Planning a new campaign. The Pickings of Brains!

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
Eekmonster
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Planning a new campaign. The Pickings of Brains!

Postby Eekmonster » Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:03 pm

Hello there!

I am a relative newcomer to Traveller (but not to pen&paper). And I want to pick your brain.

The really really short gist is, the crew by in a strange series of events acquire an ancient tablet, which belonged to the last emperor of the Agnazari Empire, the biggest empire in history which crumbled a century before.
The tablet contains a wealth of information. Imperial secrets, some of whom that are still pertinent today. Information about hidden technologies, locations of secret caches, and abandoned installations which are filled with extreme valuables.

The problem is though, it his heavily encrypted. Not your run of the mill encryptions. Ancient imperial encodings, military encodings not readily available for anyone. Some even require access to terminals inside the old imperial holds who are occupied by new regimes, and active military bases. And last but not least containing the diary of Emperor, which in the end reveal hidden reasons for the fall of the empire which can shake the face of the galaxy. A galaxy which already hangs on a thread of two major empires about to throw down into a full scale war.

The main storyline revolves around solving the encryptions, and doing missions that allow them to.
infiltrating imperial palaces, military strongholds, doing missions for expert hackers so they will solve it. and sometimes quite possibly outsourcing the job outright...as long they can pay the bill.

I am currently putting together the encryption levels, the plan is to have 9 levels. the first being the easiest and they get gradually more extreme. I dont want the missions to be reskinned versions of each other, but of course some will be.

So I have:
1. Infiltrations
2. Hack jobs
3. Outsourcing (which can lead to any kind of mission.

Any fresh and unorthodox ideas on types of "encryption missions" ?
AndrewW
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Re: Planning a new campaign. The Pickings of Brains!

Postby AndrewW » Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:48 pm

They have to find and retrieve an ancient body as the encryption key is encoded into the DNA.
Moppy
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Re: Planning a new campaign. The Pickings of Brains!

Postby Moppy » Thu Jul 11, 2019 10:01 pm

The Traveller Imperium is very old. A 100 year old empire might mean you're on the border, or outside Imperial space.

Normally I'd ask how you plan to read old computer storage (I recently tried to find a working 8 inch floppy disk drive and gave up) but in this case you have a tablet that presumably powers up and the Imperium hasn't changed their tech in hundreds of years so they're probably still using 500-year old designs.

Encryption of a previous generation should be trivial to break. The famous Enigma Code wouldn't last a day vs modern tech and I'm sure it can be done much quicker.

I should add, because the code and math geeks will mention it otherwise, is the one-time pad. This is guaranteed unbreakable even with infinite time. In which case your options for breaking it comprise of finding the original key, just like a fantasy RPG quest where the message is split into pieces and hidden, or the key is a book and only one copy exists, or in a sci-fi setting it's the DNA code of a specific individual.

Of course the implementation might have been imperfect, or the device itself may have flaws, or the user might have made a mistake, all of which give you ways in by means that modern TV shows would call "hacking" or "detective work", even if the encrpytion method can be proven by mathematics to be utterly and completely unbreakable.
Eekmonster
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Re: Planning a new campaign. The Pickings of Brains!

Postby Eekmonster » Fri Jul 12, 2019 12:11 am

AndrewW wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:48 pm
They have to find and retrieve an ancient body as the encryption key is encoded into the DNA.
Excellent idea!
Eekmonster
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Re: Planning a new campaign. The Pickings of Brains!

Postby Eekmonster » Fri Jul 12, 2019 12:33 am

Moppy wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 10:01 pm
The Traveller Imperium is very old. A 100 year old empire might mean you're on the border, or outside Imperial space.

Normally I'd ask how you plan to read old computer storage (I recently tried to find a working 8 inch floppy disk drive and gave up) but in this case you have a tablet that presumably powers up and the Imperium hasn't changed their tech in hundreds of years so they're probably still using 500-year old designs.

Encryption of a previous generation should be trivial to break. The famous Enigma Code wouldn't last a day vs modern tech and I'm sure it can be done much quicker.

I should add, because the code and math geeks will mention it otherwise, is the one-time pad. This is guaranteed unbreakable even with infinite time. In which case your options for breaking it comprise of finding the original key, just like a fantasy RPG quest where the message is split into pieces and hidden, or the key is a book and only one copy exists, or in a sci-fi setting it's the DNA code of a specific individual.

Of course the implementation might have been imperfect, or the device itself may have flaws, or the user might have made a mistake, all of which give you ways in by means that modern TV shows would call "hacking" or "detective work", even if the encrpytion method can be proven by mathematics to be utterly and completely unbreakable.
The "really short gist" of course does not provide context.
I am not using the 3rd Imperium. Homebrewed a setting.
The fall of said empire (which lasted for 700 years) was through a succession crisis, which led to a highly destructive war. So destructive that a lot of technology was lost. Or at least the full grasp of it not fully understood. No galactic entity has managed to recover to the place they were economically since before.

So with the encryption of previous generations are not trivial to break, as in many ways, they are superior.

I am taking a semi space-opera approach to the tablet. It is of course more than anything, a plot device. Each encryption level is supposed to be solved via a "backdoor", as straightforward hacking does not work.
Moppy
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Re: Planning a new campaign. The Pickings of Brains!

Postby Moppy » Fri Jul 12, 2019 5:52 am

An exploit implies taking advantage of a mistake made by the user or builder. A backdoor implies a secret weakness deliberately created in the design.

I would hope by the time the future rolls around they've realised what a terrible idea backdoors are and no longer ask cryptographers to design their systems with this inherent weakness - although this empire appears not to have; maybe that's why they fell? ;-) Also, passwords for authentication are a flawed idea and I hope they're long gone too. ;-)

Good luck with your campaign and I hope you all enjoy yourselves.
GenericSuperhero
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Re: Planning a new campaign. The Pickings of Brains!

Postby GenericSuperhero » Fri Jul 12, 2019 2:32 pm

Assuming that code is unbreakable otherwise, all of this boils down to series of quests to obtain keys.
from the top of my head:

1. Tied to genetic or biometric of one individual (might need to obtain it's DNA, clone it and take voice print for example. If alive, might be forced/persuaded)
2. Errand(s) run for some information broker:
->here is one antique piece of former military technology from Fomalhaut thought lost for centuries. I see you have a good eye, I'll be willing to part with it for mere [put some absurd amount here that will force party to barter their skills]
-> finding a way to obtain password (might be tied to voiceprint from 1.)
3. Be at specific time in specific place with specific item (item and info proivided by broker after bartering/errands)
-> only on third week of new moon, light from rising blue star on third planet in the binary system of Kleitoor is going through this crystal pyramid shows color patterns that unlocks the cypher (think fancy QR code)
4. Skill outsourcing / personnel hunt
-> only a psionic with comms4+ and microkinesis 2+ has a chance to make this ancient decoding device work
-> only a [specific race] member with ancient linguistics skills can pronounce the password properly
5. Time race - this decrypting device will only work [see 3.]. You have [time] to get there.
6. Hot extraction - information broker got a price tag on his head. Party needs to rescue/bail him, but he won't share the secret before getting to safety.
7. Diplomacy - need to access a site on RedZoned world with HiTech interdiction satellite ring. Party has to convince [Polity/Corporation/Ruler] to lift interdiction or grant permit.
8. Ol' good riddles - ancient abandoned temple with crapton of cryptic texts (ie. reliefs) that contain clues

Mix all this up and you should be good for a few month-play - hope that helps a little.
Also, hello everyone. First time posting.
Old School
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Re: Planning a new campaign. The Pickings of Brains!

Postby Old School » Fri Jul 12, 2019 3:12 pm

solid first post. welcome!
Sigtrygg
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Re: Planning a new campaign. The Pickings of Brains!

Postby Sigtrygg » Sat Jul 13, 2019 10:24 am

Do you have psionics in your setting? Sentient machines? Are either of these relics of the fallen empire?

There could be a key hidden psionically, there could be a key hidden within the code of the last SI...

Along with one key being hidden in alien DNA

a key hidden in jumpspace/hyperspace whichever you use

The players may have to piece together technologies in order to build a device of TL equivalent to the old empire to find a key

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