Friday, August 17, 2018

High Level Play in Traveller

Lucas Trask, Space Viking Extraordinaire

First let me set the framework for my topic. High Level Play (hereinafter HLP) in Traveller is a particular type of play. It is play that goes beyond a random patron hiring PCs to do a random thing. HLP is about PCs with power.

Many game systems will have obvious mechanical cues when the players engage in HLP. Level based and point based systems are the most obvious and telling systems.

In level-based systems, like D&D, HLP is obvious. What level of fighter or magic-user are you playing? Tenth? Fifteenth? Twentieth? As everyone begins the game at 1st level, the differences from low level to high are very plain.

In point-based systems, like GURPS, HLP is also obvious. Look at how many character points your PC has. GURPS suggests starting out “potential heroes” with 100 points. PCs can increase their CP up to 400, 500 or even more points. The differences in skill and power are extensive. GURPS Supers has characters built on 1,000 points and more – into the realms of the gods!

Dice pool systems, like the eponymous D6 system are also plain. Count the number of dice your PC has in attributes and skills. Anyone who understands probability can tell at what #D rank a character can begin to do the impossible with ease. For those who don't: the highest difficulty number is 30. A PC with 8D in an attribute or skill can beat a 30 1 time in 3. At 9D, it's 2 times out of 3.

Traveller does not have dice pools, or character points, or levels. The central mechanic is “roll 2D6, add modifiers and beat a target number from 1 to 15”. The main modifier is skill level, but this is most commonly 1, sometimes 2 or 3, rarely 4 or better.

One can tally up a PC's total skill levels and call that a measure of high level play, but that's not the way to do it. I point out that Fenton Tukachevski has a grand total of 3 skill levels, and yet he could engage in HLP. See below.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Defend the Homeworld!

Next up in the (irregular) series of vehicles for Traveller, a custom design from Striker, for ground defense against space-based threats (invaders, pirates and such):
After some discussion on G+, I realized I could have built this craft much more efficiently. So, the first one is the improved version, the original behemoth is second.

Sentry-class anti-spacecraft vehicle

Anti-space laser vehicle                                                                                                            TL-13
Nationality:                  Lanzhou
Dimensions:                                                                                         Cost(Cr):   9,460,881
Chassis:           length- 6.9 meters; width- 3.2 meters; height- 3.2 meters Wt (loaded): 280.4 tns
Turret:             length- 3.5 meters; width- 3.1 meters; height- 1.7 meters Wt (unloaded): 276.2 tns
Suspension: Grav                                                                               Ground Pressure:            N/A
Power Plant:     297 Mw, Fusion                                                                    Road Speed:            N/A
Fuel Capacity:              4000 litres                                                        Endurance: 8.98 hrs
Crew:               Total: 4; 1-Commander; 1-Driver; 2-Gunner(s);           Volume: 89.101m3
Passengers:                 none                                                                   Ship vol (dT):  6.4dT
Chassis Armor: Front-2mm[8], Sides-2mm[5], Rear-2mm[5], Deck-420mm[65], Belly-2.5mm[7]        
Turret Armor: Front-2mm[5], Sides-2mm[5], Rear-2mm[5], Deck-420mm[65]
1 x TL-13, 250Mw, BL, VM, Stp-2, DF-5.25/10.5/21, Pen-75/67/59, HB:+2, Sig:+16, Trgts-2, Crew-1, (turret mount)
Weapon Notes:             See notes below.
Obscuration Devices & Sensors                                     Location
1 x Prismatic aerosol                                                     chassis
1 x Smoke discharger                                                   chassis
Communicators                                                            Location
1 x 1000-km laser comm                                              chassis
Radar/Ladar     x 1000-pwr targeting radar                  chassis
1 x 1000-pwr radar jammer                                          chassis
1 x 1000-pwr counter battery radar[0/2+[+10]]          chassis
Visual, ECM, & Computers                                             Location
1 x TL9 Image enhancement                                        chassis
Environmental Controls:          
Miscellaneous Equipment:        Cargo:  4m^3              

Combat Statistics:       
Cross-country speed:   N/A            Amphibious speed:       N/A      Size DM's(high/low):            +2/+4
Move rates (road/x-country) in cm: N/A           
Grav Vehicle Thrust:                             0.37 G's                                                                              
Grav Vehicle speed: 420 kph (max)                  315 kph (cruise)                   105 kph (NOE)              
Movement rates (cm):                          350 / 263 / 88 
Turret weapon move eff:                                  move <=1/2 (no eff), move >1/2 (no eff)           
Chassis weapon move eff:                                move <=1/2 (ffp -4/efp-none), move >1/2 (no fire)

The Sentry-class mobile anti-spacecraft platform works in conjunction with Skysweeper-class radar vehicles to detect incoming hostile spacecraft. Once the target is identified, both vehicles go in motion to frustrate counter-battery attacks on the vehicles. (note the high speed) Multiple Sentries can connect to one radar vehicle and so coordinate their firepower.
The Sentry-class is technically larger than a standard space fighter, but significantly less expensive.
 First Try:
Sentry-class Anti-spacecraft laser vehicle                                               TL-13
Nationality:                  Lanzhou                                                                                              
Dimensions:                                                                                         Cost(Cr):            7,831,722
Chassis: length- 10 meters; width- 6.9 meters; height- 3.6 meters       Wt (loaded):      324.8 tns
Turret: length- 3.6 meters; width- 3.1 meters; height- 1.7 meters        Wt (unloaded):   323.5 tns
Suspension: Tracked                                                                Ground Pressure: 9 tns/m^2
Power Plant:     252 Mw, Fusion                                                Road Speed: 895/845 kph
Fuel Capacity:  3600 litres                                                        Endurance: 9.52 hrs
Crew:               Total: 3; 1-Commander; 1-Driver; 1-Gunner(s);           Volume: 267.372m3
Passengers: none                                                                              Ship vol (dT): 19.1dT
Chassis Armor: Front-9mm [25], Sides-4mm [11], Rear-4mm [11], Deck-20mm [29], Belly-2.5mm[7]
Turret Armor:   Front-4mm [11], Sides-2.5mm [7], Rear-2.5mm [7], Deck-20mm [29]
1 TL-13, 250Mw, BL, VM, Stp-2, DF-5.25/10.5/21, Pen-75/67/59, HB:+2, Sig:+16, Trgts-2, Crew-1 (turret mount)                                                                                                                     
Weapon Notes:             See notes below.                                                                                             
Obscuration Devices & Sensors                         Location
1 x Prismatic aerosol                                         chassis                                                            
1 x Smoke discharger                                       chassis                                                            
Communicators                                                Location
1 x 1000-pwr radio                                           chassis
1 x 100-km laser comm                                    chassis
Radar/Ladar                                                     Location
1 x 1000-pwr targeting radar                            chassis
1 x 500-pwr radar jammer                                chassis
1 x 500-pwr counter battery radar [0/2+[+10]]chassis
Visual, ECM, & Computers
1 x TL9 Image enhancement                            chassis
Miscellaneous Equipment:                                                                               
Cargo:  1m^3

Combat Statistics:
Cross-country spd: 448/169 kph                      Amphibious speed: 44.75[37] kph
Size DM's(high/low): +2/+7
Move rates (road/off-road) in cm: 746/704  373/141
Turret weapon move eff:                                  move <=1/2 (no eff), move >1/2 (no eff)
Chassis weapon move eff:                    move <=1/2 (ffp -4/efp-none), move >1/2 (no fire)