Monday, December 20, 2010

Starter Traveller – Starships part 3

Miranda clicked on the intercom “Wei, we drop out of Jump Space in 3 minutes, it might be nice if my pilot was actually at the helm when that happens.”

About a minute later the pilot hurried onto the bridge, still zipping his jumpsuit up.  “If you hadn’t gone for those discount rations from Imaltor III Captain, I wouldn’t have spent most of this last jump in the head.”  Taking his seat he scans the controls and reported “The board looks nominal for return to N-Space.”

“I don’t know what your problem is with the rations.  I think they’re fine.”

“You ate navy grub for how many years?  Of course you thought it was good.  It’s 5 times better than what they fed you.”  Wei paused.  “Preparing to enter N-Space.  60 second countdown”

The lights of the control panel flashed and shifted, the countdown clicked by.  “30 seconds” Wei reported.  “20 seconds, all readings nominal.” Pause. “10 seconds.  5, 4, 3, 2, 1.”  For a moment every light darkened, and the world went grey.  “Board reads N-Space.  Maneuver Drive coming online.”

Miranda checked her board as Wei continued his commentary.  “Computer confirms we have arrived in the Perseus System, beginning system scans.  Course laid in for Perseus a.” 

“I read the course, firing engines.”   The thrust of the Maneuver Drives pressed them deep into their chairs. 

“I’m picking up another ship in system.  It’s a big one… reads as a class T.”  Miranda watched the board.  Seconds ticked by.  “They’re firing their engines.  Come on…. Compute.”

“Still haven’t gotten a signal from them.” 

“That only means they aren’t an imperial patrol.”  The computer beeped.  “Shit.  They’re on an intercept course.  Wait…   Double shit, they just launched 3 fighters.” 

Space combat in Starter Traveller can be just as deadly, if not more so, than personal combat.  Like personal combat the goal is to score an 8+ on your attack roll, and just like personal combat, there are a wide variety of factors that impact that roll. 

Ranges are much greater in interplanetary space, and the weapons are correspondingly more powerful.  There are an infinite number of range bands that can be used, but ships are only capable of tracking out to 90 bands away.  Once a combat encounter has begun, there is a very specific turn sequence that is followed – Intruder Movement, Laser Fire, Native Return Laser Fire, Ordinance, and Computer Reprogramming followed by the Native Movement, Laser Fire, Intruder Return Laser Fire, Ordinance, and Computer Reprogramming.  What programs you have running greatly impacts what you can do during any one combat round. 

Like many universes the different weapons do different things.  Pulse Lasers do a single point of damage.  Beam Lasers are more powerful (2 hits each), but less accurate (-1), and ordinance is even more powerful (1d6 hits) but takes a while to arrive, and is vulnerable to being shot at and other countermeasures.  Hits on the ship are determined randomly.  One interesting thing is that it is far easier to disable a ship than it is to destroy it.  Even hitting the fuel tanks only cause the loss of 10 tons of fuel, the first hit against the hull is the only one that does any damage, and there is no possibility of a direct hit on the bridge!

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