Thursday, June 25, 2020

Raise Shields!

Traveller has, from time to time, taken a little gentle ribbing over the fact that it has rules for spears and swords. This is a game of science fiction adventure in the far future. Well, so what if it does? Sci-fi classics from The Time Machine to The Dumarest Saga and King David's Spaceship had characters use swords and other melee weapons.

So there should also be rules for the use of that natural companion of the sword, the shield.

Shields are the oldest defensive technology of mankind. A shield is a portable barrier, often strapped to the arm or carried by one hand. It protects the bearer against attacks from the front.

Normally you use a shield with a one-handed weapon (blade, club, handgun). If the bearer wishes, he can fit his shield with a weapon rest so that the shield supports long arms (spears, long guns). All attacks with these weapons are at DM -2.  Very high-tech shields may incorporate stabilization and anti-grav to negate this penalty. Imagine heavy weapons carried behind a gun shield!

Friday, June 5, 2020

Unskilled Weapon Users

Can you find the Unskilled fighter in this group?

I read recently a post on anther blog about the differences in fighting capability in classic D&D. A 'normal man' has less damage resistance. His to-hit numbers are higher than the PC's, and his saving throw numbers are higher as well. The post made the case for the clear superiority of the dungeon-delving adventurer. Can the same be said for Travellers?

Well, yes!

I refer to TTB, page 37.

Any character using a weapon in which he or she has no training is subject to a penalty of -5 when attacking and +3 when defending. All player characters automatically have an expertise of zero . . . in all weapons shown in this book. [I call this the Weapon Mastery advantage] This zero value is sufficient to avoid the no-expertise penalty, but it is not enough to provide a positive DM. Payer characters selecting their weapons should consider the potential benefits of their strength and dexterity levels and any DMS that might be available for those characteristics.”

The PC's Weapon Mastery advantage means a PC will never get caught at a loss owing to unfamiliar weapons. Any PC can take on ANY opponent on reasonably equal ground. A knife fight in an alley to a formal duel in the Duke's courtyard with laser pistols to open field battle. How many of us could say that?

Speaking of Weapon Master, here's one example of what it looks like. Note the way Shiu Lien's attacks change as she goes through a variety of weapons.

It makes your two-term Other character seem a little more awesome, doesn't it?

Friday, May 29, 2020

New Subsector, New Rules, New Characters

For my new experiment in using Cepheus Light, I've rolled up a few new characters. I found some character images in Planet Stories v2 # 12 (1945) and thought they looked just about perfect for my new adventurers.

I present: 
Robert Rance, Ace Adventurer

Monday, May 25, 2020

Random Encounters - Two Patrons

Alistair Deacon

Business Mogul, someone who always “knows a guy” who can help the PCs – in exchange for a favor.
A Deal is about to be born. And it will be profitable.
Deacon is not that tall, not that big and not that impressive looking. A good-looking guy, sure, but a city-dweller and ground-pounder.

He tends to be 'flash' – you'll find him at the popular clubs, often tossing credits around. His clothes are always the current fashion, and tailor-made. Any tech he carries with him will be top of the line, the best the local TL can offer.

When he introduces himself, it's always “I'm Alistair Deacon”. The implication being that of course the PCs have heard of him. This may be vanity, but it's also a show of dominance. He will on occasion talk about himself in the 3rd person; such as “Of course it'll be a winner. Financial losses don't happen to Alistair Deacon.”

And in general, he's right. He may not look tough, but he's no fool. His business ventures are always legit, and profitable. He can smell a dodgy deal a klick away.

He's loaded with cash, and connected to scores of people – both legit and criminal. He's not a criminal, but he knows people who are.

He has two associates nearby at all times - “Kong” and “Nails”. Kong is the obvious muscle, even in his nice suit. Nails is less obtrusive, and often fades into the background. Just because you don't see him, that doesn't mean he's not there. Deacon isn't a fighter, so he always has someone around who is.

Alistair Deacon
77799A Age 42 Cr – Millions
Bureaucrat, 6 terms Executive
Liaison-3, Administration-2, Computer-1, Vehicle-1, Carousing-3

Alistair owns several businesses, on more than one planet. As a patron he may want:

Friday, May 8, 2020

The Remnants of the Glorious Empire - Cepheus Light

Over the last few years I have worked a good bit with the Cepheus Engine rules set. Mostly because of my work with Stellagama Publishing (Thanks, guys!) on things like These Stars Are Ours! and The Space Patrol, and now recently Sword of Cepheus. It's been fun.

Now, I'm still a Classic Traveller guy. There's nothing wrong with branching out, however. One of my new projects, therefore, is restructuring one of the subsectors of my TU, and converting all that can be converted therein to CE game terms. With my Pocket Edition of Cepheus Light, I will create new characters, build new vehicles and starships, and find out how well CL works.

The area formerly known as Weitzlar Subsector is now known as the Remnants of the Glorious Empire.

Behold my new custom-made map of the Glorious Empire Subsector

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

More Vehicles - Leopard 2 MBT

Behold the Mighty Leopard II! Another MgT 2e design.

Leopard in action

German Leopard 2A5 Main Battle Tank (TL 8-9)

Chassis: Heavy Ground Vehicle
Spaces: 27 (81,000Cr)
Crew: 3 (3 spaces, Driver, Commander, Gunner)
Agility: -1
Speed: Medium/72kph (Slow/45kph)
Range: 500km (750km)
Hull: 150
Armor: 60/60/60 (15 spaces)
Traits: AFV, Tracks (DM+4 to Drive [tracked] checks)

Armament: One Large Turret (4 spaces, 275,000Cr) w/ One Cannon (Rng-2km, Dmg-1DD, Spaces-10, Cost-400,000Cr, Mag-30, Mag Cost-5000Cr, Blast-10, AP-4) and One Medium Machinegun (Rng-0.4km, Dmg-3D+3, Spaces-1, Cost-5000Cr, Mag Cost-250Cr, Auto-3), One Ring Mount (750Cr) w/ One Medium Machinegun (Rng-0.4km, Dmg-3D+3, Spaces-1, Cost-5000Cr, Mag Cost-250Cr, Auto-3), Improved Fire Control for Cannon (25,000Cr, DM+2 to attack rolls, Scope trait)


  • Improved Control System (5000Cr), Smoke Dischargers (1 space, 1000Cr)
  • Improved Communications System (75Cr, Rng-500km) w/ Encryption (4000Cr) and Satellite Uplink (1 space, 1000Cr)
  • Computer/1 (500Cr), Improved ECM (1 space, 20,000Cr, DM-1 and DM+/- to opposing Sensors checks, Rng-5km)
  • Improved Navigation System (10,000Cr, DM+2 to Navigation checks)
  • Improved Sensors (Rng-5km, 15,000Cr, DM+1 to Sensors checks) w/ Hardened (15,000Cr)
  • Sensor Mast (15,000Cr) and Increased Fidelity (1 space, DM+1 to Sensors checks, 15,000Cr)
  • Improved (TL-9) Camouflage (5000Cr, Min Rng-0.5km, DM-2 against all visual/IR search checks)
  • Hostile Environment Protection (Cr), Short Term Life-Support (1 space, 10,000Cr)
  • Fire Extinguishers (1000Cr)

Cost: 1,044,325Cr

Designed by A1C Z. Weaver, USAF

Image Credit: böhringer friedrich [CC BY-SA (]

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Taking another look at Jack armor

Yeah, I know. It's not very effective as presented in CT. And it sounds dumb, as in "your armor ain't worth jack".

Recently I learned that there is a real, historical type of armor known as Jack. And it actually worked.

The CT definition of Jack (TTB, p. 43)
"A natural or synthetic leather jacket or body suit covering the torso and upper arms and legs. Jack is somewhat better than ordinary clothing or bare skin when defending against blades; it is worthless against guns."

Now read the definition of historical Jack:

Jack of Plate

"A jack of plate is a type of armour made up of small iron plates sewn between layers of felt and canvas. They were commonly referred to simply as a "jack" (although this could also refer to any outer garment). This type of armour was used by common Medieval European soldiers as well as by the rebel peasants known as Jacquerie. The present day equivalent is perhaps a bullet-proof vest.
The jack is similar to the brigandine. The main difference is in the method of construction: a brigandine is riveted whereas a jack is sewn. Jacks of plate were created by stitching as many as 1000 small overlapping squares of iron between two canvases. The garments weighed about 17 pounds (7.7 kg), which made them much more acceptable to the wearer than solid breastplates. They also offered a tactical advantage: they allowed soldiers to rest the butts of weapons firmly against their shoulders, which wasn't feasible with smooth-surfaced plate armours. Jacks were often made from recycled pieces of older plate armor, including damaged brigandines and cuirasses cut into small squares."

The real explanation of Jack sounds much more like Traveller's definition of Mesh armor. Also, the description given would put Jack of Plate at TL2, not TL1.

How to fit Jack of Plate into the TTB combat matrices?  Like this:

Jack of Plate is Mesh+1. That is, 1 worse than regular Mesh against all weapon types. Available at TL 2, cost is 300 Cr.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

A Useful Table - Random Values for Things

Recently I had two PCs who were exploring the hinterlands of an island on Tifur. This island was inhabited by large reptilian creatures - dinosaurs. They came upon one such hostile beast, about the size of a bull elephant – 14,000 kg.

Oh lucky you. You encountered a T-Rex.
Sounds like Frightening Animal Encounter time, right?


Their ATV had an Auto-Rifle in a mount on top. The dino appeared at long range, and even at speed 3 it took it three rounds to close in on the PCs. By then the Auto-Rifle had filled it full of lead. [Auto-Rifle vs. Jack armor is +6 to hit; in effect, an auto-hit. And two throws to hit each combat round.]

So now the PCs have this dead dino. What to do with it? There's no way they could have butchered it and saved even a tenth of the dino meat. So they decided instead to skin it.

The PCs returned to the logging camp and the port town with 700 kg worth of dino hide. This presented me with another problem. How do I determine how much a dino skin is worth?

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Don't Believe Everything You Hear - Rumors in Traveller

Encounters are a staple of role-playing activity. As the PCs move about from place to place they naturally meet up with NPCs and interact with them.

Traveller has a mechanism for a type of encounter I've seen in almost no other RPG. In the Encounters section there are tables for encountering Rumors. Here's some of what the rules say about them (TTB, p.99):
Information is a valuable commodity to travellers, and rumors are the source of much useful information.
In any case the idea of the rumor allows the player characters to learn of new exciting an potentially rewarding (or potentially deadly) situations. In many Traveller situations, a rumor is simply information leading to a patron, a job or a potential treasure; . . . 
Rumors are valuable, and once player characters know of their potential, they will seek them out. 
I have no idea what kind of information this gathers.

I admit that over the years of playing, I've struggled to know what to do with the Rumor table. The main difficulty was always what is this Rumor about? An important clue? To what?  An Obvious clue? Why is it obvious?

It occurred to me that one solution to this is to create a list of rumors to match the table, all relating to one thing.

When the players inquire about a thing or a person, or when the Referee gets an idea about something that the players would find interesting, start brainstorming. Decide what the facts of the matter are. Use the Rumor descriptions in the table as a guide and create the tidbits that will reel in the players.

Example: rumors about a treasure on Worosha.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Rest In Peace My Friends


Richard Carnes

Last night my fellow parishioner Richard Carnes, a Vietnam Veteran, left this life. The scourge of cancer brought an end to his life in this world. The grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ brings him to life in the world to come. He was a close friend of our priest for decades, and a good friend to me; and the godfather of my two sons.

Richard Carnes
667887 Army, 1 term Trooper Age 72 Cr – no longer important
Rifle-1, Mechanical-2, Wheeled Vehicle-0, Animal Handling-0

He was: Husband. Father. Grandfather. Godfather. Friend.

Robert Wood

More unexpectedly, over the weekend of the 15th-16th, my fellow parishioner Robert Wood, a Vietnam-era Navy Veteran left this life. Robert had COPD from a lifetime of smoking, which finally brought an end to his life in this world. The grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ brings him to life in the world to come. He was a part of our parish for over ten years, and I enjoyed many conversations with him from religion to politics to philosophy to his love of motorcycles.

Robert Wood
665887 Wet Navy, 2 terms Petty Officer Age 66 Cr - not much
Electronics-2, Mechanical-1, Wheeled Vehicle-1, Swimming-1 Watercraft-0

Robert never married, but he travelled widely, and had friends in many places.

Prayers for the Departed

Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend the souls of thy servants, Richard and Robert, and beseech thee to grant them rest in the place of thy rest, where all thy blessed Saints repose, and where the light of thy countenance shineth forever. And I beseech thee also to grant that our present lives may be godly, sober, and blameless, that, we too may be made worthy to enter into thy heavenly Kingdom with those we love but see no longer: for thou art the Resurrection, and the Life, and the Repose of thy departed servants, O Christ our God, and unto thee we ascribe glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

If you are minded to pray, pray also for Richard's widow Karen, their six children (grown) and four grandchildren.

Almighty God, who knowest the weakness and frailty of our nature, we beseech Thee to give unto us Thy servants whom thou hast stricken with this sorrow, such measure of thy grace as shall enable us to bear it with humility, resignation and submission to thy divine will. Grant that we not sorrow as those who have no hope. Grant that whatsoever we may want in outward consolation, we may find in the inward rest of perfect submission to Thy holy will, and unshaken trust in Thy loving mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Both will be buried in a Veterans cemetery in central Virginia.

Image credit: Pixabay

Monday, February 17, 2020

More Vehicles - Bearcat construction vehicle

My son designed this vehicle using MgT's 2nd edition vehicle rules. I have included some CT-style flavor text.

Bearcat class Construction Vehicle (TL-8)

Chassis: Heavy Ground Vehicle
Spaces: 30 (15dtns)
Crew/Passengers: 2/0 (2 spaces)
Speed: Slow (Very Slow)/100kph (50kph)
Range: 400km (600km)
Agility: -1
Hull: 90
Armor: 2/2/2
Traits: Tracks, ATV (DM+2 to Drive checks when traversing rough terrain)
Armament: None
Equipment: Improved Control Systems (5000Cr), Heavy Crane (8 spaces, 
Max Load-10tns, 10,000Cr), Digger Blade (10 spaces, 25,000Cr)
Cargo: 2.5tns (10 spaces)
Cost: 220,000Cr

The Bearcat class multi-purpose construction vehicle is a rugged, reliable vehicle built for the settlement that's looking to expand. The Bearcat weighs 15 tons and has a crew of two. It moves on tracks, and has a maximum speed of 100 kph, and 50 kph off-road. When carrying a load, the recommended top speed is 20 kph. Its range is at best 600 km, but is typically transported to the work site.

The Bearcat can operate on a job site for 30 hours before recharging. It can lift 10 tons, or up to its own weight if special balancing weights are attached to the chassis. The digging blade can excavate 75 m^3 of earth per hour. 

A Bearcat at work
Backhoe not shown
This design may be used without attribution. However, if you do use it, please leave a comment to let us know, and how well it worked.

Image Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Rey Rabara [Public domain]