Implications of Drift Travel for Interstellar Politics


General Discussion


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The section on Drift Navigation distinguishes between five different categories:

- Travel In-System
- Travel to Absalom Station
- Travel to Near Space (regions with lots of Drift Beacons)
- Travel to the Vast (regions without lots of Drift Beacons)
- Travel beyond the (Galactic) Rim

Actual, physical distance only matters in two cases: If you are traveling within the same star system (which takes 1d6 days), or if you attempt to travel beyond the Galaxy (which is effectively impossible). For all other Drift journeys only the Near Space/Vast qualification matters, which is determined by the number of Drift Beacons. Physical distance seems to be irrelevant - it doesn't matter whether you want to travel to a star system a few light years away or on the other side of the galaxy.

This obviously has a few implications.

For starters, it is largely pointless to maintain a spatially coherent interstellar empire. Other settings might have "sectors" controlled by a particular polity, but these "sectors" are usually organized this way because their internal travel times are relatively short. In Starfinder, interstellar closeness has no advantages for an interstellar empire, so its individual worlds are likely to be scattered pretty much everywhere.

Furthermore, attacks by invaders can come from pretty much anywhere - they can assemble in any star system and (unless you spotted their scouts) you will have no advance warning until the invasion fleet shows up. They don't have to pass through neighboring star systems or sectors first (where you could stop them) and you can't head them off at strategic "chokepoints".

Which means that each world must be ready to defend itself against the initial onslaught until reinforcements arrive - which takes 1-6 days if there is a significant military base in the same star system, 3-18 days if the attacked star system is in "Near Space", and 5-30 days if it is in the Vast. Which implies that Near Space systems are more attractive for Stellar Empires, since they can be reinforced more quickly against attackers.

Finally, since attacks could come from pretty much anywhere, it is vitally important that you gather information about pretty much anything in the galaxy. The more worlds you have explored, the more star systems you stay in contact with, the higher the odds that you will eventually stumble across aggressive and/or expansionist species which might one day threaten your own star system. And if you know about them, you can prepare for them.

In other words, the Starfinder Society is one of the most vital organizations for the military defense of the Pact Worlds system, and I am sure all their military forces make sure to stay out-to-date on their latest findings.

What do you think of this analysis? Agree/disagree?


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Until some dooflichie is added in permitting fleet travel to arrive en masse simultaneously, a large fleet is going to be arriving at its destination in 1/6th 'chunks' over 1d6 days, presuming a near-space jump. This gets much worse if traversing the Vast ...

If the intent is for a given fleet to act in concert, the general strategy seems likely to be (a) determine rendezvous point hidden from the target(s) in-system; (b) arrive at rendezvous over 6 days; then (c) motor in on thrusters.


My first thought is that you need to double those times - P. 430 indicates that even "unlimited" range communications are no faster than simply sending a ship through the Drift to hand deliver it. This is of course without considering the substantial impact higher quality Drift engines have, potentially cutting times down to as little as one fifth the default. Trusted couriers with fast ships are going to be very important as a result, and since the most powerful Drift engine can only be mounted on a Medium or smaller ship, there's a limit to how well defended the fastest ones can be.

My immediate counter to that was employing high level Mystics, but Plane Shift now sends you to where you or one of your companions were last present on the target Plane. You can still potentially get around the travel time, but it would require involving multiple Outsiders. For high level government things in particular, this might be somewhat undesirable.

---

Checking again, my initial response is still somewhat valid; an 18th level Star Shaman can spend 2 Resolve instead of 1 using their Interplanetary Teleport connection ability to go to any star system they have visited before... but that's still only one teleport per day, and requires an 18th level character. Doable, for an intersteller empire, but still quite restrictive and not available for everyone.


Hithesius wrote:
Checking again, my initial response is still somewhat valid; an 18th level Star Shaman can spend 2 Resolve instead of 1 using their Interplanetary Teleport connection ability to go to any star system they have visited before... but that's still only one teleport per day, and requires an 18th level character. Doable, for an intersteller empire, but still quite restrictive and not available for everyone.

Certainly not for routine communication - these people are too rare and powerful to waste on routine communication.

If they can, they probably keep one of these on retainer in each star system. They can largely do what they want, but they need to be available to the government on short notice and keep their communicators on. Thus, when there is an invasion, they can immediately head for the capital of the empire and warn others about it.

Of course, that makes "identifying and assassinating these people" a very high priority of would-be invaders...


Probably be a lot cheaper to have Drift 4 or 5 shuttles on stand-by for that purpose with a small roster of biometric lock-access crew available on a permanently rotating roster for this purpose. If you can swing the 18th level star shamans, super sweet. Both would be best for (a) redundancy, and (b) secrecy.


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So would an invading force try to Drift into a rally point on the edges of a star system in order to allow all of their ships to complete their jumps and form up before moving inward to attack? It seems the only way to ensure you have your full force which you'd probably need if you intend on taking and holding a planet but it also means you are likely to be detected and give your opponent time to call in and reinforce themselves... i could see the scenario as the first invaders arrive and try to remain undetected, the rest of the fleet arrives over the next week making detection more and more likely. Once formed up they take a few days to transit to their target and begin the attack. This would give defenders ~10 days to try to pull in as many extra ships as they can from Near systems, probably not the same force levels as a coordinated attacker but at least a few more. i expect the ground campaign would take ages though, unless it was just a salted earth/exterminatus kind of deal, so you would have random harassment from ships sent in the initial response appearing over the first week of the engagement and then a coordinated counter assault fleet pulling the same trick, mustering up at the edge of a system until they are at full strength and then spending a few days moving in for a full counter attack.


It's not clear how precisely you can choose your arrival coordinates within a new system, but I assume pretty accurate or you'd have to do a separate in system jump most of the time.

I'll also note that ground invasions of planets look impossible unless you use vast numbers of ships and stack your troops into the available berths like sardines in a can. A ship RAW can only safely and humanely carry ground troops through the drift equal to the difference between minimum and maximum crew size plus six times the number of expansion bays. That's tiny.


Traveller has a similar problem. Their solution is the Salvo Jump. All the ships in the fleet would coordinate their Jump Plot calculations so as to arrive within minutes of each other, thus retaining operational surprise. Lets say, the Drift plot takes twice the time, and all ships use the same roll as a base, then each ship adds 1d6 X 10 minutes to their arrival time.


Xenocrat wrote:

It's not clear how precisely you can choose your arrival coordinates within a new system, but I assume pretty accurate or you'd have to do a separate in system jump most of the time.

I'll also note that ground invasions of planets look impossible unless you use vast numbers of ships and stack your troops into the available berths like sardines in a can. A ship RAW can only safely and humanely carry ground troops through the drift equal to the difference between minimum and maximum crew size plus six times the number of expansion bays. That's tiny.

True, a ground invasion wanting to hold a planet of 8 billion would need tens of millions of troops just to cover ground and have a presence everywhere. The logistical burden of supporting and moving that force... oh boy. i could see an invasion starting with capturing unmanned resources in the system first, completely eating up moons and asteroid belts to build millions of warbots just to invade one planet. Can you imagine a campaign where the PCs have to find a way to stop a literal war machine that is racing to eat up resources to build an invasion while the targeted planet tries to build enough defenses to prevent a large scale landing? It would be fun to set up a system map with strategic resource points, stockpile zones, potential allies from other planets to work with... and it could play out over years in game as the two sides try to gauge who finally has enough strength to ensure victory. a super cold war that everyone knows will turn hot but no idea when.


Like the Imperium board game?


John Napier 698 wrote:
Like the Imperium board game?

... Apparently there is a sci-fi board game out there that is relevant to my interests and yet i have not heard of it before. going to have to take some corrective action here...


An invading force doesn't need to hold the entire planet. Just enough troops to occupy the cities, plus enough of a reserve force to deal with the Partisan uprisings. Further, it should be possible to design Assault Ships (no I haven't got the book yet, just basing my comments on Traveller).


John Napier 698 wrote:
An invading force doesn't need to hold the entire planet. Just enough troops to occupy the cities, plus enough of a reserve force to deal with the Partisan uprisings. Further, it should be possible to design Assault Ships (no I haven't got the book yet, just basing my comments on Traveller).

Maybe it should be, but it isn't. There are enough berths for the max crew size, and you can have six more for every expansion bay you devote to guest quarters. (You can do 16 seats per bay, but that's for short range shuttles, not 1+ days of drift travel.) I think the maximum troops over your minimum crew to be able to fight the ship for the largest hull size is just a few hundred.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The top ten largest militaries in the world currently have 9.5 million active duty members combined. If you count reserve forces North and South Korea have more than 10 million between them currently. Vietnam, Russia and India make another 10 million in reserve. Certainly within the power of a global government with no need to strip any planetary bodies dry, assuming Earth-like conditions apply. It would indeed would be a logistical nightmare though.


Xenocrat wrote:
I'll also note that ground invasions of planets look impossible unless you use vast numbers of ships and stack your troops into the available berths like sardines in a can. A ship RAW can only safely and humanely carry ground troops through the drift equal to the difference between minimum and maximum crew size plus six times the number of expansion bays. That's tiny.

Depends on the form of the invasion. Sure, if you need a long logistics chain you are going to have problems. But some kinds of invasions are... infectious.

Even apart from all the Pathfinder creatures that can multiply their forces all on their own, there are other science fiction precedents. A good example is David Gerrold's "War Against the Cthorr" series (nicely condensed in the GURPS War Against the Cthorr supplement, which - sadly for anyone else - is long out of print) - in it, the invading force drops biological spores over the planet which spread their own ecosystem which gradually gobbles up the native flora and fauna of Earth. This kind of invasion needs to be detected and fought quickly before it spreads - or else it is too late.

(The Tyranids/Genestealers from Warhammer 40K are another such example.)


Xenocrat wrote:
John Napier 698 wrote:
An invading force doesn't need to hold the entire planet. Just enough troops to occupy the cities, plus enough of a reserve force to deal with the Partisan uprisings. Further, it should be possible to design Assault Ships (no I haven't got the book yet, just basing my comments on Traveller).
Maybe it should be, but it isn't. There are enough berths for the max crew size, and you can have six more for every expansion bay you devote to guest quarters. (You can do 16 seats per bay, but that's for short range shuttles, not 1+ days of drift travel.) I think the maximum troops over your minimum crew to be able to fight the ship for the largest hull size is just a few hundred.

So, I can't do massive Assault Ships? Bummer. :(


John Napier 698 wrote:
An invading force doesn't need to hold the entire planet. Just enough troops to occupy the cities, plus enough of a reserve force to deal with the Partisan uprisings. Further, it should be possible to design Assault Ships (no I haven't got the book yet, just basing my comments on Traveller).

That is the same assumption i was making. check it out,

"It is important to define the word "city" before beginning to answer how many there are. The United Nations has contradictory definitions in its reports. A report compiled from World Atlas calculated that there were 4,416 cities in the world with a population of over 150,000" - Quora

as to soldiers to hold a city? Here is a bit from real world Counter Insurgency tactics, "Due to the politico-military nature of COIN, which in its essence is an armed political effort, a battle for ‘hearts and minds’, the utility of a universal force requirement is at best minimal. The most cited ratio is 20 soldiers per 1000 (20:1000) inhabitants, but when one examines the COIN literature, there have only been two cases where this ratio seems to apply, Northern Ireland and Malaya. Even in these cases, however, the ratio was only momentarily achieved and, in the latter case, arguably not at all."

So assume that the invaders can get away with such a low ratio, we have around 4,400 hundred cities and each one will require 7,500 troops just occupying. So your minimum commitment of troops is 33 million and that is with no logistics or other support. to get away with such low numbers i would actually suggest you need significant support for rapid reaction, re-supply, surveillance and the inevitable orbital bombardment or smaller scale fire support.

The more advanced a military becomes the more support personnel to combat troops we tend to see. that gets into the neat term of "Tooth to Tail"

"The tooth-to-tail ratio ("T3R") is a military term that refers to the amount of military personnel it takes to supply and support ("tail") each combat soldier ("tooth"). ... While an army with a high tooth-to-tail ratio will have more personnel devoted to combat, these soldiers will lack the support provided by the tail."

For the US armed forces the rough estimate is five support personnel for each set of boots on the ground. So an additional 165 million in support personnel. You could argue that several million of those would be cut out to do automation and otherwise "Its the future!" but you are also running a fleet of space ships which will have enormous requirements to keep operational so... i'd stick with that number.

So, TLDR? around 200 million to invade and hold a planet like earth. Around half a million ships in Starfinder terms. you can get a lot better number with excessive "Its magic!" and by saying that the invaders are immune to a lot of weapons but, especially in this setting, you shouldnt assume lower tech means less dangerous.


Jürgen Hubert wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
I'll also note that ground invasions of planets look impossible unless you use vast numbers of ships and stack your troops into the available berths like sardines in a can. A ship RAW can only safely and humanely carry ground troops through the drift equal to the difference between minimum and maximum crew size plus six times the number of expansion bays. That's tiny.

Depends on the form of the invasion. Sure, if you need a long logistics chain you are going to have problems. But some kinds of invasions are... infectious.

Even apart from all the Pathfinder creatures that can multiply their forces all on their own, there are other science fiction precedents. A good example is David Gerrold's "War Against the Cthorr" series (nicely condensed in the GURPS War Against the Cthorr supplement, which - sadly for anyone else - is long out of print) - in it, the invading force drops biological spores over the planet which spread their own ecosystem which gradually gobbles up the native flora and fauna of Earth. This kind of invasion needs to be detected and fought quickly before it spreads - or else it is too late.

(The Tyranids/Genestealers from Warhammer 40K are another such example.)

True, i would file that form of warfare under Salted Earth/Exterminatus, you are not trying to capture or hold a planet, you are wiping it clean and starting over. that can actually be done with a much, MUCH smaller force.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Quote:
Which implies that Near Space systems are more attractive for Stellar Empires...

Which also implies that once a planet in the vast is claimed, an interstellar polity might want to quickly install as many drift beacons in the area to drag its new holding into nearspace.

Theres a plot hook in there somewhere


So did anyone notice that the drift engines steal bits and parts from other planes and over time they will all end up in the drift? So the deity over the drift is systematically stealing the other planes of existence. And on top of that, the god over the drift is making sure no other gods come and take over. So your worries about so and so empire striking in a number of days pale in comparison to the multi-verse destruction going on every time you use these engines. You are all helping to end everything!!!!


Rahod wrote:
So did anyone notice that the drift engines steal bits and parts from other planes and over time they will all end up in the drift? So the deity over the drift is systematically stealing the other planes of existence. And on top of that, the god over the drift is making sure no other gods come and take over. So your worries about so and so empire striking in a number of days pale in comparison to the multi-verse destruction going on every time you use these engines. You are all helping to end everything!!!!

This was also covered a good bit during the lead up to the game launching. The size of each plane of existence is effectively infinite so to say the Drift is growing doesnt really mean much since its already a full on universe with its own local inhabitants. And the outer planes may be loosing fractional specs of mass but its also possible that those planes continue to grow too as the souls aligned to them continue to flow. It does make for some interesting flavor though. i was kind of hoping for more out of it honestly and may someday do a home game where there is a nefarious plot behind the existence of the Drift in the first place.

Silver Crusade

I don't think an invasion force would *necessarily* need enormous ground-troop numbers as long as orbital control could be maintained. You'd blow the defenders' fleet to smithereens, conduct orbital strikes on whatever targets you needed to on the ground, and them make planetfall with a few 10's of thousands of troops (initially). Longer term, you'd use orbital platforms to house weapons & rapid-response strike teams while your urban/industrial systems were garrisoned. Conquering a planet with anything like "conventional" forces would take years, and decades longer to fully pacify, but you wouldn't need enormous ground forces to force a surrender because orbital strikes are such a crazy huge advantage.


Xenocrat wrote:
A ship RAW can only safely and humanely carry ground troops through the drift equal to the difference between minimum and maximum crew size plus six times the number of expansion bays. That's tiny.

To me, it seems fairly clear the rules were primarily written from a PC usage and PC encounter perspective, and unfortunately they begin to break down as the scale increases. The limitations of expansion bays may be reasonable at smaller sizes, but as they scale up, the results become profoundly nonsensical. Modern aircraft carriers have a higher capacity for both fighters and crew than even the largest Starfinder dreadnoughts, despite the latter being some fifteen times larger or more at minimum.

This is an area where the rules as they are written are unfortunately incapable of creating a reasonable world.

Even with capacities increased to a more reasonable level, though, any sort of ground invasion would be an enormous undertaking. Space and air superiority would not be merely vital but simply necessary for any sort of campaign.


CrusaderWolf wrote:
I don't think an invasion force would *necessarily* need enormous ground-troop numbers as long as orbital control could be maintained. You'd blow the defenders' fleet to smithereens, conduct orbital strikes on whatever targets you needed to on the ground, and them make planetfall with a few 10's of thousands of troops (initially). Longer term, you'd use orbital platforms to house weapons & rapid-response strike teams while your urban/industrial systems were garrisoned. Conquering a planet with anything like "conventional" forces would take years, and decades longer to fully pacify, but you wouldn't need enormous ground forces to force a surrender because orbital strikes are such a crazy huge advantage.

Yes and no? Its a fictional setting with a lot of hand-waveium going on and full blown magic being a thing. If you have all your forces in a smaller number of ships in orbit than its a lot easier to get infiltrators onboard and wreck havoc to your ships. likewise, if you are just sending a small force down to quell the locals than they can easily set up an ambush to overwelm your troops with "small arms" fire and IEDs, you could respond with an orbital strike but the real world teaches us that collateral damage from that will cost you hearts and minds, drawing out how many long years you will be fighting and it will convert others to be insurgents themselves. The idea of the boots on the ground isnt so much to mow enemies down as it is to ingrain in their minds that you have control now and they will be better off following your rules, in a generation or two you can maybe alter their culture enough that they start to see themselves as part of your empire instead of a conquered people. but really, it comes down to what the end goal is. Do you want them to join you or do you want to kill them off and replace them?

Silver Crusade

Can Drift Beacons be destroyed, or restricted to only certain users? If so, seems like sending in adventuring teams to disable/destroy enemy beacons would pay huge dividends strategically as you limit how quickly other peoples' ships can get to a given location. Are beacons tech, magic, or a mix? (If they can be affected by characters can they be hacked?)


Here's some thoughts on things that could modify how you would defend your system.

Drift beacons in your system can promote you to near space status, but does their location in the system matter?

If you ask the priests of Triune to only put the beacons on the outskirts of the system, does that mean that incoming invasion fleets must arrive near the beacons or can they target anywhere in the system regardless of the beacon's location?

Sensors
If you can 'park' in Drift space (and we know it is possible to stop your journey there, is it possible an empire could station small drift ships (or even stations) with long range sensors 'in' their system to warn of invaders?

Divine will.

Triune is the god of the Drift, would He allow large fleets to do invasions or allow a planet to limit their number of beacons?

Divinations.

"Will this system be attacked today?" might be common.
(Note to self: go back and look at Starfinder divinations to see if this is possible.)


Another thought: Since physical distance is irrelevant, any nation, empire, or organization interested in colonization efforts can be very picky about just where they settle. In a galaxy with billions of star systems, there are bound to be a bunch which are "ideal" for any given purpose.

Which also implies some interesting things about freelance explorers. Finding a world suitable for a given colonial interest could be very, very profitable. Such explorers could travel to a star system at random, land on a suitable world, and make lots of recordings and analyses of the local conditions - carefully editing out any recordings of the night sky which might provide hints of where the star system is located.

Then they could download all their records to a central hub, and then let interested organizations bid on the actual coordinates of the world.


Freelance Scouts? *takes notes*


John Napier 698 wrote:
Freelance Scouts? *takes notes*

Yeah, the campaign pretty much writes itself, does it not?

Jump to a random world (i.e. whatever the GM has prepared this time), scan it, land it, and explore it so that you can identify all the opportunities for future riches... as well as any hazards (including, hopefully, how to deal with them). Then return to Absalom Station and try to sell this information to the highest bidder, praising its opportunities without actually being dishonest about it - because if the organization that bought the info discovers any major problems you neglected to mention, your reputation will take a huge hit and people won't trust your information in the future (and thus, pay far less for it).

The PCs can explore as long as they want - the more accurate information they bring back, the more valuable it will be.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Doing a planetary survey is pretty laborious work for just a Starfinder group, but the idea has merit. With magic though, "ideal" could mean many things.


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Torbyne wrote:
John Napier 698 wrote:
Like the Imperium board game?
... Apparently there is a sci-fi board game out there that is relevant to my interests and yet i have not heard of it before. going to have to take some corrective action here...

There's also the Invasion: Earth board game which is about the Invasion of Earth by the Third Imperium at the end of the Solomani Rim War. Try Amazon or EBay, as it's an old game.


My take on this:
The drift beacons mark the entry/exit point to the Drift space for this System.
So to get into (and out of) the drift the ship has to be in the proximity of the beacon (and they will normally appear in close proximity on the other side).

Also the travel time fluctuates due to the ever shifting nature of the drift space (I describe this in my round as streams or currents, which increase or decrease the ships Speed in the drift space). Since These currents are always changing the travel speed from A to B can varie over time.

For coordinated "jumps" I would say that you can "link" ships together, so they use the same entry Point and the same currents (same travel time).
For dramativ purpose I would also say that you can only link a specific number of ships (based on the ships Computer and Pilot) together.

(I'm heavily inspired by Babylon 5^^).

For warning:
The Drift space is simply another plane, so you can place sensor stations there, which then inform the System about incomming fleets. This will not buy much time, but you will get at least a few hours prep time. Otherwise: Spies with fast ships. :)

For planetary invasions:
You don't Need a massive number of troups to conquer a planet if you have orbital bombardment power. Just kill the orbital defense and then take the planet hostage until it surrenders.


Jürgen Hubert wrote:
John Napier 698 wrote:
Freelance Scouts? *takes notes*

Yeah, the campaign pretty much writes itself, does it not?

Jump to a random world (i.e. whatever the GM has prepared this time), scan it, land it, and explore it so that you can identify all the opportunities for future riches... as well as any hazards (including, hopefully, how to deal with them). Then return to Absalom Station and try to sell this information to the highest bidder, praising its opportunities without actually being dishonest about it - because if the organization that bought the info discovers any major problems you neglected to mention, your reputation will take a huge hit and people won't trust your information in the future (and thus, pay far less for it).

The PCs can explore as long as they want - the more accurate information they bring back, the more valuable it will be.

*Traveller switch activated*

There would be basically two branches. First, there's the Field Branch, which is the First-In and the Survey Scouts. Then, there's the Administration Branch, which handles Personnel records, training, Operations, Logistics, and so on. Plus Starport Berths for the ships, Hangars for maintenance, living quarters, office space, and so on. This is quite an undertaking, beyond the scope of a typical party.

Operations will assign the party, which doesn't own their ship, a Star System to investigate. The party jumps in, performs the First-In survey, then jumps back to HQ. The First-in Survey entails locating all Planets, Gas Giants, and Asteroid Belts, and Calculating the orbits. They will drop probes onto any promising planets and record the data. Such activity takes about 1d6 days of eight-hour shifts.

The Survey scouts will then come in and do an in-depth survey. Biological compatibility, Flora and fauna samples, Geography, Geology, Stellar Stability, and so on. Such activity will take 2d6 months. Anyone who has GURPS Traveller: First-In or GURPS (4th Ed.) Space can benefit from these books as reference material. *whew*


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Scouts was an awesome book. I like the idea of freelance scouts though as it seems a decent fit with the Starfinder Society. Drift into (system X) and get to work.

When something exciting happens, which could be every system, or only every few dozen or hundred systems (more likely), Our Heroes get to work. Also makes for a reasonable explanation of the passage of time without constantly gaining xp and advancing levels, especially for NPCs.

All manner of adventure hooks can be hung on a First-In survey stumbling across Something Bad. Whether it be mysterious black monoliths orbiting the largest gas giant in-system, hostile worlds with bizarre Gigerian abandoned ships or the First-In Starfinder ship bursting forth from the Drift with a bunch of bad guys attempting to eat his thrusters off whilst comm'ing Mayday! Mayday! as something has latched onto the faces of the rest of the captain's crew, the possibilities are limited only by imagination. The haggard Scout blasts past the PCs ship with clearly hostile things in pursuit - presumably they engage the things to keep the flying Plot Device from getting eaten...


John Napier 698 wrote:


*Traveller switch activated*

There would be basically two branches. First, there's the Field Branch, which is the First-In and the Survey Scouts. Then, there's the Administration Branch, which handles Personnel records, training, Operations, Logistics, and so on. Plus Starport Berths for the ships, Hangars for maintenance, living quarters, office space, and so on. This is quite an undertaking, beyond the scope of a typical party.

Operations will assign the party, which doesn't own their ship, a Star System to investigate. The party jumps in, performs the First-In survey, then jumps back to HQ. The First-in Survey entails locating all Planets, Gas Giants, and Asteroid Belts, and Calculating the orbits. They will drop probes onto any promising planets and record the data. Such activity takes about 1d6 days of eight-hour shifts.

The Survey scouts will then come in and do an in-depth survey. Biological compatibility, Flora and fauna samples, Geography, Geology, Stellar Stability, and so on. Such activity will take 2d6 months. Anyone who has GURPS...

Traveller Survey Scouts were part of a large and powerful empire with clear frontiers to survey, though. In contrast, the Pact Worlds aren't organized enough to support such a system - they certainly want intelligence on potentially hostile alien empires or anything else that might threaten them, but the Starfinder Society serves that need fairly well. Any colonization efforts will be done by smaller organizations and local governments.

Hence freelance scouts. A particular organization will look for a world with specific qualities, but you never know in advance what a particular world will look like - thus it doesn't make sense to send scouts on open-ended missions for specific types of worlds. It is much more cost-effective to have freelance scouts surveying any worlds they come across and then finding a customer for information on worlds with particular characteristics.


I didn't mean to imply government involvement. The setup that I described can be just as easily be done by a private corporation.


One implication of Absalom's position with drift times is that a 16th level Technomancer is only ever 1 hour away from bringing them news (or secret trading orders on the financial markets) from anywhere in the galaxy via Interplanetary Teleport, since the most Reserve they'd have to spend is 6 points. Getting back might require a lucky roll the next day if they were in the Vast, however.


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John Napier 698 wrote:
Torbyne wrote:
John Napier 698 wrote:
Like the Imperium board game?
... Apparently there is a sci-fi board game out there that is relevant to my interests and yet i have not heard of it before. going to have to take some corrective action here...
There's also the Invasion: Earth board game which is about the Invasion of Earth by the Third Imperium at the end of the Solomani Rim War. Try Amazon or EBay, as it's an old game.

Also 'Dark Nebula' and 'Fifth Frontier War'. And 'Snapshot' and 'Azhanti High Lightning', if personal combat aboard starships is of interest. Plus 'Battle Rider' and 'Brilliant Lances', the starship combat games from the TNE period.

GDW was a board-wargames company before Traveller and their other RPGs, and continued to produce a lot of historical games. Their ability to put out boardgames isn't a surprise.


And one set of miniatures rules, Striker.

Lantern Lodge

Torbyne wrote:
John Napier 698 wrote:
Like the Imperium board game?
... Apparently there is a sci-fi board game out there that is relevant to my interests and yet i have not heard of it before. going to have to take some corrective action here...

This just tells me that you're probably less than 50 years old.

I actually still have the original version of the game in my closet.


Captain Zoom wrote:
Torbyne wrote:
John Napier 698 wrote:
Like the Imperium board game?
... Apparently there is a sci-fi board game out there that is relevant to my interests and yet i have not heard of it before. going to have to take some corrective action here...

This just tells me that you're probably less than 50 years old.

I actually still have the original version of the game in my closet.

So do I. I still have all the counters, too. Thank you, Ziplock.

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