Monday, March 24, 2008

Jumping Into The Deep

You've got a two-parsec gap to jump over, and only a J-1 ship. Can you do it in two jumps, with an intervening layover in The Deep? Over my long and changeable history of creating small Traveller universi, my opinion on this topic has wavered. My first instinct as a teen was to say "if you can somehow carry the extra fuel, why not?" and wave it through, so my scrappy little Free Trader could get to richer pastures- just carry collapsible tanks. Right?

As I've returned to CT I've come to the conclusion that I don't really like that solution. It's too easy.

BUT in terms of being a broadly accepted solution amongst the early LBB123 players- including myself - it seems to be pretty well enshrined; and LBB2 certainly doesn't say it can't be done. Carrying extra fuel is expensive: it's an involved process -not by any means impossible but expensive- to set up a waystation in deep zones. But it's doable.

One of the reasons I'm seeing a problem that needs solving is this: Say you've got a one-parsec gap separating two jump-one mains, all of which has been traveled by human spacefarers for centuries, millenia. Everybody knows that there's this gap that prevents the most common class of merchant ships - Jump 1 vessels - from getting from one main to the other. If it's a trivial matter to jump into empty hexes, why hasn't anyone taken the initiative to set up some sort of deep-space installation there? A fusion plant, a habitat area, a fuel storage facility and a freetrader or two to keep it resupplied, and BAMMO, you've got a hub for interstellar commerce that would grow from a lousy D-port to an A or B facility in no time.

Perhaps by the time the region was largely settled, higher jump ships became more prevalent; trade companies capable of funding way stations were much better off building high-G ships. The outfits confined to J1 are all much lower-capital outfits.

But I don't think I've heard of anyone doing this in ANY Traveller Universe.

Wrong! A host of references abound in early Traveller universi.

IMTU, I'm sticking to the notion that you need some sort of mass to home in on to get out of jump.

An innovation! Not a general assumption - though some other similar innovators exist. It seems a product of the post-LBB123 handwave of "Gravitic Drives."

(Thanks, C.J. Cherryh!) It helps rationalize a lot of "worlds" that are popping up in WorldGen; no pop or low pop, but a decent port in place - there's nothing that's an inherent draw at all. Except - there's sufficient mass, a star, even a large enough rock, to focus on and come out of jump; maybe some iceballs out there to turn into fuel. So a port develops, just a little waystation in the dark, a place where ships meet. And when they get there, they trade, if they can. It's expensive to jump with nothing to show for it. There won't be enough cargo going around to ship in or out of a place like that, but a handful of Free Traders clustered around a barren rock will be ready to make deals. Some of these places will even be able to develop decent port facilities, in time.

This still totally works.

Now, I wouldn't go so far as to say that jumping into the dark is *impossible* - just that you've got either have an absolutely crackerjack navigator spending a huge amount of time scanning the dark trying to find a telltale occlusion that somehow hasn't got on the charts. (maybe roll 15+ per week of nonstop observation, + nav skill, + number of months spent looking - IF the Referee decides there's something to be found there)

EDIT: Thinking about this, I think even THIS is too easy: Maybe a one-time roll, 18+, +nav, +terms served in scouts, navy or merchants, to know about ONE "jump-point" in The Deep (Ref's choice,) this reflecting a nugget of information gleaned over the course of an entire career as a spacer. If these things were that easy to find, they'd be all over the charts...

EDITED EDIT: Keep it simple, stupid. Though it really is nice to find actual ways for Nav skill to be useful.

The other thought is that mis-jumps that end up in The Deep occur there, because the mass there precipitated the ship out of jumpspace.

Once found, you're going to need a generate program to run up a flight plan (nobody's going to sell you a chart to go there) and I'd make it an extremely risky thing to attempt, at least the first time: (12+ to avoid misjump, with mods for nav skill. You really want to try this? This is what happened to all those Scouts you killed in CharGen.)

Upon successful jumping, the ship will find an airless rock - (roll for planet size, atmosphere automatically zero, low possibility of frozen water.) But now you can jump elsewhere - if you have fuel.

And if you do, you've got a secret now - a jump point that nobody but you knows about.


This also leads to another possibility: the Aged Scout with a Story: "This one isn't on any of the charts, I found it, and I didn't tell a soul. And now I'm telling you." Version A, where he's telling you the truth. Version B, where he's selling you a lie.

Oh well. NEXT.


Blogger Craig A. Glesner said...

One idea is a black hole that already ate its system or is dormant currently. It is extremely difficult to detect and most folks treat them as "scary space monster" things even in the star faring future.

On the other hand last I heard the actual event horizon is something like 5 Km, seriously small.

On the gripping hand if you mess up, as stated "Get a new sheet of paper and roll me some stats." Also if you arrive to find that it has found something to eat you have to deal with the fun of potential gamma bursts. Though in that case I would allow a roll to escape death.

On the whole I agree there are probably not many Jump Stations in the Deep. I mean other than those Imperial Research Stations, secret Scout surveillance bases, basic stuff like that.

9:35 PM  
Blogger Festeria said...

Ultimately I've decided to go with the feasibility of deepspace jumps without too much fiddly stuff. One needs fuel, and one needs a generate program (nobody's gonna sell you a jump tape in the deep deep.) Both of those things are expensive to do, but neither is impossible.

7:48 AM  

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