I'm worldbuilding a leisure society. Therefore, I'm trying to make the struggle-to-survive much easier than it is on Terra. The necessities of life (food, shelter, etc.) should be much easier to come by.

The beings are human but the planet is not Earth; we can mess with geological or planetary factors.

  • One thing I thought about was making photosynthesis more productive so all plants produce more. I gave this its own question here.

  • A change in the primary production of energy for society? e.g. if a seaweed existed that produced biofuel in great quantities that was easy to extract, and tolerated a broad range of water conditions, then the "energy" element of producing would become easy, and production in general would be that much easier.

  • Some change in tribology or material science that makes machines less prone to corrosion/breakdown. You set them up and they work pretty perfectly for a long time without requiring maintenance.

  • An abundance of some mineral, possibly titanium, so that machines would be lighter and corrode less.

  • The planet is closer to its star than earth, or the star is brighter. Either one would increase the energy hitting the planet. But this might unleash a chain of problems. Skin cancer seems easy to explain away: the people would have evolved to deal with the radiation. But there are probably other problems too.

  • A less oxidising atmosphere. Bye-bye rust. Again, this probably has too complex a set of effects, including on biology.

  • One super-duper tree, like a better moringa. Moringa grows fast, gives something like olive oil that can be used as fuel, cooking oil and lubricant, has leaves that can be used as a highly nutritious leafy green. Some fictional version that's even better might be perfect. On Terra, the !Kung people live easy laregely because of the mongongo tree.

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    $\begingroup$ I doubt that a single change would make life easier. Maybe true for established civ, but any planet wide change would also make other life easier, increasing the variability of fauna, as well as allowing more predators to get fed in every region, thus humans would have to withstand predators, I think it'll be gradually harder than withstanding environment. $\endgroup$
    – Vesper
    May 25 at 14:13
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    $\begingroup$ Easy for whom? What are the goals of the people on your leisure world? $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    May 25 at 14:42
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    $\begingroup$ Eat, drink, and be merry @Cadence $\endgroup$
    – wokopa
    May 25 at 14:44
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    $\begingroup$ This seems to be a brainstorming question which isn't a great fit for this site. "Easy mode" is ill-defined, so the space of answers is very under-constrained. $\endgroup$ May 25 at 15:09
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    $\begingroup$ I mean - historically the answer was 'Slavery'.... $\endgroup$ May 25 at 21:45

4 Answers 4


The polywell reactor (bonus: it looks awesome)

So, your world is Earth-like, but not Earth, and the needs are human needs. Well then, we can look to Earth to see what would make life Easy Mode here.

And as it turns out, we have a framework for that! A framework which we are working towards. That framework is...

The 17 Global Sustainability Goals

The 17 Global Sustainability Goals

If we solve these things, if we reach these goals, then we are on easy-street.

Now then, what would be the one thing that solves most of the goals?

Answer: an abundant and non-polluting supply of energy.

Let us look through the goals...

  • #7 Affordable and Clean Energy This is self-explanatory, how an abundant source of clean energy solves this goal

  • #13 Climate action The largest part of human-created greenhouse gasses stem from energy production

But abundant energy supply also helps solve several other goals...

  • #6 Clean water and sanitation Salt water can be easily desalinated using energy. Abundant energy supply makes all the seas sources of fresh water, and makes it easy to transport fresh water long distances.

  • #2 Zero Hunger Growing food demands energy, not only photosynthesis but also in the form of nutrients to the ground. To manufacture fertiliser and soil rejuvenation, you need plenty of energy (today we use a lot of petroleum for that)

  • #11 Sustainable Cities and Communities To build a city you need concrete, steel and other metals, or — with new 3D printing technology — you can even take material directly from the earth and melt it, to then print your buildings. These building-materials demand energy.

    And then — of course — to live in these cities, and maintain them at a comfortable standard of living, also demands energy.

  • #12 Responsible Consumption and Production Again, energy is the key to this. Especially waste management becomes easy to handle, as you can simply incinerate all waste, and reduce it to its elemental atomic components. Only toxic elements — such as heavy metals — then need to be collected, immobilised and deposited in a responsible manner.

  • #9 Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure all demand energy.

  • #3 Good Health and Wellbeing Air pollution from combustible energy sources account for millions of deaths on Earth every year. The extraction of energy is also a dirty and hazardous affair.

    Abundant supply of clean energy solves this issue.

  • #16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions Practically all war and conflict today stem from war over resources. Energy, food and water, are some of the most critical resources that can make a nation take drastic measures to secure them.

    An abundant source of clean energy therefore makes the world much more secure, and removes perhaps the most prevalent cause for war.

"This all sounds fine, but what is such an energy source?"

In your world, you can postulate that the Bussard polywell reactor actually works.

enter image description here

The polywell fusion reactor gives lots of energy, and looks totally sci-fi:ishly awesome

Yes, the picture above is an actual photograph of a polywell prototype.

The polywell reactor would — if it works — provide clean, scalable, abundant and distributable energy at a mind-blowing rate.

Unfortunately, in this reality, it looks more and more as if there are insurmountable practical challenges with getting the polywell concept to work. It is not impossible, just unpractical at the moment.

However, in your world, that one change you are looking for, is that you can postulate that they solved these issues, or that they never existed in the first place.

So, what one change would put life on Easy Mode on an Earth-like world?

That the Bussard polywell reactor works.

  • $\begingroup$ Instead of confining the solutions to a specific kind of reactor somehow working on the alien world, it might make more since to focus on the broader category that they have "some kind of fusion reactor" unless you can define a difference in the alien world that would specifically make a Bussard polywell work there even though they don't work on Earth. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    May 25 at 16:37
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    $\begingroup$ @Nosajimiki Such nitty gritty details need not be explained, because the author will not write an exposition of the sort "Okay, this world is exactly like Earth and all issues that concern life on Earth concerns this planet too", nor "Polywell could not solve it on Earth but here is how they did it on this world". This is one of those instances where the author can just postulate "The polywell reactor works, period". No-one, except for extreme nuclear nerds like me are aware of even the concept of the polywell, and even less what the practical issues of getting it to work — in real life — are. $\endgroup$
    – MichaelK
    May 25 at 16:55
  • $\begingroup$ I agree, which is why I think its best just to say "some kind of fusion reactor". More detail than that, and the story could age really badly in a few years if some other kind of fusion reactor actually turns out to be viable. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    May 25 at 17:13
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    $\begingroup$ I personally find "some kind of fusion reactor" to be too weak and fuzzy, like there has been no effort put into the concept. It is like when they use some generic term like "credits" to describe money. Memorable concepts are specific without going into too much detail, c.f. "The Force" of Star Wars. The polywell is specific; it avoids being pure technobabble; the concept is physically credible; it has some mind-blowing features, like that power output scales by the size to the fifth power; and — as I said — it looks totally awesome. $\endgroup$
    – MichaelK
    May 25 at 17:24
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    $\begingroup$ Whether the author or not prefers the specific or generic descriptor is entirely aesthetic, and shouldn't detract from a well reasoned answer. FWIW, I'm on team polywell, personally. $\endgroup$
    – user86462
    May 26 at 4:22

Automation of difficult, dangerous, and boring tasks.

Automation of learning.

Automation of production of nearly everything.

You will be able to download skills, knowledge, languages, etc. You will be able to get 3D printed objects that are effectively both mass produced and single customized. Food, clothing, shelter, education, transport, telecommunication, etc., will all be massively cheaper, safer, more comfortable, etc.

We will all become poets and creators of video games and live-streamers of cave exploring.

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    $\begingroup$ You would think. In the 1930's Keynes predicted a future of 15 hour work weeks due to increased automation. And while the many tasks have indeed been automated since the 1930s, somehow work hours have somehow remained constant. timeline.com/… $\endgroup$ May 25 at 15:22
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    $\begingroup$ @SurpriseDog If you only wanted the lifestyle of people in the 1930s, even discounting the depression, you would only need 15 hours of work per week. Indeed, if the net taxation were at the level of the 1930s, you would still only need about 22 hours per week to keep the existing net income you have now. $\endgroup$
    – Boba Fit
    May 25 at 17:42
  • $\begingroup$ If you automate everything, will anyone have deep skills, hardy attributes, moral fiber or strength of character anymore? What happens when someone begins to exploit the loss of self-reliance by the masses? $\endgroup$
    – pygosceles
    May 25 at 21:07
  • $\begingroup$ @pygosceles Skills are downloadable. What's to exploit? You can download the resource you want. Why bother trying to be the dictator when you get everything you want by thinking it through your neural net? And for those outlier cases that still wind up violent, they can be given virtual realities where they can do what they like. $\endgroup$
    – Boba Fit
    May 25 at 21:24
  • $\begingroup$ @BobaFit Any interruption to the mechanism of effortless learning would expose the inner ineptitude of the members of this civilization. This makes them ripe for subjugation and control by ambitious overlords. $\endgroup$
    – pygosceles
    May 25 at 21:26

New planet? Don't introduce corruption.

The necessities of life (food, shelter, etc.) should be much easier to come by.

What you are describing sounds very much like the Garden of Eden.

Just get rid of the following:

  • Weeds/useless plants
  • Parasites
  • Diseases
  • Predation
  • Genetic degradation

And you'll be pretty much good to go.

This might lead to some fascinating discoveries involving more efficient metabolic pathways that have since been deactivated by genetic degradation.

Just about every form of life when in a suitable environment will proliferate abundantly and even exponentially. The first question is whether they have adequate resources and timescales, which, in the absence of competition from predators and other antagonists, makes most of the work of sustaining and growing life a breeze. If one food-producing crop is more successful or better adapted to a local environment than another, it does not follow that there will be famine or drought; it simply means the local people will be eating more cantaloupe than watermelons unless they intervene to provide a favorite crop with a relative advantage through targeted cultivation.

Oh, yeah--and they would have to have an actually enlightened form of government and abundant self-restraint, otherwise unhealthy and unfair competition emerges and the abundance vanishes no matter the genetic or environmental factors. So get rid of sin too. That's actually probably the most important factor since it eliminates the most potent antagonists to growth and prosperity.


Frame Challenge: More resources does not lead to more leisure.

I'm worldbuilding a leisure society.

In consideration of comments, it is important to preface this by defining what the OP is actually asking for. This question is about leisure, not standard of living. Leisure is by definition "free-time". A person can have a lot of leisure, and still have a poor quality of life and vise-versa.

The industrial revolution caused humans to worked way more hours over the past 300 years than we ever did historically. This is by-in-large because the our economy has been restructured to put workers in a more directly supervised system than we had before. Workers in civilizations governed by tribalism, cottage industries, or serfdom generally separate the worker's activities from any direct oversight, and these average about 1,500 hours of work per year. But industrial, post-industrial, or slavery societies where you work in a factory, office, or plantation under the direct supervision of a manager or master average about 2000-3000 hours of work per year.

By in large, cheap plentiful resources and automation devalue a person's time and encourage centralized, supervised labor. For the average person, this leads to working longer hours for less pay per hour which is exactly what we saw happened in the 1800-1900s. Even if the average person today enjoys much more luxury than the average 16th century peasant, he still has to work more hours to get it. So in our observable history, this is the definition of a decrease in leisure.

How this applies to some of your ideas.

Ideas to improve food production: This means you need less land to feed people, but this only opens up more/better land for growing other crops. This will encourage more crop variety which will use up the same amount of land. If your nation has 5 million acres of good farmland, you wont just plant 1 million acres of food and stop because it is enough food. You will find other uses for the remaining 4 million acres. So you'll just grow more cash crops like cotton, lumber, herbs, and ethanol grade corn. Now instead of 1 crop, 1 job, you now have lots of crops and lots of jobs and lots of processing facilities. Better use of the same land equals more work you can do, so your people will do more work to not waste the land.

Cheaper Energy and Materials: Many business ideas are currently unviable because they are too cost prohibitive. I COULD make a mini-theme park in my back yard and charge the neighborhood kids to come over and play, but it would cost too much to be worth while. But if the materials were really cheap to make the mini-theme park, then all it would cost me to implement is my time. Time to plan, time to build, time to run it, time to maintain it. Cheap resources make "crazy business ideas" highly accessible which in turn leads to people committing themselves to more side hustles and personal projects that take away from free time.

More Permanent Materials: We already have the technology to make most things last way longer than they actually do. But we CHOOSE not to make things last for a really long time any more because the faster you can make something, the more important Planned Obsolescence is for making sure that you don't put yourself out of business once the demand is fully met. Giving people better materials won't make us design things to last longer, instead you need to restrict your ability to manufacture enough of the things you need for Planned Obsolescence to be a good long term business strategy. If for example, the materials in a cell phone were so rare and expensive that people could not longer afford a new one every 1-3 years, then manufacturers would design them to last longer so they could sell them on 10-30 year long payment plans like they do with houses and cars. This would also cut back the total work it takes to manufacture your phones which means fewer working hours.

Conclusion, make resources LESS plentiful to improve leisure

With valuable resources being more scarce, your population has to spread out and move around more to survive. Granted you can make actual densities of resources better than on Earth to also try to encourage wealth, just don't make any deposits large enough to set up large permanent industrial settlements around. Without dense population centers, you can't have the kind of abusive labor conditions of the industrial revolution. Instead factories, mines, farms, etc. will have to be smaller and more spread out and self run by smaller communities of people working independently of direct oversight. With less oversight, you remove the adversarial management system that encourages "maximized productivity", but their work still has to be compensated a livable salary if anyone wants their products and services at all; so, the market price of their resources will shift accordingly. It will also combat the extra work created by planned obsolesce, cheaper resources, and the diversification that comes with improved efficiency.

So, the way you layout resources on your planet can either encourage more luxuries or more leisure, but not both.

  • $\begingroup$ Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on Worldbuilding Meta, or in Worldbuilding Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    May 27 at 12:34

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