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Re: [GZG] Hello List and some ruminations on FTL

From: Doug Evans <devans@n...>
Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2005 08:44:44 -0500
Subject: Re: [GZG] Hello List and some ruminations on FTL

David wrote on 07/26/2005 05:17:13 AM:

> Hello List,
> Old school Traveller player (from the little black book
> era), have recently stumbled across Full Thrust.  Wow!
> This is how space battles should be played!

Just to pop up before Dom does: ;->=

There's a couple of rule sets derived from vector FT specifically for
Traveller, Power Projection: Escort and Fleet. Just in case you missed
in some of the archive diving you've been doing.

By the way, did you have the 308 or the $5.95 High Guard, or both?

> Have tried out a couple of solo games to get the hang of
> Vector movement (single ship actions) and am looking to
> expand the action in my next game.  Having played a fair
> bit of Napoleonic Naval (Rod Langton's excellent rules), I
> found the order writing and vector plotting fairly easy to
> follow.  Now to work on the tactics :)

I've not yet succumbed to the vector overlord, so I'm a bit timid about
works of the rabid fans amongst the play test group, but if you're
impressed by FT in the vector world, I think you may be pleased with
to be announced REAL SOON (tm).

> One thing I find fascinating about FT is that you have a
> detailed tactical game, and a rich official background,
> yet the whole strategic/FTL component is so blurry.  You
> can really do what you like.	Trolling the back-posts on
> this list turned up some very interesting discussions on
> the FTL side of things.  As an aside, someone mentioned
> David Brin's Uplift series as an example of different
> alien races achieving FTL via different means (I seem to
> remember 'Startide Rising' describing a confrontation
> between a variety of space-faring sentients) - sorta gas
> or petrol or diesel, depending on how you bend, fold or
> slide through the bit between 'here' and 'there'.

Remember one thing in particular: the game is there to sell figs; too
Jon did SUCH a brilliant job on the ruleset as to threaten to shadow the
figs themselves. And then he goes and makes the game generic, so you can
tinker the rules to play how you will. What kind of business model is

And, by the way, all others, I'm pretty sure the rules DID come first;
this is the first time my humor devolved into a flight of fancy?

Anyway, that lovely rich background is strictly optional; we have
arguments whether there should be tactical FTL (some claim the cinematic
that, though I mean to pop out of a battle), whether there should be
near large bodies, or even if it should occur in system. I've suggested
outside the Oort cloud, but others seem to think non-FTL required for
thirds of the distance between neighboring stars a bit much.

> This brings me to the strategic side of the game.  As the
> Tuffleyverse is basically the local stellar neighbourhood,
> and given that the longest recorded human realspace
> displacement (per FB1) is about 7 light years, would one
> be too far out to assume that usual (military) jumps are
> in the order of 4 - 5 light years (about Jump-2 in Travellerese)?

Could you point that out by page number in FB1? I don't recall anything
that specific, and would want to see the context. However, you're
welcome to construct your system based on that assumption. I see Frits
used the same figure.

> I've had a quick look at the Unofficial/Official starmaps
> some amazingly talented gentleman has posted on the net,
> but my knowledge of local stellar astrography is too poor
> to begin to understand what links the various pieces
> together.  Like real estate, stellar 'empires' must be
> governed by location.  Why would someone claim a
> starsystem?  For resources or position.  Why position?
> Because, to go from here to there requires a lay-over or a
> refueling stop.
> As FTL is explained in the rule books, one travels in a
> series of hops.  There is nothing to prevent a ship, or
> Fleet, hopping across the galaxy.  If the Kra'vak are
> attacking Terra, why do they need to attack, or besiege,
> Centaurus and Barnard's Star?  They can gaily skip across
> the deep dark, rendeavous in the Oort, and zap Hume central.

Well, depending on if fuel IS an issue, and what FUEL is, there may be
reasons not to be able to do that series of hops.

Course, that may be clear in part of the background I missed.

> But, according to the background, the NAC, for example,
> have lifted their capital to New Albion (where is that,
> BTW?).  All the Hume eggs are no longer in one basket (I'm
> guessing that the NSL, FSE and ESU have also established
> off-Terra capitals?  Otherwise, Sol system is going to be
> one crowded and tense little space, with the UNSC running
> traffic control and keeping the various 'home' fleets at
> arm's length).  So zapping Hume central makes as much
> strategic sense as the Humes zapping the Kra'vak homeworld
> - great morale effect (on both sides), but little
> strategic effect - ok, so maybe it would be a great
> strategic stroke, in that it could do one of two things,
> 1) crush the enemy's will to resist in taking out their
> 'emotional' home but, more likely, 2) drive the enemy into
> a war of revenge that will go right up to species extinction.
> Nasty.

There is strong reason to believe that the center is still most
most productive, most important part of human space, though I won't call
'proved'. However, there are some indications that the K's aren't purely
interested in annihilation.

Lucky us.

> But, back to my original FTL point.  In Traveller, for
> example, fleet movement is regulated by supply, in
> particular the supply of hydrogen fuel for J-drives.
> Hence, worlds with free-standing water, or systems with
> gas giants, suddenly become strategically important (think
> coaling stations in dreadnaught era naval games).  Tankers
> can accompany fleets, but the control of systems with free
> (or cheap) hydrogen in quantity shorten supply lines and
> enhance force projection (ooh, I'm getting all arm-chair
> technical :) ) otherwise the whole concept of 'frontiers'
> becomes meaningless.	I can launch my fleet from my
> homeworld, take as many hops as I need, and pop up in any
> system you own - and you'll never see me coming/my line of
> advance!  How do you defend against that?  Do all
> important/high pop worlds get orbital forts while all
> ships are sucked into vagabond fleets that charge about
> like Germanic tribes forcing the Rhine?  How do you, as
> defender, run down these invaders when they'll vanish into
> the dark to pop up somewhere else?  Sounds very
> Saxon/Viking to me, not much fun for the Saxons :)
> Anyway, back to the Tuffleyverse, I'm assuming there is
> some finite range on ship/fleet FTL movement, be it fuel
> or supplies.	Otherwise, I'd suspect the little pocket
> states that are popping up would not be viable.

There are reasons to believe that all wars so far have been 'limited'.
Limits may have been self-imposed by the participants. Gestalt fear
the destruction of an entire nation? After the examples bad of the 19th
20th centuries, colonization became more profitable than conquering?
controls by corporations, the UN, Illuminati? Dawning of the age of
Aquarius? *shrug*

Just saying because there's been no wars of purging, doesn't mean that
are restricted by one set of means. We could have some human-derived
restriction, and, perhaps, if the K's get REALLY serious, we're doomed.

Your arguments are compelling, just 'not necessarily so', IMNSHO.

Whenever I see an inconsistancy in the background, I tend to think of it
wiggle room for creative folks such as yourself. Just be ready to defend
a whole RAFT of particulars when talking to this group. ;->=


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