Thursday, March 8, 2018


Programming in the Far Future

I mentioned in my last post that I spotted a curious thing in the computer software table of the space combat rules. The even more curious thing that I discovered is that there's an aspect of space combat that I've been ignoring for years. Despite the fact that I've played Traveller since 1982, and run this blog since 2014, I still find from time to time little bits of the rules that got lost in the paperwork. Here's one of them.
From TTB, page 74:
"Players can and should seek out new and different programs to improve the performance and enlarge the capabilities of their spacecraft."
Meet Royal Talaveran Navy Ensign Heidi Klune, Computer skill-4, Liaison-3. Yes, Ensign, I'd be happy to spend two months helping you write that program! Obviously.
TTB gives us rules for how to write your own versions of the existing list, as well as writing new ones. A similar procedure is found in JTAS #1, which is noted as the official rules module for Computer Programming.

Either way you go about it, writing your own copy of programs has four requirements: computer skill, a skill associated with the program, time, and a throw for success.

An example:
TARGET program:  Computer-2, Navigation-2, 10+
The programmer has to have skill-2, the programmer or an assisting character has to have Navigation-2, the programmer has to throw 10+ w/ DM for Computer skill after two months of writing for it to work. Computer skill ABOVE the required level is a +DM for the success throw.

From JTAS 1: Throw 1D-Computer skill for the size of the new program. Size 0 is possible. Add that to the size listed on the table. Oh look, bloated code in the Far Future. So no, I will not make use of this rule. Also, TTB says it takes a week to write the code; while JTAS1 says it takes two months. I'm sticking with one week.

What can the PCs do with this potential?

The first thing they can do is save themselves some money when outfitting a new ship. Write their own programs instead of purchasing them.

The other thing they can do is write new programs, to enlarge their ships' capabilities. Here I posit a Ruling rather than a Rule: to write a new program, look at the existing ones and make the requirements harder in relation to the effect.

For example
Remote Takeover
This program allows a (Intruder) ship's computer to force access to the computer of another ship (Native), allowing the Intruder ship to control the program selection and operation of the (Native) ship. Requirements: The Intruder ship must have a larger computer number than the Native ship.
Skill: Computer-4, 11+ 3 spaces.

Sensor Relay
Effect: allows two ships to share sensor date in real time, (apart from transmission time)
Skills: computer-1, Electronics-1 9+ 1 space.

Interior Mapping
Effect: allows sensing ship to create images of the interior of a target vessel
Skills: Computer-2, Navigation-3 9+ 2 spaces.

Radio Jamming
Effect: prevents EM band communication by any vessel within [10 range bands[ of the jamming ship. Can block LOS communication only if between the sender and receiver. Skill: Computer-3, Electronics-3 10+ 2 spaces.

Functions as ECM; missiles destroyed on 5+ Skill: Computer-4, Electronics-4 11+ 4 spaces.

Effect: Shorter jump period by 2Dx2 hours. Skills: Computer-3, Navigation-5 10+ 2 spaces.

Sensor Jamming
Effect: neutralizes the Target program of an opponent ship, making it impossible to fire against the Jamming ship. Skills: Computer-3, Navigation-3, 11+ 2 spaces.

What other programs could be created for Traveller starships?  I can think of several more, but let's hear from you first. Leave a comment with your ideas.


  1. Nice. Can't say I ever noticed or used that before.

  2. There was a thread at COTI a couple years back in which members posted ideas for and examples of new programs.

  3. Hmm, maybe allow players to make programming throws to optimize the existing code and reduce it's size?