Friday, June 6, 2014

Respecting Traveller Canon

One of the things that crept up on me in working out my near future Traveller setting was that I was respecting what the core books said about the way the setting worked. Robots? Under represented and low intelligence by any contemporary standard. Okay I had a reason: really smart AI's tend to wig out. I've seen this in a few SF settings. Let the characters learn the hard way that having a robot who can run the whole ship and act on its own is a problem when it decides it doesn't need the crew.

Ships burn much more fuel than in the standard rules. There are reasons for that. Overcoming the problem may be a campaign in itself.

Psionics. Psi powers are the bugaboo of the Traveller rules. Everyone wants them and they are universally feared. I intend to show just why people are scared of these powers in a later post and the results for psi characters.

SF1 Fleet Scout (TL9). 100 tons. Jump-1, 2-G. 42 tons fuel.
Model/2bis. 2 staterooms
1 double turret (B-Laser, Sandcaster). Air Raft. 7 tons cargo. Streamlined. 1 crew, 3 passengers.
39.3 MCr #; 9 months. 
Using a 100-ton hull, the Fleet Scout is designed as a courier or diplomatic escort for larger vessels. It has excellent sensors and is often used to scan beligerant regions and worlds it is transporting diplomats or officials to. It mounts jump drive-1, maneuver drive-2, and power plant-2, giving a performance of jump-1 and 2-G acceleration. Fuel tankage for 42 tons supports the power plant and allows 1 jump-1. Adjacent to the bridge is a computer Model/2bis. There are 2 staterooms and 4 low berths. The ship has 1 hardpoint and 1 ton allocated to fire control; mounting one double turret. There is one ship's vehicle: a 4-ton air raft. Cargo capacity is 7 tons. The hull is streamlined.

The SF1 requires a crew of 1: (pilot/navigator); maximum life-support capacity is 4. The ship costs 39.3 MCr  (including 10% standard-design discount) and takes 9 months to build at Tech Level 9.

The ship is often crewed by 4 who spend most of their trip in low passage if only to avoid monotony on long journeys in a cramped ship. Some entrepreneurs, however, make money by selling four low passages per trip. this is an older design and lacks the newer crisis berth system. Other complaints are the lack of maneuvering fuel at a destination. Some owners modify their ships to add two more tons of fuel at the expense of cargo space.


As one of the first FTL ships mass-produced the SF1 had a reputation for causing jump sickness, making low passage more attractive. The ships are frequently given to retired scouts for their use with the understanding the ship’s sensor reading and comm logs will be downloaded for the Scout Service on occasion. 

The most common modification of the SF1 is a commercial courier with a Model 1/bis and reduced sensor range. Cost is 28.5 MCr. Cargo is increased to 8 tons. Some owners convert four tons of cargo to a stateroom if they feel there's more money to be made selling passages. 

Rule Changes
Fuel usage is changed as follows:
Power plants use .01 * M * Pn fuel for four weeks of operations. This increases to 400 weeks when the ship is in low power mode (only low berths occupied, no gravitics, and no maneuvering.)

Jump drives use .4 *M * Jn per jump.

(M= mass of ship, Pn= power plant number, Jn=  jump number)

The jump drive used on the Scout is an Aa. It masses 10 tons but only costs 7 Mcr. It can only be used in a 100 ton vessel and allows Jump-1.)

I've tied the sensor ranges of the ships into the computers used and assume instruments are fairly standard, true sensor power comes from processing the information available. A type 1 or 1/bis allows detection out to 1/2 light second. Model 2 or 2/bis allows detection out to one light second. Midel 3 computers allow detection out to two light seconds. So your detached duty ships have better sensors than commercial ships but not better than the military. refitting a ship with a homemade or stolen type 3 may also be a campaign in itself.

The LBBs are a little unclear on non-starships at TL 8. Air rafts and g-carriers are available at TL 8 but no word on what drives are. Are TL 8 non-starships solely powered by reactions drives? For my setting I'm ruling that TL 8 ships use drives and power plants A-D but increase their fuel use to double normal. That will also allow me to use TL 9 versions of that ship with minimal modifications. TL 8 drives and power plants cost 50% on a TL 9 world like Earth. 

TL 8 Gravitics also can't be used to generate artificial gravity or inertial compensators so the ships have spin sections for the quarters when the ship isn't under acceleration. The central section of the ship with the fuel, drives, low berths, and bridge.

Sections built to spin have +50% cost and mass. An even or odd number of staterooms can be spun. Odd numbers of staterooms have one room broken into two half rooms with an occupancy of one each. The same number of tons must be in each of two spin sections. Ships with spin sections may not be streamlined.

STL Transport 800 tons.
Note 4 weeks of 1 gee acceleration works out to accelerating and decelerating to .04 c. If
 .01 * 800 * 1 = 8 tons of fuel doubled to 16 tons for TL 8 inefficiencies. Every 4 tons of fuel is .01 c. If we want a trip at .6 c we need 240 tons of fuel plus fuel for maneuvering at the destination (figure 5% or 80 tons after doubling) so about 320 tons of fuel. This is figuring a one way trip as we can tell one way or another where the fuel sources in the destination system are. Either a probe was sent in or we have really good instruments to tell us there is a gas giant present.

Incidentally the 80 tons of power plant fuel will support low power flight for 1600 weeks (31 years) of low power mode and one month of high power flight. This gives us a maximum range of 18 light years (though we better refuel fast at the destination.) Typically 40 crew are carried. Ten are to service and operate the slow boat. The other 30 are awake in shifts of ten at one time during periods of powered flight.

BT Bulk Transport (TL 8). 800 tons. 1-G. 320 tons fuel.
Model/2bis. 10 staterooms
4 double turrets (B-Laser, Sandcaster). Air raft and two slow boats. 270 tons cargo. 10/30 crew, 160 passengers.
109.45 MCr; 25 months. 

Using a 800-ton hull, the Bulk Transport is designed to transport colonists and their supplies. It has excellent sensors and is often used to scan worlds it is transporting diplomats or officials to. It mounts no jump drive, maneuver drive-D, and power plant-D, giving a performance of  1-G acceleration. Fuel tankage for  tons supports the power plant and allows maneuver at 1 gee. Adjacent to the bridge is a computer Model/2bis. There are 10 staterooms and 160 low berths.  The ship has 4 hardpoints and 4 tons allocated to fire control; mounting four double turrets. There are three ship's vehicles: a 4-ton air raft and two slow boats. Cargo capacity is 270 tons. The hull is not streamlined. The ten staterooms are mounted on a spinning boom in two groups of five.

The slow boats generally have two configurations. A general transport has 10 tons of cargo and 18 small craft couches. The other is used for refueling and long range recon and holds 18 tons of fuel and 1.9 tons. 


The BT requires a crew of 10: (executive officer, science officer, pilot, navigator, engineer, doctor, steward, two assistant engineers, and a sergeant at arms) with a ten man landing party/boat crews; maximum life-support capacity is 20. The ship costs 109.45 MCr  and takes 25 months to build at Tech Level 8.