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TL:4-6 or Low Technology Epoch, is one of early atomic science, the first factories, internal combustion engines, and increasingly destructive military technologies.

  • TL:4-6 tech is commonly known as Late Ur-Tech or Low-Tech (Low Technology).
  • TL:4-6 sophonts are commonly known as early or ur-sophonts. They are sometimes called foundationals.

Library Data Referral Tree[edit]

Please refer to the following AAB Library Data for more information:

Description (Specifications)[edit]

Two of the key indicator discoveries of this period include practical application of theoretical atomic sciences and an increasingly capable manufacturing sector producing an industrial society. The first applications of the atomic science can lead to incredibly capable energy sources or horrific, genocidal weapons. Manufacturing fundamentally changes most societies forcing a transition from the agrarian to the industrial and from the rural country to the urban city.


EDUCATION: No information yet available.

ENTERTAINMENT: No information yet available.

NEWS: Widespread tele-communications. With better power generation methods and an increasing understanding of magnetic and electrical fields, the first telegraphs, telephones, radios, and other early era communication technologies become a reality.


LARGE SCALE POWER: The power generation technologies of this epoch are incredible game changers for society. The first steam engines become practical and even portable, greatly transforming society. Electricity generally is mastered during this period and becomes a staple of period civilizations. This leads to more efficient internal combustion engines (ICE) and many civilizations even master the basics of atomic energy. Some societies can build workable nuclear reactors using fission power.

SMALL-SCALE POWER: Widespread electrification and internal combustion.

TRANSMISSION NETWORKS: No information yet available.


The first continent spanning transportation networks grow increasingly more capable with great ocean liners, graceful aircraft, dirigibles, steam trains, bicycles, and the first automobiles. Motor technology generally advances through several power sources from the steam engine to the ICE engine, and even sometimes to massive, unwieldy yet capable atomic engines.

LAND: Vehicles and specifically automobiles come into vogue as the dray or riding beast, becomes greatly outclassed by transportation contraptions with internal, mechanical power sources. Cars, trains, bicycles, track-layers, early walkers, and a near endless type of land vehicles are developed.

SEA: Liquid floating and diving vehicles move beyond oars and sails to internal engines, greatly increasing their speed, endurance, and capability. Ocean-traversing ships soon create vast trade networks often dwarfing what might have been achieved during the earlier age of sail. The first submersibles are tested and change the face of war at sea.  

AIR: High subsonic flight becomes possible within an atmosphere. Some aircraft can even hit transonic speeds under controlled conditions. Propellers drive many aircraft, but other sorts of aircraft engines also become viable. Autogyros and the first VTOL's begin to take to the sky. A few of the more advanced societies begin to experiment with ornithopters and advanced gliders.

SPACE: Rockets become a promising science. Ballistic spaceflight is experimented with among other more exotic methods. Few societies achieve manned spaceflight within this period.

FTL: No information yet available.

EXOTIC: No information yet available.


MANUFACTURING: Manufacturing makes huge leaps forward in this timeframe, creating interchangeable parts, division of labor, and economies of scale at which earlier peoples can only marvel. Cargo cults come about. New, vastly improved power plants no longer limit factories to waterways, wind zones, or related areas. The first self-propelled vehicles (oceangoing ships, locomotives, etc.) are quite large, but the technology becomes increasingly miniaturized as each developmental generation progresses. Motorized self-propelled personal vehicles eventually become a reality. The bicycle leads to the motorcycle and beyond. Some societies even develop un-motorized ornithopters.

MATERIALS: Brass, steel, ceramics, wire, tempered glass, early plastics, etc.

MACHINES: Steam power, basic electrical power. Complex labor organization, operations research, basic quality control, vertical integration. Indexable tooling, standardized quality control and testing.


COMPUTERS: The first analog computers and calculators greatly enhance business and academic endeavors. Mechanical and early electronic calculators become fixtures. Electric devices, polymers, and early electronics fuel continuing progress. Designers use classic Lovelacian programming and aspire to build the first Babbage machines. Many sophont societies can build processors that meet the Imperial standards for Model/1 and Model/1 bis processors.

DATA STORAGE: No information yet available.

ROBOTICS: The first robots tend to be dumbwaiters or simple automatons. They are mechanical, calculating machines and cannot operate autonomously except under the most limited of conditions.


GOVERNMENT: Industrial societies are forced to cope with larger and larger population, increased immigration, and business entities (corporations), which can be ally or rival. Vast experimentation with governance types is experimented with, yielding all sorts of theories about the rights of king and man. Many develop charters, constitutions, or other documents enumerating the rights of citizens. The field of law becomes established and lawyers proliferate in many societies. Economic pressures often push industrial societies into revolution. The largest and most powerful governments become known as superpowers.

POLITICAL ECONOMY: No information yet available.

CLIODYNAMICS: No information yet available.


TRADE: No information yet available.

FINANCE: No information yet available.

SCIENCE: No information yet available.


STRUCTURES: Better medical technologies and hygienic practices allow for greater population densities within urban areas. Suburbs become a feature of larger cities, which are small communities of lower density than a city core, which lead back to the main city through improved transportation corridors, often called freeways. Commuter trains, and other forms of municipal transportation, proliferate with the growth of cities and suburbs. Cities can be built in tougher environments such as deserts, mountains, and rougher terrain. Domed cities are developed and some experiment with underground cities as well. Even the first crude terraforming and weather control methods are developed. Weather control methods are preceded by somewhat reliable weather prediction technologies. Meteorology grows into a profession.

ENVIRONMENTS: No information yet available.

MEGASTRUCTURES: The first cities grow into even larger into metroplexes. Some of these metroplexes become known as mega-cities. A few span entire seaboards or even continents. Using better materials and engineering practices, buildings tend to grow in height and size. Refined and hardened metals are often used for the internal structures of these immense buildings. The first skyscrapers are born. TL:4-6 megastructures often include vast hydroelectric dams, long bridges, giant statues dedicated to philosophical triumphs, and a variety of other, very large and impressive structures.

Life Sciences[edit]

BIOLOGY: No information yet available.

MEDICINE: Medical technologies make great leaps forwards reducing mortality and expanding lifespans. Vaccines, antiseptics, and anesthetics revolutionize medicine. Vaccines soon lead to mass vaccination and the eradication of egregious diseases. Early diagnostic imaging leads to X-rays and other diagnostic tools. Virology is advanced and prosthetic technology makes great bounds as artificial limb replacements advance greatly. Medicine makes incredible advances.

AGRICULTURE: No information yet available.


TACTICAL COMBAT: Industrial warfare is fearsome. Material plentitude means that every soldier can be equipped as never before and armies and navies grow larger than ever before. Martial vehicles become an established part of the battlefield and some more advanced societies even develop weaponized flyers within this epoch. A few societies even develop the most basic atomic weaponry. Weapons of mass destruction go hand in hand with industrial prowess, which include biological and chemical weapons, in addition to the aforementioned nuclear thunderballs.

SMALL ARMS: No information yet available.

PERSONAL ARMOR: No information yet available.

STRATEGIC COMBAT: No information yet available.

HEAVY ARMS: No information yet available.

HEAVY ARMOR: No information yet available.

History & Background (Dossier)[edit]

The Division of Labor and Mass Production make this an age of industry. The invention or the discovery of division of labor and mass production marks the transition from individual craftsmen (cottage industry) to relatively unskilled but widespread labor (industrial labor). As a generality, the significant increase in labor efficiency reduce costs, increases quality, and provides for a general abundance of goods.

Cottage industries typically begin a slow process of being replaced by the greater efficiencies of factories, and larger manufacturing interests. The process often creates corporations and even megacorporations in some cases. Monopolies and great barons of industry often accompany these changes. The great change in industry from a TL:1-3 agricultural society to a TL:4-6 industrial society often comes with great growing pains, revolutions, and paradigmatic change.

Alternate Nomenclature for this Technological Epoch[edit]

Terran historians typically call this the Industrial Age as preceded by the Industrial Revolution. Others call it the Age of Mechanization.

  • TL-4 Industrial Age: This society has developed widespread electricity and internal combustion engines are gradually coming into widespread use, while urbanization increases at a rapid pace.
  • TL-5 Machine Age: The factories of this society are mass-producing goods and vehicles, and air travel is becoming commonplace.
  • TL-6 Atomic Age: This society may have harnessed the power of the atom, but not yet made it into space. Nuclear weapons may be prolific, and could result in a sudden extinction event.

Hallmark Technology-1: Industrial Society[edit]

New manufacturing technologies allow for greater material wealth than ever before. Societies increasingly take advantage of this material wealth by organizing for greater efficiencies of production through vast industrial networks, which often displace early, more traditional lifestyles.

Hallmark Technology-2: Planetary Exploration[edit]

Sophonts use new technology to explore their world, spanning from pole to pole, and from one end of the world to another. Aided by new transportation and communication technologies, circumnavigation, colonies, intercultural exchanges, and other feats become possible and emblematic of a new zeitgeist. Many metaphorically call it an Age of Exploration.

Hallmark Technology-3: World Wars[edit]

An unfortunate side effect of the new technologies is the capacity for war on a global scale. Few species escape the curse of world wars. Some never escape the curse and destroy themselves using genocidal weapons of mass destruction.

Representative Sophont Species[edit]

Low technology sophont societies are very commonly encountered and while the transition to an interstellar society after First Contact can be traumatic, most societies are able to prosper and adapt to different lifeways and economies.

  • The following sophont species are known to possess technical mastery within these technological limits:
76 Sophonts in the TL:4-6 epoch

References & Contributors (Sources)[edit]

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