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Diveguy June 2nd, 2018 09:27 PM

A Different Approach for Marines
 
Over the years the "Marine" career path has come to represent a group of elite troops within various Traveller campaigns, with battledress suited figures serving as shock troops during planetary invasions or fierce shipboard battles. In particular, "traditional" Imperium-based settings view the Marines as being those forces most loyal to the Emperor, and often relegating "Army" troops to mercenary units or second-string planetary forces raised under local flags. Part of this stems from the interpretation of the British Royal Marines and the United States Marine Corps, with their varied traditions and roles on Earth in present day. Another part has come from using "Marines" as the equivalent to "Imperial Stormtroopers" in one way or another in many settings, or Heinlein's "Mobile Infantry" for those so inclined.

I'm certainly not faulting this use in game settings, and have taken advantage of it myself over the years as both ref and player for material. Neither am I trying to belittle the esprit de corps that such history brings to games, or that players may feel from their own experiences.

BUT... what if we looked at things differently? NOTE - as a conceit for this write up, I am ONLY referring to the rules as per the "original LBB" set, and not bringing in Book 4, or T5, or Cepheus Engine or whatever. Take it for what it's worth. I also do not in any way claim to be the only one who has thought of, or addressed this over time - plenty of other threads here have gone with their own interpretations.

After all, for many other nations here on Earth "marine" type units are no more elite than any other troops - they simply have a maritime/shipboard focus. And, the number of nations capable of fielding a force for amphibious invasions of another is actually quite small.▮

Comparably, let's see what LBB-1 says on the subject:
"Marines: Members of the armed fighting forces carried aboard starships. Marines deal with piracy and boarding actions in space, defend the starports and bases belonging to the navy, and supplement other ground forces such as the army."▮
Hmmm... not exactly the description of "the most feared force in the galaxy" by any stretch...

What about skills and character creation as per LBB-1? When comparing "Marine" and "Army" career paths, some interesting things stand out in my review. Such as:
  • Marines reward Intelligence and Education more than the Army (bonuses to Enlistment and Commission), and tend to be socially "higher" in standing (bonus to Promotion,▮+2 SOC vice▮+1 on benefit tables for high rank.)
  • Marines are more likely to remain in a starfaring lifestyle post-service (TAS Membership).
  • Marine skills emphasize close combat (Blade Combat multiple entries, plus default Blade and Revolver skills) and shipboard fighting (Zero G); but do NOT have a chance for Forward Observer. By implication this means that Marine troops are not routinely used with Ortillery support, or attached Artillery batteries.

So, where does this lead us? Actually with some great play potential, particularly if you like campaigns with the "Age of Sail" isolation motif - the whole LBB conceit caused by jump travel times and distances, and the implied independence this brings.

Rather than some massive interstellar force, capable of conquering worlds and subjecting populations to Imperial decree, the Marines are exactly what their description says: shipboard/port troops to support Navy operations and function as a supplement to other forces. In this, we can certainly hearken back to the Age of Sail, where the Marine detachment aboard a ship may be the only effective fighting force they have. In this milieu we can picture them more as a "heavily armed Coast Guard" type military organization, rather than shock troops. They are generally limited to the small arms carried aboard ship, or provided for port defense, rather than grav tanks and battle suits.▮

Additionally,▮think back to that sailing ship and history - and the role playing opportunity this could provide. In many locations that “Lieutenant of Marines” carried aboard some patrol vessel might be viewed as the ranking representative of whatever government he represents to a colony/subject world. Whether it’s entering into negotiations and initial treaties, conducting field courts-martial or trials under Imperial law, or keeping some trooper’s faux pas from starting a war, it all falls on one set of shoulders rather than some functionary weeks or months away. This would certainly match the implication of the INT/EDU/SOC numbers from character creation - Marine officers are EXPECTED to act independently of central authority, to make sound judgements, and would be looked upon as “better” as a result of that.

Personally, I find this potential a lot more interesting than the massive “Imperial Marines in troop carriers” motif which is more common. Now it's less, "How many vehicles does a Marine Lift Regiment have?" and more "If a destroyer has 26 troops, how many will the Captain let go galivanting off without feeling he's unprotected?" It lets us think about piracy, smuggling, and border skirmishes in a whole new way - one more in flavor with an isolated colonial area than an established core region. Maybe this will give someone else some similar thoughts.

RandyB June 2nd, 2018 10:05 PM

Battle Dress is still implied by the acquisition of Vacc Suit skill by Marines (and Navy, Scouts, and Merchants as well) (emphasis mine):
Quote:

Originally Posted by LBB-1
The individual has been trained, and has experience, in the use of the standard vacuum suit (space suit), including armored battle dress and suits for use on various planetary surfaces in the presence of exotic, corrosive or insidious atmospheres.

Marines also have Vehicle. Also, even Army lacks Gunnery, which skill is specifically defined as pertaining to starship weaponry, with a note about its use for "similar weapons mounted on ATVs or air/rafts". LBB-1 has no skill for artillery as such.

Also, Navy does have Forward Observer, which allows for the attachment of a Naval Forward Observer to Marine detachments for calling in ortillery - which also has historic precedent.

It can definitely be fun to think of the Marines as you described them. But LBB-1 is not limited to either your model, or to the later "overwhelming fist of the Imperium" model. It can cover either one, and possibly other models besides. Chalk another one up to the broad flexibility of the LBBs!

Diveguy June 2nd, 2018 11:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RandyB (Post 587684)
Battle Dress is still implied by the acquisition of Vacc Suit skill by Marines (and Navy, Scouts, and Merchants as well) (emphasis mine):


Marines also have Vehicle. Also, even Army lacks Gunnery, which skill is specifically defined as pertaining to starship weaponry, with a note about its use for "similar weapons mounted on ATVs or air/rafts". LBB-1 has no skill for artillery as such.

Also, Navy does have Forward Observer, which allows for the attachment of a Naval Forward Observer to Marine detachments for calling in ortillery - which also has historic precedent.

It can definitely be fun to think of the Marines as you described them. But LBB-1 is not limited to either your model, or to the later "overwhelming fist of the Imperium" model. It can cover either one, and possibly other models besides. Chalk another one up to the broad flexibility of the LBBs!

Good points on yours, thanks for chiming in. And I certainly wasn't trying to imply mine was *the* way - just a *different* way, as food for thought.

As for the skill bits, I was certainly extrapolating just from the two services & not throwing Navy into the mix. Just as a thought exercise.

This is an example of where more/fewer skills starts to raise issues - because then everyone wants to define "what I can do" by what the skills say, not by background/roleplaying. BUT, it also doesn't give you clear answers, as you said. LBB-1 doesn't have an extensive list if you limit yourself to that (feature, not a bug IMHO). You look at T5/Cepheus/Mercenary/High Guard etc & the skill list gets huge - BUT then you run into niche issues. Particularly if all rolls/skills are random, as per the "straight" rules.

My games I've enjoyed better having a smaller skill list and letting the players extrapolate from that and their developed background what else it may cover. But that's just me.

McPerth June 3rd, 2018 12:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Diveguy (Post 587681)
What about skills and character creation as per LBB-1? When comparing "Marine" and "Army" career paths, some interesting things stand out in my review. Such as:
  • Marines reward Intelligence and Education more than the Army (bonuses to Enlistment and Commission), and tend to be socially "higher" in standing (bonus to Promotion,▮+2 SOC vice▮+1 on benefit tables for high rank.)
  • Marines are more likely to remain in a starfaring lifestyle post-service (TAS Membership).
  • Marine skills emphasize close combat (Blade Combat multiple entries, plus default Blade and Revolver skills) and shipboard fighting (Zero G); but do NOT have a chance for Forward Observer. By implication this means that Marine troops are not routinely used with Ortillery support, or attached Artillery batteries.

Just some points here:
  • While you're right on the Stats DMs, you forgot that while survival DM in Marines depends on Endurance, in the Army it depends on Intelligence. I don't see END as the main stat to survive shipboard actions...
  • IIRC the Zero-G skill appears in LBB4 (something you dismissed for your reasoning), while in LBB1 (or at least in TTB, that is what I've been checking), the only skill differences are favoring vacc-suit (I guess that's what you meant) and blade combat in contrast with Forward observer and air-raft in the Army.
  • (you didn't talk about this one) The higher numbers for commission and promotion in the Marines makes me think in a less officer heavy corps, while the lower reenlist number in a (slightly) longer stay in the corps, so a (again slightly) more veteran average. Not sure of the meaning this might have.

Duke Craig June 3rd, 2018 04:42 AM

Wow, back to LBB 1, interesting thread, thanks.

The higher commission and promotion checks for the Marines as per Book 1, makes me think of smaller units with less officers, mostly in command positions; compared with Army which makes me think of large units with many officers, few in command and many staff.

So that fits with ship board troops where a Marine Officer, whose rank depends on the unit size, is commanding enlisted marines. I certainly agree with Diveguy's treatment of the Marine Officers as more autonomous and with access to greater resources as befitting their Int/Edu and Soc requirements.

The Imperial Marines are certainly Battledress clad and highly technologically capable with the ultimate weapons (i.e. Infantry with gauss weapons with FGMP support).

However, a sizable proportion of Space faring Marines would also be Vacc-Suit Clad and using Zero-G Weaps or Laser weaps for the advantages that they bring whereas the Army would be using rifles, assault rifles and eventually, ACRs with Laser support Weapons. I would suspect that few Armies would evolve to using Gauss Weapons perhaps due to the prohibitive comparative costs and the availability of Cavalry such as Grav tanks mounting Plasma or Fusion guns at higher tech etc..

However, the Endurance requirement for Marine survival compared with the Army Education survival requirement, suggests that Marines more often find themselves in difficult situations. You are free to take from that what you will. To me that suggests that Marines are more likely to have to rub together two sticks and a rock to survive, indeed the vast area of space wherein the marine requires some high degree of physical fortitude just to leap from one ship to board another; whereas the Army has the giant juggernaught behind them and more have to fit into the machine. Again agreeing with Diveguy's surmise.
Lets face it a shipbourne life is far more complex environment than a ground based existance any way you cut it, even at perhaps high stellar tech.

Incidentally, I have long wondered why LLB1 Marines get +2 Int and +1 Edu and vice versa for Army. Perhaps there is the answer... Thanks.
Finally, I think the Lieutenant of Marines will send as many troops as is ordered by his superior officer, the Ship's Captain and what he thinks it will take to to get the military objective achieved.

Enjoy!

Condottiere June 3rd, 2018 08:30 AM

Marines can be anything you want.

But the Imperium Marines are basically a transplanted United States Marine Corps; add-on powered armour, similar to that unlucky squad in Aliens.

wellis June 3rd, 2018 09:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Condottiere (Post 587706)
Marines can be anything you want.

But the Imperium Marines are basically a transplanted United States Marine Corps; add-on powered armour, similar to that unlucky squad in Aliens.

So they're more of a secondary Army with their own ships and transports to act as first responders?

mike wightman June 3rd, 2018 11:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by wellis (Post 587709)
So they're more of a secondary Army with their own ships and transports to act as first responders?

In the OTU no, the ISM are carried aboard IN ships as ship's troops and a rapid reaction force.

The regular Imperial Army provides the vast majority of Imperial planetary based war fighters.


There are a couple of things to remember:
the character generation tables in LBB1 do not accurately reflect the setting of the 3I without fudging;
the ISM are not the USMC in space - they are part of the IN in much the same way as the UK RMC are part of the RN.

kilemall June 3rd, 2018 12:09 PM

I'm with the OP's interpretation, wth the caveat that Marines would have a specialty the Army is not really suited for- the boarding and control of space stations, facilities, belter mines, in short vacc-related operations similar to ship boarding.

Only the US operates marine divisions, and in practical terms the vast majority of marine ops today are with much smaller subunits.

Hmm, which perhaps illuminates a point- Marines in a Traveller sense would also likely be the embassy/starport control troops for rapid deployment and support to Imperial facilities or the functional equivalents.

As such they may not be capable of taking on a whole planet in rebellion or major operation, but be called upon to do evacuations or security to limited areas where they can be overwhelmed, but often act as a dissuading force brake against shenanigans because the price will be too high.

RandyB June 3rd, 2018 01:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kilemall (Post 587714)
I'm with the OP's interpretation, wth the caveat that Marines would have a specialty the Army is not really suited for- the boarding and control of space stations, facilities, belter mines, in short vacc-related operations similar to ship boarding.

Only the US operates marine divisions, and in practical terms the vast majority of marine ops today are with much smaller subunits.

Hmm, which perhaps illuminates a point- Marines in a Traveller sense would also likely be the embassy/starport control troops for rapid deployment and support to Imperial facilities or the functional equivalents.

As such they may not be capable of taking on a whole planet in rebellion or major operation, but be called upon to do evacuations or security to limited areas where they can be overwhelmed, but often act as a dissuading force brake against shenanigans because the price will be too high.

A strong corollary, mentioned in the OP, is that LBB-1 Marines would operate in smaller units than their Army counterparts. This would explain the lower promotion rates, as smaller units would have fewer officers. Plus, if the LBB-1 Navy is providing most of the supporting roles (like the Navy Forward Observer I suggested above), the Marines tooth-to-tail ratio would be high, which would also allow fewer officers in an operational force.

This also matches up well with the shipboard- and bases-focused role as stated in LBB-1, and the "specialized in vacc boarding operations" suggested here.


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