Tobia Highport Tonnage

Josh77

Mongoose
My players are going to end up spending quite a lot of time at the highport in Tobia, in the Trojan Reach. I was thinking about making an attempt at designing the highport using the Highguard 2022 updated rules. I read somewhere that a Class A Highport on a populous world could be like 1 billion tons or so. Tobia has over 20 billion people living on it, so it certainly qualifies as populous, and billions of those people live in space. Does anybody have any suggestions on how many people might live on a station of that size? How much should be dedicated to commercial areas? to ship construction? Defenses? Other stuff? Should it be 1 billion tons, or is that too much? There is a chart listing the minimum requirements for a Class A starport, but I think the Tobia Starport would far exceed these.

I'm sure it's not really necessary to put this amount of work into a starport, but I'm mostly doing it for my own entertainment, and to give consistency in my presentation since my group will be spending so much time there.
 

Geir

Banded Mongoose
I'm working on a formula for port size as part of the World Builder's Handbook, and with provisional values and a spreadsheet scratch calculation the docking space for Tobia would come to about 40 million tons and the shipyard to 36 million tons build capacity (not size - which would be twice). so figure the highport would definitely be in the multi-hundred million tons range or more, especially considering all the required workers.
 

Alqualonde

Mongoose
I don't think the shipyards will be in the highport proper, I'm not even sure you should have the berth to do the annual maintenance in the highport. It can easily be in other structure that are in orbit.
What you will certainly find is hangards to offload ships & refuel & replenish, storage, berth for interface shuttles & housing for the highport crew, the ship crews & the passengers (plus any entertainment facilities that are allowed by the law).
Ship's crews tend to spend a lot of time in a tin can, breathing recycled atmosphere, so having a biosphere could be nice (and reduce the life support cost). Add a few casinoes to relieve people from their hard won cash so that they leave poor but happy.

The planetary orbit will probably be filled with structures : habitats, factories, greenhouses/hydroponic farms, etc. With a shuttle network to reach them. You might even have several highports, a main one and others to service specific downports and/or cities.
 

enpeze2

Mongoose
the problem is that 1 billion tons is a number which represents a size, almost noone except maybe an real life engineer can visualize. I would love to see size data in meters of starships and space stations in traveller sourcebooks. Up to this its not possible to know how large, wide and high a 1 billion ton station is. Maybe 200m? 2km? 20km? So when station is only 200m it could fit far less population (maybe a couple of hundred) than if it 20km in diameter. (tens of thousands)
 

Geir

Banded Mongoose
Here's some context:
Naïve math puts a cube of a billion dtons, assuming14 cubic meters a dton, at 2410 meters on a side, or about a 3 km diameter sphere. Not really that big, if you're thinking habitat size. In Behind the Claw, the Lurent planetoid ships are mentioned as holding tens of millions of Lurent (who need 6 times the space of a human), so I imagine they're in the tens of billions of tons.

A long time ago in a context not related to Traveller, I used a quick estimate of a million people per cubic kilometer as possible density crammed into a 3D, city-like habitat - think Manhattanesque cubes with all the building 300 stories tall. - so that would be 14 million crammed into a billion dton "space city".

A spinning habitat would have a population more related to surface area, so at let's say ~ Netherlands population density, you get 1000 people per square kilometer. Assuming only one level of habitation, a stubby cylinder (actually needed for spin stability) that held a million people would have, for example, a 16km diameter and a 20km length (not counting any endcap habitation). You'd probably do better if you put an under-level of suburbia density below a farmland section and put business/industrial sections in the end caps or tall towers. The dton volume of what I just described would be about 287 billion - and could hold 1 million people per 'level'. On the other hand, if outer hull was 1 km thick, we get back to the cubic calculation above and you get over 900 cubic kilometers - so we're pushing closer to a billion than a million - okay, no, I don't know how you would feed them all.

Another example: Phobos, inner moon of Mars - according to wikipedia at least - is roughly 27 x 22 x 18km and has a volume of 5783 cubic kilometers (413 billion dtons) . At 1 megaperson per cubic kilometer, that's 5.7 billion people - again with food supply assumed as an external problem or using a very very good and tight closed recycling system. But in Traveller terms, at that density, each person gets more than 70 dtons allocated to them, which is more than adequate for long term survival.

To Alqualonde's comment, yes, the highport, industrial regions, maybe even habitats for highport employees wouldn't necessarily be part of the same complex. Some of the capacity would be in a downport, as well. The Third Imperium's rules around extraterritoriality, however, would likely tend toward centralization of starport capabilities- at least the docking and commercial aspects - into a defined locale. I imagine navy and scout bases might be entirely separate, unless the navy want's to share defensive capabilities with the port authority.
 

DickTurpin

Banded Mongoose
For my PoD game I designed a new Class-A starport to be built at Drinax. It came in at 250,000 dtons and crew and workers came in at about 7,200. That station includes about 25 thousand dtons of manufacturing space and a huge cargo hold in addition to the minimum required facilities to be considered Class-A.

Curious about the smallest a station could be and still meet requirements, I then started cutting non-essentials and was able to get it down to 157,000 dtons and 6,000 crew. A bare-bones station without weapons, screens or top-tier sensor options could probably be a couple thousand smaller and still qualify. That size station would only be suitable for a low population world with little starship traffic, of course.
 

Josh77

Mongoose
Thanks for the advice and discussion! Geir, any idea when we might see a release of the Worldbuilder's Handbook? I still use the old World Tamer's Handbook from TNE quite a bit for worldbuilding ideas, and would love to get my hands on some updated material!
 

Geir

Banded Mongoose
Thanks for the advice and discussion! Geir, any idea when we might see a release of the Worldbuilder's Handbook? I still use the old World Tamer's Handbook from TNE quite a bit for worldbuilding ideas, and would love to get my hands on some updated material!
I promised to have it turned in by the end of November. Currently working on the likely final draft (where I print it out and use a red pen on my writing errors), but also spending a bit of time creating systems to try to work out bugs and problems - so another month of work from today if not interrupted. I expect this one will require considerable edit and review, but not likely very much art. Still, I suspect it will be at least a year until it hits the PDF presses, based on how long Robots took to come out after I finished it. Pure guesswork. It's on the bottom of the list of things "And more to come" on the Release Schedule thread.
 

paltrysum

Cosmic Mongoose
Does anybody have any suggestions on how many people might live on a station of that size?
It could be the majority of them if that’s what you envision. I read a space science book recently called “Imagined Life” that points out that, when you think about it, planets are some of the worst places to live. In a well-run space station, you have climate control and order, especially—one would assume—on a TL15 one.

Basically you remove all the horrid randomness that makes life difficult to sustain.
 

phavoc

Cosmic Mongoose
A planet of that size isn't going to have just one Highport - that's just ridiculous, not to mention impractical. You are going to have many orbital stations, with some dedicated to passengers, others just plain warehouses. A high population planet on a major trade route is going to have closer-in orbital stations and habitats and orbital warehouses and stations at the 100D limit as well. There is no reason for a 10k Dton freighter to spend hours approaching a planet when it can dock at a orbital warehouse at the 100D limit (more likely they will be actually sitting between 90-100D), exchange cargo and take on fuel. Plus it makes for less orbital traffic for the planet itself. That size of a world is going to be swarming with craft in orbit, and safety would mean everybody would have to be on nice, ordered flight paths (that are also slower speed).

Hopefully the revised books actually take into account more realistic idea of how such things operate.
 

Geir

Banded Mongoose
I don't necessarily think its ridiculous, giving the constraints built into the definition of 'starport'. The Imperial definition is that there is only one 'starport', the rest are are spaceports. There may be many spaceports: private, corporate, 'national' on balkansied worlds - and the starport might have a highport and a downport and some of the those facilities will be 'distributed' as in not immediately adjacent. Bases can be located elsewhere, as will be at least some shipyards very likely part of some megacorp's private facility, but again, the whole extra-territorial thing is going to create an artificial (from a practical and economic point of few) preference for centralisation in that territory and likely in neighbouring cultures associated with it.

There is a JTAS article (in the first set of 6 - not willing to search for the reference right now - dinner to cook) that discusses the delays and expectations imposed by having to follow careful approach corridors and spending a lot of time waiting for an open dock, so the very real problems you mention are at least already considered. Also, worlds high on the xenopobia scale are likely to want to corral 'foreign influences' to a limited area. So I think it is more of a 'it depends' than an 'it's ridiculous'.

Non-Imperial worlds won't necessarily have that tendency. Multi-clan Aslan worlds will likely have one per clan and possibly more that are affiliated with female-run corporation that are not affiliated strongly to any clan. Even there, however, those catering to "outsiders'. especially non-Aslan might channel that traffic towards one particular station.
 

phavoc

Cosmic Mongoose
I don't necessarily think its ridiculous, giving the constraints built into the definition of 'starport'. The Imperial definition is that there is only one 'starport', the rest are are spaceports. There may be many spaceports: private, corporate, 'national' on balkansied worlds - and the starport might have a highport and a downport and some of the those facilities will be 'distributed' as in not immediately adjacent. Bases can be located elsewhere, as will be at least some shipyards very likely part of some megacorp's private facility, but again, the whole extra-territorial thing is going to create an artificial (from a practical and economic point of few) preference for centralisation in that territory and likely in neighbouring cultures associated with it.

There is a JTAS article (in the first set of 6 - not willing to search for the reference right now - dinner to cook) that discusses the delays and expectations imposed by having to follow careful approach corridors and spending a lot of time waiting for an open dock, so the very real problems you mention are at least already considered. Also, worlds high on the xenopobia scale are likely to want to corral 'foreign influences' to a limited area. So I think it is more of a 'it depends' than an 'it's ridiculous'.

Non-Imperial worlds won't necessarily have that tendency. Multi-clan Aslan worlds will likely have one per clan and possibly more that are affiliated with female-run corporation that are not affiliated strongly to any clan. Even there, however, those catering to "outsiders'. especially non-Aslan might channel that traffic towards one particular station.
The problem with the books is that they simply don't hold up to basic logic. A single billion-ton port makes no sense because (a) it would never be built to that scale to start with, rather it would be built larger as need required it, and (b) the amount of traffic and delays trying to channel traffic through a single port would be illogical (if not ridiculous). Thousands of years of history with ports in reality has shown the efficacy of NOT concentrating a nations (in this instance, a planet) traffic through one location. As we have seen since the beginning of the industrial era, as ports capacities are reached new ones are built and traffic (and passengers) re-routed. Space is going to be different in a number of instances, but the need to disperse traffic to handle it more efficiently remains. There are some exceptions out there, but they are usually explained away via politics or limitations regarding places where new facilities could actually be built.

A xenophobic or similar government type that abhors contact would be more the type to have a restriction as described - trying to limit traffic to a single gateway for control purposes. Though a planet with 20 billion people is going to generate a LOT of traffic and trade, thus merchants are going to demand more efficiency than a single facility could provide. Maybe if you decided to have an orbital facility 20-40km long to provide ample docking ports it might fly, though as anyone who's been to a busy airport with people movers on it, the more spread out the facility gets, the more time it takes to travel between gates (or docking ports) - which includes both cargo and people.

Balkanized worlds, much like multi-clan Aslan worlds, would each have their own starport - possibly both high and down. Starport/spaceport nomenclature are better defined with the purpose of the port and not if it's the mythical port-of-call for the system. The idea of a single port also fails for any system with any significant settlements or facilities beyond the primary world, any system like Trin that doesn't even have a planetary component, or a system (not just the planet) that is balkanized.

The article you may be referring to is from JTAS #3 - Jump Point to Port. It does discuss delays and such in getting a docking slip and some die modifiers for priority. This concept is, primarily, related to the idea of a single port, and 50k Dton behemoths sharing docking locations with 100 Dton minnows - and the idea that bigger generally always gets priorities. Air traffic is similar, to an extent, is similar since air traffic control will allow a Cessna to land in front of a Airbus 380, but these are the rule and not the exception. Small craft very rarely land at major airports since facilities are not meant for them, and servicing and such takes longer. And you won't see a 100ft yacht docked at the pier of the Port of Los Angeles in place of a 20,000 TEU container ship.

I do see the exceptions, however by default they would be exceptions and not the rule. Since it's always been said the Imperium survives on trade, ensuring that it's run efficiently should be the default assumption. And that's why I used the label as I did.
 

Geir

Banded Mongoose
The problem with the books is that they simply don't hold up to basic logic. A single billion-ton port makes no sense because (a) it would never be built to that scale to start with, rather it would be built larger as need required it, and (b) the amount of traffic and delays trying to channel traffic through a single port would be illogical (if not ridiculous). Thousands of years of history with ports in reality has shown the efficacy of NOT concentrating a nations (in this instance, a planet) traffic through one location. As we have seen since the beginning of the industrial era, as ports capacities are reached new ones are built and traffic (and passengers) re-routed. Space is going to be different in a number of instances, but the need to disperse traffic to handle it more efficiently remains. There are some exceptions out there, but they are usually explained away via politics or limitations regarding places where new facilities could actually be built.

A xenophobic or similar government type that abhors contact would be more the type to have a restriction as described - trying to limit traffic to a single gateway for control purposes. Though a planet with 20 billion people is going to generate a LOT of traffic and trade, thus merchants are going to demand more efficiency than a single facility could provide. Maybe if you decided to have an orbital facility 20-40km long to provide ample docking ports it might fly, though as anyone who's been to a busy airport with people movers on it, the more spread out the facility gets, the more time it takes to travel between gates (or docking ports) - which includes both cargo and people.

Balkanized worlds, much like multi-clan Aslan worlds, would each have their own starport - possibly both high and down. Starport/spaceport nomenclature are better defined with the purpose of the port and not if it's the mythical port-of-call for the system. The idea of a single port also fails for any system with any significant settlements or facilities beyond the primary world, any system like Trin that doesn't even have a planetary component, or a system (not just the planet) that is balkanized.

The article you may be referring to is from JTAS #3 - Jump Point to Port. It does discuss delays and such in getting a docking slip and some die modifiers for priority. This concept is, primarily, related to the idea of a single port, and 50k Dton behemoths sharing docking locations with 100 Dton minnows - and the idea that bigger generally always gets priorities. Air traffic is similar, to an extent, is similar since air traffic control will allow a Cessna to land in front of a Airbus 380, but these are the rule and not the exception. Small craft very rarely land at major airports since facilities are not meant for them, and servicing and such takes longer. And you won't see a 100ft yacht docked at the pier of the Port of Los Angeles in place of a 20,000 TEU container ship.

I do see the exceptions, however by default they would be exceptions and not the rule. Since it's always been said the Imperium survives on trade, ensuring that it's run efficiently should be the default assumption. And that's why I used the label as I did.
For the WBH I'm going off the T5 levels for traffic, which for Importance 5 come to 1000 ships a week, or about one every six minutes, comparable to a busy international airport hub. Admittedly, at such an important port, some, or maybe most, of these ships are going to be in the 10-100+ kton range, so a seaport is a better analogy (although highports get the advantage of a third dimension to spread out the docking terminals and bays).

I think for Imperial Class B-D downports (which are likely only the single port at the smaller port sized end) the single starport paradigm holds (though shipyards are still likely outside the borders), but for the Pop 9 and A worlds, yeah, not likely to stick all the eggs in one highport basket, and the visitors are going to be segregated to space stations so 'cultural contamination' is less of an issue.

I'll fudge it in the next draft in the WBH to state that the starport highport is 'one or more' stations and thus preserve referee flexibility, and be clearer about shipyards not being necessarily tied to the same station. The formulas I'm using are already currently written around 'capacity' not 'facility'.
 

Arkathan

Cosmic Mongoose
A planet of that size isn't going to have just one Highport - that's just ridiculous, not to mention impractical. You are going to have many orbital stations, with some dedicated to passengers, others just plain warehouses. A high population planet on a major trade route is going to have closer-in orbital stations and habitats and orbital warehouses and stations at the 100D limit as well. There is no reason for a 10k Dton freighter to spend hours approaching a planet when it can dock at a orbital warehouse at the 100D limit (more likely they will be actually sitting between 90-100D), exchange cargo and take on fuel. Plus it makes for less orbital traffic for the planet itself. That size of a world is going to be swarming with craft in orbit, and safety would mean everybody would have to be on nice, ordered flight paths (that are also slower speed).

Hopefully the revised books actually take into account more realistic idea of how such things operate.
I use a similar thought process in my campaign with a pair of mobile supply ships that act as stations at the 100D limit of the gas giant on a J-3 route... however the flaw in that is that you need more than two ships to cover the 100d volume of space. 4 is probably the minimum that would make the effort worthwhile, especially if there is any sort of emergency.
 

Condottiere

Cosmic Mongoose
Very, very important planets are likely to have more than one starport; and consider systems that have more than one high population planet.

For the vast majority of systems in the Imperium, this may be more a question of having a single administrative authority, overseeing all affiliated facilities in the system.
 

phavoc

Cosmic Mongoose
For the WBH I'm going off the T5 levels for traffic, which for Importance 5 come to 1000 ships a week, or about one every six minutes, comparable to a busy international airport hub. Admittedly, at such an important port, some, or maybe most, of these ships are going to be in the 10-100+ kton range, so a seaport is a better analogy (although highports get the advantage of a third dimension to spread out the docking terminals and bays).

I think for Imperial Class B-D downports (which are likely only the single port at the smaller port sized end) the single starport paradigm holds (though shipyards are still likely outside the borders), but for the Pop 9 and A worlds, yeah, not likely to stick all the eggs in one highport basket, and the visitors are going to be segregated to space stations so 'cultural contamination' is less of an issue.

I'll fudge it in the next draft in the WBH to state that the starport highport is 'one or more' stations and thus preserve referee flexibility, and be clearer about shipyards not being necessarily tied to the same station. The formulas I'm using are already currently written around 'capacity' not 'facility'.
One way to address this is to simply call out the variables and impress upon the reader of no "one true way" for this sort of thing. Starports/spaceports are just nomenclature, and really the idea being that a starport is primarily focused upon interstellar traffic, while spaceports are focused primarily on intrasystem traffic. Neither would usually be exclusive to one or the other though. It's doubtful you'd have a lot of industrial starports, but you'd probably have a lot of industrial spaceports. Same goes for passengers - shuttleports are technically spaceports, though their focus is more commuting rather than handling passenger liners from other systems.

Some systems are going to be far more open to easy customs and being merchant-friendly, while the others will be like "stray from the approved lanes and we'll shoot you down, Imperial scum" - though I doubt the navy would let them actually shoot a ship down.

Since you are still working on the book a few paragraphs to explain variations would go a long ways towards getting away from the previous explanations that are a bit too confining for my taste. Also try to explain how a balkanized world would operate differently than a single polity world.

I'm happy to offer up some ideas/editing if you want.
 

phavoc

Cosmic Mongoose
I use a similar thought process in my campaign with a pair of mobile supply ships that act as stations at the 100D limit of the gas giant on a J-3 route... however the flaw in that is that you need more than two ships to cover the 100d volume of space. 4 is probably the minimum that would make the effort worthwhile, especially if there is any sort of emergency.
Well, depending on where you want to put them really. If it's known where, in relation to the planet, your 95D station or ship is located, then inbound ships can plot their jump entry to be in that area. For pure transfer traffic above/below the plane of the system eliptic is a good place to be.
 

paltrysum

Cosmic Mongoose
There is nothing in the books that insists on there being a single starport for any given world, so the notion that the books have it wrong is a bit of a straw man argument. In various narratives, "the starport" is mentioned, which could mean one starport is present, but it might also mean that denizens of the star system see that one as the starport, while others serve various auxiliary functions. In other narratives, such as the descriptions of Mora, there are multiple enormous starports described.

I don't see any reason why the author should write the book to that level of specificity. Merely providing the game mechanics to create starports is enough and then let individual referees create things as they wish.
 
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