Posts Tagged With: Mongoose Traveller

LOL, a blast from the past…

So, I’ve pretty much decided that I want to run my Imperium or “Traveller 2200” or “CyberTraveller” game again at some point. This is a non-canon Traveller setting, increasingly more Proto-Traveller in function, that I ran using the CP2020 engine rather than any of the various Traveller rules. I have a particular campaign that I’ve run multiple times explicitly exploring multiple different timelines of the same start at a fixed point in time.

Why is it fixed, no idea, maybe that’s something to explore this time around..?

In any case, due to my computer crash a couple of years ago I lost all of the files that I used to keep for this campaign. What I do have is a flat document box that I have now filled with old paper notes and records from the previous campaigns (the stack sits like 2-3 inches high). It’s definitely been a journey down memory lane with these, and most amusingly I came across my original, CP2020 character/NPC from the very first CP2020 games that I ran.

That brings back some real memories!

But for the new Imperium game, I have to decide what rule engine to use. Previously I’ve used CP2020 because I can run that game in my sleep. For a long period of time that was my primary game/system, and it’s only been in the last few years that I returned to D&D. That said, I like Mongoose Traveller, but I refuse to buy a whole new second edition of it (and it doesn’t really need it) and Traveller 5E, while having some great elements, is basically unplayable as it stands at the moment.

So I am either going to run it using CP2020 or the Cephesus Engine. The Cephesus Engine (CE) is a based on the Traveller ORD, and is mix of Mongoose Traveller (itself a very simplified version of Traveller 5E) and Classic Traveller – stripped of any reference to the Traveller canon and suitable for use with pretty any scifi setting. The nice thing about CE is that I can include things from pretty much any edition of Traveller (save New Era) nd it ports into it pretty much seamlessly. I was also able to legally purchase it in the form of an editable Word document (because it’s an ORD) and can then customize it however I like for my own setting, etc.

Fundamentally, CP2020 is pretty easy and fun, but CE is also pretty easy and fun as well. It would be nice to run a Traveller game actually using a set of Traveller rules again. And the rules reflect a game that it is pretty easy to create whatever sort of character you want – much like CP2020.

Heck, maybe I just want to a play a game that only uses d6..

TTFN!

D.

 

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Games I Want to Play in 2017

The title says it all, what games do I want to play this year?

Dnd 5E is a simple choice, we’re still running with the Age of Worms adventure path, along with having to add in the odd adventure here and there. We’re all enjoying it, and I’m still having lots of fun figuring out the details of my campaign world in 5E terms.

Call of Cthulhu 7E – Everyone seemed to enjoy the short intro adventure(s). KT is really interested in playing one of the longer, classic campaigns and with the Pulp Rules that even seems possible without having to have a seemingly exhaustless supply of new characters. The big issue is that I have one player that has no interest in playing it and sits out those games.

Traveller – I love this RPG, and you can see some of my meanderings about the setting here on the blog. For the life of me I can’t decide if I wanted to use the Classic Traveller or the Mongoose Traveller rules-set. But they aren’t particularly incompatible, I’m just increasingly drawn to simpler vs. complicated. Both are pretty simple, and the complications are different in each edition.

Cyberpunk 2020 – Another game that I simply love, combined with a setting I enjoy (especially when I combine it with Traveller). I have to say that CP2020 is a slightly more adult game in the way it explicitly handles some subject matters (cybernetic sexual implants anyone?)- but I like how it is relatively fast-paced and the mechanics are pretty simple for everyone to grasp.

Kult: Divinity Lost – Ok, this may be a pipe dream simply because if Call of Cthulhu is too much horror (body horror, occult horror, etc), and CP2020 is too much sexuality (at least potentially), then Kult is the very grown up mix of the two and is intended to be played that way – think Hellraiser + Martyrs + American Psycho + Se7enMulholland Drive. I Kickstarted this, and have the alpha version of the Quick Start rules that were released around Yule. I’m not entirely certain about the Powered By The Apocalypse engine but would be willing to give it a try. It seems to be trying to be too clever for it’s own good in some ways… But finding players that want to play Kult? That might be the issue…

Lastly, I love to play Runequest – I Kickstarted the reprint of 2E, but what I’m really looking forward to is the new edition. For those who aren’t familiar, it is adventuring in it’s own, highly detailed setting, using Bronze Age technology and tropes. It’s always been a very different kind of game and I haven’t played it in years.  I kind of hope that it gets out this year but I’m actually thinking that it will get Kickstarted and then released in 2018… *sigh*

As an Honorable Mention, I’d also love to pick up the Chicago Unseen campaign that my husband and I co-ran back in the day. It was originally run using Mage: The Ascension, but we just find White Wolf as a system/engine pretty badly broken. I looked at a number of games as a replacement, and finally settled on Witchcraft and Armageddon as a bit of a mashup. The truth is, unless my husband gets excited about it, I can’t imagine that I’d get excited about running it. That may be a game/setting that has finally moved into the pasture, to be mined for ideas and remembered fondly.

TTFN!

D.

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Ship Computers, Generate Programs, and Jump Cassettes

So, I had a thought because there has been an ongoing discussion on the COTI Forum (“Citizens of the Imperium” – the official Traveller forum) regarding a bit of Classic Traveller electronics, the Jump Cassette. It part of the ongoing discussion regarding ProtoTraveller and RAW Traveller, all of which is has been informing my own internal thoughts regarding what I want my Traveller universe to look like next time around.

Building off of the other discussion, it is worth noting that “engine-wise” you could build a ship that does Jump-6 the moment you discover Jump Drive. The limit comes in to two ways – you can build ships of a limited size, and you can only build a computer of limited power.

  1. So as ship size increases, it gets “slower” with the same size drive. Rather than “slower” it is “limited to the jumpspace it can penetrate” – and the jumpspace determines how far the ship travels in the week spent there. So, an A-Drive can move a 100dton ship Jump-2, and a 200dton ship Jump-1, while a D-Drive can move a 100dton ship Jump-6 and an 800dton ship Jump-1 – at the other end of the scale, a few hundred years of development later, is the Z-Drive which can move an 800dton ship Jump-6 and a 5000dton ship Jump-2. With the “extrapolation” I talked about earlier, I moved that size up to 10,000dtons for Jump-1 with a z-Drive.
  2. At the same time as Jump Drive is invented, computers reach small size and enough power that you can fit into a ship that can use (and potentially calculate) Jump Coordinates. The limit here is that the best that they can do is Jump-2. So while you can build a 800dton hull, the biggest ship you can build that can do is 400dtons – all despite the fact that if you were able to buy and install a more powerful computer later, you could install that D-Drive on a 100dton ship and get deep enough to travel Jump-6.

Now, “computers” are one of those parts of Traveller that have been horribly and justifiably ridiculed over the years. Their sizes and capabilities are, well, based on 1970’s mainframes – the cutting edge of technology when the game was first written. Over time, “ship computer” has been retconned into including sensors and a certain amount of C3 (Command, Control, Communications) but it can still be hard to swallow some of the numbers used. They also date from the time when, yes, oh younger readers, people used cassettes to record and save data, and when computers often weren’t able to do very many things at a one time…

So a ship’s computer could be equipped with a “Generate” program, which is what allowed a Navigator (or Astrogator is you prefer) uses to calculate and “generate” the plot of the Jump route. However, especially with those “early computers” that might be the only thing the computer was able to run, no Gunnery, no Maneuver, heck maybe not even Jump itself.

Plus, the players might not even be able to afford the Generate program to start off with! The computers and programs were talking about are “enterprise-level” technology, not a laptop hooking up to a network (more like mainframes). So, what they were able to do was a buy a one-shot “Jump Cassette” that gave them one-way plotted coordinates to a single system. I haven’t checked, but I think these somewhat disappeared in MegaTraveller and Traveller: The New Era, and Mongoose Traveller, but in T5 they were back – with the ability to use them multiple times (just making the Jump more difficult each time until on the 6th use it was an automatic misjump).

I like this because it dovetails with the idea of the “Jump Rutter” – perhaps there is some way to model very, very slow calculations that don’t use the Generate program but instead involve laborious calculations with the normal computational power of the ship’s computer but sans the specific algorithms and database that the Generate program contains. It also suggests the existence of a psychic talent that allows instantaneous Jump Calculations ala the Pilgrims from Wing Commander.

Given the default anti-psionic attitudes inherent in the RAW, this creates a couple of interesting potential plot points immediately…

So, using a Generate program, creating a Jump Plot normally takes 10-60 minutes, we could simply say that going by hand, using a Jump Rutter, takes two time increments of time slower, or that it takes 6-24 hours (hmmm… I that table might mean 6-36 hours instead….) instead and is a Formidable task (an additional -6 to the roll). So, you can pay for a Jump Cassette, or pray that the Astrogator is as good as he promised when you hired him…

TTFN!

D.

 

 

 

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Jumping, Jump Masking, and Jump Shadowing

So, as I delve into ProtoTraveller I am confronted by the issue of Jumping – and will ignore (for the moment) Mongoose Traveller’s introduction of Warp Travel and Hyperspace.

Jumping is the Traveller term for Interstellar travel. Ships use Jumpspace to travel faster-than-light, with certain strictures.

  1. All Jumps last roughly one week in length (with variance measured in hours, rather than days). Anything else is a sign of a Misjump.
    • Okay, one quick diversion to Warp Travel and Hyperdrive from Mongoose Traveller. These both, as per the MgT RAW, speed up travel to be measured in days rather than weeks.
  2. Jumps are limited in distance, with the distance being determined by the tech level of the ship.
    • The original game and all editions up to T5 limited travel to Jump-6, this meant that in one week, the ship will travel six parsecs. Jump-1, the ships travels one parsec in one week. This was probably ignored in house rules as much as it was rigorously enforced – gamers being gamers.
    • In T5 (the much maligned Traveller 5th Edition, though not nearly as maligned as Traveller: The New Era) Jump goes up to 9, and Hop and Skip are introduced which scale up by factors of 10x and 100x respectively. These both, as well as the post-6 Jump numbers, occur only at much higher technological levels.
    • Misjumps can be up to Jump-36 in distance (or even longer with Referee fiat), rolled 1d6x1d6 when it is determined that a Misjump has occurred.
    • This suggested different levels or dimensions of Jumpspace, mostly by making sense of the Small Ship Universe ship construction system as compared to the Big Ship Universe.
  3. Entering or leaving Jumpspace is impacted by gravity wells -often causing Misjumps or a violent exit from Jumpspace.
    • In the game this meant that you had to travel “100 Diameters” from a planets surface before you could safely Jump. Technically you could Jump 10 Diameters out from the surface, but it was more difficult and dangerous.
    • Technically speaking, as people have extrapolated across the years (and editions) this also means that gravity wells of ships and stars. For ships, the distances are generally too miniscule to worry about (but the question is inevitably raised when someone wants to Jump a ship that is in larger ship’s hold, usually because they are captured by pirates). While stars… well that just tends to get ignored – unless you (like me) tend towards the OCD.
      • A professor of mine in grad school said that in order to be successful in grad school you had to at least a touch OCD. The key, as he put it, was to keep in on the Obsessive side instead of the Compulsive.
    • Some argument has existed as to if Jumps needed to start and end in a star system (essentially that ships used the gravity well of a system to “catch themselves” out of Jumpspace). This came from the old Imperium boardgame where this was the case, and is evidently a canon bit of history. But technology evidently allows this to change – with scattered references to deep space refueling stations or other forms of calibration points.
  4. Starships must be at least 100 dtons in size.
    • An issue raised by the now utterly non-canon, but once (and still) questionable existence of “Jump Torps” – something that I love, but that seriously conflict with the canon OTU despite being listed in the old (and much loved) Adventure 4: Leviathan.
    • As an additional note, in standard Traveller Jump Fuel requires 10% of the ships volume per Jump Number – as a one-time expenditure. So Jump-6, that’s 60% of the ship allocated to a one-way trip.

That gets us to Jump Shadowing and Jump Masking, which were only explicitly described in Traveller: The New Era (in their search for gritty realism). Later, in the GURPS: Traveller Far Trader supplement is the first (and only to my recollection) rules for actually incorporating them into play.

Jump Masking is when significant interstellar body intersects the path of a ship in Jumpspace. Jump Shadowing is when the destination point of a Jump-travelling ship lies within a gravity well of an interstellar body.

It doesn’t seem to me to be that hard to do an idiot simple tweak to the Jump rules to handle both Jump Masking and Jump Shadowing – as well as incorporate a old idea into what also feels like a very ProtoTraveller setting.

In Mongoose Traveller, using the Astrogation skill to plot a Jump is normally an Easy (+4) Education check, modified by the Jump distance (so, -1 to -6). It effect this means that unless the attempt is rushed along it is probably always going to succeed. In ProtoTraveller the idea is that travel is somewhat dangerous. Think more like world travel before the advent of flight – maybe not as dangerous as the Middle Ages, but more in the nature of the 18th or 19th century.

So, let’s say that those rules (mostly) apply to well-mapped trade routes (we’ll get to that in a moment). It still doesn’t cover Masking and Shadowing – and here is the simple fix. For Jump Shadowing add a -1 Modifier for every star in the system while for Jump Masking, when plotting the Jump simply add a -1 modifier for every system that the route intersects.

Normally, Jump takes 148+6d6 hours. In the event of Jump Shadowing, if the navigator doesn’t wish to take the Difficulty penalty then instead add +6d6 hours of travel for every modifier for the Jump Shadowing that they wish to avoid. This represents them targeting a point further and further out to avoid the Jump Shadow – though at the expense of longer and longer in-system transit time.

Now we can also say that plotting a Jump to a Backwater system (off the Trade Routes)in the Core Worlds is a Routine Education check the same as Frontier systems on Trade Routes. Backwater systems in the Frontier are a Difficult Education check while truly unknown systems are Very Difficult Education checks to plot a course to.

This also has the effect of channeling travel around “dangerous systems” and towards “safer systems” – essentially “rocks, shoals, and reefs” for the Traveller system. That’s before we add in other potential effects for nebula, black holes, etc. It also means that you can really create “hidden bases” or “protected systems” because certain systems are just a huge pain in the ass to get to.

Now, in the “real world” navigators had “rutters” which were their private (and secret) notes and charts for navigational hazards. Anyone who has read or watched Shogun should be able to recall the discussion around the existence and the secrecy of these things. When we add in these sort of navigational hazards and complications the use and desirability of a “jump rutter” become apparent.

So, we could simply suggest that ship navigators keep and maintain “jump rutters” which they create (and pass on to apprentices, or family members in the case of Free Traders). Through experience in Jumping to various systems navigators can essentially create their Trade Routes, even their own “Core Worlds” with enough time and enough Jumps.

This also explains why (or how) the small Free Traders and Tramp Freighters maintain a viable economic presence. They are the only ones that know the safe routes to the Backwater and Frontier worlds. Similarly, it also explains how pirates manage to exist and remain viable – they haunt the long spaces where ships avoiding Jump Shadow travel, and have found “secret asteroid or nebula bases” where they can hide in safety.

TTFN!

D.

 

 

 

Categories: Campaign Development, Game Design, House Rules | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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