Citizens of the Imperium

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-   -   What about the Navy? (http://www.travellerrpg.com/CotI/Discuss/showthread.php?t=39934)

Diveguy March 23rd, 2019 10:56 PM

What about the Navy?
 
In the spirit of my post on the Marine character path in Classic Traveller, I thought I’d take a similar look at the Navy. For purposes of discussion, I’m using LBB 1 Characters and Combat (1981 edition) only for this analysis. No High Guard, or other advanced/alternate character creation methods are part of *this* discussion. Merely seeing what conclusions someone might draw from the old material.

Let’s start with a look at the initial numbers. An Enlistment roll of 8+ with mods for high Intelligence and Education puts them at the second-hardest in game (if not tied for hardest with Marines, as the +2 for EDU is only for a 9+ stat). Survival in the Navy isn’t particularly hard however, equaling most paths at a 5+, and with an average INT getting you a +2 on that roll. Commission and Promotion we get interesting. 10+ for Commission is the highest in the game, and Social Status of 9 or better for a positive DM is again a pretty high bar. Once commissioned promotion is a little harder than average - again, EDU is a useful stat. Finally, reenlistment is relatively average - no surprises coming there.

Once we look at Skills things start to become more interesting. Personal Development is straight down the line for statistics - no combat skills or role play hints coming there. Service skills are a logical distribution of ship’s crew skills, with the only two personal combat skills (Blade and Gun) potentially showing here. Both Advanced Education tables reflect more of the same - slightly more technical skills, but also repeats of Vacc Suit, Gunnery, and Engineering showing up. Surprisingly, the automatic rank and service skills for Navy don’t even show up until Ranks 5 and 6 - and aren’t skills at all, but merely a +1 to Social Status at each level.

Finally, we have the Benefits and Cash table. Nothing particularly unusual, although skill distributions here remain focused on the INT/EDU/SOC side and not the physical. The only possible weapon roll is for a Blade. Cash is a rather similar distribution as that of most careers - there is an entry for a roll of “7”, possible only with Gambling skill, but as the 50kcr amount matches that of a roll of “6” the fact Navy characters can’t get Gambling is irrelevant.

So - now where does this put us?

The Navy is hard to get into, and even harder to advance in, unless you’re educated and well-connected. Based on these rolls the majority of Navy personnel are going to be rank 0 “crewmembers”, with no particular benefits beyond the normal skill rolls. These skills tend to be focused appropriately on the technical needs of shipboard life and combat. Interestingly, Navy characters can get Forward Observer as a skill, whereas Marine characters do not - does this imply Navy personnel are attached to Marine units for Ortillery operations? There is a shortage of personal combat skills as discussed, as well as a complete lack of any of the social/underworld skills such as Gambling, Carousing or Streetwise.

Rank and the Benefits table both reflect the other major aspect of a successful Naval career - increased Social Standing. In fact, when combined these show far more likelihood for a Navy character to move into the Nobility or similar ranks than any other career path. Cash is comparable to the other paths, so nothing stands out here.

This paints in my mind a great example of the Navy - it’s *the* military path for those of *proper* breeding to prove themselves and move ahead. Picture the British Navy of years gone by. Officers are men and women of stature and importance, and don’t sully themselves with battle beyond the occasional duel. Intelligence, Knowledge and the right family are far more important than athletic prowess. We can even extrapolate that the upper ranks would look out for each other (and promising up comers), making sure promotions and choice assignments go to the “right” candidates.

The other element this portrays is that the Navy really doesn’t “fight” much. Out of 36 possible skill results, 2 are for Gunnery, and 1 each are for Blade Combat, Gun Combat or Forward Observer. Surprisingly, Tactics isn’t even a result. So, instead of the grand space armadas battling it out motif we so often default to, we can see this Navy differently. Now perhaps we see them as primarily a transport force, providing supply and gunnery support for ground operations. Ship to ship battle still occur, but with the distances and requirements of space involved, it’s more cost-effective to focus on the nodes planets provide in order to project power.

As always, curious to hear what others think of this, and letting that shape further interpretations.

timerover51 March 24th, 2019 01:16 AM

So, based on your emphasis on Social Standing and the upper ranks ensuring that only "proper" people get promoted, along with a complete lack of Tactics training, it looks like the Imperial Navy is a prime candidate for an interstellar "Charge of the Light Brigade".

Condottiere March 24th, 2019 02:12 AM

In the Age of Sail, you have a division between the cannon fodder, the warrant officers and the commissioned officers.

Commissioned officers tend to be apprenticed from adolescence, and need sponsorship to get a midshipman slot.

Political connections and/or patronage is required for senior command, and that could depend on which party is in power at any one time; patrons also don't like to get embarrassed by their clients, so some modicum of ability is required.

Maritime service is a lot more technical than being in the Army; however, aggression is a quality that's cultivated in the Royal Navy, since they can afford to lose ships and men, combined with practical experience and seamanship, tends to win out nine out of ten times.

Straybow March 24th, 2019 03:23 AM

In the US Navy there are 7 land-based personnel for every ship-based position. That's a lot of boring stuff that doesn't involve ships, fighting, or anything that would be useful for adventuring. The majority of officers probably have at least one term on a ship of some sort. Enlisted men can spend their whole careers on dry land.

Diveguy March 24th, 2019 08:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by timerover51 (Post 600299)
So, based on your emphasis on Social Standing and the upper ranks ensuring that only "proper" people get promoted, along with a complete lack of Tactics training, it looks like the Imperial Navy is a prime candidate for an interstellar "Charge of the Light Brigade".

Well, a couple of ways to take that thought:

- #1 - Yes, perhaps the Imperial Navy is a hollow force, and should they run into a better-prepared foe, would suffer accordingly. That begs the question of "Is the Navy Career displayed ONLY for Imperial characters - would other races/societies develop different skills?" if you wanted to go that route.

- #2 - as the original LBBs only hinted at any form of overarching government such as the Imperium, maybe instead there is sort of a "gentleman's agreement" regarding space conflict. Sure, we'll exchange fire in orbital distances, as part of the ground campaign and the like. But, in deep space, everyone plays nice - the universe itself is hostile enough as it is...

Diveguy March 24th, 2019 08:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Straybow (Post 600303)
In the US Navy there are 7 land-based personnel for every ship-based position. That's a lot of boring stuff that doesn't involve ships, fighting, or anything that would be useful for adventuring. The majority of officers probably have at least one term on a ship of some sort. Enlisted men can spend their whole careers on dry land.

If you actually look at the current status of the Navy, a few quibbles on this:

- #1, it's equally possible for an officer to avoid a ship tour, depending on their particular career path.

- #2, for all I hate how "top heavy" Traveller is with ranks. The U.S. Navy currently has more Admirals (flag ranked officers) than they have commissioned ships.... :O. And the problem only increases as you move to the O4/5/6 ranks. I say this less as a reflection on adventuring potential, and more how a military organization can turn into a bureaucracy more concerned with self-promotion than warfighting.

Perhaps the LBB career path isn't as inaccurate as I thought...

McPerth March 25th, 2019 12:27 AM

My take on it:

Background1: the IN is the main political tool the Imperium has. In fact, one can even say the IN is the Imperium, as he who controls the In controls the Imperium, and, as the Imperium rules "the space between the stars", it is in fact all you need to control it, the rest being only to support the IN by having a sound and stable tax base.

In this view:

the fact SOC (that represents Imperial Social Standing, not planetary one) is important (mostly to commission) because the IN wants people who are commited to the Imperium (that use to be those with higer status on it), and OTOH, high standing (noble) families want to put their people in the IN to have a hand on the power it represents. The final result is that most IN officers are high standing ones, and, at its turn, IN becomes a good way to improve it, by showing your real commitement to the Imperium. The high commission number means an officer light career, so officers only are in the key positions in Navy ships, most others being filled with enlisted personnel.

Being mainly a high tech gear career, INT and EDU are quite basic stats (so giving bonus to admitance). For officers, EDU is the most critical (so giving bonus to promotion), as it's needed for most of its tasks, from navigation to knowledge of the Imperium etc. Phisical stats are seen as secondary, as tehy are more improtant for the Marines and other personal fighting careers.

As for skills, as you point, most are technical. I disagree in your take on gunnery, despite appearing only in 2 slots (out of 36), that makes it (along with Vacc suit) they are in both tables available to anyone: service and advanced education, making them both the most available skills in the Navy (while Engineering also appears 2 times, one is in the table 4, not available to all characters).

The service Table includes mostly what the low qualification spacehands should know and combat skills (I agree with you Forward observer is mostly for Ortillery2), while the advanced education one is (as expected) for more technical shipboard skills. The more prestigious skills (as Pilot and Navigation) are only available for those with higher EDU (As is medical, though I guess for different reasons, as Doctors use to be hightly educated people).

Also as you point, Tactics is not included (while in the explanation of the skill it is clear it includes individual ships), so giving us the paradox that the best captains for the IN ships (assuming the main skills for them are Tactics andLeadership) are likely to be the Marines it can carry... I guess this is moslty for lack of skill slots.

In any case, this would only affect individual ships, while I guess this situation is rare among NAvy ones, that are unlikely to act individually. As most such knowledge skills, I guess EDU must soemwhat be used, and it's a basic skill for promote among Navy officers.
Note 1: this assumes OTU (or similar) setting, not yet existing when LBB1, and so this NAvy basic Chargen was written.

Note 2: See that Forward Observer skill is unavailable to the Marines, so we canguess some Navy persnnel attaches to them in this role.

BlackBat242 March 25th, 2019 12:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Straybow (Post 600303)
In the US Navy there are 7 land-based personnel for every ship-based position. That's a lot of boring stuff that doesn't involve ships, fighting, or anything that would be useful for adventuring. The majority of officers probably have at least one term on a ship of some sort. Enlisted men can spend their whole careers on dry land.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Diveguy (Post 600316)
If you actually look at the current status of the Navy, a few quibbles on this:

- #1, it's equally possible for an officer to avoid a ship tour, depending on their particular career path.


Perhaps the LBB career path isn't as inaccurate as I thought...

The USN of today (at least in the 1980s ;) ) is structured for 1 "sea-going assignment" in every 2-3 (normally ~18 months per assignment), depending on the specialty... some, like medical (the vast majority of billets are shore) or aviation can, if the right sub-specialty is acquired (like crew/maintenance on land-based patrol aircraft) never go to sea.

It all depends on the specific career path.

whartung March 25th, 2019 02:27 PM

Mind I don't know squat about the Navy (American or Imperial). So, most of this is based on stuff mentioned here.
Quote:

Originally Posted by timerover51 (Post 600299)
So, based on your emphasis on Social Standing and the upper ranks ensuring that only "proper" people get promoted, along with a complete lack of Tactics training, it looks like the Imperial Navy is a prime candidate for an interstellar "Charge of the Light Brigade".

Perhaps, but even then The Charge was an anomaly. Tactics are important at the smaller level, but it's overall strategy and resources that will carry the war. There was some anecdote about how a Tiger tank had a kill ratio of, like 11 to 1. To which I noted "Good thing we brought 40,000 Shermans".

I'm also not convinced that space combat is an interesting tactical problem.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Straybow (Post 600303)
In the US Navy there are 7 land-based personnel for every ship-based position. That's a lot of boring stuff that doesn't involve ships, fighting, or anything that would be useful for adventuring. The majority of officers probably have at least one term on a ship of some sort. Enlisted men can spend their whole careers on dry land.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Diveguy (Post 600316)
- #2, for all I hate how "top heavy" Traveller is with ranks. The U.S. Navy currently has more Admirals (flag ranked officers) than they have commissioned ships.... :O. And the problem only increases as you move to the O4/5/6 ranks. I say this less as a reflection on adventuring potential, and more how a military organization can turn into a bureaucracy more concerned with self-promotion than war fighting.

It makes complete sense to have far more officers than ships when much of them are serving administrative capabilities in the "tail" to keep the "teeth" working.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Diveguy (Post 600315)
- #1 - Yes, perhaps the Imperial Navy is a hollow force, and should they run into a better-prepared foe, would suffer accordingly. That begs the question of "Is the Navy Career displayed ONLY for Imperial characters - would other races/societies develop different skills?" if you wanted to go that route.

Quantity has a quality all its own in combat.

kilemall March 25th, 2019 06:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Diveguy (Post 600316)
Perhaps the LBB career path isn't as inaccurate as I thought...


I've always read LBB1 careers partially as MWM's sly Army take on the other services.


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