Tuesday, March 6, 2012

[GURPS Spaceships and Spreadsheets] Game Preparation

The game is set in the default Inter-stellar Wars period of 2170. Unlike Classic Traveller this will be Radical Hard Sci-Fi (UT9) some trans-humanism elements here because of how technology might turn out. This is based on what I know currently, and is of course subject to change as we learn and discover more things about everything (like all science).


For reference, 2170 is early TL10, basically TL10.3.  


Setting and GM particulars
  • Game Prep-sheet. Measure how much one needs to read up on setting 2170 (March 5-9)
  • Computer skills write up (done)
  • Professional job description (visualizing the job) (March 5-9)
  • Character Generation Process (March 12-16)
    • Degree of control: Random vs Character point, pros and cons.
    • Background
      • social status
      • ethnicity
      • opportunities
      • education and training
    • Professions 
      • Fields and Specialization, array of job descriptions.
  • Character Creation spreadsheet 
  • Character templates and load outs 
  • the Merchant Enterprise
    • What is the common practice/dominant strategy? (April)
    • Setting Primer (April)
    • Sample template of Income statement (April)
    • Sample template of balance sheet (April)



Economic Face of TL10, Interstellar "Humans"
Increased Productivity means the ability to sustain one's self in what appears to be a very barren worlds. The greater the in-habitability of a planet or location, the more resources it takes to make it habitable. That is something to do for the most productive humans have ever been in history. As to why people would use up enormous amount of productivity, values very great by our standards, it is because there are still too many things in the universe we need to observe, and as humanity gains greater independent thought we have the freedom to go where we please and grow where we please.

Inspiration from The World Without Us by Alan Weisman Earth is not a great place to live in by 2170. The time it takes to put TL10 technology to good use in fixing up the environment, preserving it and improving quality of life has been put aside for the Interstellar War. So for the peoples whose needs were set aside on Earth, its easy to start over in someplace new, and TL10 technology is going to let them live somewhere where they can choose the way they are going to live.


Economic Assumptions: What is sustainability
Utilities (power, water, recycling, terraforming, and telecoms), food production, and infrastructure development (development of common good infra: roads, bridges, passageways, common areas, parks, ponds, water reservoir, bunkers etc...) are the essentials to sustainable continued existance. Everything beyond that is Commodities, Commercial Manufacturing, Technology, Defense/Military etc. industries that may be neccessities to some but not to all. All, being from the most remote and isolated colonies or outposts to the centers of human civilization. 
I don't really have the data with me, but I can make an arbitrary call that sustainable TL8 would be at around 90% the Gross Domestic Product (that is why its hard to go all green today, the opportunity cost is too high). I mean that if humans would actually take care of every little negative externality they produced and tried to negate it then only 10% of the GDP would be free to pursue other economic opportunities (which include R&D). This is a game assumption, and no way reflects the real world, just a call to get things moving along. 
In TL 9, automation has brought Sustainable Survival down to 80% and moving towards 60% at TL10 (median is 70% in at TL9.5). In space or hostile worlds, barren worlds, and goldilox worlds the cost to population is 98%, 90% and 85%. In TL10 its about 95%, 85% and 70% to less 10-15% in mid TL10, to 20% in mature TL10. By TL11, many negative externalities are left to "pollute space" since it does not affect humans and their scale of time and reality adversely.    


Population Growth
One thing that has returned since the Low-Tech eras: Population is now a factor for economic power and people can sustain much larger families at the cost of what was sustainable in previous TLs. The economy has changed rapidly, people can live fairly comfortably relative to their lower economic equivalents of past Tech Levels. 
There is sufficient productivity to spend enough for the common good of all, without severe loss to one's on personal welfare. The educational systems with automation, learning coaches, and open tools has made it easier to create more competitive and capable individuals with less resources. 
Individuals now have more time for family, when TL8 families had difficulty finding time and ways to maximize quality time per member, things have changed and families can now easily grow to two breadwinners and four dependents (and any combination in between), instead of two breadwinners and two dependents. There are societies and gov't with policies with growth in mind, taking advantage of the technology, raising the family size potential to as high as 6 dependent! This has improved the average working age and allowed the retired to have a healthier social-security benefits. 


Terra's workforce continues to grow at almost 2% per year, at 12 Billion, that's about 24 million added to the population per year that has late TL9 to early TL10 quality of education, tools and training. 
Colonies are about 10x their size and about the same order of magnitude in economic capacity, and then some as in the ISW book references. They are growing at the same rate as Terra, but they are on the receiving end of migratory population. Half the population is going to interstellar Infrastructure, while the other half goes to the colonies.
Vilani vs Terra in Population: Vilani's communities were meant to add to their tax base, Terra's colonies were trying to increase their liberties as they carved out more and more niches for themselves. Growth of Vilani communities factored maximized stability, so they continue to be part of the vast empire. Terra's colonies are maximized growth, which made them highly autonomous and created their own unique culture. Terra is pro individuality, Vilani is pro community. 


Education in the 2170
I have to set benchmarks in TL7-10 education and make the comparative difference between quality from poor to wealthy. Every $ has an effect in the performance, noting diminishing returns. Also note the sad truth those-who-can can buy the best education, which is equal to CP which can also affect wealth again. A perpetual cycle is in place until it reaches diminishing returns again and what the TL can offer in terms of enhancement. The ability buy training, tools, exclusivity, and time, if opportunities permit is a aspect of this Game Setting. A wealthy character has very big edge, but min-maxing these all is part of the game (there is a theme of self-data-mining and improvement in the incoming TL when looking at the workforce, the lengths people go to prevent themselves from being obsolete). 

TL improvement creates better mnemonic devices that "hack" the other parts of the brain. These "hacks" improve brain plasticity greatly, allowing the brain to temporary seize the specialized processing abilities of various parts of the brain. In TL8 many of the brain hacks are very hard to come by, nor real discipline yet. The Graphic User Interface is a Brain Hack allowing people to Visualize what is happening in the computer in a medium people can intuitively grasp, a TL8 innovation in computing. 

In TL9 the discipline of "Brain Hacking" is first formalized and a greater understanding of mulit-int theory has mapped hacks for 30% of the modes of cognitive operation. Enough is mapped that cyber neural interfaces allow for effective prosthesis. At the beginning of TL10, it has risen to +60%, enough so that brain machine interface has become very cost effective and powerful enough to beat wearable computing. Also this allowed the interface to allow Multi-Int to be augmented with specialized computers. Note that not all neural-cyberware are meant to just augment the brain directly through sharing the processing load, some are designed to exercise it like a machine and allow it/or force it to create new interconnections. Some whave been experimented with bio-tech to grow (make denser) other brain centers to increase computational power.       

The 2170 Workforce.
Everyone's a Technician, because every human has to be a skilled laborer.  Everyone not only masters a given technology and its hightech tools, but they continue to customize, optimize and innovate. 

The templates will follow the GURPS 3 core skills pattern: design, repair and use. The difference is that there will be some refinements to the relationship. This is because, everyone can do everything given the time and opportunity; what makes people unique is their dominant strategy based in their unique circumstances and what the market demands. 
They design (including customize and enhance), repair, and use... and innovate. Working from a broad view and moving towards the details, what differs with technicians are their fields, and which societies/markets value them more. In TL9 robotics revolutionize all jobs, the amount of automation is far beyond the expectations of previous eras and the job market assumes robot augmented services often, as often as computers figure in jobs in TL8. Robots are so ubiquitous, its taken forgranted by TL10 and only a rare few jobs untouched  by robots remain.

Humans were not idle even before automation found its way in many aspects of human lives, before AI matured and robots were practical many of the performance augmentations have been incorporated into the professional lifestyle. Jobs have always been a priority, and despite several market misalignments humans still kept most of the productivity edge. Abundance of productivity allowed many earth changing projects thought impossible, now possible.

One's Field is what separate technicians from each other, but even in a field there are those who design, repair-customize and operate-use. Everyone has a different and unique balance to where they have the best dominant strategy, and what unique experiences that influence their strengths.  


Examples of Fields are: robotics, cybernetics, bio-tech, jump-drive, reactionless-drives, medicine, Gravitics, fields, energy, computing and AI, cognition and psychology, economics and psycho-history. Templates are made up of the Design, Repair-Customize, and Operate-Use skills, and have unique combinations of specialties


Underground Cities
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A difference from the regular traveller is that architecture is on the surface, but for terraformers its much easier to build underground, seal it and defend it. this is a processes that works for terra, since they rapidly expand and they need to do so without having to wait for terraforming to kick in.  

An assumption is that it takes about 80-70% (TL10.3) of the population to sustain itself in barren planet, if you want to grow you need to allocate more in the carrying capacity and support, as well as open new trade routes to allow for the carrying capacity.  

Underground Cities are huge, with hundreds of cubic meters of space for an individual (instead of the ship standard of 20-30cu.m. Such cities are so huge that they have their own weather and atmosphere. These cities are also kilometers deep, the have sheltered ports and branching hubs and nodes much higher up than themselves. Deep enough to sustain bombardment for weeks, while having a series of tunnels and systems to defend itself. 

Part of a worlds' infrastructure project is to increase its fortifications. this is done by diffusing the density of the city, by creating multiple redundancies. Also choosing the hardest part of the planet to bombard, with regards to other consideratins (proximity strategic resources, ideal port area, etc...)  

Soldiering in TL10.3
Around this era, robots can be very lethal. In economies of scale, robots are cheaper, easier to produce, and reliable enough by TL9.7. The problem is that around TL10 swarms can not only neutralize many robots, but wireless communication can be disrupted easily. Human soldiers, with shielding (against swarm, emp, and jamming) are still the best with their low-tech alternatives, like talking and team work.  


Swarms are easy to counter since their inherent wireless communication device has to be very primitive, it can be defeated by many EMP and jamming devices. As simpler processors, with very light shielding, can be countered by smart disruption field.


TL9 had a huge host of drone technologies that came into play, but there also grew an effective way to counter wire-less communication. It came in the form of anti-wireless missles and smart guns, as well as better emp and jamming technologies. Drones grew in prominence in TL8.4, and ubiquitous in TL9.1, but declined towards TL9.7. 


With cybernetics, soldiers just kept getting better and better, or course diminishing returns in terms of cost created practical limitations. Soldiers, despite ups and downs in the advance of tech, are still highly skilled technicians who specialize in military equipment and are the few who are in the best, and sometimes augmented, physical form.   


Still most armies still follow the two soldier typologies: the Army and Marines. Army being more flexible with its soldiers skillsets, while marines specialize in combat, tactics, and penetration. 
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