The Age of Nope.

Or, “Guess where your next assignment is!”

Well, it isn’t exactly a hell world.

Maybe they’re friendly!

But they are still ugly!

(And flying, and crawling, and jumping, and big.)

Posted in Jumpspace Transmission

Terraforming Mars

Quora: What is the most critical technology needed if we want to terraform Mars in less than a thousand years?

Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

von Neumann Self-Replicating Systems or similar automated, self-expanding industry would be the most critical technology for terraforming because of the scale of the task and tight timeline requested.

Mars’ problem is a lack of materials: water, nitrogen, and carbon. Yes, it has some water, enough to make the northern lowlands

into a shallow lake, but Mars’ shattered regolith and crust have demonstrated the ability to sponge all that up into permafrost. To get a global, self-sustaining hydrological cycle, you need a deep ocean, something that won’t freeze solid and can keep water circulating through the atmosphere despite losses to the dry crust – something like a kilometer’s depth in the northern lowlands.

Since the northern lowlands cover about 40% of the planet (58 million square kilometers), that calls for at least 58 million cubic kilometers of water. That volume is not “a few comets and done,” that’s a dwarf planet’s mass in water – pure water almost 600 kilometers in diameter.

Since Mars is also starved of nitrogen, which would be the bulk of a terraformed Martian atmosphere, you’d need to import about 2–3 million, billion tons of nitrogen – similar to Earth’s atmospheric mass, within a factor of 2.

Carbon compounds to help the future ecosystem would also be helpful.

While there are scattered locations in the solar system with those resources individually (Venus’s vast atmospheric nitrogen content, Europa’s water, Pluto’s nitrogen), there is one-stop-shop with all of them: Titan, moon of Saturn


Titan has a greater mass of nitrogen than Earth, plenty of conveniently packaged and shipped hydrocarbons, and a crust of water ice.

So, unleash the Von Neumann robots, colonize Titan with endless swarms of atmosphere- and crust-mining diggers, build legions of mass drivers to fling trillions of packages of raw materials to Mars, and you’re on the way to terraforming.

(Like this, but with thousands of buddies scraping away at Titan’s crust all at once.)

After that, I’m sure all sorts of genetic engineering for terraforming bacteria will be necessary to crank out oxygen and a habitable environment. You might also need a little genetic engineering to adapt humans to the low gravity.

The good news is, Mars’ lack of magnetic field won’t be a problem. Mars Atmosphere Loss Rates are on the time scale of billions of years, and the deep, terraformed atmosphere will be an excellent radiation shield.

So the biggest thing: von Neumann robots able to meet the logistical side of terraforming Mars, delivering all the materials that Mars is missing.

So why hasn’t the Solomani wrapped up the terraforming of Mars in the 3000 years between Neil Armstrong and Emperor Strephon?


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The Strange Death of a Lawless Emperor

From Wikipedia, Nero

—<Quote begins>—

Revolt of Vindex and Galba and Nero’s death

In March 68, Gaius Julius Vindex, the governor of Gallia Lugdunensis, rebelled against Nero’s tax policies.[69][70] Lucius Verginius Rufus, the governor of Germania Superior, was ordered to put down Vindex’s rebellion.[71] In an attempt to gain support from outside his own province, Vindex called upon Servius Sulpicius Galba, the governor of Hispania Tarraconensis, to join the rebellion and further, to declare himself emperor in opposition to Nero.[72]

At the Battle of Vesontio in May 68, Verginius’ forces easily defeated those of Vindex and the latter committed suicide.[71] However, after putting down this one rebel, Verginius’ legions attempted to proclaim their own commander as Emperor. Verginius refused to act against Nero, but the discontent of the legions of Germany and the continued opposition of Galba in Spain did not bode well for him.

While Nero had retained some control of the situation, support for Galba increased despite his being officially declared a public enemy (“hostis publicus”[73]). The prefect of the Praetorian Guard, Gaius Nymphidius Sabinus, also abandoned his allegiance to the Emperor and came out in support of Galba.

In response, Nero fled Rome with the intention of going to the port of Ostia and, from there, to take a fleet to one of the still-loyal eastern provinces. According to Suetonius, Nero abandoned the idea when some army officers openly refused to obey his commands, responding with a line from Virgil‘s Aeneid: “Is it so dreadful a thing then to die?” Nero then toyed with the idea of fleeing to Parthia, throwing himself upon the mercy of Galba, or appealing to the people and begging them to pardon him for his past offences “and if he could not soften their hearts, to entreat them at least to allow him the prefecture of Egypt“. Suetonius reports that the text of this speech was later found in Nero’s writing desk, but that he dared not give it from fear of being torn to pieces before he could reach the Forum.[74]

Nero returned to Rome and spent the evening in the palace. After sleeping, he awoke at about midnight to find the palace guard had left. Dispatching messages to his friends’ palace chambers for them to come, he received no answers. Upon going to their chambers personally, he found them all abandoned. When he called for a gladiator or anyone else adept with a sword to kill him, no one appeared. He cried, “Have I neither friend nor foe?” and ran out as if to throw himself into the Tiber.[74]

Returning, Nero sought a place where he could hide and collect his thoughts. An imperial freedman, Phaon, offered his villa, located 4 mi (6.4 km) outside the city. Travelling in disguise, Nero and four loyal freedmen, Epaphroditos, Phaon, Neophytus, and Sporus, reached the villa, where Nero ordered them to dig a grave for him.

At this time, a courier arrived with a report that the Senate had declared Nero a public enemy, that it was their intention to execute him by beating him to death, and that armed men had been sent to apprehend him for the act to take place in the Roman Forum. The Senate actually was still reluctant and deliberating on the right course of action, as Nero was the last member of the Julio-Claudian Family. Indeed, most of the senators had served the imperial family all their lives and felt a sense of loyalty to the deified bloodline, if not to Nero himself. The men actually had the goal of returning Nero back to the Senate, where the Senate hoped to work out a compromise with the rebelling governors that would preserve Nero’s life, so that at least a future heir to the dynasty could be produced.[75]

Nero, however, did not know this, and at the news brought by the courier, he prepared himself for suicide, pacing up and down muttering Qualis artifex pereo (“What an artist dies in me”).[76] Losing his nerve, he begged one of his companions to set an example by killing himself first. At last, the sound of approaching horsemen drove Nero to face the end. However, he still could not bring himself to take his own life but instead he forced his private secretary, Epaphroditos, to perform the task.[77]

An 1815 illustration of the alleged tomb of Nero; actually tomb of proconsul Caius Vibius Marianus.

When one of the horsemen entered and saw that Nero was dying, he attempted to stop the bleeding, but efforts to save Nero’s life were unsuccessful. Nero’s final words were “Too late! This is fidelity!”[78] He died on 9 June 68, the anniversary of the death of Octavia, and was buried in the Mausoleum of the Domitii Ahenobarbi, in what is now the Villa Borghese (Pincian Hill) area of Rome.[78]

According to Sulpicius Severus, it is unclear whether Nero took his own life.[79]

With his death, the Julio-Claudian dynasty ended.[80]:19 When news of his death reached Rome, the Senate posthumously declared Nero a public enemy to appease the coming Galba (as the Senate had initially declared Galba as a public enemy) and proclaimed Galba as the new emperor. Chaos would ensue in the year of the Four Emperors.[81]

—<Quote ends>—

A strange way for an Emperor to die.

I wonder what Emperor Archduke Dulinor though, as he stood before that oncoming grain combine.

Gakhu/Ilelish (2607 C474756-A/Amber) Date: 243-1130

¶In a bizarre chain of events, Archduke Dulinor, claimant to the Iridium Throne, was killed today. The Archduke was present on the world’s surface following the crash landing of his flagship Clarion two days ago. Erratic computer functioning caused Clarion and the accompanying Coronation Fleet to pause in the system while repair and diagnostic work could be performed.

¶Two days ago, Clarion’s computer erroneously fired the ship’s main engines, forcing the vessel out of orbit into the Gakhuan atmosphere. Only at the last minute was the ship’s crew able to regain control of the vessel to effect a “semi-soft” landing in a cultivated field. Structural damage to the ship was aid to be negligible, but her crew did not want to risk flight again until the computers could be certified as repaired. In the meantime, all circuits to her maneuver drive were disconnected to prevent recurrence of the spontaneous engine firing.

¶Unfortunately, the response of the Gakhuans to this unanticipated visit by their leader was not welcoming. There had been a steady growing crowd assembling around the Clarion’s crashed hulk, jeering at the man who, only 57 days ago, broadcast triumphant footage of himself on the Iridium Throne. Gakhuan, like every other world along the Ilelish Federation frontier, has suffered at the hands of Lucan’s Black War raiders and then freelance raiders striking from out of the Outlands and Wilds. Furious at Dulinor’s reappearance after he has assured them that peace and a final end to the war was at hand, they chanted around the clock,”Dulinor, bring us peace.”

¶Finally responding to this incessant demonstration, Dulinor appeared today, alone but for a handful of unarmed advisors. It required considerable courage on Dulinor’s part to stand in front of the apparently hostile crowd,but he spoke to them nonetheless.

¶”My people,” he said, “i am your Emperor! Rally to me and I will bring you the final victory!!”

¶Etienne Marin is a Gakhuan farmer, and one of the leaders of the growing protest Like the others here, he was suspicious and angry that the Dulinor they saw did not appear to be the confident Emperor that they saw broadcast eight weeks ago. “We want peace. All he has given us is promises that he cannot fulfill. Unfulfilled promises are lies.”

¶The more Dulinor spoke, the more that crowd appeared to become enraged. As it appeared that the crowd was about to surge forward to assault Dulinor, a freak accident occurred. A nearby automated combine, one of many such machines on this agricultural world, began grinding toward Dulinor, cutting a swath through the stands of grain.

¶Dulinor saw the oncoming machine, but refused to give ground.

¶Dulinor’s doctors report that the Archduke died instantly, dismembered by the whirling blades.

¶Witnesses report that the combine was unoccupied at the time.

¶Members of Dulinor’s military staff initially threatened this reporter that this report would not be allowed, but an unidentified staff member overruled them, saying, “It’s over. There’s nothing to stop. It’s finally, really over.”

¶Dulinor never officially designated an heir to his position as Emperor,although it is known that his daughter Isis was inline to succeed him as Archduke.

¶In Ilelish, it would appear that the long war is over.

TNE: Survival Margin, page 65

I always thought that Dulinor did not intend to die: the combine’s failsafe programming was supposed to kick in, just like the safety programming of hundreds of trillions of Stellar tech+ vehicles, right across the Imperium Charted Space. Having the machine stop right before him would help persuade the farmers to stop their attack.

Too bad Virus was already at work, and not just on his starship.

Also: note that while the Archduke was brave – with no armed soldiers to escort him – his political instincts was failing him. You don’t keep promising people victory after fourteen years of war without any results, just destruction and death and poverty.

“Every politician needs fresh lies every so often.
Or even the truth, if it gets you what you want!”

I remain disappointed with Virus, even after twenty-seven years. We don’t need less complexity (Virus was intended to kill the population of the hostile-environment worlds), we need to see what happens next in the storyline! What happens when Archduchess Isis rises up to the throne of Ilelish? What will Emperor Lucan do now? How will civilization rebuild in Delphi Sector? Will Archduke Norris hook up with the Restored Vilani Empire?

I never got into Games of Thrones… but I understand how cheated their fans feel.

Back to Rome

It should be noted that Nero died while the Jewish War was still being prosecuted, with Vespasian at Corea and Jericho. It would take another two years for Jerusalem and her temple to fall, and four more years after that for Masada to go down.

Lesson Learned

Men of Lawlessness, freed of restraint, may well rule for a while… then are blown away, as so much dust.

And dust they remain.

For more on Nero and Christ, see Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, pages 383-390. I touch on his work with my post on the other blog.

Posted in Jumpspace Transmission

When You Make a Mistake…

“If you make a mistake, just make sure you do it again.”

The other other Matt
“Repetition legitimizes.” – Adam Neely

Grissini Project
I’m surprised nobody’s mentioning Beethoven : ”To play a wrong note is insignificant, to play without passion is inexcusable”

Poop Face
When you hit a wrong note in classical: Years of academy training, wasted.
When you hit a wrong note in jazz: There are no accidents.

Dirty Burrito
Classical: “you shall hang for that”
Jazz: “you can hang with us”

Ethan Locke
In jazz, we call those the spicy notes

Napalm Elderlich
“Yea do more of that.”
“I have no idea what notes I’m playing.”
10/10 👌

Summary: In Traveller, you’re paying Jazz, not Classical Music.

The Players already know this.

Certain Referees may need a reminder, though…

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Ancient Geezer Music

“The largest cassettes ever made” were made to play Musak – actual, 1960s-70s Musak – in shopping malls, and were used in some places till the ’90s.

Techmoan If you can’t get enough of this type of music…may I recommend the following sites…streaming Muzak from the Seeburg BGM library

I’m going to slot this under “Vilani music” and leave it there.

All the safety… none of the controversy!

In Travller tech, this is just about TL 6/7 audio equipment. Now, if you can find a modern (“early TL 9”) technician who can actually fix it — you own equivalent of Techmoan — then you’ve made quite a discovery!

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“Hiroshima 1945 – The British Atomic Attack”

Of course, in the Traveller Universe it wouldn’t be the British: they would hire offworld Travellers with a starship to drop the red pill.

Rogue Travellers too: unauthorized (by the Imperium!) usage of nuclear weapons carries severe penalties. They’d had better have an alternate set of identities for themselves (and their ship) ready to go, as a lot of extremely angry, very powerful people will start looking for them very soon…

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The Weakness of Sadists

A Few Notes from the Miami incident:

The obvious: times change, and you don’t want to bring a six-shooter to an assault rifle fight.

Secondly: some bad guys are built tough, quite able to take multiple pistol rounds without armour.

(A sufficient number of shots will get the job done, though.)

Third: sadists may well leave people alive. This decision can have severe repercussions.

And a minor fourth: militaries and law enforcement are large operations with institutional memories. Once outgunned, they learn their lesson. (This is true even of small nations & outfits.)

Trying the same stunt again will not lead to the same outcome.

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Odd-boy Ammunition, Early TL 9

This post is dedicated to TNE: Fire, Fusion and Steel, the apex of geek-out detailed gearhead construction manuals.

Also, if – for some odd reason – your starship has a dedicated armourer and small gunsmithing shop, you can give him some projects to work on.

“Try not to blow anything up. At least, nothing too big.”

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High-Quality, Fan-made Space Battles

Once again, you’ll be waiting a llllooooonnnggg time before Traveller starships are modeled.

So, enjoy this instead.

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The Box of Mystery

A sequence of events, leading to the discovery of an artifact here.

Originally discovered here.

I wonder if these far-flung explorers-soldiers, centuries in the future, will ever grasp how to use this bizarre object…

The videos below are all from an Artstation challenge.

Not sure if the above is super-low tech, super high-tech, or just an alternate scale.

A most interesting garden.

In the style of old-school, alternate-past anime. While it’s a nice watch, I’m actually more interested in the low tech civilization of the guards (and their small, gun-like crossbows!) than in the main characters.

Not a bad start-point for a Traveller campaign!

I’ll set this as a Vilani fairy-story, a video produced about the same time the Solomani were inventing bread.

The Ancients of Traveller were very powerful, but not very humane.

But – depending on the Referee – there may well be other long-gone powers, who left better surprises behind to be discovered.

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