Higher tech items on a lower tech world

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PsiTraveller
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Higher tech items on a lower tech world

Postby PsiTraveller » Sun Sep 20, 2020 7:33 am

Just a question for the hivemind. In your traveller games do you have government groups equipped with higher tech items?

Imagine a TL 5 world that is close to a higher tech world. I could see the military from the TL 5 world heading off to the higher tech world to buy high tech body armour to protect troops, better ammo, better medical gear.

The risk is that players with access to the benefits of higher tech gear become pretty much invulnerable once they can get into armour with a rating that is greater than the damage of a lower tech world arsenal.

And spaceships, even a lower tech world could get the money together to get some form of ship to stake a claim on the system the world inhabits. It's an area of the game that seems a little odd to me. Anyone else have thoughts on this?
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Re: Higher tech items on a lower tech world

Postby Sigtrygg » Sun Sep 20, 2020 7:59 am

It costs 1000cr per displacement ton per jump to ship stuff to a world from a higher TL manufacturing world. One displacement ton of laser rifles is an awful lot of laser rifles, hence the shipping cost per unit is almost trivial.

You can use the same logic for pretty much any item from a TL15 industrial world. So basically within the Spinward Marches every TL of equipment may be available on any world regardless of local TL, it may just cost you a lot more, they will be rare and difficult to source, and may have a considerable lag time for purchase.
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Re: Higher tech items on a lower tech world

Postby Condottiere » Sun Sep 20, 2020 12:09 pm

Going by current events, authoritarian regimes will certainly import all the high tech toys they can afford, or can't, that they have access to.
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Re: Higher tech items on a lower tech world

Postby Garran » Sun Sep 20, 2020 12:30 pm

The major limitation on them doing this is that they probably don't have a whole lot to offer in return, especially at lower TLs where even their raw resource output will be minimal.

That said, I don't actually see it as a problem if the PCs end up in that situation: they may be able to overthrow the local government in the short term, but the Imperium (or equivalent) is likely to respond if it happens on one of their member worlds, and especially if it wasn't part of a popular uprising that got rid of a government that was more trouble than benefit to the higher-level authority. Helping the locals out and getting out of the area before the response arrives is generally a good idea in that case.

If it's in a lawless area, well then, if the PCs don't do it then someone else probably will soon enough, so why worry?
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Re: Higher tech items on a lower tech world

Postby Linwood » Sun Sep 20, 2020 1:29 pm

Which is kind of my point. It's likely that a world's military (and possibly other factions) will attempt to acquire tech above their world's TL. But it's worth it to think through what sorts of tech make sense to them in the situation they're in and what arrangements they may need to make to acquire it. Maybe they've chosen to negotiate client-state status to get help in taking on smugglers and pirates, Maybe it's a small-pop higher-tech oligarchy trying to maintain control over a large-pop low-tech society (18th-19th-century India, perhaps?). Maybe they have a corporate backer, or other system resources that can be mortgaged for funding. Or maybe they offer port privileges and other amenities to local pirates and smugglers in exchange for funding to support their higher-TL purchases.

Also keep in mind how the situation will affect the choices a military might make in their purchases. For example, in the situation you've described the military may see little need to invest in information or communications security - they could certainly value high-tech comm devices but might not invest in more than basic security. Things like laser rifles take energy, but they may have neglected putting in a robust infrastructure to ensure their soldiers can always find quick recharging sources. More complex weapons of war require maintenance and repair, and those needs are often underestimated. Those bright shiny TL12 grav APCs look pretty on the tarmac, but if they're grounded for maintenance issues they aren't doing anyone any good.

You may also consider training issues. Certainly a TL 5 soldier can learn how to effectively use a TL 10 ACR. But that TL 5 soldier is almost certainly unskilled in, say, grav flying. You might consider a DM penalty in those cases, or simply assume that the supply of truly skilled operators and maintainance personnel is very limited.
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Re: Higher tech items on a lower tech world

Postby Sigtrygg » Sun Sep 20, 2020 3:40 pm

Lower TL does not mean stupid.

Take a TL5 raw recruit and teach them to drive a grav vehicle - I fail to see why they will have a harder time learning this skill than a TL8 or TL10 raw recruit.

Until the age of 17 here in the UK the vast majority can not drive - they can be taught how in a few hours. The vast majority can not pilot an aircraft, they can be taught how in a few hundred hours.

Considering the amount of computer assistance likely to be included with grav vehicles it is probably no harder than teaching a video game - and I have seen 3 year olds driving vehicles on tablet based games.
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Re: Higher tech items on a lower tech world

Postby Saladman » Sun Sep 20, 2020 3:42 pm

PsiTraveller wrote:
Sun Sep 20, 2020 7:33 am
In your traveller games do you have government groups equipped with higher tech items?
In smaller groups, absolutely. El Presidente's personal guard, SWAT team equivalents in the gendarme, special force and heavy weapons sections in the military. They probably won't/can't afford to equip literally their whole planetary army or security force with the best armor and weapons theoretically available.

What interstellar trade opens up, aside from buying the very best, is something in the middle. A TL 12 world might manufacture cheap-to-them weapons in the TL 8-10 range for export to a TL 4-6 world for instance. I think it's Central Supply that even has rules for that kind of thing. I haven't sat down and actually worked up those guns/prices (an exercise I should get around to at some point), but it's in the back of my mind for questions like this.
Garran wrote:
Sun Sep 20, 2020 12:30 pm
The major limitation on them doing this is that they probably don't have a whole lot to offer in return, especially at lower TLs where even their raw resource output will be minimal.
If they've got Pop they've got something. Consumables or ore at the least. It's enough to buy a few cargo lots of Advanced Weapons, if not to outfit everybody. Low-pop plus low-tech would be the only ones with absolutely nothing to pay with; and in that case they may have already been overthrown once or twice already and the new rulers still have those guns and other gear.
Garran wrote:
Sun Sep 20, 2020 12:30 pm
That said, I don't actually see it as a problem if the PCs end up in that situation: they may be able to overthrow the local government in the short term...
My general rule is that NPCs aren't stupid, and should be playing roughly the same game as PCs. So for a world that's plugged into the trade network I wouldn't run it that those NPCs watched merchants and travellers come and go and just never thought to buy a few good weapons for a rainy day, and the PCs are the very first characters ever to realize they could knock the place over relatively easily.

Agree with the rest of your post though, I suspect we end up at a similar point by a different route. My way might still allow for taking on/taking out/coopting a relatively small group within a larger population.
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Re: Higher tech items on a lower tech world

Postby PsiTraveller » Sun Sep 20, 2020 9:19 pm

This idea was used in the Drinax campaign when the Hawk warriors took over Asim, a TL 6 world taken over by the TL 15 equipped force from the Floating Palace. (pg 236 of book 1 gives a description) So a small force can topple a larger force with the help of technology.

But Asim is TL 6 and a Jump 2 away from a TL 12 world of Pourne, the colony creator. Why were there no TL 12 defenses on Asim? And how easy would it be to ship in ACR's and advanced ammo to supply a guerilla campaign. So supplies are a week away with a Jump 2 ship.

TL 15 vs TL 12 is a closer fight.
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Re: Higher tech items on a lower tech world

Postby Galadrion » Mon Sep 21, 2020 4:33 am

The limitation is going to be logistics - it's easy to buy the initial outfitting; the harder part is keeping the toys in supplies. Or to bring out the sharpest issue: buying the high-tech guns isn't too difficult or expensive, but keeping those guns fed with ammunition is going to be a problem if an acceptable local supply isn't available. (To use Harry Turtledove's example, how would the Confederate States of America have supplied the ammunition if time travelers had made a lot of surplus AK-47s from "up the line" available at a (locally) reasonable price?) Even if ammunition can be locally supplied, it'll almost certainly be considerably more expensive than if the higher-tech world was selling it. But if it's supplied from elsewhere, the logistic line has to be considered - a delivery interruption during a crisis can be a serious issue.

This isn't so much of an issue for items without as much logistical dependency - a few shipment-tons of, for example, unpowered body armor can make a huge difference in unit quality, without having to have more bullets imported (or importing a higher-tech power generation capability to allow battery recharging).

Also note that these issues apply on both sides of any potential conflict. Either the local government or their opposition might import such force multipliers... and such consideration can (and almost certainly do!) apply to any non-local mercenaries (such as, oh, maybe... the players?) as well. To my mind, this is probably the real reason many successful interstellar mercenaries spring for ownership of a mercenary cruiser - more than the potential firepower advantages, the control of a shipment option for resupply is probably hugely attractive.

Some interesting thoughts. Unintended consequences lead to some useful plot ideas...
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Re: Higher tech items on a lower tech world

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Mon Sep 21, 2020 6:20 am

PsiTraveller wrote:
Sun Sep 20, 2020 7:33 am
Just a question for the hivemind. In your traveller games do you have government groups equipped with higher tech items?

Imagine a TL 5 world that is close to a higher tech world. I could see the military from the TL 5 world heading off to the higher tech world to buy high tech body armour to protect troops, better ammo, better medical gear.

The risk is that players with access to the benefits of higher tech gear become pretty much invulnerable once they can get into armour with a rating that is greater than the damage of a lower tech world arsenal.

And spaceships, even a lower tech world could get the money together to get some form of ship to stake a claim on the system the world inhabits. It's an area of the game that seems a little odd to me. Anyone else have thoughts on this?
Yes. Read Space Viking. Feudal Technocracy in all its glory.
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Re: Higher tech items on a lower tech world

Postby Condottiere » Sun Sep 27, 2020 6:02 pm

You leverage your high technology access.

You still need sepoys, unless it's a commando raid or decapitation strike, where the aftermath is someone else's problem.
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Re: Higher tech items on a lower tech world

Postby steelbrok » Sun Sep 27, 2020 8:49 pm

I've always taken it that a world's TL represents the normal day to day tech available and used by the general population.
With a reasonable economic base the elites will have access to better (and likely some mercenary group to back up the government/deter raiders)
If no where else the Star Port will generally have some hi tech goods for sale but at a premium for their shipping.
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Re: Higher tech items on a lower tech world

Postby MyndkryM » Mon Sep 28, 2020 2:39 am

Just finished watching the extended version of Aliens 3 and came away with some ideas about TL and lower tech worlds. More along the lines of why a world may be at such a lower TL than a neighboring system.

MegaCorp colonizes a system, later decides it's no longer profitable, those that stay are left with an infrastructure that is breaking and are unable to maintain. That can definitely provide ideas as to what higher TL items are of more value than others for an enterprising Free Trader.
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Re: Higher tech items on a lower tech world

Postby Spenser » Sat Oct 03, 2020 3:41 pm

steelbrok wrote:
Sun Sep 27, 2020 8:49 pm
I've always taken it that a world's TL represents the normal day to day tech available and used by the general population.
With a reasonable economic base the elites will have access to better (and likely some mercenary group to back up the government/deter raiders)
If no where else the Star Port will generally have some hi tech goods for sale but at a premium for their shipping.
I find a lot of inspiration in our real world, on this.

Traveling abroad, even in very non-industrialized places often you can find shops with SIM cards, cheap drones, pregnancy tests, smartphones, and so on. These items might be cheaper and less reliable than the versions I buy in London or Singapore, but I feel if I spent money or "knew a guy," quality higher tech would probably be available. I think it was Gibson that said "the future is already here, it's just unevenly distributed." If you're a GM this depends on the flavor of the particular place your Travellers are at the moment; maybe you just can't find that high-end thingy you were looking for at this old mining facility. But overall I like the idea that higher tech makes its way into the cracks.
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Re: Higher tech items on a lower tech world

Postby Linwood » Sun Oct 04, 2020 12:50 am

I’ve occasionally run with the idea of a “floating market” - a highly mobile group of entrepreneurs specializing in grey-market stuff, which might well include higher-tech items. A Streetwise check is required to find it (it moves every few days) and the selection of goods tends to be more what you’d get at a yard sale. Most of the time items are marked up, but sometimes the seller literally doesn’t know what they have. Makes for a fun outlet for “salvaged” items, especially if law levels are low or the world is recovering from a disaster or violent times.
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Re: Higher tech items on a lower tech world

Postby Condottiere » Sun Oct 04, 2020 10:25 am

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Re: Higher tech items on a lower tech world

Postby Ursus Maior » Sun Oct 04, 2020 12:50 pm

Sounds like a Java sandcrawler, selling "found" droids to moisture farmers. :mrgreen:
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PsiTraveller
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Re: Higher tech items on a lower tech world

Postby PsiTraveller » Sun Oct 04, 2020 2:04 pm

Well little vignettes could be created for the players to make some extra cash and make a name for themselves at lower tech worlds. The players could have a better equipped workshop, or they know to buy some replacement parts and come to a lower tech world to trade their skills at infrastructure maintenance.

Droids and robots would be useful for 24 hour labour on a lower tech world, it might annoy the regular folks whose jobs are being replaced. There are a lot of ways to make an impact on a world, and set up a scenario for roleplaying.
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Re: Higher tech items on a lower tech world

Postby phavoc » Mon Oct 05, 2020 2:43 pm

@ OP - Generally speaking, yes. A TL-4 world despot (for example) isn't going to limit theirself to muskets or breechloaders. Their personal troops/guards are going to be equipped with a minimum of auto-rifles, ACR's or gauss rifles. The biggest limitations are going to be the training of the troops to use advanced weapons and also the ability to service said advanced weapons. Common sense tells you that the locals won't be using FGMP or other highly-advanced weapons. But a gauss rifle is really no different than your musket, so if it makes sense then yes, you should equip them.

Just like a planet isn't going to be reliant upon reaction rockets for their space infrastructure. Much like Ethiopa imports 777's from the US, a lower tech world will import grav vehicles to get to orbit. The cost/benefit is more than useful to justify such a thing.

The biggest issues are going to be cost and availability. If the nearest TL-15 world is 6 parsecs away, then only a handful of TL-15 items might be available on the lower tech world. And, depending on the makeup of the world, it will govern the rules around what should be easily available, and what is more difficult to obtain (with the commensurate increase in costs). Mostly it's up to the ref to have an idea about what the background of the world is and where it fits into the gaming session and the overall linkage to the developed space the players are in.

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Re: Higher tech items on a lower tech world

Postby Linwood » Tue Oct 06, 2020 12:25 am

I knew there was a Zorg quote that fit this conversation....
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuamSKIvhcA

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