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Old June 7th, 2012, 07:06 AM
DangerousThing DangerousThing is offline
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Default Why the long night?

Hi,

I'm trying to figure out why, when the 2nd Imperium and the Rule of Man fell there was such a long "Long Night".

This is also about trade and manufacturing.

I'm making one assumption here:

1. Most relatively high population planets are self-sufficient, for the most part.

I can understand that any low population world that needs imports to survive would have problems, but any high population system with a reasonable tech level should have survived without much problems.

I don't know what the TL/populations of planets were right before the Long Night.

I tend to agree in the main with John Sneed's article in Freelance Traveller #11, in which he mainly talks about the background tech in Traveller. The article is "Traveller for the 21st Century" and it talks about increasing computer and genetics technology while still keeping Traveller pretty much the same game.

John has limited nanotech at TL-12, which is merely another, more efficient, way of manufacturing. The nanotech "vats" take programming and raw materials in, and output finished products. It should be possible to sell these "vats" to lower tech worlds (such as Regina at TL-10). The main advantage of using this sort of nanotech is that it is very easy to change a factory from producing steel beams to producing food.

Even without nanotech, lower-tech robots could still do this sort of job. Things would take a little longer to change their purpose, but it could still be done relatively easy.

Therefore, most systems with enough population to need large-scale manufacturing should have it.

As for new star ships, it might take a bit longer for them to be built, but it should be possible to do this with either a robot factory or a nanotech factory, or even with plain basic humans. It wouldn't be as quick to build them on the ground as it would in space, but it could be done. And once you have the ships, you can build the 0-g dry docks to build more. And yes, if the TL is high enough and there are some ships around to hunt for the right rare materials. Lanthanum, which is considered a rare-earth element, is actually much cheaper than gold (also used for industrial uses); unless this is more common on Earth than other systems, it should be found in enough quantity to build more jump drives.

So within 10-20 years there should be enough ship-building around that exploration from pretty much everywhere should begin again.

So my question again is, why the long night?

I ask this because IMTU I also had a long night. This was nothing like the OTU, but there was a large republic (around 2,000 systems) that fell hard due to fighting between the haves and the have-nots (basically). IMTU, one of the groups that lost spread a computer bacteria - a germ that had a long incubation period but that ate modern electronics. I figure this was enough to wreck the local tech levels and ships.

So I have an answer that works for MTU, but not for the OTU.

Any thoughts? Am I missing something obvious?
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Old June 7th, 2012, 08:29 AM
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Cool! A request for an in-game explanation of a meta-game problem (I think these posts are some of my favourites).

I hope Hans and Bill will chime in here (they may even have solved this one years ago, knowing them!)

My simplistic guess has always been that Marc & Loren simply filed the serial numbers off the Roman Empire, and multiplied everything by 10... <g, d & r!>



(The other amusing thing is that while there is an official Library Data entry for Twilight, there isn't one specifically for the Long Night!)
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Old June 7th, 2012, 09:12 AM
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I have a question re:
Quote:
Originally Posted by DangerousThing View Post
I'm making one assumption here:

1. Most relatively high population planets are self-sufficient, for the most part.
Do you only want responses that adhere to this assumption or are you open to discussion that challenges it?
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Old June 7th, 2012, 10:59 AM
Strummist Strummist is offline
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Is nanotech strictly canon? There are serious doubts in the real world about whether it is a genuinely viable technology - that is "true nano" as described in SF. however, 3D printing seems to fill the same niche.
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Old June 7th, 2012, 01:37 PM
Andrew Boulton Andrew Boulton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DangerousThing View Post
I'm making one assumption here:

1. Most relatively high population planets are self-sufficient, for the most part.
There's your problem - many aren't.

Check the Trade Classifications:

Non-Ag - need to import food
Non-Ind - need to import manufactured goods

Some may find tech workarounds, but not all, and without trade they're in big trouble.
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Old June 7th, 2012, 02:02 PM
far-trader far-trader is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Boulton View Post
There's your problem - many aren't.

Check the Trade Classifications:

Non-Ag - need to import food
Non-Ind - need to import manufactured goods

Some may find tech workarounds, but not all, and without trade they're in big trouble.
Well, per CT and my long held interpretation, not really.

CT Book 3:

"Non-agricultural worlds must import much of their foodstuffs from off planet."

...which jives with your interpretation, but there's more:

"While such worlds may produce synthetic foodstuffs for local consumption, it probably imports quality foods as luxury items."

...which jives with my interpretation.

Of course there's literally Mdtons of wiggle room what with the "much" and "may" and "probably"

NI is similar.

Perhaps the emphasis changed in later rules?

What I'm saying is not all NA or NI worlds are going to be doomed just because trade stops. Many will be self sufficient enough to survive. Oh sure the upper classes may suffer ("Spam again Jeeves? And why isn't the Tri-D working?") but they'll survive, and the bulk of the population probably won't notice a difference...

...on the other hand a double-jeopardy world of NA and NI probably would be in some trouble. More needs to be looked at than just the trade codes.

Yeah, the Long Night has bothered me a bit too. Without some other factors involved it is a bit suspender snapping to believe.
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Old June 7th, 2012, 03:32 PM
DangerousThing DangerousThing is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CosmicGamer View Post
I have a question re: Do you only want responses that adhere to this assumption or are you open to discussion that challenges it?
Please challenge away. I find that I get more ideas when I'm challenged than when people just agree with me.

And on another board, the battles between the Bird and the Bear are legendary. (My alias on many boards is the name of my parrot: NerdBird.)
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Old June 7th, 2012, 03:48 PM
Carlobrand Carlobrand is offline
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I think we need to clarify the difference between "doomed" and "impaired". Humans are pretty ingenious about surviving when the chips are down, but that's not the same as maintaining an interstellar economy. Where there is a lot of interdependence, even nominally independent economies can sometimes be surprised by the degree to which they were dependent on imports. Fine, you've got industry, but World X had cheap sources of platinum that made their widgety-goos less expensive even after import costs, so your world fell out of the widgety-goo industry and now finds itself in an awkward position.

Retooling from a disruption takes time, and even after that occurs, there's a key question: is there actually any money to be made in building multi-million dollar ships to go see if the MARKET that was out there 50 or a hundred or 2 hundred years ago is still out there? The answer to THAT question could delay a recovery more than anything else, at least until either the local government got up enough resources and gumption to put taxpayer money to answering it or the commercial interests had enough capital to spare and saw potential profit in answering it.

We landed men on the moon more than 40 years ago, we know there are resources to be had in space, but we haven't in all the intervening decades been able to get over the very big hump of the initial investment needed to make space travel not only practical but economically worthwhile.
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Old June 7th, 2012, 03:52 PM
BillDowns BillDowns is offline
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I don't see an issue with a long Long Night. First off, the highest TL was 11. Second off, it's really a socio-political concept. Doesn't matter that world X had some technology remaining, but that World X did not consider itself part of a greater Imperium until the Sylean Federation reformed it around Core sector, and extended its borders back out everywhere.
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Old June 7th, 2012, 04:01 PM
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I always assumed he took the idea from Poul Anderson's books, one of which is titled, The Long Night, although I never read more than one of those books and even that was a while back. I'm sure someone here can verify or correct me on this.
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