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Traveller Book Review – I Have a Column at Castalia House Now…

I Have a Column at Castalia House Now…. Courtesy Jeffro’s Space Gaming Blog.

Attack Squadron: Roswell – Convair F2Y Sea Dart


Convair F2Y Sea Dart (Official US Navy Photo)

ATTACK SQUADRON: ROSWELL from Zozer Games uses the Mongoose Traveller RPG engine to power a campaign set in the early-mid 1950s where the characters are part of a top secret USAF project to investigate UFOs. As the game says, think X-Files meets X-COM! Being a former Navy guy, I cannot let the Chair Force steal the spotlight, so I worked on the Navy counterpart to “Project Pounce.” Of course, I had to find a very exotic plane to use; one that “officially” had a limited history but “secretly” makes for an interesting vehicle to fight against the alien invaders. What better Navy airplane than the Convair F2Y Sea Dart, the jet plane on hydro skis?

TOP SECRET- MAJESTIC 12 ONLY - While the USAF had “Project Pounce” the US Navy also had their own UFO defense plan. It called for stationing several submarines around the globe to always be in position to respond to an invading saucer. In 1952 the US Navy has started a crash-program which will use the 95% complete Japanese I-404 aircraft carrier submarine carrying the Convair F2Y Sea Dart. Later submarines will be secretly converted along with REGULUS guided missile boats. There are even plans to build a nuclear-powered boat in the far future under the codename “SkyDiver.”

Click here for the Mongoose Traveller, Attack Squadron: Roswell vehicle sheet. ASR_Convair_F2Y_Sea_Dart.

For good background on the Sea Dart see this article at defensemedianetwork.

Castle Combat – First Play

Courtesy KidsRealm (

Got the boys to play Castle Combat this weekend as part of TableTop Day. A few weeks back I was in the local Game Parlor in Chantilly VA and found this locally manufactured game. Castle Combat is a variation of the simple card game War that uses a fantasy theme to add special powers.

Game Parlor had a nice in-case display but I have to admit a bit of some doubt when I picked up the business-size envelope with the game inside. I needn’t have worried; the components are basic but good. The cards in particular are especially nicely illustrated and help with the theme of the game.

This game is great for middle- and upper-elementary school age kids since the players must be able to read the special abilities on the cards. Math is simple addition/subtraction. Play is relatively fast; the boys played two games back-to-back while trading sides each game.

I bought the game to support the local economy (both the FLGS and the local school teacher manufacturer). The boys like the game enough we will be investing in expansion packs soon!

Going Rogue in T5

REVIEWING the Traveller 5 RPG character generation errata, the two careers that had the most changes were Citizen and Rogue. I decided to explore the Rogue career and the Scheme Payoff mechanic for my next T5 chargen experiment.

Pim Pebow (UPP 694385) was a street kid from Arden. Though technically educated to a college level (8) he actually had little common sense (Intelligence 3) and, growing up in a lower-middle class family (Social Status 5) meant he didn’t want to go to college. Instead, Pim got immediately mixed ups in small schemes.

To begin Rogue Career choose Controlling Characteristic (CC). Using Dexterity (9) 2d6=5 SUCCESS

Pim’s first scheme was audacious – he scammed a fellow Rogue!  It worked so well he walked away with a cool Cr600,000.

Scheme DM +6. 2d6=4+6 for Rogue Scheme Target. Risk/Reward against CC of 9; both succeed. Scheme Payoff Roll is 4. Payoff 100,000 x (1+9-4) or Cr600,000. Gain 6 Skills. Roll against CC  to continue; success.

For Pim’s second scheme, he goes after a Scout that regularly visits Arden. A few years later, the Scout is out 8 Ship Shares.

Scheme DM +4. Risk/Reward successfully passed. Scheme Payoff Roll 2. Payoff is Shares x (1+9-2) or 8 Ship Shares.

Continuing on, Pim runs his next scheme against an aging soldier. Getting a bit more daring, he becomes a bit bolder this time around. His bank account grows another Cr550,000.

Scheme DM+3. Risk/Reward of Brave (-2 Risk/+2 Reward). Both passed. Payoff Roll of 1 for Payoff of 50,000 x (1+9+2-1) or 50,000 x 11 or Cr550,000. Roll to Continue is DM+3 for three terms; roll of 7+3=10 versus CC is FAILURE and Muster Out. During Mustering Out, roll for Fame Flux with Fame= 3x Successful Schemes or Fame-6 plus Flux (-1) for Fame-5.

Pim Pebow (UPP 6A4486/Genetic 4611XX) is now age 30 (3 Terms) and famous (infamous?) in his town but not much further (Fame-5).

SKILLS: Actor-1, Broker-1, Comms-1, Computers-1, Electronics-1, Flyer-0/Grav-1, Flyer-0/Rotor-1, Hostile Environment-1, Stealth-1, Streetwise-3, Trader-1, Vacc Suit-2.

Bank Account: MCr 1.2. Owns 8 Ship Shares in a small surplus Scout Ship. He also has a Traveller’s Aid Society (TAS) Fellow Membership.

Pim has teamed with Conrad Fundo. Where Conrad is the Pilot/Mechanic/Gunner as needed, Pim is the moneyman – always working the angles to make credits.



Teaching an Old Dog NOT to Roll Over

SERIOUSLY, how many times do I have to mess up before I do it right?

In Classic Traveller, the Core Mechanic is a simple Roll 2d6 OVER your target number. These days Mongoose Traveller uses the same 2d6 Roll OVER mechanic.

HOWEVER, in Traveller 5, one must roll UNDER the target number on a variable number of d6. So many times I have to redo a character or combat because – in the moment – I automatically default to roll OVER.

Traveller 5 Character Generation

HAVING been a Kickstarter backer of the Traveller 5 (T5) RPG, I have had the delivered version in hand for over a year now. In the last year there has been many discussions/arguments/angry expressions/flamewars on the Citizens of the Imperium message boards that often talk ill of T5. My own feelings are actually a bit ambivalent; I like the system but wish the delivered product was proofread better.

I recently moved all the T5 Core rules to my iPad. Along the way I also got the latest errata. I decided to update the Character Generation chapter with all the errata. What I discovered is that, though the errata for this section seems lengthy, there are actually very few “show stoppers” that change too much. So I decided to dig into character generation again and see what happens. I started with the Character Generation Checklist (p. 78).

A. Create a Homeworld: My character is Conrad Fundo. I defaulted on this and used my favorite world of Arden (Arden/0201 Vilis/Spinward Marches) as his homeworld. Given the Trade Classification of High Population (Hi) this resulted in a Homeworld Skill of Streetwise-1 (p. 81)

B. Generate Characteristics: Using 2d6, I generate Strength-Dexterity-Endurance-Intelligence-Education-Social Standing. The resultant Universal Personality Profile is 993873. The Genetic UPP (taken from the first die in each 2d6 combination) is 341XXX. (p. 69, 113)

C. Consider Education and Training: I decide Conrad wants to go to University. He has the prerequisite Education of 7+. To apply is a 2d6 roll versus Intelligence or Education – I chose Intelligence (8) since it is higher. He successfully applies. Next comes four Pass/Fail rolls (one for each year) against Intelligence or Education. Again I use Intelligence. Unfortunately, he fails the second year. He could apply for a Waiver (roll 2d6 against Social Status) but, needing to roll a 3 or less on 2d6, it fails. (p. 100)

D. Select Career: Leaving University (a bit shamefully – why?), Conrad decides to make a career move.

  1. He tries to join the Arden Space Defense Forces (Spacer Career). To join requires a throw against Intelligence – success! As a Spacer Rank 1 (R1) he automatically gains a skill in Fighter. The Fighter Skill includes Knowledges and the first receipt of the skill gains Skill-0, Knowledge-1. Conrad chooses Slug Throwers as the Knowledge (Fighter Skill-0, Slug Throwers-1) (p. 142, 144).
  2. Rolling for Branch, he is assigned as an Engineer. Next, the four assignments for this term are generated using the Naval Operations Table. The result is Patrol (Mod 1), ANM School (Mod 0), ANM School (Mod 0), and Mission (Mod 3).
  3. For Risk/Reward he must use the highest Mod (Mission 3) and chooses Strength (9) as his controlling characteristic. Throwing caution to the wind, he chooses to use the Mod as a negative (-) for Risk and positive (+) for Reward. For his Risk roll, his 2d6 is an 11, which after the -3 Mod means he is wounded (-1 hit against Strength, but 1d6 recovery so all is healed) and gains a Wound Badge. The Reward roll is 9; +3 gives him a Reward but using the Medal Table (p. 109) we get Strength 9 minus Reward Roll 9 for a result of 0 or no medal. (p. 73, 109)
  4. To try to commission as a Spacer officer is a roll against Endurance (3). Failure! Promotion for Spacer uses the Dexterity characteristic (9) with a +1 mod for the Wound Badge. The roll is successful for promotion to Able Spacehand (R2).
  5. For skills, we first resolve the skills gained from the ANM School. The Education-1 Table on p. 100 shows what skills can be learned. In keeping with the spirit of being an Engineer, Conrad learns Maneuver Drives (Engineer-0, Knowledge Maneuver Drives-1) and Turrets (Engineer-0, Knowledge Turrets-1). This term, Conrad is eligible for five skills; four for the Term and one for Promotion. The four Term skills must come from the Patrol or Mission skills tables. Making two rolls against the Patrol and Mission column of the Spacer Skills table results in 3x Starship Skills and Sensors. The Starship skills added result in Pilot-1, Knowledge Small Craft-2, and Sensors-1. The fifth roll is against the Personal column of the Skills table and results in Strength +1.
  6. To Continue requires a roll of 7 with a Mod of +1 (first term). The roll is a 9 (8+1=9 Failure).

E. Muster Out: Mustering out generates three types of awards: Automatics, Benefits, and Entitlements. Since his Fighter skill is 0 there is no Personal Weapon awarded (p. 75). Without any Noble rank or being an officer or being awarded a medal the Fame is 0; the decision to invoke the Fame Flux event is passed (p. 109). One term is one roll on the Muster Out Benefits Table. Choosing the Money column, the 1d6 roll of 2 results in a Star Pass (a multi-use Middle Passage valid for 1-year after first use; value Cr250,000) (p. 76). As a One-Term-Wonder, Conrad is not eligible for any entitlements.

F. Start Adventuring: So here we have Conrad Fundo, UPP A93873, age 24 from Arden and a one term Spacer veteran who earned a Wound Badge. His skills are Engineer-0 Maneuver Drive-1, Fighter-0 Slug Throwers-1, Gunner-0 Turrets-1, Pilot-1 Small Craft-2, Sensors-1 and Streetwise-1. He has no money but possesses a Star Pass that he can decide to use or cash out.

[Note also that all characters also have Default, or Level-o, Skills (p. 143). These are Actor, Artist, Athlete, Author, Comms, Computer, Driver, Fighter (see chargen), Turrets (see chargen), Mechanic, Steward, and Vacc Suit.]

Conrad can be useful in a starship campaign as a pilot. He can pilot starships or spacecraft and is especially good at piloting small craft (Pilot-1 Small Craft-2). He can fix the engines (Engineer-0 Maneuver Drives-1), use the Sensors (Sensors-1), and even man the guns (Gunner-0 Turrets-1). His Streetwise-1 may also be able to rustle up some “business” – or spare parts – when planetside.

Possible Adventure Hooks

  • Why did Conrad fail out of University? Did it have to do with his low Social Status?
  • How did Conrad, a university drop-out and one-term-wonder of no fame end up with a Star Pass?


Starship Construction in Mongoose Traveller

ONE aspect of the Classic Traveller RPG that I love is the ship construction rules. Not only can you build a ship for roleplaying adventure but one could even build fleets of ships. The Classic Traveller adventure Trillion Credit Squadron lets players design and build whole fleets.

In keeping with Traveller technology rules, different tech levels (TL) limit what one can build. I have been searching the Mongoose Traveller (MgT) rules for rules that limit the size of ships by TL. Thanks to a discussion over on the Mongoose Traveller Forum, I finally found it. Alas, the limits are not EXPLICITLY laid out and putting it all together is not easy and requires cross-referencing not only several rules but looking across several books too.

The MgT Core Rulebook (CRB) is useful for creation of Adventure-class ships (ACS); i.e. those used by a band of adventurers. ACS are ships from 100-2,999 tons. The CRB has examples of small craft (craft under 100 tons) but no design sequence. The Spacecraft Design chapter allows creation of starships and spacecraft ranging from TL7 to TL15. Within this system, there is no limit to ship size based on TL. However, since all ships need a computer and the Model 1 is not available until TL7 (CRB p. 108) it effectively means that a spacecraft cannot be built before that TL.

MgT Book 2: High Guard (HG) expands on the ship design sequences in the CRB and introduces Capital Ship (over 3,000 tons) and Small Craft design sequences. In typical form for Mongoose Publishing, one must also make sure they have the latest errata to correct the published book. The errata in this case is key because it clarifies the Computer Table on pg. 65 which gives us our ship size construction limits.

The Computer Table on p. 65 includes the columns “Ship Size Minimum” and “Jump Maximum.” The errata clarifies that the designer is to “select the core computer based on the size of the ship or jump requirements, whichever is higher.” Looking strictly at the ship size portion gives us our ship size limits by TL (Read TL; Computer Core Model; MAXIMUM ship size that can be built using this model):

  • TL 9; Core/3; 3,000-5,000 tons
  • TL10; Core/4; 5,001-10,000 tons
  • TL11; Core/5; 10,001-50,000 tons
  • TL12; Core/6; 50,001-100,000 tons
  • TL13; Core/7; 100,001 tons and up

Later computer models add jump capability and computing power but do not affect the size of a ship that can be built. So if one wants to build a 75,000 ton cruiser, one must use AT LEAST a Core/6 computer which is not available until TL12.

Note that ships of 100-2,999 tons can be built at any TL from 7-15; the primary limitation comes from what computer model can be installed. For ships larger than 3,000 tons, the computer Core model limits your size. Restated another way, TL limits the maximum size of ships greater than 3,000 tons that can be built:

  • TL7-8 up to 2,999 tons (use Computer Model 1)
  • TL9 up to 5,000 tons (use computer Core/3)
  • TL10 up to 10,000 tons (use computer Core/4)
  • TL11 up to 50,000 tons use computer Core/5)
  • TL12 up to 100,000 tons (use computer Core/6)
  • TL13-15 any hull over 100,001 tons (use computer Core/7 or greater)

For example, my perennial favorite developing planet, Arden (Arden/0201 Vilis/Spinward Marches) is a TL8 planet on the verge of TL9. What can Arden build indigenously without external assistance? Taking together all the technology limits one gets:

TL 8 Spacecraft Design Limitations

  • Hull Size: Up to 2,999 tons (cost 80%; 1 Hull/90 tons) (HG p. 65, 52, errata)
  • Armor: Titanium Steel (TL7) (HG p. 41)
  • Maneuver Drive max 5G (6G at TL-1) (HG p. 53)
  • No Jump Drive (Jump-1 at TL-1) (HG p. 53)
  • Powerplant – Fusion: 125% tonnage (HG p. 53, 63)
  • Computer – Model 1 (CRB p. 108)
  • Standard Sensors (CRB p. 108)
  • Weapons – Single or Double Turrets (CRB p. 111)
  • Turret Weapons – Pulse Laser, Particle Beam, Missile (HE/Nuclear/Smart/Shockwave/Ortillery), Sandcaster (CRB p. 111, HG p. 48, 50)
  • Weapons – Particle Barbettes (HG p. 50)
  • Weapons – 50-ton Bays (Missile Bank, Particle Beam, Torpedoes [Basic/Nuclear/Ortillery]) (CRB p. 112, HG p. 48)
  • Weapons – 100-ton Bays (Missile, Particle Beam) (HG p. 48)
  • Weapons – Spinal Particle A (HG p. 66) [Note that this spinal mount requires 5,000 tons whereas the TL limited ship size is 2,999 tons; obviously a planetary or station-mount only at TL8]
  • Options limited by TL – Compact Bridge, Aerofins, Docking Clamp, Grappling Arm, Solar Panels, Briefing Room, Standard Hanger, Library (HG p. 47)



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