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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 September 5th, 2011, 03:37 PM
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Playing a game today (first for ages) led to problems with combat when carried out using the later range band rules of Classic Traveller but using squared paper and miniatures.

The party was attacked by some hunter animals. Following the CT routine of everyone choosing their movement first led to a dilemma. If the animals moved first (usually to close range), the characters would move away thereby never giving the animals a chance to attack.

The way I got over this was then to have the characters move first and then the animals - but then the animal would always be at close range. This is giving the initiative to the animals. I can imagine its even worse when you have characters and NPCs trying to decide who to move first.

I used to allow each person to move and fire in turn thereby allowing them to choose their attack and attack accordingly before the enemy could move away. This works if you only apply the damage from the round at the end of the round and thereby the first to attack doesnt get any real bonus. I think this is how it was in the 1977 rules but they changed them for the later version into range bands.

So how do you sort out this issue?
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Old September 5th, 2011, 04:23 PM
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They will waste the animals as they will get a free attack if the animals run in to close range.
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Old September 5th, 2011, 04:39 PM
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The range band thing worked like this for me - and I've never not used it so I dunno if its different for others, but basically:

1) Everybody moves OR shoots in order of Dex (no dice rolling or initiative unless surprise happened to both sides) - highest to lowest on both sides of the combat. It could be chaotic that way but it made more sense than taking turns and its more interesting. This sometimes means the fastest players might make the worst choice, and then the slower guys get to change their minds before their turn comes up....I feel this is ok in even a ten-second round since it all comes out the same in the wash most of the time - the faster guys also hit more often while the slower ones don't. And if Dirk Deadeye goes down in a blaze of gunfire, then the guy whose turn comes up next might decide to run instead. Likewise if the group of Marines comes barreling around the corner with blood in their eyes and the first two go down from a couple of RAM grenades the others are more likely to dive for cover than keep doing what they planned before (keep running out into RAM grenade fire and all die) as would happen if it were all simultaneously resolved.

Melee combat (this includes animals attacking - but the animal are always considered in melee mode)) is only swinging and poking and movement is part of the process, so players in melee can move AND swing in the same turn with no penalty. Sometimes with melee you want to get closer for a better DM to hit, but in a gunfight you usually want to get farther away or behind something.

2) People move one band unless running, then 2 bands. Animals moved a number of bands dependent on their speed when you created them. For example, a lion might have a speed of 3 or 4...which means he will eventually catch the retreating player who can only hope for a speed of 2.

3) Surprise is everything when hunting and exploring so characters with Recon, Hunting, and such skills come into their own here because then they can start the encounter on the range bands farther or closer, depending on which is to their advantage.

4) Regardless of all the the above you as the referee decide what the initial range is going to be depending on all kinds of things: dense jungle or darkness might mean both sides first encounter each other at only a 1 or 2 band distance (and then yell and run in opposite directions), open terrain means long range first.

5) If during movement one party gets close enough to another to engage in close or short range combat (in the case of animals or melee weapons), then you resolve the combat right then and there. Not only does this make sense - especially for animals that are "pouncing to attack" but it emphasizes again the importance of ranged fire vs. melee weapons during movement.

6) Characters can evade and gain a defensive DM as a result, but the same DM is applied to their fire if they shoot while evading - this can lead to hilarious results with players and enemies running around ducking and weaving while nobody gets hit until someone runs out of ammo first. Animals don't get this, but then the player who is hunting the animal will also know he has to stand his ground to the charging rhino while his trusty native bearer hands him his H&H elephant gun because if he evades he might miss.

So to sum it all up: everyone moves OR shoots in order of DEX and if they do both they are evading unless in melee in which case they can do both each round with no penalties.

If the character or enemy can use a melee (or natural) weapon then once they are close enough to use it they get to at that time. If the guy with the blade has a higher DEX (so he gets first swing) than you with your SMG this might go badly for you. (Cpl. Shortstraw says, "Never let a bad guy with a vibroblade get to 2 range bands or he might kill you are slow with a shotgun.")

If you evade you get a defensive bonus but you also subtract that bonus to your own chance to hit (this is where good skills and dexterity count).

Referee Tips: I always make a list of everyone's attributes before the game. One list has the three primaries for keeping track of damage (so I know how low they are getting,too, in case I don't really want to kill them off but reward them with a close call for bravery or The Rule Of Cool), and one list has all their DEX in order so I can quickly tell them all who gets first move/shoot/whatever until they have it all down by heart. These two things have helped me keep games moving and players honest for as long as I can remember and are highly useful in a complex bar fight, too.
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Old September 5th, 2011, 06:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nats View Post
...Following the CT routine of everyone choosing their movement first led to a dilemma.
This might be the issue. The rules are "All movement is performed simultaneously." (pg. 33 LBB1). You seem to have adopted some initiative system and applied that to movement which makes it not simultaneous but reactive.

So the animal movement should mirror the character movement if the intent of the Animals was to attack. So for the stated actions: Animals = Close Range, Characters = Open Range, you simply apply the difference. If the Animal speed is equal to the Character speed the range will never change. Let the characters choose the direction of the total movement though (they are the ones 'fleeing' and that is all their initiative can control). If the Animal speed is greater than the Character speed the Animal will eventually Close Range to attack. If the Character speed is greater than the Animal speed the Character will eventually Open Range and escape.

Also I do attacks and damage simultaneously and applied effects each turn, including reduced characteristics affecting performance.

I seem to also recall taking the Animal Speed as its "walking" speed and allowing +1 (or more? double maybe? don't recall for sure) to it for "running" just like characters get. It is very difficult for a person to outrun most animals that will chase, and very difficult for a person to outrun most animals that may be prey to chasers.
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Old September 5th, 2011, 07:26 PM
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Originally Posted by far-trader View Post
This might be the issue. The rules are "All movement is performed simultaneously." (pg. 33 LBB1). You seem to have adopted some initiative system and applied that to movement which makes it not simultaneous but reactive.
Personally I've never had any difficulties with some reactive type combat resolution. I just have everybody move OR shoot in order of Dex (no dice rolling or initiative unless surprise happened to both sides) - highest to lowest on both sides of the combat. It can be chaotic that way but it makes more sense than taking turns and its more interesting.

This sometimes means the fastest players might make the worst choice, but then the slower guys get to change their minds before their turn comes up....I feel this is ok in even a ten-second round since it all comes out the same in the wash most of the time - the faster guys also hit more often while the slower ones don't. And I like a more "cinematic action-adventure" kind of resolution so...

...if Dirk Deadeye goes down in a blaze of gunfire, then the guy whose turn comes up next might decide to run instead. Likewise if the group of Marines comes barreling around the corner with blood in their eyes and the first two go down from a couple of RAM grenades the others are more likely to dive for cover than keep doing what they planned before (keep running out into RAM grenade fire and all die) as would happen if it were all simultaneously resolved.

And to do true simultaneous action combat you have to have everyone write down what they intend to do and then set it all up each round...otherwise you still get the same effect as just doing it in order of DEX with some people who are later in the order changing their minds. Going through that would so slow things down that my players wouldn't have to rebel - I'd throw myself out the window.

Melee combat (this includes animals attacking - but the animal are always considered in melee mode)) is only swinging and poking and movement is part of the process, so players in melee can move AND swing in the same turn with no penalty. Sometimes with melee you want to get closer for a better DM to hit, but in a gunfight you usually want to get farther away or behind something.

I also allow (CT heresy warning here) one parry roll in melee combat or evade. It's Runequesty but if you evade then its an auto -2DM to hit you...but you can't swing back. You're just ducking and weaving and looking for a way out or something. Good if you are unarmed and can't get away yet.

If you parry then the roll is same as your attack roll. If you parry you don't take damage - sometimes this means just a lot of swinging and slashing, but eventually someone messes up and that first slash starts the process: oops, lost your +DM to hit...ow, now your getting hit more often and can't defend too well, ...and now your dead. And my players prefer it to the feeling that they are just like a couple of old Prussian Schlager duellists trading blows while standing in place.


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Originally Posted by far-trader View Post
Also I do attacks and damage simultaneously and applied effects each turn, including reduced characteristics affecting performance.
This is why I don't use simultaneous combat rules - they don't reward the more skilled combatant, or reflect just plain luck very well. If it all happens at the same time then why bother with dexterity or initiative rolls?

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Originally Posted by far-trader View Post
I seem to also recall taking the Animal Speed as its "walking" speed and allowing +1 (or more? double maybe? don't recall for sure) to it for "running" just like characters get. It is very difficult for a person to outrun most animals that will chase, and very difficult for a person to outrun most animals that may be prey to chasers.
Or you can do like I do and have two speeds per animal - one speed is their usual "walk"...but the second speed might be 1-3 higher, but depending on the animal may only last for a limited time. So for example: a crocodile can outrun a man (speed 3)...but only for about 2 rounds, then the critter goes back to speed 1 - so depending on distance when you encountered it you might be able to get away. A tiger can outrun you at a speed of 3-4, for about 4 rounds, so you aren't likely to out run him at all because of the speed and time. An elephant can run at speed 3 forever practically so good luck and don't trip.

So by having two speeds and a limiter on the "running speed" it makes things a little more interesting when hunting animals in the game.

An example is my Kimpali Cheshire Cat: it is really fast, but because of its build it is only going to outrun you for one round so as long as you are at least 4 bands away and wearing your felony shoes you'll probably get away with little problem. Ranchers who find them trying to dig under the fences to get at the tasty Paisley Bison on the other side can easily down a Cheshire Cat (and extremely dangerous 600lb killer) so long as they shoot it from at least 5-6 bands away. If they miss or wound it it'll charge, but only move 3 bands for one round then tire and the rancher gets another free shot at it. Most of the time this kills the lion, but on the other hand if they encounter a Grass Manta then that thing can fly at max speed 4 for 6 turns so a hunter that is too close or a bad shot is in trouble.
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Old September 5th, 2011, 09:09 PM
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Also I do attacks and damage simultaneously and applied effects each turn, including reduced characteristics affecting performance.
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Originally Posted by sabredog View Post

This is why I don't use simultaneous combat rules - they don't reward the more skilled combatant, or reflect just plain luck very well. If it all happens at the same time then why bother with dexterity or initiative rolls?
I don't use Dex this way or Init and find it feels more realistic and the reward of skill goes to those who are skilled by their better rolls while just plain luck is well enough reflected by the random die rolls.

Two combatants square off and shoot it out. The marksman riddles his opponent as they exchange fire and the novice misses (simultaneous attacks). Damage is applied (also simultaneously) at the end of the turn and the novice sinks to his knees and dies bleeding profusely while the marksman is unscathed. Skill wins the day.

It could just as easily go the other way if the marksman is having an off day (bad luck) and the novice flukes a lethal hit (good luck).

...as for actions as such we had some similar and other house rules re: Evade and Parry and such.

I'd also expanded fatigue (built on melee Weakened Blows) rules as well for speed (Running and Sprinting) which covered your limited duration chase notes for animals as well as characters. In my TU your Kimpali Cheshire Cat would have an Endurance of 1(?) being able to use its full speed for only one combat turn. And the rules adjusted fatigue and speed modified by Load.

I think some of it was influenced by Snapshot though iirc we found the Snapshot rules a bit too... involved? It slowed combat down too much, contradictory to the name After 1 or 2 games of Snapshot we borrowed from but never used the full rules for RPG Traveller as I recall.
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Old September 5th, 2011, 10:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by far-trader View Post
I don't use Dex this way or Init and find it feels more realistic and the reward of skill goes to those who are skilled by their better rolls while just plain luck is well enough reflected by the random die rolls.
Yeah, DEX is a somewhat arbitrary choice - Traveller doesn't have strike ranks so I use this. The skills are already rewarding the player once they are engaged in use. But I figure DEX reflects "awareness", too, and "reaction time", so it works for me.

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Originally Posted by far-trader View Post
Two combatants square off and shoot it out. The marksman riddles his opponent as they exchange fire and the novice misses (simultaneous attacks). Damage is applied (also simultaneously) at the end of the turn and the novice sinks to his knees and dies bleeding profusely while the marksman is unscathed. Skill wins the day.

It could just as easily go the other way if the marksman is having an off day (bad luck) and the novice flukes a lethal hit (good luck).
Skill ought to win the day, but if its a case of all things being equal as you describe then I don't think luck should play more than a very, very small role (which is why I allow boxcars to be an automatic success and snakeyes to be an angel peeing on your flintlock). In a more fluid, complicated battle with all sorts of things going on then I think luck will definitely play a bigger role.

I figure some the luck part is reflected in the examples I illustrated with the order of action determined by reaction speed to a certain degree. (and the dice rolls are always there) The guy who is the fastest bestest with the gun also means he might be the firstest to out there and get shot at and killed, while the slower guy might be lucky because he saw that being fastest didn't work out so well so he runs away and lives.

It also gives my players a more complex, confusing, and interesting combat that lets them also rely more on their own choices than just luck. Thats also why I have the effects of damage take effect right away - to use your example: the guy with the poor aim and lazy eye might "get lucky" by rolling high damage on the DEX of the guy he hit who was better skilled but just a wee slower (Deadeye might have a Dex of 11 but Lazy Eye was 12. Now the guy who's +4 Autopistol has taken enough damage to have lost his attribute advantage....and might even have now picked up a negative attribute DM from the reduced DEX. So now Deadeye is down to only +2 (if he's even still awake)... and his aim might have even been knocked off a wee bit, too.

It might seem a small thing, these few seconds difference in a ten-second round, but they happen this way in RL - seconds count a lot when you try to clear a gun jam or reload or...and manual dexterity (DEX) counts for a lot in all these things, and while it is just a game I try to make it make sense and feel less artificial. I think unless everyone if lining up, counting to three, and then firing all at the same time its too artificial to have it all be applied simultaneously. The little things count.

But it's just one of the many paths leading to similar solutions anyway.

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Originally Posted by far-trader View Post
I think some of it was influenced by Snapshot though iirc we found the Snapshot rules a bit too... involved? It slowed combat down too much, contradictory to the name After 1 or 2 games of Snapshot we borrowed from but never used the full rules for RPG Traveller as I recall.
I liked the ones from AHL - they were like Striker's (and I loved those), but we found them to be too lethal and with less wiggle room for me as the referee to reward the players who acted heroic and maybe jumped out to take the bullet or save the colonist instead of ran and hid. He might have been gravely wounded by that plasma bolt, but since the rules said I rolled dice instead of just x-amount of PEN-armor (ok, you're smoldering tuna melt now) using the regular Trav rules meant I could roll the dice, shake my head in theatrical frustration and say how the player was gravely wounded with like 2 points left now, so get him to the low berth in the next 4 turns and he'll be ok.
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