Sardine Feeding Frenzy

I can definitely see the Vargr watching nature documentaries from across Charted Space, looking for inspiration. The most powerful pirate bands might even arrange for some sophont dolphins to be brought over to their lairs, “strictly for educational purposes”.

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The House of Wettin

From Wikipedia:

The House of Wettin (German: Haus Wettin) is a dynasty of German counts, dukes, prince-electors and kings that once ruled territories in the present-day German states of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. The dynasty is one of the oldest in Europe, and its origins can be traced back to the town of Wettin, Saxony-Anhalt. The Wettins gradually rose to power within the Holy Roman Empire. Members of the family became the rulers of several medieval states, starting with the Saxon Eastern March in 1030. Other states they gained were Meissen in 1089, Thuringia in 1263, and Saxony in 1423.

The family divided into two ruling branches in 1485 by the Treaty of Leipzig: the Ernestine and Albertine branches. The older Ernestine branch played a key role during the Protestant Reformation. Many ruling monarchs outside Germany were later tied to its cadet branch, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The Albertine branch, while less prominent, ruled most of Saxony and played a part in Polish history.

Agnates of the House of Wettin have, at various times, ascended the thrones of Great Britain, Portugal, Bulgaria, Poland, Saxony, and Belgium. Only the British and Belgian lines retain their thrones today.

Not a bad entry, for a European ruling house. They even still have a few thrones under their belt – if under other dynastic names.

One Frederick, “The Wise”, was heavily involved in the Protestant Reformation, but more on the side, looking for a way to get out of the Pope’s political leash, rather than as a devout Protestant. After all, he never actually left the Catholic Church…)

Naturally, powerful families needs wealthy families to borrow their money from, people like Jakob Fugger, one of the richest men of all time.

Or you can get to the big leagues, like Emperor Augustus, “Listed by Time Magazine with “$4.6 trillion” because he “personally owned all of Egypt”” Having the Emperor of your Traveller universe personally own a sector as his personal estate is an intriguing idea, no?

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Hungry Fish, and Alien Worlds

Of course, the very first thing that came to my mind upon seeing this is a Scout/Courier refuelling… where the captain didn’t pay the slightest attention to the ‘wildlife hazard’ flashes.

Oh come one! Dangerous wildlife’ Oh, I’m so sacred! Terrrified! Look, if it doesn’t walk on two legs and carry projectile weapons, I don’t care.

As for the fish?

Crunchy shell… chewy centre!


Now, that’s what I call an alien environment.

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The Earth of the Third Imperium

This isn’t Canon – but it’s possible, and the video gives you more material to work with than what Canon Traveller gives you.

Toss in a Green Sahara, and you have an Earth Terra that is very different than it was during ancient times… when the Terrans Solomani first stepped onto the interstellar state, 3000 years before Classic Traveller begins.

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What If Earth Started Spinning Twice as Fast Right Now?

The 12-hour day – and the consequent humidity & fog barrier, super-hurricane zone, & flooded lands that would result at the equator – would make for an interesting world to check out…

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Communications Failure, and Life in the Red Army

Again, from Quora,

What is the Coolest Obscure Fact You Know?

On 30 November 1939, Soviet forces invaded Finland with 21 divisions, totaling some 450,000 men, and bombed Helsinki.

On the opening day, the Russian high command sent an encrypted radio transmission to the Russian command on the front lines. The Russian command didn’t receive it in full or was was garbled and requested it be sent again.

It was re-sent in the clear.

Prior to the troop movements, the Finnish army had seeded the many islands between Leningrad and Helsinki to intercept any and all radio communications.

During WWII, Finland had the ability to decrypt almost all Russian transmissions. They never used it except in one incident. There was a very young and eager Russian officer who was constantly advancing and harrying Finnish troops.

Finnish high command sent the encrypted command to have him executed. His unit unsure of the command, requested confirmation from Russian high command. Russian high command confirmed the order and the young officer was executed.

  • Mercenary PCs should avoid working with the more psychotic, paranoid, and trigger-happy High Commands.
  • Heroes get noticed by the enemy. Be prepared for this.
  • An enemy who knows you really well can get you to slit your own throat.It’s extremely hard to defend against this sort of attack. Good advisors, actually paying attention to what’s going on, and sound procedures coupled with good instincts can help reduce such vulnerabilities, but can’t eliminate it. (Especially if it’s a precision one-time strike, as the Finns pulled off. No pattern to detect, no history or trail to sniff out.)
  • The one thing that could have saved the situation would have been the ability of the Soviet unit to override/delay the orders from High Command. This isn’t going to happen in an army based on fear, with unthinking obedience expected. A successful appeal could have saved that fighter’s life, but it would have taken him off the line, where he could do the most damage against the enemy.

    Some way to arrange/misfile the execution order, or slap a new identity on an “unexpected new recruit”, may well work: but then the unit commander has to worry about the deception eventually being revealed to NKVD agents: a group of men who aren’t known for their reasonableness and sense of mercy.

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Faking Up a Tank

What is the Coolest Obscure Historical Fact You Know?

Ashok Reddy, studied at Andhra University

New Zealand’s tanks….

During World War 2, New Zealand was stuck in an awkward position. They were a part of the British Empire and, thus, were definitely at war. However, Britain was fresh off the Dunkirk evacuation and were hard-pressed to spare men, arms, ammunition, and supplies for Australia and New Zealand.

New Zealand, on the ther hand, were growing increasingly paranoid of a large-scale Japanese invasion. Due to a lack of alternatives, New Zealand decided to take matters into its own hands. They came up with an idea. This idea……

Wait. Don’t laugh. That’s not a farm tractor. We’re talking war here, and I’m being serious.

That is a tank. The Bob Semple tank!!!!

Named after Bob Semple, the public works minister who came up with the idea of building their own indigenous tanks.

It was based off the American tractor tank. However, they had no formal design or blueprints. They built it by looking at a postcard. Which, coincidentally, is the exact same way I’m planning on building another Eiffel Tower in my backyard.

Anyway, what’s in a design??? Let’s talk about it’s capabilities.

This tank couldn’t shoot missiles. It was mounted with six machine guns. 7.62mm Bren guns, if you’re into that sort of thing. Which also meant a minimum of six people were to be crammed into that box. Add to that, a couple of people to drive it and you have eight people inside an armoured box. Also, one of the gunners had to lie on the floor of the tank which was right on top of the hot boiling engine. To prevent frostbite, presumably.

It was horribly inefficient and the tank had to come to a complete halt before changing gears. The tractor was top heavy, extremely imbalanced and produced horrible vibrations which caused the guns to jam. And when the guns didn’t jam, the vibration were still good enough to kill any ounce of accuracy from the shooter.

Unsurprisingly, the New Zealand army rejected the tanks.

Despite its shortcomings, the tank did a pretty good job of lifting the people’s morale. It was paraded in the streets of New Zealand to a rousing reception.

And, the Japanese, frightened by New Zealand’s technological advancements, cancelled the invasion.

Tanks for Nothing – New Zealand’s Regrettable Home-Grown Armoured Vehicle

That last sentence is doubtful in reality… but the principle is sound.

In Traveller, a good visual imitation of a fleet of grav tanks — perhaps putting a plastic shell on some ordinary civilian air/rafts, and putting on some stern-looking men wearing uniforms on them — may well spook a powerful (but lower-tech) world from an invasion, or even cause a pirate group to go and look for easier prey.

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