So, each subsector consists of 80 hexes. With a ⅓ density, that means that there should be, on average, 26.666 hexes that have something in them. The best way to do this is randomization. I rolled 80 d6s (well, online, anyway) and assigned them in order to a hex. For every time I got a 5 or a 6, I called it a "hit" and I'll have to generate a star system.
First off, I also looked at my last post, where I placed the star systems that I've already done in the sector. None of them are in subsector I-1, so I don't have to worry about that, but I do want to be reminded that the Monarchy's southern marches are literally along the northern edge of this sector, and the Cilindan Arm's northern border, on the other hand, will either be at or near the southern border of this subsector. I imagine that about ⅓ of the star systems in this sector will belong to one of those two powers, another ⅓ will be completely independent, and the last ⅓ will either belong to small petty kingdoms or corporations or what-have-you of only 2-5 worlds or so. That's all pretty rough, though—in my experience some small massaging of the results is usually desirable.
That said; I wrote all that up before I actually figured out what my results tell me. Let me put this into practice and we'll see what we get for subsector NA I-1. I grabbed a blank subsector image and just put a yellow fill in the hexes that had hits. Let's see if this makes any sense to start with:
I actually think that that's pretty workable. I got a few less than average with only 22 hits, but that's OK. There's a nice big cluster right in the center-right of the map, and the rest of it is relatively scattered. There's some gaps, but nothing that can't be reasonably crossed with a regular starship (remember, that with my rules, no starship can jump more than 3 hexes without being at risk of a misjump.) I'm OK with a few systems that are far enough flung that risky jumps are needed here and there, but as it turns out, I don't have any. Sure, you may have to caravan and make stops at more places than you'd like to get somewhere, but doing so you can get to any system in this subsector without having to risk a misjump—for instance, if you want to travel from 0202 to 0601, you can make a risky jump (4 hexes) or travel through 0504, take a little longer, but save yourself the risk. On the other hand, the maximum amount any ship can jump, even if it's willing to take the risk, is 5 hexes. If I have any systems that are so far flung that they can't be reached in 5 hexes, then it doesn't do any good, because nobody can ever travel to it. I don't; but it's important to keep an eye open for them.
Generating all of the details for all of the systems is a more complicated (enough so that each world will merit a unique blog post, as I've done in the past for the worlds I've done. Eventually, all of those star system data "sheets" will get transferred to my Google site, but for now they're good enough as posts with the data sheet tag so I can find them easily enough. I do want to, I think, map out the political topography of this subsector a little bit first, though. So, let me open my the image in Paint again and just do a quick and dirty color fill for political affiliation: red for the Monarchy, orange for the Cepheid Union, a client or puppet state that kowtows to the Monarchy but (at least on paper) is independent. Darker green is part of the Cilindan Arm, and lighter green are client vassals of the Cilindans. Those that are truly independent, I'll leave in yellow. (For some reason, Paint didn't fill the hexes very well, and left yellow borders around them. Whatever. This is a quick and dirty sketch/draft at this point anyway, just to block in the allegiances.)
As you can see, this means that I have six worlds that are part of the Monarchy, seven that belong to the Cepheid Union, four that belong to the Cilindans, two that are clients of the Cilindans, and only three that are well and truly independent. Does this match up with the ⅓, ⅓ and ⅓ plan that I meant to do before I started playing with the fill tool? Not quite; I got 45% belonging directly to one of the major powers instead of about 33%, and if you count the client/puppet states, that jumps all the way to 86%! Well, whatever. Like I said, some massaging of what I thought I was going to do is usually fine. I like the way it looks.
I'm thinking that adding travel routes and whatnot is best left until the entire sector is complete, so I can make sure that my various subsectors link up in a way that makes sense. I've also gone and grabbed my big blank sector map and input the color coding there, just so I can be ahead of the game. I'm going to stick with some of this color coding:
- Red for the Monarchy
- Blue for the Revanchist Republic
- Purple for the Seraean Empire
- Green for the Cilindan Arm
- Gray for the Dhangetan Cartel
- Yellow for true independents
- Pale yellow for independents that belong to smaller petty groups, so that I can separate them from worlds that are going it solo.
Client or puppet states will be lighter shades of the principle color of the polity to which they owe their allegience, so the Cephean Union will be orangish to match the red of the Monarchy, and the client worlds of the Cilindans will be light green (client worlds of the Republic would be baby blue, for the Seraean Empire would be lavender, etc.) There may be a fine line between a client state and a colony in actual practice, but I still think you can tell the difference between them if you see them. Client states are usually governed by natives rather than by colonists. A colony might well have many natives on it, but the government will be a colonial one rather than a native one who has sworn some kind of allegiance, or paid tribute, or been overtly installed as a puppet in lieu of some former hostile native government.
With that, I think I'll be done for now. I might do this same exercise for all of the subsectors before I start filling in the actual system details. I actually think that will help me make sure that it all fits together really well before I worry too much about stuff that will take a lot longer to do.