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Old 06-02-2012, 08:09 PM   #41
Hans Rancke-Madsen
 
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Default Re: TL4 Poker Chips

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
I would call that "TL3/advanced in a technology," myself.
Why? Why can't Western Europe have been "TL4/retarded in a technology"?


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Old 06-02-2012, 08:24 PM   #42
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Why? Why can't Western Europe have been "TL4/retarded in a technology"?


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Because TL is (arbitrarily) defined by the knowledge, sciences and technologies available at a specific range of dates and a specific (primarily European) geography in real-world history (and a specific range of dates in theoretical future history for the more-advanced-than-now TL numbers depending on the progression rate that the GM has chosen for its' speculative campaign).

If the game is set in a specific area and at a specific date, we know its' TL. If that area and date is more advanced in a specific field than the TL would indicate, we notate that it is advanced in that field and how it is advanced. If that area and date is less advanced in a specific field than the TL would indicate, we notate that it is less advanced in that field and how it is less advanced.

If you find the specifics to be unsatisfactory, its' relatively easy for you to change the (arbitrary) meanings of the numbers and notations involved to mean whatever you want them to mean; just don't expect other people to understand what you're talking about when you use your personal TL numbers and notations.
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Old 06-02-2012, 08:28 PM   #43
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Why? Why can't Western Europe have been "TL4/retarded in a technology"?
It's simply a fact of the game rules that the sequence from ancient Egypt to Greece to Rome to Europe to America more or less defines the TL progression. Thus, for example, the use of place notation goes back to the ancient Babylonians, and to Maya who were at a comparable technological level, but place notation is still TL3 because that's when "arabic" numerals were introduced into Europe, and the Maya are "advanced in a science."

Chinese technology is credited with reached TL4 around 1250, a couple of centuries before Europe (see GURPS Low-Tech); but this is earlier than that by a fair bit.

Incidentally, if you look up the book by Kai-wing Chow in the Low-Tech bibliography, you'll find that the Chinese actually did work with moveable type as well as woodblocks, despite the inconveniences; it just wasn't as massively superior as it was for European languages, and didn't catch on in a big way.

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Old 06-02-2012, 08:34 PM   #44
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Default Re: TL4 Poker Chips

Although Europe doesn't get special privelages all the time - I believe TL3 Europe still gets the footnote (TL2 in Medicine). And there's a whole bunch of construction techniques that they plum lost track of after the fall of the Roman Empire (concrete esp.)
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Old 06-02-2012, 08:36 PM   #45
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Poker chips as such weren't invented until the 18th or 19th century, making them TL5. However, tokens used as markers for games and quite possibly gambling, which can be though are not necessarily coin-like, go back to the Romans. Dedicated gambling houses are of similar vintage. They're a matter of economics more than technology.
The Italian word reffered to a summer house and later, a place fot sociaal gathering.

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Central to the transformation is the development of the senses of casino in Italian. The word was first applied to a country house and then came to be used for a social gathering place, a room or building where one could dance, listen to music, and gamble
Thr middle definition is still in use for the Casino on Catalina island, btw.
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Old 06-02-2012, 08:42 PM   #46
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I know GURPS takes the historical date of an invention as proof that it couldn't have been invented earlier
No, it doesn't. A TL is a shorthand for an assembly of technologies. Those assemblages happen to be loosely based on historical precedent, so we don't have to worry about whether or not they're possible, and since they're more or less based on what happened in Europe, they're easy to describe to a Western audience ("What does TL2 mean?" "Like what the Roman Empire had." "OK, I see."). It isn't completely impossible for a given invention to appear earlier; it just means that what you're dealing with is not the same TL. An alternate history gets an alternative TL listing, like the "TL3/advanced in a technology" Bill cites.
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Old 06-02-2012, 09:56 PM   #47
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You can't build (useful) steam engines until you can make sufficiently strong metal. But what prevents anyone from figuring out probability long before someone actually did?
We don't know. All that we know is that there were independent lines of mathematical development in Mesopotamia, India, China, Yucatan, and Peru, at a minimum, plus their regional successors, and none of them did develop probability theory or statistical methods at an earlier TL. If you want a complete theory of the causal and epistemological requirements of every possible invention or theory, you are going to be waiting a long time for your GURPS tech supplements.

Failing that, we need to have some standard baseline for what invention is at what TL. So we use a sample of different world civilizations, weighted toward the ones that GURPS players are most familiar with and that thus require least explanation; and we assume that if something was not invented at TL3 in any of them, there was probably some reason for that, which may or may not be obvious to us, and which our armchair speculation certainly cannot prove to be correct.

If you want to propose, let's say, that ancient Egyptian priests could use their study of arithmetic to discover the Mendelian inheritance ratios and invent scientific genetics at TL1, and can tell a plausible story about this—absolutely nothing in the GURPS rules forbids you to do this. You simply don't get to call genetics "TL1" on that account. You can either call it TL5, and your alternate Egypt "TL1, advanced in biology"; or, if you can come up with some evidence that ancient Egyptians speculated about how inheritance worked, call it "TL(1+1)" or something. Or even postulate some superscience genemod technique and make them "TL1^."

"The French don't care what they do, actually, as long as they pronounce it properly." (Henry Higgins, in My Fair Lady)

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Old 06-02-2012, 10:52 PM   #48
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But is there any obstacle other than pure blind luck (pun intended) to a hypothetical genius inventing the field of probability and statistics at TL1? Is there anything you can point to and say, "you can't figure out probability until you've figured out X, and you can't figure out X until you are TL4"?
Probability and statistics seems to require people to think in ways which are very difficult for almost everyone. We know that its hard to teach today, and there are serious philosophical debates about what probability means and what methods are valid. Its also involves a lot of fussy, laborious calculations (although not necessarily any more than astronomy), and is tied into sophisticated ideas like measurement error. So I don't think it would be a plausable development in any society with less sophisticated mathematics than early modern Europe (which GURPS calls "TL 4 mathematics"). Notation, jargon, the idea of a formal proof all make it more likely to be invented.

As Bill said, it was only invented once in world history, in a time and place where there were a lot of good mathematicians at the end of a two thousand year tradition drawing on half the Old World. The rewards for inventing it earlier would obviously have been very great. That suggests that as mathematical inventions go, its a hard one.

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That's history. But what about alternate history?

Hans
No. That's "to do this, you have to invent that first." The tech level model is useless for serious intellectual work (TL 3 doesn't really describe much, for example), but its a convenient shorthand.
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Old 06-02-2012, 11:12 PM   #49
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Default Re: TL4 Poker Chips

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In an early work, though. I believe he figured it out later. And you certainly have the start of applied statistics in the late 1600s and early 1700s.
Well, yes but that's why I careful to say "mature technology". It's not until the 19th century that you see sophisticated commercial applications in the form of casino games like Blackjack.
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Old 06-02-2012, 11:23 PM   #50
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Default Re: TL4 Poker Chips

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We don't know. All that we know is that there were independent lines of mathematical development in Mesopotamia, India, China, Yucatan, and Peru, at a minimum, plus their regional successors, and none of them did develop probability theory or statistical methods at an earlier TL. If you want a complete theory of the causal and epistemological requirements of every possible invention or theory, you are going to be waiting a long time for your GURPS tech supplements.
I don't. What I want is a concept of tech level that tells me what I might find in an alternate TL X society. Which IMO includes inventions that could have been made earlier than they were in our history. If there is no reason that we can see that it wasn't invented earlier, of course.

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Failing that, we need to have some standard baseline for what invention is at what TL. So we use a sample of different world civilizations, weighted toward the ones that GURPS players are most familiar with and that thus require least explanation; and we assume that if something was not invented at TL3 in any of them, there was probably some reason for that, which may or may not be obvious to us, and which our armchair speculation certainly cannot prove to be correct.
Except that one of the reasons might very well simply be that no one thought of it. After all, we have examples of quite basic inventions that some peoples simply didn't think of at all.

But I realize that I misunderstood the original statement, so this is off topic and I'll bow out of the discussion.


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