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Interworld Developmental Levels


Rodford Edmiston Smith

730 Cline St.

Frankfort, KY 40601-1034

Developmental Levels

There are many factors involved in measuring how technically and socially advanced a civilization is. Below is a list of the main determining factors, with examples of milestones to look for at each level. Note that these events are only likely to occur at the levels listed; extraordinary circumstances may cause the milestone events to be early or late for the overall developmental level. Also, it is difficult to predict more than one level ahead, especially in such areas as physics and medicine. To most people, one level ahead is barely imaginable and two levels ahead rates as magic.

Categories of Development: Computation, Physics, Control, Medicine, Engineering, Sensors, Communication, Power, Nutrition, Organization.


Developmental Level 0: Computation capacity is limited to rough approximations.

Developmental Level 1: Simple counting. (Tally marks.)

Developmental Level 2: Arithmetic (Roman numerals); simple record keeping devices (abacus).

Developmental Level 3: Algebra. (Positional notation, as opposed to the earlier symbolic notation.)

Developmental Level 4: Trigonometry; simple mechanical devices, primarily analog (orreries, tide clocks).

Developmental Level 5: Calculus; intermediate mechanical devices (Babbage engines).

Developmental Level 6: Binary logic theory; dedicated analog devices and early programmable machines. (Mechanical adding machines and calculation engines.)

Developmental Level 7: True, programmable computers. (Tube operated electronic computers.)

Developmental Level 8: Integrated circuit computers, Simple neural nets.

Developmental Level 9: Chaos theory; complex neural nets. (Optical and single-quantum processors.)

Developmental Level 10: Speculus. Multi-dimensional, simultaneous equation analog/digital devices. (Force unit processors.)

Developmental Level 11: Reality math. (Block transfer computations.)


Developmental Level 0: Knowledge of Physics is nonexistent.

Developmental Level 1: Simple deductions based on direct observation. Developmental Level 2: Simple rules of thumb.

Developmental Level 3: Simple laws, used but poorly understood.

Developmental Level 4: Physics recognizes forces and can define laws to describe them. (These laws are often correct in describing but usually wrong in explaining and predicting.)

Developmental Level 5: Detailed descriptions of forces and theories of how they work, as well as predictions of what will be discovered next. (Predictions often wrong due to lack of data.)

Developmental Level 6: First theories of radioactivity and electromagnetism.

Developmental Level 7: First theories of the atom.

Developmental Level 8: Quantum mechanics.

Developmental Level 9: General relativity.

Developmental Level 10: Grand Unification Theory.

Developmental Level 11: Roll your own. (Custom forces.)


Developmental Level 0: Control is by direct physical action.

Developmental Level 1: Indirect physical action (i. e. levers).

Developmental Level 2: Simple timing mechanisms (water clocks, timed fires).

Developmental Level 3: Simple mechanical timers. (Pendulum and escapement.)

Developmental Level 4: Cam-driven machines.

Developmental Level 5: Advanced cams and linear access programs. (paper tapes, punched cards, automatic looms).

Developmental Level 6: Simple feedback circuits designed.

Developmental Level 7: Relay operated electrical devices. (Advanced feedback.)

Developmental Level 8: Advanced sensors for feedback and monitoring.

Developmental Level 9: Dedicated circuitry. (Electrical, fluidic, hydraulic.)

Developmental Level 10: Programmed central control units.

Developmental Level 11: Error tolerant programming. ("Do what I want, not what I say." Fuzzy logic.)


Developmental Level 0: Medicine is limited to instinct.

Developmental Level 1: Folklore.

Developmental Level 2: Includes specialists with knowledge of herbs.

Developmental Level 3: Profession, taught in organized schools.

Developmental Level 4: Includes concentrated extracts from plants and animals, including the first true narcotics.

Developmental Level 5: Routinely survivable surgery. (Understanding of microbe theory of disease and use of early anesthesia.)

Developmental Level 6: Practical anesthetics and practical surgery.

Developmental Level 7: Specific, specific chemicals for certain ailments (magic bullets).

Developmental Level 8: Practical transplants.

Developmental Level 9: Artificial organs and control of aging. Genetic editing of unborn.

Developmental Level 10: Regeneration. Genetic editing of fully developed adults.

Developmental Level 11: Somaforming.


Developmental Level 0: There is no Engineering; nothing is built that requires more than instinct. (Transportation is entirely manual.)

Developmental Level 1: Stone and wood tools and simple structures. (Animals are ridden.)

Developmental Level 2: Planned structures, with as many as two stories, as well as early metals (copper, bronze) and glazed pottery. (Wheeled vehicles.)

Developmental Level 3: Iron and other metals, as well as glass; large monolithic structures are possible. (Pyramids. Mortar and early concrete are in use.)

Developmental Level 4: Metal is used for small structures. (Small iron bridges. Advanced concrete. Early self-propelled vehicles.)

Developmental Level 5: Steel and reinforced concrete, as well as structures with an internal skeleton. (Early skyscrapers.)

Developmental Level 6: Aluminum and similar metals. (First practical buildings above 10 stories. First powered flight.)

Developmental Level 7: Early advanced design of structures, composite materials. (Building height limited by financing. Sound barrier broken.)

Developmental Level 8: Advanced materials and design, nanotechnology, perfect fibers. (Buildings use less support structure than before for same load bearing. Objects placed in orbit.)

Developmental Level 9: Active support structure, force-bonded compounds. (Counterweights, hydraulic jacks, contracting cables, local stellar system explored.)

Developmental Level 10: Force fields and antigravity for structural support, atomic crystal matter synthesized. (Interstellar flight.)

Developmental Level 11: Unbelievium, orichalcum. (Time stasis, indestructible materials.)


Developmental Level 0: Individuals are limited to their own senses.

Developmental Level 1: Use of animals.

Developmental Level 2: Simple mechanical devices (pressure plates, trip wires).

Developmental Level 3: Early optics. (Magnifying glasses, simple telescopes. Earhorns used for deaf. Corrective lenses.)

Developmental Level 4: Intermediate optics. (Microscopes, better telescopes, cameras.)

Developmental Level 5: Sensors include first amplified sound devices, and detection of radiation outside range of normal senses.

Developmental Level 6: Advanced optics. (Advanced telescopes.)

Developmental Level 7: Radar and sonar, detection and use of far infrared and ultraviolet, electron microscope. (Light amplification devices.)

Developmental Level 8: Scanning tunneling microscope, atomic force microscope. (First pictures of atoms.)

Developmental Level 9: Direct detection of gravity waves.

Developmental Level 10: Detection of pandimensional effects.

Developmental Level 11: Predictive detection and retroactive examination.


Developmental Level 0: Communication through simple, clear language only, by sound, gesture and so forth.

Developmental Level 1: Complex spoken language, Simple written symbols. (Warning signs, pictographs.)

Developmental Level 2: Symbolic writing. (Smoke signals, sun flashes.)

Developmental Level 3: Phonetic writing, as well as first codes. (Semaphores, sign language.)

Developmental Level 4: Heliographs, advanced codes.

Developmental Level 5: Telegraphy, photography and simple audio recordings.

Developmental Level 6: Telephone and radio. Cipher machines.

Developmental level 7: Television and magnetic recording. Developmental Level 8: Digital recording.

Developmental Level 9: Direct neural stimulation.

Developmental Level 10: Two-way neural interface.

Developmental Level 11: Total data link.


Developmental Level 0: Power is muscle only.

Developmental Level 1: Limited use of animals.

Developmental Level 2: Animals in harness or on treadmills, as well as simple water and wind mills.

Developmental Level 3: Advanced harnesses and improved wind and water mills and early steam engines. (No more than 100 horsepower in one place.)

Developmental Level 4: Power includes steam piston engines and early electrical devices. (1000 horsepower in one device.)

Developmental Level 5: Power includes advanced steam turbines with forced-draft boilers, and early photoelectricity and internal combustion engines. (100,000 horsepower in one place.)

Developmental Level 6: Major hydroelectric and steam power plants. (Multi-megawatt capacity for each unit.)

Developmental Level 7: Early nuclear fission plants. (20 megawatts per unit.)

Developmental Level 8: Advanced fission power. (100 megawatts.)

Developmental Level 9: Fusion power. (10 gigawatts.) Developmental Level 10: Antimatter power. (100 gigawatts.)

Developmental Level 11: Foam extraction/vacuum engines. (Free power. 1 terrawatt.)


Developmental Level 0: Nutrition is by hunting, foraging and scavenging.

Developmental Level 1: Limited food storage only. Some planning for hunting, a few low-care crops. Foraging much less important. Simple food storage through drying, and use of naturally durable items. (Apples.)

Developmental Level 2: Crops and herds replace foraging, partially replace hunting. Food storage includes smoking and salting.

Developmental Level 3: Almost no foraging. Hunting uncommon. Some specialization of crops and herds.

Developmental Level 4: Improved storage, as well as farming as a specialized profession. Developmental Level 5: Knowledge of vitamins. (Awareness, not reason.)

Developmental Level 6: First scientific studies of food preservation. (Canning.)

Developmental Level 7: Artificial dehydration.

Developmental Level 8: Artificial freeze drying and inert atmosphere canning.

Developmental Level 9: Early synthesis.

Developmental Level 10: Complete synthesis. (Any nutrient can be manufactured without the use of intermediate organisms.) Developmental Level 11: Independence from processed materials. (Citizens need only energy and raw materials.)


Developmental Level 0: Asocietal organization.

Developmental Level 1: Tribal.

Developmental Level 2: Groups of tribes. Developmental Level 3: City state.

Developmental Level 4: National, with government by monarchs

Developmental Level 5: International, with government by constitutional monarchs, elected officials and dictators.

Developmental Level 6: Worldwide, though not yet integrated socially or economically.

Developmental Level 7: Integrated planetary society.

Developmental Level 8: Interplanetary.

Developmental Level 9: Interstellar.

Developmental Level 10: Asocietal organization. Developmental Level 11: Fully integrated universal society.

Buying Things

The cost of items is listed in relation to the cost of a prepared meal of average quality and quantity, at the developmental level where the items are first available. Note that these are guidelines only. Environmental and social factors can change these costs by orders of magnitude.

Item Cost

Average meal, ingredients 0.5

Average meal, prepared 1

Average meal, prepared, stored 1.5

3.6 MJ (1kw hour) of energy storage 10

1-person ground transport 200

4-person ground transport 400

1-person air transport 10,000 4-person air transport 20,000 1-tonne to LEO (Does not include payload cost) 2,000,000 Interplanetary craft (to 30 million km) 1,000,000,000 Interstellar craft, sublight 10,000,000,000 Interstellar craft, FTL 500,000,000 Communicator, Planetary (21,000 km range radio) 400

Communicator, Interplanetary (450,000 km range radio) 2,000,000 Communicator, Interstellar (4 ly radio) 20,000,000 Communicator, Interstellar (4 ly delator) 2,000,000 State of the art computer 20,000 7.5 KW power source 2000 Short range weapon (Melee, cost per D6 damage) 1

Medium range weapon (to 20 meters, cost per D6 damage) 10

Long range weapon (to 100 meters, cost per D6 damage) 100

Book 500

Information storage (per 1000 words) 10

Basic hand tool 5

For items still in common use, cost declines by 1/2 for each Development Level higher than the minimum, to a minimum of 1/10th the original price. Items no longer being made cost 2X for each DL since manufacture ceased, if they are being bought in new condition. Used or surplus cost depends on circumstances. Each doubling of capability over base adds 25% to the original cost. Each halving reduces cost by 10%. Each DL above the minimum reduces size and mass by 25%, to a maximum of 50-90%, depending upon the item or service. The exact amount depends upon the nature of the item. Transport equipment must have enough room to carry someone, for instance.

Computers and some other electronic devices are special cases, since these make quantum leaps upward in capability and downward in size and price several times during each Computational Developmental Level above 7. Therefore, the size, price and capacity rules above should be applied for each of ten sub-levels in the Computational DLs from 8 on up. To help further, computers are defined in more detail below.

Note that a different way of doing something can have a large effect on the cost of doing it.


                                                                           Internal                 Speed                                                         Storage
Type                         Operation                           Channels               (Mips)                    Programming                (Bytes)            Minimum DL

I                                 Mechanical                                 1                   1X10-7                     Fixed                            10                    5
II                                Electro-Mechanical                    1                    1X10-6                     Hard wired                   1 K                   6

III                               Electronic   (tube)                      1                    1X10-5                     Hard programmed     100 K                   7

IVa                            Electronic                                 20                    1X10-3                     Hard programmed         1 M                   8a
                (discrete semiconductor components)

IVb                            Electronic                                200                   1X10-1                     Software                     10 M                    8b
                        (integrated circuit boards)

IVc                            Electronic                              2000                   1X10^2                     Software                    100 M                    8c

IVd                            Electronic                            20,000                  1X10^3                     Software                    500 M                    8d

IVe                            Electronic                           200,000                 1X10^8                     Self programming         10 G                    8e
                            (molecular scale)

V                               Electrochemical                   2X10^6                 1X10^7                     Self programming         100 G                  8f

VIa                             Photonic                              2X10^9                 1X10^9                     Self aware                     10 T                  9

VIb                            Mechanical                          2X10^9                 1X10^6                     Self aware                   100 G                   9
                            (molecular scale)

VII                            Quantum                             1X10^12                1X10^12                   Self aware                    100 T                  10


The cost listed is for a weapon of average quality and typical type. Very few medieval peasants had swords, but most had staves or clubs (melee range), many had spears (medium range) and a few had bows (long range). The price of a non-typical weapon will vary widely. In many times and places the availability will depend less on the cost than on whether the Character is viewed as being qualified to have such a weapon.

For weapons whose damage is dependent on strength, the cost is based on damage. A quarterstaff shouldn't break, but neither should it be to heavy that it is difficult to use. The base price is for weapons made of wood. Weapons made of metal cost 5 to 10 times the base. A standard mace, with a wooden shaft and metal head, would cost 5X the price of a club. An all-metal mace would cost 10X as much as base. Items requiring large amounts of workmanship - such as a sword - cost 10 to 20 times as much again. A simple sword can therefore cost 100 times as much as a club.