More Martian Terraforming

PBS is a little late, but I don’t mind: certainly, they are faster to the party than most legacy media!

And a cheer for LEGO Space City!

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The Far Future: Two Yoko Kanno Flavours

The easy-going, mellow, romantic version. It’s where I’m coming from… and not the main subject of this post.

Creating enjoyable, slice-of-life stories about living an imperfect but hopeful life in the Far Future — say, a comedy of Bwap, Aslans, and Vilani-culture humans building and running an agricultural habitat — can be a good thing: but not what all those combat rules in Traveller are geared for.

The dramatic, do-or-die version. Essentially, describing a cyborg on the edge of complete mechanization, crying out to God to save her soul, her ghost, from annihilation.

No worries, Motoko Kusanagi. The intensely intricate nature of the construction of the cosmos — the physical laws and the engineering of life — demands intelligence, planning, and purpose.

But, warrior-queen, this also means that your existence has a divine purpose that you can violate, as well as uphold. You can kill the wrong man, as well as kill the right one… and prices must and will be paid for all such mistakes.

Perhaps you should be worried, after all.

Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi () is a legendary Japanese sword and one of three Imperial Regalia of Japan. It was originally called Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi (, “Heavenly Sword of Gathering Clouds”), but its name was later changed to the more popular Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (“Grass-Cutting Sword”). In folklore, the sword represents the virtue of valor.

Kusanagi“, from Wikipedia

Valor has a major place in Traveller, as does lethal weaponry, be it low-tech 2000-year old swords or far future military cyborgs. But it is not so much the existence or design of such weaponry, but how it is used, that shapes a Traveller campaign.

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Two Charts

The important chart, where I discovered that a massive chunk of people live behind the Unfree Internet.

Thanks India, Indonesia, and Nigeria for saving the Free Internet’s bacon! (From ~2025 onward.)

The more exciting chart. Intense, committed Referees may wish to create the equivalent for their subsector or sector, modified for Tech Levels.

The missing Traveller version: how many civilian and military ships is tied to each world in the PC’s home range. Referees will have to generate a set of numbers, and work out the implications.

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Orthodoxy in Space!

While watching Could We Really Sleep in Space for Years? , I came across this image:

Old Russia, replaced with New Russia.

Quite interesting, for a Traveller to meet government-backed explorers & scientists with religious icons & symbols on prominent display.

I live within a pointedly secularist culture, so it’s shocking for me to see. In the more easy-going culture of the Imperium, it isn’t nearly so astonishing… especially with several powerful, high-tech theocracies running around!

If the Russian Church is able to get even a good-sized minority of its membership to go the big family route (imitating the Orthodox Jews in Israel), this will be the face of Russia for a long time to come.

If the Russian Church can’t pull it off, there won’t be an ethnic Russian nation in a few generations.

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The Head of the Empire

From Gary North, The Battle of Cajamarca:

(Continuing from a Wikipedia quote on the battle)

As soon as the shooting started, the 6,000 ran. Most of those who died, died of suffocation and trampling.

It was a failure of nerve.

The Spaniards were terrified at first, but not after the command to attack was issued.

Pizarro demanded a huge ransom in gold and silver for the life of Atahualpa. The emperor’s men paid. Then the Spaniards executed him.

After they killed him, Pizarro appointed Atahualpa’s brother emperor. The Inca army took orders from him. They defeated opposing Inca warriors. The Spaniards lost no one.

This was the largest empire on earth. All Pizarro had to do was cut off its head and install a new one.

Gary North, The Battle of Cajamarca

Both the Aztec and Incan Empires were weakened by massive plagues. There is still the end result: two huge empires, conquered in 12 years, at little cost.

There can be serious consequences for cowardice at the critical moment. The importance of technology in overawing the enemy should not be underestimated.

Travellers take note… both on the aggressive side of the story, and the receiving side.

(What destroyed the Third Imperium wasn’t so much that Dulinor cut off the head, but that he 1) failed to install himself as the new head, and yet 2) escaped to lead a rebellion, successfully defying the power of the new Emperor, Lucan.

If the Solomani Confederation had arranged the release of the AI Virus — after immunizing themselves first, at least on several ultraloyal high-pop/high-tech worlds — then this could have been a replay of Pizarro on an interstellar scale.)

Western Civilization below the Rio Grande was represented initially by ruthless soldiers who were after gold. Then came mining and slavery. By 1620, the year the Mayflower landed in New England, there were few traces of the old order below the Rio Grande.

Gary North, The Battle of Cajamarca

The cutting edge of civilization isn’t often a nice place to be. Or run by morally upright people.

Travellers take note.

The corporate will to resist is the key to long-term victory. The inhabitants of the Western hemisphere did not possess this will to resist when it mattered, 1493-1650. After 1650, it did not matter. Demography mattered.

Gary North, The Battle of Cajamarca

By the time the Indian Wars reached the Wild West, Manifest Destiny had already become settled fact.

In a similar epilogue to the Nth Interstellar Wars, the Vilani long lacked the will to collectively resist Solomani power. Yet, what cultural resistance they did raise materially shortened the lifespan of the Second, ‘Ramshackle’ Imperium.

(A ‘Ramshackle Imperium’ that lasted over 400 years, by the way.)

It can be argued that they didn’t regain the will until the War of the Rebellion, and the return of a (far smaller) Vilani Empire.

It was the Mixed Vilani that broke the power of the Solomani at the Imperial Court, not the Vilani per se. (Although they certainly helped!)

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This is commitment.

Fun ideas/lines to stick in your Traveller game:

Having a race by starship, to determine who owns a particular chunk of rock.

“This one weird technique that makes ships faster and jumps shorter.”

  • <Insert: PCs tying empty wooden barrels on the hull of their starship.>

Chasing down lost, four-century-old rumours.

(Note: The Third Imperium is over a thousand years old.)

“Ignore my emails? I might show up!”

  • PCs should be on both the receiving and the sending ends of such attitude, at least once in their campaign.

The difference between the Naval Captain Christopher Billopp and his grandson Colonel Christopher Billop might be important one day.

  • Especially for those old and powerful Noble Houses, with a loooong tradition of Imperial Service.

History is written down. Oral History is Hear say.

  • Well, maybe. Maybe not. Let the PCs uncover the truth for themselves.

“Out of options and feeling desperate for some kind of resolution, I knew what I had to do.”

<Insert sounds of: PCs chambering rounds, powering up the laser turrets, bolting down everything loose.>

And from the comments:

  • “If an item does not appear in our records, it does not exist.” 👵

So. Vilani.

  • i was expecting a shot of Grey breaking into the museum

Not in real life. But in Traveller….

  • Grey: Time to let it go
    Me: Grey, that’s not like you!
    Grey: flies to New York Me:
    Me: That’s more like it

Every starship crew should have their ship charted by a wealthy lunatic on a quest. Once.

The Historical Narrative

As extracted from the CGP Grey video above:


Side note: A lot of times, the shift from “legend” to “lunacy” happens when the Imperial Ministry of Information gets its hands on an interesting/important story that puts the Imperium in a strongly positive light.

I actually like the Imperium, by and large: but there’s a difference between “generally neutral-to-good, most of the time, if you push hard enough” and “flawless and perfect in every way”.

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Girls on Mars, Guys on Mars

Girls: The Surprising Ways Mars is Hostile to Life

Guys: Springtime on Mars: Terraforming the Red Planet

Note that both videos were published the same day, with the girls’ video out three hours before the guys.

Throw in the Mars Trilogy, and I’m solidly in the camp of the guys. Even if you’re throwing in a few Extinction-event asteroids into Mars a day, every day, for a thousand years, to get the water you want.

We’d better set up a quadrillion-population, post-scarcity Dyson-sphere civilization first, and then start whacking Mars silly.

(Note that the entire population of the Third Imperium is only about 10 trillion or so.)

For extra credit:

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