Friday, November 1, 2019

(Banned) Weapon Research in my TU

Speaking of research . . . 

Recently I watched again the Star Trek film Insurrection. This will not be a movie review. In the film, there was a space battle scene in which the enemies of the Enterprise used an "isolytic burst" weapon. The Enterprise crew were surprised, as the weapon was banned by some treaty or other, for being unpredictable. I think it was supposed to be a scene to show how the Enterprise crew are creative and resourceful thinkers. Maybe it worked at that, maybe not. Watch the film and judge for yourself.

We never actually see what the weapon is supposed to do. Rather we get told about it by several crewmen, and then the Enterprise defeats it, and the enemies. The weapon might as well have been a 20th century ICBM, or a boring old laser beam.

So I thought, what kinds of crazy weapons could show up in my TU, as unique and probably banned weapons?

Well, there is the "stellar ray" from that post on Edmund Hamilton's "Crashing Suns". That's a crazy-powerful weapon.

Here are some of the unusual and illegal weapons that have been at least researched if not developed by star nations in my TU. The Talaveran Empire has declared a ban on all of them; any vessel found in Imperial Space equipped with such will be impounded and destroyed, or just destroyed if they don't surrender.

"The Imperial Ministry of Defense in conjunction with the Ministries of State and of Science have signed resolutions, later confirmed by the King, banning the experimentation, development production or use of the following devices. Some of these were explored by the Ministry of Defense, but were rejected by the Navy as being “irresponsible, inhumane and contrary to the ways of civilized peoples”."

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Surprising Research in the Third Imperium

Readers of my blog will know that I run in my own TU, not the canon Third Imperium. However, that does not mean that I don't pay attention to the canon material. For example, I recently ran across this:

Supplement 8, Library Data (A-M) has an entry on Imperial Research Stations on page 33.

I quote a portion of that article:
Imperial research may delve into many areas. Some examples include: black hole research, both large scale and mini black hole investigation, instantaneous transmitter development (so far proving impossible) advanced gravity manipulation, generic manipulation, anti-matter containment, weapon research, disintegrator beams, black globe development, deep planetary core soundings, nova prevention and prediction. Psychohistory, mass population behavior prediction, psionics, stable super-heavy elements, deep radar analysis, long range detection systems, robotics, artificial intelligence, stasis and time travel, so-called magic, cryptography, bionics, personal shields, x-ray lasers, and high temperature superconductors.”

Wait. A. Minute.

That list said “magic”.
If that's the Earth, where is she standing?

Let that sink in for a moment.

Magic could exist in Traveller.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Junkyards of Ships

Junkyard in Space
I recently read Edmond Hamilton's short story Sargasso of Space (Thrilling Wonder Stories, 1934) which featured a wreck-pile in space. The setup is that there is an area out past Saturn where none of the planets' gravity fields have influence. In this null space, wrecked or abandoned spaceships have collected like a proto-planet. The protagonists of the story make an unplanned stop in the wreck-pile after a shipboard malfunction sets them adrift.

The short story goes in one specific direction with this, and that's fine. It was an enjoyable short story, but literature is not my purpose today. Like a lot of stories from that era, by today's standards it may seem pretty cliche, but it was the potential of the wreck-pile as a location that got me to thinking.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Programmin' Part Two

Last year when I wrote the post Programmin'

a commenter said this:
Hmm, maybe allow players to make programming throws to optimize the existing code and reduce it's size?
Yes, absolutely!
Tell me again how your MacBook can run a starship. Cuz' I'm not buying it.

The run-of-the-mill Type A Free Trader (or any of the CT 'basic' starships, really) has very limited computing power. Computers are classed by Models; each Model has a rating for CPU and Storage capacity, abstracted into Slots. Each program has a Space rating which is the number of Slots it takes up, whether in CPU or Storage.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Traveller Experience Rules

I've written about Traveller's Experience system before. 

I do not understand why this system has not been used more widely, even among Traveller players. It is simple to understand and requires FAR LESS BOOKKEEPING than the other major experience system in play in the old days. 

That other RPG's experience point system led to a type of metagaming known as the "XP quest" where PCs would kill & steal and do whatever for no in-game reason, but only to get enough XP to "level up". While not everyone did this, it was common. I played this way at times as well. You had to track every little thing you picked up, and every monster encounter was evaluated in terms of the potential XP gain.

It took multiple adventures to gain enough XP to level up, and only after three or four levels would a PC see any growth in their To Hit numbers or saving throws - which is what most players really wanted.
Contemplating a third term in the Scouts. Should he risk it? Again?

Traveller's Experience rules were simple by comparison. 

Monday, September 16, 2019

Social Standing and Class Consciousness

It seems that I am on a quest to make Social Standing a more important aspect of Traveller. Not sure why this is. I tend to play and write more plot-heavy and action-driven games, and have never gotten a PC into a 'comedy of manners' type situation. Pride and Prejudice is a great novel, but not a good model to base a Science Fiction adventure upon. (If you think I'm wrong, please do comment and explain your idea.) But as I look back across my now five years of writing posts for this blog, I see that I've spent some time trying to integrate Social Standing (SOC) into my favorite game.

Some players may consider SOC a 'dump stat'. I don't. I think it deserves its place in the UPP, because it can tell a player some interesting things about the PC. In the hands of an experienced player, SOC can be a useful tool in the arsenal for getting things done.

What's All This About Class Consciousness?

I assume in my TU that each planet has a mostly unified culture, even if the governments are not unified. There is not one monolithic 'Galactic Culture' or even an 'Imperial Culture'. Planets are like islands. Most residents don't ever leave, and don't ever interact directly with folks from somewhere else. This results in planet-based cultures.

Some cultures rate highly on what is known as the 'Power Distance' scale. These are socially stratified or 'class conscious' cultures. It matters what class you come from, and you stick with 'your people'.