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PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2016 3:17 am 
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G'day

I'd like to know what you think about how many people in my setting, Flat Black would be likely to volunteer for the Imperial Service.

First, some background. 656 colonies were established on habitable planets and moons orbiting stars near Sol. The means of transport during primary colonisation was limited to the speed of light and was effectively one-way. Planets near Sol were settled first; a frontier of settlement propagated outwards at about 1/3 of lightspeed. Thus nearby systems such as Tau Ceti were settled long ago and received flows of immigrants over a long time, whereas colonies at the outer limit of settlement received only a fewer shiploads of pioneers before migration was halted by the destruction of Earth. Much more recently — over the last fifty years — another 340-odd planets have been settled by migrants from the older colonies. FTL travel was used, so these are much less isolated, but on the other hand they are still young and frontiersy: incompletely developed, not yet "full", and still offering pioneering opportunities to the young and rootless.

The colonies (primary and secondary) are insanely various. There are rich and poor worlds, advanced and backward, developing and retrogressing, free and authoritarian, terrifyingly violent and stultifying peaceful, religious and secular, chaotic and oppressive, etc. In centuries of isolation they developed incommensurable cultures. Nowadays travel between them is not indeed prohibitively expensive, at least for the people of rich colonies, but it is so slow that few people travel between star-systems. Few people are cosmopolitan, most worlds are very parochial, colonials on the whole are almost completely ignorant of other worlds and of interstellar affairs.

Interstellar affairs are mostly in the hands of an outfit called "The Empire", which draws its subsistence from a monopoly on FTL transport and the resulting monopoly on turning new worlds into real estate. The Empire is nominally subject to a representative (but not necessarily democratic) Imperial Senate, but its unexpected independence of tax revenue has made the Imperial executive more or less independent of the Senate except in the matter of new legislation. The Imperial executive is run by a council of trustees that is self-perpetuating by co-optation. For reasons that are too historical to go into the Imperial executive (including most especially the Council) is dominated by people who have been raised from birth to believe that mass deaths are the worst thing ever and that it is every decent person's duty to exert his or her utmost effort to prevent the ones that can be prevented.

The Imperial Service consists (mostly) of the following parts:
  • The Eichberger Foundation, which manufactures FTL starships (and does a bunch of other space and orbital industry in systems where there isn't a colonial space industry to compete).
  • Eichberger Spaceways, which operates interstellar passenger and cargo ships.
  • Universal Imports, which engages in interstellar trade, competing with colonial outfits that despatch cargoes through Eichberger Spaceways
  • The Imperial Navy, which patrols space, inspects colonies' space and orbital facilities, provides the colonies with space and orbital defences, and occasionally provides orbital fire support to colonial governments (or rebels, but very seldom both in the same war) and Imperial interventions and peacekeeping forces authorised by the Senate. The Navy used to suppress piracy and unlicensed FTL, conquer systems that refused to join the Empire etc., but that's almost entirely a thing of the past.
  • Naval Intelligence, which monitors the advanced colonies for signs of R&D or manufacture of weapons of mass destruction.
  • The Imperial Corps of Marines, a special-forces outfit.
  • The Colonial Office, which runs aid programs for poor and troubled colonies. That includes a Public Health Service, a Public Education Service, an Agricultural Service, a Terraformation Advisory Service, an Economic Advisory Service, a Social Engineering Advisory Service, and a Diplomatic Service. The Colonial Office spends a flood of money trying to prevent and relieve epidemic and endemic disease, promote literacy and basic education, improve the production of food, fuel, materials, and pharmaceuticals, make worlds more habitable and prevent their becoming less habitable, relieve poverty, suppress murder and feuding, and promote the peaceful resolution of conflict.
  • The Home Office, which provides orbital habitats for Imperial servants and their families to live in, infrastructure in Imperial extraterritorial enclaves, and public and government services in Imperial Direct Jurisdiction.
  • The Imperial Office, which runs the whole thing, provides a secretariat to the Council, manages liaison between the Council and the Senate, and includes a Secret Service that won't say what it does.
  • And the Independent Commission for Justice, which enforces Imperial Law (consisting of acts of the Senate) in Colonial jurisdiction, and is subject to special oversight by the colonies.

Most colonials have no clear idea what the Empire does. Such impressions as they have are largely produced by fictional representations in the drama and literature of their own, parochial cultures, by propaganda put about by colonial governments for their own purposes, by skimming the headlines of often ill-reported interstellar news, by outright conspiracy theories, and by confident but groundless supposition amounting sometimes to outright confabulation. There are often large protests against Imperial tyranny, despite the fact that the Empire exerts practically no jurisdiction on any inhabited world. These sometimes demand the end of taxation without representation, despite the fact that the Empire collects no taxes and does grant representation to the colonies. Most people in the setting could no more give an account of what the Empire does and how it is run than most people today could give an account of the governance of the United Nations and the operations of its organs such as UNICEF, UNHCR, WHO, UNESCO etc. Most conclude from their own ignorance that the Empire must be shadowy, secretive, and nefarious.

On the other hand, working for the Empire is one of the few ways to escape from the planet of your birth, to travel, to visit strange worlds and meet strange new people.

Now. The total staff of the Imperial Service is about 36 million, of whom 450 thousand are Imperial Marines. The working life of an Imperial Servant is about ninety years, suggesting an annual intake of about 400,000 administrators, spacers, and assistance workers (without allowing for continual expansion). I estimate separately that the Corps of Marines requires 11,600 recruits to pass basic training each year (without allowing for continual expansion). The Empire is constrained to recruit no more than half its annual intake from among the children of Imperial servants raised in it own schools. So it needs to recruit about 205,800 colonials per year. My question is then "how selective are Imperial recruiting standards?". To answer it, I want a ballpark estimate of how many colonials might volunteer for Imperial Service.

There are 656 primary colonies with a total population of about 815 billion. There are 344 secondary colonies, up to fifty years old, with an average population of about half a billion. Life expectancies are rather long because of high-tech medicine and anti-agathic treatments. Suppose that about 1.25% of population reach adulthood per year. That's about 10 billion on quirky parochial old colonies and 2 billion on frontiersy new worlds. Given the circumstances and attitudes outlined, very roughly how many colonials might volunteer for Imperial Service at least once in their lives? As many as 1%? As few as only 0.01%?

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2016 11:22 pm 
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Anyone? I really would like a bit of feedback here. It doesn't matter if you have no particular expertise on which to base an opinion, I'm trying to determine what ballpark figure would seem plausible to SF RP gamers just like you.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 20, 2016 12:21 pm 
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Looking at the numbers of Germany's "Bundesfreiwilligendienst" (= Federal Volunteer Service) I get approximately 0,05 % of the population, and my gut feeling is that the percentage of volunteers for your setting's Imperial Service could be similar.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 20, 2016 1:37 pm 
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Thanks, Rust.

That's six million volunteers per year and 205,000 recruits. They'd be selecting the top 3.4% according to their selection criteria.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 20, 2016 6:29 pm 
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I would think it would be lower than that. If most colonials don't even understand the Imperium, then why would they volunteer. I would say maybe 0.01% of the population. That lets the Imperium take the top 15% - 20% which might be a bit more realistic. Of course on some worlds, no one might meet that criteria and on other worlds almost half the volunteers might meet it.

Does the Imperium have a quota system to ensure diversity within it's numbers? If so, that creates an interesting dynamic within the Imperial bureaucracy. NOT trying to get into realworld politics, but similar tensions have been created in the US with quotas for women and minorities being used to try to fix an inequality from the past. Qualified individuals don't make the cut in favor of a less qualified person from a small colony. THEN the team suffers and they may not trust the "Quota" person as much or suspect their competency - regardless of their actual competency...

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 20, 2016 10:47 pm 
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Cyborg IM1 wrote:
Does the Imperium have a quota system to ensure diversity within it's numbers?


Effectively yes. There is a quota that they must not recruit more people from among the children they have raised in Imperial Direct Jurisdiction than they recruit on the colonies. But they also pay attention to diversity when they are putting teams together, to reduce the chances of groupthink and shared blindspots. That means diversity of background, and also diversity of sex, age, experience, and mental type.

Quote:
If so, that creates an interesting dynamic within the Imperial bureaucracy. NOT trying to get into realworld politics, but similar tensions have been created in the US with quotas for women and minorities being used to try to fix an inequality from the past. Qualified individuals don't make the cut in favor of a less qualified person from a small colony. THEN the team suffers and they may not trust the "Quota" person as much or suspect their competency - regardless of their actual competency...


There certainly are interesting strains. The "farmed fur" (recruits out of IDJ high schools) tend to think of the "bush league" as psychologically unreliable wild type humans who are not utterly dedicated to the Imperial Mission, as hicks, and as possibly dishonest and corrupt. The bush league look on the farmed fur as scary fanatics who have got in because of whose kids they are and not because of ability, who have a near-monopoly of powerful contacts, and as being unjustly preferred for the glamorous and powerful jobs. The farmed fur think that the bush league got in only because of a quota; the bush league think the farmed fur escaped having to pass a demanding entrance examination and are less professionally competent.

Imperial diversity targets aren't designed or intended to spread the benefit and privilege of serving the Empire around in a fair way. It's not a rationing system. The 50:50 recruitment limit is a political constraint imposed by the Senate and intended to exert a mass political influence in the ranks of the Service. But otherwise, the reason the Imperial Service likes diversity in its teams is that diverse teams, even if they include some people of only ordinary ability make better decisions than elite groups of overly like-minded technocratic experts. When you send a physician, a surgeon, a nurse-educator, a structural engineer, a health economist, and an accountant into the back blocks of Paradise IV, with a shipping container of cash and a mission to build establish within fifteen years a medical system that will support and extend itself, you get a better and a surer result out of a diverse team with wide and various experience than you do out of six guys from the same school who share an attitude and are good at passing exams. Another way to look at the diversity goals is that there are multiple different and complementary ways of being good at your job. So there can't be a single order of merit even in each profession: the Empire determines several, and takes the top of each.

Also, diverse teams are more fun to role-play.

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My SFRPG setting, Flat Black

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2016 9:31 am 
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rust wrote:
Looking at the numbers of Germany's "Bundesfreiwilligendienst" (= Federal Volunteer Service) I get approximately 0,05 % of the population, and my gut feeling is that the percentage of volunteers for your setting's Imperial Service could be similar.


That number - 40,000-ish out of a 80-million-ish population - is for and UNPAID position, so volunteers for a paid position might be even higher.

Also, the number is at that level because that´s the number of positions created, not the number of people who were interested. I know that in 2014, that year´s quota of volunteer positions ran out in mid-February.

For a position with decent pay and further career prospects once you´re back home, applicant numbers may well be ten times that of Bundesfreiwilligendienst.

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Man has earned the right to hold this planet against all comers, by virtue of occasionally producing someone completely bat**** insane. xkcd #556
Just like people, stars can be very important without being terribly bright. Phil Plait, "Bad Astronomy"


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2016 9:43 am 
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Sir Chaos wrote:
rust wrote:
Looking at the numbers of Germany's "Bundesfreiwilligendienst" (= Federal Volunteer Service) I get approximately 0,05 % of the population, and my gut feeling is that the percentage of volunteers for your setting's Imperial Service could be similar.


That number - 40,000-ish out of a 80-million-ish population - is for and UNPAID position, so volunteers for a paid position might be even higher.


Can I get a clarification? 40,000 is the number of people in the Bundesfreiwilligendienst at any time, right? 0.05% of the population are in it now, not have ever been in it. How long is a typical career in this outfit?

If typical service with the Bundesfreiwilligendienst is one year, then that's 40,000 volunteering and being accepted per year. Approximately 675 000 people reach adulthood in Germany each year. 40 000 out of 675 000 is nearly 6%.

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My SFRPG setting, Flat Black

© My posts to this board are copyright under the Berne Convention. They may be quoted on the board with appropriate attribution. They may not be reproduced beyond the board except with explicit permission from me.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2016 6:47 pm 
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Agemegos wrote:
Sir Chaos wrote:
rust wrote:
Looking at the numbers of Germany's "Bundesfreiwilligendienst" (= Federal Volunteer Service) I get approximately 0,05 % of the population, and my gut feeling is that the percentage of volunteers for your setting's Imperial Service could be similar.


That number - 40,000-ish out of a 80-million-ish population - is for and UNPAID position, so volunteers for a paid position might be even higher.


Can I get a clarification? 40,000 is the number of people in the Bundesfreiwilligendienst at any time, right? 0.05% of the population are in it now, not have ever been in it. How long is a typical career in this outfit?

If typical service with the Bundesfreiwilligendienst is one year, then that's 40,000 volunteering and being accepted per year. Approximately 675 000 people reach adulthood in Germany each year. 40 000 out of 675 000 is nearly 6%.


There are 40,000 or so positions, and I´d say almost all of them are filled at any one time - you´d have some "slippage" where one volunteer works until, say, the end of June and the next only starts in August for example, but it´s probably pretty darn for an organisation to not be able to fill a position.

Regular duration of volunteer service is one year, but you can also do 6 or 18 months instead. Considering how long it´s been around, I´d say somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 people have been in it, or are in it right now. One can theoretically volunteer once every five years, though of course the service hasn´t been around long enough yet for that to happen.

And since you mention people entering adulthood - it´s not just for young people. One of the volunteers I met is a retiree, formerly working in Human Resources, whose position involves teaching high school students how to write a resumee and apply for a job. Nor is it limited to Germans; I´ve worked with a number of foreign volunteers from various countries, at least two of whom volunteered because the service come with a residence title for the duration of their stay.

That last bit might be a character hook - a player character volunteered for Imperial service because their homeworld´s government had taken an unhealthy (for them) interest in them and Imperial service seemed like a good way off-world. I´m assuming the Imperials will be reluctant, to say the least, to extradite a productive servicemember in good standing to some two-bit colonial dictatorship just on their say-so, right?

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Space isn't remote at all. It's only an hour's drive away if your car could go straight upwards. Sir Frederick Hoyle
Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot live in a cradle forever. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky
Man has earned the right to hold this planet against all comers, by virtue of occasionally producing someone completely bat**** insane. xkcd #556
Just like people, stars can be very important without being terribly bright. Phil Plait, "Bad Astronomy"


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2016 7:23 pm 
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Okay, with forty thousand positions lasting for a little over one year on average they must have an intake of nearly forty thousand per year. And with no-one having volunteered a second time yet that means the annual supply of new volunteers is about 5% of the annual supply of Germans. But since the outfit is new it might be burning through a backlog of potential volunteers.

Volunteering with the Bundesfreiwilligendiest an unpaid job that lasts a year and doesn't involve leaving homeland and family. Whereas working for the Empire is a lifetime career, and is salaried and pensioned, but usually involves becoming an emigrant or long-term expatriate. Other the other hand the Imperial Service seems to offer the glamour and adventure of working on another world — perhaps a series of them — with an exotic foreign culture or cultures. And then, the German Federal Volunteer Service is a trusted domestic institution, not a distrusted and misunderstood foreign one.

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— Brett Evill

My SFRPG setting, Flat Black

© My posts to this board are copyright under the Berne Convention. They may be quoted on the board with appropriate attribution. They may not be reproduced beyond the board except with explicit permission from me.


Last edited by Agemegos on Fri Jul 22, 2016 8:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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