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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 February 3rd, 2015, 01:20 AM
salochin999 salochin999 is offline
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Default A Big & Small ship universe in the same OTU

Finished my IMTU Spinward trade map which may be of interest to someone.

(courtesy of the awesome travellermap.com )

The map (pdf)

https://gameystuff.files.wordpress.c...routes_map.pdf

purple are long distance routes
dark green are short distance
light green are subsidized by the Imperium for reason of policy (e.g. building up border systems)

(a lot of the short distance routes are overlaid by the long distance)

#

A Big Ship Universe (BSU) and a Small Ship Universe (SSU) in the same Universe

By BSU I mean both individual ships much bigger than the classic Book 2 type ships and also large numbers of large ships e.g. massive fleets of dreadnoughts.

By SSU I mean like the classic CT adventures in systems where there's fewer ships and most are in the 100T to 800T range.

So basically Coruscant vs Tattooine or "Foundation" vs "Firefly"

Now given the size, wealth and productive capacity of the major OTU planets the OTU logically must be a BSU (imo) but does it have to be a BSU everywhere?

#

Background

A lot of this stems from the shipping cost data

http://www.travellerrpg.com/CotI/Dis...ad.php?t=33584

and trade discussion

http://www.travellerrpg.com/CotI/Dis...ad.php?t=21552

found elsewhere on the forum.

#

Trade Premises

1) Systems are likely to be mostly self-sufficient in terms of raw materials because not only do they have a whole planet to mine they have their whole solar system.

2) Interstellar shipping costs per ton per parsec are high relative to average cargo value per ton (stated as 5000cr in Merchant Prince). Plus regardless of the average cargo value if you look at the value of trade goods in Book 2 or elsewhere the value of common raw materials and food is low compared to shipping costs so it's only going to be economic to ship low value goods short distances and only to places where there is a demand for such goods.

3) On the other hand high value goods: tech, luxury items, rare materials, unique planetary items etc can be profitably transported long distances but only in large amounts to systems which have a high demand for high value goods.

#

Conclusion

Trade in Traveller will mostly revolve around the alpha planets.

(Defined IMTU as class A star port, pop 8+, TL 12+.)

1) The alpha systems have high value tech to trade for what they want.

2) The alpha systems might have a demand for common raw materials because they have already used up the easiest sources in their system so deep mined local copper might be more expensive than copper that is open mined on a nearby system and then shipped - as long as it was nearby.

3) Assuming that an alpha planet can always grow enough food to feed their billions even if it's in vats or on orbital stations or whatever they might still consider "natural" food items as a luxury or preference especially things like meat and fruit so I can see alpha systems having a demand for those from nearby systems - again stressing nearby.

4) The alpha planets will provide the main market for high value goods simply because their population size and TL implies they will will have a large market and lots of prosperous or wealthy individuals.

So the alpha planets are the main markets and provide the hubs of trade.

#

Consequences

If you accept the conclusion then the nature of trade in the Imperium will resolve into three main categories.

1) Short Distance Trade
This is where sub-alpha systems within say 4-6 parsecs of an alpha has something to trade with the alpha for tech. This would create small clusters of systems around an alpha whose economies become integrated. (These clusters would likely once have been the core of the pocket empires swallowed up by the Imperium as it expanded.)

2) Long Distance Trade
Hub to hub trade between alphas. There is no reason for ships plying these routes to stop at the worlds along the route so these routes would likely take the form of orbital refueling stations by an outer gas giant or ice planet. The hub to hub ships just jump in, dock, refuel and do maintenance checks at the space station then jump out again, only stopping for real when they reach the destination.

3) Tramp Trade
Most everywhere else will have relatively low volumes of trade providing a living for Book 2 type subsidized merchants and Free Trader speculative trade.

#

Additional Reasoning

Apart from the trade aspect there is also the general GDP and productive capacity aspect. The alpha planets will both physically produce the fleets and provide orders of magnitude more revenue to support them than most systems so in terms of fleets - the bedrock of the Imperium - the alpha planets are what matters.

More specifically what matters
1) alpha planets
2) alpha clusters
3) routes between the alpha clusters
4) border fortress systems

#

Conclusion

Simply by saying IYTU the Imperium only cares about the above list you can divide the OTU in two. The BSU exists in the alpha clusters and at border fortress systems and military bases and partially exists in systems along the long distance routes. The SSU is everywhere else.

#

How to decide which systems are which?

You could do it the GURPS way of giving systems a trade value based on their world stats but I think the potential self-sufficiency of systems and the randomness of whether or not a system has something worth selling makes a random element to trade value both plausible and potentially more interesting so IMTU I'm using the canon star port class as the indicator of trade value i.e. if they built it there must be a reason.

1) The alpha systems are defined as class A, pop 8+, TL 12+ (or sub-sector capitals).

2) Non-alpha systems with A or B star ports within 4-6 parsec of an alpha system are assumed to have something to sell to the alpha in exchange for tech and are part of the alpha cluster.

3) A or B systems away from an alpha are treated as being actively built up by the Imperium for some reason.

4) C, D and E systems are assumed to not have much anyone else needs and so have a low volume of trade serviced by Book 2 type ships.

#

Example: Glisten sub-sector

1) As an alpha system Glisten itself would clearly part of the BSU

2) Mertactor, Mille Falcs, Egypt, Overnale, New Rome, Romar, Aki, Weiss, Bendor, Squanine, Dobham, Ffudn are all part of Glisten's trade cluster and so with variations mostly in the BSU.

3) Grote could be a system being actively built up by the Imperium as a border fortress and link to District 268

4) The main world of systems like Inthe and Crout aren't part of the BSU (star port class too low) but as their outer zones are part of a long distance trade route this makes the outer part of their system part of the BSU. Players jumping to Inthe might see lots of big freighters and a squadron of patrolling dreadnoughts at the outer rim of the system but as they head to the habitable zone they gradually cross over to the SSU.

5) Even with a sub-sector as busy as Glisten there's still about 11 other systems that are SSU and another 7 or so that are half and half. Plenty of room for the sort of adventures I like where a party picks up a job somewhere like Glisten that involves travelling to somewhere like Aster and back again.

#

Finally

Anyway, very long post but this setup finally works for me after a long time of a) wanting to play in the Spinward Marches but b) psychologically not being able to "find the wilderness" for SSU type adventures in it so I think doing something along these lines might work for other people who have had the same problem.

In a nutshell the BSU is where the Imperium cares and the SSU is where it doesn't.
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Old February 3rd, 2015, 02:43 AM
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I'm digging this.

I'm going to be sticking to Books 1-3 if I get to set up the game I want, but even using only the rules from Basic Traveller I was thinking of doing something similar to what you wrote here:
Quote:
1) Short Distance Trade
This is where sub-alpha systems within say 4-6 parsecs of an alpha has something to trade with the alpha for tech. This would create small clusters of systems around an alpha whose economies become integrated. (These clusters would likely once have been the core of the pocket empires swallowed up by the Imperium as it expanded.)

2) Long Distance Trade
Hub to hub trade between alphas. There is no reason for ships plying these routes to stop at the worlds along the route so these routes would likely take the form of orbital refueling stations by an outer gas giant or ice planet. The hub to hub ships just jump in, dock, refuel and do maintenance checks at the space station then jump out again, only stopping for real when they reach the destination.

3) Tramp Trade
Most everywhere else will have relatively low volumes of trade providing a living for Book 2 type subsidized merchants and Free Trader speculative trade
Even with "small" ships, the larger ships with J3-4 will come in at 3,000-4,000 tons. More than enough to justify the unique, limited trade lanes of Short Distance and Long Distance described above, leaving the rest of space open for the Tramp Trade. "Overshooting" lots and lots of worlds is, I think, is vital to the original feel of Traveller.

***

I'll note here that if one looks at the 1977 edition of Book 3 on page 2, you'll find an chart that focuses the regular trade routes between worlds. A-A starport pairs have the highest odds of having a regular trade route, and the odds decreases between A ports and lower grade starports. They go even lower between B and descending grade starports, even lower between C and descending grade starports, and so on.
So, the odds of a A to A space trade route at Jump-2 is 5 out of 6.
The odds of a A to D space lane at Jump-2 is2 out of 6.
An A-D route of J-3 is nonexistent.
A C-C route of J-1 is 3 in 6.
A C-C route of J-2 is 1 in 6.
And so on.

It made you're subsector map a bit of a mess. And the random die roll (with no modifier other than starport type) was too random. (It lacked the influences noted in the original post.)

But I think it's important to point out that originally the logic above was exactly the logic that the original Basic Traveller worked with. I assumed the trade routes were for the major lines and official business, leaving the backwaters for the PCs Tramp Freighter.

The '81 edition tossed the concerns for limited trade routes and replaced them "communication routes." I think this was a horrible mistake. It obliterated "the wilderness" salochin rightly recognized had gone missing in the game.

***

Anyway, I'm stealing the above.

Thanks!

Last edited by creativehum; February 3rd, 2015 at 12:42 PM..
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Old February 3rd, 2015, 10:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by creativehum View Post
I'm going to be sticking to Books 1-3 if I get to set up the game I want...

But I'm digging this. Even using only the rules from Basic Traveller I was thinking of doing something similar to this...


Even with "small" ships, the larger ships with J3-4 will come in at 3,000-4,000 tons.
Yes, it's "small" "bigger" and "big" really. I wanted a universe with room for the classic Book 2 little ships but as you say 5000T is still pretty big.


Quote:
Originally Posted by creativehum View Post
More than enough to justify the unique, limited trade lanes of Short Distance and Long Distance described above, leaving the rest of space open for the Tramp Trade. "Overshooting" lots and lots of worlds is, I think, is vital to the original feel of Traveller.
Yes, most of it is the same in either a BSU or SSU; the main difference would be the size of the ships and fleets guarding the alpha systems and patrolling along the trade lanes: 5000T battleships in an SSU or 50,000T in a BSU.


Quote:
Originally Posted by creativehum View Post
I'll note here that if one looks at the 1977 edition of Book 3 on page 2, you'll find an chart that focuses the regular trade routes between worlds.
...
But I think it's important to point out that originally the logic above was exactly the logic that the original Basic Traveller worked with.

The '81 edition tossed the concerns for limited trade routes and replaced them "communication routes." I think this was a horrible mistake. It obliterated "the wilderness" salochin rightly recognized had gone missing in the game.
Looks like if I'd bought my copy a couple of years earlier it might have saved me 30 years. I'm pleased this ties into what sounds like the original vision though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by creativehum View Post
Anyway, I'm stealing the above.

Thanks!
Cool, you're welcome.
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Old February 3rd, 2015, 12:20 PM
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Quote:
Yes, most of it is the same in either a BSU or SSU; the main difference would be the size of the ships and fleets guarding the alpha systems and patrolling along the trade lanes: 5000T battleships in an SSU or 50,000T in a BSU.
The largest battleship in Supplement 9, Fighting Ships, is 500,000 tons, not 50,000 tons. The Azhanti High Lightning Class ships, designated as Fleet Intruders and then Frontier Cruisers, go 60,000 tons.
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Old March 19th, 2015, 08:41 PM
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Can't edit so adding some further thoughts on the same thing for future reference.

###

Shorter explanation of first post
====================

Regardless of the ship production capacity there's only going to be as many merchant ships as there is trade volume.

The key point here is the counter-intuitive one that systems with the highest likely demand - alpha systems with high population and high TL - are also the most likely to be able to fully exploit their whole solar system which means they are also likely to be mostly self-sufficient so unlike modern earth the main producers of tech for export might not be importing lots of raw materials and food.

Also the high cost of shipping means it is only economic to ship low value goods short distances so even when an alpha system is importing common raw materials or food it might only do so from the closest systems.

So most planets may be scrabbling to buy the tech they want with whatever rare and luxury items they can produce instead: exporting Whanga berries rather than Whanga copper or Iron.

This can still mean a lot of ships *inside* the alpha systems - there could be thousands of non jump capable ships plying between all the moons and planets and orbital stations of systems like Lunion or Glisten - but outside those systems the number will be determined by the volume of trade rather than the ship building capacity and in many cases that volume of trade is low.

So IMTU the trade "scenery" is:

1) 1000s of ships of all sizes operating *within* each alpha system

2) 100s of short distance ships operating between each alpha system and their local collection of hinterland systems (A or B class star ports within 4-6 hexes)

3) 10s of long-distance ships on the long distance runs between each pair of alpha systems

4) 10 or so (?) free traders and type Rs and Ms for each minor system in a sub-sector buzzing around semi-randomly.

(where short-distance ship = optimal sized low Jn ship and long distance ship = optimal sized high Jn ship up to 5K in a Book 2 universe but possibly higher otherwise)

###

Handwaving the navy in a hybrid BSU/SSU universe
================================

As energy weapons rapidly lose energy with range then if you say IYTU that having the longest ranged energy weapons is a critical advantage in battle that would means ships of the line would have to have the highest rated energy weapons possible and if that meant those weapons needed to be as big as possible then it would mean ships of the line have to be as big as possible.

Which ends up with 500K dreadnoughts maybe costing 50 million credits per jump - each.

So by making the big naval ships IYTU as big as possible can make them too expensive to use. So IMTU the alpha systems can have 100 Tigress each and it doesn't matter in the game as I say they are [too expensive / too much of a hassle] to move out of their home system except in wartime leaving sub-sector patrol for Book 2 style small ships.

Which is cool as having 100 Tigress conducting a training exercise in Glisten as the players return to their patron makes cool scenery without messing up the small ship flavor in the backwater systems.

###

Roughly estimating number of interstellar ships in a system
=====================================

I use the star port class to represent the amount of trade through the system

A high
B medium
C low
D very low
E minimal

with the the actual star port following from that.

Obviously this leads to lots of odd situations e.g. an A class star port with a very low population, but I like those as they provide an incentive for dreaming up odd solutions.

(nb If a system's population is too low for the other world stats then robots.)

From this ship arrivals might be:

A: 1-6 per day (any size)
B: 1-6 per week (any size)
C: 1-6 per month (subsidized merchants and free traders)
D: 1-6 per year (free traders)
E: 0-1 per year (free traders)

These are the ships *to* that system.

A C star port system in between an A and a B might have (1-6 per day) + (1-6 per week) ships *passing through* and only refueling plus (1-6 per month) destined for the system itself.

#

A more involved system would be to take your trade map and add up all the systems along a particular route,for example

https://gameystuff.files.wordpress.c...routes_map.pdf

In Efate system itself the sum total of its hinterland is
- 4 x Bs and 2 x As
- 2 x long distance As
so 4 x (1-6 per week) + 2 x (1-6 per day) short distance + 2 x (1-6 per day) long distance

the Efate-Yres route would be the sum of
- 1 x (1-6 per week) for Yres
- 1 x (1-6 per month) for Menorb
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Old March 20th, 2015, 02:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by salochin999 View Post
The key point here is the counter-intuitive one that systems with the highest likely demand - alpha systems with high population and high TL - are also the most likely to be able to fully exploit their whole solar system which means they are also likely to be mostly self-sufficient so unlike modern earth the main producers of tech for export might not be importing lots of raw materials and food.
...
So IMTU the trade "scenery" is:

1) 1000s of ships of all sizes operating *within* each alpha system

2) 100s of short distance ships operating between each alpha system and their local collection of hinterland systems (A or B class star ports within 4-6 hexes)

3) 10s of long-distance ships on the long distance runs between each pair of alpha systems

4) 10 or so (?) free traders and type Rs and Ms for each minor system in a sub-sector buzzing around semi-randomly.
...
[And lots of great stuff]
What I love about this is it clearly creates an interstellar civilization. But that travel between the stars is still a big deal. Which is certainly the feel I'd want for traveller. (Even, or especially, for a "Small" ship universe.)
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Old March 20th, 2015, 09:50 AM
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That's more or less what I like. I also include some large ships (Enterprise size, not star destroyer size, how many tons would the Enterprises be?), mostly non-FTL, as system defense/all-out-war. However, I don't really need them to have stats. Their involvement in the PCs lives is only as plot points (if the PCs take them on, they will lose, if an enemy fleet needs to defeat them, they will).
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Old March 20th, 2015, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by WistfulD View Post
(Enterprise size, not star destroyer size, how many tons would the Enterprises be?),
USS Enterprise (NCC-1701 / NCC-1701A) is ~ 15,000-20,000 dton.
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Old March 20th, 2015, 03:44 PM
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I actually don't mind a "medium ship universe" - i.e. ships not bigger than 50,000 to 100,000 tons.
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Old March 20th, 2015, 06:12 PM
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Quote:
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I actually don't mind a "medium ship universe" - i.e. ships not bigger than 50,000 to 100,000 tons.
In my "under-development" MTU, I'm adopting the MgT "multi-section big ship" construction, but limiting each section to 5K dtons - and using a Bk2 drive and PP table (saying that things need to ganged together for multi-section ships). This makes adventure class ships fit into the easy to understand 2K dton or less, but allows large ships up to 5k dton, and truly large ships in the up to 30k dton range.

Overall it's looking like a decent, though admittedly Frankensteinian, solution.

I also like it because it also allows for multi-section ships in smaller overall dtonnages. You can certainly build a 1kdton multisection ship if you want - the economics may not work in your favor though.

D.
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