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Author Topic: Communication in the Dark Age  (Read 872 times)

ErikModi

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Communication in the Dark Age
« on: 06 June 2022, 12:13:11 »
The Dark Age occurs because HPG communication, goes down, I get that.

But how "down" are we talking?  I gather it's not that no HPGs at all work anymore, just that most of them aren't working, making communication slower and less reliable.  But by how much?  From what I recall, ComStar could get messages ftom anywhere to anywhere in days, weeks at most.  Is it now months or years?  Are there places you just can't send a message to or from?  Like Point A just can't ever send a message to point B?  Or can Point A send a message to Point B, but it has to go through C, D, E, and F first?  How reliable and fast are JumpShip courier routes?
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Re: Communication in the Dark Age
« Reply #1 on: 06 June 2022, 12:40:58 »
There's a list of known surviving HPGs on Sarna, and counting them reveals 28 working HPGs. Most of these are in the former Republic of the Sphere; it's unknown if other states were have similar rates of survival, but if they do, there's actually quite a few HPGs in the Inner Sphere and near Periphery.

Every planet within range of a working HPG can still receive messages, but their HPGs don't transmit. Since HPGs can transmit in a 30-50 LY radius depending on the model, there's probably some HPGs that can still take to each other. I haven't bothered to try and map the known network. If you control a surviving piece of the network, then within those bubbles, you can send a message as fast as ComStar did... but information will only reach your HPGs by courier ship.

Under ideal circumstances (recharge stations at every star, a perfect line of stars spaced 30 ly apart, no need to run maintenance or load/unload cargo etc) a JumpShip can manage 90 LY every 22 days. In practice, it's going to be substantially lower, but how much lower it will be varies based on local conditions and what the JumpShip is doing. Of course, there aren't always going to be courier ships in the first place; JumpShips are still kind of scarce, and nobody can afford to dedicate many to full-time courier duty. Most of the time, messages reach you via the grapevine; news propagates along trade routes, and might not be entirely reliable by the time it reaches you.

Based on what I've seen in the sourcebooks, if you're not a high ranking military official, you get (potentially highly inaccurate) news months after the event in question has occurred. If you are a high ranking military official, you get accurate news, but it takes months for messages to get from you to your boss or from your boss to the front. For example, during the events of Tamar Rising, we see the Lyrans & Hells Horses take months to figure out that the Jade Falcons have abandoned their OZ, and additional months to find out where they went/what happened to them. So, months, not years. This of course assumes Inner Sphere conditions - if you're in the Periphery, you might not get any news for considerably longer considering JumpShip traffic is less frequent there. It also assumes there are no friendly HPGs on the path the message is travelling - they can speed it up considerably, cutting travel time down by weeks at at a time.


Frabby

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Re: Communication in the Dark Age
« Reply #2 on: 06 June 2022, 12:42:55 »
HPGs have a range of up to 30 ly (Class B) or even up to 50 ly (Class A). Even with 80% of the stations inoperable, which is what is said in Ghost War, a significant portion of the Inner Sphere is still reachable by at least one. Remember, you only need a HPG to send, a simple radio is enough to receive.

I think the real problem is that the grid is shattered. You don’t have ComStar as a transnational neutral operator anymore. There’s no guarantees anymore that messages beyond your borders will be relayed and delivered. In fact, you can assume they won’t.
« Last Edit: 06 June 2022, 12:44:42 by Frabby »
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glitterboy2098

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Re: Communication in the Dark Age
« Reply #3 on: 06 June 2022, 12:55:42 »
messages will still get through, they'll just take longer. they have to pony-express their way via jumpship till they hit a HPG, at which point they can be beamed 30-50 ly.. at which point they'll either be retransmitted at another HPG or have to pony express to the next hpg.

and yeah the big issue is the HPG net is now more holes than net.. which means the interstellar banking systems are derailed, internal logistics for major multi-planet corporations are messed up, and military intelligence is having to take more risks to get info out.

ErikModi

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Re: Communication in the Dark Age
« Reply #4 on: 06 June 2022, 14:09:33 »
Okay.  So, if you're someone out in the Periphery, and you wanted to try and keep an eye on the goings-on in the Inner Sphere, how would you do it?  What I got from reading about the Blackout on Sarna was that there's no real rhyme or reason why a specific HPG went down.  Some were affected by some virus or something, some were attacked by unidentified jerkfaces, some were just fine.  If you happen to be lucky and have some functional mobile HPGs, I imagine you could set up your own smal-scale network to at least get messages from point to point.  If you don't, then what?  Command circuit of JumpShips?  Almost as implausible as having your own HPGs and them still working.  A "spy force" on a JumpShip/DropShip combo could collect data from the Inner Sphere, but then have to travel back home to report it, missing out on more data.  Courier runs out to your spies?

The impression I get is that the network is still mostly down at the start of the ilClan Era.  How long is it going to take to get fixed?
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Re: Communication in the Dark Age
« Reply #5 on: 06 June 2022, 15:39:38 »
Okay.  So, if you're someone out in the Periphery, and you wanted to try and keep an eye on the goings-on in the Inner Sphere, how would you do it?  What I got from reading about the Blackout on Sarna was that there's no real rhyme or reason why a specific HPG went down.  Some were affected by some virus or something, some were attacked by unidentified jerkfaces, some were just fine.  If you happen to be lucky and have some functional mobile HPGs, I imagine you could set up your own smal-scale network to at least get messages from point to point.  If you don't, then what?  Command circuit of JumpShips?  Almost as implausible as having your own HPGs and them still working.  A "spy force" on a JumpShip/DropShip combo could collect data from the Inner Sphere, but then have to travel back home to report it, missing out on more data.  Courier runs out to your spies?

The impression I get is that the network is still mostly down at the start of the ilClan Era.  How long is it going to take to get fixed?

If you had mobile HPGs, and you were far away enough from the Sphere to not get hit (Goliath Scorpion's HPGs in Hansa space weren't effeted by Gray Monday) they'd keep working until you got close enough to the Sphere that the lingering-whatever-the-heck-it-is-that-burns-out-new-HPGS kicks in.

In the Periphery, you mostly do what you always did - ask for a news update whenever you encounter a roving JumpShip or, if you're mobile, enter a new system. Only the worlds important enough to have an HPG got cut off, so ironically the average Periphery colony barely noticed Gray Monday.

Metallgewitter

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Re: Communication in the Dark Age
« Reply #6 on: 06 June 2022, 15:46:48 »
Okay.  So, if you're someone out in the Periphery, and you wanted to try and keep an eye on the goings-on in the Inner Sphere, how would you do it?  What I got from reading about the Blackout on Sarna was that there's no real rhyme or reason why a specific HPG went down.  Some were affected by some virus or something, some were attacked by unidentified jerkfaces, some were just fine.  If you happen to be lucky and have some functional mobile HPGs, I imagine you could set up your own smal-scale network to at least get messages from point to point.  If you don't, then what?  Command circuit of JumpShips?  Almost as implausible as having your own HPGs and them still working.  A "spy force" on a JumpShip/DropShip combo could collect data from the Inner Sphere, but then have to travel back home to report it, missing out on more data.  Courier runs out to your spies?

The impression I get is that the network is still mostly down at the start of the ilClan Era.  How long is it going to take to get fixed?

I think Mobile HPG's are actually los tech. While the Clans had a form of compact HPG on their Warships but I think those were either removed after the Wars of Reaving or failed at the beginn of Gray Monday. The majority of the HPG's seem to have been affected by corrupted code which fried the HPG cores. The story of Tucker Harvell has a good example of what happened to a lot HPG stations: to me it sounded as if they were overloaded with transmission packages which in turn destroyed the cores. A simple analogy would be a DDOS attack I suppose. And Comstar produced a lot of those cores and every one got destroyed after installing costing Comstar vast amounts of money. Funny thing is at first there were also the Fax network but this was somehow "forgotten" or the Fax machines were also written into oblivion. So for the majority of the Dark Age we had the same system as at the beginning of the space spanning Terran Alliance: a pony system consisting of Jumpships carrying messages. And so far it seems that the Foxes have managed to restore one station (?) but the station isn't running on peak efficency. Funny thing is of course that the HPG in the Deep Periphery (speak Homeworld Clans and Scorpion Empire) were never affected as the Clarion Call protocol didn't reach that far.

pokefan548

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Re: Communication in the Dark Age
« Reply #7 on: 06 June 2022, 21:48:10 »
FAX communication is still around, and I believe was used for several emergency communiques immediately following Gray Monday. The problem is that the hyperspace band used by FAX, and the reception method itself, is prone to jamming if too many are used. They haven't so much been written off as they've been rendered useless for the next decade or so (assuming no one broadcasts any fresh transmissions) until all the old junk FAX traffic clears out from the Inner Sphere and the FAX band is mostly empty again.

That and the issues that FAX communication has with comsec, delay, et cetera.
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Nerroth

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Re: Communication in the Dark Age
« Reply #8 on: 07 June 2022, 00:16:51 »
Between Operational Turning Points: Hanseatic Crusade, Spotlight On: Hellion Keshik, and the Moving Forward short fiction n Shrapnel #6 - plus a brief cameo in BattleTech: Legends - there appear to be multiple lanes of intelligence gathering which the Scorpion Empire has been pursuing as of the onset of the IlClan Era.

One source of info has been the occasional Clan Sea Fox visit, though they have typically only passed on "news" as opposed to "intelligence." At least until a certain "two-step" in SO:HK, that is...

Another has been data sourced from captured records aboard JumpShips and DropShips fleeing the Inner Sphere and near Periphery. While important data can be sent across the Empire's still-functioning HPG network - to include the mobile HPGs aboard Scorpion WarShips, which continue to function as well as their planet-bound HPGs - a healthy surplus of JumpShip assets enables for command circuits to be set up if or when more sensitive information is acquired.

Plus, there are ongoing Seeker expeditions, to include a long-range shopping trip in 3145 that made it as far as Solaris VII and back again.

And while I had initially been under the impression that the Scorpion HPGs had continued to function due to their being far enough away from Terra to not be affected by the Blackout, it appears that this might not exactly be the case. There have been no reported problems for any of the Scorpion HPGs built in the years following the Hanseatic Crusade - to include the line of HPG repeaters they are placing to connect their new holdings in the Chaine Cluster to the nearest corner of the Empire proper.

So it appears that, overall, the Scorpions are eager not just to let news from the Inner Sphere and near Periphery trickle out to them; they are bringing themselves closer to the source in a number of different ways.
« Last Edit: 07 June 2022, 00:20:22 by Nerroth »

glitterboy2098

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Re: Communication in the Dark Age
« Reply #9 on: 07 June 2022, 02:56:41 »
I think Mobile HPG's are actually los tech. While the Clans had a form of compact HPG on their Warships but I think those were either removed after the Wars of Reaving or failed at the beginn of Gray Monday. The majority of the HPG's seem to have been affected by corrupted code which fried the HPG cores. The story of Tucker Harvell has a good example of what happened to a lot HPG stations: to me it sounded as if they were overloaded with transmission packages which in turn destroyed the cores. A simple analogy would be a DDOS attack I suppose. And Comstar produced a lot of those cores and every one got destroyed after installing costing Comstar vast amounts of money. Funny thing is at first there were also the Fax network but this was somehow "forgotten" or the Fax machines were also written into oblivion. So for the majority of the Dark Age we had the same system as at the beginning of the space spanning Terran Alliance: a pony system consisting of Jumpships carrying messages. And so far it seems that the Foxes have managed to restore one station (?) but the station isn't running on peak efficency. Funny thing is of course that the HPG in the Deep Periphery (speak Homeworld Clans and Scorpion Empire) were never affected as the Clarion Call protocol didn't reach that far.

nope, mobile HPG's have been mentioned in the dark age materials, and ship based ones too. they're just not as common as ground based ones. and they've had the same issues with interference/non-functioning as the ground based ones.

Colt Ward

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Re: Communication in the Dark Age
« Reply #10 on: 07 June 2022, 09:43:33 »
HPGs have a range of up to 30 ly (Class B) or even up to 50 ly (Class A). Even with 80% of the stations inoperable, which is what is said in Ghost War, a significant portion of the Inner Sphere is still reachable by at least one. Remember, you only need a HPG to send, a simple radio is enough to receive.

Except that you get 1SW action against HPGs going forward from that point, so 80% increases over time due to conflict and even entropy as the funding/infrastructure behind them collapses.
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Nav_Alpha

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Re: Communication in the Dark Age
« Reply #11 on: 07 June 2022, 23:28:36 »
The LinkNet docs in the downloads section do a great job of illustrating what it’s like post Blackout. You have arriving Jumpships bringing in snippets of news, along with rumours, etc, Pony Express style arrives flowing forming, banking collapses and civil unrest as people freak out about being in the dark, etc.


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FastConcentrate8

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Re: Communication in the Dark Age
« Reply #12 on: 09 June 2022, 20:29:55 »
You know, I just thought of something that's probably important.

Were Mobile HPGs aboard ships or on vehicles affected by Grey Monday? Are they blacked out too or can they still send and receive?

Empyrus

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Re: Communication in the Dark Age
« Reply #13 on: 09 June 2022, 21:01:57 »
You know, I just thought of something that's probably important.

Were Mobile HPGs aboard ships or on vehicles affected by Grey Monday? Are they blacked out too or can they still send and receive?
They were affected almost certainly. Because it seems whatever the cause for Gray Monday is, it wasn't physical effect like someone just destroying the network. Some places got blown up or sabotaged otherwise but that seems to have been a cover-up more than anything. There were cases of repairs or newbuild HPGs failing right away, long after Gray Monday.
Even the Clan OZs suffered from Gray Monday, and they probably got proportionally more mobile/ship HPGs than the Inner Sphere in general as Clan WarShips usually had HPGs, but this hasn't shielded them.
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