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In My Traveller Universe Detail what parts of Traveller you do (or don't) use in your campaign.

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Old March 11th, 2019, 05:59 PM
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Default Ideas for swashbuckling in jumpspace, from Poul Anderson's van Rijn stories

I've been reading Poul Anderson's Trader to the Stars, a collection of short stories about the merchant Nicholas van Rijn.

The book begins with an interstellar chase and boarding action in hyperspace. This episode contains a lot of cool ideas that seem like they would fit wonderfully into a Traveller game. I was wondering if anyone has incorporated any of Anderson's ideas into their own universe.

Here are some examples:

*Van Rijn's yacht searches a subsector for a gang of freebooting raiders. His ship "picks up a neutrino trail" which leads him to the raiders' home base.
[N.B. sensors that detect the "neutrino haze" which any nuclear engine emits]

*Having found the secret location of the raiders' base, Van Rijn needs to bring back that information so the Navy can "send a few battleships and threaten to bombard the planet."
[N.B. classic Traveller-style communication at the speed of transportation, as in the Age of Sail]

*The raiders spot and attack Van Rijn's yacht, which escapes into hyperspace, but not before taking damage. His crew can only replace a fraction of the damaged circuitry. In this crippled state, if they continue to run at full FTL speed, they'll "burn out the whole converter in about 50 hours."
[N.B. I like the idea of a damaged FTL drive that is forced to slow down, thus limiting the amount of distance it can jump]

*The raiders send their entire fleet cruising in search of Van Rijn. "Hyperdrive vibrations transmit instantaneously, and can be detected by up to one light-year distance.... so if any [raider] picks up our 'wake' and homes in on it," the yacht will be found and destroyed.
[N.B. Here we're getting to the stuff I really love -- tracking ships in jumpspace by picking up on their hyperdrive "vibrations" and "wake"]

*If the yacht were to leave hyperspace, they would be "much too small a thing for the raiders to find." However, they do not have enough replacement parts on board to repair the damage.
[N.B. So in Van Rijn's universe, a ship in hyperspace is actually easier to track than a ship out of hyperspace, because of the "hyperdrive vibrations" which spread out over a light-year distance. One possible way of eluding a hyperspace tracker is to come out of hyperspace and take your chances in whatever system you end up in. The adventure possibilities here are tremendous ]

*So the damaged yacht "must continue in hyperdrive" but they cannot go faster than "one-tenth top-speed." At this rate, it would take them 6 months to reach the nearest friendly base.
[N.B. Again, I love the idea of a damaged FTL drive forcing a ship to slow down and spend weeks or months in jumpspace with dwindling supplies, trying to make it to a safe port]

*Also, at that slow speed, the raiders would "doubtless track them down within a week or two."

*They could reach one of the nearby stars and hope to "find a planet with an industrial civilization whose people could eventually be taught to make the circuits they need."
[N.B. There's a whole campaign right there]

*Van Rijn decides instead to go off their direct course and "run a standard naval search pattern at reduced speed," following "a search-helix" through hyperspace, hoping to come in detection range of another ship which might be persuaded to help them with repairs or take them to their base.
[Of course, they run the risk of encountering the enemy raiders during their search-helix.]

*So the yacht proceeds in a search-helix through hyperspace at medium speed, straining their detectors. If they discover another ship, they will "use the last gasp of their engine to close in." Library data indicates that three or four different species in this region possess hyperdrive technology. If they unluckily stumble upon a raider vessel, perhaps they can seize it.

*With its superior sensors, the yacht is able to get the bearing on the "hyperemission" of another craft long before its own vibrations are observed. Pacing the unseen ship, they establish the set course it was following and then pour on all available juice to intercept it. When the other ship detects their pursuit, its wake indicates a "sheering off, and attempt to flee." The yacht changes course too and continues to gain on "her slower quarry."
[N.B. Pursuing an unseen fellow traveller in hyperspace by calculating their bearing from the vibrations they create]

*"Seeing that the pursuer kept shortening her distance, the pursued turned off their hyperdrive. Reverting to intrinsic sublight velocity, their ship became an infinitesimal speck in an effectively infinite space."
[N.B. by "weighing anchor" and dropping out of hyperspace, the pursued ship tries to lose its pursuer]

*The yacht was prepared though: "The known superlight vector, together with the instant cut-off, gave her computers a rough idea of where the prey was. She continued to that volume of space and then hopped about in a well-designed search pattern, reverting to normal state at intervals to sample the neutrino haze which any nuclear engine emits. Those nuclear engines known as stars provided most; but by statistical analysis, the computers presently isolated one feeble nearby source." The yacht goes there and "the other ship appeared on its screen."
[N.B. So if you invest in enough computing power and sensors, you can still zero in on a quarry who has dropped out of jumpspace]

*The yacht tries to get the other ship on the telecom and develop a common language. They want to "explain we mean no harm but want just a lift to [our home base]." If this fails, they plan to board and force the others to transport them. When the other ship does not respond, they prepare to board.

*Suddenly the other ship jumps back to FTL velocity. The yacht pursues and overtakes the other ship in hyperspace. It "grapples" and "ties" itself to the larger hull of the other ship. "The linked hulls continued plunging faster than light, toward an unnamed constellation."

* Van Rijn reflected that he "had never forced entry on a hostile craft before, but assumed it wasn't much different from burning his way into a derelict. Having chosen his spot, he set up a balloon tent to conserve air" and he proceeded to use torches to burn a hole in the hull of the other ship...

This all happens in the first few pages of the novella. The rest of the adventure is great fun.

This kind of swashbuckling boarding action in hyperspace is something I want in my Traveller campaign right now!

I'm going to try to throw together some quick house rules to handle it, but I wondered if anyone else has gotten there first and done the work for me.

If love the idea of hyperspace travel as being like piloting a speed boat over a vast lake where you are constantly intercepting the ripples and wakes of other boats. With sufficient sensors and computing power, you can track (or be tracked by) unseen fellow travellers, who become can "invisible" by exiting hyperspace ("weighing anchor" and thus ceasing their hyperspace vibrations).
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