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In the OTU In the Official Traveller Universe. Any milieux that's been published in any edition. Not for discussion of rules except in reference to how they reflect the OTU

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Old November 26th, 2017, 08:51 AM
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Default The Scouts role

NOTE: with the loss of 3 days that we had due to the failed upgrade, we have lost a thread about the IISS role in the Third Imperium. As i found it interesting, I'll give here the answer I was preparing for it:

---------------------------------------

Well, I see here two questions (based on the references the OP gives us).
  • Why the scouts have so high survival roll, once their usual missions are seen?
  • What’s their current role?

About the first question, I just think (a metagame answer, I know) that the fact is the CharGen tables were done before the Imperium (and so the IISS as part of it) was described, and were assumed to engage in dangerous missions not reflected on IISS description.

About the second question, this is how I see them in my adaptation of the OTU (so consider it as IMTU, though I guess compatible with OTU):

Once the Third Imperium reached their intended size (so, the one prior to Solomani War) it felt no more need to explore beyond its borders, as most of it was already settled and maps were easy to obtain, This left the IISS closing obsolescence, and forced it to look for new roles or disappear outright. In this look for new roles, they ended up becoming a kind of jack of all trades and master of none agency, auxiliary of most Imperial agencies, but independent from them all and responding only to the Emperor himself, and in some cases even coordinating them.

Their main roles became defined in four Imperial Mandates:
  • First: Keep updated stellar maps and data (hazards, best routes, etc), mostly assumed by the exploration and Grand Survey branch.
  • Second: Keep the communications, mostly kept by the communications branch
  • Third: Foreign intelligence and contacts, in coordination with many other agencies.
  • Fourth: Help in Imperial development and security. This affects many branches, mostly in coordination with other services too.

The first two ones are quite straightforward, though I should also explicit that the Grand Survey branch is the responsible to keep actualized the Imperial Census, an important but often skipped mission when they are told about.

On the foreign intelligence part, the Scouts mostly devote themselves to open intelligence (obtaining maps, assigning UWPs, etc). On the contact (diplomatic) mission, they use to assume missions of showing the flag and similar actions where the In cannot do them for political reasons (e.g. the mission of the Vermillion Stance as described in Incident II on the game AHL). Of course, this is always in coordination with the Imperial Diplomatic Corps. Also in this role (and as part of the Second Mandate) they keep the communications with the Imperial Embassies outside Imperial Space.

Their true main role, though, is in the loosely defined Fourth Mandate. This has come to include many and very varied missions:

Health:

I’ve never read about an Imperial Health Ministry. So I assume there is none (the health needs are quite varied along the Imperium), leaving mostly to local authorities. Nonetheless, some coordination is needed, and the IISS, due to their knowledge about planetary hazards (including illnesses) and xenology, has assumed this role. In this sense, they keep a large registry of known and newly appearing diseases, and help to develop cures when possible (akin of CDC). In this sense they have the power to establish quarantines if needed.

They also become a kind of emergency response service, having emergency supplies in most their bases and way stations (quite numerous along the Imperium) ready to respond on any such situations, and use to be the first ones to respond.

Another service they offer in this sense (and one less told about, though by no means secret) is to keep sperm banks and to help in fostering children from other worlds to infertile couples. This is mostly done from HiPop planets to LowPop ones, and has the double goal to help those couples and to increase the gene pool, and so avoiding endogamy, of those LowPop planets without involving large migrations that could affect their cultures.

Internal Intelligence and Security:

This includes mostly cooperation with Imperial (and lesser) Navies and MoJ, and goes from locating pirate bases to help the MoJ agents to move around, as well as providing them cultural hints on the planets they have to act. They also have quick response teams able o handle small pirate threats.

Also as being in this field is seen the registry and certificate of ships, transponders and licenses for starships and their crews. This is done in coordination with the Ministry of Trade and the various SPAs across the Imperium. The IISS is the responsible for those registries above Starport/system level and for license certificates for key ship positions, as ship’s pilots or navigators. See that this also allows the Communications office to know which ships are armed and well reputed to assign the mail contracts…

Finally in this section is the (comparatively) very small but prestigious Scout Service Imperial Protection Detail (told about in TD issue #9).

Key in this intelligence (as well as in external one, as described in mandate 3) and security role are the Detached Duty Scout ships, as all of them have recorders for their sensors. Anything seen as too anomalous is automatically unloaded in the first IISS base or way station the ship arrives, while the full records are unloaded each time the yearly maintenance is done in such a base. Those records are analyzed in search of any anomaly (e.g. two different ships detecting the same transponder in different places, etc.), so becoming the eyes and ears of the IISS (and hence the Emperor) across the Imperium and beyond.

Development and conservation:

The IISS also collaborates with the various agencies in developing new colonies and expanding existing ones. This goes from surveys to environmental control or control of technologies available (including interdicting some worlds to allow local cultures to develop) or to train would be colonists for alien (for them) environs.

This also includes the various reserve worlds or places where they keep examples of various planets’ flora and fauna.

An example of those facilities and missions can be seen in the description of Glisten Institute of Planetological Studies (GLIPS), specified as depending on the IISS, found in TD issue #15, page28.
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Last edited by McPerth; November 26th, 2017 at 02:25 PM.. Reason: typos
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Old November 26th, 2017, 01:41 PM
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Survey is a constantly ongoing process in the real world. Not only is there the NOAA Commissioned Corps in the United States, there are four ships in the Royal Navy dedicated to ocean surveys.

It's enough work in the Imperium to keep a vast number of people employed in survey for internal purposes. Not only for the systems themselves, but planet bound features of interest to the Imperium, like the terrain around major starports, and the military geography of various worlds.
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Old November 26th, 2017, 02:12 PM
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On surveying:

I still think the IISS would rely on local contractors and surveying firms wherever possible. They'd just have some bureaucrat or three collecting the data from these worlds.

Where you have to send actual scouts to do the work would be systems that are too low tech to do it themselves (say TL7 or less) because they lack the accuracy in the equipment locally available to do it right. The other two cases would be:

A system with low population. It's unlikely a system with say a few thousand people in it would have the specialization of trades to do the work.

A system that is the "Wild West." That is it's got zip for government, or the government is thoroughly corrupt or vicious, and / or law enforcement is either nonexistent (LL = 0 to 2 or so) or so onerous as to make physically being on the main world dangerous in and of itself (LL = B+)

These last two make for dangerous work. In the first case you are surveying a system where if anything happens to your tiny crew and ship nobody's going to know about it for months, years maybe.

The second case is self-evident. There's a very good chance you might get shot, robbed, or whatever, or run afoul of the local dictator and his goon squad.

Either way, there's a reasonable possibility you won't survive doing your mission.
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Old November 26th, 2017, 02:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enoki View Post
A system that is the "Wild West." That is it's got zip for government, or the government is thoroughly corrupt or vicious, and / or law enforcement is either nonexistent (LL = 0 to 2 or so) or so onerous as to make physically being on the main world dangerous in and of itself (LL = B+)

These last two make for dangerous work. In the first case you are surveying a system where if anything happens to your tiny crew and ship nobody's going to know about it for months, years maybe.

The second case is self-evident. There's a very good chance you might get shot, robbed, or whatever, or run afoul of the local dictator and his goon squad.

Either way, there's a reasonable possibility you won't survive doing your mission.
I guess even in those planets you talk about, the Imperial agents, be them MoJ, Scouts or whatever, are rarely attacked, out of fear to provoke Imperial attention. Even a small survey team is likely to have some regular communication with its base, and if they are lost there is a good probability there's an investigation by the Imperial authorities.

And in any case, would those missions be more risky than army or marines, who are expected to participate regularly in some combat?
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Old November 26th, 2017, 04:57 PM
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I was sad to see this thread get lost, and am happy it's being resurrected. There appears to be a lot of room for discussion on the apparent lethality of Scout missions. Here are some of my thoughts:

1) IIRC, one of the posts in the lost thread mentioned having Scouts doing surveys within Imperial space as a means of detecting anti-Imperium activity. If no one is checking a given system on a regular basis it would seem tempting to start building a base and /or shipyard to construct warships entirely 'off the books'. If the Scouts routinely run surveys of known systems this route becomes much dicier (not to mention a storyline I might use in the future).

2) Communication speed and communication security are two absolutely vital resources needed to maintain a stable government. I could easily see the Scouts taking on these roles as their primary mission grows obsolete. They should already be involved in the speedy transit of information given the risk of running into a major threat in unknown space. That would also likely involve keeping such information well-secured via code and comms security.

3) The Scouts appear to enjoy a reputation similar to the cowboys and military of the US's wild west. Rugged risk-takers expanding our knowledge while increasing our safety. Such a reputation fades slowly, and even now I'd believe many youngsters look at the night sky and dream of finding new worlds. There would still be a number of sophonts eager to join the Scouts, and those numbers would grant the Scouts political clout beyond their size. It's not a huge leap from there to the idea that the upper leadership of the Scouts maneuvered the agency into its current position using every scrap of power they had.

My only concern with all of the above is this. How many sophonts joining the Scouts become disillusioned with their careers? Even at the height of the exploration era many joining the Scouts would never see a world entirely unknown to the Imperium. Today even fewer will. How does that affect internal morale?
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Old November 26th, 2017, 07:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McPerth View Post
I guess even in those planets you talk about, the Imperial agents, be them MoJ, Scouts or whatever, are rarely attacked, out of fear to provoke Imperial attention. Even a small survey team is likely to have some regular communication with its base, and if they are lost there is a good probability there's an investigation by the Imperial authorities.

And in any case, would those missions be more risky than army or marines, who are expected to participate regularly in some combat?
I'd think the opposite. I'd think pretty much everybody knows that at a minimum they have a week or more before anyone outside the system would even become a little concerned.
If the scouts were to be there for weeks or months to do the job, that timeframe expands greatly. Plenty of time to hide the bodies where they never be found, and chop shop the ship or whatever they're going to do.
When the next batch of scouts or a search party shows up the locals shrug and say they have no idea what you're talking about. "Never seen 'em."

On onerous worlds with dictators and vicious laws, the government simply says they broke the law and it was off to the gulag / labor camp /prison, whatever with them. Any local nobility would have to be complicit in that as they're the ones allowing such worlds to exist to begin with...

The Imperial authorities are likely not to want to spend megacredits on sending some warship and a bunch of investigators to some backwater world to look for a few scouts that went missing in any case. Routine investigation, close out the file, replace the missing crew with a fresh one. Maybe the next crew will be more cautious...

It only becomes a problem if every crew went missing there. Then it's move in and stomp on the locals...
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Old November 26th, 2017, 11:05 PM
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I'll try to reiterate (& expand) my ideas from the original thread....

The role of the Scout service has changed from the proto-Traveller role of exploration. The service has sustained itself & expanded by absorbing other services & taking on new roles, all surrounding information: collecting, analyzing, and reporting. It is essentially an intelligence organization, though not all of its intelligence is secret.

Per Book 6, the Sylean Federation Scout Service begat the IISS, which absorbed the Imperial Grand Survey. As exploration & survey declined in importance, the IISS took over the X-Boat service, which provides an ongoing raison d'etre & also fits the information mandate.

The field operations of the IISS now break down as follows:

Communications Office: this includes both the X-Boat Branch and Courier branch. In addition to carrying the mail, they're crunching data to identify communication patterns of intelligence value, and eavesdropping on people of interest. The sheer numbers of worlds on the X-Boat network, the demands of running all those boats, dictate this is the largest field office.

Survey Office: this breaks down into Internal Survey and External Survey. Internal Survey work entails resurveying systems within the Imperium both to update information and to answer questions not addressed in previous surveys (needs change). Surveying an entire system is a huge undertaking. How long to survey an asteroid belt? Given the number of worlds to be covered, there is always work to do.

External survey entails sneaking into systems controlled by other empires and also the no man's land systems that lie between. Nobody is just giving this data to the Imperium, so someone has to go and get it. You would no more subcontract this work than The US would subcontract spy planes over the Soviet Union in 1980. The external survey branch is larger than the internal.

Exploration Office: this includes an Exploration Branch, which has shrunk over time, and a Contact & Liaison Branch, which is second in size only to the Communications Office. The original role of C&L was not just to contact alien species and to recontact former Imperial worlds, but also to bring worlds into the Imperial fold by convincing them to voluntarily join the Imperium ... which meant by destabilizing governments that want to remain independent. That role remains important. Propaganda is the stock in trade of C&L - a long way from the white hat image of Scouts contacting alien civilizations.

In short: field operations may be mostly consumed by routine X-Boat operations, but also include signals intelligence, reconnaissance, and agitprop.

And this is before we get to Detached Duty Intelligence....
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Old November 26th, 2017, 11:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McPerth View Post
They also have quick response teams able o handle small pirate threats.
My Scouts wouldn't squish the pirates. That's the kind of dumb move Imperial Naval Intelligence would make.

The IISS Intelligence Branch plays a long game. Pirates are an ongoing problem and they aren't interested in playing whack-a-mole with them. The Navy, on locating a pirate base of operations, would move in and stomp on it. The IISS, recognizing that pirates usually have powerful sponsors, would watch and wait. And on identifying that sponsor -- say, Lord Blowhard, 2nd Earl Someworld -- the IISS would not do what Imperial Secret Intelligence would do, which would be to rat him out.

No. The IISS would have an intelligence officer sit down with Lord Blowhard, with the end result that Lord Blowhard ends up working for the IISS ... though he thinks he's being blackmailed by cheapjack mobsters.

"Information is power" is the unofficial Scout motto ... and power is no good if you just give it away.
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Old November 26th, 2017, 11:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by welsh View Post
My Scouts wouldn't squish the pirates. That's the kind of dumb move Imperial Naval Intelligence would make.

The IISS Intelligence Branch plays a long game. Pirates are an ongoing problem and they aren't interested in playing whack-a-mole with them. The Navy, on locating a pirate base of operations, would move in and stomp on it. The IISS, recognizing that pirates usually have powerful sponsors, would watch and wait. And on identifying that sponsor -- say, Lord Blowhard, 2nd Earl Someworld -- the IISS would not do what Imperial Secret Intelligence would do, which would be to rat him out.

No. The IISS would have an intelligence officer sit down with Lord Blowhard, with the end result that Lord Blowhard ends up working for the IISS ... though he thinks he's being blackmailed by cheapjack mobsters.

"Information is power" is the unofficial Scout motto ... and power is no good if you just give it away.
I like this idea, with the caveat that IISS would also put information into place that if Lord Blowhard gets balky a packet gets sent to draw the Emperor's attention to Lord Blowhard's wonky financial information pointing to his backing known pirates in his system. Keep him clueless, keep him in the dark, keep him talking, and keep him under the Damoclean sword he's not ever aware of.
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Old November 27th, 2017, 03:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enoki View Post
I'd think the opposite. I'd think pretty much everybody knows that at a minimum they have a week or more before anyone outside the system would even become a little concerned.
If the scouts were to be there for weeks or months to do the job, that timeframe expands greatly. Plenty of time to hide the bodies where they never be found, and chop shop the ship or whatever they're going to do.
When the next batch of scouts or a search party shows up the locals shrug and say they have no idea what you're talking about. "Never seen 'em."

On onerous worlds with dictators and vicious laws, the government simply says they broke the law and it was off to the gulag / labor camp /prison, whatever with them. Any local nobility would have to be complicit in that as they're the ones allowing such worlds to exist to begin with...

The Imperial authorities are likely not to want to spend megacredits on sending some warship and a bunch of investigators to some backwater world to look for a few scouts that went missing in any case. Routine investigation, close out the file, replace the missing crew with a fresh one. Maybe the next crew will be more cautious...

It only becomes a problem if every crew went missing there. Then it's move in and stomp on the locals...
I see we fully disagree on this. As I see it, alowing this would sap the Imperial Authority, if any backwater planet could challeng it or make its representatives disappear.

And precisely for this reason, I'd expect any such disappearing team to produce a through investigation, not just a formal one to be son closed, just to asert who is in full command.

And for the same reasons, I don't expect those teams to be sent without any support, but with regular and (relatively) often contact, just to avoid the situation you tell about.

Quote:
Originally Posted by welsh View Post
My Scouts wouldn't squish the pirates. That's the kind of dumb move Imperial Naval Intelligence would make.

The IISS Intelligence Branch plays a long game. Pirates are an ongoing problem and they aren't interested in playing whack-a-mole with them. The Navy, on locating a pirate base of operations, would move in and stomp on it. The IISS, recognizing that pirates usually have powerful sponsors, would watch and wait. And on identifying that sponsor -- say, Lord Blowhard, 2nd Earl Someworld -- the IISS would not do what Imperial Secret Intelligence would do, which would be to rat him out.

No. The IISS would have an intelligence officer sit down with Lord Blowhard, with the end result that Lord Blowhard ends up working for the IISS ... though he thinks he's being blackmailed by cheapjack mobsters.

"Information is power" is the unofficial Scout motto ... and power is no good if you just give it away.
Well, ITTR an adventure where the plyers locate some pirate base and their best option is jut to ewarn the IISS (being closer than IN) and thelp them to raid it, but I'm afraid I cannot give you exact reference.

As I see it, IN is only sent for strong threats, as it is an officially military action, and so politically dangerous, while the scouts, bein in this sense closer to the French Gendarmery of Spanish Guardia Civil, while being (at least) partially military or militarized, are not seen as the use of military units (and so martial law, be it de facto or the jure), but, as a police action (not in the sense Mercenary says, but in the sens they are more close to police than army in this actions).
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