Showing posts from November, 2015

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

Mega-corpses and Bureau-rats

The whole premise of auctioning trading rights to various worlds got me thinking. In the Solar Queen novels ( Sargasso of Space ) some if not many of the worlds being auctioned had intelligent life (A and B class I think). The crew bids and wins the rights to a class D, no known intelligent life (operative being of course 'known'.) That seems rather cavalier to allow a bunch of merchants to contact a presumably non space traveling culture. What if they start selling them flintlocks and lasers and nukes? That got me thinking that perhaps the Universe of the Solar Queen is dominated by megacorporations that pretty much set the rules or at the very least the government is one of the least intrusive ever conceived (They're selling nukes? Give a yell when they start peddling tri-cobalt devices!) This in spite of providing tax payers such services as rescue station and the ever nosy Patrol. Then again in Plague Ship the Solar Queen is made out to be a plague carrier and liab

Solar Queens and Cosmic Pigs in a Poke

Go read Sargasso of Space and come back. The premise is simple: an independent survey ship grounds at a port the player characters' ship is being serviced at. The survey company is going into receivership and the crew. desperate to raise funds or face seizure of their vessel and unemployment offers the most recent (and partial) surveys at auction for the traders. 1) It's a golden opportunity as it is cash only. Even the subsidized merchants can only bid for their corporations with the funds on hand. As advertised the surveys are partial: only size, atmosphere, hydrosphere and initial comments. What can go wrong? 2) Inhabitants: Information on the locals is sketchy at best. Cut off from mainstream culture for centuries what sort of lunacy have they descended into? 3) Barren: There are no inhabitants according to the initial survey. No really. No one there. It's abandoned. I mean it never was settled. 4) Sentients: You can't go by some blurry orbital pictures. T

Station Nation

With all the exploration done in the OTU and the colonization done as well there is a serious dearth of space stations. They are barely given a nod in most material I've seen of heard of. At the very least some C, most B and nearly evert A class starport will have an orbital element. Do you think all the people there commute to work and live on the planet's surface? Beyond that I find it hard to believe a size A world with atmosphere class F will play shelter to all the 100 million people its UWP code indicates. Insert your own deal breaker world here if you don't mind having to swim through an atmosphere in battledress to get anywhere in 1.5 gees. Perhaps a world's population rating could refer to all sentients living within say 100 diameters of it? That 100 diameters does come up a lot, don't it? Of course this is also my opportunity to create a Universal Station Profile. I don't just stat zombies. Starport 1) One class higher ( i.e. B becomes A maxim

The Thin Fragile Shell of Reality

I was talking over my last post about the 'gravity train' explanation of Jump Space with Raymond McVay and realized that is was scary as hell on some levels. Imagine our entire Universe is just a thin skin over a hyperdimensional otherspace. The unknowable is also right behind you. Also in front of you and on all the othersides, just rotated a scant 90 degrees from your comfortable native three space. If there is a force that is analogous to gravity in this realm are there other forces like a repulsive force allowing the Universe to keep its shape (or keep expanding). Are there currents in it responsible for the occasional misjump? Are there 'solid' bodies? What are they composed of? This could lead to all kinds of fun. A ship in Jump precipitates out when it reaches the Jump Limit. So would an asteroid or planet sized mass. Imagine another moon composed of mirror matter or negative matter suddenly popping into reality 800,000 km from Earth. At the very least sect

The Intra Universal Transit Tunnel System (Hurrah!)

Jump Drives, the go to FTL of the Traveller game will take you from one to six parsecs in a week. It always takes one week. Period. The designers probably set it up that way because it was an easy way to quantify things. I dunno. It always bothered me though that a jump took you a week regardless of distance. It seemed counterintuitive but it did make things easy to run so I filed my doubts under 'if it ain't broke don't fix it. But for forty years I idly pondered a real world analogy for the Jump Drive. Until recently. I found it. Consider the Universe viewed from a fourth dimensional (or whatever higher dimensional space you choose to occupy). What if it was like the skin of a balloon or the surface of a planet? Well for one thing it explains those silly flat maps. That's what the distances compute to if you flatten out our three space into a two space. Also if you have a few billion years to kill you could travel in a straight line and come back to where you st

Women's Uniforms Are Half Off!

Doc: The situation doesn’t look good on Sackett’s Landing. There’s a new strain of pneumonia that is proving resistant to standard antibiotic treatment. Based on current research the infection could respond to tniba berries, native to Hausen 3, a few days travel away. Exec: Oh Jebus save us … Mukh: Oh f’taugn. Tivk: What is your concern? hausen 3 is 2.7 days away. Sackett’s Landing 4 days beyond that. Given the progression of the disease and assuming we process the berries for their medicinal extracts on the way we should arrive in time to effect a complete reversal. That is if the Doctor’s information is accurate. Doc: It. Is. Tivk: So? Exec: The harvest of tniba berries is time consuming and very labor intensive. To get enough to treat 500 humans … well we’ll have to deal with the locals for their stockpiles. Doc: … I hadn’t thought of that. I guess you’re going to command the mission? Exec: … yes. Mukh: I’ll go with you of course. We females have

Reactionary Drives

Rockets get no respect in a lot of SF these days. People would rather use technobabble to get where they want to go. Add to this the fact that a lot of game systems suffer from the One major world plus junk per star system trope. You've reached your destination world,  unloaded your cargo and/or sought other means to make your expenses back and show a profit, every other planet there is an ice/dust/rock ball and about as interesting as your dog's average day. Okay, some people want reaction drives in Traveller. I wanted reaction drives in it many times for you know, reasons. Nothing freudian there at all. Nope. Move along in your air/raft ya hippies. Okay there are some rules for reaction drives in Traveller. You just have to look for them. I'm referring to Special Supplement 3 Missiles in Traveller from JTAS #21 (published back in year 1110 of the Imperium). Missile propulsion systems come in three types: continuous burn, limited burn, and discretionary burn. Continu

More on Reactionless Drives

Ken Burnside said it best. Friends Don't Let Friends Use Reactionless Drives In Their Universes . (Quote via Rocket Cat at Atomic Rockets) Reactionless drives are a great example of a cure that is worse than the disease. true they get you magical accelerations. They expedite stories by not having your Space Patrol Cruiser (tm) take 17 months to get to Mars. After al in 17 months the evil mastermind might have put his plans into effect (evil masterminds are very proactive.)  The downside: with reactionless drives any space war becomes the final war for the participants. It has no limit to delta vee so even a ship's boat becomes a world wrecker moving at .999 c. Maybe races develop space travel, eventually discover reactionless drives and destroy each other with loads of jelly beans fired at relativistic velocities. After all when your sensor operate at light speed detecting incoming moving at .999 lightspeed doesn't give you a lot of time to file your will or otherwis