Showing posts from September, 2014

Boarding Actions Part 2: Getting There is Half the Battle

For whatever reason you've decided boarding another ship is required. The other ship's crew is not keen on the idea. What can a crew of merchants do to stop you? Quite a bit if the captain has half a brain; and they don't give masters papers to people with less than a whole brain! Intercept Boarding actions require getting close to your target ship. Usually that requires you need to disable its drives. The power plant is the best target because once it is shut down the target ship enters a powered down state. The technical term for this is 'screwed.' Otherwise both the maneuver and jump drives have to be taken offline. A ship that jumps out of system with your boarding party is a little inconvenient. I recommend a Select program for those trying to disable a ship. Having a person onboard the ship can also be very handy. A pilot can find it hard to maneuver with a body pistol against his head. A ship that is brought to maneuver-0 can't maneuver in the norm

Boarding Actions Part 1: The Science of Making Their Ship Yours

I must confess that I am a semi-retired murder hobo in Traveller (I only off NPCs three days a week now.) The ships were always an important part of the game obviously. A lot of action took place on them. I'm not too crazy about intense pointless combat these days but I had a bunch of thoughts on how taking a ship might look in the game. You might want to look at ( ) for less violent alternatives first. Boarding Actions So you want to take over another ship? Waiting till she's on the ground and the crew is off getting hammered is one way to do it. Oh, you want the ship taken in space? Well most starports would object to people just grabbing berthed ships. The clients are entitled to some security for their berthing fees. Also, many starports are built inconveniently close to naval, marine, and scout facilities and those guys are just plain nosy and intrusive. What are your reasons for boarding the shi

The Others: Coming to a CT Game Near You.

In the beginning there was LBB 1 Character generation and it was good. After all you haven't lived till you died in character generation. Or in some cases failed to kill off a character in chargen. Then we got Citizens of the Imperium which added many many civilian occupations to Traveller. Apparently not everyone joined the Armed Forces in the Imperium. We could thrill to Barbarians with broadswords engaging Marines with cutlasses in a sword fight! Before this cornucopia of options though people looking to dodge avoid the military had one option: the Others. They didn't even have a title really. If the Army was benignly ignored by those wanting to be Marines and the Scouts were hastily avoided by those wanting to live the Others had a worse public image than a Vargr crashing a K'kree wedding. I do not exaggerate. One Personal Development roll lowered your Social Standing. They got no ranks, no service skills, and one skill per term. The Scouts got many people who wante

Autorifles and Cutlasses

What do you call the guys who can't make it in the Marines? The Army. The Marines get all the love in Traveller. But how do the two services compare? Both services seem similar on the surface. They shoot at people and get shot at. They are very different in their missions and mentality. The Marines are designated to board vessels and defend their own vessels and naval installations. In time of war they are used to disrupt communications and grab a beachhead for main invasion forces. They are basically aggressor forces and see a lot of combat. They have a worse survival roll than any service except the Scouts The Army has worse PR. Their main job is to defend their planet against invasion. If they do it right no sane enemy will attack and so no one knows what a great job they've done. Their survival rolls are no worse than any other service and lower than the Marines. So much of their career is fairly peaceful. More tellingly the Army is a full independent service. They no

First In and the Last Ones Standing

Scouts. We've all had a character with such lousy stats we just decided to throw them in the Scouts and pray they died quick and clean. I remember one guy who didn't roll above a six in anything. He lasted seven terms in the Scouts and wound up getting nothing much besides air/raft. When I rolled '12' for re-enlistment I informed the ref I was standing under the engines of a ship about to take off. Then I found out about the reactionless drives. My colleagues grabbed me and gave a me quiet discharge for my service time. I didn't get a ship on mustering out. Why the heck do Scouts have such a fantastic casualty rate? Rolling a six or less kills you which means 42% of starting Scouts don't live past their first term. that means about 2% survive seven terms. I'm assuming that they re-enlist automatically. With casualty rates like this you aren't throwing a guy out for any medical problem they don't have a telethon for or for most felonies. How do th

Faux LBB

I wanted to try to write up my vehicles rules LBB style. Over all I liked what I did. But then I read Across the Bright Face and I realized I forgot a major part of any Traveller mini-game is trade offs and decisions to make. In any sort of classic adventure you have a finite supply of several resources you need to reach an objective. In Bright Face the resource was the ATV's power, the objective to reach the starport with a bunch of angry locals chasing you. You had the choice of using power to blast ATVs with your laser cannon or run. My system didn't have that. You just shot at vehicles and they shot back. I got to thinking that besides power there were other trade offs in vehicle combat like visibility. Did you operate buttoned up or stick your head out to see what was going on? Anyway here are the rules without my color commentary and visibility rules. Rules for Vehicle Combat Vehicles have an armor class based on their construction as follows: Civilian/thin skin veh

Starfighters Need Their Space

One of the tropes of Traveller and other SF games is that space fighters look like contemporary jet fighters. Why? A streamlined hull is of course necessary if your fighters are to attack a planet with an atmosphere or larger than size 1. Of course there's no clear reason why planetary bombardments and attacks can't be performed by ships in orbit except the Rule of Cool. Well if you must have space fighters (I know I want mine) you could at least give them a little variety. Look at all those hulls in High Guard for starters. Fighters for surveillance of a star system  might use planetary hulls to blend in (unless the locals number their planetoids for such situations.) If you want really long term surveillance stick a low berth on the fighter. Cheap mass produced fighters might benefit from the cost savings of close or dispersed structure hulls, especially if the main world is a vacuum world or the base ship is used for constant patrols. There's no reason to add 20% cos

Guys and Hulls

A ship’s hull is much more than a wall keeping air and stuff inside and vacuum out. Unfortunately I haven’t found a lot about hulls and the way they affect their ships. Classic Traveller started out with two types of hulls: streamlined and not (the default.) Streamlined hulls could enter atmosphere or even refuel in the atmosphere of a gas giant. Other hulls could not enter atmosphere. That means for practical purposes only streamlined ships could land on worlds with 8000 kilometer or greater diameter. Larger than that and they had to have at least a trace atmosphere.  Then High Guard came out and gave us oodles of new ship hull types. We now had partially streamlined as well as some descriptions of general shapes. We now had wedges, needles, cones, and flattened spheres (saucers!) for streamlined hulls. Cylinders, spheres and close structures were partially streamlined and dispersed structures and planetoid hulls were not streamlined in any way. We now learn that streamli

That's Not a Knife!

One of the things that hurts Classic Traveller these days is presentation. Some things just seem a little dated or silly these days. Take for example the two staples of the Marines: the revolver and the cutlass. Revolvers can be justified with one word: reliability. Revolvers are one of the most dependable handgun types in history. A Marine working in many exotic/deadly/alien environments might want a very dependable sidearm for a last resort. If we're talking high tech revolvers then you could probably drop one in liquid nitrogen and fire off a round. I exaggerate. Don't do it. But you get the idea. An Imperial/Colonial/United States Marine waving a cutlass around might seem silly. Au contrair. Marines frequently perform boarding actions. Boarding actions usually mean they're fighting close enough for the bad guy's breath to fog their battledress visor (of course the Marine is the good guy.) Boarding actions also may be fought in areas you do not want riddled w

When Tanks Fly!

I was reading through the The Journal of the Travellers' Aid Society looking for ideas. I rarely come away from such reading empty handed and did not this time. In particular I was reading Special Supplement 3: Missiles in Traveller (JTAS #21.) Without recounting every detail of the missile design system three features stand out. First, the missiles weigh in at 50 kilograms and use reaction drives. An average missile warhead weighs 10 to  20 kilos. Thirty odd kilos of fuel allows these beasts to thrust at about 3 gees for 20 to 30 minutes. This tells us a lot about rocketry in Traveller. First it's a bit better than present TL 7-8 but not as good as maneuver drives. We can build a rocket that thrusts around four gees for 15 minutes or so. We need to to make it to orbit. Second, maneuver drives can't be built for vehicles less than a few tons (at least not until TL 13 introduces the grav belt.) It's odd that missiles don't experience a huge leap in effectivenes

Navy of the Icy Shores

When Terrans began expanding into space a conflict began over what service would become the Solar Command. The Marines and Army were not considered and began a longstanding struggle over who was in charge of air defense. The Air Force and Navy both presented strong arguments over who should run the Solar Strategic Command. The Air force had more experience with space launches, satellites and aeronautics. Then maneuver drives made a lot of that experience worthless. The Navy had experience managing large crews on long missions and operating large vessels. Both built spacecraft and starships. There wasn't a clear winner until the Allen Triphibian. The Triphibian took an old idea, sticking space drives in submarines for ready made spacecraft. The vessel had ballast tanks and a pressure hull. It could preform as a submarine without the maneuver drive or contra-grav. It was going to explore the oceans of Europa and Titan. Then someone put fuel scoops on it. The first Triphibian refu

Space Combat Made Stupid

I was just thinking that a merciful referee or one that liked toying with his Traveller group might like combat results that don't end in rolling up a lot of new characters. Instead of implementing damage from a mishap the following mishaps can occur. Optionally these mishaps might allow a players to escape from an uneven fight. Note that many of the results require a crew of boneheads. Tightly run military vessels should be exempt from the mishaps that scream stupidity and instead suffer from the ones that scream bad luck. The mishaps coud also serve to make a throwaway encounter more interesting (sunspots cause the pirates and the pc's to each see the other's tramp freighter as a merc cruiser.) Intruder Player Turn- A . Intruder Movement . Missiles acquire wrong target or no target. Sensor glitch provides incorrect information on Intruder. A Scout is classed as a Dreadnought or a Dreadnought becomes a Scout.  Sand or Solar storms present one or more ghost images e

Damn the Torpedoes!

Humanity went to the stars and took their military with them. The Solar Space Command did not let the absence of hostile alien navies deter them or shrink their budget. The newest cruisers were on the drawing board when engineers worried that their bulk would make existing lasers and missiles ineffective against them. Strides in computer systems already made space fighters obsolete. Missiles packed more punch than lasers but sand, ECM, and point defense weapons all took their toll on munitions. Some designers advocated a larger form of laser emitter (see Showing the Flag At the Icy Shores 8/15/14 post.) This feature was rushed into production for the newest generation of warship but some strategists have misgivings about it. Other navies like that of Tyche decided to improve the odds of missile strikes through sheer volume, fielding carriers with large numbers of missile armed launches. The latest solution the Terrans have examined was the torpedo. Unlike the smaller 50 kilogram mi

Addenda to Vehicles

One of the techniques I like to use in my Old School homebrews is the idea of giving people dials to fine tune the rules to their setting.  Of course I forgot to include this in my post yesterday. As a bizarre example you might want a combat system where an adventurer with a laser carbine could torch an M-60 tank (you need a laser rifle for a M-1.) It's your game. I'm not an authority and back inna day we all switched stuff around to suit us anyway. The standard vehicles from Book 3 would look like this in my rules writeup Air/raft: mesh-2 Air/raft: Mesh -2 Speeder: Civilian Mesh -1 GCarrier: Armored Combat -4 Ground Car: Civilian Mesh -2 W-ATV: Ruggedized Cloth -4 T-ATV: Ruggedized Cloth -4 W-AFV: Ruggedized Cloth -4 T-AFV: Ruggedized Cloth -4 Biplane: Civilian Mesh -3 Fixed Wing: Civilian Mesh -3 Helicopter: Civilian Mesh -1 Hovercraft: Civilian Mesh -3 Remember that DMs in CT modify the die throw, not

Ship Dossier: Launches

Ship Dossier: Launches
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