Some thoughts on the Periphery

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Rymeer

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Apr 24, 2018
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There seems to be several things that everyone is missing in talking about the Periphery.

First: Although not expressly stated, Periphery States (especially the larger ones) DO have Mech Factories... just not many of them. They also have the ability to build Fusion Engines as well. Just not many of them.

Second: The Periphery States have fairly large populations. Not as large as most of the IS primary worlds, but sufficient to keep a technological base running, for the most part. One planet might not be able to build Mech, but can build missiles and lasers. Another might be able to build Fusion Engines, but not all types and sizes, and unable to build most other things... as you can see from these two examples, trade is a major factor out there beyond the Inner Sphere. It is stupid to think that ALL Periphery stars are 'hard scrabble' types of planets. Yes, some of these do exist, but most should be somewhat near our present tech level, or perhaps a limited version of WWII.

Three: There are hundreds of stars out in the Periphery. A large number without ANY habitable worlds within their star systems. However, this is NOT a 'death knell' for Civilization in the Stars. Far from it. There are probably dozens or even hundreds of colonies sited upon semi-habitable, or totally Un-inhabitable moons of various Gas Giant Planets in such systems. There might even been colonies out there living in O'Neal Cylinders.

Addendum to Three: O'Neal Cylinders are often thought to be relatively thin shelled metal spinning cylindrical habitats. My own thoughts are somewhat different. Why build something that a tiny chunk of rock can wreck easily? Instead, build something that shrugs off most 'dangerous' space debris. (Warning: the following explanation is NOT 'canon', but it IS possible).

First you find a large, solid, metal-rock asteroid... Something around 1/4 the size of Ceres, perhaps. Now, using Drop Ships grounded upon the asteroid and 'tied down', you use the Drop Ship's thrust to alter the 'spin' of the asteroid until it is spinning along only one axis of rotation.

Next, you bore a fairly large hole through the interior of the asteroid, along the spin axis, keeping as much of the debris from 'mining' as you can. You then stuff the hollow asteroid with ice sliced from a Kuiper Belt object (which is mostly water ice and some rock).

Now, you fill the ends of the tube with the saved rock and 'melt' it into a plug on each end. One can use Naval Lasers, or large reflective mirrors capturing and focusing starlight from the nearby star.

Once the ends have been 'capped', shift the mirrors to play along the entire length of the asteroid (excepting the caps at the ends) and heat until the rock and metal become semi-liquid... sort of like very thick lava.

The heating will cause the ice inside to melt and vaporize, and become high-pressure, high-temperature steam. This steam will cause the semi-molten rock and metal to 'balloon' out into a 'sausage' shape. The spinning along its axis causing the metals to 'migrate' to the exterior due to centripetal force.

Once the Ballooning has occurred, it should be relatively simple to 'strip mine' the exterior of the cylinder of nearly pure metallic ores and deposits, leaving only the (mostly) rock of the asteroid's original mass. This should result in a fairly thick (at LEAST several miles) thick 'shell' of the cylinder.

Moving the mirrors, one allows the cylinder to 'cool' naturally. This process results in a hollow cylinder of solid rock, with some metals still in the rock, adding structural integrity. It also allows the steam inside to cool and eventually condense upon the interior of the cylinder 'wall' and thus creating a low-pressure environment.

Now, you can 'mine' your way inwards from the ends, adding airlocks as needed, to reach the interior. If done right, you should have created a cylinder around 30-50 miles long, and roughly 10-20 miles wide. For argument's sake, let us specify 40 long and 15 wide. Using standard math, you end up with around 1,400 square miles of interior space along the inner surface of the cylinder (almost the size of the State of Delaware).

Building within the cylinder should be fairly straight forward, especially if you consider that the perceived 'gravity' lessens the closer you get to the center of the cylinder. So, you can build truly HUGE buildings... say a mile square, and upwards of several miles tall, with relative ease, since the perceived gravity is less the higher you go.

Given one such tower of say, 7 miles tall, with 50% of its lower reaches being devoted to manufacturing, power production, waste reclamation, etc... and half of what remains as light manufacturing, parks, shopping, etc... you still end up with enough 'floors' to house several 10's of thousands of persons in each tower.

Given that you will be using up to 65% of the interior as 'growing space' for crops, and 15% as 'public park' type landscaping, that still leaves 20 percent of that 1400 square miles (about 280 square miles) for those huge buildings... so a population per cylinder upwards of several millions, and perhaps 10's of millions of persons.

Lighting can be easily done by the construction of a massive 'light bar' running down the 'zero-G' axis of the cylinder. Lighted by small mirrors pumping star light from the system's sun into each end. Just make the 'light bar' with trillions and trillions of near-microscopic slivers of Ruby, Emerald, and Sapphire. The 'glass' for the light bar would be from where you strip mined the interior of the cylinder down to base rock, since the lighter elements would have been 'centrifuged' to the interior while the heavy metals migrated to the exterior.

You would also have plenty of Aluminum, and Lithium to make the 'light bar' structurally solid enough to withstand any stress, even though it would be in Zero G. Long 'shades' could be 'orbited' around the Light Bar to allow for a 'Day-Night' cycle of any duration you wish, Also, spinning up the cylinder would increase the perceived Gravity on the inner surface, up to ann even beyond 'standard' One Gee if desired.

As for the hazards of 'space debris', easily 'fixed', just build and em-place hundreds of good sized, computer controlled, cannons to fire upon anything large enough to be a 'threat' to the cylinder. Smaller debris can pretty much be ignored since it has ZERO chance of penetrating dozens of miles of solid rock and metal.

All of this is WELL within the capabilities of anyone with Jump Drive, and Fusion Powered 'Drop Ships'.

Oh, and if you really, really, want to be 'sneaky', you can even put Fusion Drives on the cylinders to 'move' them slowly around the System, Even going so far as to orbit them around the furthest planets of the System to keep them as far from the Jump Points as possible, making their discovery very unlikely.

Sorry for the long posting... but I felt this was needed.
 
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Mabberton

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I agree that something like the O'Neal Cylinders you describe are possible with Battletech-era technology, but I am not sure they are completely practical unless there is something incredibly valuable in the system. The Successor States each have hundreds of worlds available and as you mention even the major Periphery States have plenty of worlds available that are supportive of human life. Many of those worlds are under-populated, so expansion space would not seem to be a problem.

Compared to the dual issues of low-gravity health effects and spin-gravity side effects (coriolis-induced nausea, etc), living on a planet with something like normal gravity would seem preferable, even if it is a marginal planet where domes would be necessary. Low-grav environments aren't too bad to work in for periods of time, but hard to live in permanently (i.e. have kids, raise family, etc.).

I would highly recommend reading the Expanse series of books which use a fairly technically accurate application of low-grav environments with similar interplanetary craft (sustainable high-grav ship movement to simulate gravity in transit, no jump ships though).
 
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Rymeer

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Apr 24, 2018
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I agree that something like the O'Neal Cylinders you describe are possible with Battletech-era technology, but I am not sure they are completely practical unless there is something incredibly valuable in the system. The Successor States each have hundreds of worlds available and as you mention even the major Periphery States have plenty of worlds available that are supportive of human life. Many of those worlds are under-populated, so expansion space would not seem to be a problem.

Compared to the dual issues of low-gravity health effects and spin-gravity side effects (coriolis-induced nausea, etc), living on a planet with something like normal gravity would seem preferable, even if it is a marginal planet where domes would be necessary. Low-grav environments aren't too bad to work in for periods of time, but hard to live in permanently (i.e. have kids, raise family, etc.).

I would highly recommend reading the Expanse series of books which use a fairly technically accurate application of low-grav environments with similar interplanetary craft (sustainable high-grav ship movement to simulate gravity in transit, no jump ships though).

Okay, I agree that the O'Neal Cylinders would not be 'optimal', but I DID specify that they were for systems with NO habitable planets, or even near-habitable moons. And again, I agree that in order to make such a system 'viable', there would have to be something highly valuable in the system... like several gas giant moons worth of Rare Earth Elements? Moons where Gadolinium, Thorium, Rubidium, Gallium, Thallium, etc are 'common'.

Heck, it is not inconceivable for there to be a mostly silicate moon where you could use a-bombs to 'mine' Uranium and Plutonium on a large scale. God knows nuclear reactors are dead easy to build, provide long lasting power, and given such abundance and ease of mining, dead cheap to build.

So the power needs of a few dozen O'Neal cylinders would be simple, cheap, and easily done using nuclear power plants... it's space after all, and the power plants can go on the outside... who cares about radioactivity THERE??

I can see your point about low Gee living for a lifetime... but there are benefits to such living when 'older'. Like Earth's Moon, the higher levels of an O'Neal cylinder's buildings would be 'good' for the Elderly... reducing the stress upon them and their more and more fragile bones and overall health. Such an environment would actually help extend their lives.

I understand your point about the Coriolis force effects... but that would be minimized upon a large enough O'Neal Cylinder... say one that's a couple hundred miles long and around 100 miles wide? Such a cylinder would not have to spin that much to give an apparent 1G of 'gravity' and standing on the inner surface, you'd have to look up to see you were in a cylinder, since the horizon would be 'flat' to the naked eye in all directions. Even spin or anti-spinward.

Drop Ships already use the 'constant thrust' effect to have 'gravity'. And Jump Ships have rotational 'Gee Decks' for crew health.

Would a planet or moon be preferable? Perhaps. But a low-Gee moon might have riches to mine that would lure miners there for the highly valuable ores. I could easily see requiring your mining personnel to only work in low-Gee for a couple of years, and then be required to spend six months in 1 Gee doing something else, before being allowed back into low Gee environments.

So, yes, your statements make sense... but I hope the above ideas would have merit too.

Oh, yeah... a 'small' O'Neal Cylinder would make a great storage place for old Star League Era stuff. You could park vehicles, Mechs and such on the inner surface at relatively 'low gee', and float-moor Drop and Jump Ships in the zero gee center. Talk about a Brian Cache!
 

Mabberton

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It probably comes down to colonization versus mineral/resource exploitation. All the low-gee options work perfectly well and are probably necessary to establish/exploit mineral resources on asteroids/low-grav moons, etc. Your examples/ideas all seem totally viable for those applications.

For colonization, I think the long-term/ancillary problems of low-grav environments would be problematic for a full-purpose colony (i.e. long-term settlement, families, significant food growing, water reclamation, etc.). Probably doable if you really, really wanted to, but it seems like if there are more easily colonizable planets in the galactic vicinity, you would most likely build there.

The most likely scenario to me would seem like focusing on systems with one or more habitable worlds and exploitable minerals within the system. Set up your base colony on the planet to support food generation and general society (families, education, non-worker support services, etc.) and maintain smaller low-grav "worker towns" to support just the workers. Those worker towns are probably just like what you describe. Work force requirements for deep-space mining could likely be highly automated and hopefully keep the worker count down. Low-grav accommodations only have to support the actual workers and minimal support people and crew rotation back to the planet helps to reduce complications with long-term low grav. Raw minerals may be processed locally in low grav or back on the planet depending on what makes the most sense. To me, this sort of system is more sustainable even if you have to bypass a perfect resource in a system without habitable planets for a good-enough resource in a system with a habitable world.

Either way, cool discussion, and I love this kind of back and forth. Kudos for starting the thread!
 
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Rymeer

Sergeant
Apr 24, 2018
72
7
It probably comes down to colonization versus mineral/resource exploitation. All the low-gee options work perfectly well and are probably necessary to establish/exploit mineral resources on asteroids/low-grav moons, etc. Your examples/ideas all seem totally viable for those applications.

For colonization, I think the long-term/ancillary problems of low-grav environments would be problematic for a full-purpose colony (i.e. long-term settlement, families, significant food growing, water reclamation, etc.). Probably doable if you really, really wanted to, but it seems like if there are more easily colonizable planets in the galactic vicinity, you would most likely build there.

The most likely scenario to me would seem like focusing on systems with one or more habitable worlds and exploitable minerals within the system. Set up your base colony on the planet to support food generation and general society (families, education, non-worker support services, etc.) and maintain smaller low-grav "worker towns" to support just the workers. Those worker towns are probably just like what you describe. Work force requirements for deep-space mining could likely be highly automated and hopefully keep the worker count down. Low-grav accommodations only have to support the actual workers and minimal support people and crew rotation back to the planet helps to reduce complications with long-term low grav. Raw minerals may be processed locally in low grav or back on the planet depending on what makes the most sense. To me, this sort of system is more sustainable even if you have to bypass a perfect resource in a system without habitable planets for a good-enough resource in a system with a habitable world.

Either way, cool discussion, and I love this kind of back and forth. Kudos for starting the thread!
Thanks... I try.

I dis-agree on the 'have to have habitable' to colonize. An O'Neal Cylinder would do 'fine' if there is no habitable worlds in a system with extensive resources.

Yes, a habitable world would be a good thing, but it's not a 'deal breaker' when you have fusion power sources, and Jump Drives.

Even if you choose NOT to build an O'Neal cylinder, and you do have a few 1G or so moons of gas giants, even without breathable atmospheres, you can do a 'Mars' style colony on that moon, or moons for habitation purposes, and limit low G mining to the other moons, whatever asteroid belts, and perhaps Kuiper Belt objects.

Drop Ships travel using the 'constant thrust' method, keeping the thrust up to 1G or more half way, and then thrusting against the built up momentum until reaching orbital transfer. Yeah, there would be zero G during the mid-course flip over, and near zero G at start and end points, but not long enough to cause medical problems. Jump Ships have Gee Decks using a rotating portion of the ship to simulate gravity for crew health.

I started playing Battletech by playing a few demonstration games hosted by Butch Leaper, FASA's primary Game Tester at Capricon in Chicago back in 1983. The sheets for the Mechs were still labeled as 'Battle Droids' but worked the same as the later released sheets.

I played with a Playing Group (We never really named ourselves as such) at The Emperor's Headquarters in Chicago, for well over a dozen years.... during which time the 'group' began to use the results of tabletop battles as backgrounds for their own personal units... be they House, Bandit, Merc, whatever.

Myself, I started with the usual 12 Mechs and built from there... trading off captured Mechs for others I felt more in line with my style of play. I also delved deeply into re-building Mechs using the Construction Rules in the 1st Edition Box Set Rule Book.

I was so successful at making new designs, or altering old ones, that most of my 'home brews' were 'banned' by the Group as 'unfair to play against'... meaning they hated losing to my more efficiently designed Mechs.

As part of the on-going overall Campaign, one of the 'Battle Masters' (This position changed from time to time to give everyone a chance in the 'hot seat') made sure I was Contracted to House Liao during the 4th Succession War. After meeting and beating upon, and being beat upon by the Davion attackers, I pulled back to rest, refit and re-arm. I was told to 'Stand to the Last Man' against the attackers, or my non-combatant Dependents would suffer.

I chose to parse this as a blatant breach of Contract, making it Null and Void. Thus freeing me to approach the Davion Commander and give all the data I had on Liao positions, reinforcements, entrenchments, supply depots, etc in exchange for aid in saving my Dependents.

Davion refit and re-armed my Mechs and vehicles, and I aided them to defeat the planet's defenders... then was transported to the 'command node' system where my Dependents were being held 'hostage'. The Davions aided me to defeat the defenders and 'free' my people. And I, in turn, aided the Davion Commander to 'take' that world as well.

This resulted in my Merc Company (more of a Regimental Combat Team in size) to gain possession of a Helm Memory Core, and to strip to the ground several Mech Factories, and other Manufacturing sites, along with capturing an amazing amount of various supplies and equipment.

Our 'deal' complete, my Unit started zig zagging through the periphery to find a world to colonize and rebuild away from the politics of the Inner Sphere.

What I decided upon was a System with NO habitable worlds. Instead, my Colony was founded upon several 1 G moons of a pair of gas giant planets, mostly dug deeply beneath multi-mile thick sheets of ice for camouflage.

One moon was for all intents and purposes 'Neiflhiem' from H. Beam Piper's book: "Uller Uprising". So, I had a ready source of massive amounts of Uranium and Plutonium to build Nuclear Reactors.

If the place you're inhabiting has a non-breathable atmosphere, you don't really care about radiation hazzards to the environment. You just place your reactors far enough away from habitation caves or domes to not give a good damn if they should melt down.

The main reason to inhabit that System was multi-part. No habitable planets, so no one would want the system. 1-G moons to build upon, and within. A source of easily obtainable radioactives for power. and lots and lots of low G moons and three asteroid belts 'rich' in various 'rare earth' resources.

All of which meant that within a decade of landing, I was mining radioactives and Rare Earths, in massive enough amounts to ship to Periphery and Inner Sphere worlds for enough funds to buy anything I felt I needed to improve the Colony quickly.

By Landfall Plus 30 years, I had Mech Factories and other Manufacturing up and running full tilt and producing my efficient designs 'en masse'.

By Landfall Plus 50 years, I had a System Population upwards of 150 million, lots of manufacturing for Vehicles, Mechs, Battle Armor, Civilian vehicles, Construction Mechs and Vehicles, and more. Enough so, that I could field at least 2 full Regimental Combat Teams as Mercenaries into the Inner Sphere... Just in time for the Clan Invasion to begin again, and deal with Word of Blake shenanigans.

When last I played with the group, I had over six full Regimental Combat Teams, several other large units, a few dozen Jump Ships, almost a hundred Drop Ships of various types and sizes, and enough space mining, refining, and manufacturing, to supply my system with anything I chose to build and provide.

All of this to give you an example of a System without habitable worlds, and how they can actually be benificial.
 
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Rymeer

Sergeant
Apr 24, 2018
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Sounds like you a cool group of people there. I envy you!

'The Group' was a cool, and quite filled with 'characters', like myself. At it's peak I'd say there were about 30 people or so involved. But the 'core group' was only about a dozen or dozen and a half.

As you can see from the above postings, most of us got quite 'into' building back stories for our particular Units. Mine, being a Mercenary Group called the Star Lions, which later became the Ghost Lions.

If I were to post the entirety of the SL/GL 'history', it would take up about a couple dozen pages of text. Suffice it to say that we all took our characters, units, and their history pretty seriously.

As for my Mercs... well... As the player responsible for them, I chose to treat their actions as if I was making the decisions, and the resulting consequences. Including leaving the Inner Sphere to found a 'hidden' Colony. Where the Star Lions Corps could transform into the Ghost Lions Legion and return to the Inner Sphere... but this time, be beholding to NO ONE, especially House Liao and the Capellan Confederation.

I did not build Dyson Spheres, or O'Neal Cylinders because I wanted to keep my Unit's presence in the Styx System 'hidden' for the most part. A few domed mining settlements on some of the near-1 Gee moons of a couple of the gas giants worked as camouflage for the deeper dug actually colonies. And they provided a ready explanation for their presence, since they were busy mining and rifining Rare Earth Elements and valuable ores for transshipment and sale in the Inner Sphere markets.

Doing things this way allowed me to pretty much 'hide' 90% or more of my Colonies deep underground. Safe from even the most intensive scans from orbit. And by doing things in this manner, I was able to totally hide my Manufacturing and Mech Production facilities from detection as well. All of this enabled me to build massive amounts of housing and recruit the disaffected and 'outcasts' from dozens and dozens of Periphery worlds. Hell, my 'non-combatant' population increased by a usual 200 or 300% just due to the influx of 'poor' citizens on the various worlds I was posted to via Contracts. Seeing my people well clothed, educated, protected, and 'wealthy' by their standards, was a powerful draw to have them sign on as new Colonists to my ever-growing System Population.

Many did not even blink when told that if they took up the offer, they would NEVER return to the Inner Sphere, and would NOT be abandoned upon some Periphery 'hard scrabble' planet. Many didn't care where they went, or how they would themselves be treated, if their children were assured of full educations, work suited to their education and tastes, and full Citizenship in my 'mini-star nation'.

In fact, I sometimes had to tell people I could not transport them... and then arranged to do so later... sometimes years later. By the time I ceased playing the game... I figured that I had at least 15 Jump Ships and well over 60 Drop Ships, devoted to nothing but collecting 'new colonists' for my System. Many of them spent years, often decades, working in Hydroponic Gardens, building new Hydroponic Gardens, building new domed settlement sites, etc, to build up their Citizenship to become full Citizens (non-voting)... you had to be a 'native' of the Stygian System, or a descendant of one of the original members of the Star Lions to qualify for Full Citizenship AND full Voting Rights. The only exceptions to this were the members of the original Star Lions Corps themselves.

But, the way I parsed it all out, I figured that I had a System Population of at least 35 Million people by Founding plus 60 years. Or, F-60. I either bought what I needed to keep expanding, or built it in the System. And my purchases were spread out over nearly a hundred worlds, so trying to figure out what I was doing from what I bought in a few systems wasn't going to help much to come to a satisfactory solution..

By F-35, I had Mech Factories, Tech Manufacturing sites, an R&D and full 'field testing' area, and enough new Mechs built to new designs that no one would figure out that the Legion was a 'repackaged' Corps.

So, in less than 70 years, I went from one over sized Regimental Combat Team and several Corps of soldiers, along with a few 10's of thousands of dependents and new colonists... to a System Population of over 35 Million, Mech Factories, lots of Manufacturing of all types, Mining and Refining ores and various 'hard to obtain' metals, and a force size of Six full Legions of Mechs, 2 Legions of Battle Suits, and 10 Legions of troops.

If I can do this, anyone can... with a little foresight, planning, and some starting resources.
Only a few members of 'the Group' ever figured it out... and they were the ones doing something similar themselves.
 
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