Jump to content

Space game. Population and technology


TRose

Recommended Posts

 I been toying around of running a Science Fiction game with slower then light space travel where it takes years to travel between planets.

 The players are colonist on a planet and  are going to be pretty much restricted to what the colony can manufacture as what High tech items that where brought from Earth are carefully hoarded and used only when really, really needed. Im thinking with a population of around 10,000 they could achieve  around 1800 technology but would not have the population to devote to specialist to ,say build a stream ship.

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well they would need to be able to get the materials and then set up manufacturing. They MIGHT be able to build a steam ship, but maybe not several of them. I would suggest, if even just for your own edification you create a Tech Flow chart based on available materials. If they sent 10k people, did they send any heavy machinery? What kind of tools?

The socio-economic ramifications seem very interesting.  Are those dedicated to food production folks with power or folks indentured to the greater needs of the colony? How do the factions shake out and how does the Tech affect economy and social position.

  • Like 1

Its 2300hrs, do you know where your super dreadnoughts are?

http://reigndragonpressblog.blogspot.com/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, ReignDragonSMH said:

Well they would need to be able to get the materials and then set up manufacturing. They MIGHT be able to build a steam ship, but maybe not several of them. I would suggest, if even just for your own edification you create a Tech Flow chart based on available materials. If they sent 10k people, did they send any heavy machinery? What kind of tools?

The socio-economic ramifications seem very interesting.  Are those dedicated to food production folks with power or folks indentured to the greater needs of the colony? How do the factions shake out and how does the Tech affect economy and social position.

  Colonist are all volunteers and where screened before they left Earth( So no major genetic problems )

 And as far as raw material goes, that not a problem as its going to be an Earth like world and the Colonist get to pick where to land. Im thinking of an Island like Cyprus on Earth, nice climate, large metal deposit, and no large predators that's  going to try to eat them.

 But take the steam ship, you are going to have to dedicate people to mine the Iron and perhaps coal, other to smelt the Iron, then others  to form the iron into useable parts for the ship and finally people to build the ship and other to maintain and run it.

  Now the colony is going to have people dedicated to mining and smelting Iron is a given, but for specialized boilermakers a steam ship requires, I don't think so. Instead there would be more generalized Ironworkers and blacksmith making plows ,nails and axes.

 And the colony ship has a full machine shop and people who know how to run it , but those lathes and tools are irreplaceable and so are used very carefully. not for making common everyday tools a blacksmith can hammer out.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, TRose said:

 Im thinking with a population of around 10,000 they could achieve  around 1800 technology but would not have the population to devote to specialist to ,say build a stream ship.

Steamships were high technology even in the late 1800s, indeed rather difficult to build by a colony without an industrial base and skilled engineers, Moreover, steamships are limited in their range by the need for fuel, without a network of coaling stations they cannot go far from their base on the colony's settled island. In my view the colony would probably begin its seafaring technology with a sailing ship, which requires less industrial resources (like processed metals) and has at least theoretically an unlimited range.

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Presumably they have complete tech archives, so the INFO is available.  The colonists have been screened (and presumably trained in various "primitive" crafts and trades).

I'd look carefully at what your tech-level supports; for example, a smallish electric motor can do a HELL of a lot of work -- would they even flow their tech through a "steam age"?  Why not mixed-energy-generation (including fixed-placement generators -- possibly steam, probably wind and solar, almost-certainly hydroelectric/dam -- dams are SO damned useful for SO many things!) + distribution grid; batteries (and maybe solar cells, which are really just sophisticated glass...) for most off-grid use.

I'd expect to see a rather weird-seeming mix of medieval-through-modern-into-SciFi tech's side by side in common use.  Some tech's will just be SO reliable, build-once-and-use-forever, that they won't bother with antiquated equivalents.

I like Rust's suggestion of sail vs steam, for standalone range.  See also:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzGCYaJbf0A

https://youtu.be/mQKiPYY3HcY

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If I was to design a slowship expedition, I would build one that could be parked in stationary orbit, provide orbital industries and act as the hub between the system's belt (as source for industrial material) and the planetary surface as source for biological material. Possibly with a secondary, lower orbit space station for transit between atmosphere shuttles and shuttles to the orbital industry, and two more such stations to place over an inhabitable (or really marginally habitable) rock planet like Mars and right within the belt.

I would also provide big orbital plantations for life support and foodstuff for the orbital industry, with only essentials and luxuries shipped up from the planet.

What I wouldn't do is drop farmers into an alien biosphere to live a 19th century pioneer life. At the very least, it would be some odd steam-punky lifestyle with Kew Gardens-like glasshouses for habitats and gardening, with some agriculture outside to provide basic sustenance that gets refined before entering the habitat.

With the scenario of a colony basically out of contact with the homeworld, five SF novels shape my impressions how things could be done and what mistakes to avoid:

C.J. Cherryh's "40,000 on Gehenna" as a planned failure

Dave Freer's and Eric Flint's "Rats, Bats and Vats" as a purely planetary colony where nothing went wrong until first (and second, hostile) encounter

Niven/Pournelle/Barnes "Legacy of Heorot" as a purely planetary colony with two remaining fusion shuttles and an unexpected ecological challenge

Scalzi's "Lost Colony" in his Old Man's War universe. This one had a good reason not to bring a technological base to the new colony, except for a sleeper orbital agent.

Poul Anderson's Alpha Centauri colony in the "The Stars are Also Fire" series (as an example how to do it right).

 

Niven's pre-supralight drive Man-Kzin-Ringworld universe had a number of extraterrestrial colonies by slowship, with a couple of marginally habitable places colonized out of error or accident. Usually, these colonies retained their technology, and received some additional gifts from Earth.

  • Like 1

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

16 hours ago, g33k said:

Presumably they have complete tech archives, so the INFO is available.  The colonists have been screened (and presumably trained in various "primitive" crafts and trades).

I'd look carefully at what your tech-level supports; for example, a smallish electric motor can do a HELL of a lot of work -- would they even flow their tech through a "steam age"?  Why not mixed-energy-generation (including fixed-placement generators -- possibly steam, probably wind and solar, almost-certainly hydroelectric/dam -- dams are SO damned useful for SO many things!) + distribution grid; batteries (and maybe solar cells, which are really just sophisticated glass...) for most off-grid use.

I'd expect to see a rather weird-seeming mix of medieval-through-modern-into-SciFi tech's side by side in common use.  Some tech's will just be SO reliable, build-once-and-use-forever, that they won't bother with antiquated equivalents.

I like Rust's suggestion of sail vs steam, for standalone range.  See also:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzGCYaJbf0A

https://youtu.be/mQKiPYY3HcY

 

 I already plan on having  the colony having a large library so information on HOW TO BUILD is there. Its the old you need tools to make the tools to make the tools to make  what you want problem.

  And one of the early conflicts I have planned concern access to electricity. The Original colonist brought along some  hydro electric generators for a mid size dam and so the central area has electricity, but there is  a shortage of copper wire so the out lying areas don't have electricity . One of the big complaints is going to be the colony center where the ship landed  hogs all the  Earth Tech( Items brought from Earth, such as the Library, a fully stocked  Hospital and the machine shop)) while the outer areas complain they  are stuck with sticks and rocks.

 I figure wind mills and waterwheels will be fairly common as they been around since the Ancient Greeks in some form or other.. Main form of transportation is going to be Horse back as Cars require things like rubber, gas, or highly complex batteries and lots of specialize parts...The colony has a pair of vtol Aircraft but they are sent out only when needed. Same with the tractors and heavy equipment . They where used to clear the area in the center of the colony and build the dam  , but since have been kept in storage.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 6/30/2016 at 4:49 PM, TRose said:

 I been toying around of running a Science Fiction game with slower then light space travel where it takes years to travel between planets.

 The players are colonist on a planet and  are going to be pretty much restricted to what the colony can manufacture as what High tech items that where brought from Earth are carefully hoarded and used only when really, really needed. Im thinking with a population of around 10,000 they could achieve  around 1800 technology but would not have the population to devote to specialist to ,say build a stream ship.

 

 

I would have them build a blast furnace, power station and so on. This allows them to make various kinds of steel, assuming the raw materials are present. Concrete and cement can be made, assuming similar geology to Earth, which means that buildings can be fairly advanced.

I think that raw materials are key.

You cannot make things out of wood if there are no trees, so tree planting would be vital as a long-term resource. 

Geologists and miners would be surveying for minerals. Need copper wire? Find copper deposits and mine them. Need steel? Find iron deposits and mine them.

The first wave of colonists would be true pioneers, searching for these resources, planting trees, making primitive buildings and laying the foundations for later colonists.

 

Also, don't forget that not every ship going to the colony needs to contain colonists. A number of automated drone ships containing raw materials and supplies would be useful, they don't need life support, can be fully automated and can be recycled when they land, providing valuable raw materials in the form of metals, plastics and so on.

 

 

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also remember that wear-and-tear and "wearing out" is often a market-driven phenomenon.  Today -- in real life -- we could be building cars that need only "routine maintenance" to be routinely exceeding 1 million miles' road-wear.  It's just not "profitable" to build that way.

Colonists who want to build tractors that they can use without worrying they will wear out... will just do it.

Of course, there may be a reason NOT to do it that way, too...  Such as officials' desire to maintain centralized control?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On ‎7‎/‎2‎/‎2016 at 5:06 AM, soltakss said:

 

I would have them build a blast furnace, power station and so on. This allows them to make various kinds of steel, assuming the raw materials are present. Concrete and cement can be made, assuming similar geology to Earth, which means that buildings can be fairly advanced.

I think that raw materials are key.

You cannot make things out of wood if there are no trees, so tree planting would be vital as a long-term resource. 

Geologists and miners would be surveying for minerals. Need copper wire? Find copper deposits and mine them. Need steel? Find iron deposits and mine them.

The first wave of colonists would be true pioneers, searching for these resources, planting trees, making primitive buildings and laying the foundations for later colonists.

 

Also, don't forget that not every ship going to the colony needs to contain colonists. A number of automated drone ships containing raw materials and supplies would be useful, they don't need life support, can be fully automated and can be recycled when they land, providing valuable raw materials in the form of metals, plastics and so on.

 

 

 As I stated they are a bringing along tools for smelting metal and that would include a blast furnace and for making steel and other  metals. Not sure if you need a different type of furnace for steel, copper tin etc or can you use one for all metals. I do  know Aluminum requires very high temperature  . Problem is a blast furnace is a fuel hog an is going to need plenty of charcoal ,coal or Coke( Coke here is a product of coal that is baked at high temperature to remove impurities). And finding a spot that has everything you need in say a 300 kilometer range may not be possible. A small mining colony set up from a distance from the main colony  might be needed for say, copper ,coal or iron

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 I think one thing that will has to be worked out is what percentage of the colony has to   work as farmers to support the colony. I envision having tractors to clear the land at first, then its back to Horse and mules pulling plows with simple farm tools and early mechanical reapers.  Think farming around late 19 century . But the soil and climate are going to be good as the colony will be making that a priority before they land.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 minutes ago, TRose said:

 I think one thing that will has to be worked out is what percentage of the colony has to   work as farmers to support the colony.

In 1900 in Germany 38% of the workforce were farmers.

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 hours ago, rust said:

In 1900 in Germany 38% of the workforce were farmers.

A valuable number... but possibly changed by info as to whether Germany was a net importer or exporter of farmed goods...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, g33k said:

A valuable number... but possibly changed by info as to whether Germany was a net importer or exporter of farmed goods...

In 1900 Germany's farmers produced 87% of the farm goods consumed in Germany.

When one considers that the science of agriculture was not well developed, that the animals and plants of the time were less productive breeds, that the farming methods in many regions still were rather medieval and that probably a significant part of the imports consisted of luxury goods (wine from Italy, cheese from France, etc.), for the upper class, I think that about 35% of the workforce should be quite sufficient to feed the colonists.

Edited by rust

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

52 minutes ago, rust said:

In 1900 Germany's farmers produced 87% of the farm goods consumed in Germany.

When one considers that the science of agriculture was not well developed, that the animals and plants of the time were less productive breeds, that the farming methods in many regions still were rather medieval and that probably a significant part of the imports consisted of luxury goods (wine from Italy, cheese from France, etc.), for the upper class, I think that about 35% of the workforce should be quite sufficient to feed the colonists.

That depends heavily on the biocompatibility of the settlers' crops with their new habitat. I suppose there will be an increased demand for fertilizing/soil conditioning/low level terraforming to get the best out of the crops and probably some effort to deal with unexpected pests, both native and imported (to enable soil conditioning). Plus, there will be gaps in the chain of soil conditioning, regardless how well prepared the settlers may have come, e.g. when one component of the biocenose for soil conditioning fails in the new circumstances. Isolated from earth, the settlers will have to deal with such shortcomings.

Perhaps it would be best to look at the work effort for land reclamation efforts (like reclamation in the Wadden Sea areas, of bogs, or irrigation efforts) to make an estimate for such pioneers.

Edited by Joerg
  • Like 1

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Farming technology now is far more advanced than 100 years ago, presumably it would be even more advanced in the future.

A single modern combine harvesters does the work of teams of horses and men, so it would make sense to have that technology. Similarly, modern ploughing and planting technology is more efficient than men and horses. You would only need horses if the terrain does not support a tractor or tractors need fuel that is not available.

Farming today is far more efficient than in the past, so fewer farmhands are needed.

Unless, of course, the rule is that technology is at a premium and labour is cheap and plentiful in which case farmers toiling in the fields with horse-drawn ploughs would be fine. Maybe the powers that be want a bucolic image of farmers working in the fields as an aesthetic.

  • Like 1

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I believe it's up to you to decide how technologically advanced or not you want your colony to be. There is really no reason you can't provide sufficient future tech to set up and maintain an advanced industrial base if you want to. It's probably more important (and difficult) to have valid reasons if you go the other way, such as why you can't have sufficient microthin photovoltaic-on-a-roll to power the colony for several generations until they can set up their own photovoltaic production line. I always find that to be one of the main threads in SF gaming, coming up with ways to make ultra-tech ineffective.

  • Like 2

Dreamscape Design: Crafters of the Finest Tabletop Roleplaying Games

Dreamscape Design: My Corner of BRP Central ... Mine, All Mine! 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As per the OP:

Quote

 

  • High tech items that where brought from Earth are carefully hoarded and used only when really, really needed
  • the colony ship has a full machine shop and people who know how to run it , but those lathes and tools are irreplaceable and so are used very carefully. not for making common everyday tools a blacksmith can hammer out.
  • one of the early conflicts I have planned concern access to electricity... the colony center where the ship landed  hogs all the  Earth Tech ... the outer areas complain they  are stuck with sticks and rocks"
  • the old you need tools to make the tools to make the tools to make  what you want problem

 

So I think this limited-tech / Haves-vs-HaveNot's is a central tenet of the vision.  Accordingly, we're being asked -- not to explain the ideal-case where the colony would quickly advance to industrial-era-and-beyond -- but to explain how/why this might NOT be the "ideal case".  How could the advanced-tech (interstellar filght, fer gawdsakes!!!) colony be so-widely-limited in available tech.

Central is hoarding, not letting available tech out to be used.  Breakage (of irreplacable items) is much feared.

WHY???

Edited by g33k
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, g33k said:

As per the OP:

So I think this limited-tech / Haves-vs-HaveNot's is a central tenet of the vision.  Accordingly, we're being asked -- not to explain the ideal-case where the colony would quickly advance to industrial-era-and-beyond -- but to explain how/why this might NOT be the "ideal case".  How could the advanced-tech (interstellar filght, fer gawdsakes!!!) colony be so-widely-limited in available tech.

Central is hoarding, not letting available tech out to be used.  Breakage (of irreplacable items) is much feared.

WHY???

The current strip of the Freefall webcomic answers this perfectly: (the link will work from Wednesdey onward)

http://freefall.purrsia.com/ff2900/fc02832.htm

You will always have the attempt to create an oligarchy of cleptocrats on the backs of others.

The problem starts with the first glitches that cut into the comfort of the powerful and their dependents. And glitches are guaranteed. Especially if there is extremely limited or no contact with the homeworld due to extreme transit times.

You will need either a harsh limit on the equipment that pioneer colonists get on their trip or you need a retrograde ideology that demands the rural life of the colonists rather than a sensible technology-based society with orbital industry and asteroid mining.

 

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

20 minutes ago, Joerg said:

 ...or you need a retrograde ideology that demands the rural life of the colonists rather than a sensible technology-based society with orbital industry and asteroid mining.

 

You have this for example in the Pern novels by Anne McCaffrey, where the colonists intend to create a low-technology rural society on their new homeworld (although a natural desaster makes it even more low-tech than originally intended...).

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You could have a sensibly planned colony beset by accidents.

The ultra modern orbital factory was struck by an asteroid, the vessel carrying the vehicles landed on the wrong landmass ...

 

You have colonists who have technological knowledge but who have to build their technological infrastructure from scratch.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Given slowship (non-FTL) travel, you can reasonably (from a narrative POV; ymmv RE the science of the matter) postulate Cryo-sleep / Stasis / Etc.

Maybe the crew rotates 1:10 awake/asleep to keep a live person "at the wheel" during the trip.  Maybe during someone's Waketime, they learned something that causes them to need to hoard the tech...

Anything from a much-faster ship (with super-weapons) arriving to "assume command" at the colony (ideological fanatics with whom said crewmembers are aligned), to a complete civilization-ending disaster calling for uttermost-caution (including resource-hoarding) on the part of the only viable human colony anywhere in the universe...  Both ideas, by the way, occur in the James P. Hogan novel "Voyage from Yesteryear."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...