Tech Superiority

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
golem64
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Tech Superiority

Postby golem64 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 10:06 pm

In MTU, I would like to emphasize technological superiority. I want equipment manufactured at higher tech levels to be superior to those produced at lower ones. For me, part of the power of the Third Imperium is its technological superiority.
However, I’m not sure how to best quantify this difference mechanically. For instance, hacking a TL 12 security system with a TL 15 computer should provide a bonus. Should this be a +3 bonus with a +/- of one per tech level difference? Or should it be less granular with bonuses by Technology category? For example, +1 for Average Stellar (TL 12 – TL 14) vs. Early Stellar (TL 10 –TL 11) with +2 for Average Stellar (TL 12 – TL 14) vs. Pre-Stellar (TL 7 –TL 9).
Has anyone tried something like this? How might it work with weapons and armour?
phavoc
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Re: Tech Superiority

Postby phavoc » Tue Apr 18, 2017 11:51 pm

golem64 wrote:
Tue Apr 18, 2017 10:06 pm
In MTU, I would like to emphasize technological superiority. I want equipment manufactured at higher tech levels to be superior to those produced at lower ones. For me, part of the power of the Third Imperium is its technological superiority.
However, I’m not sure how to best quantify this difference mechanically. For instance, hacking a TL 12 security system with a TL 15 computer should provide a bonus. Should this be a +3 bonus with a +/- of one per tech level difference? Or should it be less granular with bonuses by Technology category? For example, +1 for Average Stellar (TL 12 – TL 14) vs. Early Stellar (TL 10 –TL 11) with +2 for Average Stellar (TL 12 – TL 14) vs. Pre-Stellar (TL 7 –TL 9).
Has anyone tried something like this? How might it work with weapons and armour?
If you assume the average TL of the Imperium is 12, then that's your sweet spot. Using your example, a TL15 piece of equipment would have a +3 roll. It's easy enough to apply this rule across all rolls and issues. TL15 missiles get a +3 to hit, and +3 damage, TL9 get a -3 / -3. I would leave armor and related passive bits alone as there is no activity there. And because it's getting far murkier when you start getting into things like metalurgy.

You'd think characters will run around TL15 equipment all the time. Sure, no problem! Oh, you want TL15 ammo on a TL9 planet? Hmm, that seems to require a 60% cost surcharge. Gee, that TL15 part is 30% higher on your TL12 planet. As long as you equally apply these ideas across the board where they make reasonable sense it's very easy to incorporate into your MTU.
Infojunky
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Re: Tech Superiority

Postby Infojunky » Wed Apr 19, 2017 12:36 am

I would like to point out that technical development isn't a smooth curve. Taking the computer example, I wouldn't use tech level, but the comparative of Model numbers of the computers involved.

In general a lot of this is already factored in if you give the equipment section a close read.
Evyn
locarno24
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Re: Tech Superiority

Postby locarno24 » Wed Apr 19, 2017 11:45 am

How might it work with weapons and armour?
With weapons and armour; it's definitely factored in. Because when you go to a TL14 armourers, describe an assault rifle, and ask them to make you one, what you actually get is a magrail carbine; moving up TLs already gives items fundamentally different statlines.

With computers, the same is true - because higher rating computers run better software. Intrusion/4 is TL15 and can only be run on a minimum of a TL13 (or specialised TL11 or TL12) computer, and the level of security software available to the potential victim is likewise constrained - whilst any computer is assumed to have Security/0, getting Security/3 is a big ask of operational rating given that it occupies the entire processing power of an equivalent TL computer, resulting in a computer which is functionally hack-proof but not actually able to do anything except check itself continuously for unauthorised access.

For example: assuming the computer is doing something that needs rating/2:

At TL7 you can (just) make a specialist computer capable of doing this in the first place. Such a computer is protected by nothing except default Security/0

At TL8 a specialist computer with specialist/2 in the thing it's for can run the task, leaving its default rating/1 free, but no improved security software yet exists, so it's a bit meaningless - meaning in practice you just settle for only needing specialist/1 and halving the weight of your server.

At TL9 a specialist computer with specialist/2 in the thing it's for can run the task, leaving its default rating/1 to run Security/1

At TL10, the rating of the computer increases again, (so this time it's running the task on its core rating with specialist/1 for its security software) but as at TL8, no improved security software yet exists.

At TL11, Security/2 becomes available. meaning core rating/2 for security software and specialist/2 for the main 'job'.

At TL12, for the first time, you get a jump in both rating and available software, meaning core rating/3 for security software and specialist/2 for the main 'job'



I don't massively feel like adding extra bonuses to higher TLs is needed, but if you want to, then by all means. It depends how much of a 'feel' of superior tech you want; that is, if someone turns up with a TL15 equivalent of a commercially available tablet, is it able to hack any internet-connected computer on a TL9 planet, whether it's got a trained hacker and/or specialist intrusion/agent software or not?
Understand that I'm not advocating violence.
I'm just saying that it's highly effective and I strongly recommend using it.
Saladman
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Re: Tech Superiority

Postby Saladman » Wed Apr 19, 2017 12:38 pm

I'm reminded I once meant to go through the CSC process for designing higher tech versions of lower tech items, with the idea of statting up things meant for trade goods, colonization vehicles, survival kit components and so forth. Got distracted by real life and never got to it, but maybe I'll go back.
Condottiere
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Re: Tech Superiority

Postby Condottiere » Wed Apr 19, 2017 11:50 pm

Technology tiers in Traveller tend to be a little arbitrary.

Advanced computers help software run more efficiently, or at least faster, which may not be an issue with internal security, though might be if there's direct hacking as there might be a race to head off an alarm being activated.
golem64
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Re: Tech Superiority

Postby golem64 » Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:17 pm

locarno24 wrote:
Wed Apr 19, 2017 11:45 am
How might it work with weapons and armour?
With weapons and armour; it's definitely factored in. Because when you go to a TL14 armourers, describe an assault rifle, and ask them to make you one, what you actually get is a magrail carbine; moving up TLs already gives items fundamentally different statlines.
Thanks for all the great answers so far everyone. Managing technological equipment differences would definitely make for more tracking of tech level, availability of equipment and price differences, but it would also give some incentive to the Travellers to seek out better goods.
Perhaps my hacking example wasn’t the best as computers are already separated by individual TLs, but for other equipment I would start with the TL that it is introduced. As your example illustrates, a TL 14 assault rifle is far superior to the assault rifle introduced at TL 7. As I suggested in my original post, I would give the TL 14 assault rifle a +2 to hit (Pre-Stellar TL 7 < Early Stellar < Average Stellar TL 14); +1 for each category above the one that it is introduced. Of course, this would have to be a rifle manufactured on a TL 14 world, though it might be sold as an import or prototype on lower TL worlds at a premium. In terms of extra damage, one could go with simply +2, but +2d might make more sense.
Condottiere
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Re: Tech Superiority

Postby Condottiere » Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:29 am

I tried setting up an algorithm that allows increased, ahhh ... bandwidth, with a capacity above that allowed per stated technological level on a diminishing returns model, but could never reconcile it with the set performances mentioned in the Mongoose First text.

Computers and sensors aren't included in the advanced and primitive options; perhaps they should.
Infojunky
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Re: Tech Superiority

Postby Infojunky » Sun Apr 23, 2017 2:00 am

Condottiere wrote:
Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:29 am
I tried setting up an algorithm that allows increased, ahhh ... bandwidth, with a capacity above that allowed per stated technological level on a diminishing returns model, but could never reconcile it with the set performances mentioned in the Mongoose First text.

Computers and sensors aren't included in the advanced and primitive options; perhaps they should.
Look at the equipment section of the TMB for computer options.

Though to be honest I have found that the Computer rules are inconsistent at best, when one is trying to reconsil the computers in the equipment section and Ship's computers.
Evyn
Condottiere
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Re: Tech Superiority

Postby Condottiere » Sun Apr 23, 2017 9:06 am

You can overclock computers, though I think that nowadays it probably isn't worth it, except for boasting rights or if you consciously bought a cheap ass processor.

Traveller rules for computers don't make sense to me, except as an artificial constraint to maintain some form of balance.
steve98052
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Re: Tech Superiority

Postby steve98052 » Fri May 12, 2017 5:13 pm

I think the price progression per tech level is misstated up-thread. As I recall, the same product is half price at the next TL, quarter price at two TL higher, and 0.9 times that for each additional TL (0.9, 0.81, etc.) -- and some items are four to ten times as expensive one TL lower.

There's also a premium for importing more things from more advanced worlds, but I don't recall the scale, and sometimes it's constrained by laws anyway. (This brings to mind the idea of a mercenary team intervening on a world where guns more advanced than black powder muzzle loaders are illegal -- and the mercenaries bring along a few cases of TL7, Cr3 laser sights declared as cat toys -- which of course is a task they do well.

- - -
Condottiere wrote:
Sun Apr 23, 2017 9:06 am
Traveller rules for computers don't make sense to me, except as an artificial constraint to maintain some form of balance.
I think that's always been the case, but in classic there was the additional constraint that almost no one had seen computers in person, let alone experienced using them.
Condottiere
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Re: Tech Superiority

Postby Condottiere » Fri May 12, 2017 9:56 pm

Image
NOLATrav
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Re: Tech Superiority

Postby NOLATrav » Sun May 14, 2017 3:59 pm

Really liking this idea!

Perhaps each tech category is a flat +\-2 (i.e., shifting the task difficulty) then within each category apply boon/bane dice so your TL12 Average Stellar assault rifle performs nominally as well as a TL14 one, but suffers a bane die against TL13 or 14 armor. I'd keep damage adjustments at a flat +\-1 per tech category as you can have special ammo, higher rates of fire, etc with more advanced weaponry. Maybe a cap of +3 so TL3 unarmored troops are as vulnerable as any unarmored troops.

This could apply across the board; a TL9 Pre-Stellar mechanic kit would gain +2 to fix a TL5 truck, or a boon die to fix a TL7 one. A TL12 hacker would have his Difficult task shift to Average against Pre-Stellar computer systems, Very Difficult against High Stellar systems and suffer a bane die against an Average Stellar TL14 system.

Im thinking boon/bane to head of the players' inevitable "But my gear is two tech levels higher!" complaints.

I suppose it depends on how granular you want to get. But this gives a lot more weight to tech being limited by law level and could give a lot of flavor to the campaign. I'm due to start up a game soon, I'll try out some of these ideas and report back. Please let us know how it goes with your game.
h1ro
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Re: Tech Superiority

Postby h1ro » Sun May 14, 2017 6:58 pm

Condottiere wrote:
Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:29 am
Computers and sensors aren't included in the advanced and primitive options; perhaps they should.
I think this is a good idea but in practice needs a fair bit of thought to keep in balance. For example, a TL12 fusion power plant made TL15 with "high technology" and the three advantages is actually better than a TL15 fusion plant. I've looked at adding primitive/advanced to hulls with a base TL of 12 and advantages like more hull points, fuel and energy efficient. I like this idea but it needs implementing across the board but it would change the rules heavily and break a lot of existing standard equipment and ships.

Some things have an attribute or stat that reflects their technological advantage, armour is the obvious one. Using a DM for things like ECM makes sense to me, a blanket increase for TL of small arms, I'm not so sure is a good thing.

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