Research "Trade" Treaties... an epiphany?

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Research "Trade" Treaties... an epiphany?

Postby Cralis on Thu 21 Sep 2017 00:40

For a long time players have asked why we don't have "trade treaties" for research. The truth is that we actually made that a practical part of the R&D rules, whereas you can trade (purchase, sell, etc.) tech copies and blueprints. And assisted research covers the rest. What we didn't want to have happen was a treaty where you just gained a number of RP that you could apply wherever you wanted.

While that covers the practical parts of research interactions between races, what it doesn't cover is the synergistic effect of multicultural research. What I mean by that, is that there is value from bringing together scientists from different alien cultures because they'll have different language, different math and sciences, a different perspective on dang near everything. Working together could produce a benefit not found otherwise.

But it costs money to bring over aliens. To house them and feed them with needs different from your own race. Etc.

So what am I proposing? What if you can make a research treaty with another empire you have a Trade Treaty with, that allows you to boost one breakthrough attempt? Say +1-5% on that breakthrough at the cost of 20 MCr per percentage, as long as the treaty is active? Or maybe have the percentage based on the type of treaty? Up to 1% for Restricted Trade, +3% for Limited Trade, and +5% for Free Trade?

EDIT: Once we have espionage rules, I'm thinking that this should make you more vulnerable to certain kinds of espionage from the empire you have the research treaty with. But that's a future concern...

Thoughts?
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Re: Research "Trade" Treaties... an epiphany?

Postby Lomn on Thu 21 Sep 2017 09:40

Seems reasonable.

Something I'd thought about while SMing the last game: what about the opportunity for betrayal in research trades? Particularly in the case of trading a breakthrough, it seems like there's room for dirty dealing -- provide a tech data package that looks good on the surface, but falls apart when the recipient actually attempts to verify it the next month. It seemed like the sort of thing a sufficiently nationalistic Manifest Destiny-ish NPR might pull.

Some thoughts for how this might play out:

The wronged party is going to figure out pretty quickly that they've been duped. This is not a long-term deception.

For a breakthrough, the verification fails BUT in order to pass initial muster, the data must be close enough that residual benefits apply. Allowing focused breakthrough R&D at normal breakthrough costs for that particular knot seems about right.

For a standard item, identifying the point-of-effect of deception is tougher.
(1) After a month, the bad data is discovered and the benefit of assisted R&D is lost
(1a) Possibly with some penalty (up to 100%) to the regular RP purchase to represent the backtrack

(2) The final "success" result on the project ("final" used here to cover {c} projects and the like) is instead a critical failure-type result. 20% RP loss (but my inclination is not to reset the initial success of a {c} project) and loss of the benefit of assisted R&D.
(2a) Do it on the first success instead.
Rather than attempting to roll back the RPs generated over the course of the project, this penalty mostly kicks in via the loss of the "Target SL" bonus. In addition to the 20% hit, the rest of the project should have a higher target with more expensive RPs -- but the race has still gotten a jump on the effort.

Continuing, how do the various sorts of TA work with things? In particular, bogus Tech Item assistance only seems to make sense with option (1) -- it's the actual piece of whatsit; it seems like it would have to be a non-functional whatsit for the betrayal option and that points toward early discover. On the other hand, Assisted R&D seems to make sense with option (2). What's the point of setting up this cash payment scientist exchange thing if you can't work the scam for a length of time? Tech Copy and Tech Blueprint work fine with either approach.
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Re: Research "Trade" Treaties... an epiphany?

Postby Cralis on Thu 21 Sep 2017 12:31

Sounds like something should be in espionage rules :D

That was kind of what my last comment about espionage rules was about, but in regards to the alien scientists. I originally thought it would be easy ti sneak spies in that way, and the scientist-spy would have potential access to research data to steal. But in thinking about your idea, I realized the scientist could also slow down and/or sabotage science projects too.

And there's a potential random event where he gives you information that looks promising only to later find out it is a dead end and you wasted RP on it...
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Re: Research "Trade" Treaties... an epiphany?

Postby Cralis on Fri 22 Sep 2017 13:37

While thinking about how to answer the questions, one of the things I did was to determine what could possibly happen:

1. Nothing. The "mistake" is found and worked around or the empire had a ready work around for the obstruction and it basically didn't cost anything to implement. AKA the attempt to sabotage failed.

2. Delayed. The "mistake" is found but the tech is sufficiently advanced that the scientists are stumped not understanding how it works, let alone that it is wrong. (reduced RP rate for a period of time?)

3. Critical Failure! The "mistake" is NOT found until the prototype was built and it either does nothing... or worse ...blows up and kills half of the research team. You have a loss of RP accumulated.

4. Critical set back! Your scientists find this awesome new theory or concept only to work it to death and finally consign it to the archives next to string theory because you either can't understand it...or it was wrong to begin with. Significant loss of RP accumulated!! Up to all of it!!

Lomn wrote:Continuing, how do the various sorts of TA work with things? In particular, bogus Tech Item assistance only seems to make sense with option (1) -- it's the actual piece of whatsit; it seems like it would have to be a non-functional whatsit for the betrayal option and that points toward early discover.


I think all four outcomes are entirely possible with a tech copy, item, or even blueprint as far as sabotage is concerned.

On the other hand, Assisted R&D seems to make sense with option (2). What's the point of setting up this cash payment scientist exchange thing if you can't work the scam for a length of time?


While all four are still possible, I think result 1 and 2 are most likely to be recognized as intentional. Three would probably be assumed as intentional. But four is where the "long con" starts. Using my suggestion above: imagine gatting the breakthrough, building the tech, only to have the prototype demonstrate that the breakthrough was wrong. OUCH.

But I could also see this as a random event. Do you have a research treaty? And I could see the same with Assisted R&D too. All that EL research or tech project going last month? That was a lie...

But one important detail: this stuff has to have a normal chance of happening or else the player will ALWAYS know he was sabotaged.
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Re: Research "Trade" Treaties... an epiphany?

Postby Whitecold on Sat 23 Sep 2017 01:19

The entire talk about about sabotaging research projects feels like an extreme edge case. Usually you shouldn't be assisting empires you are not friendly with.
For hardware/plans you actually sold, there would be a non-delivery clause that the empire doing the sabotaging has to pay unless they decide to cut all contacts or directly go to war as they are found out. Further, it should upset any and all allies, everyone who ever bought hardware from you, and now never will again.

What I am way more interested would be implementing ways to be able to license out systems. Essentially providing full systems and the technicians needed to integrate it. The receiving empire doesn't need to research anything, and the providing empire gets some of the profits per system exported.
If the providing empire retracts support, the receiving empire has to run a special project to be able to maintain its systems again, and fully reverse engineer and develop it itself to be able to build more of them.
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Re: Research "Trade" Treaties... an epiphany?

Postby Cralis on Sat 23 Sep 2017 12:51

I think Lomn's idea revolves around the phrase "keep your enemies closer." Make friends then lead them astray... the trick will be getting the balance right so it's not too easy but not so easy to detect that it becomes a one-ride pony.

Actual liscensing would be extremely complex and I'm not sure that there is any net benefit aside from increasing incomes again ... which is something we'd rather not do. That said, there was the topic last year about making adjustments in the rules and maintenance handling to allow a higher tech race to build ships for a lower tech race that they can't repair or disassemble. The net result of that rule would be similar.

And, of course, players can ALWAYS make custom agreements among themselves.

But we've strayed from my original topic. I can't tell if the lack of comments because ya'll think it's fine and have nothing to add? Or if it's because ya'll don't really care for it...
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Re: Research "Trade" Treaties... an epiphany?

Postby dazrand on Mon 25 Sep 2017 06:50

This sounds good to me. I would base the bonus on the level of trade involved since strong trade ties are likely going to have more interaction between the nations involved. This may have impacts on the N9.03 section of the rules as well, especially if there is a Trade and Military alliance in place when the research alliance is formed.
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