Friday, November 02, 2012

Traveller Sandbox: Some Basic Assumptions...

Good Afternoon, All:

I'm still in the process of creating the sector, analyzing the basic polity structures based on my rather specific requirements, and generating a map. However, I feel that I should take a few moments to outline my basic assumptions about a Traveller setting. These are all based on the mechanics of the system, from character creation to the speculative trading rules, etc., with a little bit of other stuff integrated in because it appeals to my personal suspension of disbelief.

Player Movement
Based on the general results of character generation, I like to start with the assumption that our PCs will have Jump-2 capable ships, meaning that they can move between systems up to two parsecs (hexes) apart. While I'll also look at Jump-1 routes to address those concerns (in case the PCs end up with a Jump-1 ship instead), I find that Jump-2 is a pretty good standard for use.

Polity Size and Structure
I've read somewhere that humanity has never successfully created an empire with a communication gap between the frontier and the capital of six months or longer. I'm sure that, on occasion, borders have extended beyond that range, but in those cases, the empire is unstable and will collapse within one generation. With a delay in messages that long, it is obvious that the outlying frontier regions have tremendous autonomy, and that enforcement of central authority is going to be almost non-existent. In Traveller, that's equivalent to 18 Jumps (assuming one week in Jumpspace and three days of preparing for the next Jump), or 36 Jumps from border to border. Anything larger should collapse under its own weight, or operate under the basis of distributed authority (such as the Third Imperium, in which the Grand Dukes were essentially sovereigns with enforced fealty to the Emperor in name.)

With that in mind, I aim for something smaller (because I like smaller polities). I chose a maximum communication gap of one month, which boils down to three Jumps, one way. After two Jumps, I don't include every world in the polity, but a random portion of them, weighted toward Rich, Agricultural and Industrial worlds. This creates an uneven border, which I think looks better on the map. I also don't measure the distance in terms of total parsecs, but instead I calculate one Jump from each world at the capital's TL, so that rifts are taken into account. The resulting polities range from a little more than half a subsector in size for a TL9-TL10 central world, up to a little larger than a sector for a TL15+ central world.

Trade Routes
I assume that Trade Routes exist anywhere where there are positive total modifiers from the Trade tables in both directions between two worlds within Jump-2 of one another. I wrote a small app that analyzes those as well for me. After I have the basics down, I look at the most profitable, and make decisions that look right, in terms of movement between the most populated and higher tech worlds. The little side markets I drop off of the Trade Route maps so that players have something to discover. (I do keep a master of that information, though, so I can work one or two into NPC backgrounds and adventures.) Also, unless it's important to the setting, I don't track Trade Routes into non-aligned space. I figure those are markets that PCs should discover and tackle, knowing that such regions are wild and unruly, and thus prone to encounters of a most dangerous sort.

World Generation
I prefer to generate worlds using the "Hard Science WOrld Creation" options outlined on pg 180 of the Taveller core rulebook. I prefer the concept of fewer self-sustaining worlds that are more Earth-like with lots of small colonies and outposts, rather than the more ubiquitous nature of standard world generation. I also filter my world data to insure that populated worlds with no atmosphere have a minimum TL to sustain themselves, among other unlikely results. One of those might be okay in a sector, but I'm going to put such weirdness there by my own hand, to fit my personal needs as a Referee.

Alien Homeworlds
Here, I take a nod to my own Flynn's Guide to Alien Creation, using the methods in that book to determine the presence of alien races in my sector, and then creating the original concept for the races using the book. Like all random processes, I will take the results I get and reshape them as necessary to better fit the setting.

While I'm sure there are other assumptions I'll discover or reveal along the way, these are the basic assumptions that will most impact the map initially.

Hope This Helps,

No comments: