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Absalom Station feels way too small for me


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It just seems odd to have a Station which seems to have all the survivors of the planet Golarion only having 2 million people on it. That's less than many Earth cities! Tokyo by itself is like 36 million!

for my head cannon I much prefer Absalom Station be far more like Tokyo than Toronto in terms of population amount and density :) Just fits a techno space cyber future better to have lots and lots of people living close together for me. Plus everyone in the universe with Drift Travel (which is everyone, thanks Triune!) can get to the station in 1d6 days because of the Starstone. That's got to create a population boom too!

So for me Absalom Station is at least 40 million, or more like 100 million.

Do others disagree/agree?


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

i think part of the problem is making Absalom too big to fail, if it was 50, 60, 100 miles wide than it wouldnt be threatened by much and it would sort of cut off a lot of narrative options unless you just want to keep introducing bigger and badder super weapons. i think the idea was that it needed to be big enough to matter, big enough to set all kinds of stories on but not big enough to be a super power unto itself.


I don't think the Starfinder universe is short on planet destroying weapons. It is space opera after all :)

Exo-Guardians

Torbyne wrote:
i think part of the problem is making Absalom too big to fail, if it was 50, 60, 100 miles wide than it wouldnt be threatened by much and it would sort of cut off a lot of narrative options unless you just want to keep introducing bigger and badder super weapons. i think the idea was that it needed to be big enough to matter, big enough to set all kinds of stories on but not big enough to be a super power unto itself.

It's the defacto capital of the Pact Worlds and treated as an entire planet in terms of diplomatic relations. Why shouldn't it be a superpower unto itself-- at least as much as Verces or Castrovel is?

I agree with OP, 4 million people is utterly insignificant on a planetary scale. The small size doesn't really fit the other fluff very well.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Saros Palanthios wrote:
Torbyne wrote:
i think part of the problem is making Absalom too big to fail, if it was 50, 60, 100 miles wide than it wouldnt be threatened by much and it would sort of cut off a lot of narrative options unless you just want to keep introducing bigger and badder super weapons. i think the idea was that it needed to be big enough to matter, big enough to set all kinds of stories on but not big enough to be a super power unto itself.

It's the defacto capital of the Pact Worlds and treated as an entire planet in terms of diplomatic relations. Why shouldn't it be a superpower unto itself-- at least as much as Verces or Castrovel is?

I agree with OP, 4 million people is utterly insignificant on a planetary scale. The small size doesn't really fit the other fluff very well.

It is a power but not a super power. Its pull is over sized for its ability to exert itself, mostly because it houses the star stone and acts as a super beacon. In that regard its a nifty analog to Babylon 5, the last, best, hope for peace. The fact that it otherwise is smaller than everyone else, with less resources of its own and dependent on others probably made it a good candidate to be capital since it cant strong arm any member states making it somewhat forcibly neutral.


Saros Palanthios wrote:
Torbyne wrote:
i think part of the problem is making Absalom too big to fail, if it was 50, 60, 100 miles wide than it wouldnt be threatened by much and it would sort of cut off a lot of narrative options unless you just want to keep introducing bigger and badder super weapons. i think the idea was that it needed to be big enough to matter, big enough to set all kinds of stories on but not big enough to be a super power unto itself.

It's the defacto capital of the Pact Worlds and treated as an entire planet in terms of diplomatic relations. Why shouldn't it be a superpower unto itself-- at least as much as Verces or Castrovel is?

I agree with OP, 4 million people is utterly insignificant on a planetary scale. The small size doesn't really fit the other fluff very well.

Its kinda like making Brussels the defacto capital of the EU. It not being in and of itself a galatic super power probably goes a long way in keeping everyone else is happy. I mean Verces might see Castrovel as being too much of an economic threat to let them be the seat of power and vice versa. Its insignificance allows it to be significant diplomatically.


Absalom Station does not remotely have all the survivors of Golarion on it. The survivors of Golarion are scattered everywhere and founding colonies all across known space, the human racial fluff in fact refers to other races fearing human designs on their territories for this reason.

The Station is the centre of human culture in the Pact Worlds in the way a great city is the centre of a continent's culture; and that's essentially what it is, the Pathfinder city of Absalom-in-Space. Its influence stems from strategic importance--especially the Starstone's unique power as a Drift beacon--and not raw scale. Still, it's more than large enough to feel like an interesting city-in-space (a city of two million people is a pretty sufficient canvas for most of the story purposes I would think of using it for, anyway) and it isn't overcrowded enough to be too dystopian or oversized enough to become a Niven-style Big Dumb Object, which would be a whole different register of storytelling. So I think they got the size right.


But I would say that a great city that is the center of the galaxy's culture should be bigger than a Earth city that fills the same role for something as small as a planet's continent or country.

I go back to Tokyo. Absalom Station *should* be bigger than Tokyo at the very least.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I think one premise of Starfinder is that the Pact Worlds are underpopulated for various reasons:

Absalom Station, the Idari: As artificial structures, these places are limited to the population sizes of large cities.

Castrovel: Still covered by lush jungles that even an advanced civilization has difficulty penetrating.

Akiton: Limited by desertification as a "dying" planet.

Verces: Usable land area is limited by the planet being tidally locked.

Triaxus: Habitable area decreases greatly during decades long winter, and the inhabitants know about this long enough in advance not to spread out too much.

Moons of gas giants: Limited by size or other factors -- or they may in fact be the major population centers.

If Golarion were still around, it would easily have a greater population than the rest of the Pact Worlds combined. With Golarion gone, it seems likely that every remaining planet in the Pact Worlds has a population well under a billion people.


That's reasonable actually David. I *am* applying the logic of the 6 billion+ strong Planet Earth to this setting.

I don't think there's any numbers of how many people are on Castrovel or Verces? Verces might be just a strip but it's a densely populated planet sized strip in the fluff so it would be hard for me to imagine that not being having a population in the billions.

The Veskarium has to be in the multiple billions though and if that's the case then it makes it hard to understand how the Pact Worlds could have held them off if they aren't at least in the same league in terms of population.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

The physics of Drift travel seems to favor the defender in an interstellar war, as you have no way to guarantee that the ships in an invading fleet arrive together. Of course, the fact that Absalom Station has such a strong Drift beacon gives the Pact Worlds a slight disadvantage in that regard, as the spread in arrival times is greatly reduced -- but the invaders are also forced to arrive near Absalom Station, which should be the best defended point in the entire Pact Worlds system for that reason.

So I am thinking that the Pact Worlds are able to hold off invaders because, while they are vastly outnumbered by any potential invaders, they are not outnumbered by a big enough factor to make a defense impossible. Of course, that does mean that the idea of the Pact Worlds trying to invade the Veskarium or any other similarly advanced and highly populated solar system would be absurd.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Azih wrote:

That's reasonable actually David. I *am* applying the logic of the 6 billion+ strong Planet Earth to this setting.

I don't think there's any numbers of how many people are on Castrovel or Verces? Verces might be just a strip but it's a densely populated planet sized strip in the fluff so it would be hard for me to imagine that not being having a population in the billions.

The Veskarium has to be in the multiple billions though and if that's the case then it makes it hard to understand how the Pact Worlds could have held them off if they aren't at least in the same league in terms of population.

I think these are things that will be fleshed out in much more detail in the setting book this March... but it is fun to try to figure out.


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David knott 242 wrote:

The physics of Drift travel seems to favor the defender in an interstellar war, as you have no way to guarantee that the ships in an invading fleet arrive together. Of course, the fact that Absalom Station has such a strong Drift beacon gives the Pact Worlds a slight disadvantage in that regard, as the spread in arrival times is greatly reduced -- but the invaders are also forced to arrive near Absalom Station, which should be the best defended point in the entire Pact Worlds system for that reason.

So I am thinking that the Pact Worlds are able to hold off invaders because, while they are vastly outnumbered by any potential invaders, they are not outnumbered by a big enough factor to make a defense impossible. Of course, that does mean that the idea of the Pact Worlds trying to invade the Veskarium or any other similarly advanced and highly populated solar system would be absurd.

The Pact invading ANYBODY is a bit absurd. That's not what the loose alliance is built for. Even "taking the war to the enemy" is something there is no way to get the entire system to agree to. It is the sort of risk to which many of the governments of the Pact Worlds are fundamentally averse.

And it's not the Pact World defending themselves. Absalom Station, if it know a threat was coming, would be able to call in enough favors that it is suddenly one of the most heavily defended points in the Universe. No matter what differences it may have with other members of the Pact, all recognize its significance and will rush to its aid with very significant firepower. Even the Veskarium, now that they and the Pact Worlds are at peace, know that it is in their best interest that Absalom Station not fall, and they will act accordingly -- and they, unlike the Pact Worlds, have no disagreements with invading an enemy's territory if they threaten a friend.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I'm actually wondering if there will be other star systems that will be explained as part of the Glorion diaspora to explain where all of those people who fought in the Vesk war came from.


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Something else to consider is that, while yes, attackers can get to Absalom Station from anywhere in the cosmos. . . so can defenders. A fleet laying siege to the station has to live with the constant threat of reinforcements showing up, and the Station turning into the anvil on which they get smashed. And unlike the attackers, the defending reinforcements can just wait, outside of combat range, for their numbers to assemble before pouncing. After all, the siege forces can't break off to chase down assembling reinforcements without weakening the siege.


Herald wrote:
I'm actually wondering if there will be other star systems that will be explained as part of the Glorion diaspora to explain where all of those people who fought in the Vesk war came from.

It was the Swarm.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Azih wrote:

But I would say that a great city that is the center of the galaxy's culture should be bigger than a Earth city that fills the same role for something as small as a planet's continent or country.

I go back to Tokyo. Absalom Station *should* be bigger than Tokyo at the very least.

You keep saying Tokyo but Tokyo and it is too big to be a space station. Think about how many 36 million actually is. It's a lot. I think New York City which 8.5 Million would be better for a station.


I will happily have backwards justification.

Item one: Absalom Station isn't just humans. While they may be a majority (don't know off the top of my head), you can consider it as something like New York being 60% white. (Also off the top of my head.)

Item two: Golarion may have been the center of human population. We don't know what happened in the gap, it's possible the vast majority of Humans simply vanished. I don't think they would've all moved off-world. The remaining humans still have a strong presence because they breed quicker than other races and made a bounce back. They are not however near their original numbers.

Item three: In this world human increase rates may be lower. Golarion is much more progressive than Earth in terms of gender rights. This means that Golarion starts with a lot of women working, and therefore not having as many kids. The simple access of magic before technology as well kind've puts many of them in an industrial phase, which is when birth rates drop. As birth rates and death rates drop simultaneously, they likely gain a pretty stable population. Our world is rather different as we don't have magical resources, and our human rights base is worse. This means we grow much quicker.

Item four: Space isn't hospitable for families. Since technology is available for everyone and commodities are available, having children isn't really advantageous. Why try to have five sons when you have a guarantee one will make it? Just four more people to clothe, feed, and educate.

Hopefully that should help! I made it up on the spot, but it seems fun to consider how Humans in the pact world address population growth.


While it's a good attempt, your assertions about low growth rates seem at odds with the human race writeup, which describes them as expansionistic and having a 'viruslike' ability to spread themselves.

One thing I think is worth noting is that in general the scale seems kind of small in Starfinder. Absalom station isn't all that large by city standards, but the pact worlds in general seem to be fairly sparsely populated as far as highly industrialized societies go, with many or most of them having huge swaths of wilderness or uninhabitable regions.

I agree the station should probably be bigger, but the size looks a bit better when you remember that the scale of the setting in general seems shrunk compared to traditional sci fi.


David knott 242 wrote:

Castrovel: Still covered by lush jungles that even an advanced civilization has difficulty penetrating.

So is Brazil!

But population density is Density 24.35/km2 (63.1/sq mi).

If we make a Brazil World that seems really close to Castrovel's description we will end up with Density X Land Area
(148.94 million sq km) (57.506 million sq mi) for a terrestrial earth like planet like Castrovel.
My calculator results in 3.626.689.000.

Thats 3.5 Billions. Nothing to be shy about.

Also notice that the map provided describes a world with less than 70% Sea.

David knott 242 wrote:
Verces: Usable land area is limited by the planet being tidally locked.

Verces is also a Terrestrial x1 Planet. Given that the whole strip is a stretched sprawl we can use the Northeast Megalopolis of US as an example.

Population (2010) 52,332,123
• Density 931.3/sq mi (359.6/km2)

The equatorial of an earth like planet is 40.000km. For simplicity sake I m gonna use this number to adjudicate the terminator length in Verces.
I m gonna reason that the Urban strip is rather thin, same as the Megalopolis in US, 150km.

Ends up in 40.000x150x359.6
x0.3(Percentage of Land - again map provides a map with 0% visible sea) =~ 630 Millions.

That is an extremely thin width. In the book the strip seems to be a good part of the planet and no seas so the numbers could go up 10-30 times or more.

David knott 242 wrote:
Akiton: Limited by desertification as a "dying" planet.

Now Akiton seems hard to understand!


Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I may have underestimated the populations of Castrovel and Verces, but the fact remains that there are factors limiting their populations -- they would both have even higher populations if they were more earthlike. If we compare Castrovel to Brazil, then a futuristic Golarion would probably be more comparable to India in terms of population density.


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MageHunter wrote:
Item one: Absalom Station isn't just humans. While they may be a majority (don't know off the top of my head), you can consider it as something like New York being 60% white. (Also off the top of my head.)

Per Dead Suns 1 - Incident at Absalom Station, 46% of the population is human.


JetSetRadio wrote:
Azih wrote:

But I would say that a great city that is the center of the galaxy's culture should be bigger than a Earth city that fills the same role for something as small as a planet's continent or country.

I go back to Tokyo. Absalom Station *should* be bigger than Tokyo at the very least.

You keep saying Tokyo but Tokyo and it is too big to be a space station. Think about how many 36 million actually is. It's a lot. I think New York City which 8.5 Million would be better for a station.

How do you figure “too big to be a space station”? Absalom Station is absolutely tiny compared to stations or even ships in many other sci-fi settings.


I'll echo Ouachitonian. I don't see why we can't have a starship with even a few hundred million people on it. Worldships are a common sci fi concept and I don't see any reason why a Tokyo level population wouldn't be possible. Especially since Absalom Station is 3 dimensional. Can pack a whole lot of people in more compactly than a 2d city.


Ouachitonian wrote:
JetSetRadio wrote:
Azih wrote:

But I would say that a great city that is the center of the galaxy's culture should be bigger than a Earth city that fills the same role for something as small as a planet's continent or country.

I go back to Tokyo. Absalom Station *should* be bigger than Tokyo at the very least.

You keep saying Tokyo but Tokyo and it is too big to be a space station. Think about how many 36 million actually is. It's a lot. I think New York City which 8.5 Million would be better for a station.
How do you figure “too big to be a space station”? Absalom Station is absolutely tiny compared to stations or even ships in many other sci-fi settings.

How about Hong Kong. Really small, still houses 8 million people!

However, I feel the urge to stress once more that Absalon Station should be considered in VOLUME not area.

In a city most building are a few meters high. Even places like Hong Kong have average building height of 100 meters/yards top.

Absalom can house whatever people need in all his height.

Grand Lodge

Amaltopek wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:

The physics of Drift travel seems to favor the defender in an interstellar war, as you have no way to guarantee that the ships in an invading fleet arrive together. Of course, the fact that Absalom Station has such a strong Drift beacon gives the Pact Worlds a slight disadvantage in that regard, as the spread in arrival times is greatly reduced -- but the invaders are also forced to arrive near Absalom Station, which should be the best defended point in the entire Pact Worlds system for that reason.

So I am thinking that the Pact Worlds are able to hold off invaders because, while they are vastly outnumbered by any potential invaders, they are not outnumbered by a big enough factor to make a defense impossible. Of course, that does mean that the idea of the Pact Worlds trying to invade the Veskarium or any other similarly advanced and highly populated solar system would be absurd.

The Pact invading ANYBODY is a bit absurd. That's not what the loose alliance is built for. Even "taking the war to the enemy" is something there is no way to get the entire system to agree to. It is the sort of risk to which many of the governments of the Pact Worlds are fundamentally averse.

And it's not the Pact World defending themselves. Absalom Station, if it know a threat was coming, would be able to call in enough favors that it is suddenly one of the most heavily defended points in the Universe. No matter what differences it may have with other members of the Pact, all recognize its significance and will rush to its aid with very significant firepower. Even the Veskarium, now that they and the Pact Worlds are at peace, know that it is in their best interest that Absalom Station not fall, and they will act accordingly -- and they, unlike the Pact Worlds, have no disagreements with invading an enemy's territory if they threaten a friend.

The Pact has, besides planetary armed forces, three services that I can tell:

The Knights of Golarion: These are the "Navy" and "Marines" of the Pact Worlds. They're the heavy hitters, the ones focused on warfare. A war-focused campaign would make heavy use of the Knights. In my version of the Pact Worlds, Knights ships have the prefix PWK in their names (Pact Worlds Knights).

The Stewards: This is the "Starfleet" of the Pact Worlds. More exploration-based than the Knights but still with plenty of teeth. To quote Captain Pike, "it's a peacekeeping and humanitarian armada." The Stewards are an all-in-one: They're the federal police, the Red Cross, the Air Force, NASA. They probably employ a lot of starships in the middle of the size spectrum (explorer through destroyer). In my version of the Pact Worlds, Stewards ships have the prefix PWS in their names (Pact Worlds Stewards, often incorrectly called as "Pact Worlds Ship").

The Starfinder Society: Not REALLY an armed service of the Pact Worlds but the Starfinder Society still fills a niche. They are more exploratory even than the Stewards and their ships tend to be weapons-light but sensor- and computer-heavy. IMVOTPW, Society ships have the nonmilitary prefix E/V in their names (Exploratory Vessel).


The Pact Worlds could probably call upon the services of a portion of the Hellknights as well.

Silver Crusade

CeeJay wrote:
Absalom Station does not remotely have all the survivors of Golarion on it. The survivors of Golarion are scattered everywhere and founding colonies all across known space, the human racial fluff in fact refers to other races fearing human designs on their territories for this reason.

Not to mention that the majority of Golarion's population is probably still on Golarion. It wasn't destroyed. It was just moved. Nobody knows to where. But it still exists somewhere, probably with tens of billions of sentient beings still along for the ride.

Grand Lodge

I think this is a case of the time old trope of sci-fi writers have no sense of scale. Not linking to tvtropes to avoid crashing anyone's dreams of being productive today.


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^Oh, come on -- can't we just agree that it's bigger on the inside than on the outside?


Fromper wrote:
CeeJay wrote:
Absalom Station does not remotely have all the survivors of Golarion on it. The survivors of Golarion are scattered everywhere and founding colonies all across known space, the human racial fluff in fact refers to other races fearing human designs on their territories for this reason.

Not to mention that the majority of Golarion's population is probably still on Golarion. It wasn't destroyed. It was just moved. Nobody knows to where. But it still exists somewhere, probably with tens of billions of sentient beings still along for the ride.

Yes, that is probably also true to some extent.


Azih wrote:
I don't see why we can't have a starship with even a few hundred million people on it.

I still don't see why there's any particular need to do that. It's not a question of possibility: this is a setting with a sacred site of Sarenrae inside the sun, of course it's possible.

It's just that because you can doesn't necessarily mean you should. The analogy to national or civilizational capitals is false; that's not what Absalom is. It's not the Tokyo of the setting. It is the Babylon 5 of the setting and already ten times that scale. So why would it need to be larger yet? Just feels like a solution in search of a problem. Narratively speaking, any centre of population with more than a million people is surely large enough to tell most stories involving a "city."


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CeeJay wrote:
Azih wrote:
I don't see why we can't have a starship with even a few hundred million people on it.

I still don't see why there's any particular need to do that. It's not a question of possibility: this is a setting with a sacred site of Sarenrae inside the sun, of course it's possible.

It's just that because you can doesn't necessarily mean you should. The analogy to national or civilizational capitals is false; that's not what Absalom is. It's not the Tokyo of the setting. It is the Babylon 5 of the setting and already ten times that scale. So why would it need to be larger yet? Just feels like a solution in search of a problem. Narratively speaking, any centre of population with more than a million people is surely large enough to tell most stories involving a "city."

Dont be so harsh. Some of us think that anything other than NY,London,Paris or Hong Kong is just not big enough to portrait cultural pluralism right!


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Ouachitonian wrote:
JetSetRadio wrote:
Azih wrote:

But I would say that a great city that is the center of the galaxy's culture should be bigger than a Earth city that fills the same role for something as small as a planet's continent or country.

I go back to Tokyo. Absalom Station *should* be bigger than Tokyo at the very least.

You keep saying Tokyo but Tokyo and it is too big to be a space station. Think about how many 36 million actually is. It's a lot. I think New York City which 8.5 Million would be better for a station.
How do you figure “too big to be a space station”? Absalom Station is absolutely tiny compared to stations or even ships in many other sci-fi settings.

Can anybody give us a list of other space stations or colony's to compare? I am not familiar with other sci-fi settings.


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Jetsetradio: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PlanetSpaceship

The scale of space is truly amazing.


Enter wrote:
CeeJay wrote:
Azih wrote:
I don't see why we can't have a starship with even a few hundred million people on it.

I still don't see why there's any particular need to do that. It's not a question of possibility: this is a setting with a sacred site of Sarenrae inside the sun, of course it's possible.

It's just that because you can doesn't necessarily mean you should. The analogy to national or civilizational capitals is false; that's not what Absalom is. It's not the Tokyo of the setting. It is the Babylon 5 of the setting and already ten times that scale. So why would it need to be larger yet? Just feels like a solution in search of a problem. Narratively speaking, any centre of population with more than a million people is surely large enough to tell most stories involving a "city."

Dont be so harsh. Some of us think that anything other than NY,London,Paris or Hong Kong is just not big enough to portrait cultural pluralism right!

:rofl: That gave me a good chuckle, thanks.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
JetSetRadio wrote:
Ouachitonian wrote:
JetSetRadio wrote:
Azih wrote:

But I would say that a great city that is the center of the galaxy's culture should be bigger than a Earth city that fills the same role for something as small as a planet's continent or country.

I go back to Tokyo. Absalom Station *should* be bigger than Tokyo at the very least.

You keep saying Tokyo but Tokyo and it is too big to be a space station. Think about how many 36 million actually is. It's a lot. I think New York City which 8.5 Million would be better for a station.
How do you figure “too big to be a space station”? Absalom Station is absolutely tiny compared to stations or even ships in many other sci-fi settings.
Can anybody give us a list of other space stations or colony's to compare? I am not familiar with other sci-fi settings.

hoo-boy...

Deep Space Nine, Length‎: ‎1451.82 meters, permanently housed 300, could flex up to 7,000.

Bablyon 5, Length: 5 miles, Population: ~250,000 (under normal conditions)

Death Star (series of stations) sizes range from 140-900KM with the smallest having a full compliment of 1.3 million

Spacedock as seen as the same station across multiple Star Treks but inconsistencies place its dimensions as as small as 3.8 by 5.5KM up to 12x27KM and with between 740-2200 levels. No numbers on population.

Most of the other ones i am seeing are actually rather small for self sustaining space cities. if we start pillaging Ian m Banks or Gundam though i bet we could pull up a lot of crazy examples.


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JetSetRadio wrote:
Ouachitonian wrote:
JetSetRadio wrote:
Azih wrote:

But I would say that a great city that is the center of the galaxy's culture should be bigger than a Earth city that fills the same role for something as small as a planet's continent or country.

I go back to Tokyo. Absalom Station *should* be bigger than Tokyo at the very least.

You keep saying Tokyo but Tokyo and it is too big to be a space station. Think about how many 36 million actually is. It's a lot. I think New York City which 8.5 Million would be better for a station.
How do you figure “too big to be a space station”? Absalom Station is absolutely tiny compared to stations or even ships in many other sci-fi settings.
Can anybody give us a list of other space stations or colony's to compare? I am not familiar with other sci-fi settings.

This image is helpful for that. Granted, it's missing some of the most massive vessels, like the Death Stars, but it'really nice nonetheless. For reference, Absalom station is around 8000 meters in diameter.


JetSetRadio wrote:
Can anybody give us a list of other space stations or colony's to compare? I am not familiar with other sci-fi settings.

Cities in Flight by James Blish has Earth cities lifted intact into space and traveling to the stars.

Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous With Rama: similar purpose to the Idari?

Megastructures Ringworld, Dyson Spheres, and more


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I meant space stations with population. I am not personally going to do research on it because I don't think it's a problem. Best example I can think of is the Death Star and it has under the 2.1million that Absalom has soo...

The thing you have to look at is what it takes to run a ship that could house that many people. I think people who really get this concept are people who work in construction or engineering. Not saying you can't understand it's just people who are in those fields have to think about it on a daily basis.


CeeJay wrote:
Azih wrote:
I don't see why we can't have a starship with even a few hundred million people on it.

I still don't see why there's any particular need to do that. It's not a question of possibility: this is a setting with a sacred site of Sarenrae inside the sun, of course it's possible.

It's just that because you can doesn't necessarily mean you should. The analogy to national or civilizational capitals is false; that's not what Absalom is. It's not the Tokyo of the setting. It is the Babylon 5 of the setting and already ten times that scale. So why would it need to be larger yet? Just feels like a solution in search of a problem. Narratively speaking, any centre of population with more than a million people is surely large enough to tell most stories involving a "city."

Not really sure what the hostile tone is about, but that aside...

It's not a 'problem' per se, but it does feel kind of weird to have the place that's put forth as the economic and cultural center of the solar system and the primary home of the human race be about the size of Orlando, Florida.

Someone earlier mentioned how it's kind of like how Brussels is the de facto capital of the EU, but comparatively Absalom is likely much, much smaller, since if you kept the proportions the same the entire pact system would have a total population under 2 billion.


JetSetRadio wrote:

I meant space stations with population. I am not personally going to do research on it because I don't think it's a problem. Best example I can think of is the Death Star and it has under the 2.1million that Absalom has soo...

The thing you have to look at is what it takes to run a ship that could house that many people. I think people who really get this concept are people who work in construction or engineering. Not saying you can't understand it's just people who are in those fields have to think about it on a daily basis.

The Death Star was a rather different animal, though. It was a military vessel that used up a large portion of its volume on a planet-killing superweapon. Strip that thing out, dump the space spent on housing legions of stormtroopers, thousands of turbolasers, thousands of fighters, shuttles, ground combat vehicles, the hyperdrives, etc, and you could fit a hundred million more people in there no problem. The thing’s 75 Miles in diameter, for goodness sake. The superlaser’s focusing dish alone has a diameter greater than Absalom Station. It doesn’t have a complement in the tens of millions because it was meant to support a superweapon, not a civilian population.


swoosh wrote:
Not really sure what the hostile tone is about, but that aside...

I'm not trying to be "hostile," I'm just puzzled that stuff like this keeps getting repeated:

Quote:
the economic and cultural center of the solar system and the primary home of the human race be about the size of Orlando, Florida.

... and I don't know why, because (almost) every part of that sentence looks either questionable or flatly wrong to me, and I'm therefore no closer to understanding what actual problem is being solved here than I was at the outset. But the fact that we're into repetitions of the same point over and over might mean it's time to just let it go.


Which part looks questionable? The Orlando metropolitan area has a population of 2.3 million and both "Undisputed center of interstellar trade" and "primary home of humanity" are phrases lifted directly from the CRB.


Ah, you're quite right.

Then I guess it depends how you interpret "primary home of humanity." Given everything else in the game fluff -- in particular the much-repeated stuff about how ubiquitous humans are and how they are leading the charge in building new settlements -- I take that to mean cultural and historical primacy, not anything numeric.

A place being a centre of trade or the cockpit of a loose alliance doesn't necessarily translate into its being populous. I mean, the Vatican is the undisputed centre of a religion over a billion strong. Venice was the undisputed centre of the world economy for two centuries. These things don't have any direct or necessary relationship with population.


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Ah, a big long post got eaten. My own bad for not backing up.

In summary I'll say that Absalom Station is in the fluff a destination of the most major significance in many many ways.

It's like NYC combined with the Vatican and Brussles. And even more besides because of fluff canon things like the BlueRise Tower, the LoreSpire Complex, Abadarcorp HQ, the Starstone, easiest place to travel to in the Universe, ground zero of the Gap etc. It's the remnants of the home of not just humanity but also all the legacy races except elves.

It's ground zero of research into the Gap, and the Starstone.

It's the center of trade and diplomacy.

It's one of the most important religious sites for not just Iomedae but also Triune and Abadar.

As a setting it has to be able to accommodate any kind of modern/scifi urban adventure you can think of, and that requires a large population and a lot of areas. Gang wars (yakuza, triad, Italian mob, Mad max style in the Spike), corporate espionage, religious intrigue, diplomatic shenanigans, any kind of urban police/detective crime story you can think of.

These things are far better represented in a large population and Absalom Station just does not have that with 2 million. Basically that number is at odds with the rest of the fluff and the kind of stories that the setting should be able to play host to.


Azih wrote:
As a setting it has to be able to accommodate any kind of modern/scifi urban adventure you can think of, and that requires a large population and a lot of areas. Gang wars (yakuza, triad, Italian mob, Mad max style in the Spike), corporate espionage, religious intrigue, diplomatic shenanigans, any kind of urban police/detective crime story you can think of.

For a moment let's just leave aside the (irresoluble) debate about to which capitals or cities Absalom should be "properly" compared. I think basically if you prefer a population ten times larger for these kinds of stories that's your business: but if you think it is required you're simply wrong. Seattle in the Shadowrun universe supported a decades-long game franchise as the centrepiece of stories of just the nature you just described with a population not much larger than Absalom Station's. The reason for that is that two million+ people is a lot of people. I don't know that it's Paizo whose understanding of scale may be at fault here.


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CeeJay wrote:
Seattle in the Shadowrun universe supported a decades-long game franchise as the centrepiece of stories of just the nature you just described with a population not much larger than Absalom Station's. The reason for that is that two million+ people is a lot of people. I don't know that it's Paizo whose understanding of scale may be at fault here.

Two things to note:

According to the Shadowrun wiki, Seattle has a population of about 6 million in setting (four million officially plus about two million unregistered), so that's close to three times bigger than the number the OP gave, not smaller.

Second, regarding scale: Seattle's a major city in a setting confined more or less exclusively to Earth. The Pact has ten planets (though we can probably ignore aucturn here), a worldship, an inhabited asteroid belt and some small population around the sun too.

Using your own example you could make a compelling argument for Absalom being thirty times larger, not ten.


CeeJay: I think there's two major points where we may be disagreeing.

One is the difference that advanced technology and a galactic scale should make in terms of how many sentients it makes sense to be able to accommodate.

Even with the incredibly dangerous setting that this is (where there are monsters around from CR 1/3 to 20 and beyond easily available to be beat up on by PCs and that can't be completely eliminated either so low level adventurers have something to do), those things, to me, should be reflected in a way that 2 million on Absalom Station just doesn't.

The other is the sheer amount of important sites Absalom Station has and the way it's described in the fluff as pretty much the city at the center of the galaxy. It's the financial and trading center, it's a religious center for multiple faiths, it's the diplomatic center, it's the center of the massive colonization effort that's underway in the timeline (as everybody who's pushing out to settle new planets will Drift back to Abslaom Station to resupply), it's the center of exploration because of the Starfinder Society, it's got either the headquarters or a significant presence from every corporate entity of note in the known universe.

It's just a *lot* of stuff.

But you know, agree to disagree and all that. And obviously paizo offically agrees with you more than me :)


Squiggit wrote:
According to the Shadowrun wiki, Seattle has a population of about 6 million in setting (four million officially plus about two million unregistered), so that's close to three times bigger than the number the OP gave, not smaller.

What I said was "a population not much larger." As in, Shadowrun Seattle's population is still in the single-digit millions. It's comparable in basic scale to Absalom and absolutely not on the scale of metro Tokyo (first cited as what Absalom's population "should" be) which is close to forty million.

And in talking about the scale of a setting required to tell certain stories the AP wants, I'm not interested in making "a case" for Absalom as the actual Seattle of this setting. That was not the point.

@Azih, I'm not just here to argue with you. I'm also interested in a better understanding of how Absalom is functioning in Starfinder and why, and part of why I keep coming back is that talking with you about this is helping me to grasp it better, so thanks for that.

Azih wrote:
One is the difference that advanced technology and a galactic scale should make in terms of how many sentients it makes sense to be able to accommodate.

We are certainly disagreeing about this, or rather about whether either of these things has anything much to do with the population of a specific station or place.

Arguably stories about advanced technology and a galactic scale should really tilt away from urban overcrowding or anything that looks like it, especially in a science-fantasy setting with infinite numbers of habitable worlds Out There. I'll come back to this.

Quote:
The other is the sheer amount of important sites Absalom Station has and the way it's described in the fluff as pretty much the city at the center of the galaxy.

I do get that, except most of the important sites Absalom has aren't important in a way that requires a ton of population to run them... at least not in a genuinely high-tech setting. They're administrative centres, archives, temples, corporate headquarters, headquarters for various organisations whose members are mostly Out There Doing Stuff like the Stewards or the Starfinders or the Knights of Golarion.

The most population-centric thing Absalom really has going for it is being the nexus of interstellar travel. But even a good amount of this is about people using the Starstone as a navigational waypoint, not necessarily stopping on the station itself. The setting fluff even goes out of its way to supply the "Armada" which is a very specific reference to this.

And I think there's a narrative reason for that. Absalom Station as designed can be used to tell plenty of stories if you really insist on running Shadowrun-style plots in this setting... but it also seems to me to be basically created as a base, a way-station, a jumping-off point for the core attraction of a space opera setting, which is Out There. Most of Absalom's population is in transition, coming and/or going from Out There, so it's bustling enough to sell its galactic importance but also not meant as a place whose gravity well will suck in your entire campaign.

On reflection, I think that's the thing you would most want to think about if you were homebrewing Absalom as a Big Dumb Object with forty million people on it, or four hundred million for that matter. You can easily do this if you want to and justify it any number of ways; but the bigger you make it, the more it becomes a place where your party could spend their entire adventuring career without shifting a foot toward a spaceship.

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