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Old 09-02-2010, 11:58 PM   #1
another_nonsense
 
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Default Playability of STL Only Interstellar travel in GURPS?

I'm toying with the idea of running a Space Campaign with the only FTL travel coming in the form Wormholes access to which would be accessible though a number network of gates stabilized by super dense matter (Though a number of particularly advanced Artilects are rumored to have Keyhole Drives).

Anyway because of this less travelled routes have to be traversed using STL reaction drives. From what I can tell this really only really becomes feasible at TL 11 in play due to the sheer amount of time it would take.

Also has anyone run a game like this? And if so did you factor in Relativity and how did this affect play?

Ideally I'd want the PC's homeworld to develop in the background from mid-late terraforming to planetary metropolis with it's own colony worlds but I think for that I might have to resort to fudging it.
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Old 09-03-2010, 12:25 AM   #2
MatthewVilter
 
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Default Re: Playability of STL Only Interstellar travel in GURPS?

If those gates lead anywhere at all useful I don't think anyone would bother with STL travel. As for fudging colony worlds; I would not recommend it. We are talking about whole worlds!

EDIT: I don't know much about relativity, TL11 STL travel, or TL11 terraforming/population growth so YMMV. I've been reading all about TL10 and skipping TL11-12 for the most part. If TL11 covers Bussard Ramscoops maybe -just- STL ships would be okay... Tau Zero and all that.

Last edited by MatthewVilter; 09-03-2010 at 12:37 AM.
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Old 09-03-2010, 03:27 AM   #3
vicky_molokh
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Default Re: Playability of STL Only Interstellar travel in GURPS?

Sorta reminds me of The Algebraist as an example: doable, but the feel is very, very different from standard ST/SW flavour of SO.
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Old 09-03-2010, 05:25 AM   #4
Xipe_Totec
 
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Default Re: Playability of STL Only Interstellar travel in GURPS?

The main problem of STL drives are the big distances. Hell, even Transhuman Space has the distance problem if you stick by the physics, since it may take several months to go from one edge of the system to another.

I mean, yeah, one could patch up tech to make the journey itself feasible, but that would result in either relativistic effects (depending on the speed traveled) or simply a huge timespan needed.

In efect, unless the systems are REAAAAAAALY close (and I'm talking even closer then Sol-Proxima, 4 ly = 80 years round trip at 0.1c, and don't get me started with relativistic effects), you'd return to a pretty different world, or at least one with all familiar people dead or dying.

OTOH, given high enough medical tech, and/or uploading tech, STL *could* avert this problem. If applied in less-then-total amounts, med-tech and uploads could result in plot hooks and devices. Hm, this gives me ideas. :D
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Old 09-03-2010, 05:46 AM   #5
malloyd
 
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Default Re: Playability of STL Only Interstellar travel in GURPS?

Essentially you have a bunch of places people in the actual campaign (a) don't actually know what they are currently like (your latest *possible* information is years or decades old and (b) are never going to visit anyway. Actually going to one of these other worlds is essentially the same thing as starting a new campaign. There aren't going to be any plot elements that actually span a time gap like that *three* times (came from there, we go to investigate, we come back), so other than maybe serving as possible home towns of people in the campaign they are never going back to, or off stage sources of changes that have absolutely nothing to do with the PCs, there isn't much use for them.
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Old 09-03-2010, 06:06 AM   #6
Ze'Manel Cunha
 
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Default Re: Playability of STL Only Interstellar travel in GURPS?

Quote:
Originally Posted by another_nonsense View Post
Ideally I'd want the PC's homeworld to develop in the background from mid-late terraforming to planetary metropolis with it's own colony worlds but I think for that I might have to resort to fudging it.
The STL between worlds isn't really playable, it just takes too long relativistically, even with, or especially with, suspended animation travel between worlds, you're talking decades to centuries in travel times, you're better off with a separate colonial network.

Now, on the other hand, you can do many things in regards to wormhole networks.

You can have the PCs' homeworld and its colony worlds on a separate wormhole network which isn't joined to the primary network until later.

You can have the PCs' home network's connection to the primary network be through a stellar disruption which doesn't support ships over a certain tonnage.

You can have the PCs' home network be on a different "frequency" from the primary network requiring different engine/ship types to transverse it.

You can have the PCs' home network's connection to the primary network be through a stellar disruption which only allows intermittent connection.

You can have the PCs' home network's connection to the primary network be through a dangerous stellar disruption, like a supernova, or a red giant, which hasn't allowed ships to cross it for centuries, it either recovers, or the wormhole was destroyed, or a new connection is built.

You can have the PCs' home network's connection to the primary network be through a dangerous stellar cluster which had been take over by aliens, cutting off the networks and causing the PCs' ancestors to shut down the connector to prevent enemy incursions.

Etc.
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Old 09-03-2010, 06:25 AM   #7
Hans Rancke-Madsen
 
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Default Re: Playability of STL Only Interstellar travel in GURPS?

L. Sprague de Camp wrote a number of stories set in the Viagens Interplanetarias Universe where travel was STL (but not very much STL -- voyages take months of subjective time and just over the number of light years years objectively).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wikipedia
"There are definite story implications to the constraints adopted. An Earthman may fall in love with and wed an alien princess like Burroughs' John Carter of Mars does, but unlike Carter will never be able to found a dynasty. Nor will he be able to flit from Earth to the stars and back; an interstellar voyage takes months of subjective time and many years in objective time, rendering any decision to leave his own stellar system a difficult one, fraught with the consequences of being cut off from his friends, family and native culture for decades, during which they will age or develop much more than he will himself. De Camp somewhat mitigates the problem by postulating the development of longevity treatments that extend human lifespans to two centuries. Nonetheless, the effect is that space travel primarily attracts marginal and unattached members of society such as adventurers, entrepreneurs, con-men, utopian idealists, emigrants, and various admixtures thereof – or official representatives such as explorers, diplomats, and bureaucrats. Sterling, selfless heroes tend to be in short supply."
There's a GURPS worldbook about the setting (And a good one, too; I playtested it myself ;-)). I can also recommend the stories themselves; they are wonderful.


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Old 09-03-2010, 06:40 AM   #8
thrash
 
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Default Re: Playability of STL Only Interstellar travel in GURPS?

Vernor Vinge's Hugo award winning A Deepness in the Sky also deals with the consequences of STL trade and culture.

You might also find some of the features of the Diaspora RPG interesting.
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Old 09-03-2010, 06:58 AM   #9
Fred Brackin
 
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Default Re: Playability of STL Only Interstellar travel in GURPS?

Quote:
Originally Posted by another_nonsense View Post

Anyway because of this less travelled routes have to be traversed using STL reaction drives. From what I can tell this really only really becomes feasible at TL 11 in play due to the sheer amount of time it would take.

Also has anyone run a game like this? And if so did you factor in Relativity and how did this affect play?
If you mean because TL11 bio-tech offers effective immortality, then yeah it might look relatively practical then.

Relativity effects are a non-issue with hard science drives. Even with a 99% efficient drive getting up to near-C would require about 75% of ship mass in matter/antimatter mix. That's 50% to accelerate and 50% of what's left to decelerate.

The numbers on Bussard ramjets also don't seem to crunch when exposed to hard science. Our corner of the galaxy is too thin in interstellar medium and the drag from acquiring the fuel limits truly high speeds.

There are other problems with building STL ships and the realistic range of speed might be on the area of 1% to 10% and even this isn't going to be cheap or simple.

Then there's distance. Even the recent discoveries about hot Jupiters are looking at planetary systems in the 100 LY+ range (and systems with hot Jupiters are not good candidates for Earth-like planets) and not in the mere 10s of LY.

So an STL trip to a an Earth-like world looks like a one way trip into the future of a duration of centuries if not millenia.
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Old 09-03-2010, 07:51 AM   #10
Anaraxes
 
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Default Re: Playability of STL Only Interstellar travel in GURPS?

Relativity is only going to help the travelers. From their point of view, all the long trips will take about two years. To the rest of the setting, it still takes the usual huge amount of time.

It's possible to set interesting stories in such a background. Most likely the PCs are on the ship, in which case they're always leaving situations and people behind, and perhaps coming back centuries later (to see what they've wrought, perhaps). Note that the PCs don't necessarily have a tech advantage. If they're bringing new tech from Earth (or some developed planet) to a colony, perhaps. But if they leave from one developed world to another that's capable of its own R&D, they're a hundred years behind the times when they arrive.

Or, the PCs might be on a planet or colony, with events driven by the rare arrival of one of these starships. There's the subcase of being received by the colonists that got there by FTL that was invented while the slowship was in flight.

What you won't have is planet-of-the-week adventures like Star Trek, interstellar trade (unless the trade fleet is its own self-contained society, a la Vinge's Qeng Ho), fleets of warships battling back and forth over the border.
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