We were play testing my friend Sam’s board game this weekend. It features “annihilator towers” – you build up N levels of tower, and then roll N 6-sided dice to determine the damage dealt. Here’s the wrinkle though: If you roll two or more ones, then the tower explodes and the damage is dealt to the home team. What are the chances of rolling two ones, for a given tower level? Read the rest of this entry »
This is the second part of my article on Ad Astra space drives. Part 1 is here. Today, TL9 – TL11.
Ad Astra space travellers are forced to use somewhat more realistic space drives than in “traditional” Traveller. Even with antimatter, high-tech interstellar craft typically take a week to travel to or from the jump point. Without antimatter, travel times stretch into months.
I’ve updated my Traveller ship design spreadsheet to reflect this new reality. This article describes the primitive drive technologies available at TL6 – TL8, together with some examples.
I’ve been working on “Ad Astra”, a space opera campaign for Traveller. I thought I’d publish a bit of the background information… it’ll be useful for potential players, and I relish feedback from my critical friends.
Weg (0512 A5629A9-A, pop=8b)
Orange jungle, forest, savannah, desert, tundra
The Long Republic (Langerepublik) is a huge German-speaking state that grew out of the human colony world called “Weg” (The Road). Weggers live as nomads, constantly on the move, either on their home world, or in “Caravan Ships” that ply the Main. Weggers are allied with the mysterious “Spiders” who live somewhere in the coreward Main. This has given them access to technology that baffles Core world scientists – particularly gravity generators and apparently reactionless thrusters. This technical edge allowed them to drive the Xa Imperium back along the Main, almost to Xa-Xa.
This is a very basic timeline for the Ad Astra universe.
The Xa-Imperium as it is today.
When humanity first ventured to the stars, the Xa-Imperium was much larger than it is today. The Esperanzan Commonwealth has seized the Corridor branch. To spinward, the Long Republic – another human state – has pushed them back almost to Xa-Xa (1615), their home world. To trailing, their “Bol” slave species has rebelled and cut them off from everything beyond Braettap (2212).
The Corridor, from Esperanza to Gateway.
The Corridor was originally a backwater – a branch off the Main, controlled by the Xa Imperium. When humans colonised Esperanza (1518) and then Bessel (1417), the Xa incorporated them into their empire. Soon, however the Esperanzans rebelled, and over nearly four centuries of warfare, they eventually expelled the Xa from Corridor altogether.
The Corridor, from Esperanza to Gateway.
Esperanza is a gas giant moon in the Epsilon Indi system. It was colonised many centuries ago, in the second wave of sub-light exploration from Earth. Esperanza’s native flora is typically blue-coloured, although many Earth species have been successfully introduced – especially crop plants. The huge population mainly live in spawling cities. There is an orbital starport city (pop=10m), with a space-elevator linking it to the downport.
Esperanza is the capital of the Esperanzan Commonwealth, a tyrannical empire that governs the entire human Corridor as far as Gateway (1414). The Commonwealth is dominated by telepaths, who claim to be the “Next Step” in human evolution. Non-telepaths are treated as second-class citizens. Dissidents are in constant danger of detection by the “Thought Police”, who can send them to “re-education camps” with only the thinnest veil of due process.
The Commonwealth has recently seized control of the Earth system, and has already made its first abortive attempt to conquer Procyon, the last bastion of human freedom in the Core worlds.
Wolf 359 is a red dwarf star. The only reason for the settlement here is that it lies on the Jump-1 route from Earth to Procyon and beyond. The inner system has a dense asteroid belt, that contains the basic starport. The starport is home to a number of refugee families who have been unable to find passage onwards to Procyon. Asteroid miners extract Helium 3, which is sold on as premium fuel at the starport. Smugglers & outlaws are suspected to use the belt as a hideout. There is also a recently established Earth Union fleet observation post – its mission is to support the blockade against Procyon.
There is a single planet – a gas dwarf (named “Cub”) in the far out system. A small deuterium mining post extracts fuel from its atmosphere. Cub is believed to be a captured planet. The old Earth Union sponsored a research base to investigate it. The base is now running short of supplies.
Wolf 359 is a flare star, which can suddenly emit deadly bursts of X-rays. Habitats and ships in the inner system must be flare shielded at all times.