Tobor the Great

Ten billion people can’t all be wrong.

Tobor is no paradise planet, but it’s got something going for it that keeps people there and keeps them growing the population.  Sure, it’s got no surface water and only a trace atmosphere.  It also has the most effective government in the subsector, thanks to a rogue AI from who knows where named Tobor.  He’s the Charismatic Dictator who has been running the show on this planet for ten generations and if you think things are bad now, you should have seen it before he arrived.

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  Tobor the planet is only Tech Level 8, so how is it run by a TL17+ artificial intelligence?

Quoting from page 110 of Book 3 of the LBB, with emphasis added:

The tables indicate the general types or categories of goods in general use on the world… better goods may be imported.

Which means that it’s very possible for a TL17+ device, like one of Cobalt-15’s brethren, to take up residence and climb the ranks of planetary politics through selfless and effective service until nobody knows how they ever got along without him.

As things stand the place has a lot going for it.   A cheap cost of living.  Trains that run on time.  And nearly full employment thanks to the numerous manufactories and a host of public works projects such as the massive terra-forming projects Tobor the Great has implemented to generate the beginnings of a breathable atmosphere.  In another five generations you’ll be able to go outside with nothing more than a mask and supplemental oxygen and in ten generations there may even be real oceans and a self-regulating biosphere.

Just because the place is poor, doesn’t mean the citizens don’t have dreams.  They might not have annual vacations and 401Ks and numerous houses to winter in.  What they do have is safe and comfortable little communities, thanks in part to gun laws that largely target off-world riff-raff, and the sense of belonging that encourages them to work for the long term good of their people.

Running the numbers, the planet has a total of 78-million square miles of surface, of which perhaps only half is useful for living and working.  The rest is polar icecaps, lowlands reserved for ocean development, desert, and other such unpleasant areas.  That’s still 39-million square miles, which makes for an average population density of around 250 per square mile.  That’s roughly the same average density as Spain or France.  That’s not so bad.

This makes Tobor a very strange place in the Traveller oeuvre.  There may not be a lot of adventure on this planet, but that’s okay.  Not every world needs to be Mad Max on a Steroid Rage Fueled bender.  It’s okay to have a few pleasant little worlds now and then.  And even if the world is, on average, quaintly pleasant, you can bet that adventurers will find the well below average places to frequent.