The Decision is Final!

From Dead man walking: Court rejects Romanian cook’s claim he’s alive

BUCHAREST, Romania — Constantin Reliu learned in January that he was dead.

After more than 20 years of working as a cook in Turkey, the 63-year-old returned home to Romania to discover that his wife had had him officially registered as dead.

He has since been living a legalistic nightmare of trying to prove to authorities that he is, in fact, alive. He faced a major setback Thursday when a court in the northeastern city of Vaslui refused to overturn his death certificate because his request was filed “too late.”

The decision, the court said, is final.

Hard evidence that we are being infiltrated by the Vilani Imperium, even as we speak…

(Are you sure that one of those judges wasn’t a Bwap?
There are rumours of ‘lizard-men’ in high places even as we speak!

Contact your nearest Solomani Party office for more!)

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Vilani Civilizations at the End of Time

Issac Arthur is more optimistic than the title of the video suggests.

That being said, some of his concepts are Just So Vilani:

Once you max out a planet to its comfortable population, people wanting kids need to move, people wanting to climb ladders need to move, people bored with Earth need to move, people who want a bigger home and more land need to move, and so on, while people bored with life presumably let themselves die and probably get replaced either by someone who really wants to live on Earth, complete with the culture on it, or got raised by folks who think a thousand years is a perfectly plausible timeline for an apprenticeship.

Vilani culture, all the way… except they are limited to centuries of lifespan, and can’t pull a thousand years for an apprenticeship.

An idea: How about some Vilani who are willing to

(whisper it…)


(…looks around)

so they and their descendants can have multi-thousand year long lifespans

  • to Build Wealth,
  • keep on Conforming and Supporting the Consensus
  • and insure that Nothing Ever Changes.

Things don’t necessarily have to go that way, but it’s very easy for me to imagine Earth as a bit of an island of relics in a sprawling empire of a billion artificial habitats inside our solar system, itself inside an even more sprawling galactic civilization. Old, rich, and quite possibly obsessive about preserving things.

In other words… Vilani.

We try to keep our monuments and historic properties around these days, even though we didn’t live there and experience that. It’s possible they might not value antiques as much because there’s no mystique to them. Odds are the construction crew for Stonehenge might complain less about moving or replacing some of the monoliths than we would, but I think it more likely every house on Earth would start resembling a museum or archeological site.

“Welcome tot he heart of the First Imperium!”

A friend once asked me how long it would take before we’d fill up every inch of land on Earth with graveyards, on similar lines to when we’d run out of space for landfills. The answer to both is never, we lose about 50 million people a year and we’ve got room for about 50 trillion graves without stacking (which we often already do), a million year supply and bodies don’t last that long and neither do landfills.

Even planet wide cities, Ecumenopolises, won’t run out of room for graves unless they are preserving bodies in carbonite or something, and of course they can and must build vertically anyway.

Downwards as well as upwards, by the way…

(But watch that pressure and heat buildup!
And… Yay, Oceans! They can help with at least one of those problems…)

But keeping to modern death rates and grave sizes, notably being 6 foot deep, you would layer the planet with tombs in a million years and we still have 5 billion or so left. If those were perfectly preserved you’d layer the land with tombs 10 kilometers or 6 miles deep. We certainly tend to build on top of ruins, it’s pretty well accepted that whether you build a city on a coast or a hill or river, after a while what you’re mostly building that city on is itself, and all the leftover buildings and garbage of prior generations. And with ultra-strong materials and better technology, I could see a civilizations just locking up someone’s apartment when they died with them in it to never be used again, just visited and maybe not even that.

“The Ancestors Approve.”
“The Traditions have been Upheld.”

That’s a little bit more plausible than it sounds like too. Ultra-strong materials along with ultra-durable ones and self-repairing ones are likely to be technologies we pursue vigorously and are probably on the table, and have to be taken in the context of Ecumenopolises and Arcologies.

“And nothing ever changed, ever again.”
— the Vilani equivalent of “And they lived happily ever after.”

However, if there is a civilization around then [a billion years from now], it seems very unlikely they’d not take steps to prevent such events or that the galaxy would be particularly natural anymore.

We can say stellar formation in the galaxy ought to drop off to very little in a trillion years and cease entirely in 100 trillion at most. You can have a lot of civilizations arise in a trillion years, but realistically, unless all civilizations terminate at about our current technological levels – – rather than getting out to the stars – – I wouldn’t expect natural star formation to occur more than maybe a few million years after they left their planet.

Of course, I stand with the Solomani, and not the Vilani.

  • Things are going to change,
  • We are going to change it,
  • So since things are going to change, let’s change things for the better.
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My Characters are Smarter than I Am…

Every last starship captain in Traveller knows the details and subtleties of gas giants – details that may save your life, when you know what’s going on and a fast-moving pirate does not.

But while many of my characters knows this like the back of his hand, I didn’t learn about it until the last 30 minutes or so.


Habitable Gas Giant moon systems.
Referees: take special note of that Horseshoe Orbit. A smooth way to toss a curve ball at the players, with excellent visuals to describe!

But for full disclosure, contrast this with Issac Arthur‘s take on the same subject:

…and even better, Life on Rogue Planets…

OK, back to Antifaxian.

Time to take a look at all those odd star systems, now that we know that our own solar system is weird, and not “an unremarkable system orbiting an unremarkable star.”

“How to Build 1000 Stars” just multiply by 11 for the Imperium 😉


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Not Dumb, Just Poor

From: War on the Rocks, Ten Ways to Fix the U.S. Military’s Close Combat Lethality

#2: The Marine Corps and Army should commit to fixing the staffing and manning of close combat formations to allow for cohesion.

This begins with how Americans are recruited and screened for these units and must remain central to how they’re educated, trained, retained, and treated throughout their service. The Department of Defense has recognized it has a talent management problem. However, it has failed to implement tested qualitative and quantitative measures that would make future close combat warfighter recruiting and retention efforts both accurate and precise in their shot group. Morally, mentally, and physically tough Americans, with strong, team-centric athletic backgrounds should be the primary target. Additionally, it can no longer be acceptable for infantry personnel expected to make instantaneous, tactical decisions that can easily have strategic effects to have the lowest mental aptitude requirements in the Marine Corps and Army. Fortunately, Chad Buckel, a Marine infantry officer serving in NATO’s special operations forces headquarters, just published a detailed plan, with objective metrics, for the Close Combat Lethality Task Force to use in fixing this manpower problem.

I never thought that the Imperial close combat units — mainly Marine, with some Army and Navy specialists, and even a few Scout units rattling around  — were particularly dumb.1

It’s not primarily the lower echelons of high-tech societies that the Imperium recruits their close combat types (although they are present): it’s more the upper levels of low-tech worlds, where the work is hard and physical, and many men are interested in:

  • earning (for them) a LOT of money
  • actually seeing what the outer universe holds
  • playing with a whole host of magical toys
  • potentially gaining a huge level of responsibility and authority, in the services and (if titled, knighted or ennobled) even real political authority afterwards
  • killing some non-humans2
    (an especially widespread attitude on Vargr-bordering Solomani regions like the
    Imperial Empty Quarter, but also noticeable on worlds bordering Aslan space)
  • killing some non-conformists
    (as above, but substitute “Vilani” for “Solomani”… and not just in the border regions.)
  • serving the Emperor – the Imperium often enjoys higher esteem on poorer systems than on more cynical high-tech/high-pop systems
    • There is a particular situation the Referee should keep an eye on. An illustration will suffice: when Beijing decided to smash the 1989 protests, many PLA units refused to open fire on unarmed students. So Army units composed of poor peasants who resented the relatively wealthy and entitled students were called upon: and they had no problem pulling the trigger.

From Wikipedia (footnotes snipped):

At about 10 pm, the 38th Army opened fire on protesters at the Wukesong intersection on Chang’an Avenue, about 10 km west of Square. The crowds were stunned that the army was using live ammunition and reacted by hurling insults and projectiles. Song Xiaoming, a 32-year-old aerospace technician, killed at Wukesong, was the first confirmed fatality of the night. The troops used expanding bullets, prohibited by international law for use in warfare, which expand upon entering the body and create larger wounds.

There is a Biblical phrase – “Count the cost” – and a business phrase – “Know who you are dealing with” – that the Referee should go out of his way to cram down the throat of the PCs every so often. Better to suffer in a game, than in real life.

“That’s what wargames are for.”

1 I leave the Referee to make the call for a particular mercenary or dynastic household unit.

2 Any competent Imperial Noble – and knows how to find out, exactly, the word people is defined for a given culture, species, or individual.

“Avoid preconceptions! Some cultures don’t include females or children of their own species in that category, while others include stars, spaceships, rocks, robots, and computer programs. Several powerful Solomani cultures demand the recognition of their deity as a sovereign person, much like our own beloved Emperor; while all Vilani cultures uphold the personage of the corporation.

Whether you are destined for a throne yourself, or sworn to support one, you must be able to see things as your subjects see. The Third Imperium is not a monoculture as the First was, and we will not bankrupt ourselves trying to remold alien cultures into our image, as the Second did.

To retain our thrones and our public honours, we must be able see reality as our subjects see, and respect the world they live in. And we as Imperials — Nobles, the Uniformed and the Civil Services, and common Loyalist alike — must be the buffer between divergent cultures, so all our worlds can engage in peaceful, mutually respectful trade and communication, instead of falling into hostile suspicion or open warfare.”

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$17,000 Computers

I can see the Traveller trading opposites all the way from here.

Three cheers for Tech differences, arbitrage, and hungry PCs with an eye for an opportunity!

(Incidentally, I am claiming the IBM Model M keyboard for the Vilani Empire.
So elegant, so well-designed, so solid and reliable…)

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Vilani Business Practices in Action!

It’s amazing to see how large corporations can use large bureaucracies – educational in this instance – to lock down a nice fat monopoly, squeezing out more up-to-date and cheaper products because ‘it’s against the rules!’ and ‘if it works, why change things?’

Can the PCs beat such a competitor, looking to horn into their action? In the anti-corporate Empty Quarter — where the godhood of the almighty Imperial Credit is easily beaten out by supernatural religions and tribal bonds — it can actually be  done if you play your cards right!

In the rest of the Imperium… not so much.

The above video is included only because it’s a missing link to PCs: the calculator wars of the 1970s drove chip prices nice and low, paving the way for PCs and eventually smartphones and brain chips.

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The Logistics of Living in Antarctica

Ever wondered how it would be like to live in a Scout station? Well, wonder no more!

Yes, this would actually be considered a ‘soft duty’ post…

  • “You can actually breathe the air!”
  • “A low of just -67 C? Gotta bring the suntan!
  • “No insane lifeforms that hate your guts? Not even viruses? Heaven!”

…but the logistics are still interesting and Traveller-worthy. Especially that 40-day tractor convoy to the South Pole!

There are few places humans can go where they are seven months away from medical care, from food, from civilization.

Interestingly, most star systems are just one week away from civilization in the Imperium, especially if you are counting Jump6 starships. Seven months = 28 weeks, and if you go by Jump4 (the longest common starship range), then it’s 28 x 4 = 112 parsecs from the Imperial border. If Jump6 (longest max range), it’s 168 parsecs, about four or five sectors out.

Most PCs ships are just Jump1 in range – just 28 parsecs – or Jump2, 56 parsecs out.

I’m quietly pleased that most of the inhabitants on Antarctica are astronomers. “Proto-Scouts”, if you will.

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