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Old 07-26-2014, 12:39 PM   #1
johndallman
 
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Default [Basic] Skill of the week: Astronomy

Astronomy: Knowledge about everything from asteroids to galaxies, and the ability to use instruments to observe them and use mathematics and physics to form theories about them and make calculations and predictions based on those theories. It has a prerequisite of Mathematics (Applied). The boundary between Astronomy and Physics (Astrophysics) is not well-defined, but it isn't in the real world. Astronomy gives defaults in many kinds of Navigation.

There's no astronomical equipment in High-Tech or Ultra-Tech, but Low-Tech has some, PLUS material about using Astronomy for practical purposes, and there's a lot more in Low-Tech Companion 1. Fantasy-Tech says a good clock gives +2 to Astronomy. There is, naturally astronomical material in Space. Magic has Astrology as a form of the Divination spell, which requires Astronomy at 15+.

Some other hard skills probably have equivalents of Astronomy (Observational), for people who've studied it as a hobby, but lack the tools to do the productive-but-hard tasks. However, I haven't found any examples yet: the ones I create keep turning out to be hobbyists' lack of Research skill. Any suggestions?

Astronomy has been quite important in my Infinite Cabal campaign, for finding out the astronomical date of worlds. This started when the Royal Society was looking for a relationship between the rate of flow of time in worlds and their current date, but it became clear that if there's a relationship, it is complex. The discovery that one world was at about 250CE, on cultural and historical evidence, but around 1700CE by the planets, led to one of those chains of events where the players become sufficiently disturbed that they decide by themselves that the characters should be making fright checks.

What have you done with Astronomy in games? The most obvious uses are in space exploration games, and trying to justify claims that the Stars are (or aren't) Right, but other uses surely exist.
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Old 07-26-2014, 12:58 PM   #2
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Astronomy

One of the Books in Desolation Road was Kepler's The Dream which had an Astronomy prerequisite and a unique ritual that required Astronomy to use effectively. The PCs used it to escape from an room that the atmosphere was being pumped out of.

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Old 07-26-2014, 01:02 PM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Astronomy

In a low-tech world the other obvious use is divination. Astronomy in that kind of world is Astrology - there's no science there yet.
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Old 07-26-2014, 01:52 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Astronomy

Here's the Book from Desolation Road.
Kepler's Somnium (The Dream)
This work by Johannes Kepler describes his travels to the moon. It requires Latin at Accented or better, Astronomy/TL4-12, Physics/TL4-12, Dreaming-13, and Occultism/TL4-14. It's a thin book weighing 1 lb and available for $50.
It includes Dreamwalk at skill-2, Astral Projection at Skill-5, Ward at Skill-4 and three unique rituals

Protection from the Void
Skill-8; 20 min.
Realm: Matter, Ether
Creates a charm that protects the wearer from the environmental effects of vacuum and hostile environments. For the duration of the effect the wearer has Doesn't Breathe, Radiation Tolerance 5, Temperature Tolerance 10 (5 in each direction), Sealed and Vacuum Support

Bridge of Darkness
Skill-10; 1 hour
Realm: Dimensionality, Ether
The ritual must be performed so that it ends during an astronomical Syzygy (conjunction) in such a way that the philosopher is also in line with all involved celestial objects. The subject will be transported from the surface of one of the involved objects to the surface of one the others through the ether. This does not protect against the elements on the surface of the target. This ritual requires a successful Astronomy roll to pull off.

Celestial Movement

Skill-2*; 10 min
Realm: Forces
*In addition to the penalty for delta-v.
Allows the subject to travel in body through the Ether. This doesn't protect the user from the elements. It grants Space Flight with Newtonian, and Space Flight Only. Move is equal to the ritual's effective skill. The caster must choose a Thrust Factor from 0 to 5 the ritual has twice this in additional penalties. Delta-V is equal to Movex2^(Thrust Factor). Duration penalties do not apply, the effect lasts as long as the subject still has delta-v.

The "Realm" statistic is for the magic system in Desolation Road (which used both Book and Realm magic), without that it should work with regular Book magic fine.

The philosopher who knew this book used Protection from the Void quite often (as well as Ward and Astral Projection, but I think he had higher levels from other Books), but that doesn't require Astronomy except as a prerequisite. Bridge of Darkness was used once.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anders View Post
In a low-tech world the other obvious use is divination. Astronomy in that kind of world is Astrology - there's no science there yet.
That appears to be Fortune Telling (Astrology) in GURPS (at least according to GURPS Fantasy Tech 1: The Edge of Reality)*).

*Is this the longest title in GURPS?

Last edited by sir_pudding; 07-26-2014 at 04:34 PM.
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Old 07-26-2014, 02:08 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Astronomy

Quote:
Originally Posted by sir_pudding View Post

That appears to be Fortune Telling (Astrology) in GURPS (at least according to GURPS Fantasy Tech 1: The Edge of Reality)*).

*Is this the longest title in GURPS?
No but tis close.
GURPS Low-Tech Companion 3: Daily Life and Economics
GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Adventure 1: Mirror of the Fire Demon seems to be the winner until you get into the THS and Traveler lines.
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Old 07-26-2014, 02:16 PM   #6
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Astronomy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anders View Post
In a low-tech world the other obvious use is divination. Astronomy in that kind of world is Astrology - there's no science there yet.
Astrology is better covered in Fortune Telling (Astrology) rather than Astronomy. I did a lot of studying up on Astronomy for my research into Cabal, and it didn't come up that much.

It's handy in some space opera games, but Physics (Astrophysics) seems superior to that too.
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Old 07-26-2014, 02:32 PM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Astronomy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anders View Post
In a low-tech world the other obvious use is divination. Astronomy in that kind of world is Astrology - there's no science there yet.
The Egyptians were using Astronomy at TL1, for calendar calculations so that thy could predict the flooding of the Nile. They probably wrapped it in claims about what the deities were doing, but they did it methodically.
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Old 07-26-2014, 04:30 PM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Astronomy

I've talked at some length with real life Astronomers, and dabbled a bit in college (not proud of it). My sense is that Radio Astronomy, Observational Astronomy and Cosmology are entirely different disciplines, in that you can excel in one without having any acquaintance with the other two. For example, you can be a radio astronomer of the first rank without ever staying up after dark.
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Old 07-26-2014, 05:54 PM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Astronomy

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
The Egyptians were using Astronomy at TL1, for calendar calculations so that thy could predict the flooding of the Nile. They probably wrapped it in claims about what the deities were doing, but they did it methodically.
The Sumerians, Akkadians, and Babylonians were also really enthusiastic star watchers. While they're basically responsible for Western astrology, they also were doing perfectly good TL1 Astronomy, just like the Egyptians and on similar subjects (the Tigris and the Euphrates, mainly).

There's also the hypotheses about the various giant-rock-monuments put up by stone-age societies that seem to be basic star calendars. It's one of those odd little quirks about astronomy equipment: so much of it seems to benefit from being made really big - so if you have to offset a really big penalty for your TL0 Astronomy on detecting the midwinter solstice, you build a really big rock thingy.
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Old 07-26-2014, 06:00 PM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Skill of the week: Astronomy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Not View Post
I've talked at some length with real life Astronomers, and dabbled a bit in college (not proud of it). My sense is that Radio Astronomy, Observational Astronomy and Cosmology are entirely different disciplines, in that you can excel in one without having any acquaintance with the other two. For example, you can be a radio astronomer of the first rank without ever staying up after dark.
I have an MS and Astronomy, and teach an Astronomy elective at the college level. I would say those would make excellent optional specialties.
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