Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Travelling Light

I have not been as active on the Traveller groups as I'd like to be lately. I apologize for that. Traveller especially CT is one of my favorite RPGs ever. So rather than my usual trend of writing something up that's good for space opera and has some application for Traveller I am writing something new for Traveller that can be used for Space Opera style games (you know the ones with the funny dice) with a little work.

I bought the Lost Rules of Traveller supplement and eagerly read it. It has many little nuggets of ideas that fell by the wayside or didn't get enough love. But the section on missiles stands out (actually it leapt out and grabbed me by the throat.) In the section titled 'Expendables' on page 15 variations  of missiles are given for the referee to stat out such as bombs for attacking planetary fortifications. But the item that really leaps out is the jump torpedo!

This little 50 kg remote vehicle was capable of making an interstellar jump. True in the 1981 rules edition and ever since Mr. Miller stated unambiguously that a vehicle less than 100 tons could not mount a jump drive or enter jump space. Surely nothing like this ever came up in official histories of the Imperium.

Of course the Imperium also maintains a secret Jump 6 X-boat network to have an advantage in acquiring information over its subject worlds and no one is supposed to know about that. Obviously the agents of Strephon have gotten to Mr. Miller. Anyway here's my take on the jump torpedo.

Jump torpedoes are TL 15 cutting edge naval technology, second only to the black globe design principles in secrecy (and not by much). They hinge on a simple fact: the limit on entering jump space is a function of the jump field holding the raw chaos of jump space at bay. Even a momentary field collapse will reduce a ship to free quarks. Momentary flickers will erase data banks, scramble electronics and sicken or kill crew.

The jump drive uses a specialized jump grid made of rare elements to keep the torpedo in one piece. Even so the torpedo's electronics and memory banks are kept super cool to prevent their scrambling until it exits jump space. The elements of the jump cage can't be worked on a larger scale. A jump launch is flat out of the question at TL 15 and even if a TL 16 breakthrough occurred no creature coud hope to ride one and live..

A torpedo can be fired as a standard missile. It has no maneuver capacity however beyond a small gas thruster designed to move it to a afe distance from a ship. The torpedo must be programmed by a navigator using the launching ship's computer. The throw to prevent misjump has all normal modifiers and is at an additional -2. The range of the torpedo is one parsec. The torpedoes weigh 50 kg like a standard missile. The Navy (and some say the Scouts too) do not sell the things. A torpedo could probably be sold to a mega-corp or government for several million dollars if you found one you could trust. A torpedo typically mounts a small beacon, a recorder with a few shielded terabytes of information and a kilo of cargo capacity (nothing living). Most also have a self destruct charge to prevent people from salvaging them without the proper disarming codes. Some have carried up to a kilo of cargo.

Needless to say the adventure hooks write themselves: the pcs can find one of these beauties adrift in space. Is the self destruct damaged (or merely delayed) by a rough transit? Is there information on the memory bank? Can they decrypt it?

Will they replace the X-boat? Heck no. They can be used to send a distress signal or secret message. Even though they can easily misjump it may be worth it to pack several on an exploration (or spy) ship for a small chance of sending a distress message or vital information back to base.

All well and good until the wrong people find one.

At TL 16 it /may/ be possible to fit an air raft sized vehicle as a jump torpedo. Rumors persist of at least one such vehicle being used with a heavily shielded low berth to carry a human cargo. Range and endurance are unknown.

Oh yeah bombs.

Bombs fill an important roll in Classic Traveller if you follow the Book 2 rules. Planetary defenses ignore everything but turret hits. This is all well and good if you use beam lasers or pulse lasers (I suspect pulse lasers might be the go to weapon for ground attacks with their two hits.) What about missiles? Well in the RAW missiles can't be used to attack ground defenses. On the hit location table you see you apply a -4 dm for missiles which makes the highest roll possible an 8. To get turret hits you have to roll 10-11 which you can't so there you can't hit ground targets with missiles. :-P

But wait they do mention bombs and what kind of a busy body free lance designer for free would I be leaving you without the ability to hit that pirate base with a missile strike?

Bombs are slow moving explosives designed to penetrate planetary atmospheres and explode with great violence. In game terms they have one gee turn or can accelerate one space band. When they reach the target they strike any ground installations there without the -4 location modifier. They do 1d6 hits to ground installations rolled separately. Against a ship the bomb is a crude weapon with a -1 to hit. A bomb is incapable of closing to proper explosive range and will do 1-2 hits to the target. Bombs cost and weigh the same as missiles.

The author of this blog does not support using missiles or bombs to enforce your will on others but this a roleplaying game so what the Hell. Also pulse lasers are king.