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Flattened Sphere April 16th, 2019 06:18 AM

Unbreaking High Guard
 
Hi all ... I've not been around for a while.

Last time I was around, I engaged in a few discussions on just how Broken High Guard rules for starship construction and combat are, and what needs to be done to fix them.

I've been experimenting with a number of tweaks ... most of which fix one thing, only to break something else.

BUT ... I think I'm reaching a viable alternative set of workable rules. Purists won't like 'em. But I'll be happy to share them (once I've fully written them up) so that open-minded enthusiasts can give them a go and see how they like them.

Here are some of the key adjustments:

(1) end to the unlimited supply of missiles and sand canisters: you need to put in a magazine to hold them, and this takes up ship space

(2) restrictions on how much armour you can put on smaller ships (sliding scale, becoming more generous at higher TLs) so you don't have these 1000 ton ships that simply can't be touched by anything other than massed missile batteries or spinal weapons

(3) the "to hit" size modifiers become 0, +1, +2, +3 and +4 so that hits are more readily registered, making combats shorter and sharper, and meaning that encounters between small, agile ships with their weapons grouped into smaller batteries don't become total stalemates. I am also contemplating adjusting the agility DM, but need to see how this plays out first.

(4) spinal weapon potency adjusted. Instead of one roll to hit and penetrate and then umpteen rolls on the damage table if they do hit, they get umpteen attempts at a hit, and each hit that penetrates gets one roll. So instead of going turn after turn after turn and then landing a single crippling blow, they are doing steady work of degading the enemy.

(5) Failure to penetrate the meson screen doesn't kill the meson hit altogether - it just means the meson screen's factor is added as a DM to the damage roll. Failure to penetrate the configuration does kill it, however.

(6) Reduction in additional rolls for armour is one per two factors of armour, rather than one per factor, so those big particle accelerators aren't quite so impotent against heavily armoured ships

(7) Reduction of critical hits by over-size weapons is one per factor of armour, not one per two factors, but so that there will always be at least one critical hit. This makes hits by oversize weapons more survivable, whilst still ensuring that they make a nasty dent.

(8) Armour DOES reduce critical hits by oversize meson guns. The rationale is that these critical hits are the result of the additional shock of being shaken about by a massive blast (think depth charges and submarines), and armour is about improving the structural integrity of the ship. This logically would reduce the additional damage done by the shock of the blast, irrespective of whether the blast was inside or outside the ship.

(9) A requirement for additional life support supplies to be carried (and tonnage to be allocated to them) on ships intended for prolonged cruises away from their bases (or, alternatively, the provision of support ships to bring them these supplies); with rules of half rations and its effect on fighting efficiency when a ship finds its supplies running low for any reason.

(10) Command and control rules to give some greater prominence to the Fleet Tactics skill.

(11) "Fuel Tanks Shattered" and "Hangar/Boat deck destroyed" have been switched, so that Fuel Tanks Shattered is a critical hit result not a standard internal explosion result.

Additionally, I've tweaked a few of the tables to correct some anomalies that look like they were unintended.

Like I say, I don't think the total package will be to everyone's liking; but if you'd like to give it a whirl and would like a copy of my revised rules, let me know.

wbuthod April 16th, 2019 11:25 AM

Yes
 
Please and thank you.

whartung April 16th, 2019 03:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Flattened Sphere (Post 600826)
(4) spinal weapon potency adjusted. Instead of one roll to hit and penetrate and then umpteen rolls on the damage table if they do hit, they get umpteen attempts at a hit, and each hit that penetrates gets one roll. So instead of going turn after turn after turn and then landing a single crippling blow, they are doing steady work of degading the enemy.

I guess I just have to fundamentally disagree with this.

I don't consider a spinal weapon to be a big hose that's slowly ablating the target ship over time. It's not a shotgun using birdshot against a bear. It's using a slug against a duck. It's the 16" gun off the New Jersey hitting a Destroyer. You're the bug, I'm the hammer. You can skitter about as fast as you like, and I will continue to come down on you. Eventually, I will hit you.

Quote:

(8) Armour DOES reduce critical hits by oversize meson guns. The rationale is that these critical hits are the result of the additional shock of being shaken about by a massive blast (think depth charges and submarines), and armour is about improving the structural integrity of the ship. This logically would reduce the additional damage done by the shock of the blast, irrespective of whether the blast was inside or outside the ship.
A nuclear weapon is a fast expanding ball of nasty energy. A meson blast is a pre-expanded ball of nasty energy.

Most attacks are a ball (or lance, in the case of a laser) of energy that detonates with expanding force, crushing and tearing through things, but consuming energy as it goes. That's not what a meson attack is. A meson attack is the closest that Traveller has to a Star Trek transporter beaming down in to solid rock. One moment, there are no particles. The next they're all intermixed. It's a trillion tiny explosions within a sphere (a rather large sphere in large meson gun case).

As it says in Striker. "Everything within the radius is destroyed." If a ship is penetrated with a meson gun, the mesons are interacting with the armor, with the air, with the water, with the fuel, with the people, consoles, wires, pipes, tubes, fried chicken, potatoes and gravy. All of it, at the same time. The armor is on fire, the air is on fire, you are on fire, your skin, your hair, your heart, your brain, all of you.

Big Mesons crit more against smaller ships because the meson radius is bigger, thus destroying more of the ship in one gulp.

Since you're trying to make mesons less effective it's ok to let the screen let some slip through. I wouldn't want them near me at all, personally, which is why I'm content on the screens stopping them wholesale.

Flattened Sphere April 16th, 2019 04:36 PM

As I said Whartung - I don't think the whole package will be to everyone's liking, and that's fine.

What I'm trying to achieve is for HG starship combat to be a more enjoyable experience for players than it is at the moment. But there's room for more than one view on the question of what is enjoyable.

mike wightman April 16th, 2019 06:15 PM

I have more fixes for High Guard than you can shake a stick at, you have arrived at a couple I have used for long time.

My principle dislike is the need for statistical resolution for battles - I much prefer the idea of only one roll to hit and one roll to penetrate per weapon system rather than for every single battery bearing.

A logarithmic scale, which is what HG'79 appeared to be aiming for, could be arrived at.

This would solve several issues, such as AV15 on a 25t fighter being equivalent to AV 15 on a BB.

There is a pseudo-log scale built into the size mods for ships, it is just a matter of finding a way to use them. I have been mulling it over for decades now...

-2 0-99t weapon factors 1-4, individual rolls are fun
-1 100-1,999t weapon factors 1-9, bays, can still roll for individual weapon systems
0 2,000-19,999t multiple batteries, bays, spinal, getting to the limit of actually rolling the dice.
+1 20,000-74.999t too many batteries for anything but statistical resolution
+2 75,000t+ even worse

Condottiere April 17th, 2019 12:08 AM

As I mentioned elsewhere, tabletop gamining will evolve into two directions, dead simple rules, or technology based solutions aiding game play.

infojunky April 17th, 2019 05:13 AM

It looks like you are trying to reduce a Fleet combat simulator to a ship combat simulator. While I don't have any specific objections to the change you are suggesting, I will comment that it will dramatically slow down play of the game in fleet actions.

I also would point out that maybe you need to look a bit at the rules in the 1st Edition of High Guard as they are cover some of the points you specifically mention.

I should point out at this point that my pet project is how to handle ship built under High Guard with in the Book 2 ship combat rules. Note my focus is on adventure scale ships. I have considered the 1000 dTon baseline ships as well and it becomes clear a different scaling factor would be needed to comfortably handle them.

kilemall April 17th, 2019 02:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by infojunky (Post 600867)
I should point out at this point that my pet project is how to handle ship built under High Guard with in the Book 2 ship combat rules. Note my focus is on adventure scale ships. I have considered the 1000 dTon baseline ships as well and it becomes clear a different scaling factor would be needed to comfortably handle them.


I'll throw my hat in the ring and say I am working up my version of HG, but in terms of CT movement. Obviously not a TCS friendly system especially since my system involves tracking on missile movement, but should be able to handle the ACS on ACS and ACS interacting with BDS (Big Damn Ships) and BDS vs. BDS small squadron fights.

kilemall April 17th, 2019 02:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Flattened Sphere (Post 600826)
(1) end to the unlimited supply of missiles and sand canisters: you need to put in a magazine to hold them, and this takes up ship space


I go one step further, you have to track on usage, each round of shot uses up X missiles, you have to pay for them, and you have to spend time loading if you exceed the normal fire rate. This last part is particularly important in terms of nukes.


Quote:

(2) restrictions on how much armour you can put on smaller ships (sliding scale, becoming more generous at higher TLs) so you don't have these 1000 ton ships that simply can't be touched by anything other than massed missile batteries or spinal weapons

I have a recent thread in The Fleet that goes into my take. Bottom line, armor is a real nice payoff but is exorbitant for small craft and painful for small shipe, whereas the bigger ships wlll tend to get most or max out and still have room for power, weapons and agility.


Quote:

(3) the "to hit" size modifiers become 0, +1, +2, +3 and +4 so that hits are more readily registered, making combats shorter and sharper, and meaning that encounters between small, agile ships with their weapons grouped into smaller batteries don't become total stalemates. I am also contemplating adjusting the agility DM, but need to see how this plays out first.

I'm not touching any of that except in terms of range, further away you are the less likely to hit and less damage done, conversely as the range drops down below 100,000km the more likely to hit and more damage.


Quote:

(4) spinal weapon potency adjusted. Instead of one roll to hit and penetrate and then umpteen rolls on the damage table if they do hit, they get umpteen attempts at a hit, and each hit that penetrates gets one roll. So instead of going turn after turn after turn and then landing a single crippling blow, they are doing steady work of degading the enemy.

I'm out to reduce the die rolling to a dull roar. As such I am going with a total tonnage of damage the shot does, split the damage and roll two times (three if small critical systems like computer or screens are hit), depending on the nature of the weapon it gets surface and then possible internal/overall, two overalls, internal then overall (meson), and radiation (which will expand the possible effects). So spinals are more likely to either miss, or blow the heck entirely out of a major system. In some cases they will break the integrity of the hull and the target ship isn't destroyed in a fireball, it loses major system control and can't accelerate much and eventually will break up into a debris cloud.


Quote:

(5) Failure to penetrate the meson screen doesn't kill the meson hit altogether - it just means the meson screen's factor is added as a DM to the damage roll. Failure to penetrate the configuration does kill it, however.

Eh, this is a taste thing- I looked at using a combination of the config and screen roll as a sort of armor, but ended up sticking with the rolls as is.


One of the things you have to remember when fiddling with HG is if you are going to fiddle with the combat system, you are also by extension messing with the economics of the ship building, and IMO you want to maintain the desirability and drawbacks of each system and not by accident back into only one perfect build design.


Quote:

(6) Reduction in additional rolls for armour is one per two factors of armour, rather than one per factor, so those big particle accelerators aren't quite so impotent against heavily armoured ships

I went with a different direction- the armor negates damage if it is equal or greater to the weapon factor. That means a lot of rolls don't have to be made since at X range Y weapon won't penetrate Z ship. This comes from tank and ship armor, it's pretty much bounce/a little spall/catastrophic penetration.


Quote:

(7) Reduction of critical hits by over-size weapons is one per factor of armour, not one per two factors, but so that there will always be at least one critical hit. This makes hits by oversize weapons more survivable, whilst still ensuring that they make a nasty dent.

One of the things I did was put critical hits in reach of everyone- if they can penetrate the armor/defenses. But critical hits aren't 'system destroyed', they are for the most part 'system disabled/damaged'. The idea is to create a lot more 'engineering drama'. The tables are redone of course and look more like the CT ship damage table.


Quote:

(8) Armour DOES reduce critical hits by oversize meson guns. The rationale is that these critical hits are the result of the additional shock of being shaken about by a massive blast (think depth charges and submarines), and armour is about improving the structural integrity of the ship. This logically would reduce the additional damage done by the shock of the blast, irrespective of whether the blast was inside or outside the ship.

I went at this CT/HG project about six different ways, and came up with one iteration where designers would spec different types of armor. For Meson Guns I came up with Nautilus armor, like that seashell the ship is heavily bulkheaded with the idea of limiting internal damage. I decided to go with the Striker version of MGs, the big internal nuke, so that didn't make the final cut.


Quote:

(9) A requirement for additional life support supplies to be carried (and tonnage to be allocated to them) on ships intended for prolonged cruises away from their bases (or, alternatively, the provision of support ships to bring them these supplies); with rules of half rations and its effect on fighting efficiency when a ship finds its supplies running low for any reason.

Good campaign stuff, but since I would be inclined to use the life support supply rules from Beltstrike, life support is pretty light on the cargo bay and lighter still with access to a planet with food air and water. The thing to really gig a ship on when away from base is maintenance/parts, and reloading those magazines.


Quote:

(10) Command and control rules to give some greater prominence to the Fleet Tactics skill.

I have a simple mechanism for that- the loser of the Fleet Tactics roll has to declare what their accels and course headings will be for all of his ships, and the target priorities. The winner then moves his ships and starts the firing order.


Between duels involving Ship Tactics same thing, except the winner also decides what systems get damaged in choice scenarios like weapons.



Quote:

Like I say, I don't think the total package will be to everyone's liking; but if you'd like to give it a whirl and would like a copy of my revised rules, let me know.

You could post them up in the files section for everyone to pull whenever they want to.

Carlobrand April 17th, 2019 03:35 PM

I wouldn't call it broken so much as intended for a purpose other than what we want. High Guard was intended to be simple and to be something you could do at cons: you bring your fleet, clash it against other people's fleets, see who wins the design contest. It would have made a very nice vehicle for promoting Traveller at cons - except of course that guy found a very clever way to figure out an optimized fleet that blew everyone away, which is another tale.

Thing is, most of us want it to be more than that, which is why we complain about it not supporting the canon universe, not being very realistic, and so on, and so forth, which is why a lot of us take a shot at the "fixing".

Quote:

Originally Posted by Flattened Sphere (Post 600826)
...
(1) end to the unlimited supply of missiles and sand canisters: you need to put in a magazine to hold them, and this takes up ship space ...

With the note that there is usually some supply integral to the weapon. Missile turrets by canon, for example, hold three shots per launcher plus another 12 in storage for reload. For the typical fighter, that means he's got 7 salvoes available before he has to head back to dock and reload. One could adopt something similar for bay missiles - it kinda pushes credulity to believe that a hundred dTon bay can only fire a hundred 50 kg missiles before reloading from a magazine. One could adopt something similar to the turrets - say 8 or 10 salvoes available before it either has to draw from bays or rotate to the reserve for reloading from a supply ship.

It's also worth noting that this makes fleet scale combat difficult, as you're having to track ammunition for what is likely to be more than one class of ship, including such technicalities as fewer rounds being used as bays take damage during the course of the battle. This works for ship-on-ship combat, but one might do better setting some arbitrary target based on the average number of salvoes aboard: "Fleet X can fight for Y rounds before it's out of missiles," and then declare the fleet's out of missiles Y rounds later irrespective of what damage occurred to missile batteries in the meantime.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Flattened Sphere (Post 600826)
...(2) restrictions on how much armour you can put on smaller ships (sliding scale, becoming more generous at higher TLs) so you don't have these 1000 ton ships that simply can't be touched by anything other than massed missile batteries or spinal weapons...

Interesting note: High Guard's percentage-based armor system means a 100-ton ship has armor 1/10 as thick as a 100,000 ton ship, and High Guard's size DMs are based on a factor of 10: craft up to 99 dTons get a -2, craft 100 to 1999 dTons get a -1, craft 2000 to under 19,999 dTons, and so forth. An easy trick is to double the size modifier (-4/-2/0/+2/+4) and take that as a DM to the damage table, since 2 is reasonably close to the cube root of 10. Smaller craft gain an agility advantage but pay with an armor disadvantage.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Flattened Sphere (Post 600826)
...(3) the "to hit" size modifiers become 0, +1, +2, +3 and +4 so that hits are more readily registered, making combats shorter and sharper, and meaning that encounters between small, agile ships with their weapons grouped into smaller batteries don't become total stalemates. I am also contemplating adjusting the agility DM, but need to see how this plays out first. ...

A popular mod is to apply agility only against spinal weapons, since that makes it play a bit more like Book-2 and since the armor already significantly impacts the usefulness of secondary weapons. At intervals under about 100,000 to 150,000 km, there isn't really enough time to dodge a beam moving at the speed of light.

Missiles are debatable: in space, your 6G ship can't dodge laterally any faster than that 6G missile can compensate, but forcing it to zig and zag laterally trying to maintain a course that hits you as you dance around means it can't apply that energy towards increasing its impact speed, which might increase your odds of pulling off a last-second pivot that causes it to impact at a sharp angle rather than head-on. On the other hand, a nuke doesn't really care. I don't know what's best there.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Flattened Sphere (Post 600826)
...(4) spinal weapon potency adjusted. Instead of one roll to hit and penetrate and then umpteen rolls on the damage table if they do hit, they get umpteen attempts at a hit, and each hit that penetrates gets one roll. So instead of going turn after turn after turn and then landing a single crippling blow, they are doing steady work of degading the enemy. ...

We're already operating under the assumption that the spinal mount is firing many times over a 20-minute round to land a single hit, as a justification for it needing all that energy for a full 20-minute round (else we could give it batteries and allow it to take 1/20th the energy). Plus, probably an individual taste thing, but I prefer the spinal mount to act more like a big ol' 18" cannon than a trio of 6" cannons.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Flattened Sphere (Post 600826)
...(5) Failure to penetrate the meson screen doesn't kill the meson hit altogether - it just means the meson screen's factor is added as a DM to the damage roll. Failure to penetrate the configuration does kill it, however.
...
(8) Armour DOES reduce critical hits by oversize meson guns. The rationale is that these critical hits are the result of the additional shock of being shaken about by a massive blast (think depth charges and submarines), and armour is about improving the structural integrity of the ship. This logically would reduce the additional damage done by the shock of the blast, irrespective of whether the blast was inside or outside the ship. ...

A submarine that might survive a depth charge will be destroyed by having a torpedo or the batteries explode inside the ship. The canon description of meson guns has them going off inside the ship - which is bad science but, leaving that aside, basically means something very like a small nuclear explosion is occurring inside the ship. The crits aren't the result of additional shock; they're the result of an expanding blast-front of superheated plasma caused by ship-material raised to temperatures in the tens of thousands of degrees by an intense concentration of gamma photons. We could correct the science and have them go off on the armor, but that makes them behave the same as particle beams.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Flattened Sphere (Post 600826)
...(6) Reduction in additional rolls for armour is one per two factors of armour, rather than one per factor, so those big particle accelerators aren't quite so impotent against heavily armoured ships.

(7) Reduction of critical hits by over-size weapons is one per factor of armour, not one per two factors, but so that there will always be at least one critical hit. This makes hits by oversize weapons more survivable, whilst still ensuring that they make a nasty dent....

I agree there's a need to address the spinal particle beam's anemic performance, but why do you want hits by oversize weapons to be more survivable? I hadn't thought there was a problem in that area. One per factor essentially eliminates the critical from over-size weapons since most spacecraft intended for combat will carry a decent amount of armor.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Flattened Sphere (Post 600826)
...(9) A requirement for additional life support supplies to be carried (and tonnage to be allocated to them) on ships intended for prolonged cruises away from their bases (or, alternatively, the provision of support ships to bring them these supplies); with rules of half rations and its effect on fighting efficiency when a ship finds its supplies running low for any reason....

I'm not sure when this would come up, but it might be useful if you were setting up a specific scenario like what they did in Arrival Vengeance.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Flattened Sphere (Post 600826)
...(10) Command and control rules to give some greater prominence to the Fleet Tactics skill. ...

What did you have in mind?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Flattened Sphere (Post 600826)
...(11) "Fuel Tanks Shattered" and "Hangar/Boat deck destroyed" have been switched, so that Fuel Tanks Shattered is a critical hit result not a standard internal explosion result. ...

Given that the fuel tanks typically comprise a large percentage of a ship's volume, I kind of expect to see them on the interior explosion chart. It might be easier to cap the amount of fuel loss, say to 25% of fuel up to a maximum 10,000 dTons, on the argument that ships would have multiple tanks in different locations so that one explosion wouldn't get them all.


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