3I mining company operating on an outer moon but that won’t effect govt. type.)



  • Pop 5- = colony (standard or contra)
  • Pop 6-8 = successful colony or stunted native (or Elf native)
  • Pop 9+ native (or native + colony)



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