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  #1  
Old August 9th, 2009, 05:46 AM
Icosahedron Icosahedron is offline
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I have a situation developing in which it may be necessary for a message to be delivered to a ship that is following its fortunes in a sparsely populated frontier region.

Even the crew don't know where their next cargo/passenger contract will take them.

How would a message find them, how long would it take, and how would the delivery be costed?

All ideas welcome. Cheers.
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  #2  
Old August 9th, 2009, 07:00 AM
Trent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Icosahedron View Post
I have a situation developing in which it may be necessary for a message to be delivered to a ship that is following its fortunes in a sparsely populated frontier region.

Even the crew don't know where their next cargo/passenger contract will take them.

How would a message find them, how long would it take, and how would the delivery be costed?

All ideas welcome. Cheers.
I could imagine a jump net system that would store messages like emails and spread them from jump point to jump point, the xboat network could do this.

Given the near limitless storage space available in traveller's tech, it could be feasible.

Messages could have a time limit and expire, or there could be a "received/delete" notice passed thru the network when a messages was received.

Ships and people could check in at each jump, if they weren't wanted for anything.

You'd need a system like PGP with the sender having an encryption key that was set to the reciepients decryption key.
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Old August 9th, 2009, 08:17 AM
PathfinderAP PathfinderAP is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Icosahedron View Post
I have a situation developing in which it may be necessary for a message to be delivered to a ship that is following its fortunes in a sparsely populated frontier region.

Even the crew don't know where their next cargo/passenger contract will take them.

How would a message find them, how long would it take, and how would the delivery be costed?

All ideas welcome. Cheers.
Well the cheapest rate would be free, word of mouth, a friend of a friend passing it on,

The non free option is through the standard way, merchants and private small shipping can make extra money hauling mail (but I think you are limited to how much) its not alot, so guessing getting mail is cheap, (say 10-50 creds, max)

Time, maybe 3+ weeks, (time to jump point, jump, and time to base/planet)
but the mail could be sitting on that world until the players return so that could be more than a month total,
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  #4  
Old August 9th, 2009, 10:20 AM
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Gadrin Gadrin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Icosahedron View Post
I have a situation developing in which it may be
necessary for a message to be delivered to a ship that is following its
fortunes in a sparsely populated frontier region.

Even the crew don't know where their next cargo/passenger contract will take
them.

How would a message find them, how long would it take, and how would the
delivery be costed?

All ideas welcome. Cheers.
I always imagined that word can be left at any starport for someone else.

The mechanics vary, from General Delivery to something private and
verifiable.

Using the starport/computer in the Safari Ship module, even if no one's there
the message could be copied to the computer and starship captains/crew are
generally in the habit of looking for things with their names/imperial
id#/ship serial #, etc, etc.

I'd use the "honorarium" method for payment and whatever the courier accepts
works. Given that anyone could find themselves in this situation, it's
probably practical.

As for time, no way to predict that, since breakdowns, misjumps and what-not
can occur -- "hmmm, shouldn't have left the cassette near the powerful
electromagnet" -- or the damage rolls in High Guard put the kai-bosh on the
flash drive you're carrying.

You just figure out where the recipient ends up and how long it takes for
traffic to make it that place.

I'd see messages on the x-boat system, duplicated at each stop. Depending on
the storage capabilities, most messages would have an expiry date of say
around 1 quarter year to 6 months. If the system isn't burdened then I expect
it would stay until picked up. Picked up messages might be forwarded down the
route so that they get erased at each stop, might not.

>
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Old August 9th, 2009, 02:08 PM
PathfinderAP PathfinderAP is offline
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Well how about this for an idea,

They carry your mail (on computer) along with the rest of their cargo,
They carry all cargo to the base/port/etc where they transfer all the mail to the base/port computer and comm's system, (your address can include your ships ID)

You enter the system, and your ships transponder is picked up by the base/port sensors, and "BING! You Got Mail", they offer to send to you for a small credit charge, all automatic,
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Old August 9th, 2009, 04:46 PM
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Icosahedron,

There's an old practice called poste restante that you may find interesting. It's akin to what we call "general delivery" here in the US. Mail is delivered to a location where it is held for varying amounts of time until the addressee calls for it.

Nowadays with formal postal services linking nearly every place on Earth, poste restante service is offered by most postal organizations. The sender marks a letter or package with the name of the recipient, Larsen E. Whipsnade, then with either Poste Restante or General Delivery, and finally with the location the letter or parcel is being sent to, such as Paris, France or New York, New York, USA with the appropriate postal codes. In the case of a large city, the letter or parcel in question is usually held at a specific office that handles poste restante/general delivery traffic.

This is how the poste restante works today, but the practice has been in use for millennia and not through formal postal organizations either. Along land or sea trade routes, a stable, long term business like a boarding house, tavern, chandler, trading post, stable, smithy, or similar enterprise would set itself up as a poste restante. For a small fee, people would leave messages at these locations for others to collect when they passed through. After your arrival, checking the local poste restante location for messages was simply part of your other basic chores like getting horses shod, getting sails mended, dropping off furs, or replenishing victuals. If a message for you was present, another small fee would place it in your hands.

In the 57th Century and off the x-boat routes, the poste restante model should flourish. Many backwater worlds will band together to fund subsidized merchants to provide official mail service and many of those routes will receive partial subsidies from Imperial sources like counties and duchies too, but not every world can afford their share of subsidy and not every world will be on a route. This when poste restante enters the picture.

With information storage and strong encryption trivial matters in the 57th Century, the crew of a ship with an announced backwater destination would find themselves approached by many wishing to arrange and pay for deliveries to the poste restante location(s) at their next port-of-call.

CT even explicitly mentions the poste restante practice when it discusses the "small parcel trade" in LBB:2: "Private mail is usually intended for delivery to a specific point (such as the Travellers' Aid Society building, or a tavern keeper), and is generally accompanied by a Cr20 to Cr120 honorarium. Throw 9+ for a private message to be awaiting transmittal, and determine randomly which crew member is approached to carry it. Serving as a carrier for private mail also serves as an introduction to the recipient as a dependable, trustworthy person."

What's more, the businesses acting as poste restante locations will most certainly take up the task of arranging deliveries themselves. Individuals wishing to send a message poste restante would not have to identify and approach likely crew members themselves. Instead, they'd drop their message off at the business in question, pay a fee, and that business would arrange for the message to be passed along. The business in question would also have a better idea of just who can be trusted to deliver the message.

Getting back to the specifics of your question, a poste restante sender needn't only arrange for the delivery of his message to one location either. The poste restante businesses in the region will be happy to deliver multiple copies of the message for an additional fee. The poste restante business would send copies to the poste restante businesses with which it directly deals with instructions that they keep one and send along the rest. In this manner the message can eventually reach in system in the entire region.

Just how fast your message can reach every world in the region and how much it will cost to arrange such delivery is up to you as the GM. Only you know the number of worlds in question and the levels of traffic they see. LBB:2 has delivery costs running at 2D6 X 10Cr, so I'd suggest 70Cr per world plus a 50% "handling surcharge" the first poste restante business can share with the rest.

One final consideration; time stamps. Modern poste restante deliveries are only kept for certain periods of time and then are treated as undeliverable. In the past, the date at which a message was left or sent was prominently displayed so that the addressee could decide whether or not to pay for "delivery"; why pay to read the July 1845 letter from your business partner when you've already read the April 1846 letter? In the 57th Century, poste restante messages that electronically "self destruct" will be as trivial to arrange as strong encryption.


Regards,
Bill

Last edited by Whipsnade; August 9th, 2009 at 04:47 PM.. Reason: spelling
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  #7  
Old August 9th, 2009, 09:46 PM
far-trader far-trader is offline
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Bill has covered the General Delivery topic, one other possibility occurs to me though. Depending on the nature of the message.

Each summer (less often the rest of the year) we have the odd public service message on the radio, sometimes even TV, during the newscast. Along the lines of "Enerii-shau, thought to be travelling through Regina enroute to Pixie is asked to contact the local SPA office as soon as possible on an urgent private matter."

In real life here it's usually the RCMP that are the contact point and the news is usually grim in a family emergency nature. I've seen less of these over the years though. I guess the need is less, what with everyone and their kid having a cell phone. Come to think of it I can't recall the last time I heard one of these.

But it could be more common in Traveller. If the message is urgent, and of the right type, there's a chance there will be a public announcement like the above squirted via X-Boat along the presumed or known areas to be broadcast in each system to each new ship arrival. That in itself could be fun when the PC is the target of the message

Set it up with a few routine messages before of course, boring boring, then they arrive in system and hear their name in the blurb and the request to contact SPA. What did they do wrong is the likely PC reaction. Will they go to the SPA? Or sneak through the system. What happens when they get to the next system, and the one after that, all of them, and each time they are named
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Old August 10th, 2009, 12:09 AM
boomslang boomslang is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Icosahedron View Post
I have a situation developing in which it may be necessary for a message to be delivered to a ship that is following its fortunes in a sparsely populated frontier region.
There are several good ideas already posted which you can work from, but combining parts of all of them may be your best bet.

Consider:

1. Assuming the vessel is paid off, although they she might no longer have regular contact with the bank at her port of registry, the ship will still have a port of registry (unless it is corsair).

2. Unless they devote precious payload space to carrying the supplies to perform annual maintenance in the field, the crew will eventually need to head to a Class B or A starport at least once a year. And such places can be few and far between on the frontier.

3. The combination of landing logs, maintenance logs, and customs/SPA audits should leave a data trail. Plus, the IISS IB and IN NI will routinely track transponders and ship movements (and isn't it the IISS that also runs the Xnet? Hmmm); other interstellar governments will pursue similar practices -- Mail contracts and Subsidized vessels go hand-in-hand, after all.

4. Xboat messages and/or electronic Mail could be designed to intelligently propagate -- just as SPA records will also propagate -- converging on Class A & B starports near where the addressee has been logged, as well as in the general direction it has been moving, if it does not stick to one astrographic area. This whole routing process could be highly automated. But it will also be audit-able -- although not necessarily in a timely-enough fashion to be useful except forensically.

5. Also bear in mind that the Xnet maintains a fleet of Scout/Couriers to handle "off-route" deliveries; this may be a common and routine activity, ensuring that pretty much all worlds in the 3I are, for the patient customer, on the Xnet -- more or less.

So, it should not really be a problem to eventually get a message to a crew working the frontier.

Of course, if it is a really urgent and important message, that's what starship charters and (N)PCs looking for jobs are for.

(And should your PCs mistakenly decide that it is a band of skip-tracers and/or bounty hunters trying to track them down, the proverbial hijinks may ensue...)

Last edited by boomslang; August 10th, 2009 at 12:12 AM..
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  #9  
Old August 10th, 2009, 02:42 AM
Icosahedron Icosahedron is offline
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Cheers guys, some useful ideas there.

I think for general mail a box number at a particular starport might work as a 'fixed address', a sort of Post Restante system and this could be at a maintenance depot, but my thoughts on chasing down a ship in the shortest possible time ran along the lines of the expanding wave of messages.

I think there would have to be a time limit on storage in this case, though, because if the wave continuously expands, a 'received, please delete' message wave would never catch up with the original.

I'm sure the message wave would eventually reach the ship and the delivery time could be figured via a map, but:

1) Would it be more likely/efficient/cost effective for people to put out a random expanding wave, or a 'paper chase' that seeks to follow a ship's flight plan trail?

2) How many 'mail collections' per unit time will leave a particular world? I imagine mail-carrying ships will be arriving and leaving a Class A port on a daily basis, if not hourly, but what about other classes of port? What if the sender or recipient is on a Class E or X world? How often would you expect a mail ship?

3) I'm still not sure how to cost such a system. Would you charge the sender or recipient? Would the fees be on a per-parsec basis? How would you know how far it would travel before receipt? Suppose the message were travelling halfway across the Empire? Would you have zone charges, maybe on a subsector basis and the sender decides how many subsectors to contact? Would there be different charges if a message were passing through a subsector but not being broadcast there?

Thanks for your suggestions.
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Old August 10th, 2009, 03:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Icosahedron View Post
1) Would it be more likely/efficient/cost effective for people to put out a random expanding wave, or a 'paper chase' that seeks to follow a ship's flight plan trail?
Icosahedron,

For a frontier area, you might consider forwarding the message to the trade hubs in the area the crew is working. They'll likely cross one hub or another in their wanderings.
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