Scholar - A New Book

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
rust
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Re: Scholar - A New Book

Postby rust » Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:20 pm

The problem with Traveller is that the activities of scientists
who work in the field in often dangerous environments over-
lap with the activities of Scouts, who are basically scientists
in Imperial service. On the other hand, since the Traveller
Scouts have no research rules and invention rules, they are
rather lame scientists and engineers who lack the methods
to do science or engineering. This is where a Scholar book
could come in.
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Re: Scholar - A New Book

Postby alex_greene » Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:26 pm

I might remind you that scholars in real life have had spectacular adventures in the past, and some have been spectacular adventurers.

Tycho Brahe got his nose cut off in a duel.
Charles Darwin was just a snotty brat when he got put on the SS Beagle. At the end of his long voyage he came back and established his name as one of the most influential scientists in history.
Jung wrote The Red Book after a terrifying internal journey which a Traveller player could call a "psionic awakening." His works revolutionised psychology and psychotherapy.
J Robert Oppenheimer got into trouble during the Cold War, even though he had invented The Bomb.
Richard Feynman got into bongo playing, learning Portuguese and safecracking, and towards the end of his life he discovered the cause of the fatal flaw, the corrupted O-seals, that led to the destruction of the Challenger space shuttle.
Alan Turing got into scrapes after his invention of modern electronic computing and the concept of the algorithm - his only crime; being gay.
Carl Sagan and his descendants-in-trade Neil deGrasse Tyson and Brian Cox made their name as television presenters - Professor Cox himself has a background in music, as does Dr Brian May and as did the late Dr Patrick Moore.
Then there are engineers I admire such as Dennis Gabor (invented holography), Theodore Maiman (invented the laser), Erno Rubik (inventor of the Cube) and Nikola Tesla.
And let's also remember the female scholars: Hypatia of Alexandria, Shakuntala Devi, Sophie Germain, Ada Lovelace, Emmy Noether (mathematics); Rear Admiral Grace Hopper (computing - she, among many other things, invented COBOL and the term "debugging"); Emilie du Chatelet, Dame Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell (discoverer of pulsars), Marie Curie and Else Meitner (nuclear physics - both got elements of the Periodic Table named after them), Irène Curie-Joliot, Marie's daughter, for her discoveries in natural and artificial radioactivity (she too received a Nobel Prize; she too died of radiation poisoning) ; Mary Anning (dug out what she thought was a crocodile skeleton - turned out to be a fossil, thus giving birth to palaeontology and revolutionising everything we knew about the world), Rosalind Franklin (who just got pipped to the post as the discoverer of the double helix structure of DNA by Watson and Crick) ...

Like I said, Scholar is not for the lab rats who toil and sweat and retire without a single prize or award to their names. It's meant as a tribute to all of those names above, many of whom I would consider my heroes.

Edit: Thank you for reminding me about geologists! Geologists are awesome! :)
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rust
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Re: Scholar - A New Book

Postby rust » Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:30 pm

Don't forget the ethnologists who lived with not always peaceful
tribes in remote jungles, the biologists who searched for new spe-
cies in the most unpleasant of environments, the epidemiologists
who spent much of their life in desaster areas - and so on and on.
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Re: Scholar - A New Book

Postby DickTurpin » Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:31 pm

Wil Mireu wrote:Honestly, sometimes I think people think TV shows and the movies are actually reality. Traveller isn't a game about propagating naff TV/movie memes. It's about "gritty scifi in space".
I think most people who have made it through grade school realize that TV shows are not reality, "Reality Shows" are not reality, heck, a case could be made that even the nightly news is not reality. Certainly Fox News and MSNBC can report the same event in two wildly different ways.

But Traveller games and TV have a very strong link; they are both Entertainment. If your group prefers "gritty Sci-fi in space", great; just don't denigrate those who prefer a more cinematic type of experience. Since the whole premise of the game ignores limitations of physical laws as they are currently understood it should not matter very much exactly where on the spectrum of suspended disbelief a gaming group might enjoy playing the game.
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Re: Scholar - A New Book

Postby Wil Mireu » Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:33 pm

GypsyComet wrote:I'm going to guess that you don't know any Geologists. Even the ones who aren't out in remote locations with heavy equipment and high explosives prefer time as far from civilization as possible to lab time. A subset of them run *toward* erupting volcanos, too.
Where on earth do you get this from?

Field geology usually involves walking around all day mapping strata, digging up fossils, etc. Any "heavy equipment and high explosives" are only used in resource exploitation and civil engineering. And like most scientists, most geologists do spend a lot of time in the lab writing papers, running models and doing experimental work.

Funnily enough, I've known a lot of Volcanologists in my time, and they do NOT "run towards erupting volcanoes" - they're not stupid. They drive or fly around them, taking samples, keeping a safe distance etc. They know the risks better than anyone else, but even then some have been known to get too caught up in the science to realise the danger they're in, and sadly some have died as a result (or just as a result of unforseen eruptions that they were too close to). I've heard of some who almost died by being trapped in pockets of CO2 or SO2 gas. Some of the ones I've known have walked over lava flows, on the solid crust above them -that may seem 'crazy' to outsiders, but actually the crust is often thick enough to walk on.

The Volcanologists are going to have Battledress.
I would say that "Battledress" is the last thing you need at a Volcano. People aren't going to lower themselves into an active lava lake or anything.
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Re: Scholar - A New Book

Postby alex_greene » Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:34 pm

rust wrote:The problem with Traveller is that the activities of scientists who work in the field in often dangerous environments overlap with the activities of Scouts, who are basically scientists
in Imperial service. On the other hand, since the Traveller Scouts have no research rules and invention rules, they are rather lame scientists and engineers who lack the methods to do science or engineering. This is where a Scholar book could come in.
Scouts also do a spot of couriering and occasional spy work for their governments.

Scholars come and go, more or less, as their curiosity dictates. There might not be any particular interest in a star with a weird spectral signature, indicating the presence of elements that should not be there - but whereas a Scout might be ordered to go and investigate that star to formulate a report to take back for others to process, and could thus be said to be acting under orders, a scientist would likely go there out of pure curiosity, with no Service backup, and research the phenomenon for no other reason than for the sake of research and to satisfy his curiosity.

A Scout might handle a piece of Ancient tech and catalogue it, perhaps even take it back home for the Service to catalogue and file away somewhere; a Citizen engineer might look at it, think "How in Finagle's name does that work?" and see if he can reverse-engineer some prototech that does the same or something similar.

And a scientist might look at the device and gain an insight which could ultimately lead his society onto the ladder up to the next Technological Level.
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Re: Scholar - A New Book

Postby alex_greene » Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:37 pm

Wil Mireu wrote:Funnily enough, I've known a lot of Volcanologists in my time, and they do NOT "run towards erupting volcanoes" - they're not stupid. They drive or fly around them, taking samples, keeping a safe distance etc. They know the risks better than anyone else, but even then some have been known to get too caught up in the science to realise the danger they're in, and sadly some have died as a result (or just as a result of unforseen eruptions that they were too close to). I've heard of some who almost died by being trapped in pockets of CO2 or SO2 gas. Some of the ones I've known have walked over lava flows, on the solid crust above them -that may seem 'crazy' to outsiders, but actually the crust is often thick enough to walk on.
The Volcanologists are going to have Battledress.
I would say that "Battledress" is the last thing you need at a Volcano. People aren't going to lower themselves into an active lava lake or anything.
In Traveller, they're likely to have drones for that, and moderate levels of Remote Operations and Sensors.

But at lower tech levels, there really is no substitute but to risk life and limb by going into danger spots. Sometimes they even survive.
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Re: Scholar - A New Book

Postby Wil Mireu » Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:38 pm

alex_greene wrote:Like I said, Scholar is not for the lab rats who toil and sweat and retire without a single prize or award to their names. It's meant as a tribute to all of those names above, many of whom I would consider my heroes.
Traveller is not about "heroes" though - it's about average joes in space. Characters in every other career are supposed to be normal examples of those careers, not exceptional examples (and honestly, the exceptional ones are the ones who stick through a career for many terms). Sagan and Tyson and Einstein and Cox and Brahe and Kepler and Oppenheimer are the equivalent of "Admirals" and "Generals" in a Scientist career. They're the ones who really made it.

And honestly, great though they are - they're not that different to the 'normal scientists'. They had to do the same "toil and sweat", they just happened to have a flair for presenting their work, or solved some great problem. They are very much the exception - for every one of those that you mention there are thousands of others who don't get noticed outside scientific circles at all. And many more who drop out of science as a career altogether (the survival rate for a Science Career would probably rival that of the Scouts!).
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Re: Scholar - A New Book

Postby rust » Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:43 pm

Wil Mireu wrote: Traveller is not about "heroes" though - it's about average joes in space. Characters in every other career are supposed to be normal examples of those careers ...
Well, the life of an average member of almost any Traveller career
would be just as boring as that of an average scientist ... 8)
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Re: Scholar - A New Book

Postby alex_greene » Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:48 pm

rust wrote:
Wil Mireu wrote: Traveller is not about "heroes" though - it's about average joes in space. Characters in every other career are supposed to be normal examples of those careers ...
Well, the life of an average member of almost any Traveller career would be just as boring as that of an average scientist ... 8)
Agreed. This isn't Papers and Paychecks we're playing. Traveller is about those characters who, regardless of their background, have no desire to spend their days doing makework, even in a highly-paid steady job in some university laboratory facility or corporate lab somewhere.

These are the adventurers who want to get space under their feet, or who are simply swept off their feet, and take their science with them out into the universe, solving problems as they go - and occasionally making the discoveries which advance their society along the Tech Level ladder.

Science is not, should never be, boring. More than any other career choice, a career in science should be the greatest adventure any human or other sophont could ever have.
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Re: Scholar - A New Book

Postby Wil Mireu » Fri Jan 10, 2014 6:02 pm

alex_greene wrote:Agreed. This isn't Papers and Paychecks we're playing.
You do realise that Traveller has a long tradition of bean-counting, right? People worrying (and arguing) about ship mortgages and wages and loans etc?
Traveller is about those characters who, regardless of their background, have no desire to spend their days doing makework, even in a highly-paid steady job in some university laboratory facility or corporate lab somewhere.
"makework"? Nice way to dismiss pretty much everything that everyone does there.

These are the adventurers who want to get space under their feet, or who are simply swept off their feet, and take their science with them out into the universe, solving problems as they go - and occasionally making the discoveries which advance their society along the Tech Level ladder.
Yes, Traveller is about people who want to get out there and explore and go travelling. But even then, Travelling is not going to be all about excitement. Do you really think that every merchant is going to have a thrilling adventure everytime he sets off to deliver some cargo? Heck, in Traveller there's a week spent in jumpspace where the vast majority of the time nothing happens. The "adventures" that people have are the exceptions to the rule of normality.
Science is not, should never be, boring. More than any other career choice, a career in science should be the greatest adventure any human or other sophont could ever have.
I think you have an overly romanticised view of reality. Science is not "boring" for those interested in it. But those who aren't generally consider it to be "pretty boring".
Last edited by Wil Mireu on Fri Jan 10, 2014 6:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Scholar - A New Book

Postby dragoner » Fri Jan 10, 2014 6:02 pm

Wil Mireu wrote:Traveller is not about "heroes" though - it's about average joes in space. Characters in every other career are supposed to be normal examples of those careers, not exceptional examples...
Cite where this is said, because the way mongoose presents it, the players are very much heroic.
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Re: Scholar - A New Book

Postby rust » Fri Jan 10, 2014 6:12 pm

And looking at the various careers' events, the characters
certainly do not live average lifes ...
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Re: Scholar - A New Book

Postby dragoner » Fri Jan 10, 2014 6:25 pm

If one does a statistical analysis of chargen, one finds there is little average as well.
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Re: Scholar - A New Book

Postby alex_greene » Fri Jan 10, 2014 6:30 pm

The Careers tables for the different Scholar and Citizen careers might look ordinary, at least on the surface - among other things, I'd have one career choice of Administrator, and I'd add a note to the artist to make him look distinctly like that Richard Woolsey guy played by Robert Picardo in Stargate Atlantis, the epitome of Bald, Fussy Little Nebbish In Suit, Tie And Glasses - but their expanded d66 Events Tables would be insane.
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Re: Scholar - A New Book

Postby GypsyComet » Sat Jan 11, 2014 4:34 am

Wil Mireu wrote:
GypsyComet wrote:The Volcanologists are going to have Battledress.
I would say that "Battledress" is the last thing you need at a Volcano. People aren't going to lower themselves into an active lava lake or anything.
The skill, not the war gear. Heavy augmented protective suits will use the same skill.
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Re: Scholar - A New Book

Postby Wil Mireu » Sat Jan 11, 2014 4:46 am

GypsyComet wrote:The skill, not the war gear. Heavy augmented protective suits will use the same skill.
Why would they need heavy augmented protective suits? They're still not going to wade out into the middle of lava flows, they'll use probes and other things to do that. And if they study volcanoes in the field on other planets then they'll just need vacc suits or whatever as normal for those (so they can have those skills).
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Re: Scholar - A New Book

Postby Lord High Munchkin » Sat Jan 11, 2014 5:05 am

Wil Mireu wrote:
GypsyComet wrote:The skill, not the war gear. Heavy augmented protective suits will use the same skill.
Why would they need heavy augmented protective suits? They're still not going to wade out into the middle of lava flows, they'll use probes and other things to do that. And if they study volcanoes in the field on other planets then they'll just need vacc suits or whatever as normal for those (so they can have those skills).
Indeed, robots (or tele-operated drones) are the way to go.
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Re: Scholar - A New Book

Postby Bardicheart » Sun Jan 12, 2014 1:15 am

Robots are safer, still seen some amazing video of vulcanologist doing incredible things. NatGeo had a documentary of one guy descending into the Mount Nyiragongo crater IIRC. He wore a fire resistant suit that may have given him some protection but if anything serious had happened probably not much. Once at the floor of the crater he climbed about a 4-5 m high rim wall around the lava lake and took a sample directly from it for analysis. Once of the things they wanted to know was the gas composition of the lava and apparently the fresher the sample and the closer to the source the better the data.

Would a robot be a lot more sensible... yeah. Humans aren't always sensible.

Do I think vulcanologist in Trav would routinely learn BattleDress and operate some civilian version... probably not. Do I think scientists who work in space or hostile environments might or might have a Drive (Walker) skill (since there is a Tech Walker IIRC in one of the vehicle books). Maybe. At best it'd be one of the higher education skills perhaps or specialist training for certain career tracks. More likely for most scientist it would be a possibility from the life events table. Maybe one or two specialist careers that normally train in a high tech, gadget laden, civilian version. And of course an entry in the gear section for said "TechDress".

Just my two bits.
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Re: Scholar - A New Book

Postby Jacqual » Sun Jan 12, 2014 8:21 am

IMTU Belters can learn the Battledress skill as I have a Belter style Hazard Duty powered suit, which while not as capable as Military Grade Battledress is better then most other armors out there. It does have different power output so it cannot mount weapons on it, but can mount mining lasers and such.

I can see a Scientist style suit of Battledress, which would have some armor and a very heavy duty suite of sensors and such. It would most liely be used in places where data was very much needed for study but the enviroment had to much interference for robotic probe style collection. Yes it would still be rare, and not everyone would have the skill to use it, but I could see it done especially for a scientist/scholor type campaign. Which while it would be very light in the combat department, it could still have conflict on a scientific level like rival's trying to discredit the PC's and such.
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