Terraforming

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
hiro

Re: Terraforming

Postby hiro » Wed Dec 17, 2014 8:01 pm

Matt Wilson wrote:Yeah probably, but you know how it is with Traveller. Flying tanks and talking lions are fine, but if you miscalculate the minimum molecular weight retention for a planet someone freaks out.
HAHAHAHA

too bloody right... where's the face palm smiley?
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Re: Terraforming

Postby Reynard » Wed Dec 17, 2014 8:16 pm

And for the fun of the game, if Arnie can do it and the audience thought it was sciency enough then Mars can be terraformed... maybe with a little help from an ancient civilization whose contract funds ran out just before they pushed a big button 300,000 years ago.

Here's one. There's a system in an important location in a sector or subsector. Not only does it have an Earth like world but, using MegaTraveller system generation, there is a sister world of similar size mutually orbiting that's close in composition. Having a second world would be a great candidate to increase that system's capacities and may justify tweaking it.
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Re: Terraforming

Postby rust » Wed Dec 17, 2014 8:25 pm

Matt Wilson wrote: Yeah probably, but you know how it is with Traveller. Flying tanks and talking lions are fine, but if you miscalculate the minimum molecular weight retention for a planet someone freaks out.
Well, I have been rapidly terraforming dozens of desert worlds and water worlds
in my various settings, and when someone complained that my procedures were
insufficiently scientific I just reminded them that my settings are in my universe
and they are entitled to completely ignore it if they do not like it ... just as I am
entitled to ignore their comments ... :twisted:
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Re: Terraforming

Postby Matt Wilson » Wed Dec 17, 2014 8:41 pm

rust wrote: Well, I have been rapidly terraforming dozens of desert worlds and water worlds
in my various settings, and when someone complained that my procedures were
insufficiently scientific I just reminded them that my settings are in my universe
and they are entitled to completely ignore it if they do not like it ... just as I am
entitled to ignore their comments ... :twisted:
Just tell them it's German engineering. "You ever heard of the BMW or the Mercedes? The Porsche? I think we can handle a little terraforming." :)
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Re: Terraforming

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Wed Dec 17, 2014 9:07 pm

Matt Wilson wrote:Yeah probably, but you know how it is with Traveller. Flying tanks and talking lions are fine, but if you miscalculate the minimum molecular weight retention for a planet someone freaks out.
I run into that mindset a lot. Fortunately, they are only solo players. And will always be. That way our gaming group's wells aren't poisoned.
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Re: Terraforming

Postby dragoner » Wed Dec 17, 2014 9:47 pm

Mark Twain, when asked what was a good investment, he said: "real estate, they ain't making it anymore." This would be the value of a t-form project, form a corporation, and sell the real estate after you do the work making it livable.
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Re: Terraforming

Postby dragoner » Wed Dec 17, 2014 9:50 pm

rust wrote:
Matt Wilson wrote: Yeah probably, but you know how it is with Traveller. Flying tanks and talking lions are fine, but if you miscalculate the minimum molecular weight retention for a planet someone freaks out.
Well, I have been rapidly terraforming dozens of desert worlds and water worlds
in my various settings, and when someone complained that my procedures were
insufficiently scientific I just reminded them that my settings are in my universe
and they are entitled to completely ignore it if they do not like it ... just as I am
entitled to ignore their comments ... :twisted:
I'd just ask to see their primary data, because such an expert on the science of terraforming, would rely on scientific empiricism and not guesswork. :wink:
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Re: Terraforming

Postby heron61 » Thu Dec 18, 2014 12:53 am

Matt Wilson wrote:Yeah, if you provide the life yourself instead of waiting for it to evolve from nothing, you can probably skip a good portion of that hundred million years.
Sure, but geologists know that cyanobacteria very similar to its modern versions has existed for a very long time.

There are two issues with creating an oxygen atmosphere - getting life that emits lots of oxygen, and waiting for every exposed rock and body of liquid is fully oxidized. We could greatly improve on the first of these, so maybe we could reduce the time from 100 million years to 1 million years. However, global-scale geologic processes take geologic time - causing countless billions of tons of iron to rust isn't fast.

As I mentioned in my previous post, if you don't invoke nanotech that's effectively magic, I'm not at all sure how you speed this process up, and you aren't going to be living on a planet until the oxidation is mostly complete, because otherwise the oxygen will be vanishing from the atmosphere about as fast as its produced.
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Re: Terraforming

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Thu Dec 18, 2014 5:33 am

hiro wrote:
Tom Kalbfus wrote:All I know is some people say the ice caps are melting, I haven't seen the ocean levels rise, we have to take the "experts" word that the ice caps are melting, cause we can't see it for ourselves, and seeing how the ice caps aren't melted yet
Thankfully Tom, I can't see you so you do not exist either. No expert opinion needed.
If Pinocchio, with a long nose, runs around yelling "the sky is falling!" I tend not to get too worked up about it.
Last edited by Tom Kalbfus on Thu Dec 18, 2014 5:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Terraforming

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Thu Dec 18, 2014 5:45 am

heron61 wrote:
Matt Wilson wrote:Yeah, if you provide the life yourself instead of waiting for it to evolve from nothing, you can probably skip a good portion of that hundred million years.
Sure, but geologists know that cyanobacteria very similar to its modern versions has existed for a very long time.

There are two issues with creating an oxygen atmosphere - getting life that emits lots of oxygen, and waiting for every exposed rock and body of liquid is fully oxidized. We could greatly improve on the first of these, so maybe we could reduce the time from 100 million years to 1 million years. However, global-scale geologic processes take geologic time - causing countless billions of tons of iron to rust isn't fast.

As I mentioned in my previous post, if you don't invoke nanotech that's effectively magic, I'm not at all sure how you speed this process up, and you aren't going to be living on a planet until the oxidation is mostly complete, because otherwise the oxygen will be vanishing from the atmosphere about as fast as its produced.
You could always make the oxygen off planet and dump it on the planet all at once. Another technique would be to open up wormholes from one planet to another. Lets say we opened a wormhole from Venus to Mars and then to Titan and then let all those atmospheres mix till the reached an equilibrium, what would be the result? And why not invoke nanotech? Nanotech isn't a problem if it isn't common and the player characters don't have control over it. The Ancients can use nanotech, and that is probably the best way to terraform a planet with a push of a button. I still say though that the rapidity of Mars terraforming so Arnold Schwarzenegger's character doesn't suffocate seems unrealistically fast. To go from 1% bar to a full bar atmosphere on Mars in 60 seconds would involve such a rapid movement of gases, that the winds would probably tear up the landscape and create such friction as to make it very hot. All that air has to be flowing from somewhere.

"Quick terraform this planet before I suffocate!" Does anyone ever say that in your Traveller Campaign?
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Re: Terraforming

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Thu Dec 18, 2014 6:27 am

Tom Kalbfus wrote:"Quick terraform this planet before I suffocate!" Does anyone ever say that in your Traveller Campaign?
Or before my eyes pop!
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Re: Terraforming

Postby heron61 » Thu Dec 18, 2014 6:55 am

Tom Kalbfus wrote:You could always make the oxygen off planet and dump it on the planet all at once. Another technique would be to open up wormholes from one planet to another. Lets say we opened a wormhole from Venus to Mars and then to Titan and then let all those atmospheres mix till the reached an equilibrium, what would be the result? And why not invoke nanotech? Nanotech isn't a problem if it isn't common and the player characters don't have control over it. The Ancients can use nanotech, and that is probably the best way to terraform a planet with a push of a button.
All three of those would be awesome TL 25+ methods of terraforming - not something the Imperium or any other Traveller setting with a remotely reasonable TL, but definitely in keeping with the Ancients or similar god-like entities.
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Re: Terraforming

Postby rust » Thu Dec 18, 2014 9:54 am

heron61 wrote:
There are two issues with creating an oxygen atmosphere - getting life that emits lots of oxygen, and waiting for every exposed rock and body of liquid is fully oxidized. We could greatly improve on the first of these, so maybe we could reduce the time from 100 million years to 1 million years. However, global-scale geologic processes take geologic time - causing countless billions of tons of iron to rust isn't fast.
Yep. this is why I mentioned that during the first decades of the project most of the oxygen
would immediately disappear into the planet's geochemistry. However, as you wrote the oxy-
gen would be used to oxidize "every exposed rock and body of liquid", and here would be a
major difference between Earth's history and the situation on a terraformed planet: While on
Earth over millions of years layer after layer of rock was formed and oxidized, on the terra-
formed planet only the uppermost layer of the planet would be exposed and soak up the oxy-
gen immediately, the deeper layers would not be exposed and would therefore take up the
oxygen in a much slower process. So, once the uppermost layer of the planet had been oxidi-
zed, the majority of the oxygen produced by the marine algae would remain in the atmosphe-
re and accumulate there, only a comparatively small part of the oxygen would seep into the
deeper, not exposed rock. The planet could be perfectly habitable even long before the dee-
pest layers of rock have been oxidized, although I would not recommend to the colonists to
dig deep mine shafts. :)
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Re: Terraforming

Postby Rikki Tikki Traveller » Thu Dec 18, 2014 2:15 pm

dragoner wrote:Mark Twain, when asked what was a good investment, he said: "real estate, they ain't making it anymore." This would be the value of a t-form project, form a corporation, and sell the real estate after you do the work making it livable.
Maybe even sell it before terraforming for a lot cheaper... sort of like a Kickstarter for a planet...

Buy a continent for a few trillion credits and in a couple hundred years you have hundreds of trillions of credits of prime land ready to be sold off to colonists.
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Re: Terraforming

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Thu Dec 18, 2014 2:49 pm

heron61 wrote:
Tom Kalbfus wrote:You could always make the oxygen off planet and dump it on the planet all at once. Another technique would be to open up wormholes from one planet to another. Lets say we opened a wormhole from Venus to Mars and then to Titan and then let all those atmospheres mix till the reached an equilibrium, what would be the result? And why not invoke nanotech? Nanotech isn't a problem if it isn't common and the player characters don't have control over it. The Ancients can use nanotech, and that is probably the best way to terraform a planet with a push of a button.
All three of those would be awesome TL 25+ methods of terraforming - not something the Imperium or any other Traveller setting with a remotely reasonable TL, but definitely in keeping with the Ancients or similar god-like entities.
As I said before, there were some artifacts left by the Ancients on the planet Venus, the article doesn't go into what they were for, maybe it was to terraform Venus, why else would it be there?

Maybe someone could publish an adventure where someone activated the Ancient Device which terraformed Venus, how do you think this will affect the surrounding worlds?
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Re: Terraforming

Postby dragoner » Thu Dec 18, 2014 3:16 pm

Rikki Tikki Traveller wrote:
dragoner wrote:Mark Twain, when asked what was a good investment, he said: "real estate, they ain't making it anymore." This would be the value of a t-form project, form a corporation, and sell the real estate after you do the work making it livable.
Maybe even sell it before terraforming for a lot cheaper... sort of like a Kickstarter for a planet...

Buy a continent for a few trillion credits and in a couple hundred years you have hundreds of trillions of credits of prime land ready to be sold off to colonists.
Now there's an adventure hook: "Your grandfather invested in a colony corp, but there's been a hitch." Not unrealistic, many places, especially with growing trees, it is a multigenerational enterprise.
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Re: Terraforming

Postby Epicenter » Thu Dec 18, 2014 5:54 pm

Rikki Tikki Traveller wrote: Buy a continent for a few trillion credits and in a couple hundred years you have hundreds of trillions of credits of prime land ready to be sold off to colonists.
Interestingly, in a universe like Traveller, "a few centuries" may not be a problem to even normal people.

If you have a more reliable system of cold sleep or the Fast Drug, I can easily imagine employees of some terraforming company or even speculative terraforming colonists setting up their hidden base deep underground on some airless, boring, and geologically stable moon elsewhere in the system (or perhaps in a deep-space calibration point J-1 away in the Oort Cloud or something). They begin the process of seeding oxygen-generating bacteria, and once it is done, they store all their vehicles and equipment and check into the low berths or the Fast Drug drip. (The base is hidden so that their facilities are unmolested by passing explorers / pirates /whomever). All that's left in geostable orbits are probably markers saying that this world is claimed and terraforming is in-progress by X group.

Five years later, a few members of the staff wake up and ensure everything is going as planned using drones and similar vehicles from their hidden base. If it is, they simply go back to sleep again. If not, they diagnose what's going wrong and wake everyone up and work on correcting the problem. Once it is corrected, everyone goes back to sleep.

As the process begins to get its own inertia, they wake up only once a decade or even once a century or so check on progress.

This isn't as ridiculous in some empire where things change so very slowly, and it literally takes years for a message to cross from one end of the empire to the other; a few hundred years or even half a millennia might not seem like a big deal to people who are banking on the empire's stability considering you'll be asleep for most of it. Some employees might even enjoy it as a kind of "time travel."

I have an idea IMTU where "sooning" of terraforming worlds may be common. The terraforming company might actually have a lot of military hardware to ... deal ... with sooners. One can imagine in some "fall of the empire" scenario where records of these things of things are lost and some settlers are living on the terraformed world, feeling blessed they "found" such a great world that wasn't already inhabited. Then the terraformers wake up, sigh, and prepare their TL15 power armor and orbital meson guns to deal with the sooners.
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Re: Terraforming

Postby Hopeless » Fri Dec 19, 2014 12:22 pm

Wasn't there a movie about a race with time control whose culture collapsed aeons past but the device still works think uninhabited Mars suddenly raced back in time when it was still inhabitable... to return home they have to switch it off and get back to their ship as Mars swiftly returns to its uninhabitable state... :shock:
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Re: Terraforming

Postby Prime_Evil » Mon Dec 22, 2014 10:33 am

dragoner wrote:Mark Twain, when asked what was a good investment, he said: "real estate, they ain't making it anymore." This would be the value of a t-form project, form a corporation, and sell the real estate after you do the work making it livable.
In Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross, a special form of investment instrument known as "Slow Money" exists to facilitate interstellar colonization projects. This is a form of money that lacks liquidity so that it can serve as a stable investment mechanism for long-term terraforming projects. Slow money takes centuries to mature, preventing it from being used for short-term tansactions. Because slow money is a cryptocurrency that requires three-way verification using slower-than-light communication with banks in multiple neighbouring star systems, there is no easy way to game the system. (Neptune's Brood does not have FTL travel or communications, but it might still be possible to port this to Traveller with a bit of work).

One side-effect of Slow Money that the massive debts incurred by a terraforming project are passed on to future generations - who have an incentive to found new colonies of their own so that they can establish a positive cash flow through aggressive expansion.

There's a nice summary of the concept in the book review from Strange Horizons:
The most inventive idea ...[is]...the distinction between three different types of money: fast, medium, and slow. Fast money is what we would recognize as cash, issued by a planetary government. Medium money is a way to denominate assets that can't immediately be converted into cash, like real estate. It's not a new observation that as assets these aren't effective for interstellar trade. Cash or property from another star system isn't worth all that much without faster-than-light travel, since by the time you manage to get there, the cash might be inflated into worthless paper and the house might have burned down. What Stross adds to these two familiar asset types is slow money, a currency that's backed by the wealth of an entire star system and whose transactions must be signed by trusted third parties, which is to say, other star systems. That's where the "slow" part comes in: slow money transactions take years to complete because signals must cross interstellar distances before they can become valid. Like a normal currency, a star system's slow dollars can inflate or deflate in value, but the glacial transaction speed means someone owning slow money can trust that circumstances won't run out of control before they hear about it. Crucially, this allows slow money to be used to denominate debt held across star systems.

For several decades now hard science fiction has struggled with the dispiriting energy requirements for space travel. Formerly the subgenre of techno-optimists who fervently believed in humanity's manifest destiny to conquer the stars, it has become increasingly difficult for its authors to figure out how to make the financial numbers add up just for colonizing the solar system, much less the brutal expanse of interstellar distances. In that context, Neptune's Brood paints a heartening future where an undaunted "humanity" spreads itself ever further in a wave of colonization that actually accelerates over time, but the reasoning is interesting and, to my knowledge, completely new. Colonizing another star system is such a stupendously expensive enterprise, we learn, that the only way the colony can hope to pay back its "debt of initiation" to its mother system is to launch colonies of its own and require payment of similar debts from them. Another contributing factor is the unchecked concentration of wealth, which has created a tiny elite who are wealthy beyond imagining. Their fortunes, one character asserts late in the book, "can only be realistically be depleted by the founding of a new solar system or two."
Also, I can easily imagine that in such a system you might have banking corporations who employ mercenaries for "Asset Realisation Campaigns" as in Peter F. Hamilton's Fallen Dragon. There must be a point where financial institutions attempt to recoup the value of their investment - plus compound interest. Maybe this occurs when a colony finally becomes self-sufficient. If the locals don't or can't pay up the corporation sends in the troops to repossess the newly terraformed world. It might be possible to develop an interesting scenario around this idea along the lines of "Hi, we're here to seize your planet because you've fallen behind on your repayments..."
Last edited by Prime_Evil on Mon Dec 22, 2014 10:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Terraforming

Postby alex_greene » Mon Dec 22, 2014 10:42 am

Prime_Evil wrote:Also, I can easily imagine that in such a system you might have banking corporations who employ mercenaries for "Asset Realisation Campaigns" as in Peter F. Hamilton's Fallen Dragon. There must be a point where financial institutions attempt to recoup the value of their investment - plus compound interest. Maybe this occurs when a colony finally becomes self-sufficient. If the locals don't or can't pay up the corporation sends in the troops to repossess the newly terraformed world. It might be possible to develop an interesting scenario around this idea along the lines of "Hi, we're here to seize your planet because you've fallen behind on your repayments..."
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