Interior Design Styles

This is only meant as inspiration for the decoration of the homes of the wealthy.

In the Far Future, these millennia-old styles work as a shorthand for Solomani Wealth and Taste – especially the styles that need lots of Terran wood, animal skins, flowers, and anything else that is native to Terra.

It’s also meant as inspiration for other styles: a starting point to imagine what a Vilani (or Bwap, or Vargr…) home would be like.

It’s also implicitly limiting: zero-G homes, water-based homes, artigrav technology, heavy use of automation & robotics, dynamic 3D textures, even holographic displays are noticeably absent in the presented styles.

But the Vilani, who respect the good old ways, have a fondness for architecture that does not look out of place in a TL 9-11 culture.

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Let Justice be Done, Though the Heavens Fall

Aldonah.Zero

I never saw the anime, but the music is glorious.

Well, I admit I like the wallpaper too…

Aldnoah-Zero-Wallpaper


Children at War

An aside: Traveller character generation isn’t really geared for the creation of hyperintelligent teenage heroes with a back-of-the-hand mastery of giant fighting robots.

Then again, FASA did start out with Traveller, before going into BattleTech.

And Traveller – like the BattleTech universe – is set in an aristocratic/monarchical culture, where (upon occasion) teenagers actually do have to step onto the battlefield. This is actually more likely in the future – assuming familial/clan/monarchic rule – as small but agile hands and quick-learning minds may (given the technological battlefield at the time) be able to hold their own in the face of battle, if force-multiplied by technology.

Even today, child soldiers can be a real terror on the battlefield. Assuming they truly believe in the cause (and are not simply enslaved), they can be fearless and ruthless – and effective, with light but useful firearms. Their overall strength remains low, though, so usage remains limited: generally as porters, look-outs, spies, scouts, and messengers.

Or used as mine-clearance martyrs and human wave troopers as in the original Gulf War (1980-1988). Even in the Far Future, most boys don’t get to die at the controls of a massive war machine.


Some Noble children grow up on the battlefield, and learn to love it. These are the boys – soon to be young men – who watch as their fathers plan out high-speed maneuvers with grav tanks and drones, man the guns and the missile launchers in a strike group, join reconnaissance missions with their household men-at-arms (and are expected to learn to lead them), and generally ‘get bloodied’, as leaders of men should be.

There are alternative schools of Noble development – corporate, diplomatic, media, bureaucratic, even scientific/exploratory – but ground warfare remains close to the heart of many Nobles within the Imperium, surpassed in respect only by a Navy career.


Then said he unto Zebah and Zalmunna, What manner of men were they whom ye slew at Tabor? And they answered, As thou art, so were they; each one resembled the children of a king.

And he said, They were my brethren, even the sons of my mother: as the Lord liveth, if ye had saved them alive, I would not slay you.

And he said unto Jether his firstborn, Up, and slay them. But the youth drew not his sword: for he feared, because he was yet a youth.

Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, Rise thou, and fall upon us: for as the man is, so is his strength. And Gideon arose, and slew Zebah and Zalmunna, and took away the ornaments that were on their camels’ necks.
– Judges 8:18-21

Quite a lot of Imperial Noble children would look down upon Jether. Especially the battle-hardened ones.

Other Noble children would sympathize with Jether,  but would be careful not to show it. Many Nobles have this drilled into their head from their youth: “Never Show Weakness. Our House simply have too many enemies – and too many frenemies – to appear to be weak and soft, even for an instant. And if you fail, you won’t be the only one to die for it.”

Noble children grow up fast, especially in the Empty Quarter.

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Low-tech Anti-missile Lasers

An old video – 2010 – but I can see some low-tech Imperial Empty Quarter militaries retrofitting TL 10-12 pulse lasers on local bombers, trucks, and boats to fend of pirate raids.

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Once Upon a Time… Cometlanding!

Imagine the cultural equivalent of the video above for the following juveniles:

  • Vilani
  • Vargr
  • Aslan
  • Droyne
  • K’kree

Solomani being Solomani, the above video is representative of Western Europe (although it could be pushed for North America/Australasia as well). Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, Hindi, African, and the Anglo & Latin American equivalents would be rather different.

Vargr culture is also similarly divided: Pro-Vilani Ovaghoun video will have a lot less blood & gore than Suedzuk videos, and Urzaeng ‘Might is Right’ cultural preferences have strikingly different ‘puppy videos’ than the rash and unpredictable Vargr of the Gvegh (Zhodani Marches) cultures – a culture that influences the Spinward Marches Vargr as well.

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Aids for the Lost Traveller

I just want to put to your notice two useful Traveller pdfs:

The Lost Rules Special Supplement

I have to admit, I’m not a sticker for the rules: but some men are. And if you count yourself among them, then this official Far Future/GDW supplement will help you out!

The Classic Traveller Orientation Pack

“The Classic Traveller Orinetation Pack brings together new and old materials to support Classic Traveller.” It’s got some goodies here: the (in-universe) Traveller Timeline, a guide to Classic Traveller, a guide to FASA Traveller (Yes, FASA was into Traveller before they got into BattleTech), as well as the Classic books 0 and Introduction – and all the errata for Classic Traveller

Actually, I’d get it just for the Traveller Timeline & the comprehensive errata.


Addendum: flipping through the Lost Rules books, I came across one rule that would have made starmaps far saner: The “Alien Modules” rule on page 23, which ties atmospheres to minimum tech levels. Depressingly, these rules have rarely seen the light of day since, so we can still get high-pop airless worlds at TL 3. Even explaining away high-pop systems in breathable atmospheres at TL 2 can be difficult!

(Points to Reshkhuda in the Empty Quarter, detailed in Stellar Reaches #9, “Against the Steel Fists”)

Admittedly, some Traveller Referees love the challenge of making crazy worlds fit, but I find it annoying. If only this lost rule was incorporated into the standard planetary generation sequence…

Just above this section, on page 22-23, are rules for jump routes. This is not nearly as critical, but still I’m glad that they have been found, as it provides food for thought for astrographers!

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The Universal Peace Enforcement Organization

Whenever I hear the phrase “peace enforcement”, I see things like this in my mind’s eye.

Actually, the UPEO is part of the Ace Combat universe, but I’ve already slotted it into one of the more hypocritical planet-bound empires out there, absolutely reveling in Newspeak-style phrases while Bringing Peace to more and more parts of its planet.

Most PCs would interact with such a government as simple interstellar traders, not political revolutionaries. Staying in the safe zones, making deals with whoever can pay – as “money has no smell” – and quickly learning where the no-go areas are, both conversationally and geographically. Most of these police-state governments are left alone by the Imperium, so most of the profits are going to be of the ‘free and clear’ variety, and won’t have to be laundered by certain associates.

Most revolutions fail, most of the time… but it can get hairy for a while. And rich off-worlders are prime targets of the Revolution.

Off-world political revolutionaries have a difficult time of it. There’s a lot of intrigue floating around such people, and there is always the possibility of betrayal. If tagged as hostile by the government, PCs may be barred from leaving the starport, or arrested and imprisoned as soon as they do. Revolutionaries always want more money, more weapons, and more training – if a PC group decides to satisfy this hunger, they need to figure out how they’re going to smuggle the goods and the money across – and how they are going to make sure that they get paid. “Failed revolutions don’t pay bills.”

And if they are revolutionary idealists – instead of guys strictly in for the cash – the PCs may yet live to see the difference between the promises of the revolution, and the reality should that revolution succeed. The phrase “ashes in your mouth” comes to mind…

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Traveller5 Subsector Generator for the Mac

Yesterday, I learned of the Apple Mac-based SectorMaker, created by Art Gorski. It’s geared for generating subsectors, sending into to Joshua Bell’s Traveller Map site (so an internet connection is needed).

For what it does, it works perfectly well, and would certainly be useful for Traveller groups. It lacks some secondary features, like changing the world colours to reflect the world type, or a sector-wide map printer: but these are quibbles, not show-stoppers.


The greatest thing about this mapper – and what makes it very worthwhile for Traveller5 groups – is that it automatically generates the Importance, Economic, Cultural, and Extended World Data extensions. Such a timesaver!

Of course, trade codes are also automatically generated, and the designer can add remarks to given worlds. That’s a handy tool, right there…

Basic printing of the subsector is provided: black on white, as printing on paper is assumed. If you want a pdf print, it’s easy to copy, paste, and print the standard full colour display provided.


The most annoying thing is the border generator: you have to remember to start from the upper-right corner, and then go clockwise. But once you have that idea in place, setting up borders isn’t a problem.

Another annoyance is the lack of automatic world name generation. This isn’t such a problem on the subsector scale: but if you want to build your universe on a Quadrant (2×2 subsectors), Sector, or Domain (2×2 Sectors) scale, then it starts to eat into your time.

When you want to alter or look at individual worlds, you will find that they are organized on a sector basis: and not on a subsector basis. This makes it difficult when you just want to see all the worlds of a given subsector – and only those worlds.

Finally… I love the fact that on Joshua Bell’s site, I can generate a detailed map – even on a sector scale – that has the UWPs printed right below a world. Sadly, you don’t get that with the maps of SectorMaker. *sigh*


So, should you get it? It’s for free, and it covers all the basics, so sure, grab it!

Is there room for improvement? Sure. It’s good enough for 80% of what I would look for, but it would be nice to have that bumped up to 96%.

But this is already a free gift to the Traveller community: if the writer wants to improve it, I hope that he charges for his work – even $5 is reasonable – and that he drops me a line when it’s ready for purchase.

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Dr. Watson and Dr. McCoy

I recall how surprised I was, when 3D printers came out and I realized that – for all intents and purposes – Star Trek magitech was going to be a reality.

And now I read that IBM’s Watson Supercomputer May Soon Be The Best Doctor In The World.

Now, we all know that if a supercomputer can surpass the best doctors by (say) 2020 – just like the supercomputer Deep Blue surpassed the best chess player in 1996 – then by 2040 at the latest, your laptop will be better than any doctor, anywhere.

This is great for footloose adventurers: they can carry their own surgeons and their own physicians into the great beyond, along with their own mini-factories, food printers, and fusion power-sources.

But it also means that Star Trek’s Dr. McCoy are obsolescent. As unnecessary as the computer in it’s original meaning: “someone who computes”.


But despite the coming end of doctors – yes, even the surgeons at the end of the day – I suspect that a good nurse will retain her value, far into the future. It’s the human touch, the relationship, the emotional link that keeps nursing vital. Such women have an emotional/psychological/spiritual power that is denied to even high-grade robots.

“After all, a robot just follows its programming. Nothing more.”

Moreover: nobody is going to ‘hold a robot accountable’ for anything, as robots have no agency, no moral accountability to God and man.

After all, if a warbot or a police droid guns down a crowd in 2045, who is going to be held accountable – the robot? Or the police department, the government, the private business that created it (or the terrorist group that subverted the software?)

To ask the question is to answer it.

Continue reading

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Traveller5: The Case for Software

A New Venue for Traveller5

As most readers know, Traveller5 has long been available on the FarFuture website.

But last week, it has also become available at the RPGNow and DriveThruRPG websites as well!


Current Software – the Pre-Traveller5 Suite

Primarily, Traveller5 is a systematic and comprehensive ruleset for the game, with limited background. Fair enough: there is plenty of detailed background material in MegaTraveller, The New Era, T4, and (especially) Grups Traveller books, so there is no reason to reinvent the wheel.

What I am looking for is the computerization of the T5 rules. Currently, what I use is

  • software for name generation (Trwords, an 1996 DOS program written by Leroy W. L. Guatney),
  • character generation (MTCG, apparently last updated 2008, and built for MegaTraveller by Gregory Svenson (the original programmer), Peter Keel (ported to UNIX) and Milo Thurston (recompiled for OS X)
  • and starship generation (High Guard Shipyard – a program Andrew Vallance has kept updating – something I am grateful for!)
  • Heaven and Earth “For Windows 95, 98, NT & 2000” – created by Stuart Ferris in 2000.

GURPS Traveller, as part of the GURPS family, has the support of a whole host of GURPS Third Edition programs to provide support. But it’s rather complex, and I would like something more simple – like what T5 provides.


The Hoped-For Traveller5 Software Suite

What interested me most with T5 is the possibility of a suite of programs, that can generate anything I need – computers, robots, starships, worlds, people, grav vehicles, whatever. And Traveller 5 has the bedrock charts and numbers needed to make it happen.

  • Character Generation (of course!)
  • GunMaker
  • ArmorMaker
  • VehicleMaker
  • Starship Design
  • World & System Generation
  • Trade & Commerce
  • Robots
  • BeastMaker
  • ThingMaker
  • Equipment

I can provide the fluff, the storylines, the personalities, the settings. What I can’t do is quickly and easily crunch numbers for equipment creation (especially robots!) & firefights (personnel, vehicular, and space).

  • Of course, PCs should be able to personalize combat for their games: this is from the perspective of handling what happens outside of the PCs viewpoint.
  • A way to automatically run Starship Combat with a given set of ships (singly and in squadrons), and possibly computerize trade, would be wonderful.

Summary: I’m looking for a suite of programs that follows Traveller5 rules for:

  • starship design
  • world & system generation (even better, sector and Charted Space-scale generation as well!)
  • character generation
  • robot creation
  • vehicular creation
  • interstellar trade & commerce (macro scale for setting design, and personnel scale for PC management)
  • resolving firefights (personal scale, army/navy/atmospheric scale, small-scale ship combat, large-scale squadron combat)

City creation, biome/biosphere creation, starport creation, and orbital/artigrav habitats are also desirable.

I doubt that programming the whole thing would cost more than $50,000 – “sounds like a interesting crowdsourcing project” – especially with most of the rules already spelled out in the Core rulebook. Just spend the money on getting the number-crunching right: Windows to start, with a port to Mac and Linux in the future.

If available, I would cheerfully pay the market rate for this kind of software, and I would simply have to switch my stories from (lightly used) Classic Traveller/MegaTraveller rules to Traveller5.


Postscript

  • It would be a Great Thing if a substantial amount of the actual code was user-configurable/moddable – perhaps written in something like Inspiration Pad Pro 3.0 (a free bit of software from NBOS).
  • Astrosynthesis is built for 3D starmapping: but there are already mods out there for Traveller rulesets. Perhaps there is an easy way to set up two-dimensional maps as well, using Astrosynthesis as an optional add-on for the Referee.
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For the Spacefaring Criminal Element

For those other sort of Travellers – and those keeping an eye on them.

Throughout her experiments, she has shown that most burglars are operating on a skilled “automatic pilot” that allows them to quickly exploit an opportunity.

It begins long before the day of the crime. When he (or she) starts to need money, the burglar will begin noting potential targets during their day-to-day activities – walking the dog, say. They are surprisingly flexible, however, and may quickly change their mind on the day, if they see another house that is easier to access – thanks to an open window or door, or if the owners are away.

[…]

Experienced burglars almost all followed the same route through a house, heading first to the upstairs bedrooms, and then to the living rooms downstairs. Along the way, they easily spot the coat pockets for wallets and credit cards, as well as the designer clothes, jewellery and other small valuables – while neglecting the electronic equipment that will quickly age. With an average of just four minutes in the house, the professionals accumulated around £1000 ($1560) more booty than Nee’s control group of law-abiding students.

[…]

Nee’s theory may seem rather abstract, but she is hopeful that it will suggest practical ways to fight crime. Given her research, she is not surprised that burglar alarms no longer act as much of a deterrent; on hearing an alarm, most neighbours fail to call the police for 20 minutes or so anyway, so they don’t pose a great threat. And they are now so familiar that most burglars have incorporated the ringing into the mental schemas – so they can continue burgling without paying attention to the sound.

And in other news, it’s quite likely that you will be doing all of your banking on your smartphone. No more dependence on banks, and lots of mobility – especially appreciated by (starfaring) Travellers.

But don’t lose your phone.

Or get it stolen.

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