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Old 12-08-2016, 07:18 PM   #11
jason taylor
 
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Default Re: Traveller and modern electronics

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Originally Posted by thrash View Post

On the communication front, if interstellar messages are more like videograms than telegrams, it becomes much less plausible to rely on random strangers who happen to be available (i.e., player-characters) rather than recruit appropriate experts from surrounding systems. Most of the random patron encounters then go out the window.
I don't see how that will be. The videogram and the telegram both have the same disadvantage-that they are always at least a week late. In the meantime you get as much necessary information without as with the video mode. It is the ability to write a full message as opposed to the cumbersome This Is My Message Stop It's Really My Message thing that is convenient. Correspondence is still limited. Necessary information, that is information relevant to a PCs decision will not be increased by a PCs ability to see a videogram. The details of the contract to carry Acme Widgets for instance will not change one wit. And a videogram is not helpful in that regard; many will still want to see it in solid space. Indeed for some commodities(transporting a prize racing animal, for instance) that will be an important part of the deal.

Some things can be carried more conveniently. Correspondence games are more feasible. There is no need for notation any more.

As far as the things the PC is interested in, one of his problems will be information flooding. In the game ap Star Trader by comparison intelligence is the most precious commodity-one should never neglect a chance to pick it up. But it comes in manageable chunks and it is usually fairly easy to separate the useful from the indifferent. In Traveller there is plenty of information to be had but no way to separate it. Much like the twenty-first century in fact except much of the information is old. Intelligence Analysis skill will be at a premium.

It will affect the style somewhat. The Traveller equiv of Internet Cafes will be all over the place and there will presumably be several arranged to cater to different markets. These will specialize in providing a pleasant venue from which to sit down and surf. One can have a, "You all met at an inn" experience there. Indeed the solid space meeting with a patron will not be replaced, it will just be adjusted. But "Inns you all meet at" won't be eliminated, because many people have reasons of their own to be their even when they could be surfing from their stateroom. Easy access to food and drink, company of strangers, annonymity(the two are actually reinforcing; it can be quite pleasant to spend time among people you never met who won't ask anything more of you then to be orderly). Of course these can be had online, even the condiments can be had takeout. But many will prefer a central location.


Other possibilities include the chance of being recruited by a patron one hasn't met. This would work for an espionage themed game.

Random encounters are not expended. They are simply tweaked.
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Old 12-08-2016, 07:48 PM   #12
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The biggest information issue in Traveller isn't really one of electronics or even signal delay time, it's an assumption you can lack much more basic stuff that that.

Stuff that you should be able to look up in a hardcopy encyclopedia and decade old copy of the equivalent of the Statesman's Yearbook you bought on the subsector capital a few years ago is treated as if it was information you can't know. Arriving to find the UPP is years out of date, or that your cargo is complete junk because the local industries have started making in export volumes, or leveled up a TL, since the last commercial intelligence you have, or that something ordinary people do all the time is a capital offence against the local majority religion is nonsensical really. The people living on the world one jump away, you know the one you were just on, certainly knew that already, and somebody would been willing to sell you a guidebook.

Fundamentally I think it *is* a source story issue, but it's one still common to science fiction rather than a period artifact. Information is available as if the places you want to know about are 18th century frontiers or barely contacting tribes, because that's the model for a lot of sf, not even like they were even civilized commercial ports in the 18th century, let alone anything more modern or better documented.
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Old 12-08-2016, 09:00 PM   #13
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You also have to allow for whether a given world has indeed rigged an information infrastructure. If you are going to trade for googly tusks with the nomads of planet x you might find that they have a working internet(miniaturization has reached the point where nomadism is not incompatible with taking advantage of that), but you might not depending on how much trouble was gone to by the planetary bigwigs. If all there is is a Scout Base and some natives, it may be that you still have to scramble for information.
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Old 12-09-2016, 11:32 AM   #14
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Note that the "huge computers" thing is somewhat misleading: the "computer" volume includes workstations for programmers and system administrators -- more like an IT center than a room filled with vacuum tubes. Still too big and heavy, just not ridiculously so.
This is my rationale. I'd add an allowance for all the external sensors a starship could be required to have, particularly in combat, as an additional explanation for the space required for a Traveller starship computer.
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. . . Traveller (again, meaning CT) had no formal character rewards or experience point system, and no knowledge skills (sciences, scholastics, languages, etc.). . . .
There was a character improvement system in classic Traveller, but it didn't allow for nearly the advancement one would receive in the character-generation services. There were some knowledge skills -- more than any other early role-playing game -- but they were pretty thin.
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I don't see how that will be. The videogram and the telegram both have the same disadvantage-that they are always at least a week late. . . .
In some plots, a week late is late -- particularly a bounty hunt. In others, where information doesn't change rapidly, it's no big deal.
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As far as the things the PC is interested in, one of his problems will be information flooding. In the game ap Star Trader by comparison intelligence is the most precious commodity-one should never neglect a chance to pick it up. But it comes in manageable chunks and it is usually fairly easy to separate the useful from the indifferent. In Traveller there is plenty of information to be had but no way to separate it. Much like the twenty-first century in fact except much of the information is old. Intelligence Analysis skill will be at a premium.
This is another good point. Sorting the wheat from the chaff is always a challenge in information -- see this year's buzz about fake-news for example.
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It will affect the style somewhat. The Traveller equiv of Internet Cafes will be all over the place and there will presumably be several arranged to cater to different markets. These will specialize in providing a pleasant venue from which to sit down and surf. One can have a, "You all met at an inn" experience there. Indeed the solid space meeting with a patron will not be replaced, it will just be adjusted. But "Inns you all meet at" won't be eliminated, because many people have reasons of their own to be their even when they could be surfing from their stateroom. Easy access to food and drink, company of strangers, annonymity(the two are actually reinforcing; it can be quite pleasant to spend time among people you never met who won't ask anything more of you then to be orderly). Of course these can be had online, even the condiments can be had takeout. But many will prefer a central location.
I like this as an adventure building model. I did something like this last time I ran a game. In a high-tech world, communications would be ubiquitous, but on a low-tech world with nothing but a landing pad, a beacon, and an administrator's shack, the "internet cafe" might be the equivalent of a sign on the administrator's shack with the URL to the planetary visitor's bulletin board.
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Old 12-09-2016, 01:25 PM   #15
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There was a character improvement system in classic Traveller, but it didn't allow for nearly the advancement one would receive in the character-generation services.
... which is why I specified "experience point system." Character improvement existed, but not as a reward for play.

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There were some knowledge skills -- more than any other early role-playing game -- but they were pretty thin.
I disagree. All Classic Traveller skills were practical: they allowed you to do something. There were no skills for which the only benefit was allowing you to know things and answer questions about them -- as opposed to, say, History or Area Knowledge or Occultism skills in GURPS.* That function was covered (if at all) by the Education characteristic.

I'm belaboring the point because I think understanding information as an implicit rewards system is important to comprehending how Traveller played.

I'm willing to be wrong, however. What skills were you thinking of?


* Legal skill is an edge case: it does serve some useful functions, but is not primarily described in those terms.
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Old 12-10-2016, 05:30 PM   #16
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Disregarding transhumanism, are there any other things that show Traveller is sort of older-fashioned scifi from a modern perspective?
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Old 12-10-2016, 06:30 PM   #17
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Disregarding transhumanism, are there any other things that show Traveller is sort of older-fashioned scifi from a modern perspective?
Perhaps the amount of emphasis placed on trading in physical commodities rather than intellectual property or intangible financial instruments?
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Old 12-10-2016, 08:41 PM   #18
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Perhaps the amount of emphasis placed on trading in physical commodities rather than intellectual property or intangible financial instruments?
Well wouldn't some worlds possibly not have the ability to create certain physical commodities? It's not like every world would have a factory that could build everything for example. Sometimes people have to order stuff from outside.
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Old 12-10-2016, 09:00 PM   #19
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Default Re: Traveller and modern electronics

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Well wouldn't some worlds possibly not have the ability to create certain physical commodities? It's not like every world would have a factory that could build everything for example. Sometimes people have to order stuff from outside.
But if they have valuable resources and infrastructure, then they'd want to make the stuff themselves.
Only if they're dirt poor, few in number, and/or culturally restricted from industrial methods would they content themselves with constant trade.

We're probably within a tech level or at most two before it at least becomes possible to make nearly anything on site, nationally, with sufficient power and elements.
Traveller tech may require resources unavailable on otherwise habitable planets, but that's not quite what I think we're discussing. I could be wrong, of course.
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Old 12-10-2016, 09:04 PM   #20
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Default Re: Traveller and modern electronics

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Well wouldn't some worlds possibly not have the ability to create certain physical commodities? It's not like every world would have a factory that could build everything for example. Sometimes people have to order stuff from outside.
Luxury has always been one of the most important cargos on long range trade. It often doesn't become luxury unless it's from a long way away. Who says pepper is better then whateverwort, or tea is better then apple juice or china silk is better then leather?
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