Friday, September 8, 2017

Rest In Peace, Dr. Pournelle

Word has come out that Jerry Pournelle has passed away at the age of 84. A review of King David's Spaceship, last summer got me to write my own post in response as a list of books. This winter, I read and reviewed The Mote in God's Eye and The Gripping Hand. Both books provided great ideas for Traveller gaming. In some ways, Pournelle and Niven are the last of their generation, writing ideas forward, and fully embracing having the story first. To write fiction half as well as he did would be a great thing.

Now, he's another star watching down on us, in the Galaxiad.

Order of Solar Excellence

          There are many orders of chivalry throughout the Third Imperium. All of them, of course, recognize the Emperor as sovereign, but are in practice overseen by one or more nobles. In 1065, Duke von Ritterberg of Sol sought to establish an order to recognize the accomplishments of Imperial citizens in his demesne. In 1067, it was authorized by the Imperial Household, with the first inductions to the order made on 001-1068. Unusually, it provides the following levels:
            Knight or Dame of the Order of Solar Excellence (KSE/DSE)
            Companion of the Order of Solar Excellence (CSE)
            Officer of the Order of Solar Excellence (OSE)
            Member of the Order of Solar Excellence (MSE)
            Medal of the Order of Solar Excellence (OSEM)
A sketch of the Medal, used for proofing purposes.
Original work by Michael Thompson
Only Knights and Dames receive titles, the other levels are decorations, and merely make the awardee a prominent member of society. There are two divisions, the Military and General for all levels except for Knights and Dames. The motto of the Order is “For Sol and the Emperor”
            The ribbon of the Order is dark blue, with central symmetrical stripes of pale green and purple, differenced by a narrow yellow stripe at each end for the Military Division. Recipients of the medal are awarded a hexagonal gilt medal bearing with a stylized map of the subsector on the obverse, and “For Sol and the Emperor” in Anglic on the reverse. The Medal is worn on the left breast. Members receive a similar award, with a miniature hexagon mounted on a Maltese Cross, and also worn on the left breast. Officers receive the award as a neck order, but made of gold, using a medal similar to that the Medal. Officers receive the award as a neck order, in gold with the same design used for the Medal of the Order of Solar Excellence. Companions wear the award as a neck order as well, in gold and mounted on the Maltese Cross. Knights wear the hexagon upon a gold disc on the left breast below any medals, with the home world of the recipient picked out with a gem of the appropriate color of the star, and the rest noted with diamonds. If the Knight is not native to the subsector, the world he is most associated with is used instead. For informal use, the ribbon is worn with a following differentiations, Medal plain, Member a miniature of the hexagon in gold, Officer a miniature of the hexagon in silver mounted on a bar, Companion a gold miniature of the hexagon mounted on a bar with the left side gold and right side silver, and Knights wear the gold miniature of the hexagon on a gold bar.
            Officers of the order include the Sovereign, Grand Master, and Secretary. The current Sovereign in Strephon, Duke Mazun Tomas von Ritterberg is the Grand Master, and his Seneschal is the Secretary. Currently, Knights and Dames include Marchioness Alessandra Ribeira da Silva of Terra, Archduke Kiernan Langos Adair of Sol, the Count of Nusku, as well as many other nobles resident in the subsector.
            The Medal is awarded for long meritorious service in the Sol Subsector Unified Armies and Fleet personnel, as well as for ordinary sophonts performing a service worthy of particular recognition. Membership in the General Division is for “service in a particular locality or field of activity or to a particular group”, and the Military, “exceptional service or performance of duty,” and limited to 1020 persons per year. Officers of the order are have “Distinguished service of a high degree to the Sol Subector or to the Imperium at large” or “Distinguished service in responsible positions,” with a limit of 430 per year. Companions have “Eminent achievement and merit or service in duties of great responsibility,” and are limited to 100 per year. Knights and Dames have “Extraordinary and pre-eminent achievement and merit of highest degree in service to the Sol Subesctor or to the Imperium at Large,” with a very hard limit of twelve per year. Any Imperial citizen in good standing can nominate another for an award. The Duke’s staff is responsible for ensuring they are proper.

Game rules:
In UPP based Traveller games:
Rank
SOC
Notes
Knight/Dame
11
If received with a higher SOC, note the postnominals
Companion
+1 to a max of 10

Officer
+1 to a max of 10

Member
+1 to a max of 9

Medal
+1 to a max of 8



GURPS Third Edition Traveller:

A Knight or Dame is Status 2. Other grades of the Order may give Status 1 at the Referee’s discretion, or else a +1 Reaction from everyone in the Solomani Rim with sometimes recognition as a 2-point advantage. Use the character’s background to make the determination.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

On Patrol, Part I

049-1120

Alice Springs, Terra/Sol 0830 Local
Found Here
            A short week after the Boxing Kangaroo returned from the shakedown, she was commissioned. It was a typical ceremony, with the crew formed up, Admiral Taugolo delivering, and Lieutenant Brickley taking command, and the first watch stationed. That was yesterday, and half the crew was recovering from the party that followed. Baroness Beata Nehru Mesa of Brisbane, one of the honor nobles resident on Terra, served as the sponsor, serving to link the ship and crew more closely to the Imperium. Older, she had received her title as a result of having lead Oceania Exports, LIC into leading a leading seafood export firm, having had an Imperial Warrant of Appointment for the past decade, as well as running massive aquaculture operations in the warmth of the Pacific. Her picture would set next to Emperor Strephon’s in the crew’s mess, a reminder of the ship’s loyalties.
            Today though, was the first operational movement of the Kangaroo. Orders were in hand, after the week where the yard had fixed a few minor things in various systems, including an error in the targeting computer for number two laser. The ship was now formally assigned to Patrol Force, Sol Fleet, and the Rimward Flotilla. Six other Patrol Cruisers were assigned to this unit, and it mostly operated out of the Navy base at Fenris. The orders were a common mission, a patrol loop. The Boxing Kangaroo was instructed to patrol Peraspera, Loki, Dismal, and Hades for two weeks each, and then report to Flotilla HQ at Fenris. Simple stuff, for the most part, but these are backwater systems in the Outback lacking the population for effective system fleet.
            Brickley stepped out of his miniscule ready room into the empty bridge, and through the iris valve into the small common area. Hassan, Brand, Chishan, and Valdez were discussing plans as he strode up next to them.
            “Thank you for coming in here, Captain,” Hassan said as Brickley joined the group. “We’ve been going over the information here. All weapons and provsions are loaded, and once the G-carrier is secured in place, we’ll be ready to lift.”
            “Sounds good. What’s the load out? Starting with you, Guns.” Brickley replied
            “Sir, Weapons department has a full load out in the magazine, with 12 thunderballs,” Chishan replied with the slang term for nuclear tipped missiles. Continuing, “Both laser turrets checked out as satisfactory to the yard last week, and there are sufficient stores aboard for foreseeable future.”
            “Very well,” Brickley responded, “Eng?” shifting his focus to Brand.
            “Full fuel load, all engine room repair parts, and food stores onloaded, sir.”
            “Of course. Marines?” Brickley turned to Valdez.
            “We just need to secure the G-Carrier. All our Dress is in the Boat, and the boat checks out. Sir, in all respects save the G-Carrier, the Imperial Marine Detachment of the Patrol Cruiser Boxing Kangaroo is ready for deployment.” Valdez returned formally.
            “Of course, report accepted,” Brickley acknowledged. Shifting to the entire group, “We’ve got the 1000 boost. Get the G-carrier loaded, and start the reactor by 0930. Understand?”
            “Aye-aye, Captain!” came the response.
            By 0930, the G-Carrier was loaded, and the reactor started up. At 0945, external power removed, and the entire crew prepared for lift. 15 minutes later, the ship had taxied to a pad, and was ready to go.
            “Pilot, set course for orbit.” Brickley commanded.
            “Aye sir, course set for orbit. Lifting now!” Zabiyah responded, expertly piloting the ship into Terra orbit.
            “Sir, traffic is clear, and permission to set course to Peraspera?” Hassan informed him.
            “Very well. Set course for Peraspera.” Brickley responded.
            “Set course for Peraspera, aye.” Hassan replied, as he busied himself in the star charts and navigation computer during the flight to the jump point. “Jump course ready, sir.”
            “Jump course ready, aye. Engineering, divert power.”
            “Diverting power, aye,” came Brand’s steady voice. A few seconds later, she came back, “Power diverted, sir.”
            “Power diverted, aye,” Brickley took her report, switching to the main address system, “All hand, stand by for jump!” A brief pause, and “Jump!” as the Boxing Kangaroo flashed out of existence in the Terra system.
Found Here
            “Set jump space watch, section II,” Brickley said with normal resignation for the uneventful week in jump space. While merchant ships may have a “Captain’s Table” dinner for the final night in Jump space, the Navy instead ran it as a formal mess dinner, with a grog bowl and all sorts of hijinks. The messenger and engineer watches were secured for that evening, as it proved an entertaining diversion. The next day, ship’s time, they precipitated out of jumpspace into the Peraspera system.