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355vas - Six Recreations for Traveller

355vas - Six Recreations for Traveller



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Published by api-3734703
Six Recreations for Traveller
Six Recreations for Traveller

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Published by: api-3734703 on Oct 15, 2008
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Six Recreations for Traveller
Jim Vassilakos (jimv@uia.net

Some years ago, I submitted several recreation ideas to Rob Prior and Jeff Zeitlin for a Traveller book they were drafting called 101 Recreations. Sadly, none of these ideas were selected for inclusion, so rather than let the material go to waste, I figured I'd toss it to you folks for comments.

Advanced Computerized
Tournament Simulations (ACTS)

The value of my portfolio dipped suddenly, the virtual market running its trades as breaking headlines announced that my plant on Feri had been sabotaged by a terrorist group. Like Hell! It must have been Jason. My hands flashed over the keyboard, filling out a "black ops" form telling the computer to initiate a counter-strike. If Jason wanted to play dirty, I was more than willing to sink to his level. Afterall, if I ever wanted to become the reigning champion of "Corporate War", I had to show the other players that when I got hit, I would hit back.

Minimum tech level: 9
Prevalence: Common

Legality: Check the CT/MT law level:
0-3: No regulations
4-9: Some themes restricted
10-12: Government-controlled
13+: Prohibited

Cost range:
Low-end: Free
High-end: Up to Cr100 entry fee

Each of the major races and most of the minor ones have known some form of strategy simulation exercise during their early, pre-contact development. On Earth, the game "chess" was among the first of these.


technological advancement, simulations slowly became more complex, each encompassing a greater number of variables and alternatives than its predecessors. The development of global computerized communication networks resulted in the explosive growth of these simulations, as well as a startling jump in their relative complexity. In time, tournaments were organized to distinguish the best players in the field. It didn't take long for corporations to realize that there were significant advertising benefits to be gained through sponsorship, and quite suddenly, the monetary prize for a first-place finish increased into the stratosphere (much the same as for athletic superstars a century earlier).

By late in the 21st century, on Earth, ACTS Mastery became a full-time and highly regarded profession for several hundred individuals. Reigning champions were known the world over, and many competed in teams, trying to thwart other

teams in simulations ranging from warfare to business to bizarre fantasy settings without any real-world analog. The hardcore fans, meanwhile, watched from the electronic sidelines, second-guessing every decision, and pouring over game logs, analyzing what went wrong (or right) for their team or their favorite player.

During the centuries to follow, ACTS continued to grow both numerically and in technical sophistication. Now, almost every major world (Pop:8+, TL:9+) has at least one tournament arena, and masters travel throughout the spacelanes, seeking to accumulate as many trophies and (more importantly) as many spokesophont contacts as possible.

Q. Why are arenas necessary given that the
simulations are computerized?

A. The first reason is that AIs have become so good at these sorts of simulations that they can regularly beat human opponents, so it is necessary to have competitors in a controlled setting, at least in cases where prize money is involved. The second reason is that the interfaces can often be quite complex, often consisting of a large number of simultaneous readouts, or in the case of external VR-simulations, consisting of a holographic


Such equipment is usually beyond the means of the


particularly considering that most of them tend to be teenagers and young adults.

Q. What sort of restrictions exist?

A. Repressive societies sometimes restrict or outlaw this form of entertainment as being potentially subversive, particularly when the simulations raise questions as to government policy or religious teachings, or when the themes are viewed as being of a particularly violent nature, and especially where the planetary leaders are parodied. In such societies, there is usually a review board which must give its stamp of approval to the particular scenario before it may be accessed by the public.

Advertisement: Be Ruthless! Crush your

enemies! Hear the wailing and lamentation of their women! It's okay... so long as you're playing


the simulation that took the best features of Trillionaire & Corporate War and merged them together into the greatest financial and astro-political competition of all time! You are the chairman of an interstellar conglomerate, vying for ownership over everything! If you play your cards right, you may even ascend to the Imperial Throne. Cr100000 go to the planetary champion of

this awesome extravaganza! Don't sit on the sidelines. Be a competitor, and sign up today!

For additional ideas, see the Eldon Tannish series by Howard Thompson in Spacegamer 2-6.


As I entered Lady Anton's estate, I could see a small pool along the walkway, the water leaping up as I passed by and taking the form of three dancing figures. They slowly went about in a circle, their legs flaying upward with each third or forth step, splashing drops of water on the grass, when suddenly their limbs and torsos separated into a flock of swans. I stopped to admire them as they continued gracefully around the fountain, their pace languid and peaceful, the sunlight glittering through their translucent bodies, casting strange colors in all directions. Finally a gust of wind came along, splashing the birds back into the basin, and a few moments later, they were once again dancers. I turned my back and continued toward the mansion.

Minimum tech level: 9
Prevalence: Common

Legality: Check the CT/MT law level:
0-9: Unregulated
10-14: Regulated
15+: Prohibited

Cost range:
Low-end: Cr100
High-end: Up to MCr10

With the advent of portable grav-units, a new art form known as water sculpting, or aqua-sculpture, was born. It began when some programmers with way too much time on their hands began modifying standard gee-compensators to hold objects in mid-air (useful for floating a hardware diagram in front of your face while you're trying to troubleshoot a motherboard). Eventually some cheese-head spilled his coffee into the null-field, and when he found out that he could suck up the coffee blob with a straw without making a mess, the fine art of cupless coffee drinking was born.

Eventually, programmers started trying to out-do one another by morphing their coffee into various shapes or hand-gestures ("Hey look, this coffee is so bad, it's flipping you the bird"). Somebody must have realized that there was an untapped market here, as various small companies began churning out primitive aqua-sculpture units. The fad caught on quickly, people sharing their latest sculptures via the electronic exchange of software.

The trick with aqua-sculpture is that since

few models are built to the same specifications, the programs don't always perform identically from one device to the next. Even with two units of the same model, slight differences in temperature, water purity, and air pressure can have an alarming effect. Quite often, users discover some new technique from the unexpected failure of an old program.

These days, aqua-sculptures are rarely if ever stationary. The whole point is to make the water flow, to make it perform, to draw the viewer into the scene with motion, light, and swirling patterns that mesmerize as much as entertain. Some artists even use the animated water to tell a story.

As the units become more advanced and the programs which control the gravity field become more sophisticated, aqua-sculpture is fast becoming a refined artform, but like traditional painting and clay, it is accessible to the masses and hence is likely to remain a part of Imperial culture well into the future.

Q. Can I get one for my desk?

A. As a reward for last year's record sales, we'll have one built into your desk which will continually display the fatherly face of the corporate founder. It will come with excerpts of his famous speeches at the shareholder meetings as well as words of wisdom and encouragement which will help urge you and your subordinates to victory over the competition.

Q. What happens if the power fails?!

A. Not to worry\u2026the water will collect neatly in the unit's basin, and since the water has been blessed by the company cleric, it will help ward off evil spirits which cause laziness, stupidity, and boredom. Much better to avoid these demons than have to undergo the rigors of a cleansing by fire.

Q. How noisy are the grav units to have permanently 'on' in a house setting? And how reliable are they?

A. Because grav-plates operate by spinning magnetic fields at the subatomic level, hence projecting a barrier to gravitonic flux, they are essentially silent, however, they can impact the performance of unshielded electronics and magnetic media, but only within a few centimeters. As for the sloshing of the water itself, that can become irritating with the wrong programming, but many programs are specifically designed to generate soothing noises which can help relieve stress.

Reliability is another matter, however, and depends primarily on the design and fabrication process. However, since the units have no moving parts, they typically last many years before breaking down, and when a failure does occur, it is generally in the power converter. Fortunately, these are

inexpensive and easy to replace, and so it isn't too rare to see aqua-sculptures still operating which are more than a century old.

Advertisement: Amaze your friends!

Frighten your children! Titillate your spouse! The AS-11 can do all this and more! Featuring an internal motion detector and 14 separate programs, you can display a wide array of aqua-sculptures in your own home, everything from our patented dancing ballerina modelled on the famous Ningli Podkletnov, to the snake that never sleeps, a sure fire way to keep your children from sneaking downstairs the night before Santa- gimmiegimmiegimmie-day. The snake also has other uses, although we'll leave that to your imagination (nudge-nudge, wink-wink). Only Cr199.99, and if you're not fully satisfied, send it back, and we'll give you a full refund (minus shipping, handling, and processing charges). Call us today, and make your home a more beautiful place.


Exiting along the downport's western concourse, I could see the cityscape bathed in rosy red rays cast by Porozlo's setting suns. Grav-boarders played cloudtag several dozen meters overhead, each of them casting two slightly separated shadows on the luggage terminal's white walls, their excited shouts reminding me days gone by when I used to surf the air without a care in the world.

Minimum tech level: 11
Prevalence: Common

Legality: Check the CT/MT law level:
0-3: No regulations
4-6: Accident/injury insurance required
7-9: Prohibited in high-traffic zones
10-12: Permitted only outside urban areas
13-14: Permitted only in specially

designated areas
15+: Prohibited

Cost range:
Low-end: Cr100
High-end: Cr1000

Non-canonical warning: I'm not sure grav- modules can be built this small or made this maneuverable, although they do exist in grav-chutes as well as fly-cycles.

Gravity manipulation technology introduced a wide variety of consumer vehicles, including air-rafts, aircars, as well as flycycles. With each advancement the gravitic flux modules became smaller, lighter, as well as less expensive, allowing the vehicles themselves to follow a similar course. Finally, after much research, the gravboard was introduced. Roughly the size of an old-fashioned surfboard from the beginning of the third millennium (Old Terra dating), these gravboards drew only a small and reckless following of "cloudsurfers".

The initial problem was that aside from

being too expensive for their intended market, the boards were awkward to maneuver and even more difficult to land, however, as time passed and as planetary regulations grew stiffer, new features were introduced, including CAT (Computer Assisted Touchdown), ACS (Anti-Collision System), and ATCO (Automatic Traffic Control Override). The number of "cloudsurfers" slowly grew as the boards became safer, more maneuverable, and less expensive, and through economies of scale, they are now within the price range of most working-class teenagers.

While many just use the boards for transportation, an increasing number are using them to participate in an ad-hoc sport known as cloudtag. The way it works on many worlds is that players wear a sensor vest (similar to those used in old-time lasertag) and wield a low-power infrared laser to shoot others who wear a similar vest. Another version involves the use of "squirters", carbines which can shoot a compressed bolt of water for several dozen feet, occasionally sending the unfortunate recipient into a spiraling dive (which can be downright dangerous at lower altitudes).

This pick-up game has become so popular that cloudtagging can be seen fairly often in the skies of many of the major cities throughout the Imperium, and while many of the taggers are in their teens, the sport is cross-generational, drawing people from a wide variety of ages and occupations. If nothing else, it's an interesting way to meet new people, and often beats bar-hopping for those who don't mind a little wind in their hair.

Q. What keeps riders from falling off these

A. Their legs are strapped into boots which are part of the board. Maneuvering it done simply by moving one's center of mass, basically using your entire body as a make- shift joystick. Think of it like snowboarding without the snow (and with a somewhat bigger board).

Q. Can the boards do spins and loops?

A. The higher-tech/more-expensive ones can. However, such maneuvers push the limits of onboard safety systems, so the cheaper ones typically don't allow as wide a range of maneuvers without some souping- up, as it were. Many teens learn gravitics & electronics at a young age by trying to push the limits of their gravboards beyond the manufacturer's specifications.

Q. What is CAT (Computer Assisted Touchdown), ACS (Anti-Collision System), and ATCO (Automatic Traffic Control Override), and how did they come about?

A. Landing a grav-board can be more

difficult than it looks, and most accidents used to occur while making manual touchdowns. This resulted in the development of CAT, which basically consisted of an onboard computer taking control of the board whenever the rider would press a button signaling a desire to return to earth. ACS, meanwhile, was initially known as Anti-Crash System, and used onboard sensors to relay a warning to the board's computer whenever impact with the ground (or a wall) seemed imminent. In such instances, the CAT software would automatically initiate, taking over the board, often upsetting the rider who may have just been trying to conduct some daredevil maneuver. Nonetheless, such software, or safety-ware as it is often called, saved innumerable riders from the suffering the deleterious effects of DES (Dirt Eating Syndrome).

ACS slowly grew to mean Anti-Collision System as the onboard sensors and computer software became smart enough to detect impending collisions with animate objects as opposed to just stationary ones. Eventually, however, so many kids began "tweaking" their boards in order to disable these features that police began demanding some way to monitor every board's "fitness" from automated sensor posts. This led to a two- way communication system between boards and


interspersed throughout Imperial cities, and once this was in place, police also wanted the ability to take-over control of a board which was violating a particular airspace or whose rider was violating some sort of law. This in turn led to ATCO, Automatic Traffic Control Override, allowing police to suddenly ground all the boards in any particular sector or to force them to remain within certain fly- zones.

Advertisement: You like to Zoom?! Then get

the Zoom-Zoom ZX, the latest grav-board by Magic Carpet. You know who we are, and you trust our name, and because you've been so loyal to us, we've designed our latest board to be fully configurable! That way you can race over the waves at your local beach without the worry that some asinine security feature will plop you in the water and make you look like a wet loser in front of your friends. Unlike the other guys, we want you to zoom unimpeded, and to prove that we mean it, Zoom-Zoom's the name of our boards. So don't be a wet loser. Try out a Zoom-Zoom today. We know you'll agree\u2026Zoom-Zoom flies like magic!

Gravitic Geysering

It was noon before Mike reached the geyser or Sintrivani as it was known locally. He parked along the ridge facing the coast beneath a tall hotel and condominium complex. Below the ridge, the hot waters of the Sintrivani shot from a manmade spring,

reaching well over half a kilometer in altitude before they came tumbling back to earth in the form of a warm, misty veil. A crowd composed mainly of children flew about in saucershells, small makeshift floaters shaped as flattened spheres. They soared with gleeful zeal to the top of the geyser while dodging and just as often crashing into loose globules of water held together by faint geepoints in the giant low- gravity field. Those without the shells contented themselves with jumping upwards, a hundred meters or more, and then coasting back to the surface, splashing water pockets on friends and strangers. Naked above the waist and barefoot, Mike figured he didn't look very much out of place.

-Harrison Chapters, Ch 15
Minimum tech level: 9
Prevalence: Common

Legality: Check the CT/MT law level:
0-3: No regulations
4-6: Independent back-up power required
7-9: Liability insurance required
10-12: Service inspections required
13+: Prohibited except under rare favor

(sanctioned monopoly)

Cost range (equipment):
Low-end: Cr5000
High-end: MCr1

Cost range (use):
Low-end: Free
High-end: Cr20

Non-canonical warning: I'm not sure that gravitic fields can be made this big, but if they can, then this would be a possible outgrowth of the technology.

Gravitic Geysering was made possible when engineers realized they could project a sizable gravity suppression field over a large, conical area with the suppression slowly tapering off toward the field's outer layers. As long as there is some automatic power back-up for the generators, the field itself is considered to be fairly safe. While there is always some downward pull (under 1% normal gravity near the field's spine), individuals can often catch a ride on a jet of water that shoots upward from the ground. Situated along the spine of the suppression field, such geysers can rise hundreds of meters before finally succumbing to gravity in the field's upper layers and falling back down to earth as a fine mist. Due to the ease of maintenance and the availability of energy, such geysers have become commonplace throughout the Imperium, particularly on worlds with breathable atmospheres and with areas of warm to moderate temperatures.

Q. Do the field generators ever break down?

A. Yes, but because they are arrayed in an overlapping manner, the field profits from built-in redundancy, meaning that if one or two sections fail, the others pick up the slack, providing time to bring everyone down safely so that some maintenance can be performed. The only thing that will cripple the system is a complete loss of power, which is why most governments demand that the generators have their own backup power supply in case all the local power plants go offline simultaneously (an exceedingly rare event, but it has been known to happen).

Q. Given this implicit safety, what is the rationale behind the prohibitions where they occur?

A. Some societies view such frolicsome activity as a waste of time and energy, and many religious dictatorships have pulled out the tired argument that if humans were meant to fly, they would have been given wings. It has further been argued that most people have a natural acrophobia (fear of heights), and that to subdue it with safe exposure to heights is unhealthy, as it gives some people an unwholesome sense of immortality which can lead to reckless attitudes and immoral behaviors.

Advertisement: Geysering isn't just for

children! It's for grown-ups too. The Sintrivani welcomes you to bring your family during the daylight hours, but after dark, we kick out the kids, crank up the music, and dance in the null-field all night long! Come join the party! You never know who you might meet\u2026at the Sintrivani.

Labyrinth Swimming

On this occasion the waters churned with unusual vivacity, the warm glow of soaking bodies paddling on the surface as others more intrepid ventured beneath, between the terraces of gravity nullifiers and into the labyrinth beyond. Mike found himself swimming within a crowd of strangers, some groping each other for comfort and others huddled within large floating bubbles of oxygen, bodies intertwined, playing games of the flesh for all to see. Together they imbibed amber and purple fluids from plastic sluispheres, bubbles within bubbles holding potent aphrodisiacs, judging from the inclinations of those who shared them.

-Harrison Chapters, Ch 11
Minimum tech level: 9
Prevalence: Uncommon

Legality: Check the CT/MT law level:
0-3: No regulations
4-6: Independent back-up power required
7-9: Liability insurance required
10-12: Service inspections required

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