Miles Vorkosigan Traveller
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Author:  Cyborg IM1 [ Thu Mar 15, 2018 4:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Miles Vorkosigan Traveller

I have always loved the Vorkosigan books by Lois McMaster Bujold.

Her FTL drive is NOT traveller though, but very intriguing and something that I have played with adapting to Traveller.

In her setting, there are defined Jump Points that lead to specific destinations - travel in instantaneous, but the Jump Points tend to be far away from the planets, so the week between ports could be easily maintained. This really limits FTL travel to specific lanes, much like 2300AD, the space map is really a subway map with no need for distance measurements, just number of jumps between habitable planets.

I DON'T want to just duplicate her setting, but use the setting "rules" she has to develop completely different settings that are more to my tastes...

SO - adapting the Traveller/Cepheus rules:

1. Jump Drives - work them in REVERSE of current TL and Ratings. At TL9 it takes a J6 to use a Jump Point, at TL11: J5, TL12: J4, TL13: J3, TL14: J2 and TL15: J1.
This makes it harder at lower TL to travel, but still possible. At TL9, a ship can only hold enough fuel for 1 jump, so every single system needs a Fuel Station of some kind. By TL13 or so, multiple jumps are easier and by TL15, all those empty systems are just travelled through and can almost be ignored (except for pirates...)

2. Star Map - Using a standard hex map doesn't work, so a subway map is needed. Each system as 1D Jump Points and all of them connect to another star system. Any star with 0 jump points is off the map and basically cannot be visited except with heroic means (long STL journeys etc.). MAKING a subway map from scratch is really up to the Referee - I have not found a good way to create a subway map from scratch that also has enough interconnections to make it interestings without making it a spider web. I just did it myself and connected stars together whenever I felt like it to keep the map interesting... QUESTION: Anyone got a program they can suggest?

3. System Defense - Since every star system only has a couple of entry points for invaders, those Jump Points become protected by Fortresses (BIG military satellites or Stations) and interstellar invasion becomes almost impossible. QUESTION: How do I make this setting more interesting and allow some kind of interstellar war??? In LMB's setting huge space stations dont' really exist, so Jump point defenses can be defeated by lots of big ships coming through one after the other and wearing down the Fortress's. Seems too easy to me... Besides, just move a big asteroid there and now you have one or more multi-megatonne Buffered Planetoid System Monitors that could take on anything you could push through a Jump Point without breaking a sweat - especially at lower TLs)

4. Off the Map - An interesting outcome of the star map is that there could theoretically be more than one Star Web that never touch each other and completely independent stellar cultures could develop and never meet... Also, solo stars without a Jump Point would be isolated and never have interstellar contact, no matter how advanced they became. The Alpha Centauri system could be one example where there are known habitable planets around the binary and around Proxima, but a jump point only exists to one of them, so the other is completely isolated without a multi-year expedition to explore...

5. Jump Points can Change - In LMB's setting, the main world, Barryar, was isolated for a couple centuries when their Jump Point disappeared and then suddenly reappeared. That means that while most jump points are stable, they can be disrupted (later in the series a weapon that can temporarily disrupt a jump point is developed). In her setting, it is done gravitationally. So, if a star were to get directly in between two connected jump points (call it a Jump Line), then the Jump Line would disappear until that star had moved out of the direct path. Sounds good, except space is so frakking empty that it would almost never happen (like less than once in a million years per galaxy kind of rare). QUESTION: What could cause these gravitational disruptions as a rate that makes it interesting (1 in 1000 chance per year or something... so a setting could have 1-2 of these as desired).

What do you think? I think the reversed jump rating solves a vast majority of the ship design issues (obviously none of the standard designs would work..) but several of the setting/rules implications may not make this a "fun" setting to play in.

Author:  Matt Wilson [ Sat Mar 17, 2018 12:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Miles Vorkosigan Traveller

There's a game... thousand suns? It sets up a star web like you describe, but the pattern is something like 0-2 additional jump points.

So you draw a line from Sol to Barnard's star, say. And then you roll 2d6. 6-: 0 addl jumps, so it's a dead end. 7-9: 1 add'l jump point, maybe to Ross 154. 10+ 2 add'l jump points.

I can't remember if that's it exactly, but it's along those lines. Something you could fiddle with to avoid the spider web, perhaps. Maybe give it 3 extra jump points on a 12. Just thinking out loud, but you could also throw in some pseudo-science about stellar mass so that a bigger star like Vega is more likely to have multiple jump points, but red dwarfs maybe have 1-2 .

The reverse jump drive size thing is interesting. Does that mean at TL 9 you need 60% of your hull volume in fuel as well? Ouch. If that's so, you won't see much interstellar trade at lower TL. Certainly not tramps, unless you adjust costs elsewhere.

As for fortresses, that's tricky. Probably the answer is something along the lines of saboteurs who infiltrate the stations. Or maybe the jump point is less of a point and more of a region, so it would be like running a blockade. Get some guys in a fast ship through like paratroopers, and they'll help soften things up? I dunno, considering I am not a military guy, not sure why I'm suggesting anything. :)

I'm very thumbs up about the "inspired by" approach. I've been thinking about that in relation to Star Trek. I don't want to literally play Traveller Star Trek, but I think it'd be neat to have a federation instead of an empire, for example, and introduce a lot more species and homeworlds in a smaller region of space.

Author:  thrash [ Sat Mar 17, 2018 4:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Miles Vorkosigan Traveller

Cyborg IM1 wrote:
Star Map - Using a standard hex map doesn't work, so a subway map is needed.

I've played around with using wormholes for quasi-realistic interstellar travel, which is similar to your idea. The problem I run into is that I can't see a good way to form closed loops at all, unless the wormholes are (a) tied to the underlying real-space stellar distribution or (b) deliberately placed by some agency. That is, if a wormhole runs from system A to system B, and another runs from system B to system C, what are the odds that there exists a wormhole that runs from system C back to system A? If it's truly a subway map, divorced from real astrography, the odds should be literally astronomical against it.

Then the network that forms is a branching tree, with only one path from any particular system to any other. Systems closer to the root will have tremendous influence, as they can effectively cut off huge sections of the network from one another. It might be possible to write good fiction in such a setting, but I think it would be hard to use it as a sandbox setting, due to the limited options for escape/avoidance.

System Defense - Since every star system only has a couple of entry points for invaders, those Jump Points become protected by Fortresses (BIG military satellites or Stations) and interstellar invasion becomes almost impossible. QUESTION: How do I make this setting more interesting and allow some kind of interstellar war???

Burnside's Advice: "Friends don't let friends use reactionless drives in their universes."

If your jump points are not on purely gravitational orbits (because, e.g., they don't have mass or there is an inherent tension in the connection between them), it requires reaction mass and constant thrust to "hover" over the point. System defense forces may maintain small early warning satellites at the jump point, but their main squadrons will be positioned some distance away, where they can orbit without expending reaction mass yet still react in time to intercept. Space battles then take place at the interception point -- probably near the mainworld -- rather than any particular jump point.

If you wanted to go this way, I would ditch the jump fuel requirement in favor of reaction mass for the maneuver drives. You can tweak the drive performance to match the distances and velocities involved. You still get many of the same trade-offs between speed and capacity, but it's more about getting to and from the jump point than what happens in jump.

Off the Map - An interesting outcome of the star map is that there could theoretically be more than one Star Web that never touch each other and completely independent stellar cultures could develop and never meet...

If the subway map is largely distinct from the underlying astrography, you could have systems that are far from one another in the network but relatively close in real space. Then, if you had a threat that developed in real space (e.g., nova, Empress Wave, berserker AI using STL drives) it would occur at apparently random points in the network until someone thought to look at the long-neglected real-space coordinates.

Author:  Golan2072 [ Sun Mar 18, 2018 7:11 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Miles Vorkosigan Traveller

I'd use it for a near-future exploration game. Humanity is at TL9-10 with TL11 being high tech (as in Outer Veil). Ships are mostly fuel and thus look "realistic" - and possibly carry reaction mass as well for their high-efficiency fusion rocket. Thus, many fuel tanks to carry a small payload. Think of High Guard ships with 80% of their tonnage being fuel.

Alternatively, jump does not require fuel, just a jump drive (which takes time to recharge) but getting to and from the (often remote) jump point requires reaction mass similar to jump fuel in its tonnage.

A "subway" map means that you can have 3D space without worrying about distance calculations - no need to "flatten" the map.

Exploration and colonization happen along the jump point lines.

There might be abandoned alien "fortresses" near some jump points...

Author:  Cyborg IM1 [ Mon Mar 19, 2018 1:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Miles Vorkosigan Traveller

Thanks for the feedback.

1. Yes, at TL9 you need 60% fuel per jump, so "real" interstellar trade doesn't happen until about TL12ish. Bigger ships are more likely early on and get smaller as the TL goes up.

2. My thought was that the Web was MOSTLY connected to local stellar phenoma. As a hand-wave, I was thinking that the Jump Lines form at the same time that the stars do, so, as the stars move around the galaxy, you get some lines that break and new ones form but occassionally, you get a Jump Line that connects two stars that are really far away. In that case, it is very unlikely that any of the other jump lines would connect back to the home region, but they could. SO, The Plieades Cluster is a very intertwined web of Jump Lines, but near Earth, things are mostly connected to Local Stars with a few longer jumps.

3. YES, I was going to have the chance of a jump point be slightly related to the mass of the star - that way, I can ignore all those boring stars and have a 2D6 distribution of stars (maybe go 3D6, not sure yet). More K+ stars, less M and BD stars. Things like nova explosions and stars being separated or thrown apart can change the jump map. It doesn't happen quickly on a human scale, but the map is always changing a little bit. That is probably how I will explain the Jump Lines forming and disappearing - those are either just starting to form or just starting to break down and it is currently in the unstable time - unstable on a stellar time scale, not a human one, so centuries can pass with or without a jump point changing. It also keeps people on their toes as new Jump Lines can form an any time, connecting to a star in an unguarded region from a new direction...

4. I hadn't thought of increasing the area of the instability/Jump Point, I will have to consider that. Make the Jump Region (still called a Jump Point though..) 0.1 AU across and it becomes much harder to defend and you get "patrols" around the area rather than a big fortess sitting there ready to pound you to bits.

5. I was going to have the Jump Points orbit the star like a planet, but the idea of the jump point staying exactly on the Jump Line would make it much harder to maintain a station there. I LIKE that.. Even if I use the M-Drive, you have to keep fueling those stations and that will be expensive, which means fewer stations... :)


Author:  Matt Wilson [ Wed Mar 21, 2018 6:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Miles Vorkosigan Traveller

I really like the reverse TL approach a lot. Maybe the technobabble is that at higher TL they get better at maintaining the bubble integrity over a jump and it doesn't need to be replenished from the ship's tanks? Almost like FTL fuel economy, "this little number gets 30LS to the gallon."

At TL -12, are there a bunch of retrofitted TL-9 ships operated by adventurous PCs?

Author:  Cyborg IM1 [ Thu Mar 22, 2018 7:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Miles Vorkosigan Traveller

That the idea. Also, as TL increases, the Jump Drive becomes more efficient, both in it's own size and it the efficiency of the energy conversion, so it takes a smaller drive and less fuel to open the Jump Point. That makes TL really important in ship design, since you HAVE to put a certain size jump drive in to get it to work. Also, it makes obsolete ships really cheap, because no one wants to spend the extra money on fuel if they don't have to.

Author:  Jame Rowe [ Sat Sep 15, 2018 2:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Miles Vorkosigan Traveller

There's a GURPS version as well.
Go for it, just beware of potential copyright issues. :)

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