Archives of Nethys

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Infinite Worlds / Technology

Tech Categories

Source Galaxy Exploration Manual pg. 126
With an area as vast as an entire galaxy, different civilizations possess divergent levels of technological advancement, from archaic to the most cutting-edge. Tech categories are an optional subsystem for determining the types of technology available (or not) on a given world with more nuance than the general distinctions of low, medium, and high.
The table below presents nine tech categories. Categories 1 and 2 represent low technology, categories 3 through 6 represent medium technology, and categories 5 through 9 represent high technology; the overlap between medium and high allows some flexibility when choosing a tech category.
To use this subsystem, first choose the general technology attribute of the world: high, medium, or low. Then choose one of the specific tech categories within that attribute from the table below. Alternatively, you can randomly determine a world’s category (and corresponding technology attribute) by rolling a d10 (rerolling any result of 10) and using the result for the category.
Each category has a descriptive name as well as a list of example technological advancements and items usually available in that category, divided into five groups: space travel, weapons, armor, vehicles, and other. The categories are additive, meaning that technology from lower-tech categories is available in higher categories as well; lower categories don’t have access to technology from higher categories. For example, PCs visiting a Space Age world (category 3) wouldn’t generally be able to find sonic weapons, which are not available until the Digital Age (category 4), but they could purchase flame weapons since those are Industrial Age (category 2) technology. While these tech categories aren’t comprehensive, you can use the examples in the table as guidelines to determine the specific technological items available on a world. For example, holographic technology is a hallmark of the Digital Age (category 4), so a technological item that uses holograms should generally be available in that category.
No two worlds are alike, even within the same tech category, so feel free to mix and match specific technological advancements from different categories to match the needs of your campaign. If you want a Space Age world to have powered weapons or for domestic drones to be available in a Digital Age civilization, go for it! Likewise, a world doesn’t necessarily need to advance from one tech category to the next in numerical order. It’s perfectly possible for a Cybernetic Age world to jump directly to the Pre-Drift Age without developing biotech at all. There’s room enough in the galaxy for worlds and civilizations with every possible combination of technological prowess—and this subsystem gives you the tools to create them all!

Tech Categories

Tech CategoryAdventure HookWeaponsArmorVehiclesOther
1: Archaic Age archaic archaic biological transport, nonpowered land and water pre-industrial technology
2: Industrial Age analog flame, melee, and non-automatic projectile land, water industrial technology
3: Space Age suborbital and orbital flight automatic, laser, and non-analog flame and projectile space suits air computers (tier 0–2), nuclear technology
4: Digital Age limited satellite flight sintered melee; sonic nonarchaic armor with environmental protections computers (tier 3–4), modern Earth–equivalent technology, holographic technology, infospheres, personal comm units
5: Cybernetic Age limited sublight interplanetary travel, starships (thrusters only) powered, shock; integrated weapons; ultrathin melee powered armor multi-type, tunneling artificial/virtual intelligence, computers (tier 5–6), cybernetics, domestic drones, jetpacks, jump jets, robots, starship data nets, system-wide comm units
6: Biotech Age biomechanical starships (thrusters only) living weapons dendron armor, preserver’s mantle biotech, spore starship weapons
7: Pre-Drift Age interplanetary travel, non-Drift interstellar engines molecular rift melee, cryo, plasma, and gravitation weapons hover artificial gravity, computers (tier 7–8), force fields, graviton and hover technology, x-ray visors
8: Drift Age faster-than-light Drift travel dimensional blade/slice and zero-edge melee, disintegrator, nanite quantum computers (tier 9–10), nanotechnology, quantum technology, regeneration tables, standardized credit currency, unlimited comm units, UPBs
9: Intergalactic Age non-Draft faster-than-light travel, travel beyond the galactic rim, sivv rel-space drives, witchwyrd planar aperture drives AG weapons, degenerator weapons, dimensional disruption AG armor advanced or unknown alien technology, Azlanti technology, computers (tier 10+), kishalee relics, sivv relics, witchwyrd technology