Friday, August 19, 2016

Guest Post - Review of Mongoose Traveller, Second Edition

Mongoose Traveller

This is Free Trader Beowulf, calling anyone . . . Mayday, Mayday . . . we are under attack . . . main drive is gone . . . turret number one not responding . . . Mayday . . . losing cabin pressure fast . . . calling anyone . . . please help . . . This is Free Trader Beowulf . . . Mayday . . .

In 1977, the first edition of Traveller: Science-Fiction Role-Playing in the Far Future was released to the public. In April 2008, Mongoose Publishing released an updated, more modern version of Classic Traveller (or CT) rules. In 2016, Mongoose Publishing released a second edition of what has become known to Role-Players as Mongoose Traveller (or MgT). It is very likely that MgT has its critics, but it also has its fans. This gaming system is worth buying for three reasons. This system is similar to, and compatible with, the CT rules, the rules are simply written and easy to understand, and it combines several different styles of role-playing into one system, which makes the game a little easier.
The first reason Mongoose Traveller is worth buying is because it is similar to, and compatible with, the Classic Traveller rules. First, the designers included many new features, such as new careers, equipment, and skills, that can make gameplay more exciting. Then, they took existing rules from CT, such as the computer rules, and updated them to match current-generation technology (compared to the 1970s computers that were around when CT was published). Finally, they added rules for vehicle operations and combat, something CT doesn’t have.

The second reason MgT is worth buying are the simple and easy to understand rules themselves. The writers put detailed examples of play with each set of rules, giving players a better idea of how a particular task is performed. Throughout the book, there are numerous cross-references to make finding things easier. It also has clearly written data cards for all mentioned vehicles, starships and small craft, equipment, and weapons.

The third reason MgT is worth buying is the designers combined several different styles of role-playing into one system, which makes the game easier, both for the player(s) and the referee. The skill check format (2D + relevant skill and/or attribute + any relative DMs) is simple and quick. The target number chart goes from simple tasks requiring a die roll of 2 or better to formidable tasks requiring a die roll of 14 or better makes the referee’s job simpler.

Some role-players may believe that MgT is not worth buying. One argument could be that it has no index. While this is a potential problem with a physical copy of the book, if you have the PDF version on Adobe Reader (which, by the way, is cheaper), the program has a search engine that takes the place of the index, thus resolving the issue. Another argument could be that the book has several typos and seems to be missing certain important bit of information such as hull points on starships. While this is true, there is a PDF ‘printer friendly’ version that comes with the standard copy that has the missing information.

In conclusion, Mongoose Traveller is worth buying because it is similar to-and compatible with-the CT rules, the rules are simply written and easy to understand, and it combines several different styles of role-playing into one system, which makes the game easier. Mongoose Traveller is a good buy for new role-players because trying to get hold of older editions of Traveller, like Classic or MegaTraveller, is getting more and more expensive.

N.B. This review was written by my son. He recently purchased MgT, and has been itching to share something to the blog. So I told him to write an essay. His mother approved.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

On the Nature of Book 2 Space Combat

This is not covered under Book 2 Rules. You figure it out.
Over the weekend I refereed a Book 2 space combat engagement with my boys. In the course of the battle, I discovered something I'd never noticed before. The boys have a fancy ship, the FNS Audacity, and were chasing down two ships of the rebellion against the Federation (my sons' ATU setting), but that's not my discovery.

I realized that Bk2 is not so much a tactical game, as it is a resource management game. It's not so much about maneuvering your ship or using that cool specialty weapon, but in maximizing the efficiency of the resources you bring to the game. 

What do I mean by resource management?

Monday, August 8, 2016

Marines and Vehicles

I explained here why I think Marines can get Ship Tactics skill, and that led me to thinking about something else.  They have a skill slot for Vehicle skill, as well as for ATV. Let's assume that ATV skill means Marine Force tanks, so what other types of craft could the Marines use? According to Starter Traveller (the version I have access to during the day) Ship's Boat is not included; but what if it was?

Let's see:
Pick your launch platform.

The Pinnace (at 40 tons) has enough interior space for it to carry a 10-ton AFV from orbit to the surface, or two G-Carriers, or five air/rafts. Marine armored cavalry delivered to the front lines. The Slow Pinnace has even more space, so it could load up 7-8 air/rafts, five speeders, or (tight fit) three G-Carriers.

Modular Cutters, with their very flexible 30-ton modules could transport mobile headquarters, medical or other buildings, supplies, fuel or artillery to the surface. Medical craft could provide care on the ground, or evacuate wounded in low berths back to the orbiting ships.

The Shuttle (3G accel) could be loaded up with anti-vehicle and anti-personnel weapons and become the Assault Shuttle, ready to bring heavy air support while transporting Marines. If each marine needs 1/2 ton of room for himself and his weapons, a company of 140 Marines could be aboard.

Single or dual place Fighters can be employed as air support for ground operations or to counter opposing air forces. Fighters would also fill the role of tank destroyer. Starship-grade weaponry should finish any ground vehicle with one good hit. I believe Striker says so in its section on aircraft.

Fighters or Ships' Boats (both 6G accel) could be manned by Marine pilots as screening elements, interceptors or attack squadrons. It would save a bit of crew space aboard if the ship's craft had Marine operators instead of Navy.

What else could Marine pilots do if we let Vehicle include the Ships' Boat skill? 

Friday, August 5, 2016

A Traveller meme poster for your amusement

This was shared on Google+ yesterday. It was too good to not pass along.

Happy Travelleing, y'all. 

And remember, characters who die in pre-game come back as NPCs!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Product Review - From the Ashes

Stellagama Publishing has released a new rules supplement for Classic or Mongoose Traveller, although for reasons of copyright it doesn't say that directly. Instead, it points to the Cepheus Engine OGL rules set. This booklet brings to my mind the article from the old Journal of the Travellers' Aid Society “Medical Treatment in Traveller”, although the emphasis is different.

What is it?
From the Ashes (FtA) is an optional rules package, concerning mortal injuries to characters and their effects, should the character survive. Two sections discuss replacement of damaged or destroyed body parts with prostheses or cybernetics.

What format is it?
It's in .pdf format, 15 pages.

What can I do with it?
MgT uses nuanced interpretation of task rolls, with regular break points when a task throw misses or exceeds the target by so much. With CT, it's simply roll for the target number and succeed/fail. If the referee wants to apply effects relating to 'just made it' or 'made it by a mile' he can but it is all at the referee's discretion. The FtA rules apply particular results to all surgery and recovery throws; sometimes making the target number still isn't good enough. Yes you succeeded, but . . . Well, medical care is a tricky thing. The FtA rules reflect that well, and continue to keep Traveller at least in spitting distance of reality.
Scars and other physical marks can be a way of distinguishing the PC, and helping the players visualize their characters. In the right circs a scar could help a PC influence an NPC by intimidation or impressive storytelling. The potential for large complications may also encourage even trigger-happy players to try more negotiation and social-skills roleplaying over solving all your problems with a gun.

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Brothers of St Cuthbert - an NPC group in my TU

The next time Random Encounter #53 comes up, it might be this group. The Brothers will appear in an adventure I'm writing up for publication or distribution. 

The Brothers of St Cuthbert is a lay religious order of the Orthodox Catholic Church. Most starport chapels will have a member or representative of the Brothers in residence

Their goal: To honor the image of God in every person by burying those who have died travelling in space.The Church understands each person to bear the image of God, both in spirit and in body. Thus the body even after death is shown reverence. The Church does not sanction cremation as it devalues the human person. All bodies given to the Brothers are buried with respect, and with full Christian burial if the person can be determined to have been a Christian.
May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Their patron:Father Cuthbert of Verrazano died in 542 SA.