Tech Level Comparison Chart/meta

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GURPS Traveller Notes[edit]

GURPS TLs do not consider society a technological development and GURPS uses a totally different pair of systems in 4e to describe them: Control Rating and Legality Class.

  • It should be mentioned that GURPS Lensman uses a totally different system called Tech Stages which due to the heavy use of superscience alternate technology and the way technology progresses in the setting don't easily convert to either GURPS or Traveler TLs.
  • With the GURPS 3rd Edition book Steampunk, the concept of divergent technology was added.
  • As shown by the Tech Level Comparison Chart itself, outside the Traveller TL-6 to TL-8 range the two Tech systems don't mach up very well across all fields. GURPS is more fine tuned below TL-6 and broader past TL-8. For example, GURPS 4e TL9^-10^ covers Traveler quality of life TL 8 though 20, Transportation TL 9 to 21, and Military Technology TL 9 though 21. A GURPS TL10, either 3e or 4e, is not the same as a Traveler TL-10. To keep the two systems separate Traveler TLs will be TL-x or TL:x while GURPS TLs will be TLx.
  • "The Imperium’s base TL is 10. (...) TL12 goods may be relatively common and cheap; TL12 technicians and operators are neither. " (GURPS 3e Traveler 2e pg 82) Note that this refers to the G3TL scale not the G4TL nor Traveler TL scales. They work out the be roughly TTL:12-13 base with TTL:15 goods.
  • GURPS 4e introduced the superscience TL (see below) which effectively "breaks" conversion between Traveler and GURPS TLs as TL^ can be associated with any number. This is how Azoth-7 with its TL4^ space travel (TTL-2) can have the equivalent of Jump drives.
  • "TL10 represents the “Imperial standard” technology, the best available to the Imperium throughout the era. The Terran Confederation progresses from TL9 to TL11 during the course of the Interstellar Wars." (GURPS Interstellar Wars pg 66) Note that this refers to the G4TL scale not the Traveler TL scale.
  • "However, at TL9 a number of superscience technologies appear and begin to advance. Interstellar Wars uses TL11+ to represent advanced levels of these superscience fields, layered over the stable TL9-10 situation." (GURPS Interstellar Wars pg 159) Technically superscience in GURPS should just use a "^" not go for a higher TL so TL9^-10^ or simply TL9^ would be more accurate. This means that the TL system GURPS 4e traveler uses is inconstant with how superscience is supposed to be handled in that system.

David L. Pulver, the author of GURPS 3e and 4e Ultra-Tech produced this chart on the GURPS forms for converting between GURPS 3e and 4e TLs:

upper half 3eTL7 = TL8
3eTL8 = 4eTL9
3eTL9 = 4eTL10 and some TL9-10^
3eTL10 = 4eTL11 and some TL10-11^
3eTL11 = 4eTL11 and some TL10-11^
3eTL12 = 4eTL11 and TL10-11^
3eTL13 = 4eTL11 and TL11^
3eTL14 = 4eTL12 and some TL11-12^
3eTL15 = 4eTL12^
3eTL16 = 4eTL12^


GURPS 4e TL concepts[edit]

Unless noted otherwise this section refers to GURPS TLs not Traveler TLs. GURPS TL6 covers Traveler TL:4-6. The GURPS TL5 and TL6 below are Traveler TL-4 and TL-5 respectively. GURPS TL7 depending on the technology can cover Traveler TL:6-8.

TL(Historical+Divergent)[edit]

Explanation: TL(5+1) is a TL6, with historical Earth-like TL5, but somewhat different TL6 (same effects, different form). Characters not used to divergent technology suffer a -2 penalty. However, Steamtech points out that this is not always true. For example, "Sulfanilamide is classified as TL(5+1), but it was also a TL6 medication; no penalty should apply to the skills of Chemistry/TL6 or Physician/TL6 for working with it."

So in some cases divergent technology can be identical to "normal" technology. More over TL(x+y) can denote not only realistic alternative technology but superscience tech.[1] So you can have the realistic drug Aspirin and supersciece drugs like Atavismine (a devolution drug; effectively what happens in Monster on the Campus (1956). Likely inspired by the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde novel.) coexisting in a TL(5+1) world.

The closest clear real world example of a divergent technology under GURPS 4e TL is Edison's 1896 Kinetophone (called a Speaking Mutoscope in SteamTech pg 52) at TL(5+1) when contrasted to Lauste's 1907 sound on film method at TL6. The first uses mechanical means so common to TL5 to sync picture and sound while the second uses electrical means that would be common in TL6.

Split technologies: TLPrimary (fields, TLSecondary). Example: TL8 (Communications TL7, Medical TL9). For societies more or less advanced in some fields.

Borrowed (familiar) technologies: TLKnown/Familiar. Example: TL1/2 (Bronze Age society familiar with Iron Age technology). For societies familiar with other level of technologies but not able (or willing) to replicate them.

GURPS Traveller Interstellar Wars examples: The Vilani are TL(6+4); (Robotics TL(6+1); roughly equivalent to Terran TL10 (Robotics TL7 but based on completely different principles.[2] Imperial Standard Technology is TL10 (Medicine and biology: early TL7)[3]

Superscience[edit]

GURPS 4th Edition tried to fix the confusion and expand the TL scale with the addition of the superscience (^) category and the concepts of: borderline, split, and familiar technologies. It also eliminated the end date that TLs originally had allowing for a G4TL8 computer to be connected to a G4TL7 power grid that has a handful of still operational G4TL6 power plants. Travelerwise this is a TL-8 computer connected to a TL-6 power grid that has a handful of still operational TL-5 power plants.

Superscience involves technologies that violate our current understanding of physical laws (relativity, conservation of energy, etc.). For this reason any TL assigned to them is arbitrary. So FTL travel can be TL6^, TL(6+4)^, TL10^ or something else entirely depending on the setting. This is why broadcast power has two totally different TLs in G4: TL6^ (Infinite Worlds, Gernsback) and TL10^ (Ultra-Tech). For example, Azoth-7 is a G4TL(4+2) reality that has G4TL4^ (TTL:2) interstellar space travel which is normally an 11 on the GURPS 4e TL scale but because it is FTL it is a superscience TL. Similarly many D&D worlds are G4TL(3+3)^ - effectively TL6 that thanks to magic diverged at TL3 (TTL-1.6); in the Spelljammer setting the "^" denotes manned interplanetary space flight which is normally an 9 on the GURPS 4e TL scale.

Since Jump drive is a form of FTL technology it gets a "^" and gives no indication on what the G4TL is, so while Jump drive tends to appear at G4TL9 that doesn't prevent lower TL culture from developing Jump drive. For example, Homeline, a G4TL8-9^ reality of GURPS Infinite Worlds has access to pocket and parallel universes which is Traveler TL-25 (TL-35). Then there is Engstrom, a G4TL6^ reality that has created permanent access to eight other parallel universes (which are collectively known as the Nine Worlds).

Determining G4TLs[edit]

It should be noted not all GURPS 4e (or Powered by GURPS) books use the TL scale correctly so they are not always a good benchmark for where a technology is on the scale. For example, GURPS Prime Directive (a classic Star Trek setting ie TOS) highballed the TLs for G3 and continued using that scale for the G4 edition totally messing up the TLs as a result.

Based on the actual episodes and GURPS 3e books TOS works out to be TL(6+3) to TL(6+4) GURPS 4e, based on evidence in the actual episodes, TOS is TL(6+3)^ (transtator based technology: TL6^)[4]

EU Star Wars is G4TL8^ and nearly all pre 1940s science fiction is G4TL6^ with the occasional higher TL appearing.

Using science fiction novels as TL inspiration has its own pitfalls. Even "hard" science fiction stories may be hampered by assumption of the time that turned out to be wrong. For example, Weinbaum's 1930s "Planetary series" is G4TL(6+3)^ as it was based on then current theories of the solar system which have since been shown to be wrong (hence the "^").

Further Notes:[edit]

  • Rows of Technologies that are a mixture of "real" science and superscience will have the lowest G4TL for the nonsuperscience items combined with "^".
  • When technologies don't exactly match the stated GURPS TLs and the two GURPS TL are effectively identical a GTLx note will be provided.

Tech Level Comparison Charts were developed by all of the Imperiums have recognized the importance of technology and, in relationship to this, have developed a comprehensive system of classifying technology.


Please refer to the following AAB library articles for related information:


Description (Specifications)[edit]

Technology Comparison Tables: These Tech Level ratings are described in the three tables below. The TLs cover three different systems:

  • TL or TTL: Traveller Technology Level = For Classic Traveller and most successors.
  • G3TL: GURPS 3rd Edition Technology Level.
  • G4TL: GURPS 4th Edition Technology Level.
  • GTL: GURPS Technology Level common to both 3rd and 4th edition.
  • ^: GURPS 4th Edition Superscience

Quality of Life Technology[edit]

Quality of life Tech Comparison
TTL G3TL G4TL Energy Computers/Robotics Communications Medical Environment
0 1-3 0 Muscles Fingers and sticks Runners Mystics/Herbology Natural (Caves, Huts)
1 1-4 1-3 Water (GTL 2) Abacus / Geometry (GTL 2), Trigonometry (GTL 2) Long Distance Signaling Diagnosis Settlements, Towns (Irrigation) - GTL 1
2 4 4 Wind (GTL 2), Clockwork Algebra - G4TL 3 Printing press Internal Anatomy Cities (Canals, Roads) - GTL 1-2
3 5 5 Coal / Steam Calculus Telegraph, Audio Recording Surgery Cement Structures - GTL 2 (Rome)
4 5 5 Electricity (DC GTL5; AC GTL6) Mechanical Calculators Telephone (GTL6) Vaccination, Antiseptics, Anesthetics Cities in Rugged/Desert Terrain, Crude Terraform
5 6 6 Petrochemicals, Internal combustion Electric Calculators Radio, Radar Mass Vaccination, X-Ray Sealed/Conditioned Cities
6 6-7 6-7 Nuclear Fission Electronic Computers (Large Model/1 bis) Television / Advanced Audio Recording Virus, Crude Prosthetics Skyscrapers, Weather Predict, Underground Cities
7 7 7 Solar energy, early Fuel Cells Desktop Computers, Expert systems, Model/2 Early Satellite, Video recording Organ Transplant, Slow Drugs Cities in Jungle Terrain
8 7-8 7-8 Geothermal (GTL 6) Massive Parallel / Low Data, Model/2bis Fibre optics (GTL 7) Artificial Organs, Metabolics Orbital Settlements, Early Weather Control
9 8-9 8-9 Early Fusion, Improved Batteries Non-Volatile / High Data, Vocal I/O, Model/3 Video Telephone (GTL 7), Flat Screen (GTL 7) Limb Regeneration, Cryogenics, Fast Drugs Arcologies, Orbital Cities
10 9 8-10 Fusion Plants Early Synaptics, voice transcription (GTL 8), Model/4 Holovision, Text Transcription Antiviral Vaccines (GTL 6), Cancer Cure, Growth Quickining Under-Sea/Under Ice Cities
11 9 8-10 Fusion Plants Synaptic Learning Processors, Hand Computers, Model/5 Personal Global Communications Nerve Refusion, Artificial Eyes Gravitic Structure Support (GTL ^)
12 10 8-10 Fusion Plants, Advanced Fuel Cells Low Autonomous Robots, Model/6 Real-time Multilingual Translators Broad Spectrum Anti-toxins, Enhanced Prosthetics Major Terraforming, Advanced Weather Control
13 10 8-10 Fusion Plants, Miniature Super-Batteries Holocrystal Storage, High Autonomous Robots, Model/7 Holovideo Recorders Cloning of Replacement Parts, Reanimation Non-mobile Gravitic Cities
14 11 8-10 Fusion Plants Computer/Brain Implants, Model/8 Early Meson Communicators Genetic Engineering, Memory Erasure Mobile Gravitic Cities
15 12 8-10 Pseudo-Reality Computers, Pseudo Robots, Model/9 Meson Communicators, Pseudo Reality Communications Anagathics, Advanced Pseudobio Prosthetics Complex Terraforming Possible
16 13 10 Low Artificial Intelligence, Robots in all Facets Personal Meson Communicators, Personal Holovideo Brain Transplants, Crude Memory Transfer Global Terraforming, Hostile Worlds
17 10-13 10^ Early Antimatter Plants High Artificial Intelligence, Self-Aware Robots Pocket Meson Communications Selective Memory Erasure, Intelligent Anitbodies Total Terraforming to 800Km worlds
17 10-13 10^ Robots become Society's Basic Workforce Permanent Memory Transfer Total Terraforming to 4000Km worlds
19 10-13 10^ Elemental/Limited Matter Transport Total Terraforming
20 10-13 10^ Global Matter Transport (G4TL^) Total Memory Transfer Mobile Worlds (Sublight)
21 13-14 11^ System-wide Matter Transport Early Total Rejuvenation Mobile Worlds (Jump Space) & Rosettes
25 14 11^ "Capsule" Dyson Spheres
27 14 12^ Ability to create Ringworlds, access pocket universe (G4TL6^)
29 14 12^ Rigid Dyson Spheres
31 15-16 12^ Create Pocket Universe

Transportation Technology[edit]

Transportation Tech Comparison
TTL G3TL G4TL Land Water Air Space
0 1-3 0 Foot - Animals Raft / Canoe - -
1 1-3 1-3 Wheel - Carts/Chariots (GTL 1) Rowed Galleys, Crude Sailing Vessels - -
2 2-4 2-4 Advanced Wheel - Moveable Axle, Replaceable Rims Early Multi-Mast Sailing (GTL 2), Oceangoing sailing ships (GTL 3), Crude Navigation (GTL 2), Stagecoachs - -
3 2-5 2-5 Extensive Road (GTL 2) - High-Speed Coach Multi-Mast Sailing (GTL 4), Navigation (GTL 4) Manned Hot Air Balloons -
4 5 5 Trains Ironclads, Steamships Dirigibles (GTL 6), Early Gliders -
5 6 6 Ground Cars, Tracked Vehicles Personal Self-Propelled Boats, Steel hulls, Early Submersibles Airplanes, Seaplanes Early Rockets (unmanned)
6 6 6 Amphibian Vehicles, ATVs, AFVs Submersibles, Scuba, Amphibian Vehicles Early Jet, Helicopters Early Manned Rockets (GTL 7), Unmanned Rockets
7 7 7 Hovercraft, High-Speed Trains Hydrofoils, Hovercraft Supersonic Jet, Hang Gliders Deep Space Probes (Unmanned), Maneuver-1/2 (non-gravitic)
8 8 8 Triphibian Vehicles Triphibian Vehicles, Early Artificial Gills Triphibian Vehicles, Hypersonic Jet Space Shuttles, Space Stations, Maneuver-3-5 (non-grav)
9 9 9^ Early Grav Vehicles, Ultra High-Speed Trains Early Grav Vehicles, Artificial Gills Early Grav Vehicles, Rocket Assist Suborbital Jump-1 possible (GT4 ^), Sublight Stellar
10 9 9^ Grav Vehicles UH Grav Modules Gravitic Maneuver

[5], Jump-1 certain (GT4 ^)

11 9 9-10^ Personal G-Tubes, HV Grav Modules Jump-2 (GT4 ^), Thruster Technology[5]
12 10 ^ Personal Grav Belts (GT4 ^), LT Grav Modules (GT4 ^) Jump-3 (GT4 ^)
13 10 ^ Grav Vehicles Merge with Orbital Spacecraft (GT4 ^), Jump-4 (GT4 ^)
14 11 ^ Jump-5 (GT4 ^)
15 12 ^ Jump-6 (GT4 ^)
16 13 ^ Raw Material Only Short Range Matter Transport (GT4 ^)
17 13 ^ Inanimate Only Short Range Matter Transport (GT4 ^)
18 - ^ Self-Aware Starships, living being portal based Matter Transport (GT4 ^)
21 - ^ Multi Parsec Range Starship-Sized Matter Transport Portals (GT4 ^)

Military Technology[edit]

Military Tech Comparison
- - - Personal Heavy
TL G3TL G4TL Weapons Armour Weapons Armour
0 1-3 0 Club, Spear Fur - -
1 0-3 0-3 Early Weapons (Bow, Sword) Jack Armour Catapult Wood, Bronze (GTL 1), Iron (GTL 2), Crude Steel (GTL 3)
2 4 4 Early Guns Small Cannons
3 5 5 Rifled Weapons Cannons
4 5 6 Cartridge Mesh Armour Howitzers, Gatling gun Soft Steel
5 6 6 Explosive Grenade, Shotgun Filter Mask Mortars
6 6 7 Automatic (SMG) Nuclear Weapons, Missiles (GTL7) Hard Steel
7 7 7 Grenade Launchers Cloth Armour, Flack Jacket Beam Lasers Composite Laminate
8 8 8 RAM Grenade Launchers, Early Laser Carbine Particle Accelerators, Target Desginated Missiles
9 9 9 Laser Weapons Ablative Armour Light Weight Composite Laminate
10 9 10 Advanced Combat Rifle Reflec, Combat Environment Suit Plasma Guns, Repulsors Crystaliron
11 9 10 Combat Armour Meson Guns
12 10 11 PGMP-12, Gauss Rifle Fusion Guns Superdense Armour, Nuclear Dampers
13 10 11 PGMP-13, X-Ray Lasers Battle Dress X-Ray Lasers
14 11 11 FGMP-14 Bonded Superdense
15 12 11 FGMP-15 Early Black Globes
16 13 11 (10^) FGMP-16, Plasma Rifle, Neural Gun Neural Shield Tractor Beam (G4TL ^) Black Globes
17 13 11 (10^) Fusion Rifle, Plama Pistol Disintegrators (G4TL ^), Antimatter Warheads Coherent Superdense
18 - 11 (10^) Disintegrator Rifle (G4TL ^), Fusion Pistol Personal Damper (G4TL ^) Long Range Disintegrator/Tractor Beam (G4TL ^)
19 - 11 (10^) Disintegrator Pistol (G4TL ^) Proton Screen, Plastic Metal Armour
20 - ^ Relativity Beam White Globes, Proton Beam
21 - ^ Relativity Rifle Personal White Globe Jump Projector Jump Damper

Non-Canon Technologies[edit]

News Media and Information Dissemination Technology

History & Background (Dossier)[edit]

Technology is the distinguishing feature of advanced civilizations. It underlies what being a sophont is.

Technology Comparison Chart[edit]

The Scout Service is responsible for categorizing the technological ability of a society. They rate this ability by the assigning of Technology Levels.

References & Contributors / Sources[edit]

This article was copied or excerpted from the following copyrighted sources and used under license from Far Future Enterprises or by permission of the author.

  1. GURPS Steampunk pg 95
  2. GURPS Traveler Interstellar Wars pg 161
  3. GURPS Traveler Interstellar Wars pg 160
  4. GURPS Prime Directive
  5. 5.0 5.1 In GURPS Traveller: Interstellar Wars, this module appears in TL8.