Voluntarily Regressive World

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Any world that deliberately chooses to maintain a lower level of technology.

Details / Specifications[edit]

The Voyagers and the Dark Age had a massive psychological impact on the population of the Distant Fringe. The Voyagers consumed all advanced technology that they could find, and they killed countless billions as they did so. Almost all of the worlds that survived the time of the Voyagers – the Dark Age – did so by abandoning (or at least hiding away) their technology and existing at a lower level of advancement.

The Dark Age lasted for around 850 years – more or less 30 generations – and for some worlds what started as a survival tactic became a way of life and a culture. Lower technology became the normal – the only – way to live. When these survivor worlds were recontacted by explorers and scouts during the Renaissance period, many displayed xenophobia, a strong technophobia and a reluctance to actively reenter the interstellar community.

More than a millennia later most of those worlds are far less paranoid, but most still choose to remain at a less advanced level of development. Their inhabitants shun advanced equipment and devices, outwardly displaying a disdain or dislike for frivolous gadgets and trinkets and affecting a no-nonsense self-reliance. This attitude is frequently rooted in a deep-seated cultural fear of the horrific consequences should the Voyagers return and the Distant Fringe be plunged into a new Dark Age. There is a degree of smug certainty, too – when this coming disaster happens, and most assuredly it will, they will survive and prosper.

  • Such communities may hold archives of ancient wisdom or caches of advanced items.

Local Technology[edit]

  • Local technology, though basic, is often ingenious and has proved effective, reliable and efficient over thousands of years. Locals will almost always place their trust in familiar locally-made (and locally replaceable) equipment that has stood the test of time.
  • Technological advancement or even change many be actively discouraged, though occasionally a more efficient or reliable process may be adopted as need requires. In some circumstances improvements or modifications to items may be removed or destroyed.
  • Isolated or backwater regions of the world may have communities that are less advanced than the world's listed TL.

Social Considerations[edit]

The inhabitants of Voluntarily Regressive Worlds may display a range of reactions towards outsiders or those who overtly display technological items:

  • Locals may be understanding of the use of technology by outsiders, but reluctant to use it themselves. They may require technological items to be removed or left in an approved area before entering a community or a structure.
  • Locals may display xenophobic behavior towards strangers or outsiders, particularly towards non-human sophonts. Other unusual reactions are possible, including curiosity or fear.
  • Locals may be uncomfortable around items of advanced technology. Some may be actively hostile.
    • Locals may be confused by advanced devices, and may risk personal injury through a lack of understanding when manipulating them.
    • Locals may be awed or fascinated by advanced items. They may not be able to distinguish advanced technology from magic or some other supernatural force. Such situations are rare, however - the populations of Voluntarily Regressive Worlds are generally quite aware of the existence of all kinds of technology and understand just what it is capable of doing. They choose not to interact with it.
  • Locals may attempt to destroy technology. Occasionally rituals may be involved.
  • Balkanised Voluntarily Regressive Worlds may have different degrees of acceptance among different nation-states.
    • Even within a single Voluntarily Regressive society there may be different degrees of acceptance or elements that adopt a much more hard-line attitude.

Legal Considerations[edit]

  • Items of advanced technology may be seized by authorities upon leaving the starport.
  • Those found in possession of advanced technology may face arrest, legal prosecution and imprisonment. Capital punishment may be ordered.
  • Individuals accused of transgressions may be subjected to a "show trial" with broad media coverage (appropriate to the local technology) to actively discourage others.

Local Attitudes[edit]

The inhabitants of Voluntarily Regressive Worlds generally embrace their low technology, taking pride in the simplicity of their lives and their pithy practicality.

Occasionally the maximum degree of technological advancement may be imposed on the population by a powerful ruling authority. In such circumstances there may be an illicit trade in advanced equipment, with items commanding premium prices. There may be a significant number of individuals seeking to escape the restrictive conditions or change the regime.

  • Technological limitations may take the form of strict guidelines or decrees enforced by governmental authorities.
  • Ancient teachings and wisdom or sacred texts may define technological limitations.
  • The populations of some isolated regions may never have been recontacted or may have actively avoided contact. They may, however, understand the general functioning and capabilities of modern sensor systems and equipment and may have been able to create primitive but effective countermeasures.


The diverse nature of human psychology means that there are likely to be a few individuals from these worlds who seek to leave their backward homes and find their fates among the stars. Assisting such runaways or refugees may have severe social and legal repercussions. In rare circumstances a time among the stars may be seen as a rite of passage for a young individual from a Voluntarily Regressive World.

Ruins and Remains[edit]

On some worlds the remains of communities and facilities abandoned millennia ago can still be found. Many of these areas are considered to be taboo or forbidden areas by the locals. Some of these sites may have been damaged or destroyed by the Voyagers during the Dark Age. Many were picked over by the Scavengers.

  • Such locations may hold cultural or spiritual significance. They may contain the mortal remains of the ancestors.
  • Locals may become hostile if strangers are considered to be violating such sites.
  • Sites may contain caches of materials, items of relic technology, or artifacts of artistic merit or historical significance.
  • After many centuries of exposure to environmental and geological processes, there may be few recognisable remains.

Recent Regressionism[edit]

On some worlds communities of survivalists and isolationists have formed, made up of individuals who choose to live apart from others and embrace what they see as a simpler, easier, or safer way of life. Such communities may operate along family or quasi-military lines and are often made up of self-reliant and highly motivated individuals. They may actively attempt to remove, impound or destroy technology brought to their communities if it is inappropriate to their chosen lifestyle.

References & Contributors / Sources[edit]

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