Computer/Cyber/Bio Technology in the new Traveller setting?

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
WhiteWolf
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Postby WhiteWolf » Wed Apr 23, 2008 8:17 pm

Personally I would love to see the cyber ware added, and if it is not I will be disappointed. After all it is easier to disgard something then it is to convert it and add it in. With that said I do hope they skim over it in the main rules but will be releasing a supplement that will allow those who desire the technology to impliment it. I would say the same for the alien races; not everyone wants to include them in their universe, but to me a SciFi setting is incomplete without the intelligent alien life forms.

Regarding technology and size. I hope Mongoose Publshing does update all the technology in Traveller. It doesn't change the setting, but it would appeal more to the new players coming in and the old players who like new technology. :D
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Postby Dark Lord Skippy » Thu Apr 24, 2008 6:53 am

aspqrz wrote: Indeed, you are entirely correct. But I think that this should be explicitly stated.

For any planet with a Starport of any sort other than X the planetary TL is substantially and essentially meaningless as long as they are within "reasonable shipping time" from a High Tech world.

High tech products will be as readily available as, say, Mobile Phones are in Somalia (effectively an anarchy to all intents and purposes). Which is to say, widely available in and around the bigger cities (and Somalia is increasingly urbanised, despite the ongoing anarchy cum clan feuding cum religio-civil war).
This is what the old World Builder's Handbook (an old DGP Traveller product) called a "novelty" tech level. If a nearby world was of higher tech, then it was possible to have such tech on that world for the lucky, the rich, the powerful, or simply as a novelty.

Another thing I liked about the WBH was the variable tech levels. It broke the tech level down into categories and showed where in certain places this world might excel over the "average" tech level and where they might be a bit behind.
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Postby Infojunky » Tue May 20, 2008 3:52 pm

aspqrz wrote:
steelbrok wrote:
aspqrz wrote:I think the most serious problem with Traveller and technology, even more serious than the other issues raised, is the whole basis of the system and how it is implemented ... the idea of "Tech Levels".
This isnt an original observation but given that Traveller has extensive free trade then TL is really a measure of a soceities wealth.

The TL is better thought of as the level of technology generally affordable by a planet's population and hence *easily* available to visiting PCs
Indeed, you are entirely correct. But I think that this should be explicitly stated.

For any planet with a Starport of any sort other than X the planetary TL is substantially and essentially meaningless as long as they are within "reasonable shipping time" from a High Tech world.
AT LAST!.... Some people who get innately what TL actually represents, the local infrastructure not what is available locally. Guys this has been the case all along, in later editions of the LLBs and in Journal there was the relative credit value table which gave the relative cost of an item locally as compared to it's TL.
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Postby Matrix Cypher » Wed May 21, 2008 11:30 am

You know I always hated when a world was listed with a certain tech level and they had an excuse that well it really isn't this tech etc etc.. Darrian comes to mind. Come on, please lets get some consistency to the upp.

I aggree that the UPP tech level should represent local sustainable tech. There for if you have say like a world that for some reason may have had higher tech at one time, list the current sustainable tech and put the older tech in the notes. Geese. :roll:
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Postby Jame Rowe » Wed May 21, 2008 12:36 pm

I think I'm (fairly) happy with the stuff that MG put in. However, I am going to reduce the TL of introduction of each enhancement by at least 2.
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Postby Infojunky » Thu May 22, 2008 11:00 pm

Jame Rowe wrote:I think I'm (fairly) happy with the stuff that MG put in. However, I am going to reduce the TL of introduction of each enhancement by at least 2.
I think that it does a lot to enhance the game, it has always existed, just spread out of multiple books and adventures.

Though, I am not sure Traveller needs the BioTech/UltraTech treatment that SJG did for Gurps, it might not hurt....
Evyn
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Postby aspqrz » Fri May 23, 2008 1:02 am

Infojunky wrote:
aspqrz wrote:
steelbrok wrote: This isnt an original observation but given that Traveller has extensive free trade then TL is really a measure of a soceities wealth.

The TL is better thought of as the level of technology generally affordable by a planet's population and hence *easily* available to visiting PCs
Indeed, you are entirely correct. But I think that this should be explicitly stated.

For any planet with a Starport of any sort other than X the planetary TL is substantially and essentially meaningless as long as they are within "reasonable shipping time" from a High Tech world.
AT LAST!.... Some people who get innately what TL actually represents, the local infrastructure not what is available locally. Guys this has been the case all along, in later editions of the LLBs and in Journal there was the relative credit value table which gave the relative cost of an item locally as compared to it's TL.
Another "problem" is the ridiculous pricing of many items. Things get more expensive at higher tech levels ... when all the experience we have to go by in the real world is the exact opposite.

Think Cars. Pre-Henry Ford they cost several years wages for a skilled tradesmen. By the time the Model T had finished its production run (in the 1920's) they were selling for, IIRC, 10-20% of a years wage.

Computer prices have gone much the same way, but, of course, the relative computing *power* of computers has gone down far faster. When I bought my first Apple IIe in 1980 or thereabouts, the whole system (the Computer with 48k of memory, and including Green Screen monitor and Epson dot matrix printer, and external 5 1/4" single sided floppy drive) cost me A$2000 approx.

In an advertising flyer dropped in the letterbox yesterday I could buy a Toshiba laptop with 4 gig of memory, 512 meg dedicated graphics memory, a 500 gig hard drive, and a DVD burner ... for $500 more.

In those c. 30 years, of course, starting salary for teachers has gone from c. A$10000 to c. A$50000.

So, from 20% of starting salary to 5% for a computer far more capable? Can you replicate this in Traveller? Not as it stands, yet the Imperium is explicitly a state whose existence is based on the existence and encouragement of high volume interstellar trade!

Then there's the patently ridiculously ... silly ... statement in the equipment chapter ... "A simple computer system might sell for a few hundred credits on most worlds, but on a backward TL6 world where the computer has just been developed, then purchasing it might require the equivalent of millions of credits"

No matter how you cut it, that's a ludicrous statement. The locals will order it through a mail order catalog for (retail price on world of production) + (shipping/handling costs) + (local taxes) .... in an Imperium that is trade based and trade encouraging.

Sure, the cost relative to local per capita GDP will be *much* higher than it would be on the world of manufacture ... but the characters are not likely to be *from* the world where it's being sold, and will be purchasing it from a salary background (or expected salary background) of the world of production.

That is, putting it another way, the local per capita GDP on the TL6 world may be (say) 500 Cr per annum, and the per capita GDP the characters are used to may be (say) 10000 Cr per annum. The computer (TL15, 5000 Cr) is ten years average earnings for the TL6 worlder but only 6 months earnings for the characters (and, of course, per capita GDP is averaged so even on the TL6 world there will be many people who will not balk at a 5000 Cr cost, even adding in shipping and taxes).

However, in an Interstellar trading society where planetary tech levels are, essentially, meaningless, because of trade and which has existed for around 1100 years, most of those low tech worlds will simply be worlds that have a non-manufacturing economy and which trade services or raw materials (like, say, Australia, where I live) and use the money to buy the manufactured high tech goods from overseas. Sure, the cost of those imported goods is somewhat higher than where it is manufactured, but we don't necessarily have a per capita GDP in only triple digits, either :lol:

There are serious problems of lack of vision ... partly because of the assumptions that seem to have been integrated with the original design, but at least as much because of assumptions many GMs/Players have put on the original design but which may not actually have been intended.

It really needs to be addressed. Perhaps in Book #X "Merchant Prince?"

One hopes so ... against hope, based on previous experience, sadly.

Phil
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Postby -Daniel- » Fri May 23, 2008 2:20 am

aspqrz wrote: Another "problem" is the ridiculous pricing of many items. Things get more expensive at higher tech levels ... when all the experience we have to go by in the real world is the exact opposite.

Think Cars. Pre-Henry Ford they cost several years wages for a skilled tradesmen. By the time the Model T had finished its production run (in the 1920's) they were selling for, IIRC, 10-20% of a years wage.
But Phil, if that were true then cars should be even less today and we know it is not true. The average annual wage in the US per the IRS for 2005 (The last year I have) is 36,952.94 So using the thinking that more tech should make it less expensive then I should see cars for under $7k and I do not.

The problem with Tech is it sometimes makes things cost less and sometimes it just changes what they buy.

Daniel
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Postby zozotroll » Fri May 23, 2008 3:27 am

You are talking model T, so find the lowest priced econo junk you can. Some of them are pretty cheap.

Also, cars may be a poor example because often people get more car than they need for status reasons, where as computers are more likely to fit whats needed, or whats on sale.

Check some of the basic euromobiles, there are some very inexpensive cars out there. The US seems to screw up a lot of averages.
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Postby aspqrz » Fri May 23, 2008 5:53 am

dafrca wrote:
aspqrz wrote: Another "problem" is the ridiculous pricing of many items. Things get more expensive at higher tech levels ... when all the experience we have to go by in the real world is the exact opposite.

Think Cars. Pre-Henry Ford they cost several years wages for a skilled tradesmen. By the time the Model T had finished its production run (in the 1920's) they were selling for, IIRC, 10-20% of a years wage.
But Phil, if that were true then cars should be even less today and we know it is not true.
Who is this "we", paleface :o

I "know" nothing of the sort.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7180396.stm

The Tata Nano, US$2500.

And even at that price, the specs of the Nano will be *vastly* better than that of the T-Model Ford.

Apples and apples, old son, not apples and premium grade cherries.
dafrca wrote:The average annual wage in the US per the IRS for 2005 (The last year I have) is 36,952.94 So using the thinking that more tech should make it less expensive then I should see cars for under $7k and I do not.

The problem with Tech is it sometimes makes things cost less and sometimes it just changes what they buy.
Indeed.

Like the Nano :wink:

Of course, the Chevy Aveo (never heard of it before, not available here in Oz, of course) is allegedly the cheapest US car at US $10000 or so, and has refinements that the Nano doesn't have.

And it will, I presume, go *somewhat* faster than the 75 mph of the Nano. Or the 45 mph a new Ford Model T could get in prime condition on good roads.

Imperial manufactured goods would, as often as not, have to be made of solid iridium to be worth what they are supposedly sold for.

That's *my* opinion, anyway, and worth what any free opinion is!

Phil :P
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Postby -Daniel- » Fri May 23, 2008 8:39 am

Ok Phil, fair enough.
aspqrz wrote: Apples and apples, old son, not apples and premium grade cherries.
Great idea. Let’s look at Apples to Apples.
aspqrz wrote: The Tata Nano, US$2500.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7180396.stm
Ok we have a car that *IF* sold in the US would be about $2500 plus taxes and import fees. But as far as I can find out is not available in the US. So let’s look at the car’s price compared to the salary of an Indian so that we are doing a true Apples to Apples as you request.

The Hay Group shows:
“The average wage in India. currently stands at US$145 per month. ($1,740 a year)

“The White collar average wage is US$335 per month.” ($4,020 a year)
So that means the Tata Nano will be over 50% of the average annual wage of a White Collar person in the country where it will be available for procurement. Apples to apples.

Interesting. :D

I think zozotroll is right, the computers would have been a better example for the point you were trying to make.

Seriously, I think the real issue is this: Does the game use price as a game mechanic to encourage lower tech use? Have they made the cost higher on the higher tech to help give folks a reason to still take the older tech even when it is not as good? I believe the answer is yes.

That is my opinions, and as you say, worth what it cost. :wink: :lol:

Daniel
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Postby SableWyvern » Fri May 23, 2008 8:54 am

I would suggest that, as long as there are TL6, 7, 8, 9, 10 worlds out there that will import as much TL15 gear as they can afford, the price of that TL15 stuff will remain artificially inflated.

I can't produce a coherent, economically sound argument to that effect, but it goes a long way to explaining why the Imperium isn't rapidly approaching technological homogenity, and gives PCs some reason to possibly buy lower tech (beyond the more limited access to repair and product support for high-tech gear).


Edit: Also --
Jame Rowe wrote:I quite agree with Black, Smaller Dragon-Kin here.
:)
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Postby simonh » Fri May 23, 2008 11:59 am

dafrca wrote: The Hay Group shows:
“The average wage in India. currently stands at US$145 per month. ($1,740 a year)

“The White collar average wage is US$335 per month.” ($4,020 a year)
So that means the Tata Nano will be over 50% of the average annual wage of a White Collar person in the country where it will be available for procurement. Apples to apples.
But then the current Indian economy is probably about as economicaly developed as the US economy was then the Model T came out, so this is expected. (Traveller does not distinguish between TL and economic development so while actual TL in India is better, we're really talking about overall techno-economic capacity.)

What Traveller says is that if a US worker earns $40,000 a year and a cheap car costs $10,000 in the US, if that worker emigrates to India he should expect to pay $100,000 from his US savings account for the same
car in India.

Remember, Traveller Credits are a universal currency. If Traveller was just saying that the cost relative to local earnings should be vastly inflated, that would be logical. Instead it's saying the absolute value of the commodity relative to an interstellar standard should be vastly inflated, and that makes no sense.

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Postby aspqrz » Fri May 23, 2008 12:43 pm

dafrca wrote:Ok Phil, fair enough.
aspqrz wrote: Apples and apples, old son, not apples and premium grade cherries.
Great idea. Let’s look at Apples to Apples.
aspqrz wrote: The Tata Nano, US$2500.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7180396.stm
Ok we have a car that *IF* sold in the US would be about $2500 plus taxes and import fees. But as far as I can find out is not available in the US. So let’s look at the car’s price compared to the salary of an Indian so that we are doing a true Apples to Apples as you request.
Nope, you miss the point I'm making *again*.
dafrca wrote:The Hay Group shows:
“The average wage in India. currently stands at US$145 per month. ($1,740 a year)

“The White collar average wage is US$335 per month.” ($4,020 a year)
So that means the Tata Nano will be over 50% of the average annual wage of a White Collar person in the country where it will be available for procurement. Apples to apples.

Interesting. :D
But a) irrelevant and b) misleading.

What I was talking about what the cost of making equivalent things.

Note that the Tata Nano is being produced at something resembling TL/USA rather than TL/Indian Peasant Village ...

But it represents the modern day equivalent of a Ford Model T in real terms.

The Chevy Aveo represents the modern day equivalent of ... what people with lots of money want in terms of what they perceive as a "basic" automobile, which doesn't really resemble what a Model T provided.

Strip out the airbags, the aircon, CD player and all sorts of consumer fripperies and you'll strip several thousand dollars off the Aveo's price as well, and get closer to the standard of the Nano.

I could point to the Hindustan Ambassador (in production still), the VW Bug (2003), the Renault 2CV (1990), the Niki, the Russian Ladas (Fiat 124) etc. all of which are relatively recent in production and mostly unchanged.

Because they cost less than more advanced cars, especially when manufactured with more advanced manufacturing tech.

The point is not what you bloated plutocrats in the US are suckered into spending extra on, but what the more or less equivalent would cost.
dafrca wrote:I think zozotroll is right, the computers would have been a better example for the point you were trying to make.
Which is why I also mentioned computers in the original post 8)
dafrca wrote:Seriously, I think the real issue is this: Does the game use price as a game mechanic to encourage lower tech use? Have they made the cost higher on the higher tech to help give folks a reason to still take the older tech even when it is not as good? I believe the answer is yes.
Which is what I said. Design decisions at the initial stage. Decisions that make no sense in an 1100 year state whose sole purpose for existing is to promote and protect huge volumes of interstellar trade.
dafrca wrote:That is my opinions, and as you say, worth what it cost. :wink: :lol:
If it keeps you happy ... fine ... it never has to me and has always ... grated ... because it isn't internally consistent with the stated purpose of the Imperium and its stated age :shock:

Phil
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Postby aspqrz » Fri May 23, 2008 12:51 pm

SableWyvern wrote:I would suggest that, as long as there are TL6, 7, 8, 9, 10 worlds out there that will import as much TL15 gear as they can afford, the price of that TL15 stuff will remain artificially inflated.

I can't produce a coherent, economically sound argument to that effect, but it goes a long way to explaining why the Imperium isn't rapidly approaching technological homogenity, and gives PCs some reason to possibly buy lower tech (beyond the more limited access to repair and product support for high-tech gear).


Edit: Also --
Jame Rowe wrote:I quite agree with Black, Smaller Dragon-Kin here.
:)
1) The Imperium is eleven hundred years old in that time, if there ever was any premium on high tech, its gone.

2) In the only example we can actually look at ... well, there isn't a hugely bloated premium on cutting edge tech in the third world ... computers (or mobile phones ... or mp3 players ... or cars ... or books) don't cost 600x their cost in the country of manufacture, for example, yet we are supposed to believe that in an interstellar trading economy a 5000 Cr TL15 computer will cost 600x more, at least, on a TL6 world.

Pull the other one, as we say here in Oz, it plays 'jingle bells'.

Any "premium" will be, maybe, for most things, a markup of, I would guess, 20-50% over actual import price + taxes ... if that much ... for the simple reason that an interstellar trading economy means that there is ... competition ... that makes price gouging ... unlikely.

You could, barely, make the argument that the TL15 manufacturing worlds aren't *really* TL15, except in a few areas where the tech is really scarce bleeding edge stuff ... but so what? The TL6 planet merely buys the plentiful and even cheape TL13 or TL14 computers.

Nope, the argument doesn't fly.

Phil
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Postby aspqrz » Fri May 23, 2008 12:53 pm

simonh wrote: Remember, Traveller Credits are a universal currency. If Traveller was just saying that the cost relative to local earnings should be vastly inflated, that would be logical. Instead it's saying the absolute value of the commodity relative to an interstellar standard should be vastly inflated, and that makes no sense.
Exactly. Couldn't have put it better myself.

Phil
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Postby SableWyvern » Fri May 23, 2008 1:33 pm

aspqrz wrote:Nope, the argument doesn't fly.
Note my admission that I can't manage a coherent or economically sound argument in defence of my position. :wink:
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Postby aspqrz » Fri May 23, 2008 1:41 pm

SableWyvern wrote:
aspqrz wrote:Nope, the argument doesn't fly.
Note my admission that I can't manage a coherent or economically sound argument in defence of my position. :wink:
And I'll be the first to admit that my explanation probably wasn't coherent enough, either :oops:

Phil
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Postby zozotroll » Fri May 23, 2008 2:24 pm

The other half of buying is of course selling. While I would not get the full 600x mark-up, I would happily haul computers in my far trader a couple jumps to sell for 300x, or even 200x.

Strangely, no GM has ever allowed that. Maybe a 100% mark-up, but not even a measily 50x one. That middleman is makeing mega bucks.

And, considering what passage costs, it is cheaper to go your self from your tl6 home, shop and come back than to buy there. Does it really make sense that no merchant would take advantage of that, and fill the need at a lower price?
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Postby zozotroll » Fri May 23, 2008 2:26 pm

Thats why the second Imp crashed. They could not figure out that 200x was better than 50%. Of course I wonder how such math deprived folks could manage jump calculations.

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