The Andromeda Galaxy

The galaxy is now zoomable!

And the Andromeda Galaxy, alone, has a trillion stars. “There’s a lot more where that came from – hundreds of billions of galaxies!”

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Odd New Weapons

There’s no way I will be able to keep up with the waves of new weaponry… but at least I can point out a few highlights taken from a Buzzfeed list.

CornerShot – yes, a gun that actually shoots around corners.

Sticking your head around corners and above cover is one of the most dangerous things you have to do during combat. CornerShot eliminates this problem with a gun that can literally bend and shoot around corners.

Active Denial System – this is a heat ray for (relatively) non-lethal area denial and crowd control, causing up to second degree burns.

Blinding lasers are officially banned – until insurgents gain the ability to make their own weapon systems – but the PHASR can temporarily blind targets, and so not violate the treaty.

Sonic cannons are already in use, as a form of crowd control.

After all this, I’m still waiting for the warbots. The first generation will have some strong points, but plenty of weak points as well. The fifth generation, on the other hand….

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Fighting for a Starport

Well, an airport actually… but you get the picture.

Donetsk Airport has been fiercely fought over for months now: the Ukrainians invested to hold the site has been hardened enough to be called “cyborgs” by both friends and foes. While the airport has been simply unusable for months, it had highly symbolic value, with the isolated Ukrainian survivors only pulling out yesterday, by capture or by retreat or death.

One of the strange things about this ‘brother’s war’ is that the video above, shot from a pro-Ukrainian perspective, is titled in Russian.

In Donetsk, rebels forced a dozen captured Ukrainian soldiers to kneel on the streets near where artillery fire had gutted a trolley bus, killing at least eight people, encouraging passers-by to beat and spit on them.

“Fascists!” one old woman yelled at them. “Who are the terrorists now?”

Actually, these captured soldiers are treated somewhat better than is common in the Empty Quarter: despite the public humiliation, they will probably survive their imprisonment and eventually live to see home again. No such guarantees can be expected in the Empty Quarter (outside of the civilized and wealthy Rukadukaz Republic).

Admittedly, there has been strong Imperial pressure to uphold the Imperial Rules of War, but most Imperial forces have been withdrawn to fight the Solomani, as of 993. Fortunately, the local worlds are more focused on beating back the pirate enemy than beating up each other, so who knows – some rough’n’ready, paired-down version of the Laws of War might endure until the end of the Rim War.

A bit of summer footage from the other side, the Donbass rebels (English subtitles). It’s mainly artillery fire and training, not close-up combat.

If the typical small-unit Traveller mercenary group was involved here, they would be either placed directly under the hammer, told to hold the starport or die by an employer that is tottering on the edge of bankruptcy (and so may well skip paying the PCs); or they would be the tip of the spearhead of the force to take the airport back. Note that mercenaries are more likely to fight with the big guy (and likely winner) who can pay the bills, not the little guy who can’t afford them: the rights or wrongs of the conflict don’t come into this.

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Even Faster Computers

First germanium-tin semiconductor laser directly compatible with silicon chips

Swiss scientists have created the first semiconductor laser consisting solely of elements of main group IV (the carbon group) on the periodic table. Simply, this means that the new device is directly compatible with other elements in that group – such as silicon, carbon, and lead – and so can be directly incorporated in a silicon chip as it is manufactured. This presents new possibilities for transmitting data around computer chips using light, which could result in potential transfer speeds logarithmically faster than possible with copper wire and using only a fraction of the energy of today’s integrated circuits.

The future ain’t for slowing down. Very fast transfer speeds in the chip, will help push up transfer speeds even faster in the computer itself, so leading to faster computing time.

Moore’s Law continues to push forward, as far as I can see. And the quantum computers have recently got their own lasers to help in their development…

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Aging Software

Not really useful for most campaigns… but if your PCs are working a missing persons case, this kind of aging software could be quite useful!

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The Ever-Falling Cost of Memory

We all know this to be true, but it’s nice to see it presented in a tidy table.

Prediction: The cost for 128 kilobytes of memory
will fall below U$100 in the near future.

Creative Computing magazine
December 1981, page 6

There should be some kind of trading/arbitrage opportunity for the creative free trader, especially when trading with the more backward worlds of the Imperial Empty Quarter.

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Science Interstellar

The Imperial Empty Quarter is definitely in the poorhouse, with the average high-pop system at TL 9, and an absolute majority at TL 7 (as opposed to the Imperial average of TL 12). Still, there is a growing market of people interested in what applied science can do: so there is a place for a research team, subsided by a foundation, university, or an Imperial Lord, to go around the Six Subsectors, gather up the latest science news, and pump out millions of VCR tapes (and some newfangled memory sticks) to the rather ignorant masses.

(Note: the video is set at the early 1980s/mid TL 7 level.)

If things go according to plan, there will be a broader understanding of basic science in a generation, and a more favorable environment for scientific research – better able to handle Vilani loathing of innovation, and Solomani suspicion of impiety.

“What will they think of next?” indeed!

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Space Viking

Space Viking, by H. Beam Piper, is a strong influence on the heart of Traveller, from the feudal system to world names (especially with the Sword Worlds), to the technology levels. Even as late as the Traveller: The New Era, the Star Vikings were an important part of the story in the Reformation milieu.

You can read the book for free at Gutenberg, as the copyright was not renewed. Or, just listen to the story below.


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Unusual Cargo

So the PCs have come to their favorite port, and find someone who wants to completely fill their cargo hold with… a famous detergent brand. Lots and lots of detergent. Every nook and cranny – the agent will try to get the crew to accept a few boxes in their personal cabins.

“Are you sure you need all of that hallway? Maybe we can set up a few shelves to put that unused ceiling space to use!”

And when the PCs return to the port after the run, the agent is there again, ready and willing to cram their ship with detergent.

Now, why would that be?

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Living on the Silly Side of Town

You’d always think that you would prefer to live in those high-tech Bwap and Vilani neighbourhoods. But the Bwap love their sweaty humidity, the Vilani are way too orderly and conformist, and both are ridiculously conformist and bureaucratic.

Like Swiss-style, “call the police if you flush your toilet at 10 pm” conformist.

So instead, you picked the Solomani side of town. Reasonable rents, low on the nit-picking regulations (or easily handled with a little bribe), and nobody worries much if there’s just a gunshot or three in the middle of the night. “Another burglar meets an untimely end.”

But there’s a cost for every benefit.

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