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T4 - Marc Miller's Traveller Discussion of T4 - Marc Miller's Traveller from Imperium Games and the Milieu 0 setting.

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Old October 8th, 2018, 05:14 PM
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Default What would you find at an Ancient site?

I've been going through the Milleu 0 and First Survey books trying to find inspiration for a new adventure to challenge my friends with. I have come across, in the Core Sector:

2020 Kan D200000-1 Va Ba G4V Ancient Site

Based on the fact it seems something like a planet very similar to Mercury -- just an uninhabited rock in space, I've been thinking of presenting the planet with having an old mining operation, now abandoned for centuries. But like the dwarfs of Moria, the miners dug too deep...and found something.

The players are the first people to land on the planet since the Long Night. Any ideas what they might find? What would spur their imaginations? What would the Ancients have left behind?

Any ideas what would make for a good story? Any suggestions?
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Old October 8th, 2018, 06:29 PM
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I'm not sure what would make a great story for you (The Monsters! The Artifacts! The Running! The Screaming! ), but here's a generic way to build an archaeological site.

Site) What was it used for?
Stronghold
Outpost
Housing
Trade
Craft
Temple
Unknown

Site) What condition is it in?
Pristine
Aged
Crumbling

Site or Artifact) What material is it made from?
Stone
Ceramic
Metal
Glass
Bone
Unknown

Artifact) What can you find there?
Technology
Artwork
Clothing
Foodstuffs
Burial or Remains
Cultural Relic?
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Old October 8th, 2018, 06:47 PM
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My immediate thought is something like the Ancient outpost in the Twilight's Peak adventure, except with the likelihood of an Ancient Droyne equivalent of a Leader Droyne, and rather than a group of Warrior Droyne, a group of Droyne Worker Miners. The Miners would have advanced mining tools that can function quite well as weapons. A disintegrator rock cutter might be possible.
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Old October 8th, 2018, 06:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ManOfGrey View Post
Any ideas what would make for a good story? Any suggestions?

The best way to use the Ancients is not to use the Ancients.

Because the Ancients are a grossly overused trope in Traveller, because even the newest or most casual player will have heard of Ancients, and because the players will have a host of preconceptions regarding the Ancients, the best way you can use the Ancients is to use them in a manner which inverts players' expectations.

Vampire aren't scary because everyone "knows" all you need is a crucifix, holy water, and garlic. Trolls in D&D aren't scary because everyone "knows" you need to burn them. Once it's used too much, any strange, outre, or otherworldly threat becomes blase, everyday, and formulaic. What your players should encounter on Kan needs to be akin to a vampire which ignores garlic. What your players should encounter on Kan needs to be mysterious and dangerous. It can't be any of those things if it's the Ancients.

Here's what you need to do and Mileau:0 will help you do it:

First, in Imperial Year 0 nobody knows anything about the Ancients. People know about many archeological sites with technological remains on many worlds which far predate the Vilani invention of jump. While the dates of those sites varies greatly, there seems to a common date for some of the heavily damaged ones. Some scholars are starting to speculate that the sites dating from roughly -300,000 years ago might be linked in some manner. Other scholars refute that idea by pointing to the wildly divergent technological remains found at those sites.

All anyone knows in Mileau:0 is that there are plenty of ancient sites around. Nobody in Mileau:0, however, even suspects that there were Ancients.

Second, your players are going to find nothing on Kan. Why? Because all the researchers, explorers, romantics, and others from the Ziru Sirka, Terran Confederation, Rule of Man, and Long Night pocket empires have been investigating Kan for thousands of years. All the geegaws, scraps, broken bits, and potsherds were found long ago. All that is left on Kan are the self deluded, the victims of cons, the true believers, and those who prey on them.

Kan is Cibola, Paititi, the City of Z, Oak Island, Zerzura, Hy-Brasil, and all the rest.

The most dangerous things on Kan and the most mysterious things on Kan will be one and the same: The other people on Kan.

All of the suspected ancient facility locations are alike: Pulverized rubble. Suspected surface locations are marked by +1km craters full of rubble. Suspected subsurface locations are +1km "bubbles" nearly full of the same. Very few locations are theorized to be the impact sites where orbital facilities fell.

The only existing structures are thousands of kilometers of tunnels linking the pulverized locations. The tunnels vary widely in diameter with some are big enough to drive an ATV through and others less than one centimeter. Most are straight, several zigzag. Most are level, several are inclined, and a few drop straight toward's Kan's core. While Kan is dead in a geological sense, quakes either dating from whatever forces created the pulverized zones and from meteor impacts have collapsed parts of some tunnels and fractured others.

Over the millennia it is assumed that all of the tunnels have been mapped at one time or another. Few if any of those maps still exist and, more importantly, even fewer are freely shared. Groups of treasure hunters will spend time and money mapping the region(s) they claim only to finally give up and try to recoup some of their investment by selling their maps to new groups. Other groups and individuals don't make any maps at all, but still sell maps to others.

There are have no finds of any significance in centuries. A few generations ago a consortium of Sylean universities excavated less then 1% of a pulverized region and sifted the materials removed. After nearly two years of work and over a million metric tons materials examined, a few scraps of an unknown alloy were recovered.

That is what you players are going to find. They're going to find broken dreams and desperate men. They're going to find that the Ancients or ancients are still mysterious, still unknown, and still incomprehensible. They're not going to find the reality warping geegaws which recent chargen systems hand out like breath mints.
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Old October 8th, 2018, 08:29 PM
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If your ancients are Yaskodray et fils...

1: there will be at least one flying room.
2: there will be few/no private residences, but instead group rooms
3: different sections may be entirely different construction methods...
4: TL18-23 stuff, but lots more at TL 4-5 where it will do.
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Old October 8th, 2018, 09:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Whipsnade View Post
The best way to use the Ancients is not to use the Ancients.
Frankly, thank you. That's not bad advice. But perhaps I should relate a bit of a back-story about how I believe the characters will eventually come to Kan.

First, I've turned back the clock a bit. It's not Milieu 0. It's the "first" "milieu 0" -- I have set the timeframe to the beginning of the Sylean Federation, 650 years before the founding of the Third Imperium. This is my way of justifying the nineteen worlds that are listed in First Survey as the "Sylean Federation," and as an excuse to use all the blank UWP data that comprises most of the book. In this timeframe the Sylean Federation only consists of those nineteen worlds. The Long Night is just ending as those few worlds try to make contact with the rest.

Previously, on "Sylean Federation, the TV series," our heroes explored Giikkala, and found an AAB Repository -- a Vilani "Repository of All Knowledge." It is damaged, but with some of its information still intact. With that, they find a holo-map of the Core Sector, with 8 worlds outlined in amber, and 11 worlds outlined in red. Unbeknownst to our players, these do not represent "Amber Zones" and "Red Zones" in the classic sense. They are notations from the Vilani Empire showing the locations of the AAB Repositories in the sector, (amber,) and known Ancient sites, (red.) Kan is the closet of these for our intrepid heroes to explore.

But the Sylean Federation has no idea what is on that planet. (That's why the data in First Survey is blank.) Presumably our heroes have no idea that the world is an Ancient Site. No one has visited there in five hundred years, since the fall of the Long Night. Now granted, both the Vilani, and the Solomoni, had a chance to discover it all those centuries ago. But what did they find?

I'm even considering running with the idea that once the party achieves orbit around the planet, they detect a weak signal coming from a beacon on the surface that they can't quite understand. Upon investigation, they find it is an old Solomoni satellite warning travelers to stay away from the planet. But over the last five hundred years, its orbit decayed, and it crashed, damaging it to the point its signal is not strong enough to be understood from orbit. But now that they've landed to investigate...it's too late!

But what do they find? I thought that question would make a good thread discussion, and might lead to some good ideas I wouldn't have thought of otherwise. I really like the idea that the "planet is hollowed out with round chambers, all of them interconnected." I wouldn't have thought of that. Thank you.

So what else? To answer the earlier question, "what would make a great story for me..." I think I would answer "something suspenseful." Any ideas how we could keep my friends guessing? But it has to be something they have a chance to prevail against. It can't be like Alien: Covenant, where they accidentally breathe a bunch of spores, and two minutes later they die because something bursts out of their forehead. I gotta give them a chance!

Last edited by ManOfGrey; October 8th, 2018 at 09:51 PM..
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Old October 8th, 2018, 10:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ManOfGrey View Post
Frankly, thank you. That's not bad advice.

You're welcome. We had a thread several years back in which the OP was asking for suggestions regarding what a working Ancient device might do. All sort of good suggestions were tossed around, but mine suggestion was to have the device do nothing. It bleeps and bloops randomly, there are differently colored blotches which might be buttons, something else might be a slide or vernier, it feels warm or cool at different times, and it does absolutely nothing which the players can determine.

The OP loved the idea because it inverted his players' expectations. They became the guy who found Michigan J. Frog in that box in that building's cornerstone. They were going to use their new geegaw to become rich and famous only to finally realize after months all it did was bleep and bloop.

Quote:
First, I've turned back the clock a bit. It's not Milieu 0. It's the "first" "milieu 0" -- I have set the timeframe to the beginning of the Sylean Federation, 650 years before the founding of the Third Imperium.
That's excellent idea and it makes turning the Ancients into ancients even easier.

Quote:
Unbeknownst to our players, these do not represent "Amber Zones" and "Red Zones" in the classic sense. They are notations from the Vilani Empire showing the locations of the AAB Repositories in the sector, (amber,) and known Ancient sites, (red.) Kan is the closet of these for our intrepid heroes to explore.
And that's how to make it easier. Because the Vilani had noted the sites thousands of years before but had not linked some of them with the idea of the Ancients, that AAB label is designating Kan as an aancient site. It's just another example of the many "precursor societies" the Vilani found as they explored. The theory regarding the Ancients is a fairly recent development in the OTU. Neither the 1st or 2nd Imperium seems to have made the conceptual leap or, if some researcher had, the theory wasn't widely discussed or accepted.

While that means the player-characters will have no concept of the Ancients, the problem occurs when the players can't help but metagame their own knowledge of the Ancients. It's like when Level 1 PCs in D&D can immediately identify a monster, it's unique attacks, it's weaknesses, and even it's hit points. The PCs shouldn't know all that but the players can't always help themselves.

Quote:
I'm even considering running with the idea that once the party achieves orbit around the planet, they detect a weak signal coming from a beacon on the surface that they can't quite understand. Upon investigation, they find it is an old Solomoni satellite warning travelers to stay away from the planet. But over the last five hundred years, its orbit decayed, and it crashed, damaging it to the point its signal is not strong enough to be understood from orbit. But now that they've landed to investigate...it's too late!
That's a great opening scene which should set the hook nicely.

Hmmm... the players are going to immediately suspect and/or expect "monsters" in the form of warbots (see early Vilani history), plagues (see early Zhodani history), automated defenses ( see Shadows/Sabmiqys), xenomorphs (see Aliens etc.), and the like. Because those things are what the players will expect, I wouldn't use any of them. Instead, I'd reflect the the players own fears back on them. Let them think something is going on, let them fill in the shadows with their fears. Nudge them a bit with an innocent accident or two, throw in a coincidence, roll the dice once or twice behind your screen, and watch your player's imagination do all the work.

I'd make that old Sollie satellite nothing more than an orbiting "No Trespassing" sign. The Confederation or RoM put it in orbit for the same reason the Egyptian government doesn't let any damn fool with a pick axe or crate of dynamite start sniffing around the Pyramids. The Powers That Be only wanted accredited researchers investigating Kan and not everyone with a "treasure map".
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Old October 8th, 2018, 10:52 PM
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In terms of the original question here, I prefer that it do something mundane but interesting enough to make the players get "gold fever." That is it is just neat enough that if they keep digging in a planet sized mountain of refuse and debris they might get lucky and find that super cool really useful item I haven't even bothered to dream up yet...

Think of this as the grizzly prospector / gold rush scenario. They know who the Ancients were and have some idea of the incredible stuff they possessed. Now they're somewhere they might find something super, duper, powerful or useful... If only they can dig through another million tons of junk to get at it...

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Old October 8th, 2018, 10:56 PM
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Default 2 items I used

The first thing the players found was a wall of light. They did a spectrum analysis and found the output matched the local star. When they cut out a 1m x 1m section that section stopped working and the measured lumens of the rest of the wall decreased.

The second item looked like a large handheld flashlight. When pointed at a target it emitted an electrical burst that burned through a wall that was the equivalent of an armored starship hull. However, if there was a biological entity within a 60 degree cone it would not work, even if it was just the ships cat on the other side of the wall. Robots - destroyed. Vehicle with a driver/passenger - safe. Obversely useless against BattleDress.

They never figured out how either worked and after 22 shots the "flashlight" power supply was depleted and they could not recharge it.
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Old October 9th, 2018, 01:46 AM
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Spit-balling:

First, an observation that the current data on Traveller Map uses a different name and Size for the world. It also does not list as an Ancients site. This is NOT a problem.
The similarities between the eras (gas giants, belts, and the star) also suggest things

Using the Ancients
As Aramis enumerates, a known but sealed Ancients site with the makings of a lone lab of some sort. Perhaps an inobvious control room for things that are elsewhere in the same system, allowing a meddling bunch of PCs or "the authorities" to mess around with stuff until it is too late. At some point the Ancients traces in the system reach a critical point of being fiddled with and either melt down, crash into or shoot each other (or the sun), or jump out of the system for parts unknown. This could be your game or it could happen later, but the result by 1105 is a different system/planet name, using a different airless rock.

In regards to Whipsnade's comments, I would attribute the Ancients designation to the wartime Sylean Federation surveyors, making it very recent. It then falls to the PCs to prove or disprove it. They'll be the first to follow up on the survey report, so no port is present unless you decide some wrecked Chanestin facility qualifies for a D Port.

It might be a real Ancients site, or...

Using some ancient precursor that isn't Grandfather's brood
Kan/Tertha is on the big Main that also includes Capital, so it may have gotten involved in the very early Great Game between the Vilani and the Geonee (who discovered each other and the Syleans *very* early due, likely, to the Main). The Geonee are still largely unknown in Milieu Zero, so a ruined base sized for somewhat shorter humanoids and using a language that may not be in the Sylean Library could be every bit as mysterious and almost as dangerous as finding some of Grandfather's toys. Oh, and the Geonee were (and still are) convinced that they were the Ancients, so there might even be some lost Ancients device stashed here because the Geonee were big into claim and salvage (ie. stealing) of old artifacts.

The world of Kan would have been the most interesting thing in the system, so it is the focus of the Milieu Zero UWP. Within a century or two, the Geonee will be re-contacted, better understood, and correlated to the 8000 year old base on Kan. That base is then cleared out and/or officially forgotten by the Imperium, who open up a different rock for colonization and rename the system for the new rock: Tertha. At that time the Milieu Zero Ancients designation is also removed, because it was incorrect.
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