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Old June 29th, 2014, 02:33 PM
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Default CT Combat Round - By The Book


I am writing this post to explain the Classic Traveller Combat Round to newbies and those Refs who have forgotten the details as written in the Traveller Book. I'll list Traveller Book pages references for any who wish to study the CT combat round procedure as it is written in the rules.


CT has a few basic rules about the combat round.

1. It's a 15 second combat round, or there abouts (pg 34).
2. During the combat round, each character is allowed to move and attack (or move and 34)
3. Movement is generally considered first, followed by the character's action (pg 34).


Typical combat actions are discussed in the text (pg 37) and are listed in a table (pg 45). This is a remarkable tool that the Ref can use to break down and adjudicate any combat situation. When a player states what he wishes his character to do, the Ref should think about the character's actions in terms of the Typical Actions Table.


Run, Walk, Close Range, Open Range, Stand, Evade.

Shoot, Switch (semi or full auto), Reload, Throw, Draw, Swing, Hit.
I will write a detailed combat example below, but consider this with regard to the Typical Actions Table: We have a game situation where Ari, an unarmed PC, is being led down a forest trail to the enemy NPC camp. Regg, the NPC guard who follows Ari, has his rifle pointed at the small of Ari's back. The player says, "Ari is going to turn around suddenly and grab the end of the rifle, giving it a big yank! I want to disarm that SOB!"

The Ref should process this in terms of the Typical Actions table. The Ref picks two typical actions--one movement action and the character's main action--from the table, listing the movement action first (because, under Basic Assumptions above, we consider movement first, before other actions, in terms of the combat round). The player says that Ari will turn and grab. Looking at the Typical Actions table, the Ref translates this to: Ari will Stand and Swing. I picked "Swing" because it's the closest typical action listed that would describe Ari's action of attempting to grab his opponent's weapon. Because the table is flexible like this, any combat action can be described by just using two of seven words on the Typical Actions table.

Seeing his captive turn on him like this, the Ref decides that the NPC guard, Regg, will just blow the idiot away. Again, in terms of Typical Actions, Regg will Stand and Shoot.

Ari - Stand and Swing

Regg - Stand and Shoot


Besides the Typical Actions table, CT gives us a three step Combat Procedure table (pg 34 and pg 46). We may have questions about the combat. Can Ari turn and grab the gun before Regg fires? The proper, by the book, method of carrying out any combat is done by playing out a character's two typical actions in the order presented on the Combat Procedure table.


STEP 1: Determine Surprise. Determine Range. Allow escape or avoidance.

STEP 2: Character moves then he attacks or acts. Damage is applied at the end of the round, after all combatants have moved and acted. Determine morale for NPCs.

STEP 3: Shore up the results of this round in order to begin the next round.
With the combination of Typical Actions and the Combat Procedure steps, it is easy for a Ref to play out any encounter. Follow the example below to see how Ari and Regg will fare.


The NPC guard, Regg, has Ari at rifle point. The two are walking along a forest trail. Regg is taking Ari to the guard camp. Ari leads Regg on the trail, and the guard has his rifle pointed at the small of Ari's back. At this point in the game, the player playing Ari says that he wants his character to suddenly turn around and grab the rifle, jerking it out of the guard's hands.

The Combat Round begins.

The Ref processes Ari's actions in terms of the Typical Actions table. Ari will Stand and Swing.

In response to the PC's action, the Ref decides that the NPC Regg will squeeze the trigger, attempting to kill Ari. In terms of Typical Actions, Regg will Stand and Shoot.

STEP 1 of the Combat Procedure indicates that the Ref should consider Surprise first. Since a character with Surprise must be able to escape and avoid the combat encounter altogether (pg 34), it is obvious that Ari cannot do this and therefore is not elligble for Surprise. Next, the Ref must determine range, and since Regg has Ari at rifle point as the combat encounter starts, combat starts at Short Range.

STEP 2 is where the characters move and act, and movement is considered first (pg 34). It does not matter which character is considered first as all characters are allowed to move and act during the round, and damage is not applied until all characters have had their turn. In this situation, Ari is driving the action, so I would start with Ari's actions first. But, it doesn't really matter. I could just as easily get Regg's shot out of the way then allow Ari to peform his action. It makes no difference.

If Regg's action to shoot is played out first, Ari cannot change his actions. This is how Classic Traveller plays out what is supposed to be simultaneous movement and actions. As Ari is turning and grabbing, Regg is quickly aiming and firing. It is not until the end of the round, when damage is applied, that we find out the exact order of things: Was Ari able to grab the weapon and not get shot doing it? Did Regg miss? Or, did he shoot Ari then have the rifle pulled from his hands a fraction of a second later? This is all decided by the dice rolls.

Ari's Turn: He turns around and attempts a grab at Regg's weapon. In CT, there is no book rule for this action, so the Ref must govern the situation using his own estimation (pg 37).

If you are interested in reading how I would govern this situation in a game, click on the spoiler below. I put that in a spoiler box because what I would choose to do has nothing to do with the rules as written. Another CT Ref might very well devise a different throw. This post is about how the combat round plays, rules as written.

I might adjudicate Ari's grab for Regg's rifle like this:

Ari turns to grip the rifle....

Ari gets a 2D Brawling attack throw to grab the weapon, except the target number will be Regg's DEX score instead of the standard required 8+ needed to hit. I decided upon this because a high DEX might allow Regg to avoid Ari's grab before the guard levels the weapon and fires at his prisoner. This attack is played just like a normal Brawling attack except that the target number is Regg's DEX score (not 8+). If this throw succeeds, Ari has grabbed the weapon, but he still needs to play a tug-o-war with Regg in order to pull it from the NPC's hands.

Instead of rolling damage, a successful grab on Ari's part gets him a roll to yank the weapon out of Regg's hands. This roll only happens if Ari is successful with the Brawling attack above (indicating that he has gripped the rifle), and this roll will be made at the end of the round, after Regg has move and acted, when the damage rolls are made.

Ari grips the weapon, and now he yanks....

If Ari successfully grips the rifle, he is allowed an attempt to yank it from Regg's hands. This will be a 2D throw, looking for a number that is equal to or higher than Regg's STR score. Regg has STR 6, so Ari's tug will be 2D for 6+, before modifiers are applied.

Modifiers: +1 if PC STR higher than NPC STR. -1 if PC STR less than NPC STR. +1 if PC STR is twice NPC STR. -1 if PC STR is half NPC STR. +1 if guard is distracted.

Regg is intent on his prisoner, so the distraction modifier does not apply. But Ari does have STR C, which is twice that of Regg's, thus Ari gets +2 on the throw.

The final throw that Ari needs to make in order to grab the rifle from Regg's hands is 2D +2 for 6+ (or 2D for 4+).

Looking at the chart in Book 0, I can see that Ari has a 92% chance of success if Ari can get his hands on the weapon. Ari has an incredible strength advantage over his smaller captor. But, the weapon is the great equalizer. Regardless of Ari's action to take the weapon, Regg can seriously wound, incapacitate, or kill the PC if Regg is successful with his shot--especially with the implementation of the First Wound rule (pg 35). It's a big risk that Ari is taking.

Regg's Turn: He makes a rifle attack on Ari, using the standard CT attack throw and modifiers. The range is Short.

End of Round: Here, at the end of the round, we apply Regg's damage on Ari, if the guard was successful with the attack. The First Wound rule (pg 35) will apply if Ari is hit. (And if I am the Ref for this game, this is also where we will determine if Ari can pull the weapon from Regg's hands, as I detailed in the spoiler block above.)

STEP 3 indicates the point in the combat where the situation is shored up in consideration for the next round. Neither character moved, so positions stay the same, and next round will again begin at Short Range. Ari may or may not now be in possession of the rifle, depending on the result of his attempt to grab the weapon. And, Ari may be injured or incapacitated if Regg scored a hit with his attack. If Regg missed, then Ari begins round two uninjured.


Last edited by Supplement Four; June 29th, 2014 at 05:22 PM..
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