Space "Gypsies"

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Tom Kalbfus
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Space "Gypsies"

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Mon Mar 24, 2014 3:43 pm

After reading the thread on manufacturing ship, I got to thinking about a ship board society, say like Battlestar Galactica, but operating in the OTU. Lets say we have a fleet of civilian ships with some military escort traveling through space, each ship has a minimal jump 2 capacity, and they maneuver at the speed of the slowest ship. To make a complete society for a population of about 50,000 in crews and passengers what kind of starships would you recommend this fleet include. Their basic role is that of "Space Gypsies" they go from planet to planet trading their wares, kind of like a giant merchant caravan, with people who call those ships their home. Wht do you think of this idea?
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Re: Space "Gypsies"

Postby FreeTrav » Mon Mar 24, 2014 3:50 pm

Tom Kalbfus wrote:After reading the thread on manufacturing ship, I got to thinking about a ship board society, say like Battlestar Galactica, but operating in the OTU. Lets say we have a fleet of civilian ships with some military escort traveling through space, each ship has a minimal jump 2 capacity, and they maneuver at the speed of the slowest ship. To make a complete society for a population of about 50,000 in crews and passengers what kind of starships would you recommend this fleet include. Their basic role is that of "Space Gypsies" they go from planet to planet trading their wares, kind of like a giant merchant caravan, with people who call those ships their home. Wht do you think of this idea?
The Iper'mar Nomads are similar...

It's unquestionably a trope of SF/Space Opera, but it does have its uses...
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Re: Space "Gypsies"

Postby dragoner » Mon Mar 24, 2014 3:57 pm

My Blue Darrians that I have posted elsewhere I use as space gypsies to good effect.
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Re: Space "Gypsies"

Postby Condottiere » Mon Mar 24, 2014 5:07 pm

BSG aren't gypsies, they're refugees.

If they travelled around in large groups, let alone have military grade ships, they'd be considered a security risk.
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Re: Space "Gypsies"

Postby golem64 » Mon Mar 24, 2014 5:48 pm

You could also look at the Quarrians from the Mass Effect trilogy. They are a wandering space-faring society who had to flee their homeworld when their robotic slave race, the Geth, achieved sentience and rebelled, much like Battlestar Galactica.
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Re: Space "Gypsies"

Postby AndrewW » Mon Mar 24, 2014 7:16 pm

Minor Alien Module I: Luriani wrote: Wurlana
The Wurlana are the descendants of the crews of the great raft ships that used to roam Daramm’s ocean. The crews of these ships spent their entire lives aboard, only coming ashore when needing to re-supply or build new vessels. Their descendants do the same among the stars, spending most of their lives on ships wandering from system to system, trading as they go. Grouped into many clans, Wurlana do not enlist - they are born into their career.
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Re: Space "Gypsies"

Postby phavoc » Tue Mar 25, 2014 12:39 am

Something to keep in mind is going to be the economics of the gypsy fleet. They'll probably always refuel at gas giants since it's free. They'll also need to do something for parts for their power plants and drives and even life support systems.

If they are wanderers they probably can't haul much cargo unless it's purely speculative or bulk that can take it's time getting there. That allows them some cargo revenue. Maybe they can do crafts of some sort, for higher tech worlds where home-crafted goods would find more of a market. Lower tech worlds would want tech, so maybe during their journeys they'd plan months ahead and build up an inventory of goods for each.

It'd be possible I suppose for them to also pick up whatever they can beg, bar or salvage in space or on planets to use for raw materials. I'm not sure the economics of a large set of space gypsies makes sense though, going from system to system. And there will be issues too for their jump ships. Jump-1 ships would probably be teh most common, with jump-2 being less common, just due to economics. Smaller ships might be able to load themselves aboard larger ones to jump between systems.
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Re: Space "Gypsies"

Postby GypsyComet » Tue Mar 25, 2014 3:20 am

phavoc wrote:Jump-1 ships would probably be teh most common, with jump-2 being less common, just due to economics. Smaller ships might be able to load themselves aboard larger ones to jump between systems.
In the Imperial center, J-1 can potentially provide access to dozens of worlds at a time, so you may find those groups in a semi-nomadic form. More itinerant than truly nomadic. In other regions J-2 may be required to get very far.
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Re: Space "Gypsies"

Postby Saladman » Tue Mar 25, 2014 4:29 am

Maybe an asteroid-hulled civilian ship as a headquarters/city/flag ship.

Its worth thinking about how they got started. Religious refugees? Political refugees from a conquered planet? Or possibly just the children of belters who never formed an attachment to the idea of being planetside.

I like the idea of some overlap with belters. Given ships and know-how, in addition to trading, part of their deal might be an expert pass for salvage and minerals in each system. Slows their travel down, but if they're on a closed-circuit jump route that's a feature not a bug.
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Re: Space "Gypsies"

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Tue Mar 25, 2014 9:49 pm

Condottiere wrote:BSG aren't gypsies, they're refugees.

If they travelled around in large groups, let alone have military grade ships, they'd be considered a security risk.
Its not actually possible to guard an interstellar border, Space is vast, too vast for a planet with an average population rating of 5 to actually guard, as there would be enough people on enough ships to prevent a fleet of space gypsies from suddenly emerging from Jump Space at the 100 diameter limit. If the least capable ship had a jump rating of two parsecs, there are a lot of places that fleet could make the jump from. I think the best that may be accomplished is that the local planetary security force will deter the fleet from getting too close. So a Gypsie fleet could be treated as a mobile mainworld, that is it would have a population rating, a government rating, a law level, and a tech level, its size would be 0 as it can be treated as asteroids with engines, the atmosphere on the outside of the starships is a vacuum, so it gets a rating of 0, and of course most starships don't have liquid water on their outsides, so the hydrographic digit is 0 Of course such ships would have water tanks and internal atmospheres. A fleet might even have a mobile starport for smaller ships to land in. What do you think of this idea?
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Re: Space "Gypsies"

Postby CosmicGamer » Tue Mar 25, 2014 10:14 pm

Tom Kalbfus wrote:
Condottiere wrote:If they travelled around in large groups, let alone have military grade ships, they'd be considered a security risk.
Its not actually possible to guard an interstellar border, Space is vast, too vast for a planet with an average population rating of 5 to actually guard, as there would be enough people on enough ships to prevent a fleet of space gypsies from suddenly emerging from Jump Space at the 100 diameter limit. If the least capable ship had a jump rating of two parsecs, there are a lot of places that fleet could make the jump from. I think the best that may be accomplished is that the local planetary security force will deter the fleet from getting too close.
The consideration here is that if the group gets a bad rep
Yes space is big and it would be hard to prevent them from entering a system but
Yes they could be treated as a security risk and chased off or worse including prevented from refueling at a gas giant.
Tom Kalbfus wrote:So a Gypsie fleet could be treated as a mobile mainworld, that is it would have a population rating, a government rating, a law level, and a tech level, its size would be 0 as it can be treated as asteroids with engines, the atmosphere on the outside of the starships is a vacuum, so it gets a rating of 0, and of course most starships don't have liquid water on their outsides, so the hydrographic digit is 0 Of course such ships would have water tanks and internal atmospheres. A fleet might even have a mobile starport for smaller ships to land in. What do you think of this idea?
I can see identifying the government and other things in terms that would normally be used for mainworlds. One uses the references they have and are familiar with to describe the anomalies.

Not sure exactly what you mean by "could be treated as a mobile mainworld". Jump 2 capable would tend to make me think they would not show up on any map, trade route, or subsector list of mainworlds.
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Re: Space "Gypsies"

Postby phavoc » Tue Mar 25, 2014 10:15 pm

Tom Kalbfus wrote:Its not actually possible to guard an interstellar border, Space is vast, too vast for a planet with an average population rating of 5 to actually guard, as there would be enough people on enough ships to prevent a fleet of space gypsies from suddenly emerging from Jump Space at the 100 diameter limit. If the least capable ship had a jump rating of two parsecs, there are a lot of places that fleet could make the jump from. I think the best that may be accomplished is that the local planetary security force will deter the fleet from getting too close. So a Gypsie fleet could be treated as a mobile mainworld, that is it would have a population rating, a government rating, a law level, and a tech level, its size would be 0 as it can be treated as asteroids with engines, the atmosphere on the outside of the starships is a vacuum, so it gets a rating of 0, and of course most starships don't have liquid water on their outsides, so the hydrographic digit is 0 Of course such ships would have water tanks and internal atmospheres. A fleet might even have a mobile starport for smaller ships to land in. What do you think of this idea?
The Fifth Frontier War game shows that there are choke points when crossing areas. And you can't afford to leave a strong planet in your rear because the attackers are even more vulnerable with long supply lines (and those ships have to come from established bases). But essentially you are right, you can't stop somebody intent on jumping in to a system. Which is why battles are almost never fought in deep space and only around something worth fighting over.

As far as a mobile 'world', there's nothing in the rules that say's Nyet to the idea. If you wanted to make it part of your adventure that works. The only issue would be a backstory - assuming you or your players wanted or needed one. It's easy enough to just say "this is how it is" and not worry about it. But if you like background that makes sense then you'll need to figure out just why they travel, and how they pay for it.

The suggestion of using an asteroid for a mobile base makes sense. If they are gypsies (and assuming they didn't hit a lode of minerals in mining out their asteroid base) then they'll probably be getting by on the margin. Perhaps they could have a route of sorts they take, and every few years or so they pass through one or more large habitation systems (and of sufficient tech level) where they have a carnival or festival of sorts for months. And during these festivals they make the bulk of their funds to pay for the times when they are wandering. If they have a colony of artists and artisans, during the slow times they could be making up their wares and such to sell as they pass through these other systems. In between they may have other traders or even their own folk who trade from the base to other systems nearby in their trading ships. They would need to spend a while in a system to refuel such a behemoth, which would give justification for them stooging around a system for months on end.
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Re: Space "Gypsies"

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Wed Mar 26, 2014 12:24 am

phavoc wrote:
Tom Kalbfus wrote:Its not actually possible to guard an interstellar border, Space is vast, too vast for a planet with an average population rating of 5 to actually guard, as there would be enough people on enough ships to prevent a fleet of space gypsies from suddenly emerging from Jump Space at the 100 diameter limit. If the least capable ship had a jump rating of two parsecs, there are a lot of places that fleet could make the jump from. I think the best that may be accomplished is that the local planetary security force will deter the fleet from getting too close. So a Gypsie fleet could be treated as a mobile mainworld, that is it would have a population rating, a government rating, a law level, and a tech level, its size would be 0 as it can be treated as asteroids with engines, the atmosphere on the outside of the starships is a vacuum, so it gets a rating of 0, and of course most starships don't have liquid water on their outsides, so the hydrographic digit is 0 Of course such ships would have water tanks and internal atmospheres. A fleet might even have a mobile starport for smaller ships to land in. What do you think of this idea?
The Fifth Frontier War game shows that there are choke points when crossing areas. And you can't afford to leave a strong planet in your rear because the attackers are even more vulnerable with long supply lines (and those ships have to come from established bases). But essentially you are right, you can't stop somebody intent on jumping in to a system. Which is why battles are almost never fought in deep space and only around something worth fighting over.

As far as a mobile 'world', there's nothing in the rules that say's Nyet to the idea. If you wanted to make it part of your adventure that works. The only issue would be a backstory - assuming you or your players wanted or needed one. It's easy enough to just say "this is how it is" and not worry about it. But if you like background that makes sense then you'll need to figure out just why they travel, and how they pay for it.

The suggestion of using an asteroid for a mobile base makes sense. If they are gypsies (and assuming they didn't hit a lode of minerals in mining out their asteroid base) then they'll probably be getting by on the margin. Perhaps they could have a route of sorts they take, and every few years or so they pass through one or more large habitation systems (and of sufficient tech level) where they have a carnival or festival of sorts for months. And during these festivals they make the bulk of their funds to pay for the times when they are wandering. If they have a colony of artists and artisans, during the slow times they could be making up their wares and such to sell as they pass through these other systems. In between they may have other traders or even their own folk who trade from the base to other systems nearby in their trading ships. They would need to spend a while in a system to refuel such a behemoth, which would give justification for them stooging around a system for months on end.
I think you can treat them as worlds, list them on a subsector map with a schedule of planets they visit., Typically their movements would be fairly predictable, they would have their own society and government, everything a world would have. Perhaps agricultural ships as well. One bit of difficulty is when in Jump Space each ship would be isolated from the other for a period of 5 days. There would be no travel or communication between ships while in jump space, though each ship might share the same point of origin and destination.
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Re: Space "Gypsies"

Postby Condottiere » Thu Mar 27, 2014 11:43 am

1. Our own history would provide a guide, if you take into consideration the irony of tagging them as space gypsies.

2. The biggest obstacle for an individual nuclear family or band is the cost of transportation. This ties in with my ongoing quest to find the Volkswagen Käfer of starships. Horses don't work in space, though a smallcraft ferry might.

3. One size doesn't fit all - tinkerers selling odds and ends, though that might just make them independent travelling salesmen. The implication is that you're dragging your family with you, and it involves ethnic tradition.

4. Gypsy clan leaders seem to do very well for themselves, constructing palaces from income derived from dubious sources; that could be your planetoid, where he holds court and tribute is delivered.

5. Being in deepspace, might fall under the same jurisdiction as Native Indian tribes, being outside of system authorities, and subject only to Imperium inspection. Space casinos?

6. Interstellar human trafficking is the basis of the gypsies steal children.

7. Psionic potential: not the most popular of hobbies in the Imperium.
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Re: Space "Gypsies"

Postby Rikki Tikki Traveller » Thu Mar 27, 2014 1:36 pm

Following up on #5 above...

Many high-law level planets ban all kinds of things, but if the Space Gypsies are beyond the 100D limit, then they aren't subject to planetary law.

Not only casinos but all kinds of "illegal" activities for the locals to indulge in.. Of course only the rich could afford to make the trip to the Gypsie camp (orbit) and have the money to keep the government off their backs.

Space Gypsies could have a wide variety of reactions when they arrive in system. Officially, the government denounces them. Unofficially, all the politicians and rich folk are flying over to indulge in all the things that are illegal on their planet. So, Space Gypsies, like their earthly counterparts, get an unjustified reputation for being outlaws and thieves; when all they are doing is supplying services that are in demand and NOT illegal within the Imperium as a whole.

Anagathics anyone????

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Re: Space "Gypsies"

Postby Condottiere » Sat Mar 29, 2014 2:08 am

Going back to the stereotype of good horse handlers, they may be excellent engineers, and may tend to steal spaceships.

They'd have to be good engineers, considering how much they'd have to rely on maintaining an artificial environment on shoe-string budgets.
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Re: Space "Gypsies"

Postby Golan2072 » Mon Mar 31, 2014 5:09 pm

The Matriarchate of my Ashes of the Empire (NON-OTU ATU) setting are a bit similar. They're the descendants of independent belter clans who left Imperial space (as in this setting's Terran Empire) to forge their own destiny. Unlike the conservative Empire, they have embraced posthuman technology to the hilt, are cybernetically enhanced to live in low-G or even zero-G, and have a sort of an artificial "shared consciousness", with the community's Matriarch, who is plugged into the ship's cybernetic core, serves as a central "router" of sorts. They do have their individuality, to a degree, and are not a real "hive", but are always networked, and their networked is wired to their neural system (think of this as the ultimate evolution of Facebook, Twitter and What'sApp). Each community lives in a huge hollowed-out asteroid and its attending ships, and jumps from system to system looking for raw materials in the belts. With this sort of synthetic telepathy, their society is fully democratic in the most direct meaning of the way (everyone can vote on everything at the speed of thought, and the network tallies the votes).

Their utter disregard for Imperial property laws and belt claims caused them to fight several brushfire wars against the Empire, where their superior electronic warfare capabilities were the main reason for the Empire's information technology conservatism (build a computer with enough network capability, and the Matriarchate will hack it).

Now that the Empire has fallen into chaos and civil war, they came across the border to feed upon the asteroid belts and trade in highly advanced cybertechnology in return for various goods they can't manufacture easily on their asteroid hubs.
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Re: Space "Gypsies"

Postby rje » Thu Apr 03, 2014 3:21 pm

A periodically gypsy-like culture, paraphrased from the Deneb sector book:

The Lurent of Borlund (1406 Deneb) are a relatively common halo culture, jumping their planetoid homes from system-to-system during a tribe's migratory period. Lurenti planetoids have a population of 1 million to 100 million Lurent -- essentially a Population 6 to Population 8 world-ship.

The ships enter a target system, load and offload cargo at an orbital starport, then retreat to the oort cloud to refuel. Starships of all sizes are welcome to dock with or land on the planetoids and trade. Some starships even contract with the Lurent to be carried along their winding trade route.
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