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Old December 3rd, 2015, 08:57 PM
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Default Combat Conversion from Zaon to Traveller

"Zaon" is a long-defunct concept SF RPG. If you don't remember it, that's OK. It made a big splash and then disappeared. Vaporware - but not without first producing playtest rules.

The revision I have is version 6.2.28, from 2003.

I'm going to go over how Zaon does personal combat. And I'm going to map it into Traveller terms.

One combat turn is about 1 second long (!).

First, Natural Abilities

In Zaon, each Sophont type falls into an Initiative Rank, further modified by special traits for the individual. We could do that, but in Traveller terms, it could just be based on current Dexterity -- in fact, Mongoose Traveller's Characteristic Modifiers appear to fit in extremely well, creating six initiative ranks. Or, perhaps a more accurate way of doing it is to go by the level of Tactics skill of the character.

Either way, I'd then subtract the Burden score from worn armor, IF the armor has a positive Burden value. This is also from Zaon, where armor can penalize one's initiative rank. For determining Burden, I'd use T5 (most armor in T5 has Burden=0).

Score = Tactics - Burden (if Burden > 0).

15+ = XFast (goes first)
12-14 = Vfast
9-11 = Fast
6-8 = Average
3-5 = Slow
2 or lower = Slowest (goes last)

Combat Phases and Initiative

Each character acts in its Initiative Rank within a combat phase, with "faster" characters acting before "slower" ones.

This setup is not very satisfying, because even though a high initiative should go first, yet they should also be able to react to those with low initiative. In other words, I think an interrupt system would work better, where you may interrupt the actions of those with lower initiative. So combat proceeds from LOWEST initiative to the HIGHEST, but a character may interrupt an action by another character of lower initiative in order to stop him -- in other words, your high initiative lets you react before the other guy does something bad.

The advantage of being "faster" is that, if you incapacitate a "slower" character, that character forfeits its action.

Compound actions -- for example, drawing a revolver and firing it -- drops a character to the next slower initiative phase. In my copy of the Zaon rules, the character keeps that new initiative level, but that doesn't work with interrupts.

Complex actions are things that may take a minute or so. In this case, the referee decides (1) how many turns it takes and (2) the initiative penalty. Together the two costs compound to approximate the effort/time required to perform a complex task.

Note, however, that some tasks (many kinds of repair tasks) just aren't possible during combat.


Attacks are contested actions that use characteristics and skills as usual for Traveller (except that evasion is a new thing that I don't typically see in Traveller). The task is the same for melee and ranged combat, and is quite simple: the attacker's to-hit task roll versus the defender's evasion task roll. Unaware targets roll their defense task without adding skill.

Attack DMs include range, environment, and cover. Many DMs are in a table, and include things such as using the "wrong" hand, burst fire, blind firing (worse that snap shot). HOWEVER, there's ANOTHER list of environmental DMs that apply, that are apparently in Chapter 17. No matter.

Armor Burden is a Defending -DM, when Burden > 0.

Spectacular success inflicts maximum damage. Spectacular failures are up to the referee to adjudicate.


Roll damage. Armor absorbs damage.

Zaon has an involved way of dealing stun and wound damage together, plus a "critical" section for damage to unconscious characters. Traveller's way is simpler, not dealing with stun as damage, and modeling the loss of ability as characteristics take damage.

Brawling inflicts damage based on Strength.

There are six kinds of damage: Stun, Blade, Concussion, Projectile, Energy, and Laser. Different types of armor protect against each differently. Armor also has five defensive ratings: Blade Defense, Concussion Defense, Projectile Defense, Energy Defense, and Laser Defense.
This is not unlike T5's armor protections ("armor", EM, insulation, rad, sound, psi, sealed, and flash). Of course, there are many types of damage in T5, but they tend to map down to those 8 protection classes.

Other Rules

There are also rules for Surprise (a full page for it), Combat Movement, Sustained Actions (such as running), and Free Actions.

Advanced Rules

Then there's a chapter with advanced rules. It includes penalties for being wounded, bleeding rules, healing, first aid, surgery, knockdown, wrestling, parrying, reloading, throwing, automatic weapons fire, damage to objects and structures, hit locations and called shots, "consequential" damage (falling, vacuum, drowning, fire, intoxication, disease and poison, fatigue, and so on).

Knockdown is simply when damage exceeds the character's precomputed knockdown rating.

Parry is interesting: the character adds his aiming skill with his evasion skill.

Automatic weapons fire add a +DM to the attack, and then, the difference between the attack and defense roll, halved, show the number of hits made. And even then, there are ROF modifications to consider. There is also a Target Size Mod for autofire attacks.

Reloading simply requires two turns.

Called shots halve the to-hit attack skill, and there are modifications to damage based on hit location.
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Last edited by robject; December 3rd, 2015 at 11:28 PM..
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