Monday, July 24, 2017

Happy 40th Birthday to Traveller!

(so I'm a few days late. It happens.)

On July 22, 1977, the first edition of Traveller was published at Origins '77.
To the Stars!

I encountered Traveller in 1982 at the FLGS, and bought the Starter Traveller edition. I've been playing it ever since, with a brief foray into MegaTraveller in the early 1990's. Since 1996 or so, I've been back with the LBBs, until a friend gave me his copy of The Traveller Book a few years ago. 

I created my own Traveller Universe in 1997, and have played in it almost exclusively since then. 

Here are some links to help you celebrate:

Happy Birthday thread at Citizen of the Imperium.

Tales to Astound's birthday wishes

Omer Joel's elegy to the beauty of Classic Traveller.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Danger Aboard! Hazards of exploring derelict starships


Starships are a popular 'location' for adventures in Traveller. Probably every player and referee has drawn up at least one set of deck plans for a ship they've designed. Most of GDW's adventures had at least one starship in it, often with deck plans. Starships are an easy way to give the game a sci-fi feel.

Here's a question that the rules don't cover. What happens when a ship loses control?  Or is damaged by pirates/enemy navies? Or collides with an asteroid? Or fails a landing?

Crash!
But the engineer assured me the drives would last another month with an overhaul!
It is my hope that soon I will see my first written adventure for Traveller in publication. The adventure centers around a crashed starship, and the PCs are there to recover crash victims and valuable scrap. What kinds of dangers could intrepid explorers face when investigating a crashed starship?  These came to my mind:

  • Exposed electrical conduits are a shock & fire hazard.
  • Unsound floor plates can lead to falls through the decks.
  • Weakened support structures can lead to collapses or falls.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Expanded Rules for Military Skills from CT Book 4 Mercenary

You're in the Army now!
Your players want to run a military or mercenary campaign. Great, What do you do? The abstract battle system in book 4 works, but it is little more than rolling dice and consulting tables. This does not keep players engaged for long. And it's, well, abstract. A commando mission plays out exactly the same as a security contract.

The rules state that the Abstract system is “particularly valuable in resolving a mercenary mission involving large numbers of troops . . .in which player characters are not primary participants.” Even if the PCs are platoon or company leaders, there's not a lot for them to do that will affect the outcome of a battle.

Book 4, Mercenary, was a very popular rules expansion for Traveller. More guns! All those new weapons, though, were just more ways for the PCs to die. Large scale battles run very slowly when done at the PC level (no, Striker does not play quickly) and the chances are good the PCs will be taken out very quickly. This is not good roleplaying fun. What to do?

I recommend that you keep the PCs front and center of the action by diverting action from mass formation slug-outs to actions at the PC's level. Use the standard Traveller combat system while the PCs are performing their part, then resolve the rest with the abstract system.

What part do the PCs play? They're the mission specialists. In addition to all the fancy new guns introduced in book 4, there are several new skills that are directly applied to combat situations.

Specialist PCs can do lots of things to turn the tide of victory besides fight. To do so they must employ these new military skills. Let us consider the following skills:

  • Combat Engineering (CE)
  • Demolitions (DO)
  • Field Artillery (FA)
  • Reconnaissance (RA)
  • Forward Observer (FO) [from book 1]
which do not have much definition in the Bk4 rules. I thought about them for a while, and here are some expansions to the rules as stated, that can make this group of skills more valuable.