How are you doing hard sci-fi?

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ShawnDriscoll
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How are you doing hard sci-fi?

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Sun Jan 03, 2016 11:50 am

How does your game group do hard sci-fi in your Traveller sessions?
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Re: How are you doing hard sci-fi?

Postby Sigtrygg » Sun Jan 03, 2016 12:07 pm

Get rid of grav technology.

Using CT Hg2 or LBB2 I use the jump fuel formula for reaction mass for the maneuver engines - mdrive performance is halved so 0.5g to 3g. Spin capsules/hulls for 'gravity' is doable.

Power plants are fission.

No man portable laser weapons - vehicle and ship lasers are a thing.
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Re: How are you doing hard sci-fi?

Postby Reynard » Sun Jan 03, 2016 2:36 pm

Hard science? Hmm. Power plants are fission at best. Engines are reaction drives. No FTL, maybe a Starfire wormhole network though I'm not sure that counts as hard science. No inertial compensators, grav plates or grav thrust. No screens. Lasers, rail guns, particle accelerators, missiles and Sandcasters seem possible from the trials today. Laser pistols and rifles with bulky power packs seem reasonable. Thank goodness Traveller deems slug throwers and swords as viable. No man portable BFGs. Maybe gauss rifles and pistols again with very bulky power packs. Low berths... maybe. Drones are possible and robots should be at higher technologies.

It's getting to sound more like 2300.
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Re: How are you doing hard sci-fi?

Postby Condottiere » Sun Jan 03, 2016 3:09 pm

We didn't; though slug throwers tended to be de rigeur.
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Re: How are you doing hard sci-fi?

Postby alex_greene » Mon Jan 04, 2016 8:24 pm

I've given my settings a lot of thought, and these are the ground rules.

FTL, grav, space travel that feels like modern air travel.

Computers and communicators the size of buttons and terabyte memories the size of grains of sand - a ring on one's finger could contain more computing power than a modern tower unit, with televisions being well and truly obsolete, replaced by what are effectively 50 inch diagonal tablets remotely controlled by gestures and light keyboards.

Medical technology so advanced that some procedures considered invasive today are no more invasive than having a botox injection or applying cosmetic makeup.
Suspended animation is mastered - celebrities can spend a year in suspended animation for tax purposes, not to mention that people prefer to go in suspended animation while travelling - and most commercial travel makes low passage the standard way to fly (it's good for security, among other things).

War and piracy are virtually non-existent, due to the impossible distances involved. Space combat is rare; so rare, that if a ship is intercepting yours, it is never an accidental encounter. Likewise, if there is a war, it is deliberately staged by someone, and wars between the stars just never last long at all due to the limited ability to set up reliable supply lines over such vast distances.

Everybody can read, as in written words on a page or screen. The State provides even dyslexic people with stable implants to help them overcome their dyslexia. Reading, whether it is reading broadsheets, sequential art or actual books printed on polymer pseudopaper, is still a pastime and a pleasure, even if all the heavy tech work is now done electronically and the days when blueprints were hand-drawn on big sheets of paper are long gone.

Drug taking for leisure is as easy as vaping. Better living through chemistry, but you can still be done for driving / flying / sailing / piloting a ship / competing in sports while impaired or under the influence of performance-enhancing drugs or cybernetic implants.

There are Rich worlds, and Poor worlds - but these classifications are about how much information those worlds have access to, rather than how much money they have. A Poor world has very little information beyond data of local interest, poorly-stocked libraries: but even the poorest world has all the comforts of at least TL 9.

Psionics are rare, almost mythical. People don't generally believe that telepathy, clairvoyance and so on are possible. But there is evidence for it, and while some people can go and become psions in Psionics Institutes, there is no artificial social stigma associated with psionics. Nor do mind powers have much scope - in all the centuries people have gone to the stars, despite all the hilarious popular entertainment shows and books, there has never been any sort of organised "Psion Mystic Order" patrolling the stars and keeping the police - or their dark, evil counterparts bent on universal conquest. Psionics remains an individual pursuit.

If there was teleportation, it would have rendered space travel utterly obsolete. So teleportation, while possible, is something beyond most modern tech levels. Teleporters are psionic, and teleportation has none of the issues described in the Teleportation section of the Psionics chapter. Individual teleporters are freaky, strange creatures rarely encountered. No, there is no organisation capable of training up whole armies of teleporter commandoes, any more than there can be organisations like a Second Foundation or Zhodani Consulate - like psionics overall, teleporters are just too rare.

Through 3D printing of everything from precious gems to food, anybody can have anything they want, at any time. Venison burgers? Dial them up in the kitchen dispenser. The latest paper? Lay your smart page on the nearest news surface, and it will download the latest news instantly. New clothes? Every ship's locker has a clothing fabricator set to generate anything from plain crew and passenger jumpsuits to full formal black tie white glove wear. And since fabrics are recyclable, even those designer shoes won't cost a thin cred to synthesise - since the money lies not in the items themselves, but in the purchase of the license for the 3d printing templates.

And yes, that makes bootleg and stolen 3d printing templates a thing. And at the tech levels we are talking about, it means that everything the players need from the Ship's Locker, from boxes of self sealing stem bolts to assault rifles, can be synthed up in the replicator as easily as the configurable pods in Thunderbirds Are Go.

Ah, yes, about those configurable pods and the small craft available to the Travellers ...
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Re: How are you doing hard sci-fi?

Postby alex_greene » Mon Jan 04, 2016 8:34 pm

As for the politics of this setting ...

Image

The "evil" forces in the setting stem from ignorance combined with brute ambition. "Good" people are possessed of that "utmost clear-sightedness" which Camus considered a true virtue.
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Re: How are you doing hard sci-fi?

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Mon Jan 04, 2016 9:05 pm

Reynard wrote:Hard science? Hmm. Power plants are fission at best. Engines are reaction drives. No FTL, maybe a Starfire wormhole network though I'm not sure that counts as hard science. No inertial compensators, grav plates or grav thrust. No screens. Lasers, rail guns, particle accelerators, missiles and Sandcasters seem possible from the trials today. Laser pistols and rifles with bulky power packs seem reasonable. Thank goodness Traveller deems slug throwers and swords as viable. No man portable BFGs. Maybe gauss rifles and pistols again with very bulky power packs. Low berths... maybe. Drones are possible and robots should be at higher technologies.

It's getting to sound more like 2300.
There are a few things that are hard science, that you have not included. What you listed here is low tech hard science, that is tech level 8 basically, you could have higher tech levels of hard science.

For instance from this thread Slower than Light tech levels:
viewtopic.php?f=89&t=116920
Slower than light tech levels -----c = 299792458 m/sec
Tech Level Speed -----% of speed of light -----γ
0 -------0.000625 km/sec 0.00% -----1
1 -------0.0025 km/sec 0.00% -----1
2 -------0.01 km/sec ------0.00% -----1
3 -------0.04 km/sec ------0.00% -----1
4 -------0.16 km/sec ------0.00% -----1
5 -------0.64 km/sec ------0.00% -----1
6 -------2.56 km/sec ------0.00% -----1
7 -------10.24 km/sec ----0.00% -----1.000000001
8 -------40.96 km/sec ----0.01% -----1.000000009
9 -------163.84 km/sec ----0.05% -----1.000000149
10 -------655.36 km/sec ----0.22% -----1.000002389
11 -------2,621.36 km/sec ----0.87% -----1.00003823
12 -------10,480.63 km/sec ----3.50% -----1.000611648
13 -------41,618.07 km/sec ----13.88% -----1.009777455
14 -------149,774.30 km/sec ----49.96% -----1.154387706
15 -------285,737.82 km/sec ----95.31% -----3.304731592
16 -------299,752.39 km/sec ----99.99% -----61.16588226

You can pretty much ignore the tech levels 7 and lower, what interests me are the tech levels 8 and higher on this table. Instead of making faster than light travel possible at tech level 9 and higher, I'm just allowing starships to get closer to the speed of light, while not quite reaching it or exceeding it. For example at tech level 8 the cruising velocity of a starship is 0.01% of the speed of light, the power plant used to power the reaction engine is a fission power plant, the reaction mass required to reach this velocity is 10% of the hull displacement in dtons, if you want to slow down, then you will need an additional 40% of the ship's hull in fuel for a total of 50% of the ship's hull and 50% of the ship's mass the actual velocity is 40.96 km/sec.

TYPICAL DISTANCES Tech Level 8. Primary Power Source (Fission)
World Surface to Orbit 10,000 km 4 minutes
Satellite 400,000 2.71 hours
Close Neighbor World 45,000,000 km 12.72 days
Far Neighbor World 255,000,000 km 72 days
Close Gas Giant 600,000,000 km 169.5 days
Far Gas Giant 900,000,000 km 254.3 days

TYPICAL DISTANCES Tech Level 9. Primary Power Source (Fusion)
World Surface to Orbit 10,000 km 4 minutes
Satellite 400,000 40 minutes
Close Neighbor World 45,000,000 km 3.18 days
Far Neighbor World 255,000,000 km 18.01 days
Close Gas Giant 600,000,000 km 42.39 days
Far Gas Giant 900,000,000 km 63.6 days

TYPICAL DISTANCES Tech Level 10. Primary Power Source (Fusion)
World Surface to Orbit 10,000 km 4 minutes
Satellite 400,000 40 minutes
Close Neighbor World 45,000,000 km 3.18 days
Far Neighbor World 255,000,000 km 4.5 days
Close Gas Giant 600,000,000 km 10.6 days
Far Gas Giant 900,000,000 km 15.9 days

At tech level 11 it takes 505.75 years to travel to our nearest neighbor 4.4 light years away. Primary Power Source (Fusion).
At tech level 12 it takes 125.71 years to travel to that same star. Primary Power Source (Fusion).
At tech level 13 it takes 31.7 years to travel to that star. Primary Power Source (Antimatter).
At Tech Level 14 it takes 8.8 years to travel to Alpha Centauri. Primary Power Source (Antimatter).
At Tech Level 15 it takes 104.92 years to travel 100 light years, although to the crew, it seems like 31.8 years due to time dialation, the primary power source is either antimatter or an interstellar fusion ramjet.
At tech level 16 it takes 1000 years to travel 1000 light years, although to the crew, it seems like 16.35 years due to time dialation, the primary power source is the interstellar fusion ramjet.

All is this is hard science, as no laws of physics as we know them are violated. Antimatter exists. I eschew Giant lasers and laser sails and other such projected propulsion methods in favor of self-contained starships. A laser sail could reach a higher velocity at a lower tech than could a self-contained starship doing the same thing. An interstellar ramjet picks up its fuel from interstellar space ahead of it, there are some technical challenges to overcome, mostly having to do with interstellar drag, but at tech level 15 this is figured out, and ramjets exceed the abilities of antimatter rockets, at tech level 16, antimatter rockets just can't compete with fusion ramjets because most of the mass of the antimatter starship would have to be the matter/antimatter fuel, one can use staged rockets, but then the starship would not be self-contained. Ramjets take over at tech level 16 for self-contained starships that player characters prefer!
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Re: How are you doing hard sci-fi?

Postby Solomani Jim » Mon Jan 18, 2016 2:14 pm

I have struggled with this at times too. It's a bad question in that what's hard sci fi changes every few years based on recent scientific discoveries. Gravity field manipulation based tech such as plating is becoming more real everyday based on recent discoveries in field generation and the Alcubierre warp drive becomes more and more plausible as new discoveries in related fields of science are made every few years lessening the power requirements and making survivability for both the passengers and the destination more probable. Their are many more examples from the 2D Drive and resulting storage solutions of a proven holographic universe to AI and the uploading of human minds into their machines which can really mess with presenting a hard sci fi setting.

There are people at NASA and the ESA using our large telescopes to search for tell tale signs of people using black hole drives and power sources now. That's because we actually know how to make a usable one with current technology and could build the required arrays in orbit to manufacture it, we just don't know how to make it spin to generate power from the tidal forces yet. A search on black hole drives and their usefulness for other endeavors in google is fascinating reading. We wont touch what effects it might have on warfare.

The real question here is what vision of the future do you want to present for adventures with your players? What's your fun and how do you want to go about presenting it in a plausible way to have the adventures you want? There is no one more right vision of the future than others right now.

It's easy to justify or disallow most things. Space fighters are a very good example. People love to read about their X wings and BSG vipers based on the modern world. Who in their right mind would put a useless human in a combat space shuttle when a machine could do so much better. Just upload the pilots mind or rely on a simple remote controlled drone as the days of manned combat aircraft are coming to an end. Drones beat fighter pilots in combat trials all the time now. Better yet, in a space environment why would you use a combat shuttle rather than a larger more capable missile weapon that can achieve the same ends without putting anyone at risk for less cost? Not to mention the issues with mass, fuel, and drive thrust when dealing with larger combat ships that by their very nature can leave missiles or shuttles in their exhaust trails over the longer ranges of space conflict? Writers have gotten around these issues in many ways from introducing hostile AI's, to making their missiles into bomb pumped X ray lasers that only need to get within a certain range, to restricting the use of fighter type craft to planet strikes and space station assaults or other set targets in the way of attrition units because blood is cheaper than hardware.

As much as I have enjoyed Traveller through the years, a better question might be how well the system does as a tool kit for presenting various ideas from possible futures to your player group and what they might need to work on including? I have not seen the new edition from Mongoose to comment.
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Re: How are you doing hard sci-fi?

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Mon Jan 18, 2016 10:20 pm

Solomani Jim wrote:As much as I have enjoyed Traveller through the years, a better question might be how well the system does as a tool kit for presenting various ideas from possible futures to your player group and what they might need to work on including? I have not seen the new edition from Mongoose to comment.
The answer to that is, Mongoose Traveller (any edition) is a great "tool kit" for handling any genre for role-playing in.
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Re: How are you doing hard sci-fi?

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Mon Jan 18, 2016 11:50 pm

Hard science is basically all about future engineering using known science. For example, we have produced antimatter in a laboratory, as many as hundreds of millions of atoms of antimatter, which is still a long way from any useful amount of antimatter for the purpose of space travel, but it is a start. Using antimatter in hard science fictions is simply speculating that our engineering will advance to the point where we are able to produce tons of antimatter, according to the science we know, the minimum amount of energy required to produce one ton of antimatter would be the rest mass energy of two tons of matter. the reason being is that when you convert energy into antimatter, you use the formula E=mc^2 the letter m is the amount of mass in kilograms, c is the speed of light. The speed of light 'c' is equal to 299,792,458 meters per second, there are 2,000 kg in 2 tons, the amount of joules produced by 2 tons of matter converted into energy is 179,751,035,747,363,528,000 joules, if you convert this energy back into matter, you will get 50% of it, or one ton in antimatter, the other 50% is in useless matter. You don't really need the one ton of matter, as the Universe is made of matter, so 50% of your energy is wasted in creating matter, that gives you a 50% efficiency of turning energy into antimatter. To make 1 ton of antimatter, you approximately have to fuse 200 tons of hydrogen into almost 198 tons of helium with 1% of the matter converted into energy with this fusion reaction, and 1 ton of antimatter at most can be produced from this, in practice it will be much less. A hard science fiction setting would have a fusion reactor fusing 2000 tons of hydrogen into 1980 tons of helium, and the energy produces is used to make 1 ton of antimatter with 5% efficiency.

Hyperspace by contrast is only a theory, no one has ever proven it exists, so in addition to new engineering, we need new science, this is soft science fiction, the author invents a convenient fact of nature to help his story along, with antimatter, it is already proven to exist, hard science fiction assumes the engineering, but no new science, and the author attempts to craft his story around known science, even if the technology harnessing it is speculative, that is hard science fiction.
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Re: How are you doing hard sci-fi?

Postby Reynard » Tue Jan 19, 2016 2:22 am

We've seen on one Traveller thread the news of possible warp technology. It's not an actual working engine today but supposedly evidence for a theory. Will that class the possible hard science for warp drives or must hard science show actual physical evidence? Experiments have actually created non-sustained fusion reactions so it shows it is possible but just not now (or ever) so I guess that give credence to reality.
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Re: How are you doing hard sci-fi?

Postby JBRocky » Tue Jan 19, 2016 5:49 am

Pretty easy question I just pull out the 2300AD stuff it's pretty good at Hard Sci-Fi.
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Re: How are you doing hard sci-fi?

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Tue Jan 19, 2016 7:35 am

JBRocky wrote:Pretty easy question I just pull out the 2300AD stuff it's pretty good at Hard Sci-Fi.
Which stuff, and how is it used in-game?
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Re: How are you doing hard sci-fi?

Postby Reynard » Tue Jan 19, 2016 12:09 pm

The only item that could be considered non-hard scifi would be the Stutter-warp drive for FTL travel. No gravity plates so larger ships use spin hulls. Fuel cell, MDH turbines and fission reactors for power. Larger ships usually don't land and rely on orbital stations, 'beanstalks' and landing craft. Lasers, missiles, railguns and particle beams.

So yeah, Traveller has a hard scifi game already.
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Re: How are you doing hard sci-fi?

Postby hiro » Tue Jan 19, 2016 7:45 pm

Zozer's Orbital is a good setting for hard sci-fi, adapts Mongoose well.
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Re: How are you doing hard sci-fi?

Postby JBRocky » Tue Jan 19, 2016 8:11 pm

ShawnDriscoll wrote:
JBRocky wrote:Pretty easy question I just pull out the 2300AD stuff it's pretty good at Hard Sci-Fi.
Which stuff, and how is it used in-game?

When I play a Hard Sci-Fi Traveller Game I do not set it in the OTU. Instead I play 2300AD and use the setting provided.
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Re: How are you doing hard sci-fi?

Postby snrdg121408 » Tue Jan 19, 2016 8:49 pm

Hello all,

TNE/T4, in many cases, have a lot of over simplified hard-science fiction aspects. Of course T4 is a modified version of TNE. Traveller 2300 AD, republished as 2300AD, appears to have some hard-science aspects from reading through the rules.

Generally how much hard-science used is based on the Traveller variant. GURPS Traveller was good and I think GURPS Space may be a contender.
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Re: How are you doing hard sci-fi?

Postby dragoner » Wed Jan 20, 2016 3:58 pm

JBRocky wrote:
ShawnDriscoll wrote:
JBRocky wrote:Pretty easy question I just pull out the 2300AD stuff it's pretty good at Hard Sci-Fi.
Which stuff, and how is it used in-game?

When I play a Hard Sci-Fi Traveller Game I do not set it in the OTU. Instead I play 2300AD and use the setting provided.
Ultimately, 2300's setting isn't that hard science over Traveller, just different.
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Re: How are you doing hard sci-fi?

Postby Sigtrygg » Wed Jan 20, 2016 6:41 pm

Traveller - jump drive, meson technology, artificial gravity, acceleration compensation fields, nuclear dampers, reactionless maneuver drives, man portable laser weapons, man portable plasma weapons, man portable fusion weapons, powered armour

2300 - stutterwarp, man portable laser weapons, man portable plasma weapons, powered armour

Yup, 2300 is just like Traveller - not.
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Re: How are you doing hard sci-fi?

Postby dragoner » Thu Jan 21, 2016 12:13 am

So? Neither are remotely plausible.

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