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In My Traveller Universe Detail what parts of Traveller you do (or don't) use in your campaign.

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  #1  
Old August 25th, 2020, 11:46 PM
Carlobrand Carlobrand is offline
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Default Book 2 vs Book 5 unarmored hulls

So, advice.

Book-2 and Book-5 handle unarmored hulls very differently. Book 2 laser and missile hits can damage the power plant, jump drive, computer, can injure crew, or can even cause the ship to be destroyed on a critical, and missiles can inflict multiple hits. Book 5 unarmored hulls only take such damage from nuclear missiles or spinal-mount weapons; other weapons can only damage the maneuver drive, weapons, or fuel. Book 5 lasers and non-nuclear missiles seem to be unable to completely penetrate the hull.

Book 5 unarmored hulls have a Striker rating of 40, equivalent to 33.6 cm steel; by way of comparison, the battleship New Jersey carried 28.7 cm belt armor. MegaTraveller says this is necessary to protect space travelers from radiation hazards; MT's Hard Times, in "One Small Step", has individuals taking radiation damage in "disposable hulls," which they define as an armor rating of 8 or more (and presumably less than 40) but they are vague as to the radiation sources, mentioning only "astrographic realities".

Apollo did not reach the moon in battleship armor, and we've no plans to head to Mars in battleship-armored spacecraft. The current solution seems to be a thick layer of polyethylene or some similar substance sandwiched between two metal plates of some sort, possibly doped with other materials that are better at absorbing gamma. This would behave much like a Book-2 hull: it would protect from solar wind and cosmic radiation, but it could conceivably be penetrated by shrapnel from a sufficiently powerful missile and from the ship-mounted lasers described in MT/Striker.

Book 5 produces very similar damage results to Book 2 if secondary weapons do not receive the +6 penalty, but Book 2 was a fairly dangerous combat environment. Take away the +6 penalty and Book 5 fleet actions become brutal for anything but a well-armored warship, and even those are losing weapons pretty consistently.

I'm also exploring some sort of rule to account for smaller craft having thinner armor for the same percentage spent on armor as bigger craft: fighters would end up carrying only a quarter of the armor rating the normal rules would suggest. Large warcraft would be much easier to armor, but I'm not certain if I want to keep the TL armor limit or raise that to let them armor up more to resist the secondary weapons better. I'm inclined to keep the limit; I've never been much on invulnerable (to anything but mesons) warships.

So, what do you think about dropping the +6 penalty (and presumably giving a -6 bonus to spinal particle weapons) so the Book 5 combat has a more Book 2 feel to it?
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Comments made are for the purpose of offering alternative campaign settings for consideration. The writer acknowledges that Traveller is intended to emulate certain common science fiction tropes and that, in the course of emulating those tropes and providing a better playing experience, some liberties must be taken with science. No statement by the writer should be interpreted as constituting a criticism of the game on that basis ... except for that bit about Virus. Dude, really?!
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Old August 26th, 2020, 02:58 AM
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I have a simple house rule that bay weapons do not get the +6DM on the damage table, but that requires that I have a house rule USP that splits turret ad bay weapons into their own lines of numbers.

I also have much more crunchy house rules.

I think the way to fix some of the irregularities in HG is to apply a scale factor to the various ship classes, these classes being based on the size DM breakpoints -2 -1 0 +1 +2

Similarly weapon systems are optimised for various target sizes, turrets, bays and spinals thus have their strengths and weaknesses against the various 'ship classes'

I will try and find my precious post on this since my main computer has died again and until I can recover the hard drive data I have lost all my electronic notes.
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Old August 26th, 2020, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Carlobrand View Post
So, what do you think about dropping the +6 penalty (and presumably giving a -6 bonus to spinal particle weapons) so the Book 5 combat has a more Book 2 feel to it?
Fine, if somewhat deadly, for Free Traders. Every hit has a 1/36 chance of causing a Fuel Tanks Shattered, completely knocking out the ship.

Utter bloodbath for warships.

Even the Gazelle with its Particle barbettes would generate lots of crew hits against lightly armoured targets. Hardly a sporting way to kill PCs.
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Old August 26th, 2020, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Carlobrand View Post
Book-2 and Book-5 handle unarmored hulls very differently. Book 2 laser and missile hits can damage the power plant, jump drive, computer, can injure crew, or can even cause the ship to be destroyed on a critical, and missiles can inflict multiple hits. Book 5 unarmored hulls only take such damage from nuclear missiles or spinal-mount weapons; other weapons can only damage the maneuver drive, weapons, or fuel. Book 5 lasers and non-nuclear missiles seem to be unable to completely penetrate the hull.
This is a mistake.

A Free Trader is Size 2. A single triple beam turret is Factor 3 (without the TL modifier).

If an attacking batteries factor is greater than the size of the target, you get a crit for each of the difference. So, BL factor 3 vs Ship size 2 = 3 - 2 = 1 crit.

Against an unarmored Free Trader, that's 1 crit. Armor reduces crits at a 2:1 rate.

A little bit of armor can help. Armor 2 will make you immune from that crit. At TL-13+ (where the laser gets a +1, you need Armor 4).

Crits automatically penetrate and do bad things.

Book 5 is a crit system. Without crits, you can't do much.

The rule say that crits reduce armor, I would argue that after the armor has reduced the crits, the armor should still be damaged. So that even those the armor prevented the crit the first time, it won't the next time.

Anyway, small ships are very vulnerable in HG.
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Old August 26th, 2020, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by AnotherDilbert View Post
Fine, if somewhat deadly, for Free Traders. Every hit has a 1/36 chance of causing a Fuel Tanks Shattered, completely knocking out the ship.

Utter bloodbath for warships.

Even the Gazelle with its Particle barbettes would generate lots of crew hits against lightly armoured targets. Hardly a sporting way to kill PCs.
Good point. I hate the fuel tanks shattered bit. I suspect anyone who's taken a shot at house-ruling the game has changed that bit in one way or another. A culture with 5000 years experience in space knows to segregate fuel tanks so a hit doesn't take them all out. I'd also put a reserve tank deep inside the ship, maybe buried in the power plant itself, so you'd still have power for a short while if you lost all the tanks, at least enough time to ground the ship or get back to the reserve, do some slap-dash repairs, and take on a bit of fuel from a friendly.

For warships, if they don't have at least a bit of armor, they really aren't worth calling warships. Police ships might get away with that, relying on superior computers and superior firepower to make up the lack: a police cruiser's Model/3 and four batteries should put 2 hits on their typical foe in the first exchange, and the repair rules are generous enough to get them home once they've taken the opposing ship. Gazelle's Model/6 ought to put 3 of 4 shots into the hull of a typical PC ship on the first salvo. Only difference the particle beam makes at that point is they'll be treating you for radiation sickness after they arrest you.

Radiation injury doesn't tend to be immediately fatal. That's actually one of the nastier things about it: you may be beyond help, but you'll take a few days in the dying part. For the PC's sake, one hopes the game master decides far future radiation treatments are a good deal better than what we have now. On the positive side, if the treatments are better, then they have a way to knock out crews and then heal them up for the trial later.

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Originally Posted by whartung View Post
This is a mistake.

A Free Trader is Size 2. A single triple beam turret is Factor 3 (without the TL modifier).

If an attacking batteries factor is greater than the size of the target, you get a crit for each of the difference. So, BL factor 3 vs Ship size 2 = 3 - 2 = 1 crit.

Against an unarmored Free Trader, that's 1 crit. Armor reduces crits at a 2:1 rate.

A little bit of armor can help. Armor 2 will make you immune from that crit. At TL-13+ (where the laser gets a +1, you need Armor 4).

Crits automatically penetrate and do bad things.

Book 5 is a crit system. Without crits, you can't do much.

The rule say that crits reduce armor, I would argue that after the armor has reduced the crits, the armor should still be damaged. So that even those the armor prevented the crit the first time, it won't the next time.

Anyway, small ships are very vulnerable in HG.
Completely overlooked the crit-due-to-size bit. IMTU the TL13 weapons are considered military grade and not available to civilian shipping. On the other hand, that's not likely to stop the typical corsair from doing some black market upgrades, so that doesn't really help. A guaranteed crit with every hit is a bit more of a game changer than I had planned for.

I've never understood the crits reduce armor bit. Why? How does a particle beam punching through here cause the armor to be weaker over there?
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Old August 27th, 2020, 05:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Carlobrand View Post
I hate the fuel tanks shattered bit.
As it disables the ship in a single hit, it might be better as a crit, but that would make it unrepairable.


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Originally Posted by Carlobrand View Post
... do some slap-dash repairs, and take on a bit of fuel from a friendly.
Which is what you can do by RAW...


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Originally Posted by Carlobrand View Post
For warships, if they don't have at least a bit of armor, they really aren't worth calling warships.
Agreed, but look at what spinals and nukes can do even to heavily armoured ships with a DM +6.

Below TL-15 you really have to choose between heavy armour and agility. Heavy armour is not always the right choice.


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Only difference the particle beam makes at that point is they'll be treating you for radiation sickness after they arrest you.
OK, it is not specified what happens to the casualties, but a single Crew-1 hit makes the ship incapable of firing weapons and making repairs, so out of the fight.
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Old August 27th, 2020, 10:06 AM
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I've never understood the crits reduce armor bit. Why? How does a particle beam punching through here cause the armor to be weaker over there?
It's a mechanic. A "crits make ships weaker until they die" mechanic.
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Old August 27th, 2020, 10:42 AM
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So, advice.
Use one book or the other. They are not reconcilable really as they weren't meant to be.
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Old August 30th, 2020, 04:51 AM
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Use one book or the other. They are not reconcilable really as they weren't meant to be.
Oh, I don't think it's as bad as all that. Besides, I'm stuck at home like everyone else. Playing around with the rules beats watching TV.

I like High Guard for its abstract play. Lends itself a bit better to a storytelling style of gamemastering than whipping out map and counters would. A mechanic that stretches one's willing suspension of disbelief to the snapping point is a bit awkward in that context - not that there's much opportunity to deal with armored ships in role-play, but I'm a bit of a stickler for verisimilitude. If I'm going to house-rule the thing, the "crits kill armor" piece dies - one less rule to have to remember in the heat of battle. As does the Fuel Tanks Shattered piece - kill 25% of the fuel instead: the port tanks go up but the starboard, top, and bottom tanks are still intact. Perhaps cap that at 1000 dT fuel: gives large ships the benefit of their larger scale.

Whartung is right about the game being crit-based. That seems to be its way of showing the vulnerability of little lightly armored ships. Probably also rewards large batteries, but it's not passing the verisimilitude test: why does a laser that's only hitting fuel, weapons, and the maneuver drive suddenly become capable of wrecking the computer or killing a large number of the crew (I also imported MegaTrav's crew section piece, not that it makes any difference to the typical player ships) because it's in a battery of 3. It's only getting one damage roll out of the hit, which suggests the lasers are bracketing the target, and this only happens to little ships, which suggests this isn't a case of two lasers hitting the same point (which would happen whether the laser is hitting a small ship or a large ship, if it were happening at all). Since I'm already making craft more vulnerable, dropping that rule seems like a good idea - and again, one less rule to remember in the heat of battle.

As to big ships becoming more vulnerable, I'm playing around with options to make the armor rating you get out of a percentage armor purchase dependent on the size of the ship. For the same percentage of armor, a big ship ends up with a much thicker depth of armor than something like a fighter would. It should get the benefit of its larger scale - which would make it less vulnerable and counter the effects of a big change in the damage roll modifier. Still working out the details.
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Old August 30th, 2020, 09:37 AM
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Besides, I'm stuck at home like everyone else. Playing around with the rules beats watching TV.

I loved that answer!

(I chose to use the Traveller rules to run a PbP Traveller SteamTech game on a TL 4 Waterworld with a "40 day" day/year and ported all of the Starship skills to Steamships ... Wild West Waterworld)
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