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Imperial Interstellar Scout Service Details of the worlds of the Imperium (and beyond).

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  #31  
Old March 2nd, 2019, 01:18 AM
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My answer isn't that different from some that have come earlier in this thread, but I approach this kind of question a little differently. The OTU tells us two things:

1) societies fell backward in TL after the Empire collapsed and the Long Night began, and
2) there is significant TL diversity between systems within the 3I even after a 1000+ years.

How to account for those two "historical facts"? There are probably multiple ways to skin that cat, but whatever you posit for how TL and industry works in the far future, it is constrained by those facts.

My answer is that far future economies are both incredibly human and capital intensive, so much so that resources from multiple systems have to be pooled to support it. As a zero-order estimate I assume capital requirements go up 10x per TL for each high tech sector in the far future, but productivity only increases at historic rates, say 60% per TL. Similarly at higher TLs a diminishing percentage of the population is capable of performing the technical work or producing the technology. That drives the need for a very large, very well trained labor force to get the qualified bodies high TLs need.

That is why there is a Long Night; one system doesn't have the capital nor human resources to support all the industry a high tech economy needs. Interstellar trade is required to maintain it. And that is why tech doesn't transfer in the 3I; it is too expensive to replicate the industrial and human-capital base required.

Why doesn't Mike's automation solve the problem? I don't know. How about, the quantum mechanical problems involved in jump / grav / and other far future industrial technologies are not subject to closed form solutions or machine learning techniques but require a combination of art and intellect that can't be coded or automated.

Why not clones of scientists then? I don't know. How about since intelligence isn't strictly genetic it is not efficient / practical to just clone your workforce. Perhaps the level of intellectual diversity needed is too great too. Clones help but you still need huge numbers.

Maybe you don't like my answers to the objections, but we have to handwave the objections away somehow because we have the setting facts of the Long Night and 3I TL heterogeneity.
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  #32  
Old March 2nd, 2019, 04:14 AM
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The automation didn't help the Vilani Empire worlds that suffered the Long Night because the Vilani Empire ensured that no world was self sufficient.

World A makes fusion power plant chambers, world B makes fusion power plant plasma control systems, world C makes the fusion power plant housing, world D assembles the lot.

The Vilani had a pathological fear of achieving TL12, if they had granted fully self sufficient technological knowledge to every TL9-11 world within their empire they wouldn't have been able to prevent it...
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Old March 2nd, 2019, 01:32 PM
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Mike, that is a plausible explanation for Vilani colonies might be prone to suffering a fall back in the Long Night, but I think it raises lots of questions.

First, it doesn't address the lack of tech transfer in the 3I at all.

Why did the Vilani themselves fall back in the Long Night? It is one thing for their colonies to be kept in the dark, but how do they themselves fall back to TL9 from TL11. Obviously they themselves were kept in the dark about there own technology.

Why didn't the Rule of Man mitigate the imposed Vilani tech isolation? They had over 200 years in power. If tech/knowledge could easily transfer and be sustained by a single system, why didn't that happen anywhere among former Vilani colonies? Why wasn't it commonplace?

And perhaps most difficult, why did the Long Night affect the Solomani region if it was a Vilani cultural problem? The Terrans were TL12 and had a very different culture.
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  #34  
Old March 2nd, 2019, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by vegas View Post
.........


And perhaps most difficult, why did the Long Night affect the Solomani region if it was a Vilani cultural problem? The Terrans were TL12 and had a very different culture.
Two Words.

Plot Device.
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  #35  
Old March 2nd, 2019, 04:50 PM
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@timerover, Well sure, you can always just bash the setting. That is easy.

Instead I try to find solutions that are plausible within the setting. I don't subscribe to the theory that the Long Night was just a Vilani cultural problem, rather I propose that the capital (human and physical) intensity of high TLs requires massive scale: interstellar scale. Thus when interstellar trade withers, TLs fall back to system-sustainable scales.

@jawillroy, getting back to the OP

Quote:
Suppose you've got one little TL15 world with a population of 300 or so, and within 10 parsecs there's one TL 11 industrial world and a mess of other systems between TL 5 and 9.

Do you just handwave it all, and say yep, that's a TL 15 world?
Is it a TL 11 world with a few TL 15 gadgets?
Quote:
Suppose our TL 13 pop 2 world is moderately isolated;

Supposing there's NO nearby worlds of high enough population to produce goods for export: Does that world get to stay TL13? Or do we say it's a TL1 world with a lot of broken TL13 ornaments?
I feel like these two cases are very similar and get the same answer. As usual with CT (and I come from a CT mindset) you get to make up whatever answer you want. But contra Mike (and for the record, I hate to be contra Mike since I usually agree with just about everything he posts around here) TL can mean many things, not just "it has the infrastructure to make stuff at [that TL]"

From LBB3 pp 7-9, TL refers to:
the degree of local tech expertise
the capabilities of local industry
the types of goods in general use
the types of weapons used by public
the general ability to repair or maintain items
the quality and sophistication of products of the world
the common and available equipment

I don't take that laundry list to be a single definition, rather I think those are the many dimensions on which TL gets measured. So capabilities of local industry is one way to be high TL. Another is having local high tech expertise or to in fact be using high TL equipment, even if they are largely imported.

(Side note, even if you subscribe to Mike's idea that TL has to mean "you can make stuff" at that TL it doesn't have to mean you have the breadth of infrastructure to make anything at that TL.)

So in MTU, you wouldn't have a self-sustaining 300 person TL 15 world, but you certainly could have a TL15 outpost where all the high tech is imported. Maybe it is a noble's system or a mega-corps research facility. So long as a backer has the financial resources to drop TL15 stuff on the area, it really wouldn't be hard to support 300 people at high tech. Expensive, but not hard.

And I like your scenario where your 100s population TL13 planet is in the process of falling back if it is truly isolated. That is another fun explanation.
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  #36  
Old March 2nd, 2019, 06:50 PM
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I agree with you, TL can have different meanings.

In a setting where worlds are isolated then TL probably indicates only local manufacturing capability, the presence of higher TL items would point towards off world trade and an adventure hook - where are the off world merchants getting their high TL stuff from?

In a setting like the Third Imperium circa 1105+ then local TL will be a combination of what is locally manufactured and what is imported, but note that this can go all the way up to TL15 stuff popping up on a world with TL5...

An industrial world, though, will have a TL that indicates manufacturing capacity.

(As to the changing nature of the Vilani during their 7000 years in space before the long night, how the long night actually affected former Ziru Sirka worlds and why and how the Syleans promoted the concept of a long night to legitimise their ascendancy to Empire that requires a new thread or possibly an old one)
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Old March 2nd, 2019, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by vegas View Post
@timerover, Well sure, you can always just bash the setting. That is easy.
I am not "just" bashing the setting, but looking at it from the standpoint of a historian that has studied societal inertia and what it takes to reduce a level of technology.

Quote:
Instead I try to find solutions that are plausible within the setting. I don't subscribe to the theory that the Long Night was just a Vilani cultural problem, rather I propose that the capital (human and physical) intensity of high TLs requires massive scale: interstellar scale. Thus when interstellar trade withers, TLs fall back to system-sustainable scales.
Quite simply, I do not see a plausible explanation for the Long Night affecting such a large volume of space or worlds. Given the limitations of the Jump Drive when it comes to communication speed, any world with a reasonably large population is going to work at being as self-sufficient as possible. That means making sure that they can sustain, by their own efforts, the level of technology that they have reached.

The original poster's example of a Tech Level 15 World with a population of 300 means to me that it is either some form of research station or industrial facility that happens to be at Tech Level 15, with no ability to maintain that Tech Level without continuous outside support. Given the description of the location, I would probably either call it a Relics site with the population actually at a much lower Tech Level, or toss the Tech Level 15 rating out the window, and set it to something that I would find more reasonable.
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  #38  
Old March 2nd, 2019, 08:28 PM
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@Mike, fair points all. And as to
Quote:
(As to the changing nature of the Vilani during their 7000 years in space before the long night, how the long night actually affected former Ziru Sirka worlds and why and how the Syleans promoted the concept of a long night to legitimise their ascendancy to Empire that requires a new thread or possibly an old one)
Yes, I think I know where you are going with that, and it is a way to brush aside the "historical facts" I reference. That can work too. Lots of ways to skin this setting cat.

@timerover, well, to paraphrase Mike:

As TL rises to the science fictional rather than historical you can expect even greater capital (human and physical) intensity such that pre-TL8 historical experience isn't necessarily a good guide.

But its all just horses for courses between MTU and YTU.
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Old March 3rd, 2019, 01:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vegas View Post
...
Instead I try to find solutions that are plausible within the setting. I don't subscribe to the theory that the Long Night was just a Vilani cultural problem, rather I propose that the capital (human and physical) intensity of high TLs requires massive scale: interstellar scale. Thus when interstellar trade withers, TLs fall back to system-sustainable scales.
...
At the core of it, Timerover is correct: elements are put in place to drive the story. Some of those elements may be very difficult to reconcile, but the story value is sufficient to make them useful. Star Trek gave us the transporter, then had the thing fail or glitch so often that any intelligent captain would have gone to shuttles and left the transporters as an emergency back-up option, but they kept being used because they added color, simplified the storytelling for television purposes, and occasionally made for a good story by themselves.

The Long Night is one of those bits of Traveller color that is difficult to reconcile. The problem is one of scale: to argue the interconnectedness that might account for a Long Night on even the largest worlds, we also need to argue for a scale of interstellar commerce that neither exists in any version of the game I know nor would be particularly useful in an adventure role-playing game.

Consider the Spinward Marches, the area I'm most familiar with: 439 worlds, a bit under 400 billion souls depending on the version, 93% of the population concentrated on 40 of those worlds, and trade - where game versions allow trade to be calculated - accounting for less than 1% of the GDP of those worlds, typically much less. Ramp up the trade to the level where those worlds would actually notice an interstellar collapse in trade, and I ramp up the number of ships flying around - and by extension the size of the Imperial fleet defending them - by a factor of 10, 20, maybe 30, because the budget is there for it and the temptation by hostiles to disrupt trade would be that much stronger. I've already got a problem explaining why there isn't at least one Imperial destroyer-escort monitoring every system against piracy or outlawry - what a dent that'd make in the players' adventuring fun - and now I multiply the problem by a factor of 10 or more.

Situation isn't dramatically different in the Imperial core, so explaining a collapse at a world of tens of billions in terms of interstellar trade is very difficult: it would require ramping up interstellar trade to a level that ends up impacting the adventuring experience, and the game is first and foremost about the adventuring experience. To preserve the adventuring experience requires imagining a level of trade that leaves room for players to visit small frontier worlds without expecting to see an Imperial monitoring outpost at every turn, which leaves those big high-pop worlds pretty much immune to the broader collapses that would crush probably 2/3 of their neighbors.

For me, the best answer is, "They don't know." Maybe it was the Third Imperium version of Medieval Europe's Dark Ages (which in fact weren't so dark in most areas, but most people don't look closely enough at history to know that). Or maybe some as yet unmentioned factor led to instability on worlds that should in fact have been islands of stability. It is ancient history, and the Imperium's historical economists are still arguing among themselves about how it happened or even whether it happened in the way people believe it happened, but most people are content with the story that's being taught in the elementary schools. That's as good an explanation for the players as any, and it's better than explanations that might have undesirable implications elsewhere. Sometimes the best explanation for something that doesn't make sense is, "It doesn't make sense to them either."
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Old March 3rd, 2019, 01:45 AM
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Originally Posted by vegas View Post
@timerover,
My screen name is Timerover51, not timerover. Use that again and I will assume a deliberate, calculated insult.

Quote:
well, to paraphrase Mike:

As TL rises to the science fictional rather than historical you can expect even greater capital (human and physical) intensity such that pre-TL8 historical experience isn't necessarily a good guide.
I will agree that 7000 years of a static society such as the Vilani is without historical precedent. See Timeline in T5.0.9, page 17.

Quote:
But its all just horses for courses between MTU and YTU.
I think that I have pretty well laid out the basis for the relationship between population and Tech Level in my universe. What is available in a given Tech Level will be given in more detail under the Cepheus Engine thread. The top Tech Level of my Piper-Norton Out Rim sector will be 12, so I am not terribly worried about Tech Level 15, but there will be some surprising ruins in the sector. My Tech Level 12 might not match other Tech Level 12 concepts, however.

As I see it, to each his or her own.
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