- Usually this is used in the Universal World Profile (UWP) to indicate the overall technology of a planet or mainworld.
- Many planets may have large geographic areas, and/or populations at a more primitive or advanced tech level than listed.
- 1 Library Data Referral Tree
- 2 Description (Specifications)
- 3 History & Background (Dossier)
- 4 References & Contributors (Sources)
Library Data Referral Tree
- Technological Research
- Technological Systemics
- Post-Technological Period
OVERVIEW: Technology Level (abbreviated tech level or TL) is a rating. It rates the capability of typical equipment used by the average citizen on his or her world. The tech level of a star system has a 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. Generally, technology tends to increase the quality of life for the average sophont, but it is not a guarantee. It is very possible for a sophont on a very low-tech world to have a higher quality of life than a sophont in a high-tech star system.
Technology Level Explication
T20 The Traveller's Handbook. Pg. 196
Epochal Technological Periods
On a very broad level, Imperial historians, scientists, and scouts have divided contemporary and future 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 (TLs)||Technology (Kardashev)||Scope||Key Technologies||General Period||Remarks|
(K= Type n>0) [Hemisphere Mastery]
|Very early societies with basic "found object" tools and a planetary (world) scope.||Found tools, mysticism, proto-science, proto-culture, proto-art, band societies, caves, 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. They use found tools, but haven't yet figured out how to use tools to make more advanced tools yet.
|Low Sophontic|| TL:1-3
(K= Type 1)
|Foundational technologies with planetary-systemic (intrastellar) scope. "Tools making tools or made objects."||Steam Engines, celestial navigation, urban sanitation, factories, interchangeable parts, 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. Such societies typically master engineering, astrophysics, earth sciences, medicine, and variety of other sciences at proficient levels capable of building a unified World-State.
(A to J)
(K= Type 2)
|Interstellar technologies with an polystellar (intragalactic) scope.||FTL, fusion power, advanced manufacturing (Makertech), advanced medicine, cloning, lethetic robotics, early nanotechnology, advanced artificial intelligence, etc.||Stellar Period|| All of the Major Races possess interstellar technology within this range, with the current vanguard at TL-15.
|High Sophontic|| TL:19-21
(K to T)
(K= Type 3) [Galaxy Mastery]
|Galactic technologies with a polygalactic scope.||Transgalactic FTL, antimatter power, highly advanced biotechnology, advanced nanotechnology, true artificial intelligence, etc.||Galactic Period|| Some believe that the Kursae, despite their lack of a Jump Drive were able to achieve many of these advances.
(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.
(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.
(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).|
Average Tech, Mastered Tech & Research Tech Levels
Average technologies in common use within the Third Imperium are very often considerably lower than the high end of (TL-15 or TL-F) Imperial technological achievement. Each of the polities of the major races has a different average, sustainable technology level, but most systems and worlds average in the TL:10-12 range, with the most capable, higher tech worlds averaging in the TL:13-15 range.
Tech Levels 0 through 21
This TL table is a list of technological levels and short descriptions. The descriptions correlate TLs to periods in history or alternately, future technology.
|Technological Level Table|
|Emergent Period - TL-0|
|0||Xlow||Stone Age||TBD||TBD||Found Tools, fire, mysticism, village, agriculture, etc.|
|Foundational Period - TL:1-9|
|1||Vlow||Bronze Age||TBD||3500 BC||None|
|1.3||Vlow||Iron Age||TBD||1300 BC||None|
|1.6||Vlow||Medieval Age||TBD||600 AD||None|
|2||Vlow||Age of Sail||TBD||1500 AD||None|
|3||Vlow||Industrial Revolution||TBD||1730 AD||None|
|3.3||Vlow||Napoleonic Era||TBD||1800 AD||None|
|3.6||Vlow||Colonial Era||TBD||1850 AD||None|
|4||Low||Mechanized Age||TBD||1900 AD||None|
|5||Low||Broadcast Age||TBD||1930 AD||None|
|6||Low||Nuclear Age||TBD||1940 AD||None|
|7||Mlow||Space Age||TBD||1970 AD||None|
|8||Mlow||Digital Age||TBD||1990 AD||None|
|9||Mlow||Early Stellar Age / Fusion Age||TBD||2050 AD||None|
|Interstellar Period - TL:10-18|
|10 (A)||High||Early Stellar Age / Gravitic Age||TBD||2120 AD||None|
|11 (B)||High||Average Imperial||0||TBD||None|
|12 (C)||High||Average Imperial||1105||TBD||None|
|13 (D)||Vhigh||Average Stellar / Geneering Age||TBD||TBD||None|
|14 (E)||Vhigh||High Stellar||TBD||TBD||None|
|15 (F)||Vhigh||Imperial Maximum||1107||TBD||None|
|16 (G)||Xhigh||Artificial Persons Age||TBD||TBD||None|
|17 (H)||Xhigh||Personality Transfer Age||1902||TBD||Republic of Regina|
|18 (J)||Xhigh||Exotics Age||TBD||TBD||None|
|Ultra Period - TL:19-27|
|19 (K)||Uhigh||Matter Transport / Antimatter Age||TBD||TBD||None|
|20 (L)||Uhigh||Skipdrive Age||TBD||TBD||None|
|21 (M)||Uhigh||Stasis Age||TBD||TBD||None|
Tech Levels 22 through 33
Levels above 21 are the Accelerating Tech Levels: each of them tends to be of shorter duration and each leads at an ever-accelerating pace to the next. The technologies addressed by TLs above 21 are frighteningly powerful and exceptionally susceptible to disaster. As a society progresses to each new Accelerating Tech Level, the focus shifts to a different technology.
All advancing technological levels are Accelerating Tech Levels to one degree or another. Many scientists within Charted Space argue that the concept will apply most significantly to the TL:19-27 Ultra Period or higher. Others argue for any level above TL-22.
The Singularity (TL-34+)
When the society moves beyond TL-33, it reaches the Singularity. Some think of it occurring within the TL:31-33 technological epoch. Noone really knows, or if they do know, they aren't telling. The technologies focused on for the past thirty-three TLs are strong indicators of the fate awaiting the culture. A focus on more warlike technologies points the society towards destruction, while a focus on peaceful engineering disciplines tends to point the society towards survival. A balance of the various technologies available may result in ascension to a post-technological existence.
The Third Imperium's most advanced technologies in common use are (TL-15) technologies. Some cutting-edge worlds have achieved an unsustainable, theoretical (TL-16) rating, but are not yet in wide usage. The Darrians or Daryen are a prominent example of such a society with access to TL-16 technologies.
IISS Chronological Periodization
- Technological Age (1 TL) → Technological Epoch (3 TLs) → Technological Period (9 TLs) → Technological Era (30 TLs) → Technological Eon (33+ TLs) → Singularity (Post-Technological Period)
|Epoch Hallmark||Sophontic Period||Smelchakian Period||Key Indicators||Remarks|
|TL-Negative||Pre-Sophontic Period||Pre-Sophontic Period||Pre-Sophontic||Pre-Sophontic Period||Pre-Historic Period (PHP)||The Rise of Life. Creatures. Pre-technology lifeforms.|
|TL-0||Proto-Sophontic Period||Found Tools Period||Proto-Sophontic|| Proto-Sophontic Period
|Stone & Fire||Development of a ur or proto level culture, society, and civilization. Found objects. Before tools making tools.|
|TL:1-3||Vlow Tech Epoch||Tool Making Epoch||Early Sophontic||Foundational Period, Early||Sail & Steam||Development of a modern scientific culture, society, and civilization. Made objects. Tools making tools.|
|TL:4-6||Low Tech Epoch||Division of Labor Epoch||Early Sophontic||Foundational Period, High||Atom & Factory||Development of increasingly efficient communication, power generation, and transportation technologies. Standardization of scientific method and efficient manufacturing.|
|TL:7-9||Mid Tech Epoch||Processor Epoch||Early Sophontic||Foundational Period, Late||Rocket & Computer||Development of advanced processors allowing for an exponential increase in scientific research and engineering breakthroughs.|
|TL:10-12||High Tech Epoch||Gravitics Epoch||Meso-Sophontic||Interstellar Period, Early||Jump Drive & Gravitics||Practical gravity manipulation and its associated transportation systems revolutionize travel and the movement of goods. The Jump Drive opens up interstellar colonization and exploration to a degree never before known.|
|TL:13-15||Vhigh Tech Epoch||Biologicals Epoch||Meso-Sophontic||Interstellar Period, High||Geneering & Wafertech||The High Interstellar Epoch brings about increasingly capable jump drives, fusion weapons, cloning & geneering technologies, and advanced robot intelligences that are bordering upon true artificial intelligence.|
|TL:16-18||Xhigh Tech Epoch||Artificials Epoch||Meso-Sophontic||Interstellar Period, Late||Robots & Lethetic AI||The Late Interstellar Epoch brings about increasingly capable artificial intelligence, affordable robotic labor, and increasingly advanced FTL jump drives.|
|TL:19-21||Uhigh-1 Tech Epoch||Matter Transport Epoch||Late Sophontic||Ultra Period, Early||Antimatter & Matter Transport||The availability of elemental matter portals (transporting raw materials across AU distances efficiently) transforms concepts of physical value. The Skip Drive and it successors allows sophonts to finally explore other galaxies.|
|TL:22-24||Uhigh-2 Tech Epoch||Transformations Epoch||Late Sophontic||Ultra Period, High||Postsophontism & Goo||The lines between individuals blur as bodies become customizable, replaceable, and disposable. Post-Sophontism (individualized transformation) and the development of practical nanotech, often called the “Goo.”|
|TL:25-27||Uhigh-3 Tech Epoch||Psionics Epoch||Late Sophontic||Ultra Period, Late||Psionic Engineering & Inertialess Drive||Psionic engineering, practical societal engineering, effective psychohistory and others now allow not only individuals to be transformed, but entire societies and civilizations.|
|TL:28-30||Dei Tech Epoch||Trans-galactic Epoch||Hyper-Sophontic Epoch||Astrodeific Period||Galactic Scale Megastructures & Topopolises||Technology develops capabilities to manipulate worlds and stars: to move them, harvest them for their matter and energy, and convert them to other large scale objects. The ability to visit other universes changes society profoundly. Entirely different astronomical environments engenders new viewpoints.|
|TL:31-33||Omni Tech Epoch||Pocket Universe Epoch||Trans-Sophontic Epoch|| Omnipotential Period
|Chronotaxis & Transuniversalism.||The ability to create and manipulate pocket universes infinitely expands available resources and turns all but the most adventurous inward. Time travel heralds the Singularity. Technological existence is forever transformed. Multiple possible existences motivates sophonts to seek existence beyond technology.|
|TL-34+||The Singularity||PTP||Post-Sophontic||(Post-Omega Period)||The Singularity & PTP.||Society reaches a critical point in its development. Beyond imagination. Beyond technology. Beyond any previous definition of life.|
- 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 TLs 16 to 33.
- Traveller5 aka T5 has introduced a new theoretical maximum to the TL System of TL–33.
In proper IISS parlance, the following terms are used. Historians and journalists often use them in a more figurative or extended sense.
|Smelchakian Chronological Periodization|
|Age||1|| Synonymous with a TL or a passing paradigm and society. Zeitgeist.
||(Age of Nomadism → Age of Farm & Village → Age of Town & Market)|
|Epoch||3|| The typical longevity of a mature society before it undergoes paradigmatic change through revolution and societal evolution.
||(Agricultural Epoch → Industrial Epoch → Information Epoch → Interstellar Epoch)|
|Period||9|| Part of the development of a maturing civilization.
||(Foundational Period → Interstellar Period → Ultra Period)|
|Era||28 to 30+|| The typical lifespan of a mature, technological civilization.
||(Sophontic Era → Trans-Sophontic Era → Technological Singularity)|
|Eon||31 to 33+|| The typical lifespan of several mature and advanced technology civilizations.
||[Pre-Sophontic (Creature Existence) → Sophontic (Technological Civilizations) → (Technological Singularity) → Post-Sophontic]|
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.
|This article has Metadata|
|GURPS Traveller Notes: An array of notes regarding the similarities and differences between Traveller TL and GURPS TL can be found here: Technology Level/meta|
|This article has two or more sources with conflicting information. Because the conflict has not been resolved, all sources are linked to this article.|
- This article is an amalgamation of many different materials published since 1977.
- Marc Miller. Worlds and Adventures (Game Designers Workshop, 1977), 7-8, 14-15.
- Herb Petro. "Tech Level Expansion." Imperium Staple 07 (1986): TBD.
- Loren Wiseman. "Twisting Tech Levels: A Traveller Variant." Challenge 31 (1987): 27.
- 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), TBD.
- Frank Chadwick, Dave Nilsen. Fire, Fusion, & Steel (Game Designers Workshop, 1994), 7.
- Leighton Piper. Signal-GK 13 (Signal-GK, 1997), TBD.
- K. David Ladage, "Alternate Technological Paths", JTAS Online (2001)
- K. David Ladage, "Alternate Technologies II: Relativity", JTAS Online (2001)
- Martin Dougherty, Hunter Gordon. The Traveller's Handbook (QuikLink Interactive, 2002), 378.
- Marc Miller. T5 Core Rules (Far Future Enterprises, 2013), 502-507.
- EXTERNAL LINK: Technology Levels at TV Tropes
- EXTERNAL LINK: Technology Ages of Traveller (in MTU) by Admiral Savage
- Traveller Wiki Editorial Team
- Author & Contributor: Lord (Marquis) and Master of Sophontology Maksim-Smelchak of the Ministry of Science