Friday, January 17, 2020

On the Pursuit of Noble Titles

More Thoughts on Noble Titles

In an essay titled “Courting Dishonor” in The New Criterion January 2020 issue, author Simon Heffer writes:
“Some people angle desperately for letters to put after their name, or even better, a title before it . . .”

I've spent lots of time thinking about how to get a noble title or into the society of the rich & powerful, at least for my PCs. I've written about it here, here, here, here , and here.

The New Criterion essay made me think about a way of getting a Noble title that I had not considered before. The PC who finds that he has a lot of cash (up into the MCr range) can just BUY a title. Go to the sovereign of some world with a Pr trade code and offer a wad of cash. In exchange you get the right to style one's self Baron of Somewhere or other.

In England, a Baronetcy had no political authority vested in it. It was a title paid for with cash, which means only the wealthy could get it. A Baronet could brag of having a title (like a certain Percy Blakeney, Bart.) which he could pass on. Whatever other benefits accrued were social not material. The king, on the other hand, got a big cash infusion.

Ian Fleming's novel On Her Majesty's Secret Service involved a villainous character trying to get a patent of nobility. The claim was spurious, but the villain thought he could do it through bribery and deception. I don't recall what further villainy he intended to do from there. Though the PCs wouldn't think of using a title as a pretext for crime. Right?

How far would you go to get this estate?

I have written a bit about the idea of social promotion but always from the perspective as SOC promotions coming as the result of real effort – as a reward for success.

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.