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  #1  
Old June 1st, 2007, 11:05 AM
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As I'm gearing up for a new Traveller campaign, I've become intrigued by the "Proto-Traveller" concept and the more I think about it, the more I like it.

This works well for me since I usually prefer my own background (the New Anglian Commonwealth, a constitutional monarchy much like the British Empire in the 18th-19th centuries) to the Third Imperium. Even better, such a campaign can reflect Traveller the way it was when I first started to play in 1979. (I didn't get Books 2+ until 1981 and later, so I ran Classic Traveller for a couple of years).

And while I will use CT as unmodified as possible, I will have to revise the CT rules to fit my universe. Given the huge amount of creativity and experience here, I thought I'd post my revisions for comment and consideration. Any help is appreciated.

The first topic is starships. Consistent with the Proto-Traveller concept, I've decided to use the Book 2 starship design system. It's always been elegant and I spent many hours designing starships in my youth (most of which are still in my files 26 years later). Like most folks I suspect, I abandoned it for the far flashier High Guard (which I think is an excellent design system in its own right, once the armor flaws are fixed). So it was something of a novelty going back to Book 2. Interestingly, I find it even more elegant than I thought it was in 1979.

This, by the way, is a recurring theme with me and CT. As I have gotten older and designed a number of games, I've come to admire Classic Traveller more and more. Of course, there are flaws -- and I seem to be more able to spot them now -- but its strengths far outweigh its flaws IMHO. And the flaws are usually pretty easy to fix.

On to the starships. One obvious difference between Book 2 and High Guard is the limit on hull size – 5000 tons. And given the drive tables, 3000 tons is an effective maximum for military starships, since it’s the largest hull that can achieve Jump, Power and Maneuver-4. Since even a 3000 ton starship is so bog that the players can’t possibly defeat it in battle, I have no problem with the size limits.

The second obvious difference is the weaponry and (lack of) armor. Civilian and military craft use the same systems and weaponry. And there’s no armor. This means that the players’ ship might be able to handle a small military ship, which is a good thing. Book 2 also makes fighters the most efficient weapon system. A stock Book 2 fighter takes up 10 tons and can deploy 3 missile racks (9 missiles total) or 1 laser. Even allowing for the space consumed by its pilot and mechanic (1 stateroom), and a couple of tons for ordinance, spares and fuel, a ship can deploy at least 6 fighters per 100 tons. That’s 18 missile racks, plus (say) 3 more in the triple turret that the ship gets with that 100 tons. So on a per-ton basis, a carrier can pack far more firepower than a non-carrier. This means that Book 2 navies will be built around carriers, much like modern navies, which I like. The situation will be much like naval warfare from 1942 through the early 1960s, which I like. It also means that the players will often face fighters rather than starships. I like this as well, since fighters can be coped with in small numbers by a ship the players might have.
Unfortunately, there’s a major problem with Book 2 when it comes to military starships. The problem is that a Book 2 starship cannot dedicate *any* tonnage to weaponry other than fighters. And since non-fighter weaponry is limited to 1 turret/100 tons, a starship will be utterly overmatched by fighters. A 1000 ton cruiser, for instance, will have 10 triple turrets. 200 tons worth of fighters (12) will have up to 36 missile racks by comparison. This means that there’s really very little reason not to put fighters on *every* military ship. Lack of pilots might be a tempting excuse to limit fighters, but it doesn’t satisfy me. The USA, with a population of 300 million and a modest military budget has several thousand Navy and Marine combat pilots (and the Air Force has thousands more). Given that a 3000 ton carrier can carry about 60 fighters, it’s clear to me that a pilot shortage won’t be much of a problem. An exception might be a massive wartime expansion ala the US Navy in WWII. But even there, the US turned out many thousands of trained combat pilots.

So while I want carriers to be the major combatants, I also want there to be a reason for non-carrier military starships.

The next post will discuss my rules modifications to achieve this goal.
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Old June 1st, 2007, 02:27 PM
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I, too, have run headlong into the "1turret per 100 tons" issue in CT. I have tried some house rules that ended up somewhat unsatisfactory and would be interested in hearing your solution.
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Old June 1st, 2007, 05:48 PM
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Try allowing the Bay weapons at 1 per 1000 tons. Bay weapons might help balance things out. You would have to convert the damage of a bay weapon into B2 damage rolls. But, a 100 ton bay would pretty much be an "instant kill" on any fighter it hit.

And so what if every ship has fighters. A 1000 ton ship has 4 fighters standard for close defense... That may not be a problem if you design for it.
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Old June 2nd, 2007, 12:42 AM
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An interesting Book 2 mod can be found in Pegasus #3. There, it states that military vessels with J-Drive are allocated 3 hardpoints for every 200 tons of displacement. Military vessels without J-Drives are allocated 4 hardpoints per 100 tons displacement. Civilian craft are subject to the 1 hardpoint per 100 tons displacement rule in Book 2.
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Old June 2nd, 2007, 01:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Plankowner:
Try allowing the Bay weapons at 1 per 1000 tons. Bay weapons might help balance things out. You would have to convert the damage of a bay weapon into B2 damage rolls. But, a 100 ton bay would pretty much be an "instant kill" on any fighter it hit.

And so what if every ship has fighters. A 1000 ton ship has 4 fighters standard for close defense... That may not be a problem if you design for it.
It isn't a problem per se. It's just inconsistent with the kind of universe I want. If fighters were *that* superior, a rational military would only build carriers. That's not my kinda universe. Nor is it particularly plausible, IMHO. Of course, this is true of fighters no matter what. But fighters are cool...

And my approach is similar to yours -- I use weapon bays (but do not restrict them).

Quote:
Originally posted by Supplement Four:
An interesting Book 2 mod can be found in Pegasus #3. There, it states that military vessels with J-Drive are allocated 3 hardpoints for every 200 tons of displacement. Military vessels without J-Drives are allocated 4 hardpoints per 100 tons displacement. Civilian craft are subject to the 1 hardpoint per 100 tons displacement rule in Book 2.
Unfortunately, increasing the number of turrets per 100 tons doesn't really solve the problem IMHO. Book 2 starships *cannot* convert tonnage into firepower unless they carry fighters. And that doesn't change if you allow more than one turret per 100 tons. This means that a carrier and a non-carrier of equal size will have the exact same number of turrets. So again, a rational military would only deploy carriers.

My ideas on how to solve these problems are in my next post.
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Old June 2nd, 2007, 02:29 AM
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1. In General

The Book 2 combat system will be used, except as modified herein. (Those with Starter Traveller may want to use the range band system; I will).

2. To Hit Rolls

The base "to hit" roll is 8+ on 1d10. Damage rolls are on 1d10 as well. Comment -- by going to 1d10 in lieu of 2d6, we gain the ability to resolve 5-10 shots at a time by rolling 5-10d10s. For massive volleys, use statistical resolution. Each 10 shots will score the statistical number of hits (if the hit roll is 8+, each 10 shots will yield 3 hits). Dice for the remainder that's less than 10. So if you have 14 shots that hit on an 8+, you'll score 3 hits automatically and roll 4 dice. Damage works the same way -- each 10 hits score 1 each of rolls 1 through 10. Roll for the remainder.

3. Turrets

Turrets must have the same type of weapon, unless the ship has only 1 turret.

A double turret is +2 to hit. A triple turret is +4 to hit. Damage is the same as a single turret. Comment -- this cuts down on the massive number of die rolls required for Book 2 combat. And it's the approach used in Mayday, so there's precedent in CT. It also accomodates weapon bays without requiring massive numbers of rolls.

4. Weapon Bays

A ship may have 1 or more weapon bays. Weapon bays come in two sizes -- 50 tons and 100 tons. A 50 ton weapon bay is equivalent to 2 double turrets (it is +2 to hit and does 2x the weapon's damage). A 100 ton weapon bay is equivalent to 3 triple turrets (it is +4 to hit and does 3x the weapon's damage. Bays cost 1 MCr for a 50 ton bay, plus the cost of 4 weapons. 1.5 MCr for a 100 ton bay, plus the cost of 9 weapons. Each bay makes one "to hit" roll.

The range band for bay beam weapons is increased by 50%.

5. Weapons

Note -- weapons ratings are expressed thusly:

Particle Accelerator TL 15, +2/1s1r/12"

+2 is the to hit bonus. 1s1r means the weapon makes one roll on the surface damage chart and one roll on the radiation damage chart. 12" is the range band for the weapon.

Particle Accelerator TL 15, +2/1s1r/12"
Plasma Gun TL 10, +2/1s/6"
Fusion Gun TL 12, +2/2s/6"
Beam Laser TL 8, +0/1s/12"
Pulse Laser TL 8, -2/2s/12"
Standard Missile 4 pts dmg, 6-G 4 turns
Short Range Attack Missile (SRAM) 8 pts dmg, 6-G 2 turns
Close Range Attack Missile (CRAM) 12 pts dmg, 6-G, 1 turn
Long Range Attack Missile (LRAM) 2 pts dmg 8 turns
Anti-Fighter Missile (AFM) 1 pts dmg 6-G 6 turns (the AFM is 1/2 the size of standard missiles; requires AFM rack to fire).
AFM rack -- like a missile rack except it holds 6 AFMs and can fire 2 per turn.
Anti-ship Missile (ASM) 16 pts dmg 4 turns. (3 times the size of a standard missile; requires ASM turret to fire; requires 3 dmg to destroy).
ASM turret -- costs same as triple missile turret. Holds 3 ASMs; fires 1 per turn.

More to come...
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Old June 3rd, 2007, 10:25 AM
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6. To Hit Modifiers

Attacker:
+Book 2 computer modifiers *or* computer size if not using programs. N/A to small craft.
+4 for missiles
+Gunnery skill (if applicable)

Defender
-Book 2 computer modifiers *or* computer size if not using programs. N/A to small craft.
Target distance -- -1 per range band after first range band for energy weapons
-3 if obscured by sand and weapon is energy weapon
-2 if target is a missile
+4 if target is a missile and attacker has Aegis

7. New Damage Charts

Roll.....Surface........Radiation
1........Hull...........No Effect
2........Hull...........Crew
3........Crew...........Crew
4........Cargo..........Crew
5........Fuel...........Computer
6........Computer.......Computer
7........Weapon.........Computer
8........M-Drive........Computer
9........J-Drive........Computer
10.......Power Plant....Weapon

A Hull hit has no combat effect, other than to expose compartments to vacuum.

A Crew hit does 4d6 damage to a random crew member.

A Cargo hit will destroy 10 tons of cargo or cripple 1 small craft. The owning player may choose which for the first hit, but must alternate thereafter. When there is no cargo left, then all hits strike small craft. When there is no small craft left, then all hits strike cargo. When there is no cargo or small craft, the cargo hit has no effect.

A Fuel hit destroys 10 tons of fuel. When all fuel is gone, additional fuel hits have no effect.
A Weapon hit destroys one turret or 50 ton bay (target’s choice). It reduces a 100 ton bay to a 50 ton bay of the same type.

Drive or power plant hits will reduce the drive or power plant one letter rating.

A computer hit reduces the computer by one level (reduce a Model 2bis to a Model 1bis; reduce a Model 1bis to a Model 0). A computer can be reduced to “Model 0”. This represents the residual capability of a badly damaged computer network (and also stopgap repairs). A Model 0 computer has a capacity of 1/1 and requires 4 additional hits to destroy.

Fiber optic computers are immune to Radiation Table Computer Hits. In that case, the hit has no effect.

8. Small Craft

Small craft are destroyed when they take damage points equal to tonnage/10 (round down).

Use Book 2 small craft, but replace fighters with:

Light Fighter – 6-G, 10 tons, 1 beam laser, 1 standard missile, MCr18. Can fire 1 missile or AFM per turn. Can engage 1 target.

Medium Fighter – 6-G, 15 tons, 2 beam lasers 2 missiles, MCr24. Can fire 2 missiles or AFMs per turn. Can fire at 1 target.

Heavy Fighter – 6-G, 20 tons, 2 beam lasers, 4 missiles, MCr36. Can fire 4 missiles or AFMs per turn, each at a different target.

9. Anti Missile Fire

Note: There's a discrepancy between Book 2 and Starter Traveller. Book 2 allows missiles to be shot at like any other object at any range. Starter Traveller only allows them to be shot at when they move into the same range band as the target. I prefer Book 2, with some modifiers for flavor.

Anti-missile Fire

Beam weapons or missiles may attack other missiles as though the other missiles were ships, at any range and in any applicable fire phase. A ship can fire at any missile targeting it in its Laser Return Fire phase, even if the ship is not being fired at by other ships.

In general, each turret or bay fires at one missile. Unless otherwise indicated, a missile is destroyed when it takes one point of damage.

Ships with the Aegis system target missiles and small craft with a +4 to hit. (For clarity, this means that an Aegis equipped ship firing at a missile will be -2 to hit because of the missile and +4 to hit because of the Aegis system).

The Aegis system is MCr105, 95 tons. It requires a separate Model-5+ computer (not included). When the separate computer is reduced by damage to a Model 3, missiles are +3 to hit. When it is reduced to a Model 2, missiles are +2 to hit, and so on. The separate Model 5+ computer runs specialized Aegis software that consumes all its capacity.

10. Targeting

A ship may fire at a number of "targets" equal to 1+its current Computer rating.

Missiles and small craft do not count as "targets", so a ship can fire at them freely.

All weapons in a turret or bay must fire at the same target, small craft or missile.

If applicable, all weapons in a battery must fire at the same target.
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Old June 3rd, 2007, 01:10 PM
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While there are a number of ways that you can make ships more competitive with fighters in a CT universe (making full use of the computer rules comes immediately to mind as ships can have huge computers with ECM programs, Maneuver/Evade-6 programs, Predict-5 programs, etc, etc, that fighters just can't find the space to run) there's only one way to make carriers less competitive with battleships, which seems to be what you're asking.

Cost.

Fighters cost money, lots and lots of MCr. And if fighters are easily killed (and they should be, especially in a CT universe without ship armor) then replacing lost fighters is a serious problem. Even equipping a carrier with a full strike group is expensive.

The CT fighter costs MCr 18, and comes with a Mod/1 computer. Equipping it with one beam laser adds MCr1. Minimum software (Maneuver, Target, Gunner Interact, Auto-Evade, Anti-Missile) costs MCr4.1 more. So a single fighter costs MCr23.1 in fighting condition (plus any costs for munitions). Ten of them cost MCr231.

A triple turret with three beam lasers only costs MC4. 10 of them cost MCr40. Add in a Mod/6 computer for fire control with this software (Predict-3, Gunner Interact, Target, Multi-Target-4, Double Fire, Return Fire, Anti-Missile) and you get a total cost of MCr111.5 for the complete battery.

There's your limitation on carriers. You get three times the lasers, with greatly improved accuracy, for half the price.

And yes, your carriers can mount batteries just as powerful, but to do that and pay for the fighter group as well is overly expensive and puts too much firepower (both shipborne and fighter group) on one killable platform.

If you decide to include armor for ships, you could also declare that fighter hangers can't be armored (or not as well armored) thus making carriers more vulnerable.
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Old June 3rd, 2007, 02:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by The Oz:
While there are a number of ways that you can make ships more competitive with fighters in a CT universe (making full use of the computer rules comes immediately to mind as ships can have huge computers with ECM programs, Maneuver/Evade-6 programs, Predict-5 programs, etc, etc, that fighters just can't find the space to run) there's only one way to make carriers less competitive with battleships, which seems to be what you're asking.

Cost.

Fighters cost money, lots and lots of MCr. And if fighters are easily killed (and they should be, especially in a CT universe without ship armor) then replacing lost fighters is a serious problem. Even equipping a carrier with a full strike group is expensive.

The CT fighter costs MCr 18, and comes with a Mod/1 computer. Equipping it with one beam laser adds MCr1. Minimum software (Maneuver, Target, Gunner Interact, Auto-Evade, Anti-Missile) costs MCr4.1 more. So a single fighter costs MCr23.1 in fighting condition (plus any costs for munitions). Ten of them cost MCr231.

A triple turret with three beam lasers only costs MC4. 10 of them cost MCr40. Add in a Mod/6 computer for fire control with this software (Predict-3, Gunner Interact, Target, Multi-Target-4, Double Fire, Return Fire, Anti-Missile) and you get a total cost of MCr111.5 for the complete battery.

There's your limitation on carriers. You get three times the lasers, with greatly improved accuracy, for half the price.

And yes, your carriers can mount batteries just as powerful, but to do that and pay for the fighter group as well is overly expensive and puts too much firepower (both shipborne and fighter group) on one killable platform.

If you decide to include armor for ships, you could also declare that fighter hangers can't be armored (or not as well armored) thus making carriers more vulnerable.
I'm not persuaded.

As long as you limit weapon enhancements to X turrets for so many tons of hull, carriers will be as well armed as non-carriers. This is disagreeable to me. I don't agree with your argument about putting "too much" firepower on a platform. My analysis of warship design in the real world indicates that fighting ships deploy as much firepower as possible, given logistical limits and capacity. In fact, ship captains have often had problems packing too much weaponry on a ship so that performance suffered (Capt. Truxton of the USS Constellation, in the Quasi-War, had to replace his 24 pounders with 18 pounders because they made the ship too sluggish; similarly, US battleships in 1944-45 often carried so much retrofitted AA weaponry that performance suffered).

Regarding economics, well, it's true that my analysis focused on tonnage rather than cost. I should have considered cost as well as tonnage.

However, after looking at the economics, I don't find that my point changes much when cost is considered. Consider a very simple example. A 1000 ton starship with Jump-4. M-4 and P-4, model-7 computer, etc., costs about MCr561 and has 10 triple turrets.

A 600 ton carrier (same stats) with 8 fighters costs MCr 579, for a total price of about the same as the 1000 ton ship above. (And the carrier could carry easily 2-3 more fighters, for MCr 36-48, which would add 20%-30% of the non-carrier's firepower.)

Yet the carrier deploys 14 triple turrets, including its fighters. That's a 40% advantage in firepower. And the operating costs are much higher for the non-carrier. The non-carrier uses 60% more fuel for instance, has much larger drives, etc. The carrier has more crew due to the fighter pilots.

And there's a significant flexibility advantage with a carrier -- its fighters can go after multiple, widely separated targets, yet concentrate more firepower per credit on a single target if necessary. Also, each fighter is a separate target, so the non-carrier may not be able to make optimum use of its weaponry.

At the end of the day, I think a fleet of Book 2 carriers will defeat a comparably priced fleet of Book 2 non-carriers the vast majority of the time.

While I have no problem with carriers being the queen of battle, I don't want escorts and "surface combatants" to be completely redundant. In Book 2, they are.

Oh, I'd note that fighters are not particularly easy to kill in Book 2, considering their tonnage. A fighter is destroyed on a drive hit, about 27% of the time. It's out of action on a weapon/critical hit -- 16% of the time. So on average, it will take 2-3 hits to kill it. This means that 10 fighters (100 tons) will require about 25 hits to destroy.

Applied to starships, 25 hits will statistically KO 3-4 turrets, usually score a critical hit often destroying a drive or the computer or the entire ship, damage the computer (2-3 hits), 0-1 power plant hits, 1-2 maneuver drive hits, 2 jump drive hits, 27 tons of fuel lost. This ought to KO most ships in the 300-400 ton range. A 400 ton smilitary starship will cost about MCr 320 vs MCr180 for the 10 fighters.
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Old June 3rd, 2007, 02:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by tbeard1999:
So while I want carriers to be the major combatants, I also want there to be a reason for non-carrier military starships.
IMTU, which is also a small-ship, B2-only TU, I find it's simply a microcosm of the HG2 battleships versus battleriders choice.

A B2 carrier has a great deal of trouble recovering all its fighters and jumping clear of a losing battle due to the requirement that the mothership and her brood all need to match vectors and rendezvous without the benefit of High Guard's "reserve" to hide in. You can throw up a thick curtain of sand, but the missles will be swarming in in droves. Most carriers have short m-legs to begin with, and the need to hide in a sand cloud pretty much precludes a high-speed retreat run anyway.

Jump-capable combat ships are still preferred for "strike" missions where the fleet has a reasonable expectation of needing to withdraw under fire from a formidable defender.
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