Showing posts from August, 2014

Story Vehicles or Vehicles for Stories?

I whipped up some rules for vehicle trashing in Classic Traveller fashion (or Mercenary style if you prefer.) First there are three ways to deal with vehicle  combat. Decide which you prefer. Story Mode You can just leave things as they are. Don't have people with tac missiles take on PCs in an ATV. Vehicles are to take you from point A to point C (point B is where you stick in things like a rockslide or an amorous encounter between a dinosauroid and your ATV.) Abstract Give the group a roll to avoid destruction of their ride similar to avoiding mishaps with a DM based on the threat level. A Scout with a body pistol isn't going to bother an AFV much and not for long if you have a gunner or a don't mind a dent on the front bumper. So, an ATV that has to throw +4 to avoid mishap might take a -1 for each 3D the attacking weapon does or -1 per die if you like blowing ATVs up. Extended Rules The CT system is one where armor affects hit probability. I'm going to assu

Gearing Up

I would love to get a Traveller game going again. I'm trying to get one going face to face or on hangouts. I'm gearing up for it mentally and I often do that by writing gear for my players (Okay make that weapons.) I've gone over Book1 combat in Classic Traveller. In my earlier posts I tried to fill a few holes I noticed in the combat tables. I had fun. In doing it I came to learn a bit about ClassicTraveller and where it stands in current game theory. First I have no idea how the combat system mirrors reality. It is a game system based on reality. Many fiddly bits of ballistics are streamlined. For example most bullets do 3D of damage. I think it gives a good (and fun) game simulation of a fight. In filling in some gaps weapon wise I wanted to make sure they fit in the RAW well. I think I did. The other thing I did was introduce a bunch of smaller end weapons to give my players options. Now instead of reaching for your carbine or automatic rifle, you might want to co

I'm Not Crazy, I Passed My Morale Throw

As I've been discovering the Classic Traveller rules have a little to say on everything. So with a little tweaking they can simulate anything. One of my favorite game mechanics was Chaosium's Sanity Check, prevalent in Call of Cthulhu. Even in a hard SF setting there may be aliens that are just to darn alien for us to abide or maybe H.P. Lovecraft was right and we'll run into Mi-Gos or their friends out there. I think the Morale rules from LBB 1 stand in quite well for Sanity checks. Deep Ones, Werewolves and humanoid monsters might invite a standard throw for Morale and maybe not till they revealed their true nature. Most Vargr and Irklan don't eat people they have just met. The more exotic races like the Mi-Go or Flying Polyps would warrant a -1 or -2 when first encountered. The more mind blasting cosmic horrors would start at -3. Failing a Morale throw not only means the character runs but would temporarily reduce their Int, Edu or Soc by one or more dice. The fi

Tech Level Make Overs

I've seen a lot of discussions about equipment in Traveller over the years (and started some.) Something I noticed was the Tech Level chart continues pretty unchanged since the LBB set. Some rules refine it by setting different tech levels for different areas (computers, medicine etc.) You might think people tend to go with the RAW out of expedience, peer pressure or lack of energy. But these are gamers we're talking about. Believe me there is no game we won't rip apart. Give us ten minutes and Spartacus will be flying in a Piper Cub over your ancients battle. So I'm forced to conclude the TL table is usually unmodified because it works! Okay the computers sizes for ships are fore the rooms and terminals they take up in the ship. You don't want your Model 6 jammed in a glove box when you need to change a memory module while dodging laser blasts. I'm not hear to modify tech levels today. I'm pondering changing their feel for settings. What if we wanted to

Combat in a Matrix Pt. 2

In Book 4: Mercenary, Frank Chadwick and GDW introduced many of the features we have come to associate with Traveller. You had the powerful and remote government that gave zero f*cks, the mercenary unit for campaigning and many items of equipment near and dear to our hearts. It's also the book where the combat system comes the closest to breaking in my opinion. The Gauss Rifle and various energy weapons are a little too good. Players going up against a plasma or fusion gun are in trouble, even in battledress (or an armored car.) The hit mods were just too good (especially on automatic fire.) As I went through the book again I thought that problem was I was thinking of it in the wrong terms. Combat in Book 1 was a bit more cinematic. You could make a break for it and live if you were lucky (and had cloth armor.) Book 4 was war. You shot it out at great ranges at high tech levels. You made full use of the best armor, concealment, cover, evasion and obscurement devices or you died

Combat in a Matrix

I have posted before that the Classic Traveller personal combat system is quite sophisticated for all its apparent simplicity. I like the idea of weapon penetration being factored into hit probability as opposed to armor reducing damage. No system is perfect. The true test of any system is how well it hangs together and plays. It's game oriented. While it isn't a strict simulation you are given options that generate tactics and moves as you try to optimize your fighting under the game system. The tactics you use are similar to reality I suppose. My experience with guns is shooting a carbine and a automatic pistol at perfectly passive targets (unless you count Gun Building 3.) Where the system is kludgy is in introducing new or variant weapons as there is little inkling of the underlying system. How exactly does armor penetration relate to hit mods for armor? I started out using 'Guns, Guns, Guns by Greg Porter (BTRC.) I stopped that right away because Traveller is not a f

Terran Cruiser Variants and Notes

The Leif Ericson provides a model for the Solar Strategic Command Cruiser Mk 1. There are others being introduced. Starship design is relatively new and there is a lot for humans to learn. Solar Strategic Command Cruiser Mk 2 ( Marco Polo )- The Mark 2 cruiser expands on the nose mounted laser emitter. Two wings on either side of the 'sail' each mount a similar emitter which works on the rules given in the Showing the Flag At the Icy Shores (8/15/14.) These emitters increase the chance of damaging the power plant to 11+. Power plant damage may shut down any or all of the three emitters (roll 10+ for each to check.) The Mk 2 has more extensive wings and has a +1 to rolls made for wilderness refueling. Solar Strategic Command Cruiser Mk 3 ( Omar Bradley )- The Mark 3 replaces the complex arrangement of the triple emitter system with regular triple turrets. The fusion rockets are replaced with 645 tons of additional cargo or additional frozen watch and troops. These ships ar

Hand Polished Handwavium

I have compiled a few rules about using Handwavium in my settings. 1) Use handwavium only in the interests of expediting stories. 2) Use only as much handwavium as you need for the story. You pay for handwavium with your players' disbelief. 3) Figure out the fallout from your handwavium. 4) Put limits on your handwavium. Just because you're playing merry Hell with the laws of physics doesn't mean you should get cocky. It also keeps the handwavium from becoming the answer to all problems. 5) Be on the lookout for unobtainium that can replace the handwavium (more unobtainium is being dug up every day.) Disclaimer. I am not a scientist or engineer. I have often gm'd scientists and engineers.

M-Drives, J-Drives and the Rule of Cool

I know it's only Saturday but I wanted to get this down now and polish it later. Regarding Traveller's M-Drives and J-Drives I came up with the following. Note NONE of this is canon. But I like it. Both drives are related. The forces an M-Drive generates are used in the J-Drive to turn a micro wormhole into a macro wormhole. The M-drive also generates matter as it operates, WIMP particles, which balance the momentum generated by the drive (The New Law is the conservation of Matter/Momentum.) Around a planet (within the hundred diameter limit these particles annihilate themselves continuously and produce the light and heat associated with thruster plates. In empty space running the M-drive causes them to build up. The longer you're under accelerations the more energy you throw into the field. The particles travel with the ship and reach a sort of stability in zero-g. Entering a gravity well screws this up and fast so ships spend a few extra hours moving tangent to thei

Showing the Flag At the Icy Shores

So, Terra is making a grab for all colony worlds in the Icy Shores. Terra obviously needs warships. For the basic design of the Terran cruiser I can do no better than pay homage to the Leif Ericson! Designed by Matt Jefferies, the Leif Ericson began as an Aurora plastic model kit in 1969. It didn't terribly well (people have no taste.) It was then reissued in '76 as an 'Interplanetary UFO Mystery Ship.' Winchell Chung does his usual excellent job telling you about it here . The ship turns out to have an incredible pedigree for Traveller fans and most others. When Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle wrote 'The Mote in God's Eye' they used the starship for the basic design of the INS MacArthur and rationalized some of the features to indicate that ship could enter the atmospheres of gas giants for refueling. Well Marc W. Miller himself used the book for inspiration and decided gas giant refueling was pretty neat. So the reason we have fuel scoops in Travelle

Going Gonzo

When I went to college I got a job writing schedules for freshmen. The hours were long but the pay was low. On the bright side it was easy work once you got the hang off it and during registration my friends and I had down time usually before quitting, when no one wanted to show up. So we played Traveller. One of my friends gm'ed and he threw together a huge mash-up. A time rift had struck the universe and the timelines of Space: 1999, Battlestar Galactica and Trek existed simultaneously some how. We were trying to stop the Empire led by Darth Vader from invading Earth. Moonbase Alpha tried to hold off the TIE fighters with Eagles but didn't have a chance till Hawk fighter from Earth Defense showed up. It was looking bad until Gary Seven allied with Colonel Green to try to take down Khan's operation to create an Empire fifth column on Earth. Then the Galactica and Pegasus showed up. It was glorious. Screw who could beat who. this was years before or At

Pulp Notion

This project started as an attempt to write up a whole slew of pulp style locations for any game that you wanted.  The problem was you never got a map with all the mysteries labeled and all the islands charted in a pulp game. There was always an uncharted rock nearby or a tribe cut off from the world. I made this map using Greg Christopher's Fantasy World Map Kit (available on RPGNow from Chubby Funster Games.) So I redid it without most of the labels, just a few suggestions and odd features for you to zoom in on and embellish. I included a torn/burnt/missing chunk for any really strange stuff you want to make up. Then I did charts of stuff to roll up for whatever unexplored/uncharted island you wanted and ... A few other things. As I did this I realized that in many ways Traveller lends itself to pulp (especially CT.) The characters are essentially static. The settings are different all the time. The trappings of space opera are extremely light in the core books. In CT y

The Universal Language

Let's talk about violence. I'm not getting into firefights or space combat go read Books 4 & 5 if you're into that stuff. Similarly I'm not getting into conventional firefights. There've been enough of those since Book 1. I want to talk about citizens of the known worlds and associated moons. What do they do when forced to rely on their own fortitude and fists? How are their responses shaped by their cultures? The most obvious code for Traveller referees is the Law Level. Quick review: LL Restricted Weapons 0- Nukes (Starport law level) 1- Body pistols, explosives, poison gas 2- Portable energy weapons 3- Automatic weapons (machineguns) 4- Light assault weapons (assault rifles, SMGs) 5- Personal concealable firearms 6- All firearms except shotguns 7- Shotguns 8- Blade weapons controlled 9- No weapons outside the home A- No weapons First of all starports take a very dim view of people torching their facilities and bystanders with fusion guns. Al

Midichlorian Flu

George Lucas gave us the midichlorians, which no one wanted. Blame the Atomic Rockets website  and Winchell Chung for making me think about these things. Allow me to  hang a lampshade on the dreadnought in the room. Maneuver drives: give them some electricity and they let you go anywhere. No messy rockets or delta-v or limits except light speed. Here's the rub: if you get your ship up to great speed,. It becomes an angel of death. Anything in its way dies. When a 20 ton launch can destroy a planet almost as fast as you can detect and track it what good is a navy or a government that can't protect you? (The blogger notes: fusion rockets are no picnic either.) Obviously that isn't the case. We had navies since Book 1. We had governments, no less than three Imperiums last time I checked, since Book 4. The M-drive and the J-drive are both indispensable to Traveller and both shoot the game's hard science rep to hell. The J-drive lets you effectively travel faster tha

Six Degrees of Exploration

This is the first write up for a world I've done that I do not despise. It's a major step in improving my presentations. Whether everyone else despises it remains to be seen. It uses the Six Hook system of  Jeffro Johnson ( ). Check his blog out, he does good stuff. Thanks also to Roger Burgess, Ronald Stepp, and David Billinghurst for comments. Tyche-A ACC9655-9 Initial Approach and Landing Tyche is a rogue gas giant located about a light year from Sol. It has one major moon Tyche-A (usually just referred to as Tyche by it’s natives.) Tyche-A orbits at 6 million km outside the jump limit for the gas giant. The system has minimal piracy and is well patrolled. It does have a wealth of space junk (usually) in out of the way orbits from decades of traffic and trade. Tyche-A is a hub of traffic and the main office of theSpaceport Central Authority: the corporation administering space ports everywhere (except i

Ship Dossier: Launches

Ship Dossier: Launches
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