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Traveller (Mongoose)» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Free Terran Confederation S3: GM Prep Experiment rss

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Danny Stevens
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Danny's big session index
The 1st Session

Due to illness on my part its been a while since the last session. Despite that things have not stood still. I published my low prep Traveller campaign article and produced a quick sub sector overview as an example of the technique in practice.

Now I have also been having an interesting discussion over at the Mongoose forums about adventures during character creation. Going on from there I have formed an idea about using the character creation system to help flesh out world locations. This is my experiment with that notion.



I decided to build up my knowledge of the capitol star system Jīnsè de yuèliàng, and since it has a massive trade hub at October I would detail that a bit too. I would do it through 5 terms of character development for two protagonists, one from each system.

We start in 2312ce.

Tor Mehant
, Male, age 19. 4889AB. A member of a trade corporation family at the capitol.

Cuī Ai, female, age 17. 5566A8. A member of a lower status trade corporation family born in the October system.

Now a quick star system treatment for each.

Jīnsè de yuèliàng

Sector Capitol. Trade Client of the trading hub October. 2,000 migrants per week pass through via xboat heading further spinward. About 200 per week settle here or in one of the local star systems.

Starport A
Pop 10 (15 billion)
Naval and Scout base
System government : Impersonal Bureaucracy

There are four factions present:

Peltor Resources, a mining facilities corporation that extends its influence along the freight xboat path. The faction is composed of the trade corporation families, stratified into high and low status. The corporation resists the general socialist trend of the confederation, concentrating wealth in the families.

AI Freedom A group dedicated to giving the super AIs freedom as citizens. I had to quickly make up a backstory for this. 200 years ago in Earth Space there was an AI war. Since then super AIs have their ability to run other software or robots denied. They may read the networks only and report to human agents who will take their input under advisement. The AI Freedom group want AIs to be free, largely to enrich themselves. Their knowledge of the past is wilfully blinkered.

Ruling Families is a minor faction trying to break Peltor Resources domination. They are association with the nation wide Consolidator faction.

X-ers a group who believe the "grey aliens" secretly run everything. They are only a minor presence here, unlike at Yuan.

System composition going outward from the star:

* rock
* rock
* gas giant with an asteroid belt ring and 3 fuel facilities and belter mining operations.
* marginal. Scout base. 1 beanstalk. 2 space habitats in orbit.
* garden. Gōng (palace). Orbital ship yards and freight yards. Navigation management systems on its large moon. 5 beanstalks. 8 space habitats and manufacturies in orbit.
* marginal. Naval base. 4 beanstalks.
* Gas giant. 1 fuel facility. Moons: rock, rock, marginal with 2 beanstalks.
* Gas giant with fuel facilities, freight yards, and main migration station in orbit. Moons: harsh, rock, rock.
* harsh
* rock

October
Trade hub. Large volumes of freight enter the system daily. It is stored at the orbital freight yards and dispatched onward according to client demand.

Starport A
Pop 4 (9,800)
Scout base
System government : Self-Perpetuating Oligarchy

The factions here are the low class and high class Peltor Resources families.

System composition going out from the star:
* rock
* marginal with scout base present.
* Gas giant Jùdà de yǎnjīng. Orbital fuel system, freight yards and ship yards.

That took about 30 minutes to sketch up. Coming up next is the first term of service for our two protagonists.
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Tor's 1st term, his family push for him to go to Gōng University. Even with them pulling strings they can'tget their recalcitrant child in, and he more happily begins work in the Peltor Resources corporation.

During those early years he becomes associated with Ràn Hop, a financier who is also a member of AI Freedom. Ràn Hop has a super AI that examines the economy and social systems of the nearby colonies and gives advice on financial matters. The AI, RH56, has an interest in altering the behaviour of human collectives to produce better optimisations of resource flow.

Tor is able to enhance several trade deals with the help of Hop and RH56, getting a promotion at the end of his first term.

Cuī Ai is sent by her family to Gōng University where she thrives learning administration and advocacy. Unfortunately as she is from a lower status family she is picked on by some of the higher status families. Yip Yenay, one of the high status girls, has an exo-skeleton suit that she likes to show off. Cuī Ai decides to use her computer and remote ops skill to sabotage the suit and make Yip do a silly dance in it. Unfortunately the prank goes horribly wrong and Yip breaks a leg and damages her suit. There are recriminations but nothing is resolved. Yip vows from that day forward to bring Cuī down.

That brings us to the end of term 1, 2316ce.

The effect is less role play than narrative control but it is helping me to flesh out the culture and context for these worlds. I would like to add the ability for developing characters to make meaningful choices if they were PCs but for world development purposes this is most satisfactory. Term 2 coming shortly.
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Term 2 gets interesting.

Cuī joins the corporation and both Tor and Cuī get events with diligence being rewarded. I decide to link the two NPCs together on this. So RH56 works out an advantageous trade deal could help the families gain a foothold in the trade hub at Dicken's star, where they have been kept out for some decades. Tor is given the low down and looks for someone to help, and picks Cuī because she is new (and expendable if things go wrong) and has developed profession(biological) skill.

Yip Yenay, who has become a member of The Ruling Families, and who is constantly and obsessively spying on Cuī notices Tor's discussions with her and contacts Tor to attempt to influence him against Cuī.

To take this further I need to flesh out Dicken's Star, the trade faction there and why would biological stuff be important?

Dicken's Star
Trade Hub, starport A.
Pop 8 (750 million)
Government is an impersonal bureaucracy run and managed by the Technomads.

Working outward from the star:
* rock
* harsh
* rock
* Dicken's World. Marginal. Orbital ship yards and freight yards. 6 beanstalks. Orbital ring of 10 space habitats. 2 rock moons.
* rock
* gas giant with 5 fuel facilities and migration xboat way station. Over 1,000 migrants a week pass through.
* harsh
* rock
* rock

Dickens World: size 5, atmosphere standard, temperate but hydrographics only 30%.

The surface population consists of 100 million people living in settlements about the beanstalks, located near the small seas at the equator, and 6,000,000 Technomads. The Technomads are the ruling elite who live in the deserts of Dicken's World, living a fairly luxurious and free lifestyle, and farming and harvesting Fofazal, on which they have monopoly control.

Fofazal is an underground, tube like fungal growth that is a highly desirable food commodity. It also provides medical uses far beyond those of old Earth penicillin. In addition it is known secretly that it can be used to make a refined drug that enhances awakened psionic abilities for several hours, but with damaging after effects.

And so here is the opportunity that RH56 has identified. Tor and Cuī can develop over 2 years a genetically modified mushroom that can grow in abundance on Dicken's World as long as its near the seas. The spore stock can be provided to the surface population and it can give them some freedom from Technomad rule. It can compete with Fofazal as a delicacy, but not the other properties. Given these crops the return is that the merchants give Peltor Resources exclsuive shipping rights for carrying Mushroom 981 off world, and that Peltor Resources be allowed to carry other freight to keep their holds full.

This deal obviously will annoy the Technomads. It also presents an opportunity for Yip Yenay and The Ruling Families to form an alliance with the Technomads against Peltor Resources.

Tor and Cuī both get promoted at the end of the term, making them rank 2 and 1 respectively. Tor is now age 27 and Cuī is 25. The term ends in 2320ce.
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DanDare2050 wrote:
Now I have also been having an interesting discussion over at the Mongoose forums about adventures during character creation.

I remember a magazine article on starting characters as children and playing them, and also one on playing characters in active military service, so there have been thoughts on adventures during character creation. An article search here will find them.
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I Forgot to detail the factional interplay going on. I'm in the midst of writing up an article for that so I should definitely include some notes here. Factions have a 2d6 strength and a scope. There are factional "life events" every 4 years and operations. I keep it all very light.

So with our two protagonists here is some factional background.

Nation Level

In Earth Space a Countess of the outer fringe has been quietly expanding estates close to the Confederations border. She is looking to position across one of the Abolitionist escape paths and either gain captured slaves or extort the process. Its causing some friction with the Expansionists in the Confederation.

Expansionists (Str 6) have been trying to build some new colonies near the older sectors of the confederation without much success. At the other end of the Confederation things are being pushed around Tratos and Yuan but not much is happening until the first player group starts there in 2332ce.

The Consolidators
(Str 9) have been managing the migration xboat paths and satisfying large scale population distribution. They increased their presence along the old sector to new sector axis as the populations have shifted so their faction strength has increased to 10.

Yuan Sector down to Planetary

Peltor Resources (Str 10) Trade Corporation Families - based on October trade hub.
Ruling Families (Str 5) Oligarchy based at the capitol system Jīnsè de yuèliàng. Opposed to the "lower castes" such as Peltor Resources
AI Freedom (Str 4) based at Jīnsè de yuèliàng. Working to give super AI entities freedom to operate as full cybernetic control systems.
X-ers enclave (Str 3) at Jīnsè de yuèliàng, connecting with potential converts at the migration xboat centre. They see some of the incidents caused by AI Freedom as part of the Grey Alien's conspiracy.
October Piracies (Str 2) a loose collection of pirate ship owners raiding the trade flows around October.
Technomads (Str 9) ruling faction at Dicken's Star maintaining their family control over Fofazal fungus exports.
Jīnsè de yuèliàng bureaucracy (mainstream government) commissioned a J2 battleship to counteract the October piracies.

Yip Yenay brokers an alliance with the Ruling Families and Technomads to push back on Tor and Cuī's "Gooshroom" deal with the surface settlements on Dicken's World.

AI-Freedom embark on a project to suppress the X-ers Enclave as they are drumming up stress over AIs.

There is more at the Yuan end of things but its out of scope for this area.
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The last few entries took only 10 minutes each to generate, and a bit longer to type up from my scrappy paper notes. Term 3 for Tor and Cuī has taken an hour to play through. I used my faction system to add factional events and operations to the career events and it all became somewhat interesting.

In raw terms, Tor did really well with a career event and was promoted automatically to Manager. Cuī gets special training (Broker) but no promotion. The Technomads suffer a huge setback while the ruling families improve. At the same time I wanted some connections to events in Yuan and Tratos systems that had been hinted at by my first playgroup. So here is how it all fits together for the years 2321ce to 2324ce.

So, Yip Yenay travels to Dicken's World and quietly arranges for Ruling Families loyalists to gain positions in the security forces command and beuracracy. Meantime she talks to Jake Dystom, an up and comming leader of the Technomads and gradually incites him against the Gooshroom growers and leads him to beleive the Ruling Families would support any rash action he takes.

Cuī arrives at Dicken's World to broker advantageous trade contracts. She is successful, giving Tor the boost he needs back home to become manager. The conclusion of these deals is also the trigger for Jake Dystom and his hot head friends. They make a series of armed raids against the larger Gooshroom farms, destroying them and claiming justice for the Technomads (news to the Technomad moot). No one is injured but the security forces respond massively and generally against the Technomads.

The Ruling Familie's plants in the beuracracy then "nationalise" all falfozal exports and give choice contracts to representatives of the Ruling Families back at Jīnsè de yuèliàng.

The Technomads end up as a desert rebellion that easily evades the security forces and has enough wealth to begin harrasing trade systems belonging to Peltor Corporation and the Ruling Families.

Jake Dystom is smuggled out of Dicken's Star and goes to Yuan where he has a number of investments and a good relationship with the police state there. Unfortunately the X-er disruptions spoil his immediate plans and he spends some time moving his resources to Tratos. There he begins to put together a Technomad terror organisation.

News from 2 years ago reaches the subsector. The Expansionists have been pushing some exploration near Earth Space. There they have discovered some Earth Space colonisation operations, causing some unrest in the Confederation.
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Term 4 2325ce to 2328ce

This only took 20 minutes to play out but a bit longer to get around to writing up.

First lets start with some events generated during the first play session by my players at Tratos that overlap this term's time period.

2324ce - 2327ce

Street fighting on the planet New Shanghai in the Yuan star system. 2326ce the Confederation Infantry Division is withdrawn from New Shanghai.

2328ce - 2331ce

Akira ships, spies and saboteurs regularly enter Tratos system.
The Confederation Army pushes peace talks between the police state government and the militants on New Shanghai. While the cease fire is in place humanitarian aid is brought in.

Operations

Next what are the factional operations this term:

Technomads consolidate and further oppose Peltor Resources. They are unaware that Yip Yenay and the Ruling Families are largely responsible for their plight. The consolidation efforts succeed in influencing growth.

X-ers
work on growth but fail to get much traction.

The Ruling Families also fail to achieve growth project targets.

Peltor Resources put a lot of effort, successfully, into opposing both the Ruling Families and the Technomads. This translates to increased police presence on Dicken's World and some erosion on the Falfozal trade profits, using carrier tariffs and import tariffs.

AI-Freedom do some effective consolidation, getting some law and order super AIs in operation and acknowledged.

The National Expansionists grow a little, pushing some new colonies on the fringes of the Confederation, and some new star system exploration and survey in the Yuan sub sector.

The National Consolidators also grow, getting some jump 3 migration xboats in service at the trailing end of the Confederation, shifting population more efficiently to the central worlds and spinward end.

Cuī Ai ends term 4 age 33.

After the fiasco with the Technomad uprising and silent Ruling Family coup Cuī enters service as a corporate agent on Dicken's World. She gets 60,000cr and a gun in benefits from her corporate citizen service.

She proves to be quite adept at her new line of work and detects Yip arriving on Dicken's World with a shipment of arms from the Akira. Yip is supplying them to the Technomads to help them fight the Peltor backed security forces. Cuī trails Yip across the desert in a stealth sand crawler, and marks the location of three hidden Technomad bases. Yip escapes but the bases are raided in due course and Cuī is promoted. This creates a -1 growth DM on the Technomads.

Tor Mehant end term 4 age 35. No aging effect occurs.

Tor's computer skills increase as he works with several sub AI programs. He manages supply of funds to the security forces on Dicken's world and stays in touch with Cuī.

Shortly after Cuī's success Tor's apartment on Gong is destroyed by a bomb. The security super AI predicts with 85% confidence that it is the work of the Ruling Families and the Technomads. Tor moves to an orbital habitat firmly controlled by Peltor Resources.

End of Term Faction Outcomes

The Technomads and the Akira become a merged alliance, with the Akira supplying nano tech and weapons and the Technomads supplying a ship fleet, wealth and fanatical people.

A nascent anti AI group forms and is quickly absorbed into the X-ers.

Peltor Resources grows to become a sub sector wide power.
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First part of a 3 part article about interstellar factions.
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I just found your postings on this topic - a well done histriography.
I am confused by your use of "Xboat migration". Xboats don't have room for passengers... ?
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In my traveller universe there are three types of xboat.

X-Comms. Ship big enough for two crew, maxed for digital carry capacity and jump distance. Transfer mail chips to waiting xboats that launch to the next destination within an hour of the first boats arrival. Lowest cost "pony express". System tenders will maintain and refuel boats and expedite chi[p transfers between ships and in-system.

X-Freight. Ship life support space big enough for minimal flight crew. The rest is container cargo space and jump drive.System tenders will maintain and refuel boats, tug them in system for cargo transfer and back out to the jump point. Star ports have cargo exchange platforms for expedited cargo operations plus in system shunts. X-Freight carry comms as well.

X-Migration. Ship is entirely given over to carrying maximum population on outward bound journeys along mass migration routes. On return journeys they will carry whatever they can fit in the spaces which have some ability to convert to cargo carry and whatever return direction passengers they can get. Tenders will refuel and maintain. Detachable passenger pods can be independently shuttled in system to and from high ports, or in some poorer routes the ship as a whole is hauled to the planetary orbit for passenger transfer. X-Migration carry comms as well. Some X-M ships have the capacity to carry 200 passengers.

All X-Boats are worked hard and continuously by planetary government owners (usually joint ventures, sometimes larger political concerns, especially X-M). When a route is not paying its way it may be downgraded from freight or migration to pure comms and the ship redeployed elsewhere.

None of these ships have any offensive or defensive capability. They are only used in secure routes.
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