I brought along my Traveller book again this week, and we got everyone to roll up Traveller characters together. Really, it was an activity aimed to entertain, but everyone liked their characters. So, our group wants to have a go at it.

Jared rolled an Entertainer (initially), who became embroiled in a couple political scandals. After two decades of–presumably exotic dancing–she retired from showbiz to become a corporate spy, where she met her husband. She’s 50, I think.

Chrissy rolled a Space Marine who wasn’t as lucky at love: she got a “Dear Jane” letter partway through her career before she was invalided out with a “million-dollar wound” in her last term before her intended retirement.

Cookiemonger was determined to roll up Batman. She began a career in Law Enforcement and got the Advocate and Jack of All Trades skills. Upon leaving the career, she bumped her Social Standing up enough to score a “Knight” title.

She then pursued a career as a Dilettante in the Nobility career (which is really difficult to qualify for, by the way), where she schmoozed with high-level executives and ran a business. She mustered out with lots of ship shares.

Ethan and I still have to roll up characters, but as we moved along through character creation, people started getting excited. It was pretty cool. Now I’m reading the book a bit more intently so I can guide the group through play.

I decided to generate a sub-sector. Holy. Crap.

After I manually determined where worlds went in the hexes (I rolled for starports and gas giants too before I decided I had had enough), I realized it was going to take way too long to generate forty-odd worlds by hand.

I’m taking a couple programming classes, so I thought I’d write a simple program to help me out. It turned out to be more difficult than I anticipated (guess I’ll need a couple more weeks and some practice first), so I turned to using formulas in Excel.

Surprisingly, while time-consuming, that turned out to be entirely doable.

It took me several hours to bash out all the formulas necessary, but once I had them finished I generated, well, most of the information I needed for forty worlds in less than five minutes. And I’m a lot better with Excel formulas now.

What I have left to figure out is space stations.

I’m undecided on how to proceed with that. I mean, there’s no reason why I can’t do that too. Seriously, it would save a lot of time because rolling for each type is super tedious. At this point I could practically generate a fillable world form.

Actually, the reason why I’m hesitant to continue is because there are some ahem, bugs in the world-generation process. Maybe you aren’t expected to roll up so many worlds so quickly, but I encountered some interesting errors thanks to some extreme values in population, government, and hydrographics.

Come to think of it, I could probably speed up my NPC-generation process a lot by using formulas in Excel to make a lot of the filtering I was doing by hand. I practically wrote a program for automatic character class assignment.

Alignment assignment would be worlds easier.

Of course, actually writing a program that could generate the NPCs for me without requiring the minimal data entry I’m doing already would save me even more effort–but it would also sever the last semblance of “work” I’m doing.

…Unless you count all the time I’ve spent working on these projects.