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MegaTraveller Discuss of the MegaTraveller ruleset and the Rebellion Milieu

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  #21  
Old June 25th, 2010, 02:40 PM
E.D.Quibell E.D.Quibell is offline
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This is my TL10 System probe that got bounced around on the TML last year. It's one ton at TL10, and I know you are a TL15 guy, so you could probably get it down considerably lower if you wished. In MT Navigation and Survey can both be used as (Sensor Ops (-1)) which is why it's not needed to run the sensors.

Scot Class System Probe
Designed and copyright by Ewan Quibell 2009-10-27
Updated 2009-12-20

CraftID: Probe, Type QN, TL10, MCr10.1166, UPP=AFx53x
Hull: 1/2, Disp=1, Config=0USL, Armour=40E, Unloaded=18.969 tons, Loaded=19.542 tons
Power: 1/2, Fusion=4.8Mw, Duration=47.38/142.14
Loco: 1/2, LowPowerH-GravTrust=40 ton, NOE=n.a., Cruise=900 kph, Top=1200 kph, MaxAccel=2G, Agility=0
Comm: Radio=System, Laser=System, Interface=Brain
Sensors: PassiveEMS=Sub Stellar, ActiveEMS=Far Orbit ActObjScan=Rout, ActObjPin=Rout, PasEngScan=Form
Off: Hardpoints=1
Def: DefDM=+2
Control: Robot Brian x2, Panel=Computer linked x2
Brain: CPU=Linear x15, Parallel x35, Storage=Standard x30 FundLogic=LowData, FundCmd=LimitedBasic, Software= Communications-1, Navigation-2, Prospecting-2, Ships Boat-1, Survey-2,
Accom: None
Other: Cargo=0 klitres, Fuel=8.187 klitres ObjSize=Small, EmLevel=Faint
Comment: Construction Time=8 weeks single, 6 weeks multiple

The Scot Class System Probes are the latest design for the Home County Scouts, and are built by Yorin Corporation. The autonomous probes are designed to be sent out across systems to survey planetary bodies while the mother craft is undergoing other duties. The Scots are piloted by the built in robot brains. The brains are in primary, back-up mode with the master brain functioning while the other is in hot standby in case of failure. All data is duplicated to the back-up which will take over instantly in the event of failure of the master. Sensor data is continually recorded and analyzed. Data can be stored on board or transmitted to the mother ship as required.
Being completely autonomous the number of probes that can be run simultaneously is only limited by the supervisorís capacity to oversee them. Scout protocol is that no more than 7 probes should be run by one supervisor.
The probe has 2G acceleration out to 10 diameters from any planetary body, dropping off to 1G in open space.
With the expense of the probes and Home County having been quite extensively surveyed already very few probes have been produced to date. All Scot class system probes are produced in the Yorin factories on Home.
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  #22  
Old June 26th, 2010, 02:38 AM
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E.D. Quibell and Seriayne, thanks heaps for the replies.

If there is a draft copy of DGP's proposed integration of Robot brains into MT Craft Design and it can be distributed, obviously I'd love a copy as well. Would perfect this thread!

Aramis above also mentioned the 250 CP / point of INT, thanks for finding the reference. I got out my copy of 101 vehicles and found it as well, finally - had it all the time, of course.

But I'm not sure I can agree we can assign that many CP to a robot brain. DGP's reasoning is this (quoting from 101 vehicles):

Notice that if 250 CP is intelligence 1, then a TL16, Model 11 computer (CP multiplier of 200) is almost intelligence 1. A TL17, Model 12 computer (CP Multiple of 1,000) is intelligence 4. Thus, you can see, that by TL17 starship computers become truly intelligent.


The problem with this statement is two-fold. Firstly, INT and EDU ratings for robot brains occur from TL11 - that is, we are not saying that they are self-aware and sentient, but that for game purposes we can rate INT and EDU for skills and tasks. This makes using INT points as a multiplier by comparing them to a TL16 computer problematic because the difference when we get to TL16 is not the processing power so much as true sentience comes into being.

The second problem is that a TL16 Model 12 computer with one Holographic Linked control panel comes in at 20.02 kL, 5.01 tonnes, MCr43.0005, and produces 300 control points, rated at INT 1.

A TL12 robot brain with 5 Parallel CPU's and 11 Standard Storage units comes in at 0.008 kL, 0.0011 tonnes, MCr0.057250 and is also rated at INT 1 and EDU 1 - and hence produces 250 control points.

For controlling any craft of any size, it would be insane not to ditch on-board computers by TL12 or TL13 and replace them with robot brains in nearly every case - cheaper, lighter, more compact and consume less power by an order of more than 1,000 times. I think this distorts the intended spirit of the design system.

I think the way around this to take the view that robot brains being highly specialised decision makers need electronics to interface with the rest of the craft, but do not need the volume requirements indicated by holographic linked controls - a heavy discount needs to be applied for the ability to directly interface with the brain, not through displays, keyboards, or the need to customise controls, etc. etc. I also think that while brains should count as having a CP multiplier, 250 is too much. The computing power in the volumes and masses represented on the Craft Computer table represents all of the networked cabling and server power needed to co-ordinate the vaaast amounts of control for a craft (especially a starship).

But having said all of that, the reverse problem is why not build starships with built in robot brains that pilot, navigate, and control weapons? In my view, you can, but the pay-off is cost and (indirectly) weight: hence the x5 price multiplier and x2 mass multiplier to the hull for any robot brain being installed. That means we can create giant 10,000 displacement ton unmanned robots armed with Meson Spinal weapons, intelligence 15, education 15, and Gunnery-5, Pilot-5 but they are going to be enormously expensive. Or we can instead built our standard battle riders but crew them with robots that interface with the computer - much less expensive and more flexible (the robots can bail along with sentients - gee, there's a good idea for a story, two robots bail in a lifepod carrying information important for carrying on the fight against an Imperial government ...).

This goes to the heart of "what is a robot?". I think it is a craft with a robot brain that as a consequence can be given orders and operate independently of sentient control consistent with those orders.
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  #23  
Old July 4th, 2010, 11:59 AM
conanlibrarian conanlibrarian is offline
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Default Hits / Damage

Everyone seems to ignore a big elephant in the room, and that is how to compute hull damage capacity. If following the Megatraveller design evaluation (including the errata to multiply hits with 10 for vehicle combat), the results are pretty strange.

Assume a human sized robot, chassis size 0.1 m^3. This would give hull hits of 0.07 / 0.2, and that is for standard combat, i.e. AFTER multiplying with 10. This must then be rounded in some way, but the effect would be that all robots smaller than 600 liter have hit 1/1 (or 10/10 if rounding before multiplying with 10), and all robots smaller than 2250 liter have hit 1/?. This is clearly not satisfactory - we want robots to differ in how tough they are.

So, how do you guys solve this?

One possibility would be to directly convert the hit values from Book 8. This leads to the formula (Volume in liters)/15. ( /6 for destroyed.) It would give nice results for our 100 liter robot: 7/17. But this would simply not do - it would lead to a large difference between robots and vehicles. A 2 m^3 robot would be 133/333, while a displacement 1 ground car (13.5 m^3) would be 9/23 (10/20 if rounded before conversion), both examples for Vehicular combat.

I have been thinking about it, an my take is that the basic assumption that hits ~ hull volume in Megatraveller is simply false. What is needed is a measure of the 'amount of structure' in the hull. One possibility would be to relate this to the surface area of the hull, which can be approximated to be proportional to Volume ^ (2/3). The formula would be:
  • inoperable = (Volume ( in m^3) ) ^ (2/3) ( * 10 for vehicular combat)
  • destroyed = inoperable * 2.5
This would give hits 2/5 for our 100 liter robot, and still a sensible 194/484 for a Free Trader in ship combat, compared to 180/450 using the original rule. Small crafts and vehicles would differ more (ground car 57/142 instead of 9/23). Very large ships would also become easier to destroy, and fighters would become tougher.

Another alternative would be to use the (base) COST of the hull as a measure of 'amount of structure'. This sounds weird perhaps, but has some kind of logic to it (economics never lies ), and seems to give nice results. I'd use (Base price of hull (Cr)) / 1500 and (Base price of hull (Cr)) / 600; times 10 for vehicular combat:
  • 100 liter robot (vehicular combat): 3/7
  • Displacement 1 ground car (vehicular combat): 22/55
  • Free trader (ship combat): 177/442
So, these are my ramblings on the topic of hit points for robots. Of these two alternatives I think I prefer the price based one, since it has easier calculations and nicer results. The surface area based alternative is perhaps more logical, though. So, what do you think, and do you have any better ideas?

Last edited by conanlibrarian; July 4th, 2010 at 12:02 PM.. Reason: typo
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  #24  
Old July 4th, 2010, 08:25 PM
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Interesting stuff, conanlibrarian.

I had not thought this was a big issue, though. Toughness in Mega Traveller is not the only factor in how much of a pounding a craft can take, though: the other side to this is armour. Armour reduces damage, effectively increasing the amount of pounding a craft can take.

I actually think an unarmoured human-sized robot having damage of 1/1 fits the game balance really well. Human bodies can absorb more damage because we're wet, able to absorb shock, have had millions of years of evolution behind us that refined our capacity to survive. If an unarmoured robot gets fired upon, it's going to be easier to destroy - it's full of delicate machinery and electronics.

I think the mid-range vehicle design raises some problems with damage. The original ground-car hits you had were 9/23, which increased to 57/142 under your formula. I'll assume it's not armoured significantly. In the original, one hit from a PGMP-12 would take the car out of action ("inoperable"). That sounds about right to me! But the revised car, it would take five hits from such a plasma weapon - and that would just stop it in its tracks. It's still repairable.

Don't get me wrong, though: the question I think that is on your mind is - why should one shot from a body pistol take a human sized robot out of action, and one shot from a rifle destroy it? Well, again, this can be addressed by armour.

Without any further modification of the design rules so far, we can assume that robots designed under Book 8 have an armour of at least 2. This means that a Body Pistol - with penetration zero - gets a "zero penetration result". That is, applies only 10% - or 0.3 points - of damage, dropping fractions for a final result of zero.

Applying the same thing with a 7mm rifle - a penetration of 3/2 means at short and medium ranges it would get a low penetration result or half of 3 dropping fractions = 1 point of damage. Enough to render the robot inoperable. At long or very long ranges, however, it would get a zero penetration result, same as a body pistol at short range.

In terms of net effect, this is similar to the effect on humans. Robots then have repairs instead of medical treatment.

I'm reasonably comfortable with this in terms of game balance as it stands.

I note that the Mega Traveller combat rules in their original form make reference to robots, and apply the vehicle hits tables to them as well (I think they lifted them pretty much straight from Book 8). Note that a lucky hit can take out the robot's brain, or their locomotion in addition to superstructure damage. That makes them a bit more vulnerable than humans.

It seems to me that the rules are really saying: if your robot ain't designed for combat, don't take it into combat.

Thus robots are valuable, fragile and worth protecting.
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  #25  
Old July 4th, 2010, 09:46 PM
conanlibrarian conanlibrarian is offline
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Yes, perhaps you're right, and armour can make up for this. But all robot designs published in old Traveller and Megatraveller supplements have had hit values larger than minimal. For instance "Vilani & Vargr" (for Megatraveller) has a 100 liter Vargr robot with hits 7/17, clearly converted from book 8. Yes the 57/142 ground car is problematic, that's why I prefer the second approach which leads to 22/55 for the ground car. This is still double the hits from the original, but does not feel too problematic.
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  #26  
Old July 5th, 2010, 12:04 AM
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OK, that robot in the Vilani & Vargr supplement does present some problems about conversion assumptions. I will have a bit of a muck around with that design with some interest. Thanks for pointing it out.

But having said that, I'm already suggesting we depart from DGP's initial draft approach (i.e. get robot control points rules going, and scale down robot brain CP multiplier). So if we come up with a robot design system for Mega Traveller based on the existing craft design sequence, we might need to live with a couple of designs being scrapped and replaced. But so far in my trials with 101 robots, it's not been so bad as to break the game. So it might mean a fair whack of difference in cost, mass, price and damage able to be taken, but so long as the new specification meets mission parameters within reasonable cost constraints, I reckon that's a successful transfer of it to the new environment.

Last edited by OjnoTheRed; July 5th, 2010 at 12:08 AM.. Reason: typo
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  #27  
Old July 6th, 2010, 10:24 AM
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Hmmmmm. Having had a look at the Vargr robot on p.84 of V&V, (Hits: 7/17, 100 litres), and the Vilani Shadan Robot on p. 36 (Hits: 210/350, 2000 litres) it seems that neither Book 8 nor Mega Traveller Craft Design has been used.

I think 7/17 hits comes out way too much. A valet robot able to withstand a two shots from a Laser Rifle at short range - and needing a third just to make it inoperable? On the other hand, the Robot Book 8 hits are Volume (in litres) / 5 for inoperable, and /2 for destroyed. That works out at 10 / 20 - but bearing in mind this is for damage rolled in dice, so at 5D damage for the Laser Rifle, on an average roll (17 or 18), the robot would be taken down and nearly destroyed - that is about the same as 3 damage in Mega Traveller on a 1/2 damage profile, and we can concede on 1/1 on a translation into new rules.

A conanlibrarian points out about, 7/17 is what you get from 100 divided by 15 for inoperable, and by 6 for destroyed. So it seems for the Vargr robot, they applied the Mega Traveller craft formula, but simply forgot that the MT formula the volume is in kilolitres, not litres.

The survey robot at 2,000 litres (=2 kL) would come out at 0.133 / 0.333 (round to 1/1) in Mega Traveller craft design - and 400/1000 in Robot Book 8 terms. V&V lists 210/350 - which doesn't appear to be related to anything. Dividing 2,000 litres by 15 for inoperable and 6 for destroyed gives us 133/333.

Basically, anything at 6,000 litres or less (which is all robots at the chassis sizes listed in Book 8) comes out at 1 / 1 in the Mega Traveller craft design rules. Thus, the UCP (i.e. displacement ton value) for robots and vehicles start to get more hit points is 0.500 and above on the Hull table.

Do we want to come up with something that allows internal bracing / shock absorbing / etc. that allows a designer to build in more ability to take damage? And how do we design it to stop larger craft able to withstand enormous hits to their structure without breaking and unbalance the game?

One last think I could not resist. Sorry:

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Old July 6th, 2010, 11:52 AM
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Yes, I ignored the survey robot, as you said, its damage capacity is simply to weird.

One correction: The valet robot would be 20/50 using book 8, it is 100 liter. One megatraveller damage point is equivalent to 1d classic traveller hits, in average 3.5. If we assume that the designers used 3 instead of 3.5 we get the result of 7/17. That is why I said that its damage points are based on book 8.

I think my main objection to using the Megatraveller rules as they stand is that it is boring. If all robots (smaller than 600 liter) had 1/1 in vehicle combat it would only take one shot from an appropriate weapon to destroy it. It is too limiting, i think. It completely renders the concept of a damaged robot unusable, you either incapacitate it or you do not damage it. This rules out action like the scene from the first Alien movie, for instance.

On the other hand if we really follow the letter of the rules to the extreme, then every robot smaller than 6000 liter would be evaluated to 1/1, which, using the errata, would be used as 10/10 in vehicular combat. That is also too weird! Now our valet would have a too high damage capacity, and would take as many hull hits as a ground car to render inoperable.

None of these alternatives are really appealing to me, and that is the reason why I think some other alternative is needed.
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Old July 6th, 2010, 05:28 PM
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I'm monitoring the thread, but have been trying to find something to contribute.

And my name is Don (McKinney), not Dom (Mooney) -- he's the author of the excellent Power Projection rules, and I'm just the FFE errata guy.

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  #30  
Old July 6th, 2010, 09:27 PM
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Thanks DonM, oh mighty compiler of the MegaTraveller Errata! How I have relied on it in getting back into the game.

conanlibrarian, I know what you're saying - in a combat situation, it seems that anything less than 6,000 litres being taken out by one shot is a bit boring. No Ash or Bishop white-goo everywhere while you hook up their heads with alligator clips to a power source to get them talking.

But I think we're free to do a little interpreting around this. Remember that a typical human (UPP 777) with 3/5 in hits might take 3 damage in combat, which is then only applied to UPP characteristics after combat is over in Mega Traveller. Then recovery is worked out. Thus, it is possible that a character has been rendered 'inoperative' due to taking 3 damage, yet when 3D is applied to characteristics, they are not actually rendered unconscious, and suffer only a minor wound. We can interpret this as saying that they have been wounded sufficiently that they are unable to take part in the remainder of the combat (doubled over in pain, winded, whatever), yet only wounded in a minor way.

Similarly for robots who have been reduced to inoperative / destroyed. A random roll for repair effort could reveal that a character with the skills (and tools, even if only improvised) might get that last little bit of information out of them. A good starting point would be the chapter on Tasks for damage costs in credits and effort. Where it's important to the plot, a referee can easily rule that the robot gets a dying gasp in the presence of the players ("You have my sympathies," leers Ash through the white goo pouring out of his mouth - and did you know that Bilbo turns out to be an android ... he he he).

But having said all of that, there are so many smaller vehicles that simply have 1/2 as their damage rating - the grav "bike" and the two-person grav enclosed lander from the World Builders Handbook. Basically these things are not for taking into combat situations.

For the most part, neither are robots. There are specific combat robots, but no-one seriously takes valet robots into a fight - but when they do end up in a fight it's good to know what happens to them, and how much effort that the Wookie needs to stick the protocol droid's head, arms and leg on.

One last thing, I'm having trouble finding a reference to multiplying vehicle hits by ten for vehicular combat in the errata. Could you point me in the right direction, conanlibrarian? Or DonM?
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