Basic Assumptions

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Lemnoc
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Basic Assumptions

Postby Lemnoc » Fri Dec 23, 2011 4:58 pm

I have an opportunity to run Traveller again after many years away. My old gaming group had several assumptions about the OTU, and I wonder if they still work and are relevant with new and revised material:

1. Electronics Don't Work Very Well in Jump Space. Jump space exudes some kind of dampening field that limits the workings of sophisticated electronics. That's why ships, even X-boats, need human/biological pilots and crews. That's why computers are oversized and underpowered. It also means that fancy things like food replicators and processors don't work so well, and that crews need to store foods and—gasp—cook for weeks on end.

2. Money Is Everything. There are no central banks in a non-Imperial setting, and writs and guarantees are rare on the frontier. A ship basically carries its money as electronic data in a Vault. Vaults are owned and installed (and secured and policed) by a Bank. The balance, all or part, can be transferred to a downport and adventurers can draw off that (rather than carrying cash around). Even E Ports can handle Vault transfers. Just before one jumps, one can transfer back any remaining balance to the Vault. It is time-stamped and needs to synch up with the jump log within a minute, or it will not be considered negotiable when one arrives at a destination (this discourages crooks [players] from drawing out all the money to a secondary source a few hours before jumping away). Thus, doing your banking is one of the last things you do before jumping away. And if it's not done right, there's an adventure waiting on the other side.

Do these assumptions still work? They seem to explain two thorny things pretty easily.
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Re: Basic Assumptions

Postby Vargrz » Fri Dec 23, 2011 5:18 pm

Those assumption work to justify the need for crew and the need for large computers.
However, it does not have to be that way. Remember that despite being hard science fiction, it is still fiction so almost anything goes as long as you can remain consistent and the players accept your vision.

I love Traveller because you can bend the rules without breaking them. I think Mongoose is the best version to date! Bear in mind I played the original in the high school (I graduated in 1981!).

Have fun, and it the original rational for big computers and crew work for you...keep them...

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Re: Basic Assumptions

Postby BP » Fri Dec 23, 2011 8:00 pm

Should work great - MgT makes some mention of currency handling in several supplements, IIRC, but its nothing you can't ignore - no rule mechanics are affected.

As to Jump space causing computers to have limits - since Traveller is basically Soft Space Opera Sci-Fi, it fits nicely :P :lol:
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Re: Basic Assumptions

Postby Lemnoc » Fri Dec 23, 2011 9:12 pm

BP wrote:As to Jump space causing computers to have limits - since Traveller is basically Soft Space Opera Sci-Fi, it fits nicely :P :lol:
I recall Niven explaining navigation in hyperspace required a psionic device that had to be operated by a human pilot. It seemed a sweet, consistent concession to the whole idea future pilots wouldn't be robots.

Likewise, making electronics weakened in jump space makes things like mechanical meters and gauges and valves somehow less absurd and more retro at the same time. Magic technology gets replaced by something perhaps more resembling our era...

...

The financial tweak came about as a result of our sandbox play as rogue wanderers, IIRC. Years ago, my group spent considerable time figuring out how to defraud and hack the OTU financial system. Don't want to go through that again.

The RAW says something about an option to wire money ahead, but one of the basic OTU notions is all info is courier'd. Out on the far frontiers, players are often the couriers. So... players should be able to courier their own secure banking info, yes?
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Re: Basic Assumptions

Postby BP » Fri Dec 23, 2011 10:27 pm

Dune comes to mind, as well... :wink:

In my early CT days, ships used relatively bulky fluidic systems for critical processing - due to the extremes of radiation exposure in earlier times. Systems evolved to where this was unnecessary - but the production markets were already established. Starship systems had become a mix of fluidic, photonic and electronic components.

Also, in my early CT days, credits were carried - no electronic cards even. Reason merchant ships were armed and weapons were allowed most everywhere (IMTU). Ships were sovereign territory and turret weapons mostly useless for anti-ship operations - just point defense. Only worked at basically adjacent range - thus supporting fighters. It was dangerous small starship to small starship because a target could use M-Drive and his ship as a weapon. So pirates had a rough time - but then they also had a lot of incentive.

It was also a great way to tie up or take away all the player's coin! :twisted:
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Re: Basic Assumptions

Postby hector » Sun Dec 25, 2011 3:37 pm

To be honest, I'd guess that banking between systems would probably work much as it did between nations back in the age of sail: you carry proof of your banking details (likely in the form of an encrypted data-card or some such), and the bank within that system will arrange credit for you. They will then get in touch with the bank that has your details (something that would take a good few weeks) in order to arrange for funds to be transferred from your account to their bank in order to pay off the credit. If the money doesn't get paid back, then word spreads, much the same way as for when you fail to pay for your ship mortgage.
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Re: Basic Assumptions

Postby Easterner » Mon Dec 26, 2011 12:20 am

False assumption 1: Big computers, Hmmmmm my Ships Mongoosetl 14 weighs 1 pound. What do you have one of those Millergdwgurptl 7 50 tonners? Get with the modern age those are soooo Cleon. Conversely ships have pilots, navigators, stewards and engineers because the AI versions were hated by most and outlawed centuries ago. People especially those attracted to Mech/piloting careers like hands on. Subbing AI for people belongs to scientist geek types.

Secondly ships lack amenities because of their bad design. Ship designs are done by those who've never sailed. Basicly 95% of the designs out there are U-boats. A U-boat had no cold storage, no refrigeration and raw food, 100-150 rounds of cannon ammo and 14 or 22 torps with 58 men squeezed in as an afterthought. TRAV designs are usually made to "exist" in it for apprx 14 days then get out and party at the next port of call. So ships lack sophisticated pantries, kitchens, sewage systems, rec facilities, swimming pools, spas, ice cream parlors, tennis courts, laundry facilities, post office, chapels and other hometown treats you'll find on yachts, cruise liners, BB's, CV's, CA's and to a lesser extent on CL's and DD's. Not a major problem on the Rim or by Capital or on the Spinward Main, major problem when off the beaten path and little to do in cramped standard designs. Take the two Scout Cruisers Quasar & Macchi, they are less amenable than ships of Nelson's day where at least you could have ratline races and music and dancing on deck in fresh air at night.

Oddly two of the best designs are Annic Nova and Kinunir both ancient designs yet you find Mech & Elec shops, chapels, garbage disposals, libraries, rec halls, TV's, bars aboard.
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Re: Basic Assumptions

Postby AndrewW » Mon Dec 26, 2011 7:12 am

Easterner wrote:Secondly ships lack amenities because of their bad design. Ship designs are done by those who've never sailed. Basicly 95% of the designs out there are U-boats. A U-boat had no cold storage, no refrigeration and raw food, 100-150 rounds of cannon ammo and 14 or 22 torps with 58 men squeezed in as an afterthought. TRAV designs are usually made to "exist" in it for apprx 14 days then get out and party at the next port of call. So ships lack sophisticated pantries, kitchens, sewage systems, rec facilities, swimming pools, spas, ice cream parlors, tennis courts, laundry facilities, post office, chapels and other hometown treats you'll find on yachts, cruise liners, BB's, CV's, CA's and to a lesser extent on CL's and DD's. Not a major problem on the Rim or by Capital or on the Spinward Main, major problem when off the beaten path and little to do in cramped standard designs. Take the two Scout Cruisers Quasar & Macchi, they are less amenable than ships of Nelson's day where at least you could have ratline races and music and dancing on deck in fresh air at night.

Oddly two of the best designs are Annic Nova and Kinunir both ancient designs yet you find Mech & Elec shops, chapels, garbage disposals, libraries, rec halls, TV's, bars aboard.
I figure some amenities are included in the common areas for the crew and passangers, TV's could be in the staterooms or common areas for example, more so if there are some luxuries. Engineering would include some workshop space. There are a couple of repair ships with dedicated workshop space though. Libraries are a standard ship component and are included on some ship designs.
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Re: Basic Assumptions

Postby GypsyComet » Mon Dec 26, 2011 7:23 am

Easterner wrote: Oddly two of the best designs are Annic Nova and Kinunir both ancient designs yet you find Mech & Elec shops, chapels, garbage disposals, libraries, rec halls, TV's, bars aboard.
Both date from the days when Traveller was not yet fixed in a setting, and its outside inspirations were a lot more apparent. The Kinunir class has many of those things because the Rodger Young does.

Many ship designs over the years of Traveller are rather spartan because of the people drawing deckplans. A lot of folks don't go to the trouble of adding decent common areas, drawing in freshers, or adding "labs" (a shop is a "Mechanics Lab") if they didn't pay the tonnage for them.
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Re: Basic Assumptions

Postby far-trader » Mon Dec 26, 2011 5:47 pm

AndrewW wrote:
Easterner wrote:Secondly ships lack amenities because of their bad design. Ship designs are done by those who've never sailed. Basicly 95% of the designs out there are U-boats. A U-boat had no cold storage, no refrigeration and raw food, 100-150 rounds of cannon ammo and 14 or 22 torps with 58 men squeezed in as an afterthought. TRAV designs are usually made to "exist" in it for apprx 14 days then get out and party at the next port of call. So ships lack sophisticated pantries, kitchens, sewage systems, rec facilities, swimming pools, spas, ice cream parlors, tennis courts, laundry facilities, post office, chapels and other hometown treats you'll find on yachts, cruise liners, BB's, CV's, CA's and to a lesser extent on CL's and DD's. Not a major problem on the Rim or by Capital or on the Spinward Main, major problem when off the beaten path and little to do in cramped standard designs. Take the two Scout Cruisers Quasar & Macchi, they are less amenable than ships of Nelson's day where at least you could have ratline races and music and dancing on deck in fresh air at night.

Oddly two of the best designs are Annic Nova and Kinunir both ancient designs yet you find Mech & Elec shops, chapels, garbage disposals, libraries, rec halls, TV's, bars aboard.
I figure some amenities are included in the common areas for the crew and passangers, TV's could be in the staterooms or common areas for example, more so if there are some luxuries. Engineering would include some workshop space. There are a couple of repair ships with dedicated workshop space though. Libraries are a standard ship component and are included on some ship designs.
I wasn't going to step into this, and simply self-delude myself into thinking Easterner meant this in the OP sense of "different" Basic Assumptions :)

As AndrewW notes, such items have long (CT Book 2 iirc, CT Book 5 certainly) been included in the Stateroom tonnage. Being left up to the ref/designer to designate exactly what amenities to include and describe. Recreation facilities, medical facilities, repair facilities, armouries, etc. etc. etc... All left to the players' imagination.

The Kinunir and Annic Nova are both excellent original examples of applying the game's notes to the task of fully describing a ship and using one's imagination as intended. At least originally. Later rules tried (failing miserably imo) to substitute more options in the place of imagination* by specifying costs and tons etc. for every type of amenity they could think of. All but insuring complaints of "Why isn't there (fill in overlooked amenity)?" and "How much is (fill in overlooked amenity)?"

* apparently bowing to gamers' "suggestions" for "improvements" to the rules
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Re: Basic Assumptions

Postby Tobias » Mon Dec 26, 2011 6:34 pm

far-trader wrote:As AndrewW notes, such items have long (CT Book 2 iirc, CT Book 5 certainly) been included in the Stateroom tonnage. Being left up to the ref/designer to designate exactly what amenities to include and describe. Recreation facilities, medical facilities, repair facilities, armouries, etc. etc. etc... All left to the players' imagination.
I think what Easterner meant was that this is often neglected in the actual deckplans as well.

I absolutely agree, though. A certain degree of abstraction, subsuming details in the major components, is preferable to tracking every single item like the later, super-detailed design systems did.
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Re: Basic Assumptions

Postby Lemnoc » Mon Dec 26, 2011 8:35 pm

Easterner wrote:Basicly 95% of the designs out there are U-boats.
Are they?

My experience is most designs are based around wedge shaped airframes—impractical for a variety of reasons, plus gravitics sort of renders aerodynamic considerations obsolete. Would actually love to see some U-boat style deckplans, since I'm basing my campaign in an early era where cramped, gritty and uncomfortable makes sense. I would agree, though, that in the Third Imperium, ship designs should be elegant, comfortable and highly functional. Several thousand years of advanced ship design should produce that.

But perhaps you meant U-boats only in the pejorative sense of ungainly craft with no amenities and crews as afterthoughts, not necessarily in terms of actual deck layout....
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Re: Basic Assumptions

Postby Easterner » Mon Jan 02, 2012 2:19 am

I meant U-Boat in the sense Traveller designs are meant for short haul specific missions. Few would be bearable long term. US subs had freezers so fresh frozen food and perishables could be carried and larger ships had more facilities. I specifically gave a whole laundry list of things ships lack. For instance someone said ships have libraries, no they have library programs, Kinunir had a library ROOM.

The average design gives you a nice room with desk, comp, fresher, bed, locker; what more can you ask for, plenty. Geeks, introverts, loners and social misfits might be happy shut in for months there. However having more and greater facilities which only become available at 800t and larger vessels would be greatly appreciated. That is why I dislike the Scout Cruiser designs. I have no prob with smaller ships, they are designed for the short haul as it maximizes the size limitations as the 800t U-Boats maximized their size limitations vs. the US 2000t subs which bigger had slightly more amenities.

Zoomable U-boat, note fresher. http://www.helmo.gr/index.php?option=co ... &Itemid=74
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Re: Basic Assumptions

Postby Lemnoc » Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:54 am

Easterner wrote:The average design gives you a nice room with desk, comp, fresher, bed, locker; what more can you ask for, plenty. Geeks, introverts, loners and social misfits might be happy shut in for months there.
Good points, good points. I guess I would add to your list merchants who consider cargo and credits more important than comfort.

One of the things I guess I admire about the old U-boat designs is the pragmatism involved building a torpedo delivery system. That was the ship's function, and everything was considered around that basic purpose. Except perhaps sanitation and the sanity of its crew. Everything extraneous to the mission was thrown overboard or left on the blueprint drafting table.

I guess I wish more Traveller ships were designed with this kind of mission monomania in mind. Gravitics would probably throw every notion of aerodynamic design to the stellar winds and yield the most improbable of deck plans for all but the essential mission. A real captain on a real merchant vessel would probably cram every spare inch with sellable cargo, including the bunks. The crew, who are enduring the rigors of space for the money it provides, would no doubt agree.

YTUMMV, but it is probably a consideration to keep in mind.
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Re: Basic Assumptions

Postby far-trader » Mon Jan 02, 2012 5:18 am

Easterner wrote: The average design gives you a nice room with desk, comp, fresher, bed, locker; what more can you ask for...
That's half of the stateroom tonnage allotment, the 'stateroom' itself. Now you may use the rest of the tonnage (with the costs possibly subsumed), collected from all the staterooms aboard, for access corridors, and other amenities such as:

Food Services (incl: mess halls, galleys, and ward rooms)

Science Areas (incl: labs and storerooms)

Electronics Areas (incl: commo suites, avionics, ECM suites, gunnery simulators, computer rooms, and parts storage)

Vehicle Decks (incl: garaging, maintenance bays, launching areas, and parts storage)

Recycling Stations (sound familiar yet ;) yes, the Kinunir specifically listed a recycling system and noted it on the deckplans - at least iirc it did)

Medical Areas (incl: isolation wards, surgeries, pharmacies, and examination rooms)

Recreational Facilities (incl: theatres, crafts shops, libraries, and pool rooms - note, I'm not sure if that means billiards or swimming, perhaps both, either, or some future underwater cue and pocket ball game ;) )

Agricultural Areas (incl: fresh food gardens, hydroponics areas, and algae tanks)

Troop Barracks (incl: squad ready areas, training rooms, armories, brigs, ammo magazines, vacc suit storage, drop capsule launch areas, and briefing rooms)

... all per CT HG 1st printing* upon which ships such as the Kinunir, and I think the King Richard, and others were designed.

And obviously anything else a ship designer's little heart desires. Not all ships will have all the above. Some ships will be too small to have much in the way of amenities at all (like the 100ton Scout) while others will be dressed up to the nines for their particular function (like the Kinunir and King Richard). Most will be somewhere in between but imo none will be as spartan and utilitarian as a U-Boat. The old CT Seeker conversion of the Type S comes closest being it has the smallest hull and only 2 staterooms. Even so it is quite luxurious and spacious compared to a U-Boat, especially as it only operates with a maximum of 4 people aboard, and more typically just 1 or 2 people.

* it's a shame that bit of CT HG 1st printing was missed in the 2nd printing. Along with a couple other bits. Especially since folks have been crying for just such things since then.
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Re: Basic Assumptions

Postby phavoc » Mon Jan 02, 2012 5:19 am

Lemnoc wrote:I have an opportunity to run Traveller again after many years away. My old gaming group had several assumptions about the OTU, and I wonder if they still work and are relevant with new and revised material:

1. Electronics Don't Work Very Well in Jump Space. Jump space exudes some kind of dampening field that limits the workings of sophisticated electronics. That's why ships, even X-boats, need human/biological pilots and crews. That's why computers are oversized and underpowered. It also means that fancy things like food replicators and processors don't work so well, and that crews need to store foods and—gasp—cook for weeks on end.
I would say that the Traveller electronic systems reflected the technology of the day, and partially because having everything automated would have reduced the possibilities for players to perform specific functions. It's much like Star Wars, because there you have gunners sitting in turrets trying to hit fighters that are point-blank to you. Lucas used WW2 as the basis for the fights because who wants to have a boring ship-to-ship combat where you can't see the enemy. Plus, being a gunner is kinda cool. I never took away from Traveller (any version) that electronics had problems functioning in jump space. I started with the original black books.

Advanced electronics, changes in design and such have relegated crew-served weapons to being obsolete on most ships. Food replication technology also really wasn't present at the time Traveller was written. Look at the original Star Trek.. they ate cubes of things out of replicators. Wasn't until ST - NG that food replication seemed 'tasty'.
Lemnoc wrote: 2. Money Is Everything. There are no central banks in a non-Imperial setting, and writs and guarantees are rare on the frontier. A ship basically carries its money as electronic data in a Vault. Vaults are owned and installed (and secured and policed) by a Bank. The balance, all or part, can be transferred to a downport and adventurers can draw off that (rather than carrying cash around). Even E Ports can handle Vault transfers. Just before one jumps, one can transfer back any remaining balance to the Vault. It is time-stamped and needs to synch up with the jump log within a minute, or it will not be considered negotiable when one arrives at a destination (this discourages crooks [players] from drawing out all the money to a secondary source a few hours before jumping away). Thus, doing your banking is one of the last things you do before jumping away. And if it's not done right, there's an adventure waiting on the other side.

Do these assumptions still work? They seem to explain two thorny things pretty easily.
Traveller does mention currency, in that your identity card also functions as a bank of sorts. You can travel to all sorts of places with your ID card holding your bank and make purchases - but within reason. Just like today, when you are transferring large sums of money they hold the transaction till it clears. In Traveller that would be the banking information being propagated by jump couriers. Worlds on the main X-boat routes would get the information fastest, and other worlds would eventually get caught up. It's not much different than how paper money and other forms of credit were transferred around the world until the modern age.

Moving between empires would slow down the transfer of money, and make it more advantageous to convert your electronic credits to physical money. Gives the referee a plot device to reduce the wealth of the PC's via fees and such. :)
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Re: Basic Assumptions

Postby far-trader » Mon Jan 02, 2012 5:26 am

I'm reminded by my post above (gratuitous plug in case anyone misses it due to the page flip ;) ) of a large liner I created for an old design competition. If I recall correctly it was 5,000tons with 100s of staterooms... I had a heck of a time coming up with what to do with all the amenities tonnage when doing the deckplans :)

I had a park/garden area with walking paths. A large swimming pool/beach area. A target range. A large mall concourse (on two levels iirc) with shops and services. etc. etc. etc.

Truly large ships have no problems providing features. Even smaller ones can be quite interesting.
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Re: Basic Assumptions

Postby renski » Mon Jan 02, 2012 10:56 am

Lemnoc wrote: My experience is most designs are based around wedge shaped airframes—impractical for a variety of reasons, plus gravitics sort of renders aerodynamic considerations obsolete.
Wedged ship designs actually make sense despite the lack of requirement of an aerodynamic shape. Firstly a wedge shape facing the enemy is an effective design for making yourself difficult to hit. You'll find that even old earth sea defences will taper as they approach the sea in a wedge like shape to make them more difficult to hit with ship based cannon.

Secondly, a wedge shape will present sloped armour to any incoming fire coming from in front. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sloped_armour

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