Saturday, September 25, 2021

Traveller Expanding World Info

 I've not made up an ISS world map recently - I tend to do that when running games to give the players something to look at. And I have fun with it. But in looking at a few things the last few weeks (I've been re-reading some of my game stuff from my esoteric library) I've had some thoughts on expanding out the descriptions a bit.

First, I think a nice little chart for travel times may be useful. Rather than calculate this on the fly, there would be a listing for specific travel times based on G-rating of the ship. I am thinking something like:

The orbit time is based on the rules and is a simplification. Mongoose added some additional rules based on how fast you are actually coming in, which in most cases I think would be referenced if you were trying to escape something, so not a published value. However each world may have differing times based on the government and tech levels so that these base values may change per system. A highly regulated system may not allow a ship to accelerate more than 2G for instance.

And that leads us into one of the articles in the Mongoose Journal of the Traveller's Aid Society, volume 5: World Security Profiles. While in theory I really like a lot of code-looking things, without a lot of use or an application to expand them out, they can be hard to read (though I admit I used to be able to read the High Guard string and use it, but that was a long time ago). But from a player's perspective, I think it could be a useful tool as well, and aid in setting expectations. 

So looking at the code for additional info given, it is based on the system's government and tech level, and has the classic coding structure:



  • S is for security
  • p planetary presence
  • o orbital presence
  • s system presence
  • -s stance
Of course, these are all hexadecimal values, and like the law level, indicate a roll to avoid attracting system security. Basically, it is adding a more nuanced approach so that the planet may have a different level of security than the orbital areas out to the traditional 100 diameters. If the presence is less than the law level, it indicates that the security forces there are slower to respond. Essentially, this would be S333-s under the classic law level 3 for a system if not using this extension. But S300-s says that on the planet, it is the same roll for getting noticed, but in orbit there is no security presence (such as a world not having a high port nor a naval presence) and the 5 for presence means that they also have nothing past the 100D limit 

Now, that stance (the last -s). Stance indicates how proactive the forces are. If the stance is higher than the law level, routine questioning of Travellers is to be expected. Less than the law level, and you may not even notice them. These values are rolled using flux and a table for DMs to adjust from the base law level.

A system may well have multiple security profiles: the port, the world, an Imperial facility such as a Naval or Scout base, or even the resident noble's estate. 

Does this help the player? And would they even have access to this information? I would not imagine the ISS will be publishing this sort of thing, though it may well be available for Imperial security forces, or even some clandestine groups (and depending on your view of the the Imperium, may be bought for a price) It would help a bit if they are planning something nefarious. Other than that, it is just a more detailed expansion of the law level for various rolls.

Does this help the referee? I would say yes, as it gives a more detailed view of the world. If the rolls come out interesting, the law level is no longer a bland one size fits all: it can vary depending on where the group is at. And of course, I always like coding like that. One of my many incomplete versions of the trade program had the BITS cargo codes in there. Now there is some detailed code!

I am also re-reading the GURPS Far Trader book, and I think the trade info in there, though I would scale it down as they do posit a big ship universe. But it would give some additional economic info, in particular, trade between the neighboring systems. It may have been this book but I recall reading about a merchant star map which basically has this info encoded. Not sure how far down this rabbit hole I may go, but it is a fun one. It would be more fun if either my group were more into Traveller or I was a better referee to allow them to enjoy the game more. I'll just keep practicing!

And I also want a more nuanced starport system. There was a lengthy discussion on COTI that I don't think ever really went anywhere (as most discussions do). And while I thought I had expounded on that in a blog I could not readily find it (though I did find some of my old Traveller Tracker notes, and it had some really good things in there...maybe when I retire I'll try & spend a couple of hours a day to do that all over again with whatever technology is current. I mean, I have actually restarted it yet again, but this time was the more classic Winforms. Though I'd like to do something so that both Windows and Macs can use it, just not a website though it may end up being a localized web application you run without the internet. Perhaps I'll re-expound on that later. 

So in a final UWP expanded for our solo game on Montca:

Montca A639997-C S7D5-8
The security profile shows that the planetary presence is the same as the law, 7. However, up to the 100 diameter limit they seem to have a much higher presence. In fact, you WILL be stopped on the way in. Which did not happen in my last solo session except for a brief call from the port and an escort in. Beyond the 100 diameter limit they are not as present, despite Montca having a couple of research stations on its two moons. Finally, the stance of 8 implies that they will stop and check with Travellers more often than most law level 7 systems. So I'll keep that in mind for the next session.

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