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Old June 19th, 2018, 04:49 PM
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Default Tech levels

With how much the world has changed since Traveller and the things it was based on were published, how do you codify/regiment the tech levels in your game to create an environment that continues your willing suspension of disbelief?

Do you just use what's in the gamebook and say that's that?
Do you use a different gamebook (not necessarily a Traveller gamebook)?
Do you make up your own TL progression system?
Do you wedge in some of your ideas to an existing TL progression?
Do you do something else?
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Old June 19th, 2018, 04:58 PM
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One of the things I've thought about was simply listing a series of inventions and trying to categorize them (not unlike what you see in MT's Ref Companion), but that seems unsatisfactory.

One problem is, well, let's call it the campfire problem.

You want to make a campfire. You can do this without any metal tools or modern materials. You can find everything you need and manipulate it to create a fire. Frex, gathering firewood, tinder, a straight stick, vines to make a bow, and then rotate the stick quickly with the bow to generate friction and make a fire. You can even do it without the bow, just rub it between your hands. The bow is a technology, but requires no special materials or knowledge, just the ability to think of it. Of course, you can do it with a match, some paper, some combustible liquid... these are all tech advances.

There are a LOT of inventions that could have been found thousands of years ago, but which no one thought of until recently. Self-propelled vehicles were potentially possible in the Roman Empire, but no one put two and two together for another 2000 years. The materials were all there, but no one thought of it. Does that make steam power a TL2 development instead of TL4?

You can't just base TLs on the timeline in which they WERE invented, because this is subject to change based on political concerns, economic realities, and whether the idea even comes to someone who can popularize it. So how do you do tech levels in a useful, believable manner?
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Old June 19th, 2018, 05:08 PM
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More recently, I thought of how power is amplified.

In the beginning, you have direct muscle power, such as hitting things with ricks in your hands.
Then you have amplifiers, like levers and pulleys, but the power is still muscle.
Then you have self-powered machines, combustion being the main example.
Then you have electric machines. These have motors for movement, but their power source for those motors need not be integral to the machine (steam train vs caternary electric train).
Then you have electronic machines which are capable of being controlled remotely or by programs and having their programs changed easily. They can make limited decisions without human intervention.

But does this serve as a framework for everything, or is it merely a category? Would power generation and materials be equivalent, or subservient to this framework?

So I thought I'd invite others to think about it while I continue to puzzle it out. It's very hard to find things on the internet that talk about technological progression at all unless they're part of a game, and even that is very limited.
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Old June 19th, 2018, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by TheDS View Post
One of the things I've thought about was simply listing a series of inventions and trying to categorize them (not unlike what you see in MT's Ref Companion), but that seems unsatisfactory.

One problem is, well, let's call it the campfire problem.

You want to make a campfire. You can do this without any metal tools or modern materials. You can find everything you need and manipulate it to create a fire. Frex, gathering firewood, tinder, a straight stick, vines to make a bow, and then rotate the stick quickly with the bow to generate friction and make a fire. You can even do it without the bow, just rub it between your hands. The bow is a technology, but requires no special materials or knowledge, just the ability to think of it. Of course, you can do it with a match, some paper, some combustible liquid... these are all tech advances.

There are a LOT of inventions that could have been found thousands of years ago, but which no one thought of until recently. Self-propelled vehicles were potentially possible in the Roman Empire, but no one put two and two together for another 2000 years. The materials were all there, but no one thought of it. Does that make steam power a TL2 development instead of TL4?

You can't just base TLs on the timeline in which they WERE invented, because this is subject to change based on political concerns, economic realities, and whether the idea even comes to someone who can popularize it. So how do you do tech levels in a useful, believable manner?
At least as a basic framework, I try and think of some innovation for each TL which defines a given tech level, one that without which, further technical advancement is not normally possible. So TL-1 might be defined by a knowledge of the wheel or metallurgy (i.e. alloys) /chemistry - something which requires the knowledge of how to combine certain elements to make a better material. TL-3 might be defined by industrialization. TL-4 might be defined by mechanization. TL-9 might be defined by early gravity manipulation. TL-11 might be defined by the invention of the meta-conductor which allows the manipulation of the other fundamental forces other than electromagnetism (leading to damper-technology), etc. Pick some watershed technological breakthrough that isn't culturally or sociologically dependent for each TL advancement.
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Old June 19th, 2018, 05:47 PM
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1st you need to define the metric you are actually measuring...

In that Tech level as a set of specifics has never flown in my games. With a planets Tech level being a indicator of it's Infrastructure.
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Old June 19th, 2018, 07:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDS View Post
You want to make a campfire. You can do this without any metal tools or modern materials. You can find everything you need and manipulate it to create a fire. Frex, gathering firewood, tinder, a straight stick, vines to make a bow, and then rotate the stick quickly with the bow to generate friction and make a fire. You can even do it without the bow, just rub it between your hands. The bow is a technology, but requires no special materials or knowledge, just the ability to think of it. Of course, you can do it with a match, some paper, some combustible liquid... these are all tech advances.
There was a book, loooong ago, at a local REI. It was a silly book about Kayakers. With insightful chapters on things like "Why a VW Micro Bus" is not really a good match for a Kayaker. The illustrations is that of a fellow opening the rear, sliding in his kayak, and then slamming the window shut -- only to have the kayak smash through the front window.

So, we're talking this base level of discourse here.

Anyway, being outdoorsy, and always filled with more tips. They had a section on building a campfire.

Here they go into detail about getting tinder and kindling. How to structure the fire in layers and pyramids. How to prepare the space, all of those Boy Scout tips necessary to make fire.

The last step was "ADD GAS" showing them dumping gas from a 5 gallon can on to their carefully structured pile.

Always struck me as particularly hilarious.
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Old June 19th, 2018, 07:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whulorigan View Post
At least as a basic framework, I try and think of some innovation for each TL which defines a given tech level, one that without which, further technical advancement is not normally possible. So TL-1 might be defined by a knowledge of the wheel or metallurgy (i.e. alloys) /chemistry - something which requires the knowledge of how to combine certain elements to make a better material. TL-3 might be defined by industrialization. TL-4 might be defined by mechanization. TL-9 might be defined by early gravity manipulation. TL-11 might be defined by the invention of the meta-conductor which allows the manipulation of the other fundamental forces other than electromagnetism (leading to damper-technology), etc. Pick some watershed technological breakthrough that isn't culturally or sociologically dependent for each TL advancement.
See that some of those advancements may vary in TL according the version you play.

e.g., just to talk about two critical ones that enter fully in the breacktroughs you talk about, in TTB table (pages 86-87) both gravitics (air-raft and Gcarrier) and fusion power appear at TL 8 (defined as circa 1980-89), being (IMHO) the main idicators of this TL. In MT:RC table (pages 28-29), Early grav and primitive fusion plants appear at TL 9...
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Old June 19th, 2018, 09:31 PM
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My preference is by means of manufacturing...
0 is found
1 is shaped with stone
2 is shaped with bronze or cast in bronze or iron
3 is shaped with iron
4 is worked with steel
5 is industrial standardization and early power tools
6 is electric tools and machining
7 is designed on computer, and optical masked microelectronics
8 is made with computer driven tools, and advanced microelectronics
9 is additive manufacture and custom machining, rapid one-off microelectronics. Plus some advanced materials and high-mass trans-californium elements, in the series 2 or 3 rows below the lanthanides.
10 plus... I don't know...
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Old June 20th, 2018, 12:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whartung View Post
There was a book, loooong ago, at a local REI. It was a silly book about Kayakers. With insightful chapters on things like "Why a VW Micro Bus" is not really a good match for a Kayaker. The illustrations is that of a fellow opening the rear, sliding in his kayak, and then slamming the window shut -- only to have the kayak smash through the front window.
I have this book. I knew a number of these people many years ago. It has a number of sharp insights into this particular culture, now mostly long passed.
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Old June 20th, 2018, 12:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aramis View Post
My preference is by means of manufacturing...
0 is found
1 is shaped with stone
2 is shaped with bronze or cast in bronze or iron
3 is shaped with iron
4 is worked with steel
5 is industrial standardization and early power tools
6 is electric tools and machining
7 is designed on computer, and optical masked microelectronics
8 is made with computer driven tools, and advanced microelectronics
9 is additive manufacture and custom machining, rapid one-off microelectronics. Plus some advanced materials and high-mass trans-californium elements, in the series 2 or 3 rows below the lanthanides.
10 plus... I don't know...
What is the key difference between bronze and iron that is worthy of making a dividing line between them? I understand iron is harder and would hold an edge longer, or allow for stronger constructions (bridges, buildings), but this seems incremental to me, not something worthy of a full tech level.

I know steel is made in a different way, is vastly stronger than iron, and allowed the construction of skyscrapers like the Empire State Building and large bridges like the Golden Gate, but that too could be considered just an incremental improvement; what makes it worthy of a tech level?
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