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Starship Combat IYTU


To calibrate a few discussions that I have been having on starships, it would be useful to know how folks actually use them in their games.

The information that I am interested in immediately is how many people actually use starship combat on a regular basis, so if youo could start your post with one of each of the options below. I'm also interested in what rules set people use to resolve their combats (LBB-2, HG, MT, TNE, Brilliant Lances, BattleRider, T20, Renegade Legion-Interceptor... whatever)

No Starship Combat
Your players have never seen a shot fired in space
Occasional Starship Combat
Your players have been involved in at least one deep space encounter, but it was generally used as a plot device
Moderate starship Combat
The game involved a significant amount of starship combat, but also had a significant amount of "planetside" action
Constant Starship Combat
Your campaign revolves around an interstellar war, and the players are naval officers. Use this if you need to think hard about the last planet your players actually set foot on.

Rules stringency:
No Formal Rules
Rolling dice is an optional extra, published rules get in the way of your game
Moderate Rules Structure
You use the starship combat rules as a guideline, and there are serious modifiers (like "automatic success") for particularly well thought out strategies
Strict Rules Structure
When you get into starship combat, the only use of the characters is to provide the correct DM's for die rolls.

As examples, I have had two major campaigns, and am gearing up for a third.

The first was
Occasional Starship Combat - No Formal rules - LBB-2
This was a campaign in the Spinward Marches with a "Merchant Prince" flavour. The only reason that it made it to "occasional combat" is that in two situations the players ship was boarded under the guns of "overwhelming firepower". The lack of rules was because the players were so outclassed that there was no reason to try to resist (Deus et Machina)

The second was:
Moderate Starship Combat - No Formal rules - HG
This was set in a non-canon universe in the middle of a war between seveeral "great powers" with the PC's in control of a diplomatic courier. Anything that they couldn't outrun or bluff could reduce them to rubble, so no rules were needed for the starship combat, but the players got quite inventive in figuring their way past naval blockades (including having their entire ship carried in a bulk cargo module)

The new one will probably be
Ocassional Starship combat - Moderate Rule Structure - Brilliant Lances
This is a "Pocket Empire" campaign in a Hard SF non-canon universe. It will be using a hybrid of FF&S with Brilliant Lances used as the core of the starship combat system. This will be similar in structure to the last campaign, but the players will be in an armed survey packet (think merchant with long legs and some defensive capibility with enough cargo tonnage to be financially self-sufficient) The players will be getting put on the fringes of a few major naval engagements, but it is not the "core" of the game.

If your Traveller game is a convenient excuse for your players to participate in a TCS campaign (or "Starfleet Battles") then use
Constant Starship Combat- Strict Rules Structure

Scott Martin
Occasional starship combat - I don't usually give players a ship. In my latest game they do have one and have had two combat encounters in ten+ sessions.
Moderate rules structure - range band movement, LBB2/Mayday/SS3 plus house rules for HG/MT equipment, tasks for each crew member (see PC scale HG combat thread).
Occasional combat, moderate structure.

I use a mish-mash of LBB2, HG, and house rules. Mostly it's cinematic in nature, with PC actions being far more important than die rolls.
Originally posted by Scott Martin:
To calibrate a few discussions that I have been having on starships, it would be useful to know how folks actually use them in their games.
IMTU: (kinda needs its own UBB tag, don't it?)

Most adventures/campaigns involve starships as mobile bases of operations, but also involve lengthy interactions with planetside infrastructures. However, I really don't do much in the mercantile realms; there isn't much player interest.

Moderate Starship Combat
Space combat IMTU is dangerous and expensive (but that never stops the PCs, at least the first few times). There's room for a fair amount of posturing and bluffing and warning shots. Most "combat" involves pursuit scenarios, either towards the safety of a planetside defense envelope, or out to safe altitude for Jump.

Moderate Rules Structure
Mostly pure CT LBB2 (small-ship TU: no HG2 ships), using range bands when practical, vectors when necessitated. A little Mayday mixed in (specifically, Maneuver/Evade subtracts 1G from available acceleration), and cast sand DMs stackable. Missiles at 6Gs; may target other missiles and be targeted by lasers (at -3 To Hit in non-Anti-Missile fire). Radiation effects from CT SS3. Catastrophic Damage ("Destroyed") results somewhat moderated: drives not unrepairable until the third hit to reduce them below "A", "Ship Vaporized" usually just "Hull Structural Integrity Lost". Skills (both in and out of space combat) either straight CT or even better the super-streamlined Risus: Traveller (with the opposed roll "best face" variant for serious play, and no Teams).

Maybe this question should be set up as a Poll over in the forum for such things?
Originally posted by The Oz:
Occasional combat, moderate structure.

I use a mish-mash of LBB2, HG, and house rules. Mostly it's cinematic in nature, with PC actions being far more important than die rolls.
My games are like this. Starship combat has happened in every campaign, but not every evening. They have a space-opera feel, while still using dice.

Even the rules mix is similar, although I don't really use High Guard. Call it "LBB2 + T4 + House Rules".

It depended on the campaign, but none of my campaigns were strictly naval based so Constant Starship Combat- Strict Rules Structure is out. None of my campaigns 'avoided' planets either. Depending on the plot, events could happen in space or dirtside.

We were wargamers so almost all of the ship combat I ran was map based. We normally used GDW's Mayday/HG2 conversion rules with varying amounts of house rules added to the mix.

Unlike many GMs and players, my groups never found ship combat lacking in PC interaction so we never found the need to 'water down' or add to the rules to give players something to do. Our house rules to the Mayday/HG2 fusion were intended to add more 'realism' (ECM, area defense, etc.) and not more player actions.

Some of my campaigns follow:

- Campaign #1: The players operate a jump2 free trader in and around Grote. Very few ship battles occur, some as plotted events and some as random encounters. Occasional Combat -Moderate Rules

- Campaign #2: The players crew a paramilitary vessel(1) operating out of Grote. Eventually, on a mission for the Darrian Consulate in the Reach, they end up being hijacked into the Islands Cluster(2). Moderate Combat - Moderate Rules

- Campaign #3 - The players work as troubleshooters for various groups and/or individuals. They do not own a ship, yet are involved in a few 'battles'. Occasional Combat - Moderate Rules

Have fun,

1 - aka 'starmercs' although I didn't use that term in the early 80s.

2 - Which was how I avoided the 5th FW.
In My campaign I use HG,for ship contruction and LLB book 2 (Sans computer rules).

As it takes place in the(expanding) Terran Empire there's a lot of starship combat.so much so that the players, who stared without a ship now have one. Oh' I put them through a city adventure, a merc adventure, and that time they helped defend the ship they were traveling on, from Vargr pirates.

As for rules adherance it's moderate.
The only time we had a campagn with a lot of starship combat we used star fleet battles for it. We had a Klingon D5 war cruiser.
Moderate starship combat - strict rules structure - LBB2.
Lite starship combat - fairly strict rules - LBB2.

- Use Range Band combination movement from Mayday/Starter Traveller with one range band = 10,000 km.

- Lite GM interpretation with a few tweaks (like the CT Sensor rules: http://www.travellerrpg.com/cgi-bin/Trav/CotI/Discuss/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=44;t=000349 ).

- Heavy on the role-playing with what's going on inside the PC's ship during combat (less strictly a war game; more of a story-focused, PC POV, aspect of RPGing).
My first and longest campaign was Moderate Starship combat initially, increasing to heavy starship combat. Slightly modified Brilliant lances rules decreasing to a less adhearance to them if the encounter was relatively simple though I like to map it out as I'm visual oriented like that. One of my players liked starship combat as much as I did, one hated it, and when we had others they were mostly take it or leave it.

In my current campaign they don't yet have a ship and one players has allready expressed a desire to not "be stuck on a ship doing the trader thing".
In the campaigns, moderate combat with moderate rules approach based on HG2 with PC skills making a difference.

I've also played plenty of Traveller as a wargame using HG2 ala Trillion Credit Squadron.
Mayday meets MT Vehicle rules... boardgamish.

Used in limited occasions. As often or as rarely as the story dictates.
Occasional combat and moderate rules...
MT space combat (alternative initial sensoring and movement rules).
Many aspects often just by story telling / role playing (initial sensoring, movement, damage resolution).


I'm with Mert on the last point. On the few occasions I've managed to back my players into the space combat corner, we've mainly made it up as we went along. Only the actual shooting part really goes by the (house) rules.
Thanks for the feedback folks. It sounds like the number of people who use starship combat "out of the box" with no modification is surprisingly small, and very few do a lot of starship combat. LBB-2 seems to be the preferred system for role playing <sarcasm> shock and surprise </sarcasm>

I am adjusting a bit for bias: if you're posting in "the fleet" chances are you play with ships more than the "average" traveller player / GM.

Scott Martin
Hmm difficult to say, as the group I co-gm with has both sides of the coin here. Story is king, and thus we streamline as much to present action, tension, etc and minimize die rolling (save for firing/ evasion).

T20, btw, although it borrows from other editions, I hear tell Mr. Martin.

One of us has occasional combat, I'm the moderate one--since tis is a TNE-era T20 campaign, dirtside adventures do happen--and they don't always have to shoot it out. Nice when you do, you have ship that can give as good as the bad fellows dish out.

As for playing "with ships", is that as in "the players have a ship", or as in "We the gms gearhead ships designs etc"? Thats a bit unclear, sir.

Thanks for the topic tho!
Originally posted by Scott Martin:
Thanks for the feedback folks. It sounds like the number of people who use starship combat "out of the box" with no modification is surprisingly small, and very few do a lot of starship combat.

I recently started shopping around for starship combat systems in an attempt to get a good mix of rules for everything I might some day use.

I've found that there are no version of Traveller that seems to have made a set of rules that are really usable with any other without fudging, and none is working from a 10dton craft to a 10Mdton one.

In the odd moments when you think the previous is false, you realize that the design system suck. *sigh*

Really amazing, considering what's the name of the game, and how central it is to wander the stars in an hostile universe!

I'm stunned.