FTL Communication?

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Annatar Giftbringer
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FTL Communication?

Postby Annatar Giftbringer » Wed Sep 04, 2013 2:22 pm

Greetings,
Is it possible to communicate FTL in Traveller? 

Look at the following scenario:
I have a ship at planet A. I wish to travel to planet B. However, I also need to send a message to someone on planet C, and ideally get a response. Can this be done without sending a courier on another ship via planet c so I can expect an answer to planet b before I leave for my next destination? 

If I understand traveller correctly FTL travel works through creating a "warp bubble" around the ship. What happens if one creates a bubble and sends radio through instead of a ship? Or would it be feasible to send some kind of (disposable? Reusable?) drone through hyperspace consisting of little more than a tape recorder and a hyperdrive unit? Would the drone even need its own hyperdrive, or can a mothership create a bubble for it? 

Or is the only way to send another ship via planet c to deliver a message and then travel to me and my ship at planet b where I eagerly await an answer? 

I realize that the drone idea is no faster than sending a ship, but extra ships are not always available and/or I can't spare a crew member to travel with someone else/don't trust the other ships with my important info or whatever. 
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Re: FTL Communication?

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Wed Sep 04, 2013 2:26 pm

Stock Traveller uses ships to transport messages to other systems. The faster the ship, the faster the messages arrive. Not necessarily read, but in someone's inbox at least. Someone will probably copy/paste x-boat system info here.
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Re: FTL Communication?

Postby Annatar Giftbringer » Wed Sep 04, 2013 2:30 pm

So I'd need another ship, and either send the message with it (kind of like an email where one server has to be physically moved to the next destination) or send one of my crew members or a locked box or whatever, and the recipient would need to get hold of another ship headed from planet C to B where I'll be waiting?

And all FTL travel takes about a week, so it would take two weeks at a minimumto get a reply, correct?

Thanks for an extremely quick answer btw :)
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Re: FTL Communication?

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Wed Sep 04, 2013 2:47 pm

Annatar Giftbringer wrote:And all FTL travel takes about a week, so it would take two weeks at a minimumto get a reply, correct?
Yep. If the two office buildings were at both ends of that same jump distance. More than one ship comes-to leaves-from each planet during the day, unless your end of the route is in the sticks somewhere.
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Re: FTL Communication?

Postby F33D » Wed Sep 04, 2013 3:17 pm

Annatar Giftbringer wrote: If I understand traveller correctly FTL travel works through creating a "warp bubble" around the ship. What happens if one creates a bubble and sends radio through instead of a ship?  
No. Trav ships enter another dimension (jump space) using Jump drives. Thus, one can't sent a non-jump drive equipped ship through Jump space. Energy can't be "jumped".
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Re: FTL Communication?

Postby Annatar Giftbringer » Wed Sep 04, 2013 5:17 pm

F33D wrote:
Annatar Giftbringer wrote: If I understand traveller correctly FTL travel works through creating a "warp bubble" around the ship. What happens if one creates a bubble and sends radio through instead of a ship?  
No. Trav ships enter another dimension (jump space) using Jump drives. Thus, one can't sent a non-jump drive equipped ship through Jump space. Energy can't be "jumped".

Well, close enough :P
Is it possible to broadcast radio (or tachyon transmissions, or whatever) through the "jump dimension" to communicate over interstellar distances, does it have to be a physical object that travels?

Speaking of that, I assume the object traveling through jump space needs to maintain some kind of field effect to avoid a messy gruesome destruction, so it's not possible for a mothership to send a smaller vessel without its own jump drive (like Babylon 5)?

How small is it possible to make a jump-capable ship? I'm new to the game, haven't really gotte. To the finer details of shipbuilding yet. I'm thinking so e kind of automated droneship, no need for life support, cargo space or crew staterooms. Perhaps slap on a cryotube or two for interstellar lifeboat functions, but basically as small as possible, engine fuel and nothing else.

Fuel and reactor resources could perhaps even be supplied from the mothership launching the drone, if the drone has enough power to "maintain jump". Or perhPs it can't work like that?

What I'm thinking is basically some kind of emergency communication drone that a ship can carry externally attached to its hull, to launch toward inhabited space when your own ship either can't make a jump or needs to continue to even more remote locations.

But if the hyperspace communication drone ends up as large as the ship itself, I'll scratch the idea :)
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Re: FTL Communication?

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Wed Sep 04, 2013 5:29 pm

Annatar Giftbringer wrote:Is it possible to broadcast radio (or tachyon transmissions, or whatever) through the "jump dimension" to communicate over interstellar distances
Jumpspace is not a wormhole/tunnel thing. It is just another dimension, or alternate space. A bubble surrounds a ship (kind of like a protection bubble) while it travels in jumpspace. The ship is stationary in the bubble. Not in stasis though. Time is not stopped inside the bubble (unless there was a horrific mis-jump).

Stuff outside the bubble stays put and does not travel in jumpspace. I've seen accidents where a bubble has cut a ship in half. Causing half of the ship to remain while the other half is destroyed in jumpspace with pieces of the remains mis-jumping.

Jump-drives require fuel. So the structures for them tend to be huge.
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Re: FTL Communication?

Postby Sigtrygg » Wed Sep 04, 2013 5:42 pm

In most versions of Traveller core rules the minimum hull size needed for a jump drive in is 100 displacement tons, and now for the exceptions.

In CT as originally published in '77 a ship missile was a available with a jump drive, there was even an early adventure (A:4 Leviathan) that had an exploratory merchant carry them for sending messages or distress signals.

They were never mentioned in High Guard 1 or 2, they were missing from CT '81 revised edition, MT didn't mention them either.

Then came TNE. In TNE it is possible to put a jump engine in a small craft or even a large missile (missiles in TNE are much larger beasts than the typical 50kg missile in most other versions) and so the jump torpedo returned.

Basically if you want to include message torpedoes in your Traveller universe there is precedent, and if you have a completely home-brew setting you can have any form of FTL comms you want.
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Re: FTL Communication?

Postby phavoc » Wed Sep 04, 2013 5:56 pm

Communication in Traveller travels at the speed of mail. You can use the "Post office", or the regular X-boat network. Or, if you have the money, you can send something via "Fed-ex", and hire your own vessel to deliver the message.

That's probably the best analogy. Locations off the beaten path / X-boat network take longer to get messages to. But it's possible to send a fast enough courier directly to them rather than wait for something (message or package) to be routed through the normal mail network.

In either case a ship has to physically be in the system to deliver a message from another system.
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Re: FTL Communication?

Postby AdrianH » Wed Sep 04, 2013 6:26 pm

Annatar Giftbringer wrote:How small is it possible to make a jump-capable ship? I'm new to the game, haven't really gotte. To the finer details of shipbuilding yet. I'm thinking so e kind of automated droneship, no need for life support, cargo space or crew staterooms. Perhaps slap on a cryotube or two for interstellar lifeboat functions, but basically as small as possible, engine fuel and nothing else.
Other than the fact that it does have life support and accomodation for one pilot, the X-boat is pretty well what you've described. It's basically a 100 ton hull containing the biggest jump drive which will fit, along with a power plant and enough fuel for one jump. It doesn't even have a manoeuvre drive, making the X-boat helpless once it has arrived in the destination system until a mothership (X-boat tender) comes along to refuel it and send it on its way.
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Re: FTL Communication?

Postby Reynard » Wed Sep 04, 2013 6:33 pm

Vector: A quantity, such as velocity, completely specified by a magnitude and a direction

From what I'm reading in the Starship Operator's Manual the ship doesn't actually stand still in jumpspace. It has a plotted vector to a destination. Jump engines loosen the barrier between Realspace and the increasingly difficult 'weave' of the each dimension known as jumpspaces. The ship enters the desired dimensional level taking advantage of it particular time/space properties to move to its goal. Within the bubble, it seems velocity is nil because you're surrounded by a finite one meter thick piece of realspace moving at the exact same velocity.

Jumpspace travel is confined to an encompassed object carrying the means to independently navigate and pilot jumpspace. A signal has no way to do this without the computers and drives to accomplish the feat.

The only way to have FTL communication in a 'hard science' RPG like Traveller would be quantum entanglement. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_entanglement Each time a colony is established half of a 'quantum radio' is there. Signals are instantaneous.
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Re: FTL Communication?

Postby Annatar Giftbringer » Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:38 pm

Sigtrygg wrote:In most versions of Traveller core rules the minimum hull size needed for a jump drive in is 100 displacement tons, and now for the exceptions.

In CT as originally published in '77 a ship missile was a available with a jump drive, there was even an early adventure (A:4 Leviathan) that had an exploratory merchant carry them for sending messages or distress signals.

They were never mentioned in High Guard 1 or 2, they were missing from CT '81 revised edition, MT didn't mention them either.

Then came TNE. In TNE it is possible to put a jump engine in a small craft or even a large missile (missiles in TNE are much larger beasts than the typical 50kg missile in most other versions) and so the jump torpedo returned.

Basically if you want to include message torpedoes in your Traveller universe there is precedent, and if you have a completely home-brew setting you can have any form of FTL comms you want.
Yes! Great, this is exactly what I was looking for, perfect! I imagine they will be expensive and rare, but a great addition to a ship that expects to be out of reach from time to time! Plus it should be possible to strap a cryo berth or two to the torpedo if things go very very bad... (Btw, what's TNE?)

As you say, in my setting I can do whatever I'd like, but I'd like to at least start with the regular rules and setting, saves me a lot of work :-)



Is there any way to affect the travel time in jump space? As far as I understand, every jump always takes one week, and the only thing you can change is how far you can travel in a single jump, correct? Is there no way to make the jump faster?

Also, is the amount of fuel required for a jump dependant on the size of the vessel?



Thanks everyone for explaining and participating so far :-)
Last edited by Annatar Giftbringer on Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: FTL Communication?

Postby Annatar Giftbringer » Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:41 pm

AdrianH wrote:
Annatar Giftbringer wrote:How small is it possible to make a jump-capable ship? I'm new to the game, haven't really gotte. To the finer details of shipbuilding yet. I'm thinking so e kind of automated droneship, no need for life support, cargo space or crew staterooms. Perhaps slap on a cryotube or two for interstellar lifeboat functions, but basically as small as possible, engine fuel and nothing else.
Other than the fact that it does have life support and accomodation for one pilot, the X-boat is pretty well what you've described. It's basically a 100 ton hull containing the biggest jump drive which will fit, along with a power plant and enough fuel for one jump. It doesn't even have a manoeuvre drive, making the X-boat helpless once it has arrived in the destination system until a mothership (X-boat tender) comes along to refuel it and send it on its way.
After a quick google-fu session I can say that the X-boat seems like an interresting ship, but a bit too large to tow around for a small/medium ship. At least, a bit too large for what I was thinking.
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Re: FTL Communication?

Postby phavoc » Wed Sep 04, 2013 9:11 pm

Annatar Giftbringer wrote:Yes! Great, this is exactly what I was looking for, perfect! I imagine they will be expensive and rare, but a great addition to a ship that expects to be out of reach from time to time! Plus it should be possible to strap a cryo berth or two to the torpedo if things go very very bad... (Btw, what's TNE?)
TNE = Traveller, New Era. It was a vision of the Traveller universe after a big civil war and many things changed.

Annatar Giftbringer wrote:Is there any way to affect the travel time in jump space? As far as I understand, every jump always takes one week, and the only thing you can change is how far you can travel in a single jump, correct? Is there no way to make the jump faster?
No. A jump is fixed at 1 week, plus/minus a variable you determine by throwing some dice. You can determine jump distance (i.e. across a star system or up to 6 parsecs). But time spent in jump is fixed.
Annatar Giftbringer wrote:Also, is the amount of fuel required for a jump dependant on the size of the vessel?
Jump fuel is calculated based on the size of your vessel * the number of parsecs you are jumping. A jump of 1 parsec or less consumes the same amount of fuel. A jump of 6 parsecs will burn 6 x the amount of fuel that a 1 parsec will burn. But all jumps take the same amount of time (1 week).
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Re: FTL Communication?

Postby F33D » Wed Sep 04, 2013 9:37 pm

Annatar Giftbringer wrote: Is it possible to broadcast radio (or tachyon transmissions, or whatever) through the "jump dimension" to communicate over interstellar distances, does it have to be a physical object that travels?
The ONLY way to enter jump space is with a jump drive equipped ship. Energy can't be sent through.
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Re: FTL Communication?

Postby FreeTrav » Wed Sep 04, 2013 10:18 pm

The thing to remember about interstellar communications, regardless of the actual method, is that the speed of communication will have an effect on the centralization of control of interstellar organizations - when communication between Headquarters and Ish Kabibble (or the Colonial Office and the viceroy/governor at Ish Kabibble) can take a month or more for a simple exchange of basic information, the people "on the spot" at Ish Kabibble are going to have a lot more leeway and autonomy than if Headquarters/Colonial Office can send a request in the morning and expect a response before dinner that same day. Granted, HQ/CO doesn't have to exercise control - they might, as a matter of policy, devolve control to the lower levels and leave the people "on the spot" with a great degree of autonomy - but the potential for that control is there.

More succinctly - the faster you can get help or advice from 'home' when you need it, the easier it is for 'home' to impose unwanted 'help' or orders on you.
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Re: FTL Communication?

Postby locarno24 » Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:41 am

The ONLY way to enter jump space is with a jump drive equipped ship. Energy can't be sent through.
It's the same reason that the OTU setting doesn't include anything like a Buck Rogers 'stargate' - the jump drive itself, and whatever it may be physically attached to, is what gets thrown into the jump bubble - you can't 'project' the bubble onto something else.


There is additional canon for 'courier drones' being used by the ancients - see the Secrets of the Ancients adventures, where they're mentioned as the primary way of the empire's systems communicating prior to the really miraculous tech being developed.
Plus it should be possible to strap a cryo berth or two to the torpedo if things go very very bad...

Theoretically.

A 100dTon jump-6 'courier drone' only really works if you've strapped quite a bit of miniaturization to it - your 100 dTons volume needs to accomodate a jump-C (default volume 20 dTons), a fusion-C (default volume 10 dTons), a bridge* (default volume 10 dTons) and enough fuel to make a 6 parsec jump (60 dTons).

That's your entire volume allowance taken up, even without any sublight manouvring ability at all.
Obviously high TL jump drive and fusion installations will help, but only so much - after all, jump-6 is only available to start with at TL15.

* remember that volume for the bridge also covers control runs, the computer installation, and a standard electronics suite, so most of it will still be there even in a theoretically 'unmanned' ship, similar to the drone control units for small craft)
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Re: FTL Communication?

Postby F33D » Thu Sep 05, 2013 3:43 pm

locarno24 wrote:
* remember that volume for the bridge also covers control runs, the computer installation, and a standard electronics suite, so most of it will still be there even in a theoretically 'unmanned' ship, similar to the drone control units for small craft)
In the Scouts books they made a ship with a smaller than compact bridge. A large computer was installed. I wonder if the design was intentional?
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Re: FTL Communication?

Postby GypsyComet » Thu Sep 05, 2013 4:18 pm

Between TNE's smaller jump-capable ships, the jump torps from Leviathan (I don't think they are in CT '77, but I'll look), and the CT and MGT Drive Potential Tables, the implications are that 100 dtons is not the minimum so much as it is the *safe* minimum, and that anything below 200 dtons is on a reliability curve. 100 dtons is still "acceptable risk" but below that the banks won't loan you money, the shipyards aren't insurance certified, and you take your life in your hands actually jumping in something that small. Leviathan's jump torps were noted as having a frightening failure rate.
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Re: FTL Communication?

Postby F33D » Thu Sep 05, 2013 4:37 pm

GypsyComet wrote:Between TNE's smaller jump-capable ships, the jump torps from Leviathan (I don't think they are in CT '77, but I'll look), and the CT and MGT Drive Potential Tables, the implications are that 100 dtons is not the minimum so much as it is the *safe* minimum, and that anything below 200 dtons is on a reliability curve. 100 dtons is still "acceptable risk" but below that the banks won't loan you money, the shipyards aren't insurance certified, and you take your life in your hands actually jumping in something that small. Leviathan's jump torps were noted as having a frightening failure rate.
Yes, as the minimum commercial drive gives a 100 ton ship J2, I wondered about that too. A J1 100 ton ship would be interesting to build.

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