Tech Level and Civ Progress

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This page is about what the different Tech Level's mean for both a Civilization and for an individual Character. To go to the rules page for using Tech Level go here.

First and for most the Milky Way if full of life. But not as full as it should have been. And only in the last 100,000 years has life started exploring beyond its surroundings. Gone to new worlds expanded there homes and encountered new intelligent life. The question that plagued Humanity for so long is summed up with the Fermi Paradox. The Fermi Paradox brings to light the interesting question of "Are we alone in the Universe." In Future Path the answer is most probably not. But the Galaxy isn't so overflowing with alien life, as according to the math it should be, that it has been explored and conquered a thousand times over. Even though there is estimated to be 40 Billion inhabitable planets in our galaxy alone. Many of which are far older than Earth.

In the fictional Universe of FuturePath, most life is only possible within the 'Ring of Life.' This is a boundary line similar to the Goldilocks Zone of a solar system, but instead of for planets, it's for the solar systems themselves. Stars that form within this range are not too close to the center of the Milky Way and thus do not experience higher radiation. They are also not too far out of the reaches where the density and thus probability of life is less. It's not to say that life is impossible outside of this Ring, but the mass majority of Sentient life was found within this Ring.

The other reason for why the Galaxy isn't already teeming with life is because of The Great Filter. This is a name given to all the significant milestones that civilization will have to cross to join the elite group of Sentient species that are able too spread across the galaxy. The Great Filter is an ever-present cruel force of nature, and it will never leave.

There are a few milestones a Civilization must pass before being considered a Tech Level 1 Civilization. Part of continuing to climb the Tech Level ladder is over coming to the challenges the Great Filter presents, however, it is not the only way one improves.

The Tech Level system is loosely based on the Kardashev Scale with the idea of 'The Great Filter

The Great Filter

A real force of nature this ever-present filter cruelly extinguishes all species unable to pass its tests. It is represented by challenges that a species will inevitably face. Sadly as a species progresses the old challenges never fully go away, they just become less severe as new challenges arise.

  1. The first challenge is becoming sentient. And during this type, a mindless microbial or beast of the wild is unable to fathom the cosmos or its position in it. It is unable to be aware of the harm that may come to it, or it may, in fact, be doing to its species chances of survival. The celestial body it is on could be hit by an asteroid that could wipe out all life. The star could be too unstable or too old. The solar system could collide with another causing gravitomagnetic tear that would rip the celestial body away from its home and cause it become adrift in space. All life would likely die out over time. Such is the cruel hand of the Great Filter. Such is the fate of most life. Death before it ever had a chance.
  2. Once sentient these creatures must continue to evolve into a species capable of space flight. Capable of dealing with at least a few of the first challenges. All sentient species question at some point about what it all means. About who they are and what their place in the cosmos is. What are those dots up there? How far away are there? Is there somebody else looking down at us? Most that can answer these questions succeed eventually at reaching out into the void. However, during these fragile curious time, the first challenge still looms overhead. However, now there is a new challenger that nature has brought. The species now must also contend with itself. Technology is a double edge sword. It strengths the individual to influence an ever larger number of people. And with that power comes the possibility of destruction. There have been many species who could not resolve their differences and choose a path of mutual destruction rather than embarrassing life. There have also been species who had little problem dealing with such issues. Although few are so lucky to have this challenge be a minor one.
  3. At this point most Civilizations are considered at least Tech Level 1. Although many would argue that this achievement typically doesn't happen until a Civilization starts to colonize space. Some Civilizations reach space still not quite a Tech Level 1. At this point, a Civilization has been experimenting with Advanced Technology. Several significant breaks through that can lead to further advancement or destruction. The careful use of Anti-Matter is one. This can become a planet-killing weapon well beyond the scope of a Fusion Bomb. Another is A.I. An event called the 'Singularity' can occur. This is where an A.I system can start to learn and improve upon itself faster then its flesh and blood creators can. Sometimes this is a joyous occasion. While other times it is a joyless occasion as the machines attempt to take over the flesh. These Civilizations are carefully monitored by the other more advanced Civilizations to make sure things do not get out of hand. (Mainly for there own selfless protection). Advanced A.I is usually illegal or has many heavy stipulations placed on them to ensure control.
  4. Warp drive is usually a staple of a fully mature Tech 1 Civilization. Although space travel doesn't start to become commonplace for most Civilizations until they reach Tech Level 2 having a Civilization reach out beyond there own solar system and colonize other systems is a curial step in helping reduce the threat of the Great Filter. It is at this point where a Civilization has to worry most about other alien species. Most advanced civilizations ignore lower species until they are Tech Level 1. The inter-galactic law forbids the abuse of lower species by higher Civilizations. But once a Civilization reaches a certain point Inter-Galatic law no longer protects them. At this point the threat of being enslaved or wiped out by another advanced Civilization not willing to share its neighbor space.

The levels of a Civilization

There are 6 levels. -1 through 4. Levels are hotly debated among the scholars of the Milky-way Galaxy. Many people like to have a firm definition that creates a solid boundary between levels. However, the different rules do not always apply in all cases. Some species may have technology well beyond a Lvl 2 Civ yet still haven't go out into the heavens. Instead, scholars have created a system that helps to loosely describe accomplishments that a Civilization would more than likely achieve in the early years of there lvl and goals that they will need to achieve or at least make significant headway toward to get to the next lvl. These achievements and goals interestingly have a pattern to where the amount of energy that a species is capable of safely using and the amount of unique information they can process and understand

Although Tech level is represented by a Civilizations overall level, it's a loose approximation. Tech level zero, for instance, accounts for both -1 and 0 Civilization Level. Also, Tech Level 4 is represented by both Civilizations that are strong level 3s and any possible level 4 Civ. For a Civilization, there are two different types of Tech that it can focus on. It can focus on Military Tech, (Armor, Weapons, some Equipment/Chemicals) or Social Tech (General Equipment/Transporation/Chemicals/Some Armor). A new Level 2 Civilization may still have a Military Tech Level of 1 but a Social Tech Level of 2. However a strong Level 2 Civilization implies that it has at least level 2 in both Tech Levels.

There are three different levels of understanding that a Civilization can have over any one subject. Ignorance/Awareness/Understanding. Understanding doesn't mean to say the civilization posses complete understanding. Only that it has a working/piratical knowledge of it in a way that could be used to benefit the Civilization. Ignorance implies that the Civilization is ignorant of the subject and if a Character were to attempt to mention it or explain it to a common citizen that character would hit a brick wall in the conversation. Awareness means that there is a knowledge of such things but not enough that the civilization has incorporated it into daily life. Such to say that it isn't being used in common technologies in a conscience and practical way.

Level 1

  • Energy: ~4x10^16 Watts
  • Unique Bits: 10^6 ~ 10^12 unique bits
  • Accomplishments:

This is when a Civilization first reaches space. (Not probes but actual sentient member of the Species). Space travel is now possible although probably difficult and not yet commonplace. Their home planet is likely largely explored. Perhaps not 100% but the subject of Geography should be at Understanding. They should be able to harness the power of there planet and the majority if not all its resources. From fossil fuels to radioactivity to geothermal. Subjects, Chemistry and Physics and other such subjects should be at an Awareness level.

  • Self-Awareness Accomplishments:

It is likely that a Civilization has reached a point where they began to understand there own brains and how they think. Psychology, Neurology, and Biology(may be different depending on Species) subjects should be at least Awareness level of Knowledge. The subject of ones Local History should be at Understanding.

  • Goals:

The local solar system is now theirs for the taking. Resources abound. One major goal for new spacefaring species is being able to hold dominion over one's own solar system. A strong lvl 1 Species will be able to easily go too and fro within their solar system. Space travel should become more of a common thing. Harnessing the power of the local star. Not only do these mean a better understanding of renewable energies but also of Fusion power. A species may start to think about going faster then Sub-Light Travel (SLT) and start working on Faster-Then-Light or FTL transportation. They may acquire FTL at this stage although many consider this to be the point a Civilization enters Level 2.

Level 2

  • Energy: ~4x10^33 Watts
  • Unique Bits: 10^12 ~ 10^18 unique bits
  • Accomplishments:

One debated marker for a Tech Level 2 Civ is FTL travel. Or simply the ability to travel between stars in a piratical manner. (Which doesn't always mean FTL). Either case nobody ever considers a mature lvl 2 Civ to be without FTL. Subjects such as Physics, Quantum Mechanics, Electromagnetism to all be within and Understanding level. The local solar system is largely explored. Its resources have been made known and are being exploited for the benefit of the Civilization. If the solar system has another planet the species can live on or at least land on they have done that by now and are building settlements. Power is also important. Fusion is being used to its fullest and new forms of power are coming around. Anti-Matter generators are a thing now. The subject of Anti-Matter should be at least an Awareness level.

  • Self-Awareness Accomplishments:

A Species now has a much better understanding of themselves and there place within the universe. Fully understanding its role may still be debated but at least the conversation has a new seriousness to it. They may start to spend much more time devoted to the arts or to war or learning. Species are better informed about mental illness and are usually able to cure it or at least diagnose it. Psychology, Neurology, and Biology are all likely to be at or around Understanding level. Species are working on dealing with problems like death at and removing all possible types of sickness.

  • Goals:

Being more aware of themselves Species may start to weed out negative aspects of there behavior. Things that the species may find as a whole distasteful or to be a deterrent to the survival of the Species. For example, Humanity at this level may start to try to remove irrational emotions like Hate and Fear. These emotions although powerful tools at times can also lead to irrational decision making and have never been very socially acceptable. Having a better understanding of how emotions work and how/why humanity reacts can help to stop them. Although this can also lead to horrible sudo-utopias where people are forced to live a certain way. Species will likely struggle with this issue as they become more aware of how to possibly "Fix" the problem. Species will want to learn faster and powerful ways of space travel and power generation. They will need to gain a much deeper understanding of the universe and how it works to achieve these lofty goals. An lvl 2 species that is on the verge of lvl 3 may also be able to unlock the mysteries of longevity and possibly immortality. They will start to take major roles in the galaxy and effect its occupants.

Level 3

  • Energy: ~4x10^44 Watts
  • Unique Bits: 10^18 ~ 10^24 unique bits
  • Accomplishments:

These are tried and true civilizations. Few truly reach such a height. Many believe that the people who created the Jove where lvl3. These people are capable of exploring whole galaxies within a reasonable amount of time. lvl 3 Civs have either discovered or are on the way to discovering faster forms of FTL. Instant forms of travel such as being able to create wormholes or use Jump drives. All the subjects attributed to an lvl 3 civilization either are or will soon become Understanding level. Most Species raised within this type of Civilization gain bonuses for learning new Subjects. The Species will be expanding across the whole galaxy.

  • Self-Awareness Accomplishments:

These Species will likely have learned many lessons from their past trials of attempting to self-improve. Wither that means physical, emotional, spiritual. It is likely that these people have worked out how to govern themselves without massive conflict (notice not any conflict) and is more easily able to relate and deal with other Species/Civs. They are now truly capable or self-improvement without the conflicts that may have originated before. All Subjects that deal with this from Politics to History and such should all be Understanding level.

  • Goal:

More Power and more powerful ways of travel. The Galaxy may start to feel to small for the explorers and adventures of this Species. Although no known Civ has yet to figure out a piratical way of Inter-Galatic travel it is thought to be possible. The few truly lvl3 Civilizations of the Milky Way has been working on the problem. Self-improvement is another type of adventure. Depending on the success in the past some lvl3 Species may still be working on longevity. However other more drastic improvements may be on the horizon for these power Species.

Level 4

Little is known about lvl4. It is there simply because it is thought to be reachable. Some Species for whatever reason be it pride or narcissism or simply ignorance has claimed to be in the ranks of lvl4. Either-case all things need to be categorized by some philosopher or another.

  • Energy: < Infinity Watts (These means that although the Civilization doesn't actually have Infinity, it may seem that way from lower civilizations. Energy no longer a problem at all.)
  • Unique Bits: 10^24 ~ 10^31 unique bits
  • Accomplishments:

All Subjects attributed to the Civ would be at a "beyond understanding" level and would be common knowledge among all its members. All other Subjects that the Species has yet to master would be at an Awareness level. These types of people would be intergalactic in power. They would have an Understanding level of Knowledge regarding inter-dimensions, multi-verse, cosmology. The Universe would become there playground.

  • Self-Awareness Accomplishments:

For these people, conflicts would be pointless except as a way to avoid boredom. It is doubtful that a Species of such knowledge and technology wouldn't have beat back the powers of Time and death. They would likely be immortal in one way or another.

  • Goals:

It is debated if there would be anything a fully realized lvl4 civilization would try to achieve. That would imply a Lvl 5. It is also hard to imagine if there was anything else beyond. Some people debate that there is a spiritual plane of existence and that perhaps that it may be possible for there to be an lvl 5. If there was then the Universe would seem small and malleable as clay in the hand of a potter to a lvl5 Civ. Are we created by such a Civilization? Would they allow such powerful Species to join them? Such Questions have sparked millions of debates but it is believed that if there was something left for lvl 4 to do except rule the Universe it would be to answer them.

Now what about sentient species that do not have space flight yet or are not considered lvl 1. Well, there are two levels for them.

Level Zero

This is a Civilization that has yet to go to space but shows all the promise of accomplishing such a goal. This is a civilization that has discovered a way of categorizing the things around them as well as use logical steps to prove ideas and thoughts amongst each other. For humans, they would have become level Zero around the renaissance era. (Although you could argue that certain cultures reach this level before the Renaissance era).

Level Negative One

This is a Species just as they come into sentient and start to gather amongst themselves. Their only goals would be to start to become aware of the world around them and also themselves and individuals of that world. The step from -1 to 0 is when they start to have an Aware level of Knowledge regarding the world around them. Biology and Chemistry and Math.


What determines a Civilizations Knowledge level of a subject when I am creating a Civ?

Common Knowledge. Ask yourself if an everyday person living in that time can explain at least the simplest way that particular Subject. You may not be a Math major but you can explain 1+1. You may not know how a car works but if someone from 200 years ago was to ask you. You probably could explain that it uses fire to move and instead of burning wood or coal, you burn super flammable liquid that comes from oil similar to the oil you may use in a lamp. They may not understand how it all relates but they got a good enough answer that it would likely satisfy most common people. (except for maybe some super curious folk). Once a Subject is common enough then it should become available. When leveling up or creating a Civilization you should ask what drives them. What things would they want to focus on? Those are the Subjects you want them to have.