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Old October 15th, 2018, 11:16 AM
Marchand Marchand is offline
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Default How do planetary populations view Travellers?

I am thinking of how Travellers are viewed by the residents of planets they visit.

The classic era 3rd Imperium seemed to get more cosmopolitan as it went on. If, as the Traveller Book says, interstellar travel is as common as air travel today, then Travellers won't generally command too much attention, unless they venture out into the sticks.

What about in a small ship universe where travel is dangerous and rarer? This seems to be the assumption of the LBBs, particularly the 1977 versions where it's more expensive and difficult to travel off the established jump lanes. A post-Collapse or Milieu Zero/Long Night setting will feel similar.

If a world sees a ship every six months or once a year, it seems to me Travellers are going to be pretty much planetary celebrities. (Assuming the general population gets to find out about their visit, of course.)

This makes me think of the Ultras in Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space series, for those who know it. The Ultras are the interstellar travellers. When one of their ships turns up at a backwater colony, it's a major event. World leaders on hand to greet the visitors from deep space.

Doesn't quite seem to be a situation the average PC crew could fit into. But it would certainly increase the importance of having somebody with higher SOC in the party.

Have you ever played it that way in your games?
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Old October 15th, 2018, 11:34 AM
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There is a setting within a setting for the Third Imperium.

First there is the frontier setting where the Imperium is a distant power that allows extensive home rule due to being two years away by fast civilian transport. The proto-Spinward Marches are the example. Travel between worlds is rare and dangerous for the average citizen of the frontier worlds, as per CT 77 and 81.

The core worlds of the Imperium, however, are where the Imperium enjoys direct rule, populations and TLs are higher as are standards of living and space travel is as common as air travel today as per TTB.


On the frontier Travellers may well be treated with a bit of distrust, while in the core worlds they are much more common and treated more as a matter of fact.
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Old October 15th, 2018, 03:42 PM
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Taking a cue from the original rules about being exposed as a Psion, I'd say every world will fall somewhere on a spectrum of disinterest to strong interest (whether negative or positive). While you might generally index that to factors like starport class and tech level, it makes just as much sense to make it up as you go along. Just take notes.
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Old October 15th, 2018, 05:13 PM
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One big factor would be the difference in Tech Levels between the Traveller and the planet being visited. If the Traveller is from a considerably higher Tech Level, he is likely to drive the locals to distraction demanding all of the services that he takes for granted that do not exist on the planet. Imagine someone used to total cell phone coverage in the middle of the Solomon Islands or in the Philippines or New Guinea, and suddenly, no cell phone. Then there will be the problem of the Traveller sort of speaks the language, but has no idea of local customs and norms, along with slang. At best, viewed as an annoyance, at worse, someone to get rid of as soon as possible. Basically, the classic "Ugly American".

Edit Note: I think that at 8,000 to 10,000 Credits a pop, interstellar travel is not going to be anywhere close to as common as air travel is today, unless you assume a very high per capita income in the Imperium. I think that it would be much closer to first-class ocean travel in the mid to late 1800s, with only the upper crust of society able to afford passage. In Victorian England, 30 Shillings a week (1 Pound 10 Shillings) was a typical wage, while in the US, $30 to $50 a month was about normal. First and even second class travel was beyond the reach of a large majority of the population. Their option was steerage, which would equate to Low Berth in Traveller, but that was not for simply traveling, that was for emigration. I will see about posting some representative incomes later tonight verses travel costs.
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Old October 15th, 2018, 11:21 PM
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I'd say there are a number of things influencing how a local world reacts to the arrival of a "foreign" starship.

The first two that I look at are government and law level. Governments that are more likely to be open or at least open to trade will have populations and authorities that are more accepting of a ship's arrival. Ones that are dictatorships or theocracies are more likely to be suspicious of a "foreign" ship.

The next is law level. As this goes up, particularly past 9, the likelihood is that showing up and not being on the "guest list" so-to-speak is not taken well by the authorities.

I've had ships and crews find themselves quarantined, held in the "starport" (even where there really isn't one because of rating and / or TL), inundated by the local media / press, scrutinized by customs, and even refused permission to land on the planet.

Part of that can also be created by how you shape the local government. For example, you have a world where the TL is kept low because the government absolutely refuses to allow any imported technology they can't produce and compete with locally. Such a government might see a starship landing as a legal violation of that idea. They could refuse the ship permission to land or might let it only under strict quarantine.

As part of this you also have to consider the question How long is it between ships showing up on this world? If it's a real backwater it could be months or even years between ships arriving. It could also make a difference what kind of ship you show up in. A scout or a small trade ship might be not a big deal but showing up in one that's say 1000 tons + is. A warship versus a civilian ship would make a difference too.

Then there's potentially racial issues. That's a in itself.

Population is another item to consider. A landing by a ship is probably big news on a planet with a few hundred or thousand people living on it where it is not even news worthy on one that has billions.

Then there's politics. Your ship is from polity X and you are in polity Y. How do these two get along politically? If the governments of both are in some sort of conflict it might not be the welcome wagon you expected when you land...

This is really a case where a referee has to look at all this beforehand and figure out what might be the case with a system and the ship the players are using.
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Old October 16th, 2018, 12:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enoki View Post
This is really a case where a referee has to look at all this beforehand and figure out what might be the case with a system and the ship the players are using.
Agreed. A lot of the process isn't actually a process.

That said, the cultural extensions in T5 can add to the mix. Homogeneity, Acceptance, Strangeness, and Symbols (HASS) can all become, if not factors, then certainly color. Homogeneity and Acceptance may make that open hail, or the first steps out of the ship, either much easier or much harder, and may also influence how the opening greetings affect the rest of their time on a world. Strangeness and Symbols go both directions when understanding is required, and a great deal of literary and television SF has been created on those two topics.

Star Trek (TOS, TNG, Voyager, and some of DS9, at the least) for example, is practically a weekly clinic in varying the four HASS values and seeing what happens. So is a lot of Poul Anderson's work, particularly the two series that influenced Traveller. You can add Laumer's Retief, Norton's Solar Queen, Chandler's Grimes, and many others lost along with the era of the cheap paperback.
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Old October 16th, 2018, 01:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marchand View Post
Have you ever played it that way in your games?
Anything can happen in a sandbox game where various tribes/cultures will exist. Even if only using one world for a game.
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Old October 16th, 2018, 10:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timerover51 View Post
Edit Note: I think that at 8,000 to 10,000 Credits a pop, interstellar travel is not going to be anywhere close to as common as air travel is today, unless you assume a very high per capita income in the Imperium. I think that it would be much closer to first-class ocean travel in the mid to late 1800s, with only the upper crust of society able to afford passage. In Victorian England, 30 Shillings a week (1 Pound 10 Shillings) was a typical wage, while in the US, $30 to $50 a month was about normal. First and even second class travel was beyond the reach of a large majority of the population. Their option was steerage, which would equate to Low Berth in Traveller, but that was not for simply traveling, that was for emigration. I will see about posting some representative incomes later tonight verses travel costs.
You have to combine those ratios with population densities, though.

I don't know what percentage of folks traveled from Europe to the US via ship. Apparently Europe had about 300m people in 1900.

That's just one continent. Contrast that to the vast array of planets with billions of people.

I imaging the passenger travel is going to be quite robust, even if it is expensive.
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Old October 16th, 2018, 12:03 PM
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I think it is pretty obvious that Travellers are 'naer-do-well' carpet-baggers coming in like they are all special snowflakes. They ignore local laws and customs ... "we don't CARE how you do it back home!" ... but you can't say anything to them because they are always armed and looking for a reason to start trouble.

When they aren't starting trouble, they think that whatever crap they brought to sell is made of Gold and they expect the 'primitive locals' to rush forward and fall at their feet begging to pay 4 times the market value. Then once they have squeezed every last credit out of the local economy with their blood-sucking carpet-bagger broker that cares about nothing except getting his cut off the top, they are ready to strong arm the people they made desperate into selling to them at a fraction of what their goods are worth.

What do we think of Travellers? [spits on the ground] Filthy parasites, the lot of them.
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Old October 16th, 2018, 01:18 PM
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One factor that the MT:WBH included in the detailed description of societies was precisely interstellar view, ranging from xenophilic to xenophobic. I guess this would be a decisive factor on this (as well as the interstellar trade/tourism share of its economy).
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