Sunday, December 23, 2018

Game prep for Traveller 2019

As several of my players want to continue the game as mentioned in several earlier posts (hey, I'm happy they liked it enough to want to play again. Or else they just don't want to DM a game...I'll stick with the optimistic view) I've been working on the game.  I like real things - maps, minis, coins. They help to give a sense of where things are, how they relate, and sometimes can help with immersion.

So I printed up a corrected map of the D'Arlee Quadrant, as well as the port at Q'antar (remember this was the 80s and apostrophes were everywhere in SF). Interestingly, the map prints out about to scale with the Scout ship. I suppose I should not have added that image of a Scout ship now. I will have to make a list of things I need to bring to sessions - maps, cardboard heroes (got most of the Steve Jackson things on CD, and I have cardstock, so I've been printing things up), dice, any ship minis that may get used.

And - Merry Christmas everyone. I hope everyone has a joyous time.

Monday, December 17, 2018

D'Arlee Map, revisited

After I tried the TravellerMap Border tool, I realized my maps was a bit off. And I found that the XML metadata gives you a lot more options. So I switched to XML, used the revised border as generated then tweaked a bit to get outside the display area, and voila! It even looks more interesting!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Traveller Map API, Trade Routes

Still cannot overlap routes, but switching from the MSEC format to the XML format for the metadata gives me more options. I can have dashed routes (no idea why it was dashed - I think when I did this originally I was just going for interesting looking!), custom allegiance codes, regions, more fun stuff.

I really need to get back to my ship tracking program, probably start over yet again and not go the UWP route. Go with a simpler installer maybe. And really clean up the cargo stuff: I was integrating 3 different systems and it did not come together well. After doing all that, I think a better schema can be made that incorporates all three systems into a single table.

Basically, a cargo is only a few core things:

  1. Minimum volume (dTons)
  2. Maximum volume
  3. What is it? In Classic and Mongoose, this matters. T5 seems to gloss over it and everything is the same price from the same system for the same volume. Hate that....
  4. Base purchase price
  5. D66 roll (Classic and I think Mongoose, but I've not paid enough attention to Mongoose). This would allow for rolls on the cargo table to only be those specified in the rules. 
For the ship, the above is part of the ship's cargo, which would have:
  1. cargo ID
  2. cargo code
  3. lot size (dTons)
  4. purchase date
  5. purchase system
  6. purchase price
  7. sell date
  8. sell system
  9. sell price
Tricky part is the cargo code. I do have a masochistic preference for the BITS cargo codes as there is a lot of room for adventure there. T5 has its own way of doing things, so the cargo code is based on the version played. T5's code is actually fairly easy to calculate, it is just boring. So I may have both the T5 code and the BITS code. So a cargo listing could look something like:

Cargo dTons Purchase World Purchase Price Purchase Date Cargo Code Selling World Selling Price Selling Date
Gems 5 D'Arlee 100000 110-1105 C-Ri Cr100000 3225683-42244A41-[100-160-320-70]-(0)

Which, if you read the code, may indicate that for some reason or another this is actually a hazardous cargo. Hope your steward / cargo master knows the codes (digression: there was an interesting conversation about cargo management on COTI, and if it should be a new skill. I prefer the steward skill to cover that rather than yet another, pretty specialized skill).

Anyways, my revised trade map:

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Side Trip - Fantasy World

Way back in college I also played The Fantasy Trip. Steve Jackson Games had a Kickstarter and raised quite a bit to bring it back now that he has the rights again. I went overboard (darn KS addiction) and got the I Want It All (and then added more...)

So I also dug up my old college maps - I actually made an atlas based on all the miniatures I had bought over the years (and why I thought having ALL the skeletons was a good idea I cannot recall). I built this atlas with hand-drawn maps (I really loved colored pencils apparently) and taped them together into a book of about 10 maps or so. Each region was specific to a race primarily, with a bit of overlap.

Another recent Kickstarter is a "drop-in" resource. The Woodfall Kickstarter presents a witch town in a fen, along with inhabitants, surrounding region, and a lot of fun things. So I found a place to plug it in, next to the Terror Lands which is a giant marsh.

My plan is next year to run a fantasy game using those rules, and using the old maps and things. I do have a major city that the adventurers will start in, and I also have the Complete Ankh-Morpork City Guide, which came with a HUGE map (and was on sale for $5. The map alone is worth that).  So my city has an unerring similarity to Ankh-Morpork as well.

As mentioned in a previous post on Pax Stellar being based on another art book - I am finally, after almost 40 years, figuring out how to integrate all the stuff I've accumulated over the years into something I hope will be fun for other people.

So, End City is on a river, so that works for me as well. And I've rumors about Stuboon's lost treasure (I even have a history of the world and its own gods. At the time I was a college student, could not afford what I could find, so making it up was both entertaining and cheap. Stuboon thought a shortcut would give him a marketing edge from the north lands to End City. As witness the 3 stands, it did not work out well after all).

Sunday, December 09, 2018

D'Arlee Trade Routes

My old hand-drawn map on photocopied subsector copies, then taped together to form a quadrant and plotted trade routes.  I do miss those physical crafty days, now we do everything on the computer. Looks better in some ways, but I feel we're sort of losing the ability to make our own universes and worlds. And I really like hand-drawn images more for some reason. While I suppose there is a surplus of environments, worlds and scenarios on the various game platforms such as DriveThru RPG, I don't know that people make up their own as much. For me, that was most of the fun.  Especially in the years when I was not actually playing, but playing at: making up worlds, corporations, characters, and maps galore.

But I digress.  My map had dozens of trade routes that, if doing a financial analysis, probably make no sense whatsoever. Those days we did not care as much, and the group I am with now probably does not either. So we'll just go with something that looks good and may not make much sense.

I will have a lot of time tomorrow as well (yay snow days!) so I may pull out the GURPS Far Trader book, work up all the GDP stuff as well, and then see about making a more realistic trade map.

I also found that, as great as it is, TravellerMap does not handle routes going to the same places hand drawn map has several routes that parallel and overlap each other. All in different colors - I suppose I was trying to use all the colors in that colored pencil set! There are several other routes not shown. Plus I discovered missing worlds as well.

Antares company profile

Per the BITS 101 Corporations / Corporate profile:

Antares Ship Builders and Trade Speculators
D'Arlee/0401 D'Arlee Quadrant
Im-4424-35*Trans6 Con3 Man1*3464-35

And from a WIP PDF (which my players will never read but I'm stuck at home in the snow. And I like doing this for fun!)

(from the Antares Ship Builders and Trade Speculators Employee manual, 1104-001 revision)


Welcome to Antares Ship Builders and Trade Speculators! You are part of the extended Wescott family. We are a family-owned business established in 540 by Broderick Wescott, and has been in the family since it was a single small merchant vessel, the Fair Wren. Since then, the company has grown to its current state of over 18,000 employees and dozens of vessels plying the space lanes. You are now a part of this proud history.


Starting with that single ship, Broderick went from a scrappy free merchant to creating the start of a trading empire, Antares Trade Speculators.  Using brokers on various systems, Broderick was able to procure better cargos than his competitors, as well as establishing standardized routes with the assistance of local governments to ensure timely delivery of goods and mail. To help off-set the immense costs of purchasing ships, he started the Antares Shipyards on D’Arlee in 572 by the purchase of a small ship building firm. This small ship yard went from producing perhaps 5 ships a year to more than 20 ships. Not all went back into the business, and as a result, we were renamed to Antares Ship Builders and Trade Speculators.

Over the years, Antares built itself recognition as a stable, dependable partner for world governments and private organizations. With its expanding fleet of small merchant ships, Antares covered areas that larger shipping companies wrote off as too small for a profit. We not only deal with world governments and interstellar corporations, but we also specialize in the handling of the personal and small local companies. We were fair trade before fair trade was born.

Antares gained Imperial recognition in 761, three years after D’Arlee joined the Imperium. At that time, in order to expand into Imperial trading relationships, the Imperial family has a 3% stake in Antares. See Appendix 3 for the current stock ownership. With the growth of the Imperium, Antares faced larger challenges are larger corporations moved into our traditional routes. Additionally, other ship building corporations, with vastly larger resources, moved in. Antares in the intervening 300 years was slowly reduced in size from its peak of more than 50,000 employees and 100+ ships. Our mission also changed to reflect the changing of the times. Rather than building ships and hiring crew for 100% of our trading needs, we started the owner-operators initiative. In 1002, we started chartering ship owners for a portion of their profits. We invested in people. We now support dozens of owner-operators in addition to our existing fleet.

Hiring Practices

Antares hires at current Imperial standard rates for the various positions required. Certification levels can boost the base pay. Additionally, ship owners working for Antares gain a 10% discount on yearly maintenance at any appropriate Antares shipyard (see Appendix 2 for current ship yard locations and capacity). Owners are given access to Antares brokers (see Appendix 2A for current broker listings) for a reduced fee.

Owners agree to a 5% net profit dividend to be payed to Antares in exchange for these benefits.

Antares Ship Builders and Trade Speculators

My old mega-corporation wannabe from college.  Top image was done via GIMP (and I am so slow with that, but thought I'd see if I could use Bezier curves to make something. Did half, then duplicated and flipped that layer. Only took 6-7 tries to get it to close enough!). The original is pen and colored pencils. While the tools have certainly changed, my Traveller introduction was in the old line drawing days. Those types of drawings evoke Traveller to me. Ian Stead, although using computer graphics still manages to maintain what I consider the feel of classic Traveller.

I have an entire huge org chart which, after being in the real world and working for real companies, will be adjusted. There were 40-45 little boxes, and for some reason I had marketing under logistics and in charge of contractors. I think I did this after getting Book 6, Scouts, with its org chart.

I could not find a font that was too close to my hand-drawn version, but that one is close enough.

Next post - details on this 20,000+ employer in the D'Arlee Quadrant.  I'll break out the BITS 101 Corporations book and get a detailed corporate profile completed. This will probably be today or perhaps tomorrow - the snow did arrive, and is still arriving. And looks to be arriving through tomorrow. So I have a sort of 3 day weekend (I've a couple of phone interviews with applicants but I can do that from home).

Saturday, December 08, 2018


Iac as rolled up 30+ years ago: A551301-B.  Not sure how we get a class A port on a world with a population of about 3000 people. So...this is now the family retreat for the family that owns Antares Shipping and Trade Speculators, a large corporation in the D'Arlee Quadrant.  I have several pages of notes on them and even have some logos. I had a lot more time to create game stuff in college than I recall!

So, in the intervening years, and reading on various Traveller forums, I am going with the 3,000 is just the full-time residents. There are over 10,000 SPA employees at the starport, as well as almost that many in various manufacturing and other support services to the port. There is a high port as well.

The port is entirely Imperium owned and operated, and is a small city unto itself. As I rolled up a couple of NPCs using the JTAS 19, "Skyport Authority" by the wonderful John M. Ford, I also envision this career can send characters all over. So most of the port employees are mostly transient, performing their term or terms and then moving on.

The family (hmm, no notes on the name, I shall have to get some of that taken care of in a post where I detail the conglomerate) basically owns the planet, and has several large estates. A large staff is also part of the population. Can't have upper level families doing their own laundry now!

So perhaps if the snow actually comes down (threats of snowmagedden so far have not materialized, but I may wake up tomorrow in a foot of snow), I'll dig up those notes. I think I can make that work in the current game I am playing as well.

As I do not expect my players to actually stop at the planet, this is probably enough of a description to go on. Their ship does have wilderness refueling and refining capacity, so I believe they will just dip into one of the two gas giants for a few days to refuel.

Just realized I probably should indicate that this is a F6 V star, the main world is in orbit 4, and there are small stations and stuff all over. With a tech level of B, there is probably a fair amount of interstellar traffic. Heck - they probably import the hydrogen from the gas giants or belts (two of each). Yeah - I can stick a few of those 0-Hr stations in various places in case they want to visit those. I'll stick a few on all the gas giants so that they can either wilderness refuel or buy fuel and get off the ship for a bit of a stretch.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

The Big Bad

As the game is going to be continued, I need to get a bit more background as to why the Travellers were kidnapped on their various journeys.  As this was a skill-jacking ring, one must ask what skills were being needed to require kidnapping? For a small part of the group, no real skills were required: the people were going to become essentially slaves. Those with skills were going to get passed on to the next stop on the people-smuggling process.

From the Flatline adventure, we have three people in the know: the medic at the camp who applies the creeper venom to keep the low berth people very confused upon awakening, Sayelle who is the brains of that portion of the procedure, and Hambley is the basic muscle with the skills to pilot the small hauler. On Q'uantar, this is the mastermind. Based on the PDF hopefully linked below:

Lenard Catlow, Property owner

989A4C Gun (Rifle 2, Energy 1), Gambling 2, Administration, Deception

Lenard is a recent immigrant to Q’uantar. A personable man who purchased over a thousand hectares of farming and hunting grounds about 100K from the port. Lenard is a frequent guest at the starport as he has supplies often ferried in from the small haulers and infrequent merchant craft. He is the actual ringmaster behind the skill jacking, and Sayelle reports directly to him. Lenard oversees this critical junction as the local police on D’Arlee were starting to close in (D’Arlee is where the Travellers were heading and subsequently kidnapped). While technically skilled people get moved on to the League of Independent Planets via a people smuggling ring, lesser skilled people are often taken back to Lenard’s estate for what amounts to slavery or worse.  His last “employee” died a few weeks back, and some of the Travellers were going to become his personal property. However, the Roseam Corporation’s ill-timed EMP changed those plans.

Unbeknown to pretty much everyone, he does have a small 100 ship in his barn, the Seeker class ship, fully fueled and ready for flight if necessary. He also has one of the few air/rafts on the planet, which helps explain the power plant / fuel system he has on his plantation.

So now I've a nefarious plot going with the League of Independent Planets. Is it a government sponsored process, some rogue group within the government, or some local gang or corporation? I've no idea at this point - we'll just have to see if that thread gets pulled, and if so, follow it.

On a side note, the Seeker class is another deck plan I've got from 0-Hr. Looks like it might barely make 100 tons and looks like a tiny Klingon Bird of Prey. As I do have some deck plans on it, another map I can use. And being so small, 1 person can pilot it. And hey - obviously I need to add Pilot to Lenard's skill set. I'll go with he has a nav tape one of the nearby worlds.

And below we can see Lenard's spread relative to the port, and below that, the good looking and charismatic Lenard Catlow himself. Mustache-twirling will be optional...