Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Expanded Rules for Military Skills from CT Book 4 Mercenary

You're in the Army now!
Your players want to run a military or mercenary campaign. Great, What do you do? The abstract battle system in book 4 works, but it is little more than rolling dice and consulting tables. This does not keep players engaged for long. And it's, well, abstract. A commando mission plays out exactly the same as a security contract.

The rules state that the Abstract system is “particularly valuable in resolving a mercenary mission involving large numbers of troops . . .in which player characters are not primary participants.” Even if the PCs are platoon or company leaders, there's not a lot for them to do that will affect the outcome of a battle.

Book 4, Mercenary, was a very popular rules expansion for Traveller. More guns! All those new weapons, though, were just more ways for the PCs to die. Large scale battles run very slowly when done at the PC level (no, Striker does not play quickly) and the chances are good the PCs will be taken out very quickly. This is not good roleplaying fun. What to do?

I recommend that you keep the PCs front and center of the action by diverting action from mass formation slug-outs to actions at the PC's level. Use the standard Traveller combat system while the PCs are performing their part, then resolve the rest with the abstract system.

What part do the PCs play? They're the mission specialists. In addition to all the fancy new guns introduced in book 4, there are several new skills that are directly applied to combat situations.

Specialist PCs can do lots of things to turn the tide of victory besides fight. To do so they must employ these new military skills. Let us consider the following skills:

  • Combat Engineering (CE)
  • Demolitions (DO)
  • Field Artillery (FA)
  • Reconnaissance (RA)
  • Forward Observer (FO) [from book 1]
which do not have much definition in the Bk4 rules. I thought about them for a while, and here are some expansions to the rules as stated, that can make this group of skills more valuable.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Casual Encounter - Dane Buckminster


Here's a Traveller character who never went into the Services. Will this work? Let's find out.

Dane Buckminster
4B78C2     Age 22     College     Homeworld: Dimitrov/Holtzmann's Corridor
Streetwise-2 Brawling-0, Auto Pistol-0, Air/Raft-0, Administration-0

The man with the plan.
Chris over at Tales to Astound! suggested this concept. Yes, he's 22. I rolled up characteristics then went straight to the 4-year Sabbatical for Education. The rules do not say you must enter a Service, only that you may enter a service.

He's got Cr 500, and Cr 70,000 worth of debt. He has a reason to go adventuring!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Joe & Jay's greatest mission ever!

Tuesday has become Game Night with my boys. We're going back and forth between Traveller and Lord of the Rings. For Traveller, my two boys have picked up two old characters, Joe Blasterson and Jay Maverick again. Read about their earlier adventures here

Most recently they have been on Kemasiik, in Holtzmann's Corridor. After finishing a job, they were contacted by an Imperial Embassy staffer, Sir Tolbert, with an offer of two High Passage vouchers off-world in return for a 'job'. The Empire would like to see Kemasiik shake off the influence of VanGoff's World (VGW), which has economic control of the planet. A famine decades ago had forced Kemasiik to mortgage a lot of territory to VGW to stay afloat.

Sir Tolbert explained that their job was to prevent a VanGoff businessman, Mr. VanHoffen, from making it to a meeting. VanHoffen was a big-wig who owned a lot of the local real estate. They could not kill him or directly attack him (as this would call for a legal inquiry and reschedule the meeting), he had to miss the meeting by 'accident'. Simple, right?
This man is hosed six ways from Sunday. He just doesn't know it yet.
The boys set to work concocting a list of ways to mess up VanHoffen's morning schedule. It included:

  1. Disable his contra-grav car
  2. Change his clocks to read the wrong time
  3. Kill power to his house
  4. slip him a Mickey to make him over-sleep

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Armor of St. Oswin

The Tale of Saint Oswin of Mavramorn, patron of non-combatant soldiers.
Fr. Oswin, wearing The Armor.
During the Stavanger-Mavramorn war, (100+ years ago) Fr. Oswin was a Mavramorn Army Chaplain. At the Battle of Five Hills, Fr. Oswin traversed the battlefield, praying and tending to the wounded. He went as always, unarmed, with his clerical stole over top of his light armor jacket. His actions and prayers saved many from death. As he knelt in prayer with a dying soldier, an enemy sharpshooter, an impious man, spotted him and targeted the chaplain. This despite both sides acknowledging chaplains as non-combatants, exempt from attack.

As the sniper fired, a bird startled from the brush ahead of him and took the bullet. The sniper tried to fire again, but his weapon hung fire. Finding no mechanical fault, he fired twice more, each time thinking he had a true shot, but Fr. Oswin appeared untouched. His fifth shot struck Fr. Oswin in the chest, but the chaplain continued his ministrations unharmed. At this sight, the sharpshooter threw away his weapon and made his way to the Mavramorn lines to surrender, asking only to meet the chaplain. When they met, the sniper explained what had happened.

Mavramorn soldiers inspected Fr. Oswin's armor, and found that it had not only a large hole in the chest, but another in the back. The bullet passed through Fr. Oswin without harming him. At this, the sniper fell at Fr. Oswin's feet and begged his forgiveness for his attempt to murder him. The priest forgave him, but the Mavramorn forces took him as prisoner. Fr. Oswin later baptized him into the faith.

The Army gave the Mesh jacket to a church on Mavramorn where it was venerated as a relic, the Armor of St. Oswin. After the war, both St. Oswin and the former sniper ended their days in peace in a monastery.

The weapon which failed to kill Fr. Oswin was recovered by Stavanger forces, but ever after it could not hit a living target. Time and again it was tested and new sights attached. It would hit practice targets, but when fired at a person it would always miss, or fail to fire. After the war it was decommissioned, and went to a church on Stavanger, and it also is now a relic of St Oswin.

Referee's Information:

Friday, March 17, 2017

Frightening Animal Encounters

Animal Encounters should be exciting. And when I say exciting, I also mean terrifying. It is the referee's job to make what happens in the game memorable, so storytelling and descriptiveness are key skills. It also helps to have critters that are imposing in their potential to do harm. Encountering a bunny rabbit is not exciting. Encountering something like this should be.

Take a look at what's on the cover of Planet Stories, Summer 1942. No, not the Amazon. She's fine. I mean, fine. I mean the thing grabbing her and being shot in the non-face for its trouble. Yes. Look at that.

Shoot that thing in it's non-face brave Amazon! Teach it some manners!
Imagine your players' reactions if a half dozen or so of these awfuls came tromping out of the mist or the trees while on some remote and forsaken backwater planet. Either they'll panic or think “thank God we recently restocked the rocket launchers!” In both cases, what ensues should be an epic fight.

800 kg Omnivore Hunters
25/12 Cloth-1, Claws (x2) dmg: 5D A3 F5 S2  # appearing: 3
A three-meter humaniform shape emerges from the undergrowth. It probably masses close on a ton. It's gray-skinned, hairless with a featureless lump atop its shoulders where its face should be. The arms end in 4-fingered frying pans with 10-cm claws. I suggest you run.”

I've been browsing through Supplement 2: Animal Encounters, and there are some doozies in here. I list the world profile and terrain type in case you want to look them up. The extra descriptions and the planets named are mine. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Fighting the White Apes - A Combat Example

I wrote a post a while back about the Great White Apes of Barsoom, and how dangerous they are. But was I right?  I decided to find out. 
Yeah, that guy's probably doomed.
Meet Graham Clark, a PC of mine. Age 30, UPP B98885. He's an ex-army recon specialist (Recon-4). I take Recon to be related to Hunting, so I'll give him Hunting-3. He's hunting White Apes, armed with a Gauss LAG, which I recall finding at Freelance Traveller.  The G-LAG does 6D damage. (Note: I ignore +DMs versus armor on the tables, reading them as 0).



White Apes:
1600kg 8D/3D [28/10]  Claws/teeth  (+4 to hit due to size) Dmg 6D+2 
Armor: Mesh  A2 F8 S3  2 attacks/round   Number appearing: 1D

Encounter 1: Range medium, no surprise. Graham fires, the ape charges. Graham hits, wounds but does not down the ape, the ape closes to short range (speed:3, remember?) and kills him with one blow. Stats down to 001. Graham is unconscious, and the ape will tear him apart in round 2.

Yikes!