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In My 2300 Universe Discussion of non-canon ideas for use in your 2300 Universe

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  #21  
Old January 21st, 2012, 12:54 PM
sayatmenace sayatmenace is offline
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The hallowed and canonized history of plucky, creative, true-grit Terrans defeating the Goliath of murderous and stupid, stupid bureaucrats is, to me, a really wearisome cliche. It is one that has a lot of resonance to the average SF fan, I'll admit.

But I would have to try to flip it around a bit. I would have the Vilani totally crush the Terrans. Not with superior technology (at least, not in a post-Singularity sense; maybe just a bit shinier), and not necessarily with numbers either (though it calls for special pleading for them not to have that advantage) -- but just superior planning and organization. The Vilani have been fighting and defeating dashing, clever upstart civilizations for millennia, and they have backup plans and preparations for every contingency. Including the ones that the Terrans never think of. I imagine there being specialized field manuals for dealing with "technowankers, competitive; bipedal", in fact.

Yep, I want to see the Terrans defeated and assimilated because all their cunning plans and special spunkiness are, themselves, familiar cliches to the Vilani. Come on. The "Interstellar Wars" material in Traveller was cool... for the '50s.
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  #22  
Old January 21st, 2012, 06:30 PM
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Interesting outlook, that is certainly a possibility. The Vilani do have plans, and organization.
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  #23  
Old January 21st, 2012, 07:58 PM
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Interesting outlook, that is certainly a possibility. The Vilani do have plans, and organization.
Keep in mind: In the Canon OTU, they were hit with plague... the Plague of Duskir renders them crippled. And they had little experience with such virulent plagues.
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  #24  
Old January 25th, 2012, 01:44 AM
sayatmenace sayatmenace is offline
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That is one of the cases where I find myself considering 'canon' as 'in-universe historiography' more than anything else. The Vilani had spent thousands of years in thousands of planets contacting how many bajilion species, and somehow failed to ever encounter & adapt to microorganisms? And what, did the Ancients technomagically wave away the huge variety (and huge mass, when you add it all together) of the microbes that live on and in humans, even those that are actually necessary for human metabolism etc.?

Nah. I think the Terran Confederation went all-out Unit 731, on a truly epic scale.

Look, I love the idea of the Vilani, and their age of greatness in the OTU timeline is one that I think would be fun to play in. But they're one of those areas of Traveller canon where it's painfully obvious that they've been stitched together from random bits of color/background; they come off as just terribly conceived and written when you try putting all the bits together. They're a hot mess
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Old January 25th, 2012, 02:14 AM
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Originally Posted by sayatmenace View Post
That is one of the cases where I find myself considering 'canon' as 'in-universe historiography' more than anything else. The Vilani had spent thousands of years in thousands of planets contacting how many bajilion species, and somehow failed to ever encounter & adapt to microorganisms? And what, did the Ancients technomagically wave away the huge variety (and huge mass, when you add it all together) of the microbes that live on and in humans, even those that are actually necessary for human metabolism etc.?
Keep in mind, even in a biome with compatible life, many diseases didn't have established immunities. Smallpox more than decimated the mesoamericans; some estimates are 40% or more of all mesoamericans died of smallpox within the first decade after contact with europe.

It's hardly a stretch to think that Influenza would run through them something fierce. The stretch is that the Terrans didn't suffer likewise.
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  #26  
Old January 25th, 2012, 12:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aramis View Post
Keep in mind, even in a biome with compatible life, many diseases didn't have established immunities. Smallpox more than decimated the mesoamericans; some estimates are 40% or more of all mesoamericans died of smallpox within the first decade after contact with europe.

It's hardly a stretch to think that Influenza would run through them something fierce. The stretch is that the Terrans didn't suffer likewise.
Which is why Vilani Conspiracy Theorists to this day insist that the Plague of Duskir was a geneered virus or at least spread through the food supply or at least corrupting the Shuggii (bribes, re-education, etc.).

Once you determine the vector, the explanation follows.

Also, another factor is that the Vilani may have this massive empire but the parts that were settled were only the Mains. So, it is possible to poison the roots of a tree and still have the tree still appearing to be alive. And, I think this is what happened with Terrans they managed to kill off many branches, as they began from the top and and thus were pruning away the Vilani Empire but did not attack the roots until the declaration of the Rule of Man. And, that situation continued for some time...but all the time the poison combined with aggressive pruning led to the demise of the First Imperium.
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  #27  
Old January 27th, 2012, 06:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aramis View Post
It's hardly a stretch to think that Influenza would run through them something fierce. The stretch is that the Terrans didn't suffer likewise.
That's a good point. I do find it hard to believe the Vilani would not be far better-equipped than Terrans to deal with epidemic disease following first contact with other (transplanted) human groups... but, according to canon, they are STOOOPID.
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  #28  
Old January 30th, 2012, 07:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sayatmenace View Post
That's a good point. I do find it hard to believe the Vilani would not be far better-equipped than Terrans to deal with epidemic disease following first contact with other (transplanted) human groups... but, according to canon, they are STOOOPID.
Not stupid but weak. Aramis' point of the native Americans is worth repeating on Small Pox. Think of a highly structured society where basically all pathogens die when they are contact with you. Makes you think that you invulnerable. Medical science is at least 4 TLs back because of the cost of your ignorance. And, if Doctors were there as a adjunct of the Shugii (and whatever potions/snake oil (s)he concocts). So think, if they might understand the rudimentary aspects of germ theory but have opposite treatments - ones based on tonics and herbs that alleviate symptoms for the superman physique to recover. Then they meet their kryptonite - Terran germs clearly there was a nod to Wells there.

So, even as the Vilani learn from Terran doctors, they are shown sociological unable to assimilate the knowledge because how their society pressures them to think differently and this has been browbeaten into them for millennial and a sense of superiority.

It is hard to fathom how there can be modernization without modernity but there are countless societies that are like that in today's world. Once a civilization moves to the stars and forms interstellar polities then the need for cultural rigidity is more defined.
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  #29  
Old February 2nd, 2012, 03:28 PM
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I've often imagined 2300 --> Traveller setting where the Interstellar Wars don't happen as described. The Vilani Empire does fall, there is a Long Night, there's even a Rule of Man.

However, it's less that the Terrans conquer the Vilani than the Vilani basically hand Terrans the keys to their Empire.

Sometime, perhaps a few decades after the Kafer menace is "pacified" and perhaps some other menace is "pacified", Terrans encounter the Vilani. There's a tremendous shock on Terra of other humans living in space; but it passes surprisingly without too much cultural trauma. The Vilani have dealt with this situation before with many other Terran minor races and are experts on the PR delicacy involved.

There's no "submit or die" demands by the Vilani, no invasions, no awful smallpox of the future, or anything like that. Terran humanity is awed and daunted by the size of the Vilani Empire, but Terra (unlike in canon Traveller) has many colonies of its own, many arms of exploration lead away from the Vilani. The Vilani for their part, don't find anything particularly threatening about Terrans: They're lower tech (I'd give the Vilani Jump-2 overall, Jump-3 in their military, and they're sitting on Jump-4 due to the sociological ramifications they don't want to deal with), seem amenable to trade and contact, and Terran space provides a good buffer against potential threads Rimwards.

On the other hand, invading Terran space seems like a huge hassle to the Vilani. Terrans have a quite a sizable sphere, large populations, armies willing to fight. Nobody in the Ziru Sirka doubts the ability of the Empire to conquer the Terrans given their naval superiority and vast armies, but the political will to fight a war that's projected to last a decade and cost huge in lives and money, then the projected decades it'll take to pacify the Terrans and the centuries it'll take to assimilate them is just not seen as worth the effort. So...they don't.

The Vilani are old enough and realistic enough of a society they realize they can't completely cut the Terrans off, but Vilani merchants are "discouraged" from trading with the Terrans; they know a few will (a "few" meaning hundreds of traders) but as long Vilani technology's diffusion to the Terrans is slowed they'll have a generation or two to study the situation before it becomes a problem (conveniently, it also means it'll be the problem of future generations and not them).

What brings the Vilani down is that they're averse to manual labor like any group of people with the mindset they're the "ruling caste" of society. In particular, the Vilani hate to risk their lives in wars. Traditionally, that's what the minor human races (and aliens in a pinch) are for; to provide mercenaries. The major issue of the Empire are the Vargr. Too numerous to ignore, with a high birthrate, a decent technological base, and so politically fragmented it's impossible to deal with them in any conclusive way. The technological diffusion to the Vargr has reached a critical point; their raiders are still lower-tech but no longer something easily handled by individual world-satraps. Referred to as "consolidations", the Ziru Sirka has slowly been shrinking away from the Vargr menace.

Some in the Empire see Terrans as the perfect solution to deal with the Vargr. Playing on the "we're fellow humans" and with promises of lavish pay, Vilani hire tens of thousands of Terrans to serve as mercenaries against the Vargr. The Terrans are everything the Vilani dreamed of in this capacity; professional, experienced, and ambitious. The Vargr come to fear the Terrans, and the Vilani hire as many Terran mercs as they can find. Stories filter back to the Terran sphere of amazing wealth to be made fighting for the Vilani; living in palaces with high tech amenties, waited on by servants. There's eventually tens of millions of Terrans serving as mercs with minor human race mercs serving under the Terrans.

Ironically, the fall of the Ziru Sirka isn't caused by Terran hatred of the Vilani, but actually, Terran love of the Vilani. Unlike other mercenaries, Terrans want to take the fight back to the Vargr, it's the only way to take back the planets the Vilani have relinquished and to reduce the Vargr presence so that they'll be ingrained with a deep cultural belief not to mess with humans. The Vilani don't want the Terrans to do anything rash or outside of the mission they were hired for (defense). The Terrans can't understand why the Vilani are so willing to slowly let their pride get chipped away by the Vargr. The Terrans eventually get a faction of Vilani more ambitious (usually younger) Vilani nobles to work with them, mostly border nobles, who feel their own "fire in their blood" awakening listening to these Terrans. What's historically important is that nobody realizes even at that time, the Vilani nobles are (mostly) willing to work under the Terrans.

With Vilani insiders now able to play political games of the Empire, the Terrans are freed to go on their punitive strikes against the Vargr, but the Vargr space turns out to be much larger and stronger than the Terrans expected; pacification will require the Vilani Imperial Navy. Terrans, wanting to protect the Vilani Empire and their fellow humans, plead to the Vilani military to support them. In defiance of tradition, they disobey their Emperor and the Grand Fleet moves to support the Terrans (the Vilani military has long wanted to do this, but were waiting for someone to come along who'd serve as a lightning rod to societal disapproval). Over the course of some decades, the Vargr are finally "pacified." Only then do the Terrans realize the Vilani Empire is having bad problems; the Emperor shown as toothless has led to a fragmentation of the Empire as local governors and satraps are doing their own thing. With the support of the Vilani military, the Terrans move to "pacify" the rebellous satraps. A Terran is named the next Shadow Emperor (the Vilani figure: hey, we'll give him a Vilani name and it's not like he'll ever be seen, and he has some good ideas...if he gets out of hand we can always control him). With the Terrans co-opted into the Vilani social system (at least outwardly - they're wearing Vilani robes instead of Terran trousers and so on), more and more Vilani have no problem obeying the Terrans...
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  #30  
Old February 3rd, 2012, 02:46 AM
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ISTM -- for at least all all all values of me > 40(cough) years of age, there is a general, common, shared interest in the idea of human(oid) spacefarers from our (known) paleolithic past.

Maybe players of a different generation see it differently... but 1) I doubt it, until argued with; and b) who cares? we're all old bastards here.

Traveller "Proper" is one line of approach. E.g. nonhuman ancients scattering (proto)homo sapiens all over the local stellosphere, and one of them -- not Terra -- gets lucky and gets a head start. I love that. But, I think, though, that many other interesting and weird game/thought-environments could be produced from this.

What if the Tahavi -- the "manta-like" sophonts near Vland -- are the first to survive and explore a galactic segment full of dead apes? What the hell would they make of that???

Or, slightly less-alt-historically; what if the Vilani, c. First Imperium 2000-odd-whatever C.E., finally realized thanks to a multi-generation biomedical research project begun centuries ago, accumulates overwhelming evidence that the biological origins of humaniti began on planet that has not had muticellular life for millennia??? Har har har. Erp is slag waiting to emerge from its mine shaft surpluses.

Well, what normal red-blooded human would put up with that scenario??? So, if I haven't lost you already, PCs could be "managers" of "evolving" native sophonts crawling out of the sub-crustal sewers of EARTH struggling to strike a balance between sterility and humanity, and at the same time seeking to be scientists, at the point of the trigger -- aimed at anyone in their way -- of suddenly discovering the actual sources of intelligence in the galaxy. LIEK, WHO THE FUK ARE WE MAN?
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