Monday, August 25, 2014

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 use Traveller (in Particular CT) to run a game with a Buck Rogers feel to it? I'm talking about the newspaper comics from the '30's. Not the '70's show. That was a fun romp but it wasn't Buck Rogers.

Surprisingly little work needs to be done. You can get away with murder jst by renaming things. I'll start by assuming TL up to level 5 is unchanged since it was stuff they already had around. I'm going to peg the 'Twenty-Fifth Century' TL at 12 since they seemed to have commercially available robots and of course grav-belts (just call them rocket belts.)

Air rafts become flying cars of course. Laser weapons become heat rays or blasters (use the stats I put up for laser pistols for blaster pistols.) Fusion reactors become atom chambers. Assume the hydrogen is for cooling purposes if you must. Many writers in the 30's assumed atomic energy was a sort of partial (or total in Heinlein's stories) conversion that was remarkably clean and well behaved (like traveller's fusion generators!) Everyone will be wearing shiny silver suits (and look good in them) meaning reflec armor! Ordinary firearms become needlers!

Computers become the volume of the actual system. Double this for access room and two meter view screens. Tubes made from Lunar quartzite might be unbreakable but they still eat up the space.

Instead of jump drives the ship's jump number becomes the speed in AUs per week. The maneuver drive becomes downgraded to a chemical or fission rocket with and its endurance reduced to hours instead of weeks. The short range drives are good for hops to the moon or between moons but not much else.

Tech level 13 or higher is the domain of the eccentric or plain crazy scientist. The friendlier eccentric scientist is the one who works within society and usually is limited to 2-3 weird inventions. They are pretty dependable. The mad scientist, well, he's mad. Use his services at your own risk. You may get him to clone a bunch of Einsteins for your plan but they might wind up deciding to be tap dancers.

You might allow a scientist to reduce his social standing by one r more points to increase their education or intelligence. This represents the scientist thinking outside of the box and being shunned by more reputable scholars as he goes off the deep end. You could rule that he swaps a point or more for each invention. Lower your Soc below 7 say, and congratulations, you're a whack-a-doodle who was laughed out of the University. The fools!

I'm one of those referees who enjoys the heavy lifting of setting design but we all should be aware that a lot of setting a tone can be done by renaming things. Look at how far speaking with a crappy English accent will get you at a Renaissance Faire.