Steve Jackson Games - Site Navigation
Home General Info Follow Us Search Illuminator Store Forums What's New Other Games Ogre GURPS Munchkin Our Games: Home

Go Back   Steve Jackson Games Forums > Roleplaying > Roleplaying in General

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 12-16-2013, 10:10 PM   #171
Ze'Manel Cunha
 
Ze'Manel Cunha's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Stuttgart, Germany
Default Re: Flat Black

Quote:
Originally Posted by Agemegos View Post
It's not really TL 4, any more than modern Ethiopia is TL 2. It's a badly organised and underdeveloped part of a TL 10 interstellar economy, where people are poor because they use TL 4 methods of industrial organisation, and can produce only corresponding unsophisticated components, but where they have a legacy of TL 10 genetically engineered crops and are able to import TL 10 products and components, albeit at a steep disadvantage in the real exchange rate.
That works, it's what I'd call TL4-10, but that's just terminology semantics.

I spent much of the past couple of years working in various ports in sub-Saharan Africa and the dichotomy of TL1-8 which can be found within miles of each other is fascinating.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Agemegos View Post
Why stomp down on cultural divergence? So long as the peasants eat the food and wear the clothes they are given, build the houses they are told to build, do the work they are told to do when they are told with the tools and materials supplied, and show a proper respect to their betters who cares if their culture changes?
That's a massively significant ingrained cultural aspect right there, peasants pacified with their lot in life and obedient to the whims of their aristocracy
Ze'Manel Cunha is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-16-2013, 10:11 PM   #172
Agemegos
 
Agemegos's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Oz
Default Re: Flat Black

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ze'Manel Cunha View Post
That works, it's what I'd call TL4-10, but that's just terminology semantics.
I call it "development level 3.9"

Quote:
That's a massively significant ingrained cultural aspect right there, peasants pacified with their lot in life and obedient to the whims of their aristocracy
Wonderful what you can achieve when you control the food stores and the men with whips.
__________________
© copyright Brett Evill
FLAT BLACK discussion group at tekeli.li
On-line texts at flatblack.wikidot.com
Agemegos is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-16-2013, 10:46 PM   #173
Ze'Manel Cunha
 
Ze'Manel Cunha's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Stuttgart, Germany
Default Re: Flat Black

Quote:
Originally Posted by Agemegos View Post
I call it "development level 3.9"
That doesn't mean anything to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Agemegos View Post
Wonderful what you can achieve when you control the food stores and the men with whips.
Men with whips need to sleep and eat too, maintaining that type of oppressive cultural paradigm requires continuous collusion.
Ze'Manel Cunha is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-16-2013, 11:27 PM   #174
sir_pudding
Wielder of Smart Pants
 
sir_pudding's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Ventura CA
Default Re: Flat Black

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ze'Mahttps://docs.google.com/document/d/16XaQ3Tvw0Kcbr7mZT36LXrmYSkP756BmP6awrmzdiVo/edit?usp=sharingnel Cunha View Post
That works, it's what I'd call TL4-10, but that's just terminology semantics.
The RAW notation is "TL 4/10" see Borrowed Technology p. B513.

Last edited by sir_pudding; 12-17-2013 at 02:15 AM.
sir_pudding is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-16-2013, 11:47 PM   #175
martinl
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Default Re: Flat Black

Quote:
Originally Posted by Agemegos View Post
...A little later they "privatised" the colony by selling off the settlement rights to a tycoon. The tycoon in question spent a fortune on subsidising a large number of well-equipped and highly skilled pioneers to go and then, with the last gasp of his resources, went there himself with a battalion of mercenaries. ... That fellow established a monarchy, which under the usual tendency of monarchies without divine sanction engendered an aristocracy. With the population growing and transport and comms failing to keep up that developed into a feudal government and then balkanised into a multitude of local monarchies. That was the state that explorers found Navabharata in in the age of piracy.
I would expect that particular scenario to result in only one settled pole, as it seems low tech would set in long before population pressure made colonizing the other pole attractive. Maybe some clever TL4 application of the colonial high biotech allows them to build and crew boats that can cross the equatorial oceans?

As for:

Divine monarchs: the history described above seems ripe for bizarre founder effects, so I can swallow it. I'm betting that the apparent monarch sacrifices are mostly staged (unless something has gone very very wrong). Rich aristos with TL10 knowledge and equipment are not going to routinely auto-immolate, they'll burn a convincing facsimile and take one of many high-tech-high-wealth escape hatches from the problem. (Some might out of religious duty, but most or all stretches my credulity.)

10,000 competing micro-states exposed to the Empire and the Suite in cultural and technological stasis: er, um, I don't understand. You give historical examples, but the high tech contacts those historical examples had were not the Empire, they were colonial Empires out to make a quick buck. The Flat Black Empire will be applying it's TL10 social science to the colony looking for cracks and crannies to drive wedges of human misery reduction into, and with something so huge and balkanized there's going to be a lot of cracks. Since the Empire has really good social science, they aren't failing due to incompetence. Since they are inhumanly moral, they aren't failing due to corruption. Since this place is over 10^9 people and in the Core, it stretches credulity that they are unwilling to spend the resources. I suspect politics.
martinl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-17-2013, 01:32 AM   #176
Agemegos
 
Agemegos's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Oz
Default Re: Flat Black

Quote:
Originally Posted by martinl View Post
I would expect that particular scenario to result in only one settled pole, as it seems low tech would set in long before population pressure made colonizing the other pole attractive. Maybe some clever TL4 application of the colonial high biotech allows them to build and crew boats that can cross the equatorial oceans?
Yeah, that is troubling me, too.

It doesn't matter too much about the heat: it is sufficient to make the land unfit from permanent habitation, but currents and the thermal inertia of the oceans will mean that the crossing is survivable, especially if you take the quick route from Spring into Autumn. And since information from orbital surveys will be continuously available, you won't have the thing of explorers daring to sail no further down the coast of Africa for fear of passing their bingo point without finding anywhere to land safe.

Windiness is a worse challenge. Beta Hydri VI is a planet larger than Earth with a 13-hour day and a mean surface temperature 21 K warmer than Earth. The winds are going to be frightful, especially the westerly "Roaring Forties" and "Howling Fifties". Can TL 4/10 shipbuilding make something to survive and navigate winds five times as energetic as Earth's?

If not, do I have any historical tricks up my sleeve?

What say that when Navabharata's entrepreneurial conqueror showed up with his battalion of mercenaries some colonists fled to the other polar region not because of population pressure, but for political reasons. There was still scads of TL10 (delayed) stuff form Earth on Navabharata then. In fact, my cowboy model of development and population has Navabharata's capability gracefully declining over centuries. At one point in the Age of Isolation they had over 2.5 billion population and were still GURPS TL 7. It was the arrival of amateur conquerors during the Age of Piracy (when Navabharata still had 2.1 billion people and TL ~6) that really screwed things up. So perhaps the refugee states in the other polar regions were swamped by internal migrants during the Age of Isolation.

I think I have to note that there are a few political and cultural differences between the north polar and the south polar region, but I can assume that they are both populated.

Quote:
Divine monarchs: the history described above seems ripe for bizarre founder effects, so I can swallow it. I'm betting that the apparent monarch sacrifices are mostly staged (unless something has gone very very wrong). Rich aristos with TL10 knowledge and equipment are not going to routinely auto-immolate, they'll burn a convincing facsimile and take one of many high-tech-high-wealth escape hatches from the problem. (Some might out of religious duty, but most or all stretches my credulity.)
Oh, I expect all sorts of Vancean shenanigans with the royal sacrifices. I have — or any GM has — the entire Golden Bough to crib for that. There will be places where the king abdicates for a day every year and provides a son, chosen and anointed peasant boy, acephalic bioroid, fatted ox, or very large cake as a substitutory sacrifice. There will be kings who make a bolt for the border when they see the writing on the wall. places with a ceremonial "flight of the king" (pursued by potential heirs), with varyingly real chances of his being caught and fed to the mob: perhaps in some places this will be an annual ceremony, with the king reigning as long as he is fleet enough to maintain his lead. In some places the pretence will be overt, the symbolism recognised. In others the king or the aristocrats will be trying to deceive the populace. I'm trying to work out who if anyone has the incentive to roofie the king and get him to sacrifice himself.

One trivial note in passing: I am a bit linguistically old-fashioned; when I write "immolate" I mean "kill, as a sacrifice", not "burn".

Quote:
10,000 competing micro-states exposed to the Empire and the Suite in cultural and technological stasis:
It doesn't have to be in stasis. Just so long as its development has brought it to the state described by 606 PDT.

For what it's worth my cowboy model has Navabharata not static but in continued slow decline since the Treaty of Luna. The custom of the aristocracy getting themselves surgically transformed off-world can only be about 110 years old.

Quote:
er, um, I don't understand. You give historical examples, but the high tech contacts those historical examples had were not the Empire, they were colonial Empires out to make a quick buck. The Flat Black Empire will be applying it's TL10 social science to the colony looking for cracks and crannies to drive wedges of human misery reduction into, and with something so huge and balkanized there's going to be a lot of cracks. Since the Empire has really good social science, they aren't failing due to incompetence. Since they are inhumanly moral, they aren't failing due to corruption. Since this place is over 10^9 people and in the Core, it stretches credulity that they are unwilling to spend the resources. I suspect politics.
There is politics, of course. The Empire fixing places like this is just what the Feds want and the LRA exists to prevent. Figure that the Sons of Patrick Henry and the Bureau for Economic Development are playing a lovely great game on Navabharata, and the that LRA and the Feds are fencing over it in the Senate.

But as for the Empire, it really isn't as moral as you seem to think. The kind of people who get to sit in the big chair don't give an obscene metaphor about repression and human misery, they care about atrocities and mass death. No-one on Navabharata is starving. There aren't any endemic plagues. The wars aren't entirely bloodless, but they are small and pretty tame and the political department can deal with them. There are no death camps. There are no weapons of mass destruction. Population is below carrying capacity and static. The ecosphere isn't deteriorating. There is a little bit of concern that the economy might be drifting slowly backwards, which isn't good, but the TTAS can deal with that.

The whole universe ought to be like this, Imperially speaking. The benefits of social and political change and economic recovery don't justify the risk of starting revolutionary war, which would kill a lot of people outright and probably make things worse.
__________________
© copyright Brett Evill
FLAT BLACK discussion group at tekeli.li
On-line texts at flatblack.wikidot.com

Last edited by Agemegos; 12-17-2013 at 01:48 AM.
Agemegos is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-17-2013, 02:07 AM   #177
Agemegos
 
Agemegos's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Oz
Default Re: Flat Black

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ze'Manel Cunha View Post
That doesn't mean anything to me.
Naturally not. That's why for a GURPS-oriented readership I wrote "late TL4 industrial development and productivity" instead, even though I was aware fo the danger of confusion.
Quote:
Men with whips need to sleep and eat too, maintaining that type of oppressive cultural paradigm requires continuous collusion.
They can work in shifts. Employ informants. High-tech imported surveillance and bugging devices if necessary.

It really does seem to be a lot easier to keep people ignorant, elite-ridden, poor and miserable than to keep them educated, free, rich, and contented.
__________________
© copyright Brett Evill
FLAT BLACK discussion group at tekeli.li
On-line texts at flatblack.wikidot.com
Agemegos is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-17-2013, 03:32 AM   #178
Bengt
 
Bengt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Ronneby, Sweden
Default Re: Flat Black

Quote:
Originally Posted by Agemegos View Post
That depends on the cost of transport, doesn't it?* If transport is cheap nearly anything will do. Even charming handicrafts. Australia's main exports are essentially dirt (bauxite and haematite) and rocks (coal). All we do to them is quarry and load them. And we don't even have an advantageous exchange rate. Or look at the typical petrostate: they all trade like crazy, and none of them except Norway could really manage TL7 production on its own, while some would struggle to make a steam engine without imported parts.
To provide a counter example, Afghanistan has plenty of mineral deposits, but no one is eager to develop them because it's land locked and doesn't even have rail roads (and they'd probably get blown up every other day if someone would build any). The typical petrostate on the other hand can cheaply ship their stuff on tankers and buy as many solid gold toilet seats as they want.

Now from reading the description so far it doesn't sound like there are cheap-to-orbit facilities all over the place (are there?). If there are only a few such facilities it would add a lot to the effort they would need to expend for each noble they send of to get a cattle head (I assume this is not super cheap).

So is there cheap interstellar travel in this particular setting? Or is it left open?

Another (rather cliché) way of motivating trade is to give a planet unique unobtainium deposits. Would that mesh with the setting?
Bengt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-17-2013, 04:47 AM   #179
Agemegos
 
Agemegos's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Oz
Default Re: Flat Black

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bengt View Post
To provide a counter example, Afghanistan has plenty of mineral deposits, but no one is eager to develop them because it's land locked and doesn't even have rail roads (and they'd probably get blown up every other day if someone would build any). The typical petrostate on the other hand can cheaply ship their stuff on tankers and buy as many solid gold toilet seats as they want.
That's partly cost of transport, and partly a security issue. Navabharata doesn't have a security issue such as that. The places that do have even less trade and an even worse real exchange rate.

Quote:
Now from reading the description so far it doesn't sound like there are cheap-to-orbit facilities all over the place (are there?).
Not all over the place. There are ground facilities servicing a permanent fleet of orbital lighters. You could land such a lighter on and take off from anything in the nature of a regional airport. Demineralised water will do for propellant.

Quote:
So is there cheap interstellar travel in this particular setting? Or is it left open?
I prefer not to get too specific about spaceship operations, since that would tend to draw attention towards what I want to draw it away from: space-operatic stuff like spaceship and space travel. Interstellar transport in the setting is economically like steamer transport c. 1890; cheap enough that there is commodity trade, slow enough that they is no mass tourism.

Quote:
Another (rather cliché) way of motivating trade is to give a planet unique unobtainium deposits. Would that mesh with the setting?
It would do if I wanted create just a few such planets. I'm not keen on rubber science, but it's a price I'm prepared to pay if I get something I want in return. In this case I'm creating a setting for, as Ze'Manel† puts it, serial planetary romance. I want to be able to send PCs again and again to worlds that the players haven't seen before and that it is reasonable that the characters aren't familiar with. Planets that you can get to have to have a cognitive weight, a prominence, a salience more like Bélem than Brazil. I need hundreds of them. Giving each one a handwavium resource to justify a spaceship service would be less appealingly parsimonious than building trade into the setting structurally.


Edited to add:

† It was combatmedic who put it like that, not Ze'Manel Cunha. Sorry, guys.
__________________
© copyright Brett Evill
FLAT BLACK discussion group at tekeli.li
On-line texts at flatblack.wikidot.com

Last edited by Agemegos; 12-17-2013 at 02:55 PM.
Agemegos is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-17-2013, 08:40 AM   #180
Bengt
 
Bengt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Ronneby, Sweden
Default Re: Flat Black

Quote:
Originally Posted by Agemegos View Post
I prefer not to get too specific about spaceship operations, since that would tend to draw attention towards what I want to draw it away from: space-operatic stuff like spaceship and space travel. Interstellar transport in the setting is economically like steamer transport c. 1890; cheap enough that there is commodity trade, slow enough that they is no mass tourism.
Under those conditions it doesn't seem to me like the commodities mentioned couldn't be grown cheaper on any planet that wanted them. So I thought about it a bit, and they are gen engineered crops, so maybe there are royalties required to grow them. Either no one bothers trying to get the royalties of this planet and some unscrupulous people buy it for export and then falsify the paperwork; or the planet got an exemption from paying royalties at some point in the past on account of being a **** hole and exports are legal.

Another, unrelated way this planet could make space-money would be to let companies come there and do whatever experiments they want on the local peasantry. Want to research long term effects of your new Smart food colouring? Sure! Want to try out your new chemical weapons? Well this one village have been rather uppity lately... and so on.
Bengt is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
flat black, planetary romance, sci-fi

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Fnords are Off
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 11:02 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.