Mankind to the Stars

A Traveller® role-playing game setting by Dale Ridder

"H. Beam Piper's 'Terro-Human' series, a future history of novels and stories covering 30 centuries, had a big collective influence on [Classic Traveller], but none were so powerful as the novel Space Viking.  Here was a warrior aristocracy for good and for ill, but not for ridicule. . . .  Here were space raiders with no blasters or even lasers, instead using gunpowder weapons and nuclear bombs."

— Michael Andre-Driussi, "Deciphering the Text Foundations of Traveller"

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When mankind's diaspora to the universe began, it started slowly.  It began with Kyle Abbott finally coming to terms with the odd mathematics of the Dean Drive, converting rotary into linear acceleration.  This opened up the Solar System to man, no longer dependent on reaction-drive ships.  It also made it possible for Seth Dillingham to test his primitive hyperdrive concept outside of the gravity well of Earth, with the first short hop from Earth to Jupiter, and abruptly the stars became within reach.  The early hyperdrive ships could only travel a parsec in a month, and the time lag hindered rapid response to any problems, if indeed, any knowledge of such reached Earth.

However, the realization that interstellar drive testing needed to be carried out at a distance from a mass concentration such as a planet or large star led to the swift development of first the Jump One drive and then Jump Two.  The ability to cover a parsec in a week massively speeded up communications, and the initial diaspora began.  Begun first by governments, and then with reports of other inhabited planets, large companies, the majority of ships headed toward the Galactic Core, seeking inhabitable planets and trade with the newly discovered galactic civilizations.  While the improving hyperdrive ships did the initial scouting, the ability of the Jump Drive ships to respond quickly soon displaced the slower hyperdrive vessels to strictly long-range exploration and scouting.

This replacement of the hyperdrive by the Jump Drive had an unexpected side effect.  The hyperdrive ships, especially the slower ones of one parsec a month were sold off cheaply, but with a different class of purchaser.  No longer the preferred choice of the large government or corporation, the purchasers were small countries looking for places for their growing population, and small groups looking to escape what they viewed as the restrictions of an over industrialized society: society's misfits, the malcontents, the discontented, and the adventurers.  These groups, especially the small groups looking for planets to call their own, headed not for the Galactic Core, but for the Galactic Rim, seeking unexplored areas or those with no prior inhabitants to contest a claim of sovereignty. Small companies, realizing that there was a demand for knowledge of the Rimward areas, purchased surplus hyperdrive exploration scouts or small surplus trading vessels, and began to head deep into the Rim.  The number that did not return simply added more than a bit of spice and adventure to the Rim Scouts, as did the fictional exploits portrayed in prose and video.  Tales that became all the more tantalizing by discoveries of vanished civilizations and ruins of much earlier space explorers.

While many of the colonizing efforts failed, or were marginal successes, some did flourish, and provide encouragement for even more efforts.  Slowly, out into the Rim, a network of settled planets and way stations developed, giving the Rim Scouts rest and repair bases in the Rim, allowing still more distant exploration.  The way stations functioned as the trading forts and posts of the American Frontier, giving a rest stop for small colonizing groups heading deeper out after unsettled or presumed greener pastures.  The efforts by smaller planetary governments to establish colonies deep in the Rim encountered the inherent problem of communication lag, and the colonies rapidly grew to separate from the founding country, while still maintaining relations with it.

Not all groups were peaceful though, as one group of Icelanders along with Norwegians and Swedes set out to create a modern version of the Vikings, heading for areas near where the lion-derived Aslan had been found, but not above raiding human planets as well.  Their use of long-range hyperdrive ships, covering a parsec a week, gave them the ability to strike a great distance from base, beyond the ability of even Jump Six ships to strike back.  Raids taking several months to accomplish were tolerated if the return was good.

As exploratory ships penetrated deeper into the Rim, odd reports began to filter back, of strange contacts and inexplicable occurrences.  One ship suddenly came out of hyperspace at Terra itself, with the crew having no memory of their most recent voyage, and only incoherent garbage in the ships computer drives.  The only thing known was that the scout had departed a base 85 parsecs to the Rimward of Terra several weeks prior to its appearance at Terra, heading out into the Rim.  Another ship reported a "lost colony" of humans, claiming to have been transported from Terra by unknown means to a watery planet over two sectors from the Solomani Sphere, but attempts to bring a few of the so-called "Terran" colonists back were defeated when the colonists disappeared from the scout just prior to entering hyperspace, while again, the records on computer drives were a hopeless, contradictory jumble.  The scout's crew at least had their memories, and reported that one consistent statement of all of the possible Terrans was that they or their ancestors were in the vicinity of an area of Terra called "The Bermuda Triangle" when they suddenly found themselves elsewhere.

Image - Norton-Piper Sector Subsectors

Norton-Piper Sector Subsectors

The Norton-Piper Sector

Worlds in Sword subsector: Morglay, Flamberge, Haulteclere, Curtana, Nageling, Olifant, Hundingsbana, Head, Iarn-greiper (Thor's Iron Gauntlets), Megin-giord (Thor's Strength Belt, both from Myths of the Norsemen), Claymore, Rodman, Dahlgren, Culverin, Portobello, Pecos, Wits End, Vinland, New Britain, Machu Picchu

Worlds in New Texas subsector: New Texas, Palo Duro, Tombstone. . . .

As you can see from the sector chart, I am using a mix of material from Andre Norton and Piper, as a considerable amount of Norton's work, especially the early novels, is in the public domain.  The number of planets mentioned by Piper in his various stories is incredible, and I found another this evening in Space Viking.  I have added the touch of the Unknown based on both Piper, "He Walked Around Horses," and Norton's ruins of earlier space-faring civilizations.  If you have ever read some of A. Bertram Chandler's "John Grimes" books, there is influence from there as well.  I cannot claim that it is strictly Piper.

The subsector structure is based on Traveller®, and I have tried to adapt the Traveller® ship construction sequence to handle Hyperdrive.  The advantage of Hyperdrive is a range only limited by the endurance of the crew, to a degree, at least in Traveller® space.  I am much more comfortable with Piper's weaponry than Traveller® energy weapons, while contra-gravity works in both universes.  I will be working on trying to get every planet Piper mentions in his books into the sector, just not sure where they will go as yet.  The one area I am still working on is Piper's direct conversion of nuclear energy to electricity.  I struggle with excepting that, although it does make the stories work.  I do have a couple of alternatives I am working on, and they do require "collapsium."

Hyperdrive verses Jump Drive In My Traveller® Universe (IMTU)

Jump Drive functions pretty much as Classic LBB / The Traveller Book / Starter Traveller, with a couple of changes.  First, the power plant number has to be equal to the number of the Maneuver Drive without regard to the jump drive.  A Maneuver Drive of 1 requires a Power Plant of 1, whatever the ship requires, while the Jump Drive can be of a higher level.  So one could have Power Plant 1 and Maneuver Drive 1 of "E" for a 1000 Ton ship, along with a Jump Drive 2 of "K."  This would add up to 80 dTons of volume, leaving an additional 85 dTons of unused engineering space to be put to other uses.  The fuel required for jump stays the same, while Power Plant fuel is 1 dTon of Liquid Hydrogen per power plant number per year, while Maneuver Drive fuel is 10 dTons per Maneuver Drive number per Jump.

There are two types of Hyperdrive that can be purchased.  Hyperdrive-1 covers a parsec a month, and corresponds with Jump/Maneuver/Power Plant 1 in the construction charts, while Hyperdrive-2 covers a parsec a week, and corresponds to Jump/ Maneuver/Power Plant 2 in the construction charts.  However, the Hyperspace Drive Two requires twice the mass and costs twice as much as the corresponding Jump Drive, and must have a Power Plant of 2 to maintain the hyperspace field in hyperspace.  For example, a 1000 ton ship using Hyperdrive 2 would require a Drive "K" needing 110 tons of space and a Power Plant "K" requiring 31 tons of space.  A Maneuver Drive of "E" would give one G of acceleration, and require 9 tons of space.  The total volume required would be 150 tons of a standard hull design of 165 tons, so 15 tons could be used for other things.  There is no requirement for additional Liquid Hydrogen for a Hyperspace Bubble, For Hyperdrive Operation, the Power Plant will use 0.1 (one-tenth) the mass of the ship per year of operation of Liquid Hydrogen per drive number.  The would mean that a Hyperdrive 2 ship of 1000 tons would require 200 tons of Liquid Hydrogen per year of operation, while a Hyperdrive 1 ship of 1000 tons would require 100 tons of Liquid Hydrogen per year of operations.  The Power Plant fuel requirement is 1dTon of Liquid Hydrogen per year per power plant number for ship's power, and the Maneuver drive fuel requirement is 20 dTons per Maneuver Drive number per month. Note, the ship does not use the Maneuver Drive while in Hyperspace.

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