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.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Pilot Ace Enrique Salazar

While reading the section in The Traveller Book on computer programming, I spotted something of great interest. One of the requirements to write the program Maneuver/Evade-6 is that someone has to have the skill Pilot-7.

I have never seen this in play before. Yes, there's the Other character in Supp: 1 1001 Characters who has Electronics-8, but that's non-standard creation.Still, it's there in the rules so the possibility is valid and canon.

Is it possible, though, to be this skilled via normal character creation? I decided to find out.

Yes. It is.

Meet Enrique Salazar, The best pilot in the Royal Talaveran Scout Service. 
777587 Age 30 Scouts, 3 terms

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Under the Stethoscope - the Doctors Career

Somebody call a Doctor!

This time out I will examine the Doctors career, introduced in Supplement 4, Citizens of the Imperium. Can a Doctor become an heroic adventurer? Let's find out.

My first impression is that the Doctors career models a University Medical school or Major City Medical system. The first thing that suggests this to me is the fact that the Doctors career is not easy to get into. The enlistment throw is 9+, one of the hardest. Only 28% of applicants get in. Intelligence and Dexterity are the key characteristics; odds of getting in improve to 72% (6+).

Once you're in, on the other hand, Reenlistment is easy, only 4+. Survival is almost automatic at 3+ (97%). With the Intelligence DM, survival IS automatic. This is the second indicator. The low Survival throw points to a safe, stable environment.

This by itself makes the Doctors career a desirable one. Will this encourage players to stay in service longer? Doctors get the automatic 2 skills per term, after all. With no worries about Sudden PC Death Syndrome (SPCDS)tm, players may want to pile on the terms for that sweet pension and loads of skills.

What skills are available?

Medical skill has the most slots. This is no surprise. Four tables with six slots makes twenty-four skill entries. Six of them are Medical. If Medical-3 makes you a doctor, what does Medical-5 or -6 mean? Yes, this could happen.
Actually, the odds are even greater than 1-in-4 that a character will get Medical several times. Table 1 has only characteristic bonuses. Skip Table 1 and Medical becomes 1-in-3.

Note well though, here's another reason to stay on at The Hospital. Starting in term four, if you take one skill slot on Table 1, the aging table throws could be mitigated or neutralized!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

At the Beginning of Lent

To all my fellow Orthodox Christians; to all faithful Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Methodists, and all who remember the season of Lent.

May this Lenten season truly be a time of renewed devotion: of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. A time of repentance, a real renewal of minds, hearts and deeds in conformity with Christ and his teachings. Most of all, of return to the great commandments of loving God and neighbors.

As our Father among the Saints Patrick of Ireland has said,
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ in me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ in breadth, Christ in length, Christ in height,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.

God be merciful to me, a sinner.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Mercenary and Traveller World Building

Recently I read a short story called Mercenary by Mack Reynolds. It appeared in Analog science fiction magazine in April 1962. It contains a great deal of political speech-making which may be the authors views on then-current political trends in thought. It presents a future Earth where unemployment is the norm. The masses are kept civil (best way I can put it) by a modern form of 'bread and circuses'. There is a substance never described but identified as 'Trank' which they get for free. As in tranquilizer. There is also the omnipresent 'Telly' to keep the masses entertained. I see definite shades of Brave New World to this setting. 
The main form of entertainment on Telly is watching corporate warfare. Corporations, unions, and governments resolve disputes by contract wars; they hire private armies to duke it out. The battles (the vernacular term is 'fracas') are broadcast live. People speak of armies, but most forces fielded are more Battalion or Brigade sized. Some time in the past there was a world-wide disarmament treaty signed. This keeps things from getting too out of hand and avoids nuclear exchanges. Now no one can use or even produce military weaponry or technology from after the year 1900. This becomes relevant for the resolution of the story.
Even in the future there's nothing good on TV . . .
This limitation means that the mechanized warfare of the 20th century is absent. No machine guns, no rapid-fire artillery, no tanks, no aircraft. Personal weapons are breach-loading rifles, like the type used by the US Army in the Spanish-American War. The story does not describe the available technology in a meaningful way. There are no accounts of a battle, so the reader can fill in for themselves what it looks like in practice.

The story concerns one Joe Mauser, a soldier/officer for hire who wants to sign on for the next corporate fracas. He has a plan which will enable him to rise in society. The society of this setting is very stratified into 'Lowers', 'Middles', and 'Uppers'. The Uppers are the ruling elite, who own the property, the companies, and the armies. They run the factories that are producing everything, especially the Trank and Telly to keep the masses somnolent. Mauser wants to break into the Uppers. Being a Telly hero can give him a status boost.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Bringing More Psionics into Cepheus Engine or Classic Traveller

Variant Psionics for the Cepheus Engine – A review

Recently Stellagama Publishing released their Variant Psionics rules supplement, available from Full disclosure, I am listed in the credits as a Consultant. I suggested a few ideas for the book, but I earn no royalties. As it says on the tin, this is written for the CE rules set, but with only minor tweaking, these rules will work for Classic Traveller as well. Which is good news for me, still being a CT kind of guy.

What does the VP book offer? Let's have a look, shall we?

The first section explains how to fit psionics into any CE setting. How often do psionics appear? More importantly, referees now have three possible societal responses to the existence of psionics: friendly, neutral and hostile. In CT, the assumption even before the Third Imperium or the Zhodani Consulate, was that psionics would face a negative reaction.

Next we have details on how Psionics are a part of Stellagama's These Stars are Ours! campaign setting. Most psionics end up working for the government, but not necessarily as spies or secret police. Still, Terrans' attitude towards psionics leans toward the negative. Life for a government psion will not be easy.

The middle of the book contains the detailed rules for the available psionic abilities. All the talents from CE (and CT) are here: Awareness, Telepathy, Clairvoyance, Teleportation, Telekinesis. Each talents has several powers associated with it. The Variant part is the new powers that have been introduced for most talents. Clairvoyance still has only the powers listed in the CE rules. Some of the standout new powers are: