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MegaTraveller Discuss of the MegaTraveller ruleset and the Rebellion Milieu

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  #11  
Old June 14th, 2010, 06:14 AM
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Dear Folks -
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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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  #12  
Old June 14th, 2010, 06:31 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, 06:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hyphen View Post
Dear Folks -

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)


I'm so sorry. Well, called out on the internet for my muddling.

Thanks for replying, though. I'll read your articles with great interest!
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  #14  
Old June 14th, 2010, 07:08 AM
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Hyphen, great article on reconciling the robot rules. I completely agree with all of your solutions - the pseudo-bio thing was shaping up to be a complete head-ache and you've gone a long way to curing it. Great work on the research about volume of your different body parts (yes, if somewhat confronting personally for you!).

The only thing is what I've said above - I really do believe a minimum of 15% of hull volume for wheel suspension and 20% for track suspension make more sense than 1.5 and 2.0 respectively. Depending on vehicle weight, of course, a 20% track volume will put you in striking distance of a ground pressure of less than 6 - very important for that coveted faster off-road speed. The design compromises necessary to achieving that make much more sense with 15% and 20%.
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Old June 14th, 2010, 08:49 AM
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For those who are interested I have uploaded two designs MT robot designs I did sometime around 1990.
You'll find them on my Traveller site (link below)
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Old June 15th, 2010, 08:11 AM
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This post of mine contains links to a design for a probe-bot launched from a standard missile turret.

The problem is that with the control panel assumption there, I can't fit a simple robot brain to a probe as small as a Traveller starship turret missile.

I am now wondering whether I should revisit the control panel assumptions. Perhaps what we need is a table of necessary controls for robot brain-craft interface. We already have control points as units, we just need a specific table where the interface is with a robot brain not a human, with a big volume discount for not needing the ergonomics necessary.

This is the second headache for pseudo-biological robots. Let's say a TL15 robot has advanced image enhancement installed for some form of very much superior vision. The cost times the tech level means 30 litres of control panel being installed - a third of the robot's volume. To square allowing for control of the craft with a robot brain, I think I've talked myself into a heavy discount for control points required for robot brain - craft interface.

Come to think of it, if we start at TL11 for such control interfaces, we can allow for excellent solid state electronics waaay more advanced than we currently see. I'll have a think about some reasonable values.

On another front, on re-reading my previous posts about the robotic config multiplier, I am convinced now that it should be kept. It can be justified on the basis that where a robot brain is installed it's "nervous system" - that is, the various electronics needed for its complete functioning including sensory input and control over its environment - must be installed throughout the craft. But as said before, a robot starship is much less efficient than a starship with robot operators.
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 09:56 AM
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I have questioned my assumptions regard control panels and come up with an answer (for now) based on nothing more than massaging the numbers until I got the answer I wanted. Meh.

Firstly, I seemed to remember that for Classic Traveller, starship design had a bridge fixed at 2% displacement tons or 20 displacement tons minimum. This was presumably to leave room for crew members to wonder around as well as the actual electronics etc. themselves.

So control panels include some measure of the volume necessary for a sentient to interface with the vehicle to control it.

The volume needed for a robot brain to do so would be much less (lack of screen/HUD/Holo HUD and supporting electronics, keyboard, hi-tech uber-mouse). But not zero - in fact, the Book 8 rules supply increased weight and volume for most installable weapons on the assumption - presumably - that some extra gear is needed for the robot to control the weapon. And surely more control interface is needed where there is more complex and hi-tech equipment (e.g. communicators, sensors).

So I started with the TL9 Computer Linked control panels. These babies give the best bang for your credit / volume / weight / megawatt. Of course, they don't supply the relief from the skill penalties for dealing with lower or higher-tech stuff than you're used to. But they are a starting point for what a robot needs.

I then applied Moore's Law but obTrav: computing / processing power doubles every tech level. This doesn't quite square with the computer table because TL5 - 7 there is a very steep climb in computing power - by a factor of 8 to 10. But those tech levels look 20 years each according to the standard Traveller technology level discussions. And TL's move up very slowly in Traveller - they must, or the Imperium would be awash with TL15 technology much more evenly than world generation would suggest.

The result is this spreadsheet.. The column in bold is where you can enter the number of control points you need.

Note that these "panels" can only supply an interface to a robot brain. If a craft has both robot brains and sentient operators, both sets of controls will need to be supplied.

In line with this, I would propose that a robot brain's INT + 1 rating is the control point multiplier for installed robot brain control interfaces. Where an on-board computer is installed, the computer multiplier added to the robot brain multiplier.

I would be interested in other thoughts on control of a craft by a robot brain.

This design allows the space-probe robot (see this thread and this spreadsheet) to work.

Last edited by OjnoTheRed; June 22nd, 2010 at 10:00 AM..
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  #18  
Old June 25th, 2010, 12:46 PM
E.D.Quibell E.D.Quibell is offline
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Come to this one a bit late. You might already have these but there is some good design stuff in Dom's Errata:

http://dmckinne.winterwar.org/trav.html

and DGP 101 Vehicals gives some additonal rules for robot brains in MT vehicals. The robot brain takes the place of the computer and a crew member, and has a CP multiplier of 250 PER POINT of INT.

I still put in one computer linked controll pannel per Robot Brian to accomodate the links to all the systems, and to have some type of direct iterface to the Brain as well.

Anyway hope this helps.

Regards,

Ewan
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Old June 25th, 2010, 02:13 PM
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Someday going to have to knuckle under and poke at Book 8 until it makes sense. I love some of the designs that were created for MT, and pretty much use 'em in my games as established canon for flavor.

But I'm -still- using the simplified Traveller Robot design system from Dragon Magazine #64 I photocopied ages ago when that magazine was still relatively new >.< Dogeared all to hell and the Larry Elmore art from the first page has rubbed off something fierce.

Of course I do a lot of handwaving because for purposes of personal 'assistant' or autonomous TV/Camera floaty bots no bigger than a grapefruit you seen in a lot of Traveller artwork - I don't think either system can adequately allow for the construction of.

I like the weird walking trashbin Aslan assitant of DGP's Aslan/Solomani, but can't help but think richer/higher tech clans may have something much smaller, floaty, elegant, with induction or 'bluetooth' equiv interfaces. If a female aslan with a singleship needed a robotic pilot, I don't think she'd go for a huge 'psuedo-male' automaton .
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Old June 25th, 2010, 02:29 PM
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O, I also found Robet Prior's draft for intergrating Robots into the MT vehical system that was going to be a DGP MT product (and I sent it to Dom), which got shelved, but I haven't had time to read it let alone digest it.

Regards,

Ewan
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