Thursday, 21 January 2010

Accountants in Space

In April of 2008 I began drawing up a spreadsheet containing all the statistical data I had to hand on the six subsectors I had developed in detail for my Traveller campaign. I had been working on the history of the RimWorlds Sector just prior to this, and had narrated a major civil war that had wracked the region several centuries prior to the current campaign date, the Imperial year 1109. This civil war was followed by a couple of centuries of intermittent conflict along both the Rimward and Spinward Imperial borders. As I was doing a lot of starship combat wargaming at the time, using the Full Thrust rules from Ground Zero Games, I wanted to have an idea of both the resources available to the various combatants and whether the scenarios I was happily belting out on my computer were actually feasible as military campaigns.

Using the formulas and exchange rates from CT: Adventure 5 Trillion Credit Squadron (and after having a quick look at the similar but different formulas in Striker), I worked out planetary military budgets and port capacities for all the planets I had developed, plus the total naval budgets for the various non-Imperial alliances, as well as Imperial Subsector Naval, Sector Naval and Imperial Naval budgets for all the developed subsectors.

It was an interesting exercise, and has given me a much more detailed understanding of my area of space. The next step is, of course, to develop the naval fleets of the various polities and, possibly, game with them. I have attempted this at a minor level in the past, gaming out the Miazan Subsector Rebellion, but found that battles fought under the CT: High Guard rules are incredibly boring buckets-of-dice fests, especially if attempted solo.

I was fascinated to discover the ‘collapsing’ mechanism used both by GDW for Traveller: The New Era, and by writers for Traveller T20 for the 900 period prior to the ‘Golden Age’, to shift Baseline UWPs forward or backward in time. Coupled with my discovery of the T4 Supplement Pocket Empires, I began to conceive of a metacampaign, possibly starting from a point two centuries prior to the current campaign date – 1109 – and rolling forward to see if I would achieve a result similar to my current campaign. I began working my existing data into the various formulas for Pocket Empires, though gaps in my Excel programming knowledge has rather stalled that part of the project at present.

The universality of such tools as Excel make such thought exercises quite doable now days, and a lot more fun than trying to keep your millions, billions and trillions in order with a pocket calculator and a pencil. The job of Interstellar Megalomaniac has just got that little bit easier.