Zhodani Aethetics

ottarrus

Cosmic Mongoose
Going through all my references, which are pretty extensive in all editions of Traveller, there is one thing I haven't been able to find. Has anyone done any artwork for Zhodani ship interiors, other than deckplans?
I'm looking for something similar to DGP's outstanding Ship Operator's Manual starship interiors.
I'm looking for Zhodani ship bridges, starship cabins, anything that will visually stand out as different from Imperial /Solomani ship designs.

Any ideas?
 

Garran

Banded Mongoose
The bits of ship background in Aliens of Charted Space don't show anything particularly standout, and the book itself suggests that their designs are similar to those of other humans, other than the fact that psionic controls are ubiquitous. I'd actually expect there to be a range of styles depending on where and when within the Consulate the ship was built.

The one probably-common feature that comes to mind is that since the Zhodani are supposed to be a bit taller on average, it stands to reason that their interior designs would have ceilings a bit higher to match. It might be a subtle difference, but for a non-Zhodani it'd make the ship feel unusually spacious compared to its Imperium equivalent. (Inconveniently so, if you're trying to reach things on or in the ceiling!)
 

paltrysum

Emperor Mongoose
Deck plans are kind of abstract, so it's difficult to show a lot of detail, but one suggestion would be some segregation of the classes, but not in the way you might think. Rather than trying to wall off the proles from the nobility, the nobles should be placed in high or luxury staterooms in the center of a block of staterooms that are assigned to proles—the better to monitor and assist them. Intendants, who are less likely to be assigned that task, may be located towards their ship functions. For example, engineering and the bridge, where they might serve as pilots, engineers, etc.
 

Rikki Tikki Traveller

Cosmic Mongoose
I like that idea!

One thing I wish was more variation in how deckplans between the races were laid out. Aslan ships should be segregated by 'family' with a male stateroom surrounded by a series of female staterooms with an Ihatie section somewhere else... Could be fun.
 

Garran

Banded Mongoose
I think it's just as (if not more) likely that Aslan ships would practice gender segregation. It's heavily implied that the two genders already operate on the "Mars vs Venus" principle in everyday affairs; their society treats it as a basic fact that the two simply can't understand one another.
 

ottarrus

Cosmic Mongoose
Well, my plan is to use the deck plans from the MgT 1e Zhodani book. I'm one of the minority that just doesn't like current High Guard deck plans very much. I'm not a sailor, but I've toured several naval vessels; what's more I live in an area where a lot of USN personnel retire, so I have 'swabbie' friends. Some of these folks are also Traveller fans. One thing I've observed and they've confirmed is that, other than the main engine room, ship systems are not wedged into the hull in great big blocks of machinery. Ship systems are scattered all over the freaking place. The earlier deck plans reflect this whereas the current ones don't.
As to the Zhodani aesthetics [yes, I misspelled it in the title] here's what I'm rolling with so far:
Canon Information:
- Zhodani society reflects a basic honesty utterly missing in Imperial society. There is no need for 'control' of the crew. The Proles respect and obey the Nobles and Intendants because they they've been taught to do so. The Nobles and Intendants genuinely care for the Proles and work hard to lead and guide them. There are few locks aboard, signage saying 'No Unauthorized Personnel Beyond This Point' is enough.
- Zhodani education for the Prole class is limited. Most Proles are directed towards vocational-technical educations rather than theoretical or philosophical ones.
- Weaponry will be secured as a safety measure, NOT to prevent mutiny.

Campaign information:
- The Zhodani evolved on a world of 0.8G gravity. Their default aesthetic is about 8 inches /20 cm taller than Imperial standard. However, the Zhodani have a longer colonization history than either the Ziru Sirka or the Solomani have and it's been consistent and continuous. In the 12000 years that the Zho's have been in space, they've colonized heavier worlds, lighter worlds and so on. There is plenty of 'wiggle room' in adjusting seats, controls, etc.
- The canon states that Prole education has a ceiling of 'no EDU higher than SOC'. I'm not entirely sure that's feasible for a starfaring society with as much invested in space exploration as the Consulate does. The percentage of the Zho population dedicated to ship crews is proportionally larger than the Third Imperium and the Zho's don't thrive on technical ignorance like the Vilani do. With all that in mind, it's not unreasonable, IMHO, for a Prole to have the equivalent of a Bachelor's degree [mostly in technical fields] with a hard cap of EDU 9.
- The lighting will be a slightly different frequency, a little 'off' to those used to Imperial ships.
- Light and sound signals aboard ship will be VERY different from Imperial ships. The light code emergency, warning, and immediate action will be soft blue instead of red, for example.

These are just the current ruminations on the subject, but I very much appreciate all of your input.
 

paltrysum

Emperor Mongoose
ottarrus said:
I'm not a sailor, but I've toured several naval vessels; what's more I live in an area where a lot of USN personnel retire, so I have 'swabbie' friends. Some of these folks are also Traveller fans. One thing I've observed and they've confirmed is that, other than the main engine room, ship systems are not wedged into the hull in great big blocks of machinery. Ship systems are scattered all over the freaking place. The earlier deck plans reflect this whereas the current ones don't.

The thing is, starships aren't seagoing naval ships. While they lean on them for terminology and ship types (e.g, destroyer, carrier, frigate, etc.), and the 'age of sail' motif runs strong in Traveller, the metaphor needn't go further than that. I've also seen complaints about barracks being too spacious, etc. This isn't the USN or Royal Navy in space. For that matter, the Imperial Marines aren't the USMC, the Imperial Army is not the US Army, etc.

Drawing deck plans like that would not be helpful for most gamers. They have to be made simple and useful. We have to break out of the 'simulationist trap' and focus on it being a playable game.

ottarrus said:
There is no need for 'control' of the crew. The Proles respect and obey the Nobles and Intendants because they they've been taught to do so. The Nobles and Intendants genuinely care for the Proles and work hard to lead and guide them. There are few locks aboard, signage saying 'No Unauthorized Personnel Beyond This Point' is enough.

Not control. Assistance and guidance. Being in the proximity of your proles reduces psionic range and makes it easier to ensure that they're in good spirits and functioning well in their assigned roles.

ottarrus said:
The canon states that Prole education has a ceiling of 'no EDU higher than SOC'. I'm not entirely sure that's feasible for a starfaring society with as much invested in space exploration as the Consulate does. The percentage of the Zho population dedicated to ship crews is proportionally larger than the Third Imperium and the Zho's don't thrive on technical ignorance like the Vilani do. With all that in mind, it's not unreasonable, IMHO, for a Prole to have the equivalent of a Bachelor's degree [mostly in technical fields] with a hard cap of EDU 9.

These are just the current ruminations on the subject, but I very much appreciate all of your input.

Fun to do, isn't it? And thanks for posting the topic.

Everyone's entitled to do what they want in their own campaigns, of course, but I prefer to keep my alien cultures alien. The game only has many levers to work with and characteristics are a good one. I agree that it would be a challenge to keep all a ship's systems functioning with limited EDU scores all around, but that's the fun of it. Figuring out how it would work. Intendants carry the burden of making things work. Being an Intendant is a 24/7 job. Making them more like Imperials just dulls things.
 

Rikki Tikki Traveller

Cosmic Mongoose
I would be a bit more restrictive on the Prole EDU. I would limit them to EDU 7 or 8. Advanced Education skills should be very limited for Proles, but common for Intendent and Nobles.

Don't have my books in front of me, but is there a breakdown of the Zhodani population by these three classes? I would expect more Intendents and Nobles on starship crews, but still, most of the highly skilled work would be limited to the upper classes.

My thought:
Nobles and Indendents for Pilot, Navigation, and Engineer
Proles get Mechanic, Electronics, Gunner etc.
 

ottarrus

Cosmic Mongoose
Rikki Tikki Traveller said:
I would be a bit more restrictive on the Prole EDU. I would limit them to EDU 7 or 8. Advanced Education skills should be very limited for Proles, but common for Intendent and Nobles.

Don't have my books in front of me, but is there a breakdown of the Zhodani population by these three classes? I would expect more Intendents and Nobles on starship crews, but still, most of the highly skilled work would be limited to the upper classes.

My thought:
Nobles and Indendents for Pilot, Navigation, and Engineer
Proles get Mechanic, Electronics, Gunner etc.

The Psionic Classes make up about 20% of Zhodani society, although the percentages of Intendants to Nobles varies by source. The average is that 12% of Zho society is Noble.

As for Prole EDU, the way I see it is that a highly focused technical education [detailed skill training and multiple certifications] can get you to EDU 9. Past that and it really does indicate post-secondary school education. And the Traveller university education system is pretty flexible. It's entirely likely that someone with a starting EDU of 5 successfully completes college with an EDU of 8... it's not likely but it is possible within the rules.

But your OTU will vary and all that.
 

Condottiere

Emperor Mongoose
Military culture may differ from civilian culture, so within starwarships, accommodations may be less segregationist.

I suspect there will be a lot of nude beaches.
 

Garran

Banded Mongoose
While they won't all necessarily be at 8/9, proles with substantially lower Edu (1-3 for sure, probably 4-5 too) are a lot less likely to be assigned to a starship in the first place, so the overall average is probably about the same even if none of them have a high value.

There may not even be many/any proles working on some ships. Those involved in sensitive missions could easily have an 'intendant-only' requirement.
 

Rikki Tikki Traveller

Cosmic Mongoose
Garran said:
While they won't all necessarily be at 8/9, proles with substantially lower Edu (1-3 for sure, probably 4-5 too) are a lot less likely to be assigned to a starship in the first place, so the overall average is probably about the same even if none of them have a high value.

There may not even be many/any proles working on some ships. Those involved in sensitive missions could easily have an 'intendant-only' requirement.
100% agree. The character creation rules probably should have a MINIMUM EDU that a Prole must have to be assigned to the Zhodani Navy. Low EDU Proles are going to be in their Army, or not even in the military but working in some factory or in a service job, or menial job.
 

Rikki Tikki Traveller

Cosmic Mongoose
Sorry, I also seemed to have pulled us off topic.

Would Zhodani segregate by sex? Would male and female Proles share a stateroom with someone of the other sex? Is that even a thing in the Imperium?
 

Condottiere

Emperor Mongoose
Maybe within the Imperium.

Sexual mores may be very localized, and besides the chain of command fraternization verbot, the Navy may go for a vanilla policy.
 

ottarrus

Cosmic Mongoose
Condottiere said:
Maybe within the Imperium.

Sexual mores may be very localized, and besides the chain of command fraternization verbot, the Navy may go for a vanilla policy.
Rikki Tikki Traveller said:
Sorry, I also seemed to have pulled us off topic.

Would Zhodani segregate by sex? Would male and female Proles share a stateroom with someone of the other sex? Is that even a thing in the Imperium?

IMTU, there are three things about co-ed berthing in Imperial services...
a] Men and women are given a contraceptive implant every term during their service.
b] Those with religious issues regarding gender, sexuality, or conception are require to report such to the chain of command. Reasonable efforts will be made to accommodate them. Under no circumstances will any unit consist of a majority of one faith, subculture, or credo. 'Imperial service' means serving the WHOLE Imperium, not just those who agree with you.
c] Illicit relationships, like alcohol and other recreational drugs, are just an avenue for blackmail, bribery, and other forms of corruption to enter into the service. Therefore, a limited allowance for such relationships exists. Participants may NOT be in the same chain of command, nor have any authority over one another. Every effort will be made to accommodate married partners [including group marriages], barring exigencies of the service, with assignments. It should be noted that the 'chain of command' rule often serves to disqualify some personnel for command consideration and the promotion opportunities therefrom.
'If the Emperor wanted you to have a spouse, the Vilani would make you fill out the forms in triplicate.'

For the Zhodani, it's MUCH simpler. The only social taboo regarding mates in Zho society is relationships between classes... All people are encouraged to keep their relationships within their own caste. The problems arrive with those who given mental privacy... Nobles and [to lesser extent] Intendants. It is recognized that two people working closely together are more likely to form a romantic attachment, especially if both are psionic, as there are fewer mates to choose from in the military. However, the Consulate's position is that such relationships are only proper after both parties have retired from Consular service. Any children born of such an arrangement enter Zhodani society in the Intendant caste.
 

Condottiere

Emperor Mongoose
1. What's marriage? Just a civil and social institution?

2. Can you have more than one spouse concurrently?

3. Inheritance laws and customs.

4. Concubines.

5. Isn't it mentally healthier to have affairs in the open, rather than clandestine trysts?
 

Arkathan

Cosmic Mongoose
Can you even have a clandestine tryst in a psionic society?
Different views on personal and mental privacy?
 

ottarrus

Cosmic Mongoose
Arkathan said:
Can you even have a clandestine tryst in a psionic society?
Different views on personal and mental privacy?
Condottiere said:
1. What's marriage? Just a civil and social institution?

2. Can you have more than one spouse concurrently?

3. Inheritance laws and customs.

4. Concubines.

5. Isn't it mentally healthier to have affairs in the open, rather than clandestine trysts?

Arkathan said:
Can you even have a clandestine tryst in a psionic society?
Different views on personal and mental privacy?

All the sources, from CT Alien Module 4 to MgT Alien Races 1, portray the Zhodani as having a fundamentally healthier psychology about sex and marriage. The basic honesty of their society enables people to be much more forthright and far less shy and secretive about it. There's much less false modesty and anxiety over individual looks and habits. That, and the more 'unusual' activities are screened and reeducated. There is significantly less fetish behavior, especially of the really unhealthy sorts. I suspect a typical Zhodani housewife would read 'Fifty Shades of Grey' and think, 'Why aren't those two getting the help they so obviously need?' At a guess, there are probably subtle social cues in Zhodani society where someone openly indicates that they find someone physically attractive, but they're trained from childhood to not let it effect their work or other relationships. The recipient has the option of a 'yes', 'no', 'maybe later' response and they just continue on with their day until the matter can be more openly discussed privately.

Nobles practice primogeniture with the eldest child inheriting the estate and businesses. In some circumstances, another child in the birth order is selected if someone senior isn't interested in the position. Noble children other than heirs go into Zhodani government, business executives, or serve as officers in the military. There is strong social taboo about breeding more children than the family's contacts and resources can support, and almost all noble families have no more than 2 children. Census data indicates that the Noble caste would actually decrease slightly if it wasn't for the annual promotions of Indendants into the nobility.

Intendants are trained to be VERY career-focused, holding off on families and children until after they retire. An Intendant's main ambition is to be raised to the nobility and that's hard to do while spending half your life caring for a spouse and children in a healthy way. Intendants spend their careers grinding the hours in service to the Consulate or the Noble they work for and then retire, marry and have a family then.

Complete mental privacy is the right of the Noble caste only, and even then they are routinely monitored as a child until their mental shields develop, in case aberrant behaviors require reeducation. By the time they've completed their educations, they are thought to have 'earned' mental privacy. HOWEVER, if a Noble's behavior is in question and they are brought before a 'court' of three fellow Nobles [a minimum of 1 is a telepath], they are required to submit to mental probes.

Intendants have almost as much mental privacy. They must submit to probes upon request at any time, but this is a rare occurrence. The basic honesty of Zho society shows here too, as most Intendants are able to submit their decision-making processes to anyone that asks without embarrassment.

Proles have no rights to mental privacy, however this DOES NOT mean that they're probed all the time. Yes, the Tavrchedle` patrols neighborhoods for powerful negative emotions and randomly reads the surface thoughts of passers-by, but this is seen as a part of the societal safety valve. Tavrchedle` personnel are first and foremost mental health workers who intercede on behalf of the suffering before someone does something damaging out of desperation.
 

ottarrus

Cosmic Mongoose
Sigtrygg said:
Nope, Zhodani nobles have their mental health checked up on just the same as proles and intendents.

Well, Your TU will vary and all that...

The canon sources [CT Aliens Module 4, JTAS 'Zhodani Philosophies', MgT Aliens Book 4, and MgT2 Aliens of Charted Space Vol. 1] state that the Noble caste has the right to mental privacy. Unless their outward behavior is so off the rails that it causes them to be reeducated, a panel of other Nobles is required to Probe a Noble. A Noble can even reject Tavrchedle` intervention, but I would think that would significantly increase the odds of them being reeducated.

But I don't personally see a Noble's relationship with the Tavrchedle` as being that adversarial. Zho society teaches that mental health is as important as physical well being and the Tavrchedle` is part of that health system. Nobles would see a Tavrchedle` officer as a sounding board, a troubleshooter, a 'psychiatric bartender', a counselor, etc. for whenever a personal issue bothers them and like as not would seek their help. Obviously they wouldn't discuss matters with security classifications with those not cleared for it no matter how troubled they were about it, but other than that....
 
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