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Tech priest support

Traveller, anyone?

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On 12/18/2017 at 3:12 PM, Beast said:

Traveller FTL requires a flow of hydrogen as a bubble to move into higher dimensions
Kinda like a super cavitating torpedo ,like the Russian   VA-111 Shkval

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VA-111_Shkval
 

thus a vessel is required to bleed out hydrogen to complete the journey

 

Is this different from the lanthanum grid?

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1 hour ago, Old Man said:

 

Is this different from the lanthanum grid?

 

It was a retcon/technobabble answer to "what does the ship do with all that hydrogen?"

 

The lanthanum grid is older technobabble. I don't think it has been superseded.

 

Zuchai crystals are another similar piece of gibberish.

 

Obviously none of these elements are essential to Traveller play.

 

Apparently I need to add: nor do they have anything to do with the existence or otherwise of (non-ship) FTL communications.

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My copy of the Starship Operations Manual stated that the hydrogen was used to run the fusion reactors that then powered the thruster plates and the jump drive (which includes the lanthanum grid).  It also described how ship consoles work, which back then seemed like impossible sci-fi and today is just an iPad.

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Is it worth pointing out that "Faster Than Light Communication" does NOT actually equate to "instantaneous"?

 

Traveller does, in fact have FTL communication... it just happens to operate at roughly the same speed as the FTL travel. One parsec per week is about 170 times the speed of light. Jump-3 has a pseudospeed of over 500 times lightspeed!

 

In practical terms, courier networks do mean that messages will likely outpace players (especially if they're limited to the usual Jump-1 and Jump-2 Ships). Once they arrive in a system they can pass their information on at lightspeed, so messages can (and typically do) arrive at a planet before the ship that bought them does. Ergo, communication speed exceeds travel speed, even in standard Traveller.

 

By leaving out instant communications, the game is more, rather than less futuristic. Light speed lag IS a problem at planetary distances. Even a simple radio call to the Moon will impose a few seconds delay... to Mars or Venus you'll have minutes to wait between asking a question and getting an answer. 10 hours turnaround on a call to Pluto. Now, that won't impose "age of sail" conditions or stop central control within a system... but what WILL cramp your style as far as projecting a "modern" ethic on the future is when travel itself goes back to taking weeks or months between centres.

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from what I understood from this discussion, was that fast comms where a lot faster than even jump 6 X-Boats routes
this would also include in-system comms

 



 

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And if that's what someone wants, they should add them. But NOT having them doesn't make a setting "age of sail" any more than it makes it "Victorian" or "Roman".

 

Instant comms aren't exactly difficult to work out game rules for.

 

And here's the thing - on a planet you DO have fast communications. Unless you're trying to radio another ship below the horizon without a satellite relay in a vacuum, or something.

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It should be remembered that what's being discussed here are base line assumptions for the Third Imperium setting, which is not the same thing as the Traveller rules. There have been a number of alternate settings based upon various rule sets, and some of them do have FTL communications, some use alternate FTL systems*. Heck, some of the various mainline Traveller releases make wildly different assumptions for how the tech works (HePlaR instead of thruster plates and jump ships less than 100 displacement tons in TNE, for example). Very much like Hero, just how the universe works is up to the Referee. It's common to see IMTU (In My Traveller Universe) on various discussion boards when talking about differences between games.

 

 

*As an example, Mongoose Traveller has been used as the engine for Babylon 5 (Jump gates, FTL communications), 2300AD (Stutterwarp, no FTL communications), and the Third Imperium setting. FTL radios were addressed on p. 54 of the Traveller: The New Era supplement, Fire, Fusion & Steel 2nd edition as an alternate technology, and the book also describes a variety of alternate FTL systems, including keyhole drives, stutterwarp, subspace, stargates, and even psionic transfer.

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Fire, Fusion & Steel is in fact a generic science fiction technology kit. It defaults to the TNE setting but constantly suggests atlernatives. One of the best supplements ever written, once you have the extensive errata patched in :)

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Well, when I enjoyed Traveller it was before there were any published settings.  All we had was the little black books.  All three of them.  At the time the model of ships being faster than communication between star systems and in-system communications lagging by distance was in place because that was the current thought in most of the scifi and closely followed what contemporary technology and science hinted at.  It was a a real world time before cell phones and even before computers smaller than entire rooms became a thing.  

 

I don't know how the authors have changed their thoughts over the years, but in 77-78 they didn't consciously decide to go backwards in modeling their setting, because that setting was a common one and one held by most people at that time.   In 1990 or 2000 something they may have decided to stay with it or even return to the concept.  But in 77-78 it was the foundation concept and their was no Imperium.  At least not for sale as a setting.   Now I am sure it was the setting they were using in their private game, mostly because the product came out in the following years a bit quickly for it to be completely new.  So I am sure they were cleaning up campaign material into a format that could be sold.  High Guard is a good example of a lot of pieces together at an early stage.  

 

But to be up front, the more they added "official" system and political setting information, the less we liked the game.  We switched to other games when it became too much bother to extract the "tech" from the the setting.  We really liked Judges Guild products because they were truly generic and could easily "plug in" to pretty much any campaign using the core rules.   As GDW settled into their setting and each following iteration of the game "locked" into a setting their was less incentive to play.  

 

Original Traveller was centered around exploring a 100% unknown universe.  At least in my opinion and the people I used to play with.  Once the "explore" part was removed the game concept imploded.  After all we had Star Wars and Str Trek scifi for "known settings".  

 

But YMMV.  But back in the beginning of RPG's a lot of modern tech wasn't simply not available, it wasn't even a concept yet.   Heck, Mag Tapes for recording data and a 64K computer that only weight 1000 pounds was super high tech in the 80's and was a step up for us from using punch cards.    And a lot of people still didn't have a phone in their house because they were too expensive unless you lived in a city. 

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There was a joke in Computer Science back when I was studying it in the late 80s and early 90s that everything for CS was conceptualized back in the 50s and 60s, but just had to wait for the hardware to catch up.

 

Magnetic tape storage was used by the UNIVAC I back in 1951, and has been used in a variety of form factors since then. Hard drives were announced by IBM in 1956. A number of 64K microcomputers were released in the early 80s, including the Commodore 64 (1982), Apple IIe (1983), and the Atari 1200XL (1983). They were all based on microprocessors designed primarily in the 1970s. IBM announced a phase-out of punch cards around 1984, though many programming languages still utilized the punch card model for input for many years after that. 

 

In the 1980s, the Cray X-MP supercomputer was the dominant machine. An X-MP was used to render graphics for The Last Starfighter (1984), and in the 1990 novel, Jurassic Park, it's mentioned that InGen had three X-MPs shipped to the island for sequencing DNA (which would have been a huge expense, around $50 million or so, depending on options). A single-processor X-MP was capable of approximately 234 MFLOPS (millions of floating-point operations per second), a 4-processor unit would be able to generate a bit over 900 MFLOPS. To put it into context, most newer cell phones produce at least 10 GFLOPS (billions of FLOPS). High end desktop graphics boards can easily exceed 7+ TFLOPS (trillions of FLOPS). Supercomputers are generally now over 10+ PFLOPS (quadrillions of FLOPS). 

 

SF games from the 70s and 80s rarely figured on these types of improvements. Most, like Traveller, assumed a centralized model with a mainframe controlling a ship, and personal "hand computers" being about as powerful as an 80s IBM PC. 2300AD made the mistake of actually putting real-world stats for their "portacomp", which had 10MB of internal memory, and could run one 200MB program chip (or roughly 10x memory and hard drive space of a PC when the game was released).

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As I mentioned earlier in the thread, we converted our Traveller campaign to the Hero System years ago.  My players have been cruising around in a Gazelle Close Escort which they have modified over the course of the campaign.  Attached here for your review and enjoyment, upgraded to 6th Edition using design standards from Traveller Hero.  We tried to keep the Traveller feel for ship design.  Any graphics and renderings included are not my designs but rather, gleaned from the interwebs.

Gazelle Close Escort.pdf

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Tape storage, lest we forget, persisted into the 21st century in the form of video cassettes for home recording. It wasn't until the widespread adoption of PVRs that they entirely died out.

 

The Commodore 64 shipped with no persistent storage; you bought the datasette peripheral (using auto cassettes) or saved up a LOT of pocket money for that floppy drive. First program I ever wrote and saved on cassette tape was a Traveller subsector generator.

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On 12/23/2017 at 4:17 PM, Ternaugh said:

SF games from the 70s and 80s rarely figured on these types of improvements. Most, like Traveller, assumed a centralized model with a mainframe controlling a ship, and personal "hand computers" being about as powerful as an 80s IBM PC. 2300AD made the mistake of actually putting real-world stats for their "portacomp", which had 10MB of internal memory, and could run one 200MB program chip (or roughly 10x memory and hard drive space of a PC when the game was released).

 

This tells me that the writers of Traveller never heard of Moore’s Law (described in a paper in 1965) or neural networks (first conceptualized in the 1940s), and simply couldn’t imagine how these concepts might impact each major element of computing (processing, storage, I/O, networking, size, and energy consumption) over the course of three centuries. My advice to Miller would have been to find a computer expert and someone with imagination and get them together to postulate what computers might be like in the 23rd century (or if they would even exist at all as a single, discrete “device”).

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On 29/12/2017 at 4:04 AM, zslane said:

 

This tells me that the writers of Traveller never heard of Moore’s Law (described in a paper in 1965) or neural networks (first conceptualized in the 1940s), and simply couldn’t imagine how these concepts might impact each major element of computing (processing, storage, I/O, networking, size, and energy consumption) over the course of three centuries. My advice to Miller would have been to find a computer expert and someone with imagination and get them together to postulate what computers might be like in the 23rd century (or if they would even exist at all as a single, discrete “device”).

 

The irony is, even between the original 1977 edition and the revised 1981 edition of Traveller Moore's Law had been at work with a vengence and they would have been quite well aware of the shortcomings of the original assumptions.

 

On the other hand, the primary focus of the rules, computer wise, was one capable of accurately plotting a multi-light year Jump. Starship computers massing several tonnes never quite failed the reality check for that purpose. Though the rules for more mundane program storage limits (Target, Evade etc) certainly did (and were quietly dropped in later editions).

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35 minutes ago, mrinku said:

 

The irony is, even between the original 1977 edition and the revised 1981 edition of Traveller Moore's Law had been at work with a vengence and they would have been quite well aware of the shortcomings of the original assumptions.

 

On the other hand, the primary focus of the rules, computer wise, was one capable of accurately plotting a multi-light year Jump. Starship computers massing several tonnes never quite failed the reality check for that purpose. Though the rules for more mundane program storage limits (Target, Evade etc) certainly did (and were quietly dropped in later editions).

 

Given how complicated jump calculations were supposed to be (especially in later versions of Traveller, with jump masking and various other concerns), I could see how it would probably require the equivalent of a supercomputer to calculate most jumps, as well as quite a bit of data about the source system and target system. One of the game's simplifications is that a ship will percolate out of jump at the 100 diameter limit*, but that implies hitting a fairly small, moving target from up to 6 parsecs away.

 

 

 

*Jump masking means that you can't plot a path through any large gravity well, or else this percolation would be triggered. So, if you're jumping out of the Terra system, you pretty much can't plot a jump through 100d** of Terra, the Sun or any of the gas giants. Arriving in a destination system is also constrained in the same manner. For example, if your planet orbits a gas giant, you need to clear its 100d before you can perform a safe jump.

 

 

**And some Traveller settings allowed jumps to be initiated below 100d, but with an increase in the chance of a misjump. Jump masking seems to be related to a Marc Miller article in JTAS 24, in 1985.

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On 12/18/2017 at 3:45 AM, Ninja-Bear said:

Correct me if I’m wrong, but during our flight to the moon, there was a time delay of information between earth and the Lunar party? Also a time delay between earth and Mars rover today?

 

Light takes a second and a fraction to get from Earth to the Moon. Long enough for a perceptible delay, and would make conversations difficult unless (as NASA did) each party tells the other when they've stopped talking so they can reply.

 

Depending on their relative positions, lightspeed time from Earth to Mars is about 3 minutes (at closest approach) to about 22 minutes (when they're on opposite sides of the sun).

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The idea that computers in 4500AD would look and operate just like the ones from the 1970s, with the only difference being the names of the programs running, is very pulpy and anachronistic, which definitely reinforces the backwards-looking, Age of Sail orientation.

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6 minutes ago, zslane said:

The idea that computers in 4500AD would look and operate just like the ones from the 1970s, with the only difference being the names of the programs running, is very pulpy and anachronistic, which definitely reinforces the backwards-looking, Age of Sail orientation.

No is does not
it just means that in 4500 they have not found a faster mean of transporting just information
we may have with quantum string theory/entanglement
they have not

 

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Worth pointing out that even a 100d sphere is a mere pinprick at the distances involved. Even if a clear path is required between jump insertion point and jump emergence point (which is never really established, but may as well be true...), it's not likely to be an issue, aside from clearing the origin world.

 

Also...

 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/chadorzel/2016/05/04/the-real-reasons-quantum-entanglement-doesnt-allow-faster-than-light-communication/#44e5fd8d3a1e

 

Quantum entanglement is not likely to help. Basically, because of Quantum.

 

The Jump Drive IS the amazing FTL communications device for default Traveller. But feel free to add FTL radio if you wish.

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The impracticality of quantum entanglement is somewhat irrelevant. The rubber science of space opera isn't governed by 20th/21st century technology, it is merely informed by it. We take the essential trajectory of the scientific and technological advancements that we have experienced as a species and extrapolate it, using our imaginations to fill in the gaps where real physics stops and leaves us with nowhere to go (given our current understanding of the universe).

 

Therefore, if the jump drive can exploit an imaginary phenomenon in space-time to yield FTL travel, then the ansible can certainly exploit an imaginary phenomenon in space-time to yield near-instantaneous communication. I say "near" instantaneous because, in order to appease those whose willingness to adopt rubber science doesn't extend to perfect simultaneity, it would be no big deal to say that the ansible suffers from a ~3 nanosecond delay between sending and receiving, regardless of distance. You still have a delay in order to preserve causality, but it becomes inconsequential in practice.

 

Traveller doesn't have to have the ansible, as I've said before. Eliminating it is a valid (if somewhat dubious) campaign setting choice made to impose a particular feel on the game, and that's fine. But attempts to justify its absence on "realism" grounds is kinda pointless. I feel there is a better, more plausible case to be made for using realism to open up exotic, far-future possibilities rather than to shut them down.

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Yeah, I don't think we're really arguing here. It's largely a matter of taste. For me, the problem of the FTL radio is that it flattens out the cool real physics limits of light speed communication within a solar system. THAT's the realism that gets trampled by it, not talking between systems.

 

But as it's all rubber science anyway, you could limit it to inter-system communications only (won't work at distances less than half a light year or so because of subspace wavelength limitations) or have it require large and expensive installations (too big for a ship; maybe limited in bandwidth and thus not used for regular messages).

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