Monday, March 10, 2008

Reflection on the Services

Just a sketch: What happens to the 6 basic Traveller career services if there's no vast, overall empire that the services are assumed to belong to?

The Navy: Lots of, even most, worlds have no way of funding an interstellar Navy. A world of a few millions won't be able to raise the funds, and the vast majority of my worlds so far are that size or smaller. In my poking away at rolling up a new subsector, I'm coming up with even fewer worlds capable of sustaining more than a billon credit annual naval budget. That makes for really small navies, of really small ships for the most part. Now, I know that before I'm through, I'll have a few standout worlds able to fund much more. These will be the worlds capable of maintaining pocket empires. I don't see that any of these will be likely to cede authority to any of the others, so their navies - far from being scattered hither and yon patrolling for pirates - will be concentrated in fleets on their homeworlds and in strategic points able to threaten their strong neighbors. There might not be constant hot war, but it'll likely be a state of pretty constant fencing between these little neighboring empires. Worlds along communication lines with the fleets and worlds crucial to trade with the homeworlds will be patrolled better than others, but there's going to be no great big navy spanning the whole sector.

Marines don't change much. They're still ship's troops, interstitial forces and first strikers; it's just that they belong to the same government their navies do.

The Army hardly changes at all - planetary forces, both governmental and mercenary, generally tied to the tech of their homeworld.

As I've hashed out before, the Scouts work as a sort of NGO, in the service of interstellar humanity* and fill much the same role as they do in most TUs. They provide a reliable, trusted courier service between the worlds, and therefore are the main conduit for interstellar banking. They often provide rescue services, both to ships in need and worlds in need: the presence of a scout base might indicate an administrative center (on a strong world) or might indicate a relief operation for a world at risk. The Scouts are almost universally respected and their reports almost universally trusted. "Red" and "Amber" classifications are generally made by the Scout service, and often mean much the same thing they do in the OTU.

Merchants are, I think, more fun and more challenging when you get rid of the Big Imperium. Along with the Imperium go the megacorporations, and when you get rid of them, trade falls on the independent merchants. Stick to book 2 and the haulers stay small. Get rid of universal banking systems, and you're thrown back on what are essentially 18th -19th century credit arrangements between banks on different worlds, and cash transactions. You may have twenty million credits in an account on Beckles, but that's five jumps away from where you and your broken M-drive are now, and the shipyard won't start work until they have confirmation that the funds are available with an onworld bank. SO! Ships have to carry a lot of cash. Pirates are going to be going straight for the ship's locker when they come calling, as they surely will. Arranging ship's payments will have to be done in advance, and a merchant's creditors will want to keep close tabs on where their ships are. And shipyards are going to be most reluctant to build anything faster than J-1; skipping's a lot easier with a J-3 vessel.

"Other" hardly changes at all. Except that simply by virtue of being "Travelers," even your scroungiest "Other" character is special - most people IMTU won't ever leave their homeworlds for more than a jump or two.

More later, working now.

*I haven't really decided how universal humanity is to be, although the LBB123 zeitgeist seems pretty darn human to me.


Blogger Omer Golan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Omer Golan said...

I did a "smoke test" of the LBB1 careers on CotI; it might be interesting to you as it also maps out the "feel" of the careers (e.g. Merchants have long careers but rarely advance; Army have short but very eventful careers; and so on). The link is here:

12:53 PM  
Blogger Festeria said...

I remember reading it, and dug it. just looked again, and still do. But How'd that Merch first officer get that free trader? My edition of LBB1, you gotta make Cap'n first.

When I'm rolling NPCs, I'll use the optional no-kill rule to save time. For PCs, I'm pretty insistent on keeping it. I think that the risk of losing your character should be there - it helps with roleplay from the start, my opinion. You got a character wants to be a spacer: 859783. He could be a merchant easily, but he hasn't the head for it - he'd do all right, but he's not Captain material. And he wants a ship. So he holds his breath and signs with the Scouts. He's tough enough - and lucky - the first four terms. But then age catches up to him, loses some strength, some endurance - and he realizes he's losing his edge. If he gets out now, he'll have less chance pulling detatched duty. But if he doesn't get out now, he might get himself killed. So maybe he gets reckless and signs for another term. Maybe he lives, and puts his next two skill rolls on personal development, praying for 3s. Maybe he gets them.

Or maybe he cashes in while he's still got his life.

If there's the safety net, all this doesn't make as much of a difference. You know?

2:52 PM  
Blogger Omer Golan said...

Thanks for pointing out the error with the Free Trader - I guess I've mistaken 1st Officer for Rank 5 rather than Rank 4 (and rank 5 gets a +1 DM).

Regarding Survival, I'm thinking of a compromise - a failed roll won't kill the character outright, but would reduce a random characteristic permanently by 1D6. If it is reduced to 0 or less, the character dies. If not, he just had a crippling injury.

3:03 PM  
Blogger Festeria said...

Way I've done the death roll in practice is to maintain the CHARACTERS DIE stance unless they've got a really stellar character and goof and end up killing them and the player looks at me with puppydog eyes. That's when I apply the optional rule.

7:06 PM  
Blogger Craig A. Glesner said...

I love Traveller for the Survival roll. Saves a Ref a lot of work making up NPCs.

"Well, Billy, the Scouts are dangerous and it seems your character contracted some new and deadly disease and died. So, hand the sheet over and we'll try again. Hey, you could get a high Social this time and make the Navy Enlistment roll."

Yeah, the CharGen for Traveller is awesome. I have a friend though who really hates the four year Term for some reason. I think it might be his faith in St. Timmii the Calculator, he feels he should just have mad skills and do what ever he wants from year to year. Me? I dig Terms.

Also have it in the "if I ever play with them book" that you are a sucker for the puppydog eyes. I specialize in those. :p

(Has anyone besides me thought about using the captcha words as names for people, places or things? I mean if you have to fill them in might as well use them.)

10:38 PM  
Blogger Festeria said...

Captcha words also make great Awful Band Names.

7:52 AM  
Blogger Craig A. Glesner said...

LOL. Totally can see it now, for instance this capthca is "permatic" which straight sounds like a band name.

"Opening for NIN, will Permatic."

Yep, totally.

4:09 PM  

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