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Classic Traveller Discussion on the granddaddy of them all, Classic Traveller!

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  #1  
Old October 24th, 2008, 11:26 PM
vraymond vraymond is offline
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Default Ship encounters

I've started running a home-brew campaign, using both play-by-post and tabletop sessions (when possible). Returning to Classic Traveller has been a blast, and we've been having a lot of fun.

However, I've been running into some questions about refereeing (mostly me thinking things through). One of the biggest is: when you are refereeing Traveller, how do you determine ship encounters - in other words, what's the game purpose of random ship encounters?

Reason why I'm asking it this way is that in in-setting reason is obvious - simulate the common and uncommon traffic to and from a planet. That's clear. But random ship encounters are not "wandering monsters" a la D&D, right? (put another way, how do you use ship encounters?)

So does anyone use the table in Book 2 "as is" or do you use something else like the ship encounter tables in Supplement Nine (if I recall correctly)? What do you do then?

Keep in mind - I understand the mechanics of it all *just*fine* - it's more of a philosophical question I've got right now.

(also posted to the Classic Traveller Yahoogroup, just to be clear)
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Old October 24th, 2008, 11:54 PM
sabredog sabredog is offline
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I've run my own home brew campaign long enough that I don't use the random encounters charts anymore - I know what should be flying around and most of the encounters are planned. If I need a random chart I make my own that is tailored to what would be likely to be in that particular area.

For example the really large commercial freighters won't be found off the main routes, and cargo lighters won't be found outside an in-system traffic corridor or far away from a world. Mail Packets run regular routes so they won't be encountered away from them. Outside the primary commercial routes is where you find the bulk of Frontier and Free Traders, etc.

Inside the Terran Empire you'll find Main Fleet 250kt Battleships, outside the Empire you'll find the 3000 ton Skirmisher class Scout Cruisers used to protect Imperial trade.

Now a side benefit to this is that when a type of ship is found outside the areas the players are used to seeing it then it might be the sort of thing that piques their interest and gets them hooked into an adventure. If a 400 ton cargo lighter (non-jump capable) that is normally used by the 5000 ton colonial freighters on the main commercial routes is found drifting in a system outside said routes then it might indicate any number of exciting possibilities.
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Old October 24th, 2008, 11:56 PM
Deathstalker Deathstalker is offline
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Usually groups I've been in have tried to figure out some local traffic if we are going to be in the local area for a while. As in, we'll have a few fellow traders who we pass information back and forth with. (Pirates, etc) A few patrol ships usually a Gazelle or such, which we all recognize by name, after the first contact. Note that scouts often have a strange bent. Of all careers, scouts are most like your average bunch of warped Travellers, so they can be spiced up, and given individual quirks. (Which the Referee will have to think up, or I think there is a table in some CT book which could be useful, if (s)he can't think up ones.) Heck, if you get lucky/unluky, you might even encounter the same pirates!

There are also a few 'wandering monsters', namely the pirates. In my (Mongoose, but very similar to classic) Traveller game last night, there was a pirate corsair which actually lost a fight to two scouts, via lucky hits on the engines.

For the most part, it's hard to be a ship owner, because in addition to maintenance (inc life support, which even scouts have to deal with), there are pirates, Naval units which may be either helpful, or harmful, misjumps, etc.

There is a reason in Classic Traveller, that there aren't that many people who voyage out: it's rather dangerous. Just look at the survival roll for scouts! who if they don't retire, are something like 83% likely to die, and only 17% likely to be kicked out. (I forget if that includes positive DMs or not.)
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Old October 25th, 2008, 10:36 AM
vraymond vraymond is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deathstalker View Post
Usually groups I've been in have tried to figure out some local traffic if we are going to be in the local area for a while. As in, we'll have a few fellow traders who we pass information back and forth with. (Pirates, etc) A few patrol ships usually a Gazelle or such, which we all recognize by name, after the first contact.
Hmmm. You've made a good point - ships have names! (And transponder codes!) I think I've been thinking of them as completely "faceless" moments, when by simply adding a name (and maybe an ID number), there's opportunity for on-going contact. It does mean keeping track of ships, at least semi-systematically, but that's not bad. I find myself thinking about this as "ships as NPCs" - which isn't quite accurate, but close.
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Old October 25th, 2008, 06:49 PM
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On the philosophy of the random starship encounters are, IMHO, to differentiate between the types of space out there, particularly if the players need to move through a couple of subsectors to get to the system they are interested in. The tables basically say that if they stay to A & B systems, then they will steer clear of pirates. If they do run into pirates, it gives an idea of what they are likely to be facing.

If their maintenance is up to date, they are using the right fuel, jumping outside the 100 diameters, etc., then there can be little risk in sticking to the clean, well lighted places. There are places, in any society, where it is perfectly safe to go; there are places where it is not. Even if I diddle with the encounters, I try to stick with the spirit of the tables, roll reactions, and fill it in as the GM'ing terrain calls for.

They are not really "wandering monsters," because players can change the dynamics based on the systems they visit.
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Old November 20th, 2008, 04:11 PM
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There is such a thing as train spotters and where I came from there were also ship spotters.
"Want info about outgoing and incoming? How far back do you want to go back?
Wanna help the clubs new telescope fund? Yeah we got a list of transponder codes names and nic names. How many years ago did you say?"

Not only the local government authority will be interested in the the local traffic.

Ask a fanboy anorak. (gently)

"yeah its only a ships boat but look at that slight bulge under the nose!"

"It's ours. We built it from scrapped and spare parts."
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Old November 20th, 2008, 06:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev Round View Post
There is such a thing as train spotters and where I came from there were also ship spotters.
"Want info about outgoing and incoming? How far back do you want to go back?
Wanna help the clubs new telescope fund? Yeah we got a list of transponder codes names and nic names. How many years ago did you say?"

Not only the local government authority will be interested in the the local traffic.

Ask a fanboy anorak. (gently)

"yeah its only a ships boat but look at that slight bulge under the nose!"

"It's ours. We built it from scrapped and spare parts."
What a great concept. I forgot about trainspotters. It caused quite a stir in Kansas City when Desert Sheild was going on. They acually removed several of the trainspotters off a hill because of national security. It looked pretty silly in court when the 70+aged old men where in front of the judge.

Think of the information that could be gained from those who just watch ships fly because they like it.
Thanks for the idea.

Dave Chase
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Old November 20th, 2008, 07:02 PM
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coliver988 coliver988 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev Round View Post
There is such a thing as train spotters and where I came from there were also ship spotters.
"Want info about outgoing and incoming? How far back do you want to go back?
Wanna help the clubs new telescope fund? Yeah we got a list of transponder codes names and nic names. How many years ago did you say?"

Not only the local government authority will be interested in the the local traffic.

Ask a fanboy anorak. (gently)

"yeah its only a ships boat but look at that slight bulge under the nose!"

"It's ours. We built it from scrapped and spare parts."

It is a great idea. For those of us who pre-ordered the T5, we got a ship-spotter chart. Now expand that into the same sort of thing used back in the world wars for plane spotting (and may still be used I think).

I imagine that there are starport watchers who like to see what ships are coming and going. Imagine the lower tech worlds with a higher tech starport, and the gleam in a youngster's eyes as he counts and tracks the other worlders coming and going, peering through his 'Official Imperial Starship Profile Book, 1100 version' to figure out what sort of ship it is.

An entire source of potential information!
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Old November 20th, 2008, 10:27 PM
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Yes my inspiration was being taken as a boy to see the last of the steam age. Those engines had presence.
Laterly those poor unfortunate plane spotters not so many years ago arrested for spying in Greece.
And for the poetry and enthusiasm and love of wanting to be part of something so much that it hurts... a story from an anthology by Ray Bradbury called R is for Rocket. (I have forgotten the title of the short story)


I never stood near one of these and until recently they were extinct...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/7738116.stm

It is a NEW one!

Paste Post Script: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7741449.stm

I shamelessly add this link as an illustration of the power of nostalgia, and how a large group of people can have the same interest for a project not of restoration but development and production. This time the plate was cut with lasers! Higher tech level used on older tech model. And last but not least all for the cost of a pint of beer! (ahem!)

With a large enough planetary population on a Traveller world with sufficient disposable income amongst the populace (remember the vast majority of people in the UK are far from wealthy!) ,the know how, and tech level sufficient (maybe not if wealthy enough!) a local club may even build their own starship.

Last edited by Rev Round; November 22nd, 2008 at 01:20 PM..
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  #10  
Old November 28th, 2008, 02:52 PM
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Imperial Planetologist Imperial Planetologist is offline
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For important or frequently visited star systems I create system-specific encounter charts. There's a White Dwarf called "Plying the Space Lanes" that I use for developing the probability of encounters, and I build encounter tables for 100D, near-orbit, inner system, outer system, and planetoid belt and gas giant if applicable. The tables may have anywhere from six (1D) to twenty possible encounters (3D plus modifiers).

I also have a more-or-less generic chart I can use for less-travelled systems.

I keep notes on particular ships so that they can appear later, and over time the player characters developed friendships and rivalries with some of the other crews.
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