Every world is populated for a reason. A few of them are the world of origin, the homeworld, for various alien races. Most published Traveller universes tend to assume that most worlds are settled by other races as part of interstellar expansion, and I personally am a firm believer in that approach. With that in mind, it helps to have some kind of clue as to the origins of the population within a given star system.
With a nod to the City and Town Origins table in An Echo Resounding, I offer the following table for determining System Origins. Please note that it contains what I believe are common Traveller tropes for system origins, based on character creation rules and world generation system elements, but your Traveller Universe may be different from mine regarding those underlying assumptions. If you come across an entry that doesn't seem to fit your needs, please feel free to change it for your own personal setting development.
Table: System Origins
d66 System Origin 11 Ancient Ruins 12 Border Outpost 13 Corporate Site 14 Criminal Haven 15 Defensive System 16 Displaced Undesirables 21 Ethnocentric Community 22 Exiled Nobility 23 Exploratory Base-Camp 24 Farming Colony 25 Government Complex 26 Interrupted Trip 31 Isolationists 32 Land Grant 33 Luddites 34 Military Conquest 35 Mining Colony 36 Naval Base 41 Outcasts 42 Personal Estate 43 Philosophic Enclave 44 Pirate Base 45 Prison Planet 46 Prospector's Claim 51 Psionic Institute 52 Rebels 53 Religious Compound 54 Research Station 55 Shipwreck Survivors 56 Stepping Stone 61 Technophiles 62 Trading Hub 63 Training Facility 64 Treaty World 65 Wildlife Preserve 66 Referee's Option (Something Unusual)
Using the table above, I generated three possible System Origins, one each for the three cultural hubs we're using as examples.
For Jengu (2407 A79A89C-B Amber Zone), I generated "Philosophic Enclave". This tells me that the original settlers of this world were united under the auspices of a specific philosophy, as opposed to a religious belief system or ethnic culture. Reviewing the Wikipedia entry on Jengu, I noted that there once existed a secret society called the Jengu cult, which focused on the worship of water spirits, honoring fishing, healing and medicine. Taking some inspiration from that, and removing the religious aspects, I'm struck by the concept of a secret society devoted to fishing, healing and medicine. Considering that Jengu is a water world, the fishing takes care of itself, and I'm left with healing and medicine. Ah hah! The original colonists of Jengu were devotees of a non-traditional philosophy on medicine and healing, belonging to a secret society of healers. Feeling pressure from more traditional medical practices on their world of origin, these settlers came to Jengu to freely practice their medical practices. This gives Jengu a potential for distinctive medical technologies either more or less advanced than others of their tech level. Nice flavor already!
I generated "Psionic Institute" for Koyane (2706 A5699EF-B Amber Zone). Assuming the Traveller norm, psionics is probably ill-regarded by the population of the sector as a whole. The original settlers of this system were psionicists, and they came to establish an institute for the exploration of psionicology in an isolated system far from other cultures. The combined factors of a religious autocracy and a high law level sparks two different lines of creative thought for me: either the psionicists became the state religion, or a religious faction overthrew the psionic regime and maintain a state of martial law to insure that psionics is abolished and remains abolished on Koyane. The Japanese kami Ame-no-Koyane (for whom the system is named) was seen as the patron of the Fujiwara clan on Old Earth. As the Fujiwara clan gained political power by marrying their daughters to emperors, I can see the psionics element remaining very strong in politics during the formative years of the system. In the Azri Drakara sector, the Covenant of Discipline is a psionic religious autocracy, which is why I think that here, I'll put the psionicists out of power. However, now I have the concept of Psionic Freedom Fighters waging their war against the oppressive religious faction in an effort to reclaim their former Empire. Cool! We've got some instant historical background for the Beta Quadrant Campaign, and a twist on the usual Traveller Universe presentation of psionics.
For Sutekh (1707 AADA746-B), I generated "Trading Hub". This is probably the most straight-forward of all three examples. As we noted earlier when considering Sutekh as a cultural center for the setting, its sister-system of Seshat (1907 B69A8A8-9) has a greater population five times the size of Sutekh's, so it is likely where the Seshat Empire originated. Sutekh was settled as a trading connection to other interstellar markets, and promptly blossomed. Numerous corporations came to the world, seeing opportunities to develop under less restrictions than existed on the homeworld. Corporate research and development pushed Sutekh's technology infrastructure ahead, as dealing with a smaller population size made such changes to the infrastructure an easier proposition. As more corporations abandoned Seshat for Sukhet, Seshat fell into a decline. As an aside, since the rules indicate that a Class A starport is necessary for starship construction and repair, I have to decide whether to change Seshat's starport to Class A to reflect its role in this story, or change the story around so that Sutekh has been the center of the empire all along (requiring perhaps a population code change from 7 to 8 and a name change on the Empire, but I'm okay with that, too.) Since we're still in the formative stages here, I think I'll bump the pop code for Sutekh up to an 8 and make it the center of the Empire.
Okay, new story for Sutekh (1707 AADA846-B): Sutekh is the capital world of the Sutekh Empire. The original settlers were primarily corporations and merchants, giving rise to a rapidly developing interstellar trade center. Not a lot of flavor, but then again, not all of the flavor of a world has to come from the System Origins.
Our next secondary step in developing Cultural Hubs for our setting is the system's core function in the campaign setting. That looks like it will require another table to be created, inspired by the City and Town Activities table found in An Echo Resounding. We'll tackle that in my next post!