Travellers Needed - The Future of Traveller

Sigtrygg

Emperor Mongoose
As I have posted many times before - if you pluck a human Imperial citizen at random they are likely to be of mostly Vilani ancestry since the population and spread of Vilani humans was several orders of magnitude greater than the number of Solomani that left Earth during the Rule of man era.

It's not just the human cultures that are monolithic, are we to believe that every Aslan acts as described, or every Vargr?
 

Iracundus

Banded Mongoose
As I have posted many times before - if you pluck a human Imperial citizen at random they are likely to be of mostly Vilani ancestry since the population and spread of Vilani humans was several orders of magnitude greater than the number of Solomani that left Earth during the Rule of man era.

It's not just the human cultures that are monolithic, are we to believe that every Aslan acts as described, or every Vargr?

They likely are at least partly Vilani ancestry, maybe with some Solomani mixed in somewhere along the line. However Imperial culture is not the same as traditionalist Vilani like the First Imperium. Solomani culture infiltrated with the Second Imperium, and socially and economically the Third Imperium is nowhere near as rigid as the First Imperium. However the more purist traditionalist Vilani in the Rebellion era are the ones that break away in an attempt to recreate the Ziru Sirka, or at least their imagined ideal of what it was. That means there was still the existence of a significant purist Vilani segment even prior to the Rebellion era. It is this bit that I think might deserve a write up. We have basically Solomani, Zhodani, Imperial all written up to some degree, but we don't have Vilani, except as snippets in past editions, the Megatraveller Vilani & Vargr supplement, or the segment in GURPS Traveller Interstellar Wars. Considering the pivotal role the Vilani have played historically, I think they deserve a writeup.

No Aslan are not monolithic. We get the archetypal traditional Aslan clans as the "baseline" for an introduction to new readers/players. Mongoose has mentioned less traditionalist Aslan clans, some of which are now extinct or gone their own way completely separate from the Hierate. All of these writeups on alien races or cultures are similar, with a baseline traditional. Obviously variations can spring up on other worlds or enclaves settled by that culture.
 

Vormaerin

Mongoose
While all the species in Traveller, like most games, tend towards being monocultures, the Aslan at least do have several groups that behave differently. Granted, they mostly get warred on by the main culture Aslan and tend not to do very well as a result. Its not enough to break them out of being a monoculture, but its more than any of the other cultures get.

Even the Solomani are pretty monoculture, despite the innumerable real Earth cultures to draw from. There's just a nearly overwhelming urge to take one's cool culture idea and apply it to an entirely new minor race. And, unrealistic as it is, there is the sad fact that if you start having to say which Vilani cultural group you are talking about, it undercuts the descriptive value of "Vilani" for a game author.

I would love to have more cultures and subcultures. I'm just conflicted about the best way to actually do that in the context of game supplements.
 

Iracundus

Banded Mongoose
While all the species in Traveller, like most games, tend towards being monocultures, the Aslan at least do have several groups that behave differently. Granted, they mostly get warred on by the main culture Aslan and tend not to do very well as a result. Its not enough to break them out of being a monoculture, but its more than any of the other cultures get.

Even the Solomani are pretty monoculture, despite the innumerable real Earth cultures to draw from. There's just a nearly overwhelming urge to take one's cool culture idea and apply it to an entirely new minor race. And, unrealistic as it is, there is the sad fact that if you start having to say which Vilani cultural group you are talking about, it undercuts the descriptive value of "Vilani" for a game author.

I would love to have more cultures and subcultures. I'm just conflicted about the best way to actually do that in the context of game supplements.

The Vilani have the "advantage" so to speak in that their whole First Imperium's thing was about social stability and monoculture, or at least enough to hold it together, so perhaps more than any other major race they are suitable for a supplement. This was not even from some biological determinism to Vilani but a conscious choice of social engineering according to GURPS Traveller. Even so there were variants and dissidents. The whole kimashargur faction was one such.

Considering one of the major conflicts in the setting is between the Solomani Confederation and the Imperium, I think it's worthwhile to examine the Vilani aspect because that is one of the claims of the Solomani: that the Imperium had become too influenced by Vilani culture and settled into a sort of facsimile of the First Imperium and became a place of bland consumerist conservatism. Obviously others might feel differently but an examination of Vilani culture I think would be a useful counterpoint given that there has been examination of Solomani already.
 
Last edited:

Sigtrygg

Emperor Mongoose
The Vilani of the Ziru Sirka were culturally stagnant, but that is in complete contrast to how the Vilani were before, and probably during, the consolidation wars.

The Vilani were explorers, they used STL ships for 590 years to build colonies and encountered another human race plus a few alien races during this period.
They then invented their jump drive and for the next 2920 years or so built up colony worlds, explored, traded and were the umbrella hegemony for the whole of the space they colonised and traded with. They also went from TL9 to TL10 and then finally achieved TL11.
They then became militaristic and demanded their hegemony become overt rulership, hence the consolidation wars that lasted just over a thousand years (1030). For some reason they didn't push to TL12 (I have a theory for that).

Only now would the Ziru Sirka stagnate and deliberately and culturally restrict innovation and progress. Twelve hundred years of Empire would see the beginning of the end when the Intersteller Wars era blew up upon encountering the Terrans.

The Vilani had nearly five thousand seven hundred years of colony building and empire to populate this small piece of the galaxy, there would be some mixing with other human minor races no doubt, but I would estimate the population of the Ziru Sirka to be hundreds of trillions.

Now the Rule of Man lasted just over three hundred years, during that time there was some migration of Terrans into the Ziru Sirka. Canon tells us the population of Earth at the start of the ISW was twelve billion.

How many of that twelve billion would migrate into the Ziru Sirka? Let's go with the preposterous figure of one billion migrants.

One billion added to a hundred trillion. One per one hundred thousand.
 

Iracundus

Banded Mongoose
A small drop if you only look at 100% pure blooded Solomani. However over time they would intermarry and that is why "Imperial" is a race/culture of its own. Culturally, the Solomani would have been the ruling class due to the Terran victory and their culture would have dominated the Second Imperium. The old caste system was dismantled and society often tries to emulate the ruling class. Throw in the Long Night for some more mixing and blending, and that is why Imperial culture is a blend of Solomani and Vilani, enough for players to not feel the Third Imperium is too alien. For example, according to GURPS Traveller Interstellar Wars, the concept of advertising/marketing was foreign to the Vilani Ziru SIrka as there were few competing products in their command economy, and the options already stratified according to social class.

A Mongoose Vilani supplement I think should be more like Megatravellers Vilani supplement and GURPS Traveller Interstellar Wars, in examining traditionalist Vilani culture and lifestyle, particularly in how it differs from Solomani culture. The blending over the centuries may mean no fully 100% example of Vilani culture as it was in the Ziru Sirka or before exists any more, but aspects of it may exist to varying degrees all across the Third Imperium, with the Vland area retaining the most.
 

Vormaerin

Mongoose
I know that their schtick is cultural stagnation, but I don't really believe that is actually possible given the limits of communications technology. That said, I wasn't objecting to a Vilani book that focuses on their major cultural contributions to the present day. The reason monocultures predominate in games is because there's limits to what can be developed and applied.

Ideally, you'd have world write ups that delved into how those cultures adapted to that environment and history. But most Traveller games involve moving from world to world, so that kind of detail tends to be of limited general appeal.
 

Condottiere

Emperor Mongoose
The most obvious comparison would be the Greeks taking over the Persian Empire.


73bdbd05c5ec82fb12c3ee5bdb0b7ecf_jpg_2604.jpg
 

Shardan13

Mongoose
How about exploring some of the cultural regions in the Imperium as well as the Vilani. The Vilani have such an area but so do the Luriani, the Vegan and the Sylean. I release that the Vegan and the Sylean had been covered slightly in other books but there is always room to explore the cultures in more depth and how they influence the local cultures.
 

Iracundus

Banded Mongoose
The Vilani of the Ziru Sirka were culturally stagnant, but that is in complete contrast to how the Vilani were before, and probably during, the consolidation wars.

The Vilani were explorers, they used STL ships for 590 years to build colonies and encountered another human race plus a few alien races during this period.
They then invented their jump drive and for the next 2920 years or so built up colony worlds, explored, traded and were the umbrella hegemony for the whole of the space they colonised and traded with. They also went from TL9 to TL10 and then finally achieved TL11.
They then became militaristic and demanded their hegemony become overt rulership, hence the consolidation wars that lasted just over a thousand years (1030). For some reason they didn't push to TL12 (I have a theory for that).

Only now would the Ziru Sirka stagnate and deliberately and culturally restrict innovation and progress. Twelve hundred years of Empire would see the beginning of the end when the Intersteller Wars era blew up upon encountering the Terrans.

What is your theory?

Mine is simply that the Ziru Sirka had the advantage of size. When you are the biggest around with already a technological edge over everyone else, it is easier to solve problems by throwing more quantity at the problem rather than trying to push for the next TL. More ships, more missiles, more troops.

It was not til later that it became so politically damaging for governors to request those additional reinforcements that they instead opted to cover up the problem by signing treaties and ceding worlds.
 

Sigtrygg

Emperor Mongoose
The Ziru Sirka were well aware that technology above TL11 is possible, they had encountered cultures with technology and science way in advance of their TL9-10 during their age of expansion and colonisation. The high tech cultures all lacked one thing, the jump drive.
Did the Vilani trade the jump drove tech with these TL12-17 cultures? Nope.
Did they interdict and then later nuke abck to the stone age? Yup

The Vilani knew that if advanced cultures got hold of jump technology they would pose a threat to Vilani hegemony and dominance. There is also the other reason, TL12 bring with it learning machines. Robots and computers that can simulate emotion and learn. The Vilani of old grew up with a mythology of machine gods waging wars across the heavens.

It is my contention that the advance to TL12 requires a lot more computer "intelligence" than the Vilani were happy rith incorporating, hence the deliberate stagnation at TL11. There are secret Vilani repositories of forbidden knowledge still in existence during the Third Imperium era.

The Ziru Sirka encountered the Terrans while the Terrans were TL9. Within a few decades of reverse engineering, espionage and trade the Terrans quickly achieved TL11.
I can't prove it but it makes sense that when the Terrans learned of the Ziru Sirka forbidden secrets they made every effort to compromise one of those facilities. lacking the Vilani fear of intelligent machines the Terrans were more than happy to push to TL 12, probably reaching early TL13 by the end of the Rule of Man.
 

Sigtrygg

Emperor Mongoose
The Vilani controlled the jump drive, the only other race they encountered with a jump drive was the Geonee, and they quickly removed them as a threat.

They could jump to the out system and send comets to destroy the mainworld, then finish them off with nukes. The consolidation wars lasted over a thousand years and by the end of them no culture above TL10, with the exception of the TL17 sentient robots of Sabmiqys, remained in the Ziru Sirka.
 

Condottiere

Emperor Mongoose
Extinction level event would be probably more efficient with a large meteor.

However, even if someone forgot to develop jump drives, manoeuvre drive technology was still available, and you can send exploration missions to nearby star systems.

If you're paranoid, and assuming that surrounding space becomes very radio active, you can pick up on what's happening in the local sector.
 

Iracundus

Banded Mongoose
GURPS Traveller had another comment about Vilani technology which I think might be a contributing factor why they stagnated at TL 11 though I don't think it would be the only explanation. I think the deliberate social engineering and the easier solution of throwing more of something at a problem are the main reasons.

GURPS Traveller Interstellar Wars said instead of multi-purpose computers like the Terrans had, the Vilani had several highly specialised computers each for a specific task, but they were not networked or compatible with each other. I guess the closest comparison might be how Japanese mobile phone technology in the pre-smart phone era had many features but using company specific software and run on proprietary hardware. Although just as good at their task or even better than the Terrans' (at least before they got TL 12), the Vilani could only use their computers and other consumer electronics for specific tasks or customise according to a set menu of specific pre-determined options.
 

Sigtrygg

Emperor Mongoose
The Vilani knew all about TLs beyond 11, and they deliberately stagnated at TL11.

The truly awful nature of the consolidation wars will likely never be revealed, the Ziru Sirka is likely responsible for the deaths of trillions...
 

Condottiere

Emperor Mongoose
Can't say I'm familiar with the policies of the Vilani.

However, I am having a crash course with the policies (and politics) of the Soviet Union and Russia, and it's probably institutional self interest.
 

Iracundus

Banded Mongoose
The Vilani basically practiced imperialism and attempted to create a closed societal system. No other polities were permitted beyond client states and they had to adhere to Vilani restrictions on technological innovation, to avoid creating ripples of societal disruption that might affect the Vilani themselves. The Vilani kept a monopoly on Jump-2 for themselves. The Vilani either had the technological edge over all those they encountered or had enough quantity to make the difference, or could safely quarantine and ignore any odd single planets that might prove unconquerable but which did not have the jump drive or pose a threat.

I see it as an attempt to practice psychohistory on a grand scale. In order to create their stable safe space of stability and prosperity for all time (or so they thought), the Vilani needed to eliminate all potential foreign disturbances. Once all known potential threats were eliminated or forced to bend the knee equivalent, then the Ziru Sirka crystallised. A good enough quality of life was deemed to be reached for all, and individual ambition was channelled towards climbing the bureaucratic ladder. Again I think the stereotypical Japanese corporate life is a good analogy.
 

Sigtrygg

Emperor Mongoose
For over three thousand years the Vilani were happy to explore, colonise, trade and establish hegemony over their region of space.
Then suddenly, after the invention of the jump 2 drive (and there is quite a secret behind that), the Vilani began the conquest of their previously peaceful hegemony.
Even the ruling classes refused to advance to TL12 - which would have given them an even greater advantage over the TL9-10 general populace - despite knowing it was possible, had examples and was achievable after only a few decades as the Terrans would prove.
 

Iracundus

Banded Mongoose
If you are referring to the Annic Nova, I am not fond of having a single McGuffin explain such a pivotal change, rather than broader socioeconomic or cultural factors.
 
Top