Technology Level or Tech Level, commonly abbreviated TL, is a measure of technological capability.
- Usually this is used in the Universal world profile to indicate the overall technology of the planet.
- A planet may have large sections, and/or populations at a more primitive or advanced level than listed.
Please refer to the following AAB library articles for related information:
Technology does not imply that the standards of living as workers on a high tech industrial world will enjoy or suffer from a poorer or greater quality of life (...perhaps not having the money to pay for high-tech health care), than a medieval farmer. Technology can, but does not necessarily, impact quality of life. It is very possible for a sophont on a very low-tech world to live a much higher quality of life than a sophont residing in a high-tech star system.
However, the tech level of a star system does impact the economic exchange rate for a world's goods, and it also has a very significant effect on its economy and the extent of its interstellar trade. Technology can be a tremendous multiplier for economies of any size as well as a source of enormous prosperity. However, while many technologies have the capacity to bring great prosperity and economic wealth to planet, technology also has the capacity to be tremendously disruptive of local cultures, societies, and peoples.
Epochal Technological Periods
On a very broad level, Imperial historians, scientists, and scouts have divided contemporary history into technological epochs and periods. This chronological periodization also projects where future technological trends might be found as evidenced by Ancients technology and that of other Precursors:
Epochal Technological Periods Overview Period Name
Periods (TL's) Technology (Kardashev) Scope Key Technologies: General Period Remarks Proto-Sophontic
(K= Type n>0) [Hemisphere Mastery]
Very early societies with basic tools and a planetary (world) scope. Tools, theology, science, culture, governance, etc. Alpha Period These species have made the jump from creature to sophont. They are new to technology, and are beginning to use it to develop new societies and civilizations.
- Some call them Stone Age.
(K= Type 1) [World Mastery]
Foundational technologies with planetary-systemic (intrastellar) scope. ICE engine, electronics, spacecraft, fission power (nuclear), etc. Ur Period Minor Races frequently establish successful civilizations in this range, often with very capable spaceflight programs and sleeper ships.
- Some call them Space Age.
(A to J)
(K= Type 2) [Star System Mastery]
Interstellar technologies with an polystellar (intragalactic) scope. FTL, fusion power, advanced manufacturing (Makertech), early nanotechnology, etc. Stellar Period All of the Major Races possess interstellar technology within this range, with the current vanguard at TL-15.
- Some call them Interstellar Age.
(K to T)
(K= Type 3) [Galaxy Mastery]
Galactic technologies with a polygalactic scope. Transgalactic FTL, antimatter power, highly advanced biotechnology, advanced nanotechnology, etc. Galactic Period Some believe that the Kursae, despite their lack of a Jump Drive were able to achieve many of these advances.
- Some call them Galactic Age.
(U to W)
(K= Type 4) [Universe Mastery]
Astrodeific technologies with a universal scope. Planet-bending, geneering (sophont creation), nano mastery, etc. Transgalactic Period Most technological researchers believe that most of these technologies were within reach of the Ancients.
- Some call it the Age of Space Gods.
(X to Z)
(K= Type 5) [Polyuniversal Mastery]
Bhodhisattivan technologies with a polytemporal, trans-dimensional scope. Chronotaxis (time travel), dimension-hopping, reality mastery, etc. Omega Period Most technological researchers believe that most of these conjectural technologies were beyond even the Ancients.
- Some call it the Age of Elder Races.
(K= Type 'Post-Omega') [Unimaginable]
This sort of technology is beyond imagination. This sort of technology is beyond imagination. Post-Omega Period This sort of existence is beyond imagination. Often known as the hypothetical Post-Technological Period (PTP).
Paradigm & Period
Each period represents a loose set of standards and cultural mores for a civilization. More than one period ahead represents a severe change of societal possibilities that significantly less advanced societies would probably think of as "magic" or the "work of the gods."
- One period ahead represents the dreams or near-technology science fiction of a preceding people, what one might call a paradigmatic shift. Significantly more advanced societies will often appear exceedingly strange or difficult to comprehend to peoples with lesser technologies.
- Higher technology societies and civilizations will very often find lesser technology peoples to be backward and primitive.
- Please see Detextualized Paradigmatic Problem and Clarkian Postulates for related ideas.
- However, there is technology more advanced than that of the Third Imperium as evidenced by ancient sites (e.g. Rosette worlds are TL-21 and Rigid Dyson Spheres TL-27). This kind of technology, more advanced than the present, are represented by TL's 16 to 33.
- Traveller5 aka T5 has introduced a new theoretical maximum to the TL System of TL-33.
History & Background (Dossier)
- Some cutting-edge worlds have achieved an unsustainable, theoretical (TL-16) rating, but are not yet in wide usage.
- Average technologies in common use within the Third Imperium are very often considerably lower than the high end of (TL-15 or TL-F).
Technological Level Conversion Table
- Most Traveller game editions default to the original Classic Traveller Traveller TL technology levels.
|Traveller TL||GURPS 3e TL||GURPS 4e TL||Historical Era|
|0||0||0||Stone Age (fire)|
|1||1||1||Bronze Age (3500 BC)|
|1||2||2||Iron Age (1200 BC)|
|1||3||3||Medieval Age (600 AD)|
|2||4||4||Age of Sail (1450 AD)|
|3||5||5||Industrial Revolution (1730 AD)|
|4||5||6||Mechanized Age (1880 AD)|
|5||6||6||Circa 1910 AD|
|6||6||7||Nuclear Age (1940 AD)|
|7||7||7||Circa 1970 AD|
|8||8||8||Digital Age (1990 AD)|
|9||9||9^||Early Stellar (2050 AD)|
|10 (A)||9||10^||Early Stellar (2120 AD)|
|11 (B)||9||10^||Average Stellar|
|12 (C)||10||11^||Average Imperial|
|13 (D)||10||11^||Average Stellar|
|14 (E)||11||12^||High Stellar|
|15 (F)||12||12^||Imperial Maximum|
|16 (G)||13||12^||Darrian Historical Maximum|
- In Standard GURPS 4e, each TL above your own is -5 Penalty to current TL skill with TL four levels beyond your own being "impossible" without actually learning the skill (G4 Basic Set pg 168). Since early 21st century Earth is at TL8, TL12 would be impossible to understand without a teacher and so the GURPS 4e TL scale caps out at 12. GURPS 4e also has its own superscience category for technology that that violates our current understanding of physical laws (relativity, conservation of energy, etc.)
References & Contributors / Sources
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- Marc Miller. Worlds and Adventures (Game Designers Workshop, 1977), 14-15.
- Marc Miller. Referee's Companion (Game Designers Workshop, 1988), 28-29.
- Joe Fugate, J. Andrew Keith, Gary L. Thomas. World Builder's Handbook (Digest Group Publications, 1989), .
- Frank Chadwick, Dave Nilsen. Fire, Fusion, & Steel (Game Designers Workshop, 1994), 7.
- Martin Dougherty, Hunter Gordon. Traveller D20 (QuikLink Interactive, 2002), 378.
- Marc Miller. T5 Core Rules (Far Future Enterprises, 2013), 502-507.
- External Link: GURPS 3rd Edition Lite
- External Link: GURPS 3rd Edition TL
- Author & Contributor: Lord (Marquis) and Master of Sophontology Maksim-Smelchak of the Ministry of Science