The Background Thus Far

Discussion of the background, history & universe
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Re: The Background Thus Far

Postby Xail Jaderune » Wed Aug 01, 2012 4:25 pm

I understand what you're saying Mercutio and Pasukaru.

However Joshua has stated that travel between planets under a starships own power doesn't work... i.e. they're still using chemical propulsion or momentum. Not things like Ion boosters and solar wind sails.

The gates were created in response to the comparibly "present day" mode of space travel. It sounds more like they skipped developing starship drive systems in favor of just jumping to one area from another using wormhole technology. Joshua has also stated that transit without a arrival gate is basically suicide. He said that you could fall short of your coordinates, or overshoot them completely. Then the starship has to make the agonizing crawl to the target destination... which in turn fails supposedly because they haven't developed technology to get them to the desination before starvation, cabin fever, or even old age itself kills the crew.

As for true fusion reactors, I'm saying if they developed them, and installed them on the gates themselves they'd have enough power to ferry anything and everything that's needed.

The relation to mass comes from the energy required to shove that starship into that hole you just ripped open in space. Because you didn't just open a window... you forced a whole tunnel to be created from point A to point B, thus the energy and even the whole process is very inefficent. When you could be working "with space" instead of against it.

Which only reinforces my theory that the SU has forgotten any other way how. The ruidementary technology was created, new opportunites were created, and the SU got caught up in building more and more, and gathering more and more... that instead of fixing the problem at the source, the ruling powers just said "ah we'll just get more colonies and mine more resources... who cares if the gate technology lacks efficency it works just fine for us."

This also ties into modern day conspiracy theories. I full well believe that some scientist has completed the theory and the groundwork to build a fusion reactor... but like anyone else, he's human and everyone has their price. Big oil bought the scientist out, and stops their empire from crumbling, while the scientist gets to have his entire family lineage taken care of because he got so much hush money. Even with Area 51 and many other conspiracies...

My point is that if history and humanity shows us anything... that such events are bound to happen and repeat. Thus there are plenty of secrets i believe are still buried under the rubble on Earth in the year of the Solar Century, or maybe secrets still in the hands of long standing private interests.
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Re: The Background Thus Far

Postby Deathzero » Wed Aug 01, 2012 5:24 pm

Anyone else smell 40k? The "lost technology" explanation is one that works well in sci-fi settings. In 40k, you've got all this technology that was developed, then forgotten during the 10 millennium of war and strife and the general degeneration of humanity after the Emperor's "death". Now what technology they have is regarded with awe and superstition, they take great care to salvage and repair whatever technology they have.

As to the gate business, lots of sci-fi series use an explanation along these lines: Wormholes can be affected by gravity, having one too close to a planet can either destabilize the transport path, causing the "cargo" to either be shunted off course or lost to the void, or cause some type of planetary cataclysm.

Just my two cents.
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Re: The Background Thus Far

Postby Xail Jaderune » Wed Aug 01, 2012 6:40 pm

Now now, I'm not favorably comparing or trying to convert the universe of Mobile frame zero to Warhammer 40k.

My point was that the SU made a choice. They are suffering the consequences, as they are in need of expansion to keep their current standard of life. They aren't too far from redemption as all it would take would be some cooperation amongst those private interests and the government. So no.. Humanity hasn't undergone that technological "dark age" that humanity went through in the grim dark universe of warhammer 40k. Plus humanity has existed for much much longer in that universe to allow for "the older the tech, the better it is" philosophy.

The humanity in MFZ is still advancing albeit slowly, but they haven't taken technology and science for granted yet... they haven't fallen into ignorance and taken technology for granted like the humanity in warhammer 40k.

and Yes wormholes are affected by other space anomalies including gravity from other planets, as Joshua did mention the need to route a path around stars and black holes.
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Re: The Background Thus Far

Postby aimforthetop » Wed Aug 01, 2012 6:43 pm

Deathzero wrote:As to the gate business, lots of sci-fi series use an explanation along these lines: Wormholes can be affected by gravity, having one too close to a planet can either destabilize the transport path, causing the "cargo" to either be shunted off course or lost to the void, or cause some type of planetary cataclysm.


Thanks for some more thoughts on this. I'm just considering if it makes any sense for my fighty robots to be fighting over a Transit Gate on land.

Just throwing ideas out there, trying to come up with more good ideas for lego robots to fight each other on the surfaces of lego planets. ;)
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Re: The Background Thus Far

Postby spacemonkey » Wed Aug 01, 2012 10:39 pm

Xail Jaderune wrote:Joshua has also stated that transit without a arrival gate is basically suicide. He said that you could fall short of your coordinates, or overshoot them completely. Then the starship has to make the agonizing crawl to the target destination... which in turn fails supposedly because they haven't developed technology to get them to the destination before starvation, cabin fever, or even old age itself kills the crew.

I think you have things tad out of context here. If transiting without a arrival gate was "basically suicide" how do they ever establish new colonies (who have to build the arrival gates)? Quoting Joshua from this very thread:
Joshua A.C. Newman wrote:When you use a transit gate to send matter or data to another solar system, it's pretty imprecise. You probably don't exactly hit orbit. And you sure don't want to try to get so precise that you lit atmosphere because who knows what your incoming velocity will be. So you go for moon distance and see what you get. Having another transit gate at the other end makes it far, far more precise. A solar system with a transit gate can bring in materials bound for any body in that system.

So yes, transiting without an arrival gate is considerably less accurate and thus potentially more dangerous; yet if you play things safe it seems the worst that is likely to happen is you'll face a few days burn towards your final destination. Things only start to get "suicidal" as you start to play around with the outer limits of a transit gate. Again quoting Joshua from earlier in this thread:
Joshua A.C. Newman wrote:Precision drops with distance. If you throw something far enough, you won't even know where you threw it until its radio signal gets back to you centuries later. Precision is greatly enhanced by having a receiving transit gate.

Now with that said, I have to presume that the Solar Union isn't just loading a bunch of people in a ship and shooting them off willy-nilly in hopes of their surviving and establishing a new colony to exploit. While I guess that may have been the case with some of the very first transit jumps, I would think potential new systems are first picked out using astronomical observatories (either ground or space based) which would then be scouted out by satellites. Satellites with their lower production cost and mass would be less expensive to transit thus potentially lose. I'm assuming the Solar Union relies on their constant leap-frogging of colonies to help minimize the wait time for responses/results from said satellites which would allow for a quicker turn around in establishing a new colony.

For example, say the Solar Union shoots off a satellite from Earth to explore new system Zeta (20 light years) away but instead of having to wait twenty years for results, the recently established colony in system Alpha (15 light years away) picks up the satellite's signal after five years and relays the info near instantaneously back to Earth via their freshly constructed transit gate.
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Re: The Background Thus Far

Postby Xail Jaderune » Thu Aug 02, 2012 12:44 am

Yes Mr. Spacemonkey sir!

The process you described is exactly the correct logical one under the current travel restrictions. You would send probes, since the cost of energy for gate activation is so high that it requires a vote amongst the Union. However that model only works for the planets within optimal distance of the Gate network. The solar union will eventually expand to fill those limits, and then they'll hit the same brick wall they did with the initial colonies. Thus it wraps back around to the fact that they need to upgrade how they travel in space.

If they already know how to create a temporary wormhole in the same plane of space, They really aren't that far from FTL drive, or hyperspace jumpgates, yet a bit farther away from warp drive.

Instead of wasting energy trying to rip holes in the same space, they should instead open windows to other spaces that are close to ours. Hence hyperspace. Then it just comes down to a matter of ships being big enough to open their own jumpgates, and smaller craft using the pre-constructed gates. With FTL drive, the whole ship is just shunted into another dimension briefly before appearing back in normal space at the target destination. The difference being that in Hyperspace jumpgates, you still have to travel through Hyperspace from beacon to beacon to then arrive at the exit gate. While FTL drive is much more instantaneous and faster, but the maximum distance you can cross in that instance is shortened.

The best description and depiction of FTL drive in science fiction is from Battlestar Galactica. If you've watched the new series then you have a pretty good working knowledge of FTL if you payed attention to detail.

That should clear things up a bit.

My point for pushing this idea is to open the door for possibilities. That fan-fiction can contain a private interest with access to technology not currently available in the Solar Union. Not because it doesn't exist or they don't know about it... but because the Government likes the current model of how things work, and they don't want to put forth the effort to fund and research that technology. Because think about it... if ships could get around however they wanted, the Solar union would have a lot harder time staying unified. Jupiter and mars colonies would no longer need to convene in council with earth. So the current model keeps everyone honest and unified, because without it nobody would be able to amass the resources for travel.

Plus I think Wang Tech already has a bazillion off the books projects in the realm of forbidden technology. But that's just the conspiracy theorist in me...
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Re: The Background Thus Far

Postby spacemonkey » Thu Aug 02, 2012 2:20 am

Xail Jaderune wrote:The process you described is exactly the correct logical one under the current travel restrictions. You would send probes, since the cost of energy for gate activation is so high that it requires a vote amongst the Union. However that model only works for the planets within optimal distance of the Gate network. The Solar Union will eventually expand to fill those limits, and then they'll hit the same brick wall they did with the initial colonies. Thus it wraps back around to the fact that they need to upgrade how they travel in space.
Eventually yes, I suppose the Solar Union will reach that brick wall but as of the current Solar Calendar (0245) each new colony's transit gate apparently still continues to expand the gate network's optimal range thus curbing the necessity for new or more refined transportation technology.

Xail Jaderune wrote:My point for pushing this idea is to open the door for possibilities. That fan-fiction can contain a private interest with access to technology not currently available in the Solar Union. Not because it doesn't exist or they don't know about it... but because the Government likes the current model of how things work, and they don't want to put forth the effort to fund and research that technology. Because think about it... if ships could get around however they wanted, the Solar union would have a lot harder time staying unified. Jupiter and mars colonies would no longer need to convene in council with earth. So the current model keeps everyone honest and unified, because without it nobody would be able to amass the resources for travel.
Another interesting possibility for the continued use of the transit gates at their current efficiency level.

On a different note, all this theorizing about what it takes to start a new colony actually has stirred up a couple big questions for me:
How many people are actually sent to establish a colony? How long is the typical colonial boom to bust cycle? :?:

I apologize in advance for the following wall of text... :oops:

From what I could glean from the initial bits of background available in the first rules draft and here on the forums, I imagined a slow, semi-sustainable pace for colony development: when a (satellite?) survey reveals a promising planet/system, a first-wave development team (maybe a couple hundred people) is sent out. Over the next several years (or decade) they establish a base colony with habitat and resource refining and manufacturing capabilities, perform further geological and ecological surveys, perhaps initiate some terraforming projects, but most importantly build their own transit gate. Once the new gate is in place, transit is safer allowing for a second-wave of colonization. Here I saw people (either part of or vetted by the sponsoring corporation) arrive by the thousands who begin the true process of harvesting the colony's resources. In just a few years the colonists and the sponsoring corporation shed their debts and start to turn a profit, the colony enters a time of economic prosperity triggering a third-wave of colonization as thousands more flock to get their own piece of the pie. The colony expands, new settlements are established, governments are formed, tertiary and quaternary businesses take hold, corporate coffers are filled, and the Solar Union reaps its dues. I figured this would probably continue for several decades with second and third generation colonists growing up and taking over work of their parents and grandparents. Eventually the critical resource/the cash crop becomes scarce or easier/quicker to gather/manufacture elsewhere and the colony enters a period of economic decline. Depending on how the colony handles the economic recession (or even crash), would determine if there was a fourth-wave of colonization: if they manage to keep-on-trucking, then there would probably be a stagnated level of immigration and commerce transactions despite the colony's less than desirable status; if they don't manage to keep it together, then immigration and commerce becomes negligible or non-existent and the colony eventually wastes away; or if they somehow actually manage to turn it around then they could perhaps see an uptick in immigration and commerce (at least until the next recession). Ultimately I envisioned something like a 70 or 80 year boom to bust cycle with perhaps the earliest colonies experiencing longer life cycles which eventually brings the Free Colony movement into formation as more colonies reach their tipping point and are able to see the numerous broken colonies left behind by the Solar Union.

Anyway, this initial mental of my framework has been challenged by the two examples given the latest revision of the rulebook, namely Celiel and Gursk. Both colonies reach their bust point within roughly a decade of being discovered/founded. Obviously both have managed to keep-on-trucking in their own way but their examples really make me wonder how typical they are of the colonial cycle? If they are typical, I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around how it can be worth the cost and effort to colonize a planet/system if you only get half a dozen years boom out of it (I'm subtracting the few years debt-ridden years it takes the colony build and get their a transit gate running). I'm imagine the physical and human capital invested into starting these colonial ventures would have to be much higher/faster then my mental framework allows? Also if the boom-to-bust cycle is that quick wouldn't something like the Free Colonies movement have started earlier given there has been almost 200 years of transit gate fueled colonization? Of course I can see these two colonies as perhaps being atypical colonies, with the Ijad presence on Celiel curbing large scale settlement and thus production ability and Gursk unfortunately suffering from an all too replicable cash crop. Or perhaps both colonies are typical of the current boom-to-bust cycle which has progressively shortened over the last 200 years of Solar Union colonization?

Anyways these are just the musings lead me to seeking answers for my original questions in hopes of better understanding this excellent and promising game setting. :geek:
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Re: The Background Thus Far

Postby randolph » Thu Aug 02, 2012 3:43 am

Xail Jaderune wrote:Plus I think Wang Tech already has a bazillion off the books projects in the realm of forbidden technology.

My apologies for taking this conversation off-topic, but I really must insist that this kind of unsubstantiated slander stop immediately.

WangTech, Inc. has been an upstanding member of the Solar Union Progressive Technologies Committee - in good standing, I might add! - since its inception, and has never been successfully prosecuted on charges of developing technologies in violation of the Solar Union Charter or the Helion Accord in any jurisdiction to date.

These vicious, hurtful rumors, this sensationalist nonsense - they're the petty, envious salvos from our less-successful competitors and tabloid media hungry for a scandal, nothing more.
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Re: The Background Thus Far

Postby Xail Jaderune » Thu Aug 02, 2012 4:22 am

:lol:

Looks like i got a response!

(great job with staying in character Randolph)
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Re: The Background Thus Far

Postby Joshua A.C. Newman » Thu Aug 02, 2012 5:36 pm

A quick popping-in of my head to say:

Celiel probably could have been profitable for a century or something, if it weren't so darned already filled with people.

Gursk had a valuable commodity that turned out to be largely replicable, and where it wasn't, it was ripe for speculation. Oops.

But these colonies are described (OK, created) to provite opportunities for conflict. Many more colonies are profitable for a million reasons. The question, of course, is who they're profitable for. I recently did a little setup where the colony was insanely profitable and the locals formed Free Colony cells because they gambled that they had the resources to keep the TTA from calling their debts back in.

Xail, I love the idea of lost technologies. But also, did I say in the current text that the Ijad are using plasma weapons? They're supposed to be using pulsed lasers. In the fiction, the plasma is a temporary side-effect of the laser strike, if that's what you mean. Plasma happens all the time when there's a burst of super-heat. It's what lightning is.

On the other hand, there's the "fusion edge" weapon (just because builders seem to be unable to keep away from their lightsaber blades), which, I dunno, man. It's a lightsaber.

There are deliberate points where the setting's pulpy. If we couldn't travel the stars, the setting would feel cramped to me. If I said that we couldn't have fusion edges, I'd be abolishing something that obviously players want and I don't have a strong opinion about (though I definitely tend toward the big combat knife or stun baton, myself.)

Like all pieces of the setting, though, these are here as creative constraints! If you want to make fanfic about developing an FTL ship that doesn't require a transit gate, I encourage you! It seems like developing such a thing would be a bit like developing solar energy generation in today's socioeconomic climate: it looks expensive now because we already have a thing that looks cheap. But no matter how much we recognize that this day will come to an end, we keep doing what we're doing because the infrastructure is there.

Xail, I also want to thank you for recognizing one of the principles of this setting (and one of the problems with empires in general): the area of a circle grows faster than its circumference. In Rome, that meant that every soldier who went off to war on the promise of returning to a farm got more expensive to reward. The Solar Union has the same problem: it can only expand so fast, but no matter how fast it spreads, its needs expand exponentially while its resources increase linearly. In Rome, that led to muntinies against the then-young Empire. By SC 0245, it means that underperforming colonies are being abandoned. Who knows what will happen to the militaries that rely on support from the SU but live among the colonies.

The Ijad might have a way to deal with it, by not caring how far they spread. They're not sending goods back home because they never had the Malthusian crisis that Earth had (or, rather, they averted it in antiquity). The still-hypothetical Federation might work on a more Ijad-like model, but once one colony's government manages to sell to its constituents the idea that expanding and sending the plunder home is a good idea, they'll perpetuate the same problem.
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Re: The Background Thus Far

Postby Xail Jaderune » Thu Aug 02, 2012 6:34 pm

Thanks for clearing that up Joshua, Pulsed lazers make much much more sense. Yes i know plasma can be created as a side effect of that kind of weapons fire... I must have missed the part where it was said that pulse lasers were being fired.

But don't worry, I already am cooking up a story to post that will touch on those subjects. It's just a matter of what I'm allowed to do. Do i have to do a series of stories just to get it built? or can i have it already exist in secret? or do i just pull a deus ex Machina and make the whole thing come from a paralell dimension and the crew and the ship is now stranded in this dimension. There's many ways I could write it in, it's just a matter of yay or nay.

And yes, Empires Collapse. Rome taught us alot in that respect. and even in another familliar sci-fi setting, the Human Imperium of Warhammer 40k. Not many people know that the era the game is currently playing in is actually on the downturn for humanity... the humans are going to lose, and the golden throne will fail soon. Also the Mechwarrior universe with the Inner sphere and the outlying territories, not to mention the clans vieing for power.

But you probably already know all that.

Anyhow, Thanks for the clarification, now I know whats going on.
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Re: The Background Thus Far

Postby Foxfire » Tue Aug 28, 2012 6:31 pm

So, about transit gates....

Using a gate has an energy cost, and there would be a source of energy handy at the gate(IE solar/fusion/etc.). So really, the cost is in how frequently you can fire up the gate. If it costs X MJ to send 1 kg 20 lightyears away, then a Y MW fusion generator will take X/Y seconds to recharge the energy banks back up after the transit. That means that the transit cost is really measured in time. The guys managing the system will be looking at it in terms of time. IE "Once we send the 10 ton shipment of peaches back to Sol, we won't be able to transport anything else for the next 20 hours." Since time is money, shipping cost is really paying for how long the gate will take to recharge after the shipment. Since if there is a line, there is probably a cost you can pay to jump ahead of the line(IE like priority mail).

Another thought.
Accuracy drops with distance.
Transport cost increases with distance.

What would be the hypothetical cost/accuracy of an in system teleport? I am thinking this could be a nasty little advantage of controlling the transit gate. If they had reliable intel on an enemy location, could you teleport a kill squad to the surface of a planet?
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Re: The Background Thus Far

Postby Joshua A.C. Newman » Wed Aug 29, 2012 11:40 pm

I'm sure they could!

It also takes time to be precise, remember. It doesn't take more energy to send someone farther, though; the limit on distance is precision. It takes more energy to send something bigger. And the time to make the calculations are non-negotiable.
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Re: The Background Thus Far

Postby Foxfire » Thu Aug 30, 2012 4:21 pm

Joshua A.C. Newman wrote:I'm sure they could!

It also takes time to be precise, remember. It doesn't take more energy to send someone farther, though; the limit on distance is precision. It takes more energy to send something bigger. And the time to make the calculations are non-negotiable.


Ah, I misread it in the PDF. I thought it was mass times distance squared. Too much physics learning, you see things in formulas you expect to see in formulas.
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Re: The Background Thus Far

Postby Joshua A.C. Newman » Sun Sep 02, 2012 9:16 pm

Nah, there's a reason I'm leaving all actual numbers out of the equation: it's handwavingly impossible.
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Re: The Background Thus Far

Postby Foxfire » Tue Sep 04, 2012 11:53 am

Joshua A.C. Newman wrote:Nah, there's a reason I'm leaving all actual numbers out of the equation: it's handwavingly impossible.


That is why I am using proportions instead of more exact formulas, and actually, it does make sense for a physics standpoint.

Since it is a wormhole, distance is irrelevant. So here are 2 ways methods this could work.
A. The wormhole can transit X amount of mass before before it destabilizes. The amount of mass before destabilization is related to the amount of energy used to create the wormhole. This seems pretty reasonable, but not exactly sure how to relate mass to wormhole stability.
B. Energy cost is based on size and duration of the wormhole. This gives you a transit cost based on volume(which is related to mass by density) as opposed to actual mass.
From a hard physics stand point, the volume methods seems more realistic. You have a 30 ton transport ship moving toward the gate at 300 m/s. The gate needs to be opened X meters in diameter for Y seconds for the ship to safely pass through. Energy cost is proportional to Y*X^2. Transport ships will be designed to optimize transit costs.

As for accuracy, assume the only thing that can really effect a wormhole is gravity. IE, you are not placing the wormhole at location (x,y,z), you are actually placing the wormhole at a certain signature in Einstein's curved space model that roughly translates to location (x,y,z). So if you have accurate readings of the gravity conditions on the far end, you can make very accurate transits. There are 4 ways to increase the accuracy of your gravity measurements.
1. Distance, the closer your are, the better readings you will get. Since gravity is k*m1*m2/r^2, the strength(and thus accuracy) of gravity measurements drops with the square of distance.
2. Time, take readings for a longer period of time and average out the noise. Standard sensor measurement technique.
3. A gate at the other end sending you local measurements, hence gate to gate transits are a lot more accurate without the receiving gate having to burn energy beyond what is necessary to send a short message.
4. Better sensors. Places that specialize in exploratory transits would probably invest in deep range sensors to assist in making he transit.

The only thing is that if you allow #3 to be true, then it is possible to have a gate stop sending local gravity information beacons(or control the information with security protocols), which could force anyone transiting to the system to transit without the benefit of a local gate. Of course, anyone in the system could send the information, not just the TTA. Rebels would have hacks in the communications system or sympathizers to send transit information to any allies trying to transit into the system. Sounds like another front of the war.

"Hey there Mr. TTA comm officer. We have your family planetside. If you want to see them alive again, do exactly as we tell you. Such pretty children they are..."

Another interesting side effect of controlling the in system transit gate, instant communication. Whoever controls the transit gate can open communication sized wormholes where they need them. Everyone else has to deal with the light speed delay when communicating.
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Re: The Background Thus Far

Postby Joshua A.C. Newman » Mon Sep 10, 2012 9:52 pm

Well, the idea is that the sending and receiving gates are reaching toward each other in hyperspace. So, yeah, if the receiver stops listening (which requires shutting down the entire transit gate for an unknown, but non-trivial amount of time), you can't transit in easily.

Also, yes, both volume and mass affect the cost of the transit.

Ships don't move toward the transit. They get into formation in the center of the gate and stand still relative to the gate, then pop out at the other end in a rough approximation of their initial relative positions and attitude. Not quite, of course; they need to be far enough away from each other to not knock into each other. Note that everyone inside just changed attitude. I think there's a lot of ensignbarf after each first transit out of the first port or two.
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Re: The Background Thus Far

Postby Doldrum » Mon Sep 10, 2012 10:20 pm

Joshua A.C. Newman wrote:I think there's a lot of ensignbarf after each first transit out of the first port or two.


Don't you mean ensignhutch? Hahha hoo ooo... that was bad, sorry could not resist 8-)
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