Rules Questions

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Re: Rules Questions

Postby QBeamus on Thu 14 Mar 2013 09:15

Ok, new question:

Y11.06 lays out the conditions under which a race's spending policies are modified because it feels either more or less safe than "usual." The peculiar thing, to me, is that it defines it in terms of the "treaties" it has with the aliens it's met. In the first place, I infer, but think it should be clarified, that by "treaties" the rule means "political states."

The problem is that no political state exists between races until Full Communications are established via the first contact table (and, of course, no treaty can exist until then, either.) The first problem this creates is a rules ambiguity when a new race is activated. Technically, the new race has no treaties (or political states) with anyone. It is unclear, definitionally, whether this means that "all" of its treaties are trade or military alliances.
My guess is, the intent was that it did not. The result would be that a race, when first activated, will follow its "base" spending priorities, will continue them after communications are established (Negotiation political state with the only known alien triggers neither Y11.06.1 or Y11.06.2) , and will then shift towards "safe" if they sign a trade or military alliance, or shift towards "dangerous" if negotiations take a turn for the worse.

Subtantively, though, it seems implausible to me that contacting an alien race, with whom communications are impossible, would not be seen as a potentially dangerous situation--not just "baseline." Even weirder, if the race has met one alien race, signed a limited trade agreement, then meets another one, it will continue to feel entirely safe, as if the new potential threat didn't even exist. Y11.06.1 only triggers if a race has a "treaty" (or "political state," as I read it) that is not a trade or military alliance.

It seems to me that Y11.06.2 should include contact with any race during first contact, and, perhaps, Negotiation, as triggers for "dangerous" spending priorities.
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Re: Rules Questions

Postby Cralis on Thu 14 Mar 2013 12:12

QBeamus wrote:
procyon wrote:Where it says " -5 RC per month (...). This is restarted if an offer is not made or a revolt occurs."

We decided that there was a typo. Simply remove the word "not". It makes more sense.
So we read it as " -5 RC per month (...). This is restarted if an offer is made or a revolt occurs."


This seems like a workable system,


It doesn't seem workable to me. Every time you make an offer the RC resets. Since conquered populations will regularly have RC's of 125 to 150 or more, there is absolutely NO reason not to go the slave/subject route or just sit them out entirely. This is a major disincentive.

Not to mention it goes counter to reality. I think a population would be more pissed about a conqueror who takes their money and ignores them than a conqueror who is actively trying to find a political solution.

but I don't think it's inherently superior to what the rules say, and it is clear to me that it not what the rules intended. The bit you replaced with an elipsis makes clear that the -5 modifier is replacing the +5 modifier that normally results from a refused offer, so it is clear that it is a refused offer that triggers the -5, not the absence of an offer.


It isn't the "refusal" of an offer, but the fact that negotiations are being attempted. Of course, making and refusing the offer(s) is how we do negotiations in Starfire.
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Re: Rules Questions

Postby Cralis on Thu 14 Mar 2013 12:22

QBeamus wrote:Ok, new question:

Y11.06 lays out the conditions under which a race's spending policies are modified because it feels either more or less safe than "usual." The peculiar thing, to me, is that it defines it in terms of the "treaties" it has with the aliens it's met. In the first place, I infer, but think it should be clarified, that by "treaties" the rule means "political states."


Political States (the result) and the Treaties (the instrument) that create the Political States are named the same and are effectively synonymous. There is no real difference other than name between, for example, a Limited Trade Treaty and a Limited Trade Political State.

The problem is that no political state exists between races until Full Communications are established via the first contact table (and, of course, no treaty can exist until then, either.) The first problem this creates is a rules ambiguity when a new race is activated. Technically, the new race has no treaties (or political states) with anyone. It is unclear, definitionally, whether this means that "all" of its treaties are trade or military alliances.


T1, second paragraph, defines this state as "Negotiation" and on Table T2.03 it is lumped in with Non-Intercourse and Non-Aggression (which makes sense). If I was the SM, my interpretation of this would be that the NPR would shift priorities as if it was a non-aggression or non-intercourse. Yes, that means you'll potentially be shifting priorities back in a few months if negotiations go well, but that's fairly realistic.

<snip>

Substantively, though, it seems implausible to me that contacting an alien race, with whom communications are impossible, would not be seen as a potentially dangerous situation--not just "baseline." Even weirder, if the race has met one alien race, signed a limited trade agreement, then meets another one, it will continue to feel entirely safe, as if the new potential threat didn't even exist. Y11.06.1 only triggers if a race has a "treaty" (or "political state," as I read it) that is not a trade or military alliance.


I guess that depends upon how paranoid you are. I consider EVERY contact to be a potential enemy. Then again, I was under General Mattis and one of his sayings is "Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet."

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/James_Mattis

Personally, I think ALL races will have some fear of hostility when meeting a completely alien race. Heck, a lot probably fear their own people (for example, we do).

It seems to me that Y11.06.2 should include contact with any race during first contact, and, perhaps, Negotiation, as triggers for "dangerous" spending priorities.


Already done.
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Re: Rules Questions

Postby QBeamus on Fri 15 Mar 2013 09:03

Cralis wrote:T1, second paragraph, defines this state as "Negotiation" and on Table T2.03 it is lumped in with Non-Intercourse and Non-Aggression (which makes sense). If I was the SM, my interpretation of this would be that the NPR would shift priorities as if it was a non-aggression or non-intercourse. Yes, that means you'll potentially be shifting priorities back in a few months if negotiations go well, but that's fairly realistic.


I guess I don't agree that T1, second paragraph "defines" first contact as "Negotiations." Quite the contrary, it appears to explicitly define the first contact proceedure as something different from "sustained contact," and distinguishes the two, noting that "some method of exchanging information and political offers must be created." Furthermore, the first contacts table results for "Full Communications," T1.05.6, explicitly states, "The races enter the political state of Negotiations" (emphasis added), which surely means that the parties are not in a state of negotiations before Full Communications have been established. And, of course, as I already mentioned, Negotiations is not listed in Y11.06.2--the fact that it's listed on Table T2.03 next to two political states that are is obviously immaterial.

Of course, I've already said that what seems "realistic" to me is exactly what you propose. I'm merely pointing out that this is not what the rules presently say, and you say you're already marked Y11.06.2 for amendment, so that will fix the issue.
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Re: Rules Questions

Postby QBeamus on Fri 15 Mar 2013 14:42

Next question:

Under what circumstances will NPRs pay for or provide tech assistance, and how much payment will the demand? The relevant rules appear to be T3.12.1 and N9.03.3 (et seq.).

T3.12.1 is, forgive me, completely unintelligible. The second sentence says, "NPRs will sell technology information for 50 times the system cost." I presume, but would like confirmation, that the fact that this paragraph appears under Rule T3.12 mean that this is a feature of Trade and Military Treaties, and not a more general description of the behavior of NPRs? (I note that T3.11.4.2, which is in a paragraph describing military treaties, contains an important limitation on the behavior of Partners; although this rule should be repeated under the rule describing Partnership, so it is not overlooked, it does, at least, clearly state that it applies to NPRs with a different type of treaty.) The next sentence says that NPRs will provide Assisted R&D if they roll over their first contact number, and the following sentence purports to describe how much they charge.

The first problem is, the following sentence is expressed as a percentage, but the base to which that percentage is applied is unclear. The earlier sentence says they will provide Assisted R&D is "some of their R&D costs" are reimbursed, and then, parenthetically, "(RP cost + extra RP cost)." What does this mean? The "extra RP" cost is a cost charged to a race buying accelleration, not to a race providing it. In fact, providing R&D Assistance is free, except for the facility slot it uses.

The next problem is that the cases describing the percentage of the base demanded make no sense--they divide NPRs up into "controlled," "controlling," and "other." But, by definition, this entire rule describes races with trade and mlitary treaties, which, by definiton, never give "control," right? (Or, if I've got that rule wrong, always provide control, right?)

And the third problem is that these prices appear to me to conflict with the prices recited in N9.03.3.

The fourth problem is that N9.03.3 says that "only" slaves, forced allies, military allies "(any)", and partners may receive assisted R&D. I suppose that "any" military ally could be read to include trade and military allies, so I guess that isn't inconsistent with T3.12.1, but I note that there is no corresponding paragraph in Chapter T under either militiary allies, slaves, forced allies, or partners, which explain when they will give assistance. (Though I guess "slave" and "forced ally" are not reciprocal states--I guess if Race A is a "slave" to Race B, then Race B is not a "slave" to Race A--I guess it would be, what?, a "Master"? I guess "forced ally" is similar, but not as easily labeled; "forcing ally"?) Does this mean that NPRs simply will not provide assitance in these cases? It seems odd to me that an NPR will provide assistance while a trade + mlitary ally, but will stop if they become a Partner.

Which brings me to the question about Partners. T3.13.4 is the closest thing to a paragraph in the section on Partnerships that would cover Tech exchanges. It says they won't "give ... technology," but that they will make "equal exchanages." I'm guessing that the prices set out in N9.03.3 would be considered fair. But N9.03.3 says that "NPRs" will demand a fee. Does that mean that player races don't have to, or that they are forbidden to (since the rules don't explicitly say that they can)? It also seems odd to me that Partners won't give gifts, but will absolutely demand them.
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Re: Rules Questions

Postby Cralis on Sat 16 Mar 2013 00:39

QBeamus wrote:
Cralis wrote:T1, second paragraph, defines this state as "Negotiation" and on Table T2.03 it is lumped in with Non-Intercourse and Non-Aggression (which makes sense). If I was the SM, my interpretation of this would be that the NPR would shift priorities as if it was a non-aggression or non-intercourse. Yes, that means you'll potentially be shifting priorities back in a few months if negotiations go well, but that's fairly realistic.


I guess I don't agree that T1, second paragraph "defines" first contact as "Negotiations." Quite the contrary, it appears to explicitly define the first contact proceedure as something different from "sustained contact," and distinguishes the two, noting that "some method of exchanging information and political offers must be created." Furthermore, the first contacts table results for "Full Communications," T1.05.6, explicitly states, "The races enter the political state of Negotiations" (emphasis added), which surely means that the parties are not in a state of negotiations before Full Communications have been established. And, of course, as I already mentioned, Negotiations is not listed in Y11.06.2--the fact that it's listed on Table T2.03 next to two political states that are is obviously immaterial.


Ahhh I see what you are saying. You are asking about the time First Contact is made up through the time sustained contact is maintained. Hmmm... yeah that isn't exactly defined because I think it is considered a non-state. I'd probably treat it as "negotiation" anyway because there are no modifiers and no expectations from that state. By the rules, however, there would be no actual "political state"

Of course, I've already said that what seems "realistic" to me is exactly what you propose. I'm merely pointing out that this is not what the rules presently say, and you say you're already marked Y11.06.2 for amendment, so that will fix the issue.


To be fair, while we may do a typo update in the future, we currently aren't planning any updates to ULTRA. All of our efforts are on SOLAR STARFIRE. So keep posting your suggestions and if we do an update we'll probably go with whatever works best :)
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Re: Rules Questions

Postby QBeamus on Tue 26 Mar 2013 08:26

Ok, I've still got one unanswered up there, but here's the next one:

Rule N10.01 provides an equation for calculating the EL RPs of a race following amalgamation, and that equation includes terms for the "imperial income" of both the constituent and amalgamated races. My question is, what is the definition of this income? Is it just to total of GPVs, does it include income from leasing (and if so, is that net income after mainenance on the freighters, or gross income), does it include CC income, trade income, pillage income, payments from other races (e.g. compensation for war contributions). How about IU sales?

On the one hand, it seems somewhat odd not to include these, but, on the other, most of them can be manipulated in order to increase the final number of EL RPs.
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Re: Rules Questions

Postby Cralis on Wed 27 Mar 2013 01:04

QBeamus wrote:Ok, I've still got one unanswered up there, but here's the next one:


If you are talking about the political state, I directed you as best I can towards a solution. But it isn't in the rules and you'll have to house rule how you want it to work. Fortunately, in the STARFIRE system you won't have to do that often (unless you want to change how things work...that is imminently doable. one of the best parts of the rules IMHO).

Rule N10.01 provides an equation for calculating the EL RPs of a race following amalgamation, and that equation includes terms for the "imperial income" of both the constituent and amalgamated races. My question is, what is the definition of this income? Is it just to total of GPVs, does it include income from leasing (and if so, is that net income after maintenance on the freighters, or gross income), does it include CC income, trade income, pillage income, payments from other races (e.g. compensation for war contributions). How about IU sales?


I would look at Appendix CC.03 for an example of what constitutes "imperial income." You can see that they have the "Total Gross Income" as "TGI" at the end of the calculation. That is your imperial income.

On the one hand, it seems somewhat odd not to include these, but, on the other, most of them can be manipulated in order to increase the final number of EL RPs.


True. But isn't that part of playing the game? :)
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Re: Rules Questions

Postby QBeamus on Tue 02 Apr 2013 12:22

Cralis wrote:
QBeamus wrote:Ok, I've still got one unanswered up there, but here's the next one:


If you are talking about the political state, I directed you as best I can towards a solution. ...


Nope--I was referring to my question about tech assistance, posted March 15th.
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Re: Rules Questions

Postby Cralis on Tue 02 Apr 2013 21:30

Hmmmm, I must have intended to reply in two parts and forgot about the second part. My apologies, let me see what I can tackle.

QBeamus wrote:Next question:

Under what circumstances will NPRs pay for or provide tech assistance, and how much payment will the demand? The relevant rules appear to be T3.12.1 and N9.03.3 (et seq.).


It says right in N9.03.3 what the cost is: 2nd and 3rd paragraph. (RM+RD)/3+40% for non-EL assistance, and (RM_RD)/1.5+80% plus 75% of the EL RP cost for EL assistance.

T3.12.1 is, forgive me, completely unintelligible.


Yeah, it really should be a bullet list or table instead of a paragraph. Every sentence or two is another item in the list.

The second sentence says, "NPRs will sell technology information for 50 times the system cost." I presume, but would like confirmation, that the fact that this paragraph appears under Rule T3.12 mean that this is a feature of Trade and Military Treaties, and not a more general description of the behavior of NPRs?


Marvin probably placed it there because that is the first place you can use it (under T&M treaties). I don't know of any rule that contradicts that x50 cost statement.

[quote(I note that T3.11.4.2, which is in a paragraph describing military treaties, contains an important limitation on the behavior of Partners; although this rule should be repeated under the rule describing Partnership, so it is not overlooked, it does, at least, clearly state that it applies to NPRs with a different type of treaty.) The next sentence says that NPRs will provide Assisted R&D if they roll over their first contact number, and the following sentence purports to describe how much they charge. [/quote]

It says "even under partnership" which means that this applies up to, and including, partnerships. So it is all-inclusive of all treaties. Again, it was placed here probably because it is the first place that it matters. It won't be under non-aggression or anything less than a military treaty because it doesn't apply to those treaties.

The first problem is, the following sentence is expressed as a percentage, but the base to which that percentage is applied is unclear. The earlier sentence says they will provide Assisted R&D is "some of their R&D costs" are reimbursed, and then, parenthetically, "(RP cost + extra RP cost)." What does this mean? The "extra RP" cost is a cost charged to a race buying accelleration, not to a race providing it. In fact, providing R&D Assistance is free, except for the facility slot it uses.


T3.11.4.2 doesn't say anything about assisted R&D. I think you mean T3.12.1

extra RP cost is from Table N9.01, where you see the third column is "cost of extra RP". Some of them are free, so the Extra RP Cost = 0.

The next problem is that the cases describing the percentage of the base demanded make no sense--they divide NPRs up into "controlled," "controlling," and "other." But, by definition, this entire rule describes races with trade and mlitary treaties, which, by definiton, never give "control," right? (Or, if I've got that rule wrong, always provide control, right?)


Controlled, controlling, and other is not well defined for NPRs. But basically that means whether the NPR is controlled by you, you are controlled by it (this will only happen when an NPR controls an NPR), or "any other circumstance."

So the race you control? That is "controlled." NPR A controls NPR B? NPR A is "controlling." Everything else is "other."

And the third problem is that these prices appear to me to conflict with the prices recited in N9.03.3.


Hmmmm... it does appear to conflict. Both tell you what the NPR will charge. I'd probably evaluate each and have the race pay the NPR the higher of the two costs.

The fourth problem is that N9.03.3 says that "only" slaves, forced allies, military allies "(any)", and partners may receive assisted R&D. I suppose that "any" military ally could be read to include trade and military allies, so I guess that isn't inconsistent with T3.12.1, but I note that there is no corresponding paragraph in Chapter T under either militiary allies, slaves, forced allies, or partners, which explain when they will give assistance.


T3.12, first paragraph, last sentence (last 6 words actually), tell you that it is possible.

(Though I guess "slave" and "forced ally" are not reciprocal states--I guess if Race A is a "slave" to Race B, then Race B is not a "slave" to Race A--I guess it would be, what?, a "Master"? I guess "forced ally" is similar, but not as easily labeled; "forcing ally"?) Does this mean that NPRs simply will not provide assitance in these cases? It seems odd to me that an NPR will provide assistance while a trade + mlitary ally, but will stop if they become a Partner.


No, Race A is the "controlling" race.

The reason that a lot of this stops when races become partners is because, as a partner, the race is totally controlled. So you can have them do all sorts of coordinated efforts that are not possible at the lower alliances. So giving them these bonuses PLUS total control is far, far too powerful, and gives far too much of a bonus to the player who gets more partnerships than other players by pure random chance.

Which brings me to the question about Partners. T3.13.4 is the closest thing to a paragraph in the section on Partnerships that would cover Tech exchanges. It says they won't "give ... technology," but that they will make "equal exchanages." I'm guessing that the prices set out in N9.03.3 would be considered fair. But N9.03.3 says that "NPRs" will demand a fee. Does that mean that player races don't have to, or that they are forbidden to (since the rules don't explicitly say that they can)? It also seems odd to me that Partners won't give gifts, but will absolutely demand them.


Generally speaking, a rule that is "above" the other also supersedes the other. N9.03.3 handles the normal assistance, the partnership exchange supersedes that process. It is "approved by the SM" to make sure that a player doesn't try something tricky, like exchanging a low tech system (like W) for a high tech system (like gunboats). Of course, if you are both the player and the SM, then you can do whatever you want.

Generally speaking the SM overrules any and every rule as he wishes, even to the point of re-writing the rules (house rules). That way you can make the game work however you want :)

But if I was trying to follow the rules as exactly as possible, I'd have the tech exchanges be "tech copies" (N9.03.2) and their cost is a good rule of thumb (either the N9.03.3 cost, or their actual cost, which is what I'd probably use).

As for partners demanding gifts, again it was done that way to make it so players can't just get lots of free stuff. You'll find the NPRs have more leniency with themselves and other NPRs than with players, and that was by design to make it harder for players. Otherwise a player with a lucky roll would get a bunch of free stuff and the game would be inherently unbalanced by random chance. Not too much fun that way.

And you learned the golden rule well... it doesn't sat that you can, so you cannot. Of course, as the SM you can do whatever you want (unless you make it a point to stick to the rules as written, of course).
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