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In My Traveller Universe Detail what parts of Traveller you do (or don't) use in your campaign.

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Old October 31st, 2016, 03:45 PM
deathbymeteor deathbymeteor is offline
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Default my non-canon, MgT1E(c), hard sci fi Traveller universe

I dislike the canon Traveller universe. I prefer hard sci fi, myself, and to me the canon universe has always seemed too Fantasy, with its many aliens, psionics, grand imperium, and Ancients. So when I picked up MgT1E recently to start a campaign for my buddy's son, I decided I had to start from scratch.

But I didn't want to start *completely* from scratch, as there's a wealth of existing material that can be adapted. I wanted a world with more Corporate influence, no Grand Empire, no psionics or alien sophonts (that the PCs know of), and less powerful handwavium antigravity tech.

In order to contrive a "world somewhat similar to ours now" so it's recognizable and playable, and without resorting to a galactic Empire at high TL, I decided on these key backstory elements.

After discovering Jump tech humanity settled Barnard's Star and the Centauri systems.

Around the time humanity reached TL 12 (Jump 3) the megacorps sent 100 colony ships (10k hand-picked NON-transhuman colonists each) to the Spinward Marches (which I'm adopting and adapting out of the canon universe) since by then that area was known to have a high density of possibly habitable exoplanets.

The selection of explicitly non-transhuman colonists for that endeavor fueled a conflict between mundanes and transhumans, which led to a war, which resulted in the destruction of First Sector (Sol and the nearby stars) not long after the 100 colony ships departed. They discovered this when they tried to send courier ships back to inform the core systems that they'd made it to the Marches.

With colonists already somewhat mixed genetically and ethnically, and with Sol/Barnard/Centauri systems destroyed, humanity would be starting with a completely blank slate in the Marches. All historical grudges, all squabbles over land, "holy" or otherwise, resources, national identities, past damages, etc., were gone.

Transplanted Humanity was free to create new conflicts. But they started off with the decision to outlaw both transhumanism and "true" AI, and to severely limit nanotechnology. The people saw those as technologies humanity could not understand or predict, and the corporations saw them as factors they could not adequately control.

Having learned the lesson of biosphere fragility, humanity spent the next 122 years in a frenzied drive to increase population and spread to many locales. With life and labor being highly valued, there was little in the way of major or organized crime at first. For a time, almost everyone shared a common vision. They moved as one...for a while. Penal codes were not incarceration or capital punishment oriented but instead re-established explicit endentured servitude and eventually slavery.

But after that first century of sometimes forced reproduction and later on a swell in the ranks of the endentured and enslaved, the pendulum of human nature swung back the other way. People started to realize they had achieved the goal and would no longer stand for the mindlessly traditional reproductive and expansionist drive, or the all too easy and corruptive trend toward slavery. Similarly, after enough worlds became developed, the Interstellar GigaCorporations (IGCs) found themselves itching to switch back to a wealth oriented business model. They were no longer motivated to subsidize large scale exploration and long term colony establishments for future profits, preferring instead to optimize short term profits among the existing developed worlds.

Routine transport routes appeared between developed worlds, but worlds that were still in a frontier state became at least economically sidelined. That has led to the Fair Trade Movement on the frontiers, with its problematic violent fringe and foreign entities fueling the fire.

I actually ran population growth numbers to get that 122 years - it took my initial number of colonists that long to reach the population levels in the canon Spinward Marches.

It's in this backdrop where the PCs generate their characters. It's a transition we can refer to when play begins, something they saw develop during their careers. In this world, one example of a pendulum swing against culturally forced reproduction is the growth of an androgynous subculture - people are tired of being expected to marry and reproduce, so the androgynous subculture resists by making it difficult for outside observers to determine their gender. [Also, in this world the full range of gender identities and sexualities does exist, despite all the original colonists being chosen for heterosexuality with the expectation of the need for colony population growth. The range exists here for the same reason it exists at all - it's just a random genetic variation that comes up, just like all the other random genetic variations that come up.] A couple of my PC/NPCs are androgynous types - I hit the web and found some pics to use for all of my PC/NPCs, to give them a little bit of life. I don't want to go hog wild with pics, as imagination is key with in-person RPGing, but for the "main party" it seems to really breathe life into them. They should seem real, not stereotypical.

I chose to focus on Querion subsector because it's on the frontier AND it's in between three canon interstellar polities - Zhodani Consulate (recent human colonists, not seeded there by Ancients), Sword Worlds Confederation, and Darrian Confederation. I knew it could be a good backdrop for both "developed/corporate vs. frontier/folk" stories as well as interstellar politics/spying/war stories, not to mention straight space exploration spinward of the left side of the subsector. There I'm building new worlds from scratch rather than using Foreven Sector.

I also decided to use Stuart Ferris' "Heaven & Earth" program. I really like how it generates full star systems, with some details I can choose to use, like orbital periods and surface temperature ranges, not to mention nice hex maps of planetary surfaces and linear-distance maps of the entire system. With the H&E data I'm generating, I'm really tailoring the Querion Subsector, too. It helps to work out ahead of time what a planet's environment is like, what are all the other bodies in the system, where might there be other settlements (free or otherwise). With this level of detail, you can run an entire adventure in one star system and still have plenty to do, especially if you decide upon the phase angles of the slow-moving outer bodies ahead of time, establishing travel times and light/info lag times ahead of time as well. With H&E data fleshed out thusly, a single star system can house many interesting activities beyond just the ones you might imagine on the main world. In Querion subsector one of the frontier worlds is Xhosa, which has a very low population. Using H&E data to flesh out the rest of that solar system makes the Xhosa System a much more interesting place. Another example is Querion, which is a high law level world. High Law Level can cause its own problems, so with the rest of the system in hand I'm not limited to just the one high law level planet in that system.

So with individual star systems fairly well fleshed out, to the point where you find yourself naming individual settlements and creating the top dog NPCs at those settlements, it just becomes a lot easier to turn designed or random story hooks/encounters into fleshed out, organically believable sandbox situations. And that means I don't *need* a grand imperium, let alone want one. [In my universe, the Zhodani Consulate is merely what amounts to a corporate trade partnership, providing arbitration and some naval support, but not a top-down government per se.] Hell, I expect most of the action in the first adventure of this campaign to take place in one or two, maybe three star systems, each with populations and governments tailored to the Spinward Marches history described above. In the end it isn't all *that* different from canon, but it's more cellular, which I think gives me more freedom. It's also more isolated/alone, and in a hard sci fi universe you (well, I) *want* that sense of being out there, with almost no safety net. It makes even mundane activities dangerous and that makes them more fun.

Over weeks of development time I've also built up my requisite spreadsheet of calculations, random things, resources (like names, etc.), game calendar, money tracker, etc. I'm using a piece of software I created 18 years ago, Electronic Cardboard, that still works well for game board simulation (e.g. for combat on deck plans). That reminds me - for ground combat I'm using Snapshot rules with some house modifications, and for space I'm using a very tailored approach with vector movement. I don't expect to have huge space battles managed to the level of individual weapons fire, hits, and damage. That's not what my campaign will be about.

I'm currently waiting for a scanned copy of the character records my buddy and his son created with my assistance a couple of weeks ago, which will allow me to finalized PC-PC-PC/NPC Connections and to weave in their backstories as appropriate before starting actual play.

To me this fulfills the promise of Traveller, which was to enable roleplaying in whatever far future you wanted to simulate, from the very Star Wars-esque fantasy canon universe to whatever floats your x-boat. Many thanks to all those who have been developing ships, deck plans, graphics, etc. for Traveller all these years and for making them available online.
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Old October 31st, 2016, 05:02 PM
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outstanding. congratulations and you have my admiration.

gonna start a pbp game here?
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Old October 31st, 2016, 08:07 PM
whartung whartung is offline
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So, there were trans-humans on Terra already? From where?

At J-2 it takes about 6+ years to jump in to Spinward Marches -- that seems like a long way to go.

You started with 1M (10K * 100) people, what growth rate were you using?

How big were your initial colonies?
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Old October 31st, 2016, 11:26 PM
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Originally Posted by whartung View Post
So, there were trans-humans on Terra already? From where?
I would infer they are Terrans, and that he is postulating an earlier TL to wholesale genetic manipulation.

As many UWP as there are, would be interesting to consider all the potential subspecies that could be created. Homo Fabrica for the 'tanks/robots', Homo Ipsum for the altered?

OP, you can read my TC universe and of course Hard Space and others that rework the human expansion, it's a great story and I think far more exciting then the OTU.
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Old November 1st, 2016, 12:59 PM
deathbymeteor deathbymeteor is offline
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Default quick follow-up

Thanks for your interest and support, folks.

My notion of transhumans in this vision was humans who have begun to become altered by technology, mostly nanotechnology but straight cyborg alteration as well. Those who begin to incorporate nanotech begin to flirt with the ability to grey goo everything, which is what makes it such a frightening and controversial modification. <BAM> Kick it up a notch to war and someone somewhere eventually does grey goo everything. I went so far as to have The Transhuman War destroy Sol and the colonized nearby stars as well in order to completely remove any trace of home, any notion of territory to recolonize or reclaim, and any notion of going back to figure out what went wrong. And I'm contriving that beyond grey gooing the matter in each of the core solar systems the war also somehow led to causing the core stars to go nova early - maybe it was the transhumans who did it, maybe it was the humans in a desperate ploy to keep the transhumans from escaping into the galaxy. Either way, I wanted a completely clean slate.

At Jump 3 (not 2) I seem to recall calculating that it took them something like a year, or maybe it was 14 months, to reach the Marches. I may have also made some kind of additional assumptions about the ability of the colony ships to convert local matter into fuel.

Since you asked about my population calcs, here's what I did in a spreadsheet. First, I assumed 3 of the 100 colony ships were lost to accident along the way. Then I assumed an average of 9985 colonists survived the journey on each of the remaining ships (imperfect long term hibernation tubes, individual variations in susceptibility to hibernation syndrome, whatever). So the starting population was 968545. I assumed a mortality rate of 0.8. By the way I've also altered the aging rules in my Traveller universe - being 51 I found the notion that we start losing health at the stat quantum level already at age 34 unrealistic and probably a holdover from 1977; still, I used a reasonable modern era mortality rate of 0.8 since early colonization accidents and exoplanet stresses would counter the lower aging rate of these higher tech humans, their better nutrition, understanding of aging, pharma, and genetic therapies notwithstanding. And now that I look at the calcs I actually assumed 122 years and solved for the very proactive high tech net percent annual growth rate during subsidized expansion of 11.9(2229053) that would equal the total population of the Spinward Marches per http://travellermap.com/make/booklet...ard%20Marches#. I think it was more realistically a bit of a balancing act between how many years it would take and a growth rate that I thought was remotely realistic. I probably originally wanted it to take a century but found the required growth rate too high to be believable, so I iterated and ended up with 122 years and 11.92...% I simply took the starting population and by yearly increments multiplied by a factor that was a sum of the mortality rate and the growth rate until that balance was struck and the target total population of 374855900000 was reached. Hopefully I didn't botch it too badly, but I'm sure someone will not be able to resist telling me that I have. Either way, this is my story and I'm sticking to it - it's good enough for my purposes. The main idea behind accepting a growth rate as high as 11.9% was to establish that humanity is coming out of a period of intense reproductive emphasis and is culturally rebounding against that and all the cultural traditions it implies.

In the end I have a canon-like world with only the one sector, no Imperium, no aliens, no psionics, and some restrictions on space travel acceleration. I've assumed that grav plating can really only sustain a ship at a surface gravity of 1 g for around 1 minute, so perpetual hovering is not allowed and landing requires at least air-ramming during flight and a nice, short, accurate touchdown to avoid overheating the powered grav plates. I'm also assuming the in-cabin grav plating can be damaged or disabled, and can only provide so much lateral inertial dampening, requiring those onboard to be in acceleration couches for higher accelerations and/or longer durations at high acceleration. I'm assuming inertial damping is good to 1.5 g's lateral with diminishing returns up to 2 g's, so that 2.5 g's of ship acceleration yields a maximum long term operational condition without couches of 1g net lateral acceleration - that's uncomfortable but doable. This means you can't just 4 to 6 g your way across a star system - it's an actual voyage that takes time, and higher acceleration capabilities are more for very short duration emergency situations. That also means small craft with their 1 or 2 week operational durations, often can't service an entire system without freezing those aboard and relying on auto-unfreeze. Etc. You get the idea.

I've been thinking about how to use Jump space for some interesting sci fi alienness, too. As mentioned I'm abandoning the canon notion of many alien species that are essentially what Orson Scott Card would call Raman in his binary heirarchy of alienness. I'd prefer to have maybe one Raman species discovered during the PC's campaign (with no easy first contact, no easy universal translator type situation, but rather a protracted period of learning how each other works and how to avoid disastrous misunderstandings and violence), plus some Varelse species thrown in. On that, I was thinking about adopting another COTI contributor's idea of aliens in jump space. It's tricky, because the rules clearly state it's an island universe. If I go that route for one of my Varelse species I'll have to assume the rules are merely reflecting humaniti's current understanding of Jump space, and there must be more to it. Anyway, now I'm spewing stream of consciousness. Back to work!
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Old November 1st, 2016, 02:29 PM
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Historically, we've (we as in Earth) have had about 2% population growth. Apparently, the early US peaked over 3%, and that included immigration, not just natural birth. We're below 1% now.

2% growth over 122 years, is 11.2 times the population. 3% is 36.8 times.

11% is 338,379(!!) times.
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Old November 1st, 2016, 03:25 PM
deathbymeteor deathbymeteor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flykiller View Post
outstanding. congratulations and you have my admiration.

gonna start a pbp game here?
I wasn't planning on trying to run a pbp or roll20 game any time soon, and I've recently found a couple more players in my area. Local will probably keep me busy for a while. If there's real interest and if it looks like I have the time and energy, I suppose I'd post here if that happens.

Speaking of which, if someone on this thread wants to run a roll20 Traveller adventure/campaign and is looking for players with this kind of hard sci fi bent, PM me or whatever... I've already registered on the player-finder thread but here's me registering my interest again explicitly. Being a player is a lot easier than being a Ref.

thanks for your interest and support,
-dbm
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Old November 1st, 2016, 03:37 PM
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Default population stuff

Quote:
Originally Posted by whartung View Post
Historically, we've (we as in Earth) have had about 2% population growth. Apparently, the early US peaked over 3%, and that included immigration, not just natural birth. We're below 1% now.

2% growth over 122 years, is 11.2 times the population. 3% is 36.8 times.

11% is 338,379(!!) times.
Yeah, it's a really big birth rate. Out of sheer curiosity, are the rates you're quoting NET growth rates, i.e. birth rates AND loss rates combined? When combined, the NET growth rate of 11.1% (still quite high, but not quite 12%). Just curious. Niger has a 4.6% birth rate as of 2013. Seems like a high-tech, subsidized, driven, motivated birth rate of 11.9% is, ahem, conceivable. You can see how a subsidized, encouraged, driven birth rate like that would result in a pendulum swing, though.

Given that we really haven't started this campaign yet, maybe I will stretch the time and lower the rate.
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Old November 1st, 2016, 03:41 PM
deathbymeteor deathbymeteor is offline
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Default more on population (play on words? I think not... play on words? I think not!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by whartung View Post
Historically, we've (we as in Earth) have had about 2% population growth. Apparently, the early US peaked over 3%, and that included immigration, not just natural birth. We're below 1% now.

2% growth over 122 years, is 11.2 times the population. 3% is 36.8 times.

11% is 338,379(!!) times.
If I make it take 193 years instead, I get a growth rate of 7.688%. Maybe I'll make it something more like that. Thanks for putting another eye on that calc. I really can't remember how I ended up happy with the 11.9% rate.
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Old November 1st, 2016, 11:25 PM
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Originally Posted by deathbymeteor View Post
If I make it take 193 years instead, I get a growth rate of 7.688%. Maybe I'll make it something more like that. Thanks for putting another eye on that calc. I really can't remember how I ended up happy with the 11.9% rate.
Consider this. Assuming 50% of your population are female, a growth rate of 7.688% means that over 15 percent of your population is pregnant at any given time. That also means that you have a very large population of children below the age of 2 at any given time. I would suggest that you give this idea a bit more thought.

You will be taking women from an industrialized society where small families are the norm, and basically forcing them to adjust to very large families. How are you proposing to deal with this?

I am assuming that you understand how much effort goes into raising children. With a large family, the mother is not going to be working outside of the home.
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