Showing posts from 2015

Gas (Giant) and Go!

Okay ships use wilderness refueling to save credits. However, their crews do have money to spend. While their captain won't want to head for the mainworld, which has no market for his cargo, the crew still wants some leave. Even a few hours. Smart captains will give a little. Forward thinking world governments will see a way to make some bucks off passing ships. Presenting Last Chance Outposts. Also known as side ports, gas 'n goes and a variety of less wholesome names. Many worlds with a C starport or worse establish a space station near the inner gas giant. Sometimes it's an orbiting base. Other worlds use one or more large insystem craft, the better to meet captains eager to make their schedule. The mobile outposts carry a variety of merchandise, spares, filters, vacc suits, ship's locker items and personal weapons. A number of outposts have very basic repair services have basic repair stations and a large EVA crew to perform them for ships that have been damag

Being a Little Streamlined Is Like Being a Little Dead

In the beginning ships were streamlined or not and it was good. One landed. One stayed in orbit. Simple. Then High Guard came along and introduced partial streamlining. You couldn't land but you could dip gingerly into the clouds of a gas giant and suck in the free crappy fuel. This has caused a lot of cognitive dissonance to overthinking grognards like myself. I'm not an engineer by any means (Masters in Education). I can have conversations with engineers without them laughing at me however. Dang it any ship that can hit even the upper layers of a gas giant ought to land on what is the near vacuum by comparison of a terrestrial world's atmosphere. You're already using antigrav or reactionless thrusters or whatever. Hell we recently landed part of a rocket successfully. It is rocket science but it isn't impossible. I'm proposing this alternative: ships are either belly landers or tail landers. Belly landers equate to streamlined. The decks are parallel to t

Shipping Lines

I was watching Raiders of the Lost Ark with some friends when they did one of those old style maps with the dotted line marking the passage of a plane Indy was on when I said, "Navigation was pretty hard back then for pilots." One of my friends looked a little bewildered and said, "How so compared to today?" Not a tech minded person. I explained, "Well they didn't have global positioning satellites or even tower lights. You could get lost flying across the USA. That's why they got crop duster planes to fly along the regular routes spraying loads of paint to mark them for the pilots." Well my friend was buying this completely until I overplayed my hand and said, "Yeah, that's where they got the idea for that dotted line on the map scene they used in the old movies." I got smacked by her for that. Yes. I can be a bastard. Have you read my tables on stuff that can go wrong? On to the post. There was a time, in Classic Traveller,  wh

Imperial Dearth

Ten thousand millennia to the Empire. Hail the Overlord! After an extensive review of several costly and undignified setbacks the Imperial Ministry of After Action Analyses by Omega Decree has posted new directives for all warlords, satrapists, governors, regents and consuls to follow effective immediately and on pain of forfeiture of rank, holdings, freedom, and a number of limbs. 1) No more super weapons! Seriously the last one took up the production equivalent to a million doomships. We have many, many worlds to patrol and each battle station sized victory weapon can only be in one place at one time. Besides, you can never armor every point on those things. 2) Invest in Q-ships. Seriously, these rebels have dinky assed ships but as with the battle station program, doomships can't be everywhere and the rebels have shown a preference for attacking when there is no doomship within a hundred light years. Some warships disguised as freighters would really take a toll on their h

The Stars of the Deal

I tried the excellent random subsector generator over at The Zhodani Base. I took a look at the world stats and discovered a couple things I could not help but pick at. First I decided to pick the worlds that were the movers and shakers across the subsector. For that I highlighted the four P's: 'Port, Politics, Populations, Propulsion. Port is starport. If it isn't an 'A' then new starships are not produced for commercial use though the military can build some. the planet does not wield a lot of economic power. Polity is the world government. I'm pretty liberal here and only a result of '7' Balkanization makes me think people might not be looking at other worlds but their neighbors. Population has to be at least in the millions to build an appreciable number of merchant ships. Propulsion is actually Tech Level. If you don't rate at least a 9 you haven't got the ability to build jump drives. So if a world has a TL of at least 9 and a pop

Ranting About Rockets

Okay reaction drives. I was hoping someone else would do this write up as it involves the e  funstion and such but it is time to man up. There are  reaction drives in Classic Traveller. You just have to dig deep to find them. The first mention of using propellant in space movement comes from the 1977 LBBs. It said that non-starships used 10 kilograms of fuel per gee of acceleration per turn regardless of mass or cargo carried (this may be the first time Traveller formally abstracted mass and volume into the kludge that we came to know and love.) The second instance was in Special Supplement 3: Missiles in Traveller (included in JTAS #21). There it was specified that a 50 kg missile required one kilogram of fuel for burn (one gee for one combat turn). Hell of a difference. You'd think from  SS3 a ship would require 2% f its mass for a burn or two tons of propellant for a Scout Courier to boost at one gee for one turn. Using LBB 2 a non-starship requires 10 kg regardless of mass

The Science of Empire

Imagine a jump mishap throws a ship way the hell out of the Imperium or whatever bloated weapons factory empire you have set up. The characters find their ships in a small cluster of stars cut off from the mains galactic civilization. In the Traveller setting the Islands Clusters are ideal for this, colonized by STL asteroid ships and developing independently for thousands of years. Imperium? Never heard of it. The characters find themselves the object of a witch hunt for a simple reason. Their ship has a reactionless drive. Civilization here has only developed reaction drives. A reactionless drive opens a whole can of worms which others have detailed far better than I. Near light speed projectiles are a real bummer. they make any polity effectively helpless against long range bombardment. Okay I mentioned a bunch of double talk ways to limit the top velocity of reactionless drives, everything from ark matter build up to upsetting ghosts. Presumably there is such a limit in the cha

The Price of Free Trade

Pushing out past the frontier into alien worlds to make a profit by trade. What could go wrong?! 11] A native herb or food is a strong narcotic to your species. 12] A Terran herb or food is a strong narcotic to the locals. You did test for that right? 13] The locals want something that you have not packed in large quantities and only have personal stores of. Their Emperor is mad for chewing gun for example or hand sanitizer is a potent potable to the locals. 14] The locals have found a wrecked starship and want your help in salvaging it. Only the ship belongs to a pirate clan that shows up to reclaim the wreck's treasures. 15] The locals want your weaponry or a reasonable facsimile. They will pay a lot. 16] The locals want your weapons and will pay a lot or get them other ways. 21] Something about humans: voice, smell, appearance is anathema to the locals requiring disguises, perfume or similar measures to be taken. 22] The locals are involved in a prolonged fight w

Dark and Strange Matters

The Triangulum II galaxy got me thinking about my NBEs. Ghosts to you readers arriving late to the party. Triangulum II is a tiny galaxy, its luminosity is 450 times that of the Sun. After examining the orbital velocity of this galaxy astronomers computed the mass as ... 2 million times the mass of the Sun. Our astronomers say this is due to huge amounts of dark matter. What if the same holds true for the world of living biological beings we can directly observe and the realm of the NBEs? For every 450 humans there are 2 million ghosts waiting to get interactive. In a previous post I mentioned how a FTL drive might work drilling through the normal space surface of a hyper-dimensional sphere and referred to this as the fragile shell of reality. Now it seems the shell might be a lot thinner than even I expected. Humans have returned to space and the stars in my Ghost Drive setting. Are they setting themselves up for another fatal fall? Other spacefaring races have not been encountere

Three Pillars of Federation: Taking a Survey

The third pillar of Federation is the Survey Service, analogous to the Scouts of Traveller but without the courier functions. These are the guys who get the first opportunity to learn how all the best ways new world can kill you. They are the silent Service, not interacting much with the Patrol or Trade. They operate at the fringe of the Federation or more commonly beyond it. The major duty of the Survey is t explore and chart new worlds. After a thorough preliminary survey a new world is classified and its trade rights are put up for auction. There is some bias in this as the auctions usually take place on Terra or the Core Worlds while Free Traders work the fringe. Likewise the pricing of choice worlds is completely beyond that of your average Free Trader. The Survey charts courses in hyperspace. While this can be done by anyone competent in astrogation there are risks involved. New coordinates are approximate and the wrong calculations with proven coordinates can end your voyage

Three Pillars of Federation: The Patrol

The Patrol is the military arm of the Federation. They have access to the fastest and most heavily armed ships in the Federation. Even worse for law breakers, their ships have military vehicles: flamers (flamethrower tanks) and mauls (artillery capable of downing a starship. In spite of bearing weapons of mass destruction the Patrol does not use lethal force until more humane means fails. They typically carry high powered but non-lethal stun rifles and demand surrender of suspects or outlaws. In the event of a gun battle they can and will bring every means they have to win including heavy weapons. A lot of the Patrol's duties seem to involve Trade. Merchant ships must file a flight plan and a passenger list for each voyage. The Patrol runs background checks on all passengers before a flight is okayed functioning like an internal security department. They also man a wide network of emergency resupply stations across the Federation to aid ships in need. There most unenviable job

The Three Pillars of Federation

More thoughts on another Traveller setting (ghosts optional I suppose). The Federation in the Solar Queen novels is enormous and pretty wide open. In Sargasso of Space they mention that they've encountered only five other races (with ftl space flight). There are a number of early and pre-spaceflight cultures perhaps thousands. In Plague Ship the Solar Queen gets a contract to the planet Sargol that is described as a quarter of the way across the galaxy. A round trip is said to take six months for the aging freighter. So they must have something better than jump drives (or even warp drive). So we are talking about a lot of planets, a lot of aliens and a government that runs humanity (mostly). The Federation is administrated through a number of Services. The three major Services in the stories are the Patrol, the Survey and Trade. Let me try to explain the Services in terms of tomatoes. The Survey heads out and marks the positions of all the tomatoes and grades them according to fr

More Reactions to Drives

I liked it when things were simple and I didn't think every frigging piece of handwavium through. The reactionless drive as original portrayed in Classic Traveller made interstellar government impossible. Any ship, even a 6 ton gig became a WMD because given a laughable fraction of its space for fuel it could get up near light speed. If you didn't like another planet aim a lifeboat at it from the Oort cloud and sit back, wait a few months and then blam! Enjoy the fireworks (wait a few years to see it from your homeworld or get it a week later on Pay Per View!) Mega Traveller provided the first relief in the bombardment of reactionless drive projectiles. They said earlier maneuver drives only operated within 10 diameters of a body. Huzzah. That in effect produced an upper speed limit. Say you took your type S into a low earth Orbit and began blasting away at 2gs. 10d = 10*1280000m= 128000000m d=1/2a*t^2 as anyone who read Robert A. Heinlein will tell you. 12800000 =1/2*2

Sargasso Bound!

I am rereading Sargasso of Space by Lady Andre Norton for the first time in thirty years. I got it on iBooks and almost immediately regretted losing my copy so long ago. I forgot how well the author wrote. She had a simple and concise style that got the heck out of the way and let you enjoy the setting and the story. I was never one for stream of consciousness on every page or a dissertation on tech or sociology that the author was far more interested in than the reader (me). I'm reading through the Solar Queen novels to mine them for a game setting, mostly system agnostic at this time. So far it appears that Trade (not Merchants) is a very old and established service and similar to a Guild or Union. It provides training for new personnel (the Pool) and amenities like a restaurant in some ports. It also has a high degree of nepotism. Having family in the Service is almost a guarantee you will be accepted. The main character, an orphan, made it into the Pool and considered it a

Remote Control

Traveller assumes a remote centralized government (referred to in this volume as  the  Imperium), possessed  of  great industrial  and  technological might, but unable,  due to the sheer distances and travel times involved, to exert total control at all  levels everywhere within its star-spanning realm.  - Book 4 Mercenary I have no problem with selling a bunch of items with the 3I setting. People eat it up. All is well. the problem is the more you show of the Imperium the less remote it gets. If you have a central government with any kind of time/travel lag that makes resurrecting the idea of nobility a good idea it will likely be a long way off. But starting with Adventure 1: The Kinunir  the Imperium began to creep closer and closer and become a pervasive thing. In fact it got to the point where you'd have to travel for half a term to get to a frontier let alone uncharted stars. Don't give me that business about the 11,000 worlds having unexplored worlds within them and u

Mall Ware

Planet Liberty Shopping Mall Exec: Thanks for helping us out, Chief. Chief: No problem ma’am. It’s my pleasure. Jenn: Thanks likewise, Sergeant Major. Chief: Corporal. Exec: Ooh. Designer clothing half off! Jenn: Squee! Chief: … Exec: Chief, wait out here please. Chief: Aye. Bless you ma’am. Exec: And hold this for me. Chief: Ma’am! With all due respect and courtesy … Exec: It’s a purse. Spank my butt and call me Missy! Don’t tell me you’re into gender roles? Jenn: Ain’t that ma’am. He has a bigger one hisself. But that’s a civilian bag. Look at him, the man wears his class A uniform on his day off. Exec: Don’t make me order you on my day off, Marine. Chief: Aye ma’am. Jenn: Here, Chief my bag can keep hers company. Chief: We ain’t shopping forever, girl. Best you remember that. Exec: Thank you. Chief: <Dire Mutterings.> Eris said there’d be days like this. Bonk. Bonk. GAIA: Malfunction. Please adv

Ship Dossier: Launches

Ship Dossier: Launches
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