An Lushan Rebellion

A detailed description of a truly ugly rebellion, not dissimilar from Traveller’s War of the Rebellion.

Except that the Tang Dynasty actually won… for certain definitions of “winning”.

Also worth noting was the major international networks. Even back before Columbus, even after the fall of Rome, there were great civilizations on the move.

Posted in Jumpspace Transmission

The King’s Busy Day

Some quotes:

“I’m practicing sitting still without falling asleep.”
“That’s not work!”
“It is king’s work… and it’s harder than it looks.”
“What else is King’s work?”
“Making speeches shaking hands and waving a lot.”


“Oh daddy what about lunch?”
“I know but there’s more important king work to be done.”
“But daddy, you king! That means you’re in charge!” “Ah Holly! Everyone thinks I’m in charge, but really, I get told what to do all the time.”


[At a dance show]
“How awful… even worse!”
[Show ends]
“Very good! Very good!”

Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom, made in the UK, is pretty good at communicating the actual life of a royal to its six-year-old audience.

I tend to model my Nobles on the powerful and dangerous (and loaded with story potential!) world of the Roman noble, not the British noble. But even for the Roman nobles, peacetime life was mainly about managing money, public speeches and appearances, looking after the family estates, and hearing complaints.

And one more thought: as mentioned, this cartoon reflects life for a constitutional monarchy in the 20th/early 21st century. I wonder what kind of children’s entertainment would be created for a high-tech civilization, under an interstellar absolute monarch who rules a myriad of wildly diverse worlds, some of them very alien indeed.

Posted in Jumpspace Transmission

Cheering Capitalism: Misformed Links

So I corrected the links below, from the earlier post:

A few quick links to make my case, based on North’s economic work and discussed on my other blog:

I made the correction (and this repost) because I like capitalism, as I would frankly prefer to be middle class (with a little belly pouch) rather than dirt-poor and starving (even with a hard, flat belly).

And I would like to have at least a chance to be soft-core rich — say, a mere $10 million or so — simply by my commitment to the customer (and the love of repeat business and good word of mouth!), without requiring the political groveling and pay-offs that are required in Properly Socialist States.

(Even Bill Gates got to the billion-level before getting squeezed to pay off Congresscritters in the 90s. Try doing that in a Red Star nation!)


Well, of course Traveller has to be a capitalist society!

Where’s the fun of roleplaying in the tightly regulated and controlled collectivist society of the First Imperium? “The Ziru Sirka, where unauthorized adventure is forbidden by law!”

Or the pseudo-capitalist culture of the Zhodani?

“We certainly will not read your mind and determine what your real bottom line is. Even if it would save us millions!


(Of course, as the Elite there truly can read minds — and reshape them at need — they have a sporting chance of creating a functional socialist economy.)

The Hiver economic system is collectivist – tied to and controlled by the hive – but other Federation member races do have true money. Most likely, these species, like the Gurvin, serve as the “Switzerland” of a world-conquering Soviet State: you need some way to calculate accurate prices, and in the worldwide pseudo-Soviet of the Hive Federation, a free (and tiny) Switzerland would serve as the price setter.

Posted in Jumpspace Transmission

Thirty Books

An amusing feminine uprising is currently running strong, regarding the tidy queen Marie Kondo quote “Ideally, own less than 30 books.”

First off, context is important: this is what she personally does, and is not a recommendation for all to obey.

The second is my Vilani-style take on the advice. The Vilani leadership dislike having the general population getting too curious, or wastefully spending time accumulating too much unneeded knowledge.

So they are more likely to recommend four books: three technical manuals that are far too dry and boring for any casual reader to tolerate for more than 30 minutes. The Federal Register, with 70,000+ new regulations pushed out every year, is the kind of thing they are looking for.

“Three books should just cover the index for the Register. And change the name to the Imperial Register. And make the primary edition in Modern Vilani, with a Bwap version counting as a equally legal and authoritative text. Make the Anglic versions just certified translations, without force of law.”

The fourth book should be some volume of the various books of rituals, history, ceremonies, mythology, and history of the Vilani. I recommend following the Shinto example as a model:

Shinto does not have any philosophical literature or official scripture that can be compared to texts like the Bible or the Qur’an. But the Kojiki(Records of Ancient Matters) and the Nihongior Nihon shoki (Chronicles of Japan), are in a sense the sacred books of Shinto. They were written in 712 and 720 CE, respectively, and are compilations of the oral traditions, mythology and ceremonies of ancient Shinto. But they are also books about the history, topography, and literature of ancient Japan.

Also important is the collection of 50 books known as Engishiki, completed in 927. These deal with the laws governing shrine ceremonies, the organization of religious leadership, and official prayers and liturgies.

Shinto Texts

But note that, while the Vilani are as morality-free as Shinto, they DO believe in legal codes of Right Behavior like the Confucians, laws that the authorities should enforce with rigour.

Posted in Uncategorized

Look Like a Local

From Quora:

How can I look Russian?

Dima Vorobiev, I worked for Soviet propaganda

I’m speaking for my town, which is Moscow, but my experience would be applicable almost everywhere in Russia. If you want to look as Russian as possible, you’ll need not much:

* A knit cap in a nondescript color, no pattern or logos (this is mandatory)

* Clothes in a dark (but not velvety black) color that tolerate any weather, temperature and the assault of the crowd during the rush hour in the Moscow subway

* The face of someone who notices everything but looks at nothing particular

Your body shall go into a binary mode, permanently making a choice between two states: (1) resting/standing/sitting/ lying/slouching/making out; (2) walking very fast.

When idle, make extensive use of your pockets with your hands.

For gesturing, use one hand. The other shall be helping it with small, dissociated, chaotic movements. When pointing directions, feel free to use your nose or chin. Minimize eye contact, but don’t turn your face away. When speaking, for a smooth word flow help yourself with small jerks of the head and shoulders. Alternate your face expressions between “resting bitch” when listening, and “grave concern” when talking. (Watch an English-speaking Russian lady on YouTube do this like a pro.)

If all the above is too challenging for you, find yourself a Russian GF/BF. Nothing beats a local significant other for camouflage. You’ll blend right in.

The photo below shows three almost impeccable outfits for every occasion during the winter season. For the summer season, shift to a baseball cap and remove a layer, or two of the clothes. If in doubt, go for sweatpants and a cheap leather jacket.

On the interstellar scale, this kind of cultural imitation may work for those wanting to get integrated into Vilani culture. With millennia of movies, songs, folk tales, and pictures — coupled with a love of detailed conformity and consensus — I can see the Vilani deliberately make a specific look and feel for all Vilani cultures, everywhere.

(Or at least attempt to do so: the Third Imperium isn’t the First Imperium, so there just isn’t the money or legal backing to enforce cultural conformity on a scale that would please the Vilani.)

In Solomani eyes, Vilani culture = Imperial culture: strange and alien. Solsec operatives are trained to pass as Mixed Vilani (or at least culturally Vilani) at need. This is somewhat assisted by the desire of the Vilani to sometimes overlook minor cultural missteps, if they feel that you are truly trying to become One of Us.

Imperials trying to slip undetected into a Solomani Confederation world have a lot of training to do, mainly to get rid of all those Vilani mannerisms, loanwords, and habits of thought that has guided them all their lives, and pratically shout “Imperial mole!”

Imperial Solomani worlds far from the Sphere have no doubt brought onboard at least a few of these Vilani cultural artifacts, but agents from these worlds still have less work to do than most Imperials. It’s even easier for those worlds that were ruled by the Confederation before the Rim War.

As for passing as a native on a Solomani world? Solomani cultures routinely fracture from their initial culture, and this divergent tendency even occurs on a particular world, breaking up a world culture into various subworld cultures – cultures that may bear little or no resemblance to each other, or to their founding group.

This is a trying nightmare for many Vilani agents, people who have more trouble letting go of their old habits and ways than Solomani agents do. Vilani infiltrators generally have hard lives…

Posted in Jumpspace Transmission

Could planets from Star Wars really exist?

From the comments:

This is one of the nerdiest videos I’ve ever seen. I loved every minute of it.

Posted in Jumpspace Transmission

Full Metal Panic

Nobles should always travel with guides who know the local lingo.

NOT An outtake from a coming Traveller anime.


Posted in Jumpspace Transmission