Archives of Nethys

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Infinite Worlds / Technology

Medium Technology

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 124
Cultures with a medium-technology attribute have taken important steps in their scientific development. They might exhibit powerful technology in particular areas yet lag behind high-technology worlds in most other disciplines. Citizens of medium-technology worlds can expect their basic needs to be answered via scientific and technological means. These worlds also might be capable of staffed or entirely automated space travel, but would rarely have access to Drift technology. Worlds of medium technology have mostly, if not entirely, analog and archaic weapons and limited access to technological items.
One of the most spectacular advances for medium-technology societies isn’t flashy—it’s sanitation. Sophisticated sewage and medical care help inhabitants live longer and limit disease, and the resulting increase to lifespans allow more time for leisure, art, and learning that drive subsequent innovations. As a result, medical capabilities present a common benchmark for this attribute—at least for ecosystems where medical care is a vital need, which might not be true for undead societies or stranger worlds.
After medicine, consider a world’s other threats and limitations, as many medium-technology societies endeavor to overcome these factors: deadly weather, hazardous terrain, and voracious animals; such immediate dangers necessitate sophisticated shelters, inventive transportation, armaments for self-defense, or barriers built on a massive scale. Other goals are more aspirational, like developing more productive agriculture and devising new techniques for procuring essential resources. These factors uphold a very human perspective; nonhuman cultures might have vastly different goals than mere safety and material needs, such as creating esoteric technology strictly for artistic ends, designing massive infrastructure to channel telepathic communication, or creating sophisticated homunculi only to sacrifice them in divine rites. Always think beyond Earth-like concepts when creating your strangest worlds.
Consider inventors’ physiologies and needs. Would a quadruped species intuitively build land vehicles if they naturally evolved for running and sprinting? Would a species that filter feeds invest in agriculture or culinary arts? How might a species with 360-degree vision approach photography or visual arts? While some technologies are universally helpful, what one species deems vital another might find a novelty. These differences distinguish cultures of similar sophistication without presuming one as more advanced than another.
These idiosyncrasies make medium-technology worlds exciting opportunities for first-contact scenarios; these worlds support countless intelligent minds that could readily adopt and adapt the visitors’ technology to explore the stars, and at the same time, these inhabitants might have innovated their own technology in sufficiently strange and advanced ways that are practically unique to galactic culture. Simultaneously these conventions can spark disastrous consequences for societies that can quickly grasp the practical applications of gifted technologies but not their greater ramifications, causing a world war, a breakdown of longstanding cultural norms, or the empowerment of interplanetary invasions. Spacefaring explorers like Starfinders and Weydan’s faithful often exercise protocols to limit cultural and technological shock when meeting unfamiliar species, yet even the best intentions can result in dozens of local disasters and revolutions.
One of the most interesting consequences of this is when individuals of these younger species choose to join the galactic community. Adventurers from medium-technology worlds might consider high-tech gear fascinating and wish to learn more, becoming passionate mechanics and technomancers in the process. They might also become invaluable ambassadors, interpreting for medium- and low-technology societies based on shared experience. No matter the profession, anyone hailing from a medium-technology world would needs to be a fast learner to make use of other civilizations’ technologies.

Medium-Technology Adventure Hooks

D20 Adventure Hook
1 A world’s first contact comes via an alien lawsuit alleging a metal slug its denizens launched ceremoniously into space damaged a starship.
2 A small settlement in the Vast struggles with an alien pathogen and requires delivery of new sanitation equipment.
3 A manufacturer wants to sell advanced arms to a mercenary company on a less-advanced world despite significant opposition.
4 A scientific probe that crashed on an inhabited world and sparked its industrial revolution must be recovered.
5 A destabilizing economic boom occurs when rich veins of precious metals are discovered deep underground.
6 An ancient transmission from offworld foreshadows catastrophe.
7 A millennia-old probe from an alien culture has been recovered and holds encrypted data believed to lead to its utopian home world.
8 A scientific facility testing new advances in technology vanishes.
9 An astronaut of an alien species is stranded on a world that fears them.
10 A newly contacted species asks for help clearing a mass of satellites and space junk that prevents space travel.
11 An individual claiming to be a time traveler attempts to advance the technological development of an industrial culture.
12 A sudden increase in pollution levels on a particular world sparks several ecological disasters. The inhabitants must evacuate for their safety.
13 A world’s miraculous advances in medicine are traced back to a captive alien beast that’s being unethically experimented on.
14 A humongous spacefaring creature enters orbit around a world, dangerously affecting its tides.
15 Invasive alien flora is taking over a planet’s natural areas, and the indigenous culture doesn’t have the resources to combat it.
16 A seemingly low- or medium-technology species not only isn’t fazed by first contact, but presents a technologically-advanced gift.
17 The society of a world with rare megafauna pleads for help to combat poachers wielding advanced weaponry.
18 A society claims that its planet’s landmarks were built by aliens.
19 A planet’s strong magnetic fields preclude computer technology.
20 A local war escalates to other worlds with the introduction of starships.