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Like Earth, But… [Random Table]

A week ago, I put out a call to make a d% table that filled in the phrase “Like Earth, But…” and y’all didn’t disappoint. :) Here’s the fill list I’ve made from that. Use it as you will, rolling as many times as you see fit and rerolling (or not) inconsistent ones.

Like Earth, But…

  1. with [d3+1] moons
  2. mostly desert
  3. mostly ocean
  4. with dramatic seismic activity
  5. littered with ancient ruins
  6. subjected to a constant super-storm
  7. much colder
  8. much hotter
  9. tidally locked to its star
  10. its day is [d3+1] times shorter
  11. its day is [d3+1] times longer
  12. with more helium in the air
  13. with continuous rainstorms
  14. without any wind
  15. with excessive wind
  16. covered in self-replicating nanobots from a dead civilization
  17. with higher radioactivity
  18. with lower radioactivity
  19. with looser tectonic plates, which are affected daily by tidal forces
  20. with thinner tectonic plates, causing more active volcanoes
  21. with older tectonic plates, resulting in extreme erosion across the planet
  22. with less dense atmosphere, leaving lots of cratering from asteroids
  23. extremely aggressive single-celled organisms that have prevented multicell life from forming
  24. the planet has escaped from its solar orbit somehow, but still retains some heat
  25. with rings, like Saturn
  26. with seemingly intelligent tumbleweed
  27. with geysers instead of lakes
  28. with extremely rapid geological processes
  29. creatures like giant man-o-war floating in the sky
  30. with the bleached skeletons of creatures the size of a moon as geographic features
  31. with mountain ranges far taller than the atmosphere
  32. with all the oceans underground
  33. the oceans are slowly evaporating, and the water leaving the atmosphere somehow
  34. prone to large, deep sinkholes
  35. with a large part of one continent covered in some toxic gas
  36. with animals that can speak a common language
  37. with large bridges of unknown material and origin that span large bodies of water
  38. with non-sentient trees that migrate
  39. with oceans that reach boiling temperatures
  40. without a magnetic field
  41. with rings instead of/addition to, moons
  42. with only artificial satellites
  43. with no large fauna, only flora
  44. with much higher oxygen levels, meaning that fires burn lots
  45. with significantly higher gravity, but not crushing
  46. with lower gravity, but not microgravity
  47. evidence of a long-dead mystery race
  48. with networked plant life hosting a quasi-sentience
  49. recently emerged from an ice age.
  50. is in the eventual path of a deteriorating local comet
  51. has a supervolcano ready to blow
  52. circled by the remains of a partially constructed Dyson sphere
  53. rotates perpendicular to the orbital path
  54. rotates west to east
  55. has lava tubes everywhere
  56. with a single super-continent
  57. is made up of nothing but small islands, though with same land/water ratio as Earth
  58. with an incredibly eccentric orbit
  59. is actually orbiting gas giant in solar system
  60. is part of a binary stellar system
  61. is one of the planets in a binary planetary system
  62. its star is of a different class
  63. is orbiting a blackhole instead of a star
  64. has a moon-mass black hole orbiting it
  65. has no grasses, making plains become dust bowls
  66. has east and west poles, rather than north and south
  67. has only recently become human-habitable
  68. is ravaged by ancient industrial pollution
  69. has orbiting solar mirrors keeping an ice age at bay
  70. appears to blink out of existence for one year out of ten.
  71. its atmosphere is filled with floating islands.
  72. the difference between high and low tide is one of miles.
  73. a few times each year, the entire planet “hiccups” a few dozen seconds back in time
  74. littered with recent sites of urban deconstruction
  75. has dinosaurs
  76. poles are hot and equator is cold
  77. the waters are oxygen-rich and apparently human-breathable
  78. sound is dampened
  79. has a significantly longer day/night cycle
  80. has a significantly shorter day/night cycle
  81. the day/night cycles aren’t symmetrical
  82. the night sky is filled with various gorgeous nebulae
  83. continually electrified atmosphere
  84. the rate of time moves somehow much slower or faster [d2] on the surface compared to in orbit
  85. most of the fauna lives underwater, including giant leviathans and ravenous piranha
  86. was strip-mined some decades ago
  87. in the midst of a mass extinction-level event
  88. imbues some sense of telepathy in those who spend enough time there
  89. has signs of a large civilization, but all the people seem to have gone missing some time ago
  90. has a research outpost, and everyone inside is dead
  91. is a prison colony
  92. is under planet-wide quarantine
  93. is disputed territory between two empires
  94. most of the land is covered in rich foliage
  95. the oceans are acidic
  96. appears to be a rich source of a rare and valuable material
  97. the atmosphere hampers combustion
  98. is broadcasting a warning beacon to stay away
  99. [roll twice]
  100. [roll twice]

Thanks to Albert Anderson, Daniel Lofton, Eric Willisson, Social Justice Commander Shepard, Michael Richards, Colin McMillen, Tara Zuber, Joe Bardales, Andrew Sirkin, Kit Yona, Ben Roby, Ken Burnside, Scum of Dunwall, and Andy for contribution. I used some answers, riffed on others, and was overall pretty amused—especially by the joke answers I couldn’t use.

Try Using It!

If you’re so inclined, here’s a cool exercise that’s also mildly self-serving: roll a couple times on this table to come up with a world, then write a paragraph (or more, I guess) about that world on your blog or G+ or whatever, linking to this chart. This doesn’t at all talk about who’s on the planet; even #89 doesn’t mean they aren’t some settlers who’ve moved in recently. If you decide the world has people on it—whatever “people” means to you—what are they like?

I’d love to see what you guys come up with!

– Ryan

Photo: Vazquez Rocks National Area, as described in this Clarkesworld article on places used as sci-fi settings.

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One Response to Like Earth, But… [Random Table]

  1. “the rate of time moves somehow much slower or faster [d2] on the surface compared to in orbit”

    Actually, this is quite good take on time distortion. There is time rate difference between surfice and orbit, it’s just so insignificant, that we can neglect it most of the time (unless we use GPS). But if this is true for all orbits in estimated universe, it could be very interesting setting to work with.