Survival Bias

The critical information is invisible.

The scars of a survivor.

From Wikipedia:

In the military

During World War II, the statistician Abraham Wald took survivorship bias into his calculations when considering how to minimize bomber losses to enemy fire. Researchers from the Center for Naval Analyses had conducted a study of the damage done to aircraft that had returned from missions, and had recommended that armor be added to the areas that showed the most damage. Wald noted that the study only considered the aircraft that had survived their missions—the bombers that had been shot down were not present for the damage assessment. The holes in the returning aircraft, then, represented areas where a bomber could take damage and still return home safely. Wald proposed that the Navy instead reinforce the areas where the returning aircraft were unscathed, since those were the areas that, if hit, would cause the plane to be lost.[10][11][not in citation given] His work is considered seminal in the then-fledgling discipline of operational research.

There has got to be a way for a Referee to slip this one into an adventure, and get the PCs to use their eyes and actually see what’s happening around them for once…

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Stellar Reaches #27: Updated, Download, Pictures

Some notes on the most recent issue of Stellar Reaches, Issue #27:

  1. The issue has been updated, with numerous minor corrections. A graphic was duplicated on page 42: this has been fixed. If you have the older issue and want to do a comparison between the new and the old, there are a good number of PDF comparison tools: Draftable lets you do it online for small files, or offline for huge files like this issue.
  2. The file on this site has been divided into 22 parts, for easier downloading. The entire issue is at ~260 MB, at 219 pages with lots of graphics (one ten-page section is 30.3 MB!).One of my readers told me that it’s just to large for him to download all at once: it should be easier to download in pieces. There are various programs to join the PDF files together: one online alternative is PDF Join.You can still download the file in one piece at just search for ‘Stellar Reaches’. You can also purchase the hardcopy magazine at note that, as it is in colour, the price is high at $41.95 USD.

    So why I insist on colour? Because I want to design for the future: and in the future, more people will be able to afford it.

    Atoms will not decline in price as sharply as electrons, but I believe that energy prices will fall sharply over the next few years, as noted by Tony Seba in his lecture “Clean Disruption – Energy & Transportation”, shown below:

The Importance of Graphics

One small campaign hook I want to draw your attention to is on page 44. The original blurb for the graphic was

It’s rare to spot more than one or two moons from Hipponax: but sometimes, when conditions are just right…

but this just didn’t fit the picture: the shown orbits and locations of the moons around the gas giant would be routinely seen. So I changed it to

The dozens of worlds of Clazomenae, of which Hipponax is just one.

Really, the image shows just a few worlds above a dozen: but it’s reasonable that – with so many seen – there will have to be even more that are not easily seen by the naked, untrained eye.

And then the obvious hit me: if Hipponax/Canopus is one of Clazomenae’s moons, and is habitable, why not more moons? Can’t you have many living worlds around one gas giant? And can’t more than one of them have a population over a billion? Perhaps all of them?

Sadly, Traveller (like all systems) is poor at modelling edge cases such as this. It is possible to have multiple high-pop worlds, but the only one in the UWP is the mainworld/most populous world.

Well, never mind: the PCs can discover it for themselves.

(Such situations would also mess up UWP surveys of the population and wealth of a sector: it wouldn’t take many single systems with multiple populous worlds to ruin the accuracy of a typical Traveller mainworld survey.)

So we see that a single picture can materially change the shape & scope of an entire roleplaying campaign, if the Referee wants to deepen his universe. A good picture can excite the imagination, or spark a shift in perspective.

I want my fanzine to get more good stories out there, more meat to chew on, more situations to play with. And good pictures are part of that.


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Alien Beacons

I would suggest that the Imperium runs a major

“Hello Universe, we’re here!

The Imperial Reference timestamp is XXXXXXX….

Be our friend and let us sell you stuff!

The Imperial Reference timestamp is XXXXXXX…..”

interstellar beacon at Reference/Core, and lesser timestamp beacons at every Imperial sector capital as well.

Also, there may well be several truly alien beacons out there, far beyond Charted Space, that the Imperial Scouts know of. Some of them are warning signs, some are Hello Universe greetings, and some are advertising.

Every so often, the IISS send out an expedition, to check them out. As any ever returned? If they do, what is coming back with them? Something for a Referee to plan out for his PCs…

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The Vilani Main – Updates

From the comments of the previous post, I have this:

Vilani Main = 1049 Systems

Core Sector – 2 Systems
Corridor Sector – 39 systems (Shurgi Main)
Dagudashaag Sector – 62 systems
Gushemege Sector – 309 systems
Ilelish Sector – 2 Systems
Lishun Sector – 136 systems
Reft Sector – 90 Systems
Verge Sector -8 systems
Vland Sector – 399 systems
Windhorn Sector – 4 systems

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O’Neill Cylinders

Keep an eye on the skies of your Traveller O’Neill cylinders.

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Stellar Reaches Issue #27 is Here!

Actually, I always thought that I would get Stellar Reaches #27 out eventually. It’s just that a whole host of major real life events, combined with my drive to get an ambitious adventure/pictorial travelogue out, stretched the timeline out longer than I thought.

But I have to admit, Stellar Reaches #26 (also updated today on this site) also took longer than I had planned.

The innovative part of the standard Personality section is the introduction of the Rukonrifguag, basically a Julian Vargr contact group, working to get in touch with and assist the smaller packs and the more isolated Vargr population centres in the Six Subsectors of the Imperial Empty Quarter. An artillery mercenary, a Stellar Divinity adept, a Bwap Baron administrator and a princess from out-of-area rounds out the section.

In addition to the usual Personality survey for the Empty Quarter, I lightly touched on the Imperial sci-fi dream of shifting to stargates for travel instead of starships.

The main focus of the article is a huge framework for transporting some migrants — long-lost family from an Imperial noble clan — from the Solomani Confederation to the Third Imperium. I felt that I hadn’t written up a proper travelling adventure for a while, and I owed my readers one. Some pragmatic concerns for bring a small convoy from an alien part of space into the Imperium are addressed, with ship types and some procedures sketched out. Most players will want to roleplay as Imperials, as this gives a greater scope of action: but playing as Solomani immigrants is a way to see the Imperium with new eyes, from a strongly single-species environment to a multitude of intelligent species and cultures.

Several pages are spent on the details of the noble houses’ history, mainly so I can sketch out how an old family would develop over three millennia. It certainly isn’t needed for the adventure, but could be useful as a source of ideas for other adventures.

From the Christian standpoint, I  commented on Rushdoony’s vision of the Royal Virtue – the concern for the lowly and the willingness to associate with them. In part, it’s a glimpse on what a genuinely noble Noble would be. I underscored Christian failure to reach this standard, mainly because few believers are even aware of this virtue. Hopefully, more will take up the challenge to lead a truly noble life, using their wealth and strength to serve and build up others, rather than merely control others and isolate themselves from the greater universe.

I do have a central idea for Stellar Reaches #28. I hope to get it out this winter… but I wouldn’t bet money on that.

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The Vilani Main

I am astonished that we know so little about this massive, 1007-system main!

Mainly, because I just discovered it while playing around on

Note: that “1001-system” count is by eye: somebody should do an exact count of the number of systems on that main, and give us a bunch of adventure hooks for this group of stars. Some background to this main should be provided as well: I am confident that it has payed a HUGE role in Imperial history, being the first Great Star Grab of the Ziru Sirka/First Imperium, and home of many of what should be the oldest and wealthiest systems of the Imperium.

(And if the UWPs don’t provide a surplus of high-pop/high-tech systems, then we need an explanation for this lack of development, a.k.a. more adventure hooks, more colourful cultural background, more hidden mysteries…)

My eyeball count of the systems of the Vilani Main:

Ilelish-A = 2
Verge-D = 8

Reft-L, O, P = 7 + 3 + 35

Reft total = 45

Gushemege-M, N = 34 + 28
Gushemege-I, J, K, L = 25 + 50 + 20 + 1
Gushemege-E, F, G, H = 1 + 16 + 26 + 42
Gushemege-C, D = 22 + 45
Gushemege-C, D 2 + 22

Gushemege total = 334

Dagudashaag-A = 28
Dagudashaag-E = 11
Dagudashaag-C, D = 2 + 20

Dagudashaag total = 61

Core-A, B = 1 + 1

Core total = 2

Corridor-O, P 2 + 22

Corridor total = 24

Vland-M, N, O, P = 38, 44, 40, 40
Vland-I, J, K, L = 3 + 3 + 39 + 43
Vland-F, G, H = 3 + 28 + 46
Vland-B, C, D = 17, 38, 6

Vland total = 388

Windhorn-N, O = 1, 4

Windhorn total = 5

Lishun-A, B = 4, 4
Lishun-E, F = 31, 1
Lishun-I, J = 30, 7
Lishun-M, N = 37, 24

Lishun total = 138


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