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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 April 6th, 2021, 08:35 PM
Jetrock Jetrock is offline
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Default The Long Night?

Can anyone recommend any Traveller reference materials (official or otherwise) dealing with the Long Night? Has anyone run campaigns in that setting? I'm assembling notes for what may be an article or short freelance supplement about running Traveller campaigns during the basically missing millennium in Traveller universe history, between the fall of the Ramshackle Empire and consolidation of the Sylean Federation into the Third Imperium. I figure it has a ton of roleplaying potential, in the sense that actually living in the ruins of a collapsed interstellar empire in an era of diminished resources, increased piracy and raiding, and growing societal collapse might not be all that fun, but it could be a wild setting for roleplaying! Not as grimdark as Traveller TNE, and more of an open "sandbox" for very old-school Traveller gaming; some have suggested that the Third Imperium setting established boundaries for Traveller that made most of the discussion about the setting, not the game, so why not take the Third Imperium out of the setting?

The few references i found, mostly in the history sections of Solomani and Vilani splatbooks and third-party supplements like the Keith bros' Reaver's Deep sector book, refer to a century-long period between the point where starship crews could expect to be attacked by pirates at least once a year, and the point where so many systems had lost jump technology that there wasn't enough space travel for piracy to be profitable. These references also mention that a few brave, hardy souls dared to continue interstellar trade--which sounds a lot more like a lively Traveller campaign than a milk run through core sectors in a fat trader!

A "Long Night" setting has potential for fans of the 1950s-70s literary/technical sci-fi that informed Traveller's creators (more so than Star Trek or Star Wars), and justification for technological anachronisms (like a 10-ton Computer/1 in a ship with jump drives and antigrav thrusters.) The relative lack of information about this period means that the GM can introduce settings and races that might have vanished entirely from public memory. Tech generally couldn't get much higher than TL 11, with TL 12-13 items from the old Imperium era having the status of irreplaceable artifacts. But who knows? In a thousand-year period, a pocket empire could develop higher technology or even variant technology, only to lose it in a bitter conflict with jealous, technologically inferior but more numerous neighbors, or a tragic accident. Speaking of which, the Long Night was also the period of the Darrians' ascent to their highest technological level--and their tragic fall. Did any little pocket empires have contact with the incredibly high-tech Darrians, and did they trade their amazing artifacts? And how interesting would a campaign setting after (or during) the Star Trigger period be? Evacuating planets ahead of the deadly electromagnetic wave that doomed Humaniti's most advanced pocket empire, assisting survivors, or stealing whatever isn't nailed down after the evacuation ships leave in time to jump out before the wave hits?

A resource-hungry universe means a "small ship" Traveller universe--big ships are either big targets (slow bulk freighters) or unfathomably expensive to maintain (ancient battleships of the First Imperium/Interstellar Wars period), meaning ships will mostly be small Classic Traveller sizes. It also means salvage becomes critically important (and thus the piracy economy.) Rumors of long-forgotten sites of space battles, floating hulks of ancient ships filled with long-lost plasma guns and inertial dampers, become important targets for a salvage crew--who will have to have enough firepower to suppress other scavengers looking for the same ships. Similarly, mercenaries will be in high demand, even if it's just for "bullets and beans." Scientists will eagerly pursue lost high tech artifacts, and of course the bravest and greediest merchants will still try to scratch out a semi-honest living, like the merchant princes of the "Foundation" novels.

Alien interaction also has potential for interesting gaming--the early Vargr incursions into Vilani territory as the empire collapsed, the Aslan border raids into Solomani space, early encounters with the Hivers and K'Kree could also be interesting. And speaking of aliens, who can say how many times the secrets of the Ancients were discovered and lost again--with no centralized interstellar authority to regulate and interdict Ancient sites, what's preventing you from grabbing that intriguing artifact--or anyone else from trying to take it from you once they realize its significance?

Any references to publications or articles appreciated; this is still clearly a very rough and unformed idea, as I'm not sure how much commercial potential a supplement for an obscure era of an obscure game will have, but it might be fun.
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Old April 7th, 2021, 12:18 AM
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I like that idea.

*I did something different with that era - I went in a "interstellar cold war" direction -I had the Solomani Confederation and the Imperium (1st) fight a series of wars during the OTU 2nd Imperium - then settle down to a centuries-long standoff for the duration of the OTU Long Night.

There was even a sub-sector-wide Neutral Zone between the two polities, stretching between the rifts along the rimward end of Zarushagar, Massila, and Delphi sectors.
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Old April 7th, 2021, 01:52 AM
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The trick with the Long Night is that there is no single narrative during that 1500 years, or even the preceding 250 year "twilight" as the RoM faded. Every sector or domain has a different story to tell, and many of those stories are fascinating, often end in multiple tragedies, and may even cycle. 1500 years is a long time.

Some other sources for glimpses would include T4's Milieu Zero Campaign, GURPS Humaniti (for the tale of the Yileans, among others), the Encyclopedia Dagudashaag, Mongoose's Luriani book, and timeline hints dropped in just about every Alien module published.

By definition it was not a period with a big central empire, so most stories are local, or at least *more* local than usual.
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Old April 7th, 2021, 05:08 AM
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Some musings:

the Long Night is the Sylean Federation/Third Imperium name for the period between the fall of the Rule of Man (which technically was still the Ziru Sirka just under new management)

the First Imperium never got above TL11, the Terrans and the RoM had access to TL12
speaking of the Terrans, in the region in and around Earth it is a case of "what Long Night?"

The Ziru Sirka/RoM finally ceased to be an entity due to the banking crisis during which the Imperial Credit was no longer accepted, and thus interstellar trade started to dry up
the Vilani tech stagnation and distribution of manufacturing 'black box' technologies for final assembly would lead to many worlds losing the means to build starships

but

never forget that the Vilani, who make up the vast bulk of the population of even the Third Imperium (and that in itself is a rabbit hole few have dared to go down) had the rigid social structures and tech stagnation forced upon them, they were originally daring adventures, merchants and explorers

so basically every cut off world now has the chance to evolve its own culture and technology

there will be pocket empires, trade alliances etc during the Long Night, but none of them could rival what the Sylean Federation claim to have achieved with the establishment of the new Imperium
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Old April 7th, 2021, 09:19 AM
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The implication was that the lack of trade destroyed galactivization of trade, possibly increasing the cost for the construction of jump drives, and eliminating any economies of scale that large scale interstellar shipping would offer.

Also, while I believe that the current Confederation Navy Staff would like to overrun Imperium sectors upto the Masilia Gap as a means to contain the larger military forces of the Imperium Navy, I kinda doubt that during the Long Night Terran originated interstellar polities would have any large scale reach, evidenced by the fact that the Third Imperium appears to have had little trouble hoovering them up.
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Old April 7th, 2021, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Condottiere View Post
The implication was that the lack of trade destroyed galactivization of trade, possibly increasing the cost for the construction of jump drives, and eliminating any economies of scale that large scale interstellar shipping would offer.
It was the loss of a recognised currency to manage the trade that caused worlds to start only looking local. The jump drive manufacture was curtailed because the Ziru Sirka didn't share technology but compartmentalised it, such that very few worlds could manufacture everything needed to make a starship.

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Also, while I believe that the current Confederation Navy Staff would like to overrun Imperium sectors upto the Masilia Gap as a means to contain the larger military forces of the Imperium Navy, I kinda doubt that during the Long Night Terran originated interstellar polities would have any large scale reach, evidenced by the fact that the Third Imperium appears to have had little trouble hoovering them up.
While there was no 'Confederation' of note during what the Imperials called the Long Night, the Terran area of interest had several polities - the Old Earth Union being the most notable but there were others.
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Old April 7th, 2021, 12:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike wightman View Post
Some musings:

the Long Night is the Sylean Federation/Third Imperium name for the period between the fall of the Rule of Man (which technically was still the Ziru Sirka just under new management)

the First Imperium never got above TL11, the Terrans and the RoM had access to TL12
speaking of the Terrans, in the region in and around Earth it is a case of "what Long Night?"

The Ziru Sirka/RoM finally ceased to be an entity due to the banking crisis during which the Imperial Credit was no longer accepted, and thus interstellar trade started to dry up
the Vilani tech stagnation and distribution of manufacturing 'black box' technologies for final assembly would lead to many worlds losing the means to build starships

but

never forget that the Vilani, who make up the vast bulk of the population of even the Third Imperium (and that in itself is a rabbit hole few have dared to go down) had the rigid social structures and tech stagnation forced upon them, they were originally daring adventures, merchants and explorers

so basically every cut off world now has the chance to evolve its own culture and technology

there will be pocket empires, trade alliances etc during the Long Night, but none of them could rival what the Sylean Federation claim to have achieved with the establishment of the new Imperium
Thanks for clarification re tech level; my assumption was based on GT:Interstellar Wars, but the GT tech levels are a little different and Traveller TL 12-13 are both lumped into GURPS TL 11. Ah well, I always liked PGMP-12s better anyhow.

And I also like your phrasing of Ziru Sirka conservatism and rigidity as a structure of that society rather than something inherent in Vilani psychology. Was the Long Night a period of dramatic cultural diversity and creativity, forged by the new challenges inherent in survival without a star-spanning empire, retconned after the Syleans started hammering down any nails that stuck up too high? Did some of those bold people discovered Secrets Humaniti Was Not Meant To Know and done away with more dramatically than the Darrians?
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Old April 7th, 2021, 12:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GypsyComet View Post
The trick with the Long Night is that there is no single narrative during that 1500 years, or even the preceding 250 year "twilight" as the RoM faded. Every sector or domain has a different story to tell, and many of those stories are fascinating, often end in multiple tragedies, and may even cycle. 1500 years is a long time.

Some other sources for glimpses would include T4's Milieu Zero Campaign, GURPS Humaniti (for the tale of the Yileans, among others), the Encyclopedia Dagudashaag, Mongoose's Luriani book, and timeline hints dropped in just about every Alien module published.

By definition it was not a period with a big central empire, so most stories are local, or at least *more* local than usual.
For me that's becoming the appeal of the period; as a Traveller player I was always more interested with exploration on the Imperial fringes and interacting with lost cultures (yes, my favorite CT adventure was Leviathan,) vs. within the structure of the Imperium, but found the Rebellion and post-Virus collapse uninspiring because the result is still basically the same setting imposed on a formerly open universe, but without the positive aspects of a stable empire. And of course one civilization's Long Night is often another civilization's Golden Age, even if it's just a Golden Age of Throwing People Out Of Airlocks. A big universe gets a whole lot bigger when jump drives are rare and Xboats don't exist.
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Old April 7th, 2021, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Jetrock View Post
And of course one civilization's Long Night is often another civilization's Golden Age
As examples of this, the Darmine, Suerrat, and others all took another go at empire during this period, having been quashed a couple thousand years earlier by the Vilani Consolidation Wars against them. Very few of them bumped borders, and some weren't at their peaks in the same centuries, but the Long Night definitely has its local empires.
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Old April 7th, 2021, 01:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jetrock View Post
Can anyone recommend any Traveller reference materials (official or otherwise) dealing with the Long Night?
Gateway to Destiny has a lot of historical notes on this period for these 4 sectors.
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