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Dr. Alonzo Richter first published the Richter Scale of Cultures in 2203. It is a method of describing, quantifying and comparing the development and achievement of numerous disparate cultures encountered on different worlds. Since then it has become the Federation's most important tool for determining at which point in a civilization's development Starfleet’s Prime Directive need no longer apply.
It took into account information across a broad spectrum of scientific disciplines. A full Richter Scale descriptor can include up to three preface letters, 21 explanatory qualification digits, five exception letters, and twelve philosophical-comparison pointers. For most non-experts, the preface letter provided a generalized description of a cultures level, ranging from "AAA" (no known intelligent lifeforms) to "Q" (no technology beyond current Federation theoretical science). Beyond "Q" was "XX", describing a culture which appeared beyond understanding.
Most first contact missions take place when a society reaches a classification of G. Exceptions include planets that do not wish contact, planets that were already contacted by non-federation agencies, and planets that were contacted before the Richter Scale was devised.
The classification in the Richter Scale of Cultures is not necessarily an in-order listing of power per se, although that usually is the case. Attributes like planetary government and non-aggressiveness are factored in. Ratings higher than our own (N) are extremely speculative since more advanced beings and races are not always forthcoming about themselves and we usually have no way of covertly or openly studying them.
No Known Intelligent Indigenous Life-Forms
- Examples: Ceti Alpha 5, Manark 4, Melnos 4, Miridian 4, Nelvana 3, Nervala 5, Ohniaka 3, Omicron Ceti 3, Quazulu 8, Regulus 5, Septimus Minor, Sherman's Planet, Tethys 3, Titus 4, Vilmor 2, Zayra 4
Prehistoric Age, no tools
- Examples: Alpha Carinae 2, Alpha Majoris 1, Bardakia, Berengaria 7, Dimorus 4, El-Adrel 4, No'Mat, Ruah 4, Surata 4
Primitive Space Dwelling
- Examples: Alpha Omicron System (Junior), Giant Amoeba, Nitrium Parasites from the Pelloris Asteroid Belt near Tessen 3, Ordek Nebula (Wogneers)
- Examples: Altair 3, Gamma Trianguli 6, Hanson's Planet
- RESTRICTED: No contact permitted
- Examples: Tarchannen 3, Tarella, Taurus 2
- Examples: Malkus 9, Miramanee's Planet, Rousseau 5
- Examples: Apella, Capella 4, Sigma Draconis 6, Galvin 5, Malurians (before demise), Rigel 7, Zeta Bootis 3 (Neural)
Scientific Intelligence (no tools)
- Examples: Janus 6, Tyrellia
- Examples: Barkon 4, Fendaus 5, Mintaka 3
- Examples: M-113 (before demise), Omega 4, Organian Society's Outward Appearance, Sigma Draconis 3
- Examples: Argo, Brax, Canopus 2, Omicron 4, Rigel 7, Tartarus 5
- Comparable to 1800 to 1900 Earth tech levels in 1st world nations.
- Examples: Landris 3, Minara 2 (before relocation), Mintonia, Rubicun 3 (Edo)
Liquid Fuels Age
- Examples: Kraus 4, Loren 3, Stakoron 2, Suvin 4
- Comparable to 1900 to 1990 Earth tech levels in 1st world nations.
- Examples: Barzans, Deneb 4 (Bandi), Beta 3, Mordan 4, Sigma Iotia 2
- Compareable to 1990 to 2010 Earth tech levels in 1st world nations.
- Examples: Alpha Carinae 5, Altec, Argelius 2, Balosnee 6, Brekka, Kea 4, Penthara 4, Sarona 7, Straleb, Talin 4, Theta 7, Turkana 4
- They have discovered how to send individuals into space successfully. No warp or impulse power yet. Limited range but can reach anything within their own system fairly easily.
Conscientious Space Age
- Examples: Halkans, Marejaretus 6, Norpin Colony, Tagus 3, Thalos 7, Tohvon 3
- Examples: Antica (Beta Renna System), Deneb 2, Drema 4, Gamma Vertis 4, Jaros 2, Ligon 2, Manu 3, Minos Corva, Nahmi 4, Niau, Ophiucus 3, Regula, Selay (Beta Renna System), Sigma Draconis 4, Solais 5, Thelka 4, Ventax 2, Xelata
- They can now travel to other systems. Have the ability to produce lots of pollution free power.
- Examples: 892 4 (Magna Roma), Angel One, Bre'el 4, Ekos, Elas, Kataan, Kenda 2, Krios, Malcor 3, Ornara, Phylos 2, Quadra Sigma 3, Relva 7, Rochani 3, Troyius, Vault Minor, Zeon
- They have learned how to reclaim polluted areas of their world. They have also learned basic terraforming technology.
- Examples: Algolia, Altair 6, Antide 3, Barolia, Breen, Chalna, Corvan 2, Gamelan 5, Largo 5, Ligos 7, Miradorns, Pakleds, Pelleus 5, Pentaurus 5, Regulus 2, Rura Penthe
- Examples: Alcyones, Berellians, Brakas 5, Gault, Lysia, Mudor 5, Nausicaa (before demise), Ogus 2, Otar 2, Qualor 2, Sothis 3 (Sataarans), Shiralea 6, Styris 4, Tarsas 3, Tormen 5, Tyrus 7A, Valeria, Zibalia
- Examples: Acamar 3, Alpha Proxima 2, Beta Antares 4, Coridan, Epsilon Hydra 7, Gamaris 5, Mizar 2, Narendra 3, Nimbus 3, Peliar Zel, Persephone 5, Setlik 3, Vadris 3, Xanthras 3, Zytchin 3
- Examples: 15 Lyncis 2 (Cait), Bajor, Duronis 2, Gaspar 7, Hoek 4, Hurkos 3, Kurl (before demise), Mariah 4, Mataline 2, Meles 2, Memory Alpha, Pacifica, Parliment, Risa (before demise), Sauria, Sirius 9, Valo 2, Valo 3, Wrigley's Pleasure Planet, Zeta Alpha 2
- Examples: Angosia 3, Beltane 9, Benzar, Devidia 2, Dopteria, Eminiar 7, Epsilon Canaris 3, Lenaria, Mantilles, Mariposa, Melina 2, Midos 5, Milika 3, Morikin 7, Oceanus 4, Promelians, Rakhar, Rigel 2, Rutia 4, Tagra 4, Tarsus 4, Vendikar, Zadar 4
- Examples: Alpha Cygnus 9, Ardana, Bilana 3, Catualla, Canopus 3, Dachlyds, Daran 5, Delos 4, Deneb 5, Gonal 4, Hurada 3, Kaelon 2, Kaldra 4, Krisa, Kostalain, Lemma 2, Makus 3, Menthars (before demise), Merak 2, Nehru Colony, Zaldor
- RESTRICTED: No contact permitted
- Examples: Kavis Alpha 4 (Evolved Nanites), Ktaria, Mab-Bu 6 A, Moab 4, Rigel 8 (Orion), Sarthong 5, Tanuga 4, Velara 3
- Examples: Aurelia, Axanar, Beta Lankal, Beta Thoridar, Beta 6, Beth Delta 1, Bolarus 9, Cardassia, Edo (Edoans), Ferenginar, Kora 2, Malaya 4, Talaria, Tau Ceti 3 (Kaferia), Tiburon
- Examples: 61 Cygni 5 (Tellar), Alpha Centauri, Alpha 3, Andor (Epsilon Indii 8), Arvada 3, Babel, Benecia, Bersallis 3, Beta Agni 2, Boreth, Borka 6, Cygnet 12, Deneva, Earth, Excalibur, Gideon, Gornar, Haven, Klaestron 4, Marcos 12, Minos Korva, Pinastri, Q'onos (Klinzhai), Rigel 4, Rigel 5
- RESTRICTED - Avoid contact
- Examples: Minos, Platonius, Remus, Romulus, Scalos, Sheliak Corporate, Tau Cygna 5, Tholia, Tilonus 4
Civil Technocracy Age
- Examples: Betazed, Caldonia, Chandra 5, Danula 2, Delb 2, Delta 4, Efrosia, El-Aurians, Icor 9, New Fabrina, Ramatis 3, Tamaria, Trill, Ullians, Vulcan, Yonada, Zakdor
Civil Technocracy Age
- RESTRICTED - No physical contact permitted
- Examples: Gagarin 4, Torona 4
Space Dwelling Civil Age
- Examples: Beta Renna Cloud, Beta 12-A Entity, Calamarain, Crystaline Entity, Dikironium Cloud Entity, FGC-47 Entities, Gamma Canaris Entity (Companion), Space Jellyfish
- Examples: Bynaus, Cerebus 2, Legara 4, Medusa, Mudd, Sarpeidon (before demise), Vorgons (from the 27th century)
Super Techno-Power Age
- Examples: Amusement Park Planet, Borg Collective (before demise), Dyson Sphere Builders, Iconia (before demise), Old Ones of Exo 3 (before demise), Rubicun 3 (Edo God), Sargon's Planet (before demise), Triacus (Epsilon Indii 4, before demise)
Space Dwelling Super Techno-Power Age
- Examples: Gomtuu (Tin Man), V'ger, "Whale" Probe
- Examples: Aldea
- Examples: Cytherians, Tkon Empire (before demise), Makers (of androids on planet Mudd), Vians
- Examples: Antos 4, Daled 4
- Examples: Melkotia, Prakal 2
- RESTRICTED - No contact permitted
- Examples: Talos 4
- Examples: Guardian of Forever, Tau Alpha C (Traveler), Triskelion (Providers)
- Examples: Excalbia, Trelane of Gothos, Kelvans, Pollux 5 (Apollo - before demise), Pyris 7 beings (Korob & Sylvia)
- Examples: Bajoran Wormhole Entities (Prophets), Dowds, Kalandans, Metrons, Preservers
- RESTRICTED - No Contact Permitted
- Examples: Vagra 2 (Armus), Lactra 7
- Examples: Discarders of Armus, Zalkonians
- Examples: Organians, Thasians, Koinonians, Zetarians
Nigh Omnipotence Age
- Examples: The Q Continuum