Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Traveller Ramblings: Of Guns, Gear, and Starships

The semester is well and truly upon us, and my weekends this month are pretty filled, preventing much in the way of gaming :(.  My discussions with my roommate Alex have actually kind of increased my level of indecision in regard to what, if anything, to run this semester.  We've been talking mostly about Traveller, and he's considering running a Stargate-inspired Traveller game as well.  We've been discussing a number of things with Trav, and here's what we've come up with:

The lack of small automatic weapons irks me.  There's the gauss pistol, but it's TL13 and does significantly more damage than other pistol weapons in addition to being autofire.  Ergo, the following:

Machine Pistol: TL7, Range Class: Pistol.  Damage 3d6-3, Auto 4, Recoil 0.  Mass 1 kg, Magazine 24.  Cost 300 Cr, Ammo cost 15 Cr.

Submachine Gun: TL7, Range Class: Assault Weapons.  Damage 3d6-3, Auto 4, Recoil 0.  Mass 3 kg or 3.5 kg with extended magazine, Magazine 36 or 50.  Cost 500 Cr, Ammo cost 15 Cr or 25 Cr.

The first statblock represents modern fully-automatic pistols like the Skorpion or Beretta 93R, while the second represents larger weapons like the MP5 or P90 which have longer barrels and shoulder stocks for greater accuracy at range, but are still chambered in pistol calibers.  The larger magazine flavor represents drum or helical-style magazines which are often available for such weapons.  I'm also tempted to do a conversion of the Colt-Calico Mini-Gatling from CyD20, but that might be a Bad Idea.

Point the next is that armor-piercing weapons just don't exist.  There are weapons that do a lot of damage, and they are good for taking out enemies in armor, but they are also good for insta-killing people not in armor.  There is no equivalent to steel-core, high-velocity, or other specialized anti-armor rounds, which go through armor nicely but do less damage to the target's physiology than usual.  The problem with implementing an 'armor penetration' mechanic is that it adds an extra lookup, subtraction, and ceiling operation to each attack that hits.  One simple option is to halve armor against armor-piercing weapons, much as armor is doubled against buckshot, but that gets brutally effective against heavier armor types.  More study of this problem is required.

Idea the third is that I realized that I really dislike the Scout Ship entry on the Scout mustering-out benefits table.  It's not that I dislike the notion of the party having a ship; quite the contrary.  A ship is freedom to jump the rails and go somewhere interesting, a place to hide smuggled goods and stowaways, and an extra target for me as a DM that the entire party has a vested interest in protecting.  But a ship with no cost is a problem, because then when the PCs get money...  the credits just pile up until they find a high-TL world to spend some of them on.  The monthly payment on a starship is kind of the whole reason for wanting money in Traveller without a scout ship; it's a little bit of constant pressure on the players to take that extra-risky job because it pays more and will help pay the bills.  I know last game with the scout ship, money was basically a non-object; the PCs had enough to buy grenades and ammo, spare parts and repairs when they needed them, and life support, and that was all that mattered.  It was kind of unsatisfying.  So if I run another one, I may need to replace the ship entry on the Scout table.  Maybe it's a big pile of ship shares (like...  3d6.  Something bigger than other classes get, and unrestricted).  Maybe it's shares that are multiplied for getting a scout ship, as is normal for specific kinds of ships on the tables.  Maybe it's an extra 'upgrade' for a ship, rather than shares; choose a component, and upgrade it, or install a laser turret or someaught.  But no way is it going to be just 'a ship, with minimal organizational obligations attached.'  Plus, having a scout ship makes everybody else's ship shares kind of useless, which is frustrating...

And so after all that Traveller talk, it seems I'm likely to run Trav.  I've got a plot, I've got a subsector...  now all I need is time, players, and characters.  Or I could run TB/LL Kingmaker in the Great 3.5 Derivative Smackdown...  it's hexcrawly enough that it might get the Wilderlands out of my blood.

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