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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 20th, 2017, 06:39 PM
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Default the value of life

This is something that I've come to accept about the OTU, over the course of some time, but i don't think its really explicitly stated or really articulated anywhere, despite it having quite some effect on the OTU and our perceptions of it.

What i have come to realise it that, by contemporary western standards, the OTU in general places a very low value on individual human life.


I think the clearest example of this is the widespread use of Low Berth systems, which routinely cause life threatening or fatal injuries to their occupants, but nether the less are standard on most interstellar ships, and have what must amount to thousands of people travelling in them every year in just the Marches, and by extension, dozens to hundreds of deaths.

I find it impossible to imagine such a dangerous system being used today, expect in the most truly desperate of circumstances, as the risk is simply unacceptable. I cannot, off the top of my head, think of situation in history where people would voluntarily run risks of this scale just to get form A to B. the only thing that comes to mind is the steerage immigrants to the new world in the 19th century, but even they didn't have a mortality rate on this scale, as far i as i know.

And, faced with this high chance of death, what do starfarers do? hold a sweepstakes on how many they are going to loose. That's a level of gallows humour i haven't seem outside of Russian EOD teams.

I'd write more, but its late, and i need to sleep before work in the morning. my key point is that it is clear that the OTU has a very low value on human life, and that it is sometimes inappropriate to project our values and standards onto the OTU, as they don't map properly onto it. A culture that is willing to accept such a lethal method of travel is, to my eyes, more alien in its fundamental values than any culture i know on this earth today.
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Old November 20th, 2017, 07:02 PM
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I agree - at least for the Imperium.

They have such a huge population base that filling fighters and battledress with people is a cheaper alternative to building robotic versions.

If life were valued then fighters and battlesuits, if not gunships and battleriders, would be robots.
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Old November 20th, 2017, 07:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Xerxeskingofking View Post
This is something that I've come to accept about the OTU, over the course of some time, but i don't think its really explicitly stated or really articulated anywhere, despite it having quite some effect on the OTU and our perceptions of it.

What i have come to realise it that, by contemporary western standards, the OTU in general places a very low value on individual human life.


I think the clearest example of this is the widespread use of Low Berth systems, which routinely cause life threatening or fatal injuries to their occupants, but nether the less are standard on most interstellar ships, and have what must amount to thousands of people travelling in them every year in just the Marches, and by extension, dozens to hundreds of deaths.

I find it impossible to imagine such a dangerous system being used today, expect in the most truly desperate of circumstances, as the risk is simply unacceptable. I cannot, off the top of my head, think of situation in history where people would voluntarily run risks of this scale just to get form A to B. the only thing that comes to mind is the steerage immigrants to the new world in the 19th century, but even they didn't have a mortality rate on this scale, as far i as i know.

And, faced with this high chance of death, what do starfarers do? hold a sweepstakes on how many they are going to loose. That's a level of gallows humour i haven't seem outside of Russian EOD teams.

I'd write more, but its late, and i need to sleep before work in the morning. my key point is that it is clear that the OTU has a very low value on human life, and that it is sometimes inappropriate to project our values and standards onto the OTU, as they don't map properly onto it. A culture that is willing to accept such a lethal method of travel is, to my eyes, more alien in its fundamental values than any culture i know on this earth today.
I agree with your remarks, and with respect to the low-berth issue I allow them to be routinely used only with animals, with a survival rate of 95% (roll 1 on a D20 for the animal not to make it). You are not going to ship even animals over stellar distances without a very high survival rate. No routine passenger use is permitted, but life boats may be so fitted for emergency use. I know rolling a D20 is not the norm, but the 2D6 roll does get very restrictive at times.
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Old November 20th, 2017, 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by timerover51 View Post
I agree with your remarks, and with respect to the low-berth issue I allow them to be routinely used only with animals, with a survival rate of 95% (roll 1 on a D20 for the animal not to make it). You are not going to ship even animals over stellar distances without a very high survival rate. No routine passenger use is permitted, but life boats may be so fitted for emergency use. I know rolling a D20 is not the norm, but the 2D6 roll does get very restrictive at times.
Note that later editions make failure not death, but serious injury. Debilitating enough to require medical support in some cases.

Essentially, the death rate in later editions is closer to 1%.

For a CT implementation, just make the margin of failure the number of 2d hits applied as wounds, but allowing hits to Int & Edu, as well. A 2 on the roll thus is fail by 3, and is 3 hits of 2d. Potentially fatal for all but the buffest. Or, for a more lethal (but not instantly) make it a 3d hit per point, instead.
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Old November 20th, 2017, 08:52 PM
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A 1% failure rate of what is essentially medical equipment, whether causing death or injury to the occupant is absolutely horrible by our standards. I am not disagreeing with the OP per se, but consider the implications below.
  • A 1% Failure Rate on the Frozen Watch of military ships?
  • A 1% Failure Rate on the Terran sub-light missions carrying 100,000 colonists per shot?
In both cases it is likely several of the Medic skill 4+ people to expertly revive others are among the frozen. The Great Rift (I got my Kickstarter ) gives new details on the missions, indicating children were among the frozen. Would you put yourself and your children on the asteroid knowing there is a 1% chance each of might die or suffer.

Would the technology used in these two cases be different than what is standard now?
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Old November 20th, 2017, 09:15 PM
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Also, what is to prevent coyotes or other human traffickers? Many in the US know coyote is the term given to people who, for a fee, transport other people illegally into the US. What is less well known is the three-fold reason for the name. Desert environment, Spanish word origin AND given a chance the may just take your stuff and kill you or leave you to the wilderness to die or get caught the authorities. Sort of like the opportunistic animal itself. OK, four-fold.

Given Imperial Policy of leaving planets to rule themselves mostly, well....
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Old November 20th, 2017, 09:55 PM
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I remember reading about one of those "professor" experiments with a class.

The professor asks the class "What's the value of a human life?" The class answers "Invaluable," "You can't put a price on it," or "Beyond measure..."

The professor then hands out flyers to sign up for like "Save a starving kid in Africa" or "For just a few dollars a month..." etc. He says "If human life is so valuable and precious, sign up to save one and put your money where your mouth is."

Of course, the students don't sign up. So he collects the flyers, and finds the cheapest one. He announces "A human life is worth no more than x dollars..."

The point of the story is that the Imperium is likely little different. There's plenty of planets that are over populated, under developed, and what-have-you to get an endless, or nearly endless, supply of cannon fodder from.
The only thing that would make this less prevalent is the cost of training and equipping those troops.

I'd think the bulk of the Imperium's military are long service veterans from worlds where the military is a stellar opportunity compared to local life. (pun intended) For the well heeled, only being an officer would have any appeal.
The Imperium would be far better off equipping most marines and naval infantry at lower tech levels, just 2 or 3 above the locals where they have a definite superiority. These weapons and whatnot are likely hand-me-downs that have long been depreciated where their loss means nothing.

I'd expect the Imperium to have lots and lots of old, decrepit, ships in backwaters where they are like gunboats in China in the 20's and 30's mostly manned with crew that have little option but to stay on and do their duty for the Empire.

I'd expect them to be equipped well below the max tech level but better armed, equipped, and trained than the locals could hope to manage. Why put high tech ships and troops in a low tech system say fifty parsecs from the nearest border? All you need do is ensure the local government is loyal to the emperor and pays their taxes.

Otherwise the likes of Steve McQueen and company show up and adjust the local's attitude. They control the star system even if they don't control the planet(s). Things are over their head, they send one of their own for help.
I'd also think a big part of the Imperial Navy is operating escort vessels for merchant ships. Piracy is a problem? Convoys with armed escorts are the answer. Sure, a pirate ship might take on a single merchant, but taking on half a dozen armed merchants with a couple of well armed escorts is beyond them.
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Old November 21st, 2017, 03:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nathan Brazil View Post
A 1% failure rate of what is essentially medical equipment, whether causing death or injury to the occupant is absolutely horrible by our standards. I am not disagreeing with the OP per se, but consider the implications below.
The failure rate for most "standard" surgeries is listed at about 1%. Not one of the 13 surgeries I've had has been said by the docs to have less than a 5% failure rate. (7 dental, 5 orthopedic, 1 hernia). Most of those, the biggest risk of death is the anaesthesia killing one outright; the biggest risk of failure is an infection causing problems; in the carpal and tarsal tunnel releases, nerve damage is a real complication, but the death rate's stupidly low - if you survive the anaesthesia.

Even a vasectomy has a 0.3% risk of death....

https://riskcalculator.facs.org/Risk...or/Outcome.jsp
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Old November 21st, 2017, 04:27 AM
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From Wolf Larsen, the sea wolf.

http://vithar.blogspot.com.au/2013/03/the-sea-wolf.html

sounds like many players to me...
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Old December 1st, 2017, 08:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xerxeskingofking View Post
What i have come to realise it that, by contemporary western standards, the OTU in general places a very low value on individual human life.
Against the vast majority of human history, contemporary western standards are the outlier. And western standards aren't even universal today: Google "Chinese OSHA", or look up "Russian driver" on youtube.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Xerxeskingofking View Post
I find it impossible to imagine such a dangerous system being used today, expect in the most truly desperate of circumstances, as the risk is simply unacceptable. I cannot, off the top of my head, think of situation in history where people would voluntarily run risks of this scale just to get form A to B. the only thing that comes to mind is the steerage immigrants to the new world in the 19th century, but even they didn't have a mortality rate on this scale, as far i as i know.
The mortality rate for Chinese coolies shipping to Cuba in the 19th century was around 15%, and going to Peru was between 30%-40%. Granted they weren't all volunteers*, it's still a thing that happened.

*"Recruitment" ranged from outright kidnapping, to voluntarily indenturing themselves either for money for their family or to settle gambling debts, to false promises of pay on the other end. Which, actually, is likely to be a feature of low berths in Traveller as well, but I understand if people don't want to go there when their characters are the ones selling the tickets.

The first English colonists in the new world suffered a mortality rate around 50%; that includes the first few years after arrival and not just transit, but it still shows people will bear large risks for a shot at land and fortune when they're living in a Malthusian world.
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