Showing posts from October, 2014

Warmed Over Zombies

With Halloween just ahead I stopped my Traveller designs to work on something more spooky: a classification system for zombies! Zombies in Traveller? Why not? You can have all manner of alien viruses, bacteria, nano-tech, and parasites out there as well as well as bio weapons, drugs and weird psi powers. As a side note zombies make great opponents for barbarians in spacesuits. Anyway I present my Universal Zombie Profile (UZP) newly revised and expanded. Origin 1) Parasite 2) Virus 3) Radiation 4) Nano-tech 5) Drug induced 6) Really bad case of jump sickness Smarts  1) Bugs are smarter. Zombies react solely by instinct. Will walk off cliffs or into fire.  2) Animal cunning. Very dumb animals.  3) Feral human. Will throw rocks, particularly to break lights.  4) Semi-intelligent. Will throw rocks, use clubs and can learn rudiments of machinery. Could fire a rifle but not load it. Can open doors. Limited learning.  5) Near human. Often retains habits and knowledge of past

Barbarians in Spacesuits Reprised

A word about the origins of the word 'barbarian' Definition of BARBARIAN 1 :   of or relating to a land, culture, or people alien and usually believed to be inferior to another land, culture, or people 2 :   lacking refinement, learning, or artistic or literary culture Take it from the top, the Perasperans I wrote about do not spend a lot of their time on the planetary datanet the starport supplies. No social media, news or entertainment streams. They might be very well read and literate in their own cultures but to their star traveling cousins anyone not posting on their own blog might be regarded as backward. Similarly on those long Perasperan nights they might do all manner of drawing or sculpture to pass a few hours but to people used to CGI images and three dimension printing their one of a kind art pieces might not be as well known as digital media works or thought primitive ("You paint in oils and use turpentine to clean up?! That stuff is bad for y

Barbarians of the Icy Shores

One problem with a relatively near future setting like the Icy Shores is humans don't have a long time to develop very divergent cultures. By divergent I'm talking barbarians. I have no problem playing doctor, scientist or bureaucrat but let's face it someone in the party has to do the fighting. A Marine will do all right but a barbarian really makes a statement about a party of adventurers. Barbarians and space travel are a crossover you just have to make happen. A barbarian evokes atmosphere, much like a skeleton in a spacesuit. Sadly interstellar missions are going to have a high basic technology. Losing technology or knowledge was never easy historically, despite what people believe about the 'Dark Ages'. It's even harder to lose knowledge when everyone has a


First a correction: I was under the impression that spacesuits were designed for low pressure because inflating them to one atmosphere required extremely thick fabric to contain the atmosphere. Actually the more you inflate current suits the more resistance you encounter in moving the suits that still tend to balloon out at a fifth of an atmosphere. My thanks once again to Atomic Rockets and Winchell Chung. Today's post is about those venerable Traveller institutions: starports and Free Traders. Some people think starports only provide fuel and snoopy customs agents. In truth they provide many essential services. They can even help you get offworld. A fact of life is that Free Traders can only pull 1 gee. Some worlds are size 9 or 10 ('A' if you think in hexadecimal.) About one world in twelve is a semi super terrestrial. They have a surface gravity greater than 1 gee. Free Traders and Subsidized Merchants  can only make 1 gee. Thus the problem. A Free Trader or Merchan

My Space Suit

I've been posting and reading a lot about boarding actions and applicable tactics and weapons. It got me thinking about that staple of SF: the spacesuit. Now spacesuits in SF have taken on the role of horses in fantasy. Everyone uses them but few people know how they should be used. On the subject of the horse, writers and rpgers often treat them like bicycles. They ride them where they want to go but don't know all the care they require as living creatures. As for spacesuits, people expect a lot of a collection of fabric, tubing, tanks and batteries that already keep you alive in one of the deadliest environments known to man. For my money Marianas Trench has space beat. It'll kill you way quicker and we have yet to build a suit to keep a man alive that far down. Vacuum can take up to a minute to kill you. If you're lucky you have 15 seconds of useful consciousness in vacuum. A suit patch takes up to ten seconds to apply so you better put it where your can find i

Discount Squadron Tournament

After some discussion with David McGuire I am going to embark on a space squadron tournament. We decided to build billion credit squadrons for a test run. We also intend on testing the battle riders vs. battleships. The squadron parameters are: Budget 1 billion credits. Pilots 50 (upper limit on number of vessels). Tl 12 Squadron capable of J-2, M-5. Squadron capable of gas giant refueling. We further decided: David's squadron was to consist of battleriders and their tender(s). My ships were to be starship and I was only allowed to use small craft (fighter, shuttles etc) no battleriders for me. We intend on researching the 'riders vs. starship question. If this is successful and fun we will extend it to a Trillion Credit Squadron Tournament.

Wilderness Refueling Part 2: Fear, Loathing and Nukes

The purpose of my first post on this topic was simply to run some numbers and see how long refueling takes and how large squadrons might go about it. I found that the minimum specifications for squadron (10% total tankage on partially streamlined tankers or tenders) refueling were a little silly. But now that we had a time frame we could extrapolate for squadrons with more and better tenders. I also mentioned that refueling took several days per Trillion Credit Squadron and brought up the problem of SDBs lurking in a gas giant (almost as beloved a trope as starfighters).  Then Klaus Teufel brought this up: Klaus Teufel Yesterday 11:23 PM   1 Reply I think SDB's couldn't effectively ambush refuelers unless the SDB's were really lucky, or there are a lot of refuelers. Jovians are big, and even Traveller atmospheric speeds have limits. SDBs probably live in low polar orbit, rather than atmosphere; dipping in when fuel is low. Let's

Wilderness Refueling

A squadron costing 900 billion credits (they got 10% off for using standard plans) has to refuel from a local gas giant. In order to be considered capable of refueling on a squadron level 10% of their fuel tankage must be carried on partial or fully streamlined hulls. Trillion Credit Squadron says the squadron refuels in one week. Too long? Let's run some numbers. First assuming the squadron can make 3 gees a trip to the nearer gas giant (600,000,000 km) will take 78 hours or about three days according to the Traveller Book (TTB p. 54). The Ancients set up gas giants at this distance to standardize refueling operations and it was a bitch. That leaves four days to conduct refueling of the squadron. That means in four days the refueling vessels will make 10 trips. they could have more time to refuel if the system has a Hot Jupiter orbiting close to to the star. If you decide to refuel from a Hot Jupiter with any other options you've messed up big time. I assume the refuelin

Lost -One Earth

Lost earth is a thing in SF. Basically humanity has expanded into the galaxy so far and so long that the location and nature of Earth is ambiguous or forgotten. It's a daunting prospect for us. After all with few exceptions we live the entirety of our lives on Earth. Everyone we know or know of lives or lived on Earth. Its geography shaped our history. Its environment shaped our evolution. We are children of Earth. It is said those who do not study the past are doomed to repeat it. How much knowledge in the form of history and literature must be lost with the location of our homeworld? Saying you are a tiny particle in the universe is one thing. The mind seldom can really grasp this, even with infographics. Saying that all we accomplished will be lost on our descendants is another thing. Not mattering to the universe is one thing. Being nothing to other humans is disturbing. Worse, it's humbling. Anyone who says they like being humbled is probably lying or only one miracle aw

The Belt Strikes (Back)!

Asteroid belts are beloved by SF writers and readers alike. They are not the deadly jumble of rocks depicted in space opera. You could live on a rock out there and never have another rock come within visual range. The average separation of asteroids in the solar system is a million kilometers or so. So flitting about them requires serious delta-v for any kind of action oriented story. Putting along with an ion drive prospector will take a couple weeks. Fortunately with maneuver drives we avoid all that pesky rocketry stuff (even if we risk the ire of Chung and Burnside.) Belters are the only career with a worse survival rate than Scouts. That should tell you something right there. Belters are also the only career besides Barbarians that take their families with them. I say that because unlike other saner professions you start as a Belter at age 14. I have nightmares about a 14 year old being allowed to drive let alone pilot a ship. There is a lot less to hit out there though. Roughly

I Blame Hard Science Fiction for This

Thank you for the positive response to my blog and the postings on piracy, boarding and various other fun things. Boarding tactics and problems generated a lot of comments. Winchell Chung observed that many things on a space vehicle do not react at all well to gunfire. Hence my defense of cutlasses by Marines and others (other people, not people in the Others ... though they use blades too.) I replaced Citizens in the Imperium soon after this. Then David McGuire posted the following: I think it's a wonderful bit of serendipity that pirates careers are detailed in the same book as barbarians. Barbarians, you know, them guys who use swords and bows and arrows! A bow can make a hole in a space suit. That pretty much is the bottom line for a weapon used in a boarding action. When your suit is leaking air and you're leaking circulatory fluid it doesn't matter if you were shot by an arrow or a 5.56 round. T

Boarding Actions Part 3: Entry Level Postiions

Preliminaries Okay you've closed in on your target ship. You've taught it to mostly stay still. You've gotten your people across to it through various means, not all of them pretty. What can you expect and what should you bring? Preparation You're probably wearing vacc suits or rarely combat armor/battledress. Vacc suits are pretty much equivalent to cloth armor. Most combat is at short or medium range which is ideal. An automatic rifle is all you need to send most intruders on their way. Better to blast them at the airlock before they get near easily damaged stuff. Auto rifles work equally well for attackers. Both sides will probably have electronic sights, not for accuracy so much as dealing with the lights going out. Make sure the sights can be used with a vacc suit helmet. Snub pistols loaded with tranq rounds are a viable option. A tranq round will penetrate a vacc suit, especially at short range. A tranq round is unlikely to put a jump drive or power plant t