That would work too. I know there's been a little discussion between you and Malcadon about standardizing things, so I took a shot at a template you could use.
My problem stems in no small part in lack of reference material. Sure, I've got AD, KH, and Zeb and I could just do write ups based on those, but I don't have all the Dragon, Polyhedron, Ares, etc articles nor all the module writeups so I coun't be sure I'd miss something. I guess I could pick up the modules over at the .US site's Remastered page, but I still wouldn't have all the zine articles.
I get the idea that a LOT of these pages would be tons shorter if all we did was strict "from the books". Seems a shame to lose a lot of what was obviously hard work for someone just because of that.
I'd like to do the two-tier because by going with ONE person's interpretation, we would be effectively shutting out every other interpretation of what a planet is like.
When the only canon information is "Name, primary race, population, moons, length of day and star type... with population described by a vague letter code, every interpretation should carry the same weight, even if some are of a better quality than others.
Right now, I've juggling a ton of things, but I do want to do this; I have a good idea of the way it should be done.
And yes, the "main" page will often be really short, but it is important to separate canon from apocrypha, particularly when multiple (and contradictory) apocrypha exists.
I just put up a canon-only page for Clarion as a sampler, taking your suggestions above in mind. I've used all the resources I currently have, but I'll keep looking for more to add to it. If you have any, feel free to jump in.
It's a good page, though instead of labeling the main page "Planet (canon)", I'd simply name it "Planet (world)", for example: "Clarion (world)". At the bottom of the article (above the gallery (if any) and notes & references) add a section: "Alternate Versions", where the links to the apocryphal versions are listed as "Clarion (SF 2000 version)", "Clarion (Dragon Magazine version)", or "Clarion (Fireangel version)".
Each apocryphal version can be as detailed as it wants, making any assumptions it wants or accepting any errata it wants, such as (as an unfounded example) assuming that the carbon dioxide level is a typo.
I took the liberty of making changes on the new Clarion page to see how they work. Tell me what you think:
The colons (:) should be within the boldface tags.
Bulleting artificial satellites reads better than just listing them. Ditto for moons.
Hours should be listed as GST; "standard" does not define what standard is being used. It's also a good way to teach terminology.
I'm not happy with the listing format you used, but I'm not happy with my modification either. It should not be bulleted, but the indent isn't working. I'm thinking of scrapping the "trade" macro and listing imports and exports as their own lines without italics:
Trade, Exports: Trade, Imports:
I'm thinking that "Day" and "Year" should have "Length of" before them. Last week had a player misread something equally obvious, so I'd like to idiot-proof this.
I prefer listing population as "Colonizers" (Pop. code).
BTW> do you find it as infuriating as I the way that population codes are so incredibly vague?
I'm also thinking that "Population" should be somewhere above "moons" and "satellites".
"Planet Description" should be the first of the major headers, followed by history, which would include the information in "Colonizers", so "colonizers" as a section could be discarded.
Native life should be one of the sub-headers under "Planet Description".
Made some edits.I liked what you did for the most part but "GST hours" is incredibly clunky, IMO, so I changed it to "galactic standard hours". The modifier "galactic" plus the hyperlink indicates something non-intuitive and they can click the link for details.
Simple fix re "Trade". Just drop the macro word entirely and simply say "Exports" and "Imports". Both imply trade in any event.
I took your advice onboard about the subdivisions. I changed Colonizers to Colonization, which is more formal encyclopedia-type verbiage.
As for the placement of "population", I think it reads better with all of the "hard science" data uninterrrupted as all of that pre-existed the coming of settlers. It's the nuts and bolts of the actual physical planet. Then population, trade, etc. I'm thinking in that vein that the Artificial Sattellites might be better off below population, as they are products of the population rather than natural parts of the planet.
Oh, and I can see the vagueness of the pop. catagories as being both good and bad. Good in that it allows GMs plenty of room for personalization, but yeah, hard numbers have a place as well. If you read the descriptions in the core rules though, you get a decent enough idea of what they were shooting for.
Really want an annoying glitch? 300 millitia members and a handful of ships for a planet with (implied) millions of citizens or more. Pushing the "18th-19th century" concept equivalency a bit too hard, IMO.
The militia issue is a non-starter; it's the space-bound force; there is most likely a surface army-equivalent that is larger. Then again, considering the relatively peaceful nature of the Frontier Sector, there might be little need for more of a military presence.
Don't forget that Spacefleet is also a really small force; its total officer corps is in the low hundreds with probably close to 2,000-2,500 total personnel. It doesn't need to be much bigger than that, considering the size of the Sathar menace seen so far.
Maybe. I think the sizes are unrealistically small across the board. But that's me. Let's be honest: a lot of things in this game were not thought through carefully enough, or when they went to scale it down from it's original, more "Traveller-esque" complexity they just "meat axed" it by stripping things down arbitrarily.
In the Frontier, space travel is still the realm of a relatively small elite. We know this because we have hard canon numbers on the number and type of SCCs and their capacity. Knowing this, and using Zeb's timeline (with its problems) as a guide, we can calculate the number of ships in the Frontier with a fair degree of certainty based on the rate of construction and the maintenance needs of these ships.
The numbers are staggeringly small, before taking into account the loss of ships to old age, accidents, piracy, and war.
Knowing this, there is really no need for a large militia.
I know that's what the "hard canon numbers" say. What I am saying is that the "hard canon numbers" were not well thought out. Too many things don't add up using those numbers. You yourself noted that the evacuation to Laco (if I have the right planet) could not have been carried out using those numbers. Nor would AG ships be able to provide enough supplies to planets and colonies at the stated sizes and numbers.
Yet within the narrative of the game universe, the evacuation happened, and ag ships/stations do somehow manage to get the job done. You can have the mechanics or the narrative, but not both.
For my uses as a GM, I ignore the numbers, because it's narrative that players come for, not math. YMMV.
It all boils down to what each GM places more emphasis on: the original core information, or the later products by authors (official or not) who simply did not do the research (like Zeb's Kim Eastland), and ended up writing things that simply contradicted previously established canon. As a particularly egregious example, Zeb has a university being established in the Zebulon system... decades before the first exploration mission arrives (SF0: Crash on Volturnus).
Due to this and other similar issues, along with TSR's push to completely (and literally) rewrite the game, I take Zeb's canonicity with a grain of salt.
You can have both the mechanics and the narrative, IF you tweak the narrative to fit (as opposed to tweaking the mechanics to fit the narrative).
Thing is, the mechanics are also part of the narrative; most orbital shuttles use chemical fuel using fairly realistic thrust and fuel rules ("fairly" because they are very impressive even by today's standards).
The method of interstellar travel dictates the pace of colonization, travel routes, and even the pacing of the adventure; in Star Wars, ships are basically cars and trucks driven from star to star over their established routes by pretty much anyone; you can cross the galaxy in a few hours, and space travel is not a big deal. In Star Trek, you need better trained personnel on the ships (until TNG+, when just about anyone can fly a warpshuttle), but you can't "jump" all over the place; colonization spreads out in a predictable manner across the galaxy. In Battletech, you have jumpships that can make a single 30 LY jump every week, using dropships to ferry cargo and passengers in-system in a trip that takes a week or two on average, meaning that colonization also follows a predictable, slow spread.
If we look at Star Frontiers, we have The Void and the method of reaching it; accelerating at 1 g until you reach 0.01c, which takes 4 days, 14 hours, and 24 minutes, The ship then spends a few seconds in The Void before decelerating right back into normal space, then it end-overs, and begins its deceleration at 1 g; after 4 days, 14 hours, and 24 minutes of deceleration, the ship should be in orbit of its target world, probably on final approach to the local space station, since canonically, few ships carry shuttles capable of making planetfall and returning to orbit. All this requires days of fastidious calculations by highly trained personnel (it's no accident that Astrogators need to be level 6 computer experts). This means that in Star Frontiers, space travel is not simple or casual; you can't just run into the hangar at Mos Eisley, strap in, plot a course in a few minutes and blast off to Alderaan, or tell your Helmsman: "plot a course to Ceti Alpha VIII, Warp 6. Engage!" and arrive there at the speed of plot.
Adventures in Star Frontiers can be as exiting as in any other setting, with the particular technological quirks being used to further the narrative, rather than constrain it. Look at the Aliens films; these could be done easily in Star Frontiers. The Eleanor Moraes saga is tremendously exciting in spite of, and because, of the limitations of space travel in the setting.
Heh. Just read that the final toll of the Blue Plague was 17 million people over 10 years. Not to sound callous, but that's not bad at all; the 1918-20 flu pandemic killed between 50 and 100 million people in two years. Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Epsilon must have been really lightly populated...
The game if you adhere strictly to the canon mechanics makes interstellar adventures next to impossible. You can do local stuff all day long, but when one insterstellar jump takes basically a week and it may take 3-5 jumps to get where you are going you're looking at over a month of down time just travelling. By the time you get there, any local situation is likely all over "bar shouting". For that matter, by the time your subspace radio signal gets where it's going, there may well be nothing left anyone can do but shake their heads and regret what happened.
On the larger issue, if you have to "tweak" anything to harmonize mechanics with narrative, that's a sure sign that someone on the development/playtest team didn't think things through properly. If you like a "slow" universe for your setting, and a handful of ships, no problem. But don't make mechanics that only allow [x] but then say in universe [y].
It's no wonder SF is one of the most "house ruled" systems I know of. I would love to see the original game they had intended. My understanding is that it was a lot better thought out mechanically and narratively.
That's the thing; SF was never intended to be a game of fast interstellar travel. KH just solidified it: I forgot to mention in my earlier post that it costs at least 10,000 Cr to make a jump (assuming that instead of one burnt-out pellet per engine, all the engines "burn" only a fraction of each pellet... as read, moving a battleship costs 80,000 Cr per jump!).
SF suffered several issues: First, was that it was originally intended to be a hard sci-fi game, with tons of rules that didn't make the cut. This cut was made so that the game would appeal to a broader audience, and as you have noted, they were not too careful in the edit, nerfing the system into blandness.
I'll add that, for the time, even after the edit, the system is still more complete than other systems of the era.
Most people who bought SF bought it because, in that era, "science fiction = Star Wars" as far as the public went. All "popular" sci-fi of the era tried to capitalize on the SW model of space opera, including SF (note the "landspeeder" art, the sonic swords...).
Sadly, some of the official module authors seem to have not researched the material before writing their product. Often, fans submitted material to Ares/Dragon/Polyhedron, which was eagerly integrated into their campaigns, because it was perceived as "official TSR-published material", even if it was actually just fanon/houserules.
Zeb is a special case; this was a concerted effort to actually "rewrite" established canon/history for what was intended to be an all-new edition of the game, as a result, we have rules that are incompatible between editions.
Another issue is one I've mentioned before; SF is a product of the late 70's (despite its publication date), and its in-universe history and technology is directly derived from the tech of the era. IMHO, this is a wonderful thing, because it allows the GMs and players to explore a universe where technology developed along different lines; it's not "it's stuck in '70s tech"; it's "technology developed differently". That is why some elements of the game are "vintage" from our point of view, while others are quite advanced (lasers, robots).
I'd argue that Traveller (first out in 77) was far more complete than SF.
Be that as it may, like I said, if small world/slow travel is what you like, by all means go for it. You don't need my permission for anything. For me there's slow, and darn near "age of sail" SLOW. Fortunately for the game, the module writers at least limited the amount of in-module travel time by keeping the proceedings relatively contained. You generally didn't have characters reacting (for example) to events on Clarion while they were on Pale, unless the Clarion events were clearly stated to have happened pre the events of the module. FASA had the same problem, ironically, with their Trek game where they gave ships hard speed numbers and enforced them without variance (or really understanding how warp speeds worked either). One of their modules had the PCs cooped up in the ship with nothing to do for several months in-game. Ugh.
As for the magazine articles. Simple truth is that it was officially published. Dragon was the TSR house magazine which gives it the TSR stamp of approval. Some of the articles outright said "this got left out because of time" or other statements giving them canon status, esp articles written by the developers themselves.
On another topic, I can see on the commercial side where SW had an influence, but "in game", other than a few broad tropes I see more "classic sf" influence, a smush of 40s pulp/serial and some weightier fare like Frank Herbert with a veneer of late 70s-early 80s thrown over it.
I don't know how often you might go to places like Project Rho, but trawling through their various pages turns up a LOT of stuff that feels "Frontier".
Last thought for now: it isn't even that they're "stuck" (which they are), but that they're inconsistently stuck, even within their own framework. They have advanced field manipulation that is basically man-portable (screens) that they don't have in large scale (keep in mind that the larger version always comes first in terms of technical development). And if they have field manipulation science at all, then the old question of "why no gravitics/AG" becomes even more convoluted.
Saying "developed differently" sounds suspiciously like Handwavium to me. But that's me. You can go that route, but it comes off as highly illogical to a lot of people.
Not just handwavium; it's an alloy of deusexmachinium and bullshitite.
But it fits. Honestly, of all the screens in the game, the only one that breaks suspension of disbelief is the holo screen; it is fine in camo mode, but the impersonation mode is just unbelievable from a device "worn around the waist like a belt".