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MegaTraveller Discuss of the MegaTraveller ruleset and the Rebellion Milieu

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Old June 8th, 2010, 06:45 AM
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Default Squaring Robots Book 8 with Mega Traveller

My Far Explorer Ship has come some way from initial inception. I designed a probe for it based on a hybrid of the Special Supplement 3 - Missiles rules with Mega Traveller Craft Design, ignoring weight.

Hemdian made the excellent suggestion that it would be desirable to collect used probes (they are expensive) and so a robotic brain with basic commands (such as "if communication lost, return to ship").

Of course, this begs the question - how do we square the CT Book 8 - Robots rules to Mega Traveller craft design? My thinking is that it can't be that hard - the same people did both sets of rules.

I'm not sure if someone has addressed this before - I'd very much appreciate a nudge in the right direction. I note that this is listed as an "outstanding problem" for the MegaTraveller Errata file. That file also says that an attempt at reconciliation presents "serious issues" and that David Jacques-Watson has outlined some rules changes. But I'm having a bit of trouble finding his article. I want to share the following observations as a starting point.

On a quick glance, the configuration weight and price multipliers are identical in Book 8 and Mega Traveller Craft Design. Book 8 simply has two more configurations. So far so good.

But there's more. The standard Robot configurations match UCP values for hulls imperfectly - but there's a pattern. Where chassis litres in the Robot chassis match existing UCP values (100, 500, 750 and 1000 litres), the weight is identical but the price is five times as much.

It also appears to me that the Robot Chassis chart in Book 8 has added an extra zero to price for 5, 10, 20 50 and 80 litre chassis.

Finally, the armour listing for Robot Chassis is "Mesh" - that is, Armour Value 2 in Mega Traveller.

Thus, it would appear that for the same weight of Robot Chassis, you get an armour of 2 not of 4. Since the Armour-2 weight multiplier is 0.5, this means that effective robot chassis are twice as heavy for the equivalent armour/volume combination in MegaTraveller.

In summary, to square the Robot Chassis table with the Mega Traveller Hull Table is to add the outstanding values, assume a base weight of 1kg / 10 litres of hull/chassis, and provide a new "robot" configuration of a weight multiplier of 2 and a price modifier of 5 when designing a robot.

This leads to the following values being added to the Select Vehicle Chassis table:



Note that for ease on the eyes I have listed units in litres instead of kilolitres and weight in kilograms rather than tonnes. Divide by 1,000 for direct comparison to the Craft Design Select Vehicle Chassis Table.

We then extend the "config" table as follows.



My proposal would be that we add two new configuration codes (A and B) to cope with robot configurations. We qualify the armour for Pseudo-Biological robots to say that the Armour Multiplier is always 1, and is always the equivalent of Jack (i.e. armour value 1 against brawling / blades only).

Where a robot brain is provided, we require that the craft have a robot configuration added to any other configuration. The effect on streamlining and configuration chosen is cumulative: thus, it is possible to create a streamlined robot craft, if very pricey.

Hell, it would be possible to create a 10,000 displacement ton "giant woman" with Config = B who shoots lasers out of her eyes. Hmmmm. Design spec to follow.



Two things on the to-do list:
  • Check all installable items from Book 8 for clashes with MT Craft Design
  • Develop rules for operator being superceded via appropriate robot brain programming per Book 8 rules

... of course, that's if someone hasn't already done the legwork ...
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Old June 8th, 2010, 08:44 AM
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I did some robot designs using a mix between the Book 8 rules and the MT craft design.
I'll see if I can did up my old notes, from almost 20 years back.
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Old June 10th, 2010, 10:17 AM
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Thanks Zparkz!

I might just continue adding to this thread bit by bit until I've got the Robot Book 8 design sequence covered.

Thrust-based locomotion in Book 8 Robots and Mega Traveller Craft design are identical (after converting to equivalent units).

Contact-based locomotions are comparable. Both suspension and transmissions have minor adjustments from Book 8 to MT, and MT includes more mass and volume for lower tech designs. I am happy to take the figures from the MT design sequence without adjustment as probably a rebalancing of what was supplied with Book 8. Obvious "true" robots come into being at around TL12, and the figures for the higher tech wheels, tracks or legs in MT are very similar to the figures in Book 8.

Which brings me to the question of minimum volume. I had read minimum volume for wheels at 15% and tracks at 20% of hull volume. This roughly equates with the older Striker design sequence which was "5% of hull width for wheels, to a height of one metre" and "10% of hull width for tracks, to a height of one metre". The enhancement of the MT design sequence was to remove height, length and width and only address total volume (which creates, for example, the possibility of a spherical car ...).

But the MT Errata say do put a decimal point for 1.5% and 2.0% minimum volume where that weird space appears. The figures otherwise tally quite accurately, with perhaps some minor rebalancing. Anyone who could clarify would be most welcome.
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Old June 10th, 2010, 05:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OjnoTheRed View Post
Thanks Zparkz!
I have been looking thorugh my old material, but did only find some of my MT robot designsAs they are in paper format I'll re-type them some time during this weekend.
I would love to OCR them, but the print is quite faint and with an old dot-matrix printer.
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Old June 11th, 2010, 03:47 AM
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Hey, Zparkz, whenever - it's no rush.

Now, continuing with the comparison analysis and moving onto power.

Batteries and fuel cells are identical between Book 8 and MegaTraveller Craft Design.

Fusion power is a bit different. The closest stats from MegaTraveller are the TL12 fusion power plants, which evaluate for equivalent volumes as follows.



As with the locomotion comparisons, given that volume and weight are good, and power output really only varies for the smallest one, I'm happy to take MT Craft Design as a reasonable re-balancing. Note that for the lower TL's, fusion power is not practical for minimum volume reasons assuming that our robots won't be built as giants. More discussion on that later, I think.

Looking towards robot brains and functionality vs. Mega Traveller vehicle computers, I think I can see some potential issues that may mean revisiting our assumptions about the hull.

Also, aramis, point taken about the pseudo-bio - it would be much more elegant to include soft-armour types as an option for all craft. The problem is, I don't have Wood Wind Fire and Steam. But I'm open to suggestions, obviously.
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Old June 11th, 2010, 05:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OjnoTheRed View Post
Also, aramis, point taken about the pseudo-bio - it would be much more elegant to include soft-armour types as an option for all craft. The problem is, I don't have Wood Wind Fire and Steam. But I'm open to suggestions, obviously.
Following with a lot of interest - though a question about the psuedo-bios. How is the PB chassi built? Is the psuedo bio a human shaped 'solid' metal robot with a cosmetic external layer (you could pull/shoot off the cosmetic layer off and the robot wouldn't be affected unless you damaged the metal chassi) or are PBs 'soft and squishy' like the androids in the Aliens series?

If they are the first type, then you could have the main chassi built out of metal or ceramic materials and hide it beneath the cosmetic coating and hence no need to tweak the amours types, while if they are the 'soft and squishy' model then a flexible mesh/polymer armour would be needed.

And is 'internal armour' included as well? Armouring a robots critical parts (power plant/CPU core) to prevent unwanted explosions or system shutdowns with a lucky hit. IIRC you can have "internal armour" on MT ships which add to the hull armour value in the case of a hit.

Last edited by Lycanorukke; June 11th, 2010 at 05:11 AM..
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Old June 10th, 2010, 01:01 PM
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There's no reason to treat pseudobio special. Just add a flesh armor type that can't exceed the exceedingly thin levels used in Wood Wind Fire and Steam (Challenge article on low-tech MT designs).

As for the minimums, at best, they are badly done. Special cases by scale.
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Old June 12th, 2010, 09:53 AM
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Ojno, please keep this discussion going. I'm glad to see this getting the attention it needs and I hope it can wind up in the errata files.
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Old June 14th, 2010, 07:31 AM
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Thanks Major B! I can't promise the world, but I seem to be on a bit of a roll now, so here goes.

Firstly, I have started by reconstructing a random selection of basic robots from 101 Robots. I'm taking these because they are done by the same people who did the Robot 8 rules, and so show what the original authors intended.

There are five robots I have done this way. For each of them I have re-done the robot design using Mega Traveller Craft Design. As I spreadsheeted, I started making in-game decisions about what would consistently apply in the spirit of both Book 8 and Mega Traveller, and the following principles emerged (which are subject to revision):
  1. No seperate config multiplier
  2. Additional Hull sizes (per the chart above with some extra interpolations thrown in).
  3. Control panels required for interfacing brain to rest of vehicle. Fractions allowed. CP interface with robot brain or with crew member, specified at time of design.
  4. If slave unit and no brain, no control panels required on-board. but robot now requires CP points and master unit to control it. May qualify this in future by saying at above 3,000 litres limited CP are required for slave unit to control the rest of the craft.
  5. CP requirements now must be listed if external to robot
  6. Power requirements must now be listed if external to robot
  7. Loaded weight includes STR x 2 in what the robot can carry for all purposes (e.g. assume full load for power-to-weight ratio and ground pressure).
  8. Personal weapons at actual volumes and weights instead of Book 8 packages (as listed in the Imperial Encyclopaedia) - this is because CP now required to control them and interface with brain.
  9. All devices now take volume - using Mega Traveller Craft Design volumes where available; then using analogous volumes where item is not listed directly (e.g. 2 litres volume for 1kg mass is common for sensors); then fall back on 1 litre / 1kg mass if no other option.
  10. All robots (and a discussion around definitions will occur later - for now anything with a robot brain or slave unit is a robot) can attempt tasks for which they have skills and are given directions.

For some of them I have also added in the robot configuration multiplier in a separate design sheet to see what difference this might make and whether it brought it closer to the original design rules.

The short answer is that it made almost no difference, but it may make a difference if attempting to design super-large robots. This gives a disincentive to designing completely automated starships, for instance (a robot crew member would be more efficient). I had to double the chassis volume for the Animal Care Robot; the Assembler Robot had room inside it already so no dramas there; others needed some minor up-sizing or take away small amounts from the fuel.

The control panel requirements are done exactly in line with Mega Traveller CP requirements for each section. The brain is the "crew member" that must interface to the outside world using the controls. The only gaming problem I see with this is that part of the control points built into panels is that, for example, holo-dynamic is meant to make it easier for crew members through a better user-interface - perhaps simply a tech table of robot-specific brain-device control is needed.

In general, the needed volume for control panels, weapons and devices that didn't take chassis volume has made difference in some designs and none in others. One thing that has struck me, though, is that I think the original Book 8 design assumed that arms and tentacles were mounted externally and so wouldn't take internal chassis volume. Mega Traveller assumes that the design starting point is the external volume of the craft - i.e. what it takes up - and everything except armour (i.e. the width of the skin) takes volume.

The original spreadsheeted designs were done in Open Office. I have PDF'd the files to show the calculations:

Animal Care Robot design sheet
Assembler Robot design sheet
Private Eye Robot design sheet
Road Bot design sheet
Cargo Handler Robot design sheet

This is what I propose for Craft Evaluations for robots for Mega Traveller. Note the Robot Brain section and the Other section containing the Robot specific stats.

Animal Care Robot evaluation
Assembler Robot evaluation
Private Eye Robot evaluation
Road Bot evaluation
Cargo Handler evaluation

One final note. The robots using contact-based suspensions are very highly powered! The road bot is capable of an off-road speed of 117kph!! TL12 gives a 70kph bonus to speed - 10kph per TL over 5 is the rule in Mega Traveller Craft Design. And that's just the practical minimum TL for robots.

Although I've had to make some guesses in reverse engineering the designs, the minimums of 15% for wheels and 20% for tracks makes a lot of sense. The road bot I worked out was 30% for tracks (spreadsheets allow you to play with the numbers), which took the ground pressure well below 6 even loaded.

Feedback on the design approaches I have used is very welcome!
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Old June 14th, 2010, 07:14 AM
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Dear Folks -
Quote:
Originally Posted by OjnoTheRed View Post
That file also says that an attempt at reconciliation presents "serious issues" and that David Jacques-Watson has outlined some rules changes. But I'm having a bit of trouble finding his article.
Probably becasue there is no "c" in "Jaques"...

Try my web site (link is in my .sig) under:
Tavonni Repair Bays --> House Rules --> Reconciling Robots (2 articles)
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