Thoughts on a TU w/o captal starships

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heron61
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Thoughts on a TU w/o captal starships

Postby heron61 » Fri Jul 07, 2017 3:23 am

So, originally in CT, starships were limited in size to 5000 tons. So, I'm wondering how the TU would change if this was kept, and vessels like the Kinunir were top-line military starships, rather than relatively small support craft. Presumably, larger non-jump capable ships are possible, since I can't see any reason that they wouldn't be. However, what if there was a hard limit on jump-capable starships of 5000 tons, so that jump bubbles (or whatever) simply can't be made larger than this. Obviously this would drastically change interstellar warfare, but what I'm far more interested in is how it affects other aspects of the TU (especially since, I sincerely doubt I'll ever run or play in a Traveller game where the PCs were soldiers in a war).

Off the top of my head, a couple of large pirate ships or a small pirate fleet made out of medium to large ships can effectively take on almost any ship, even military ones. OTOH, small traders are going to fair no better against a 1250 ton war ship than they will against a 125000 ton war ship, so nothing really changes for PC-sized trading vessels, except that pirates become more dangerous.

Also, unless you find a reason for large non-starships to be impossible, I'm assuming that there will be 50000 ton heavily armed system defense ships in any important system, making those systems largely immune to attack or raids. However, since such ships can't jump and hauling components of such large ships that you can then assemble would be quite costly, the only systems that will have such protection will be populous relatively high tech systems, and other systems that are either really wealthy or vitally important to the Imperium. The many medium population non-high tech systems won't have such protection, and so pirates and raiders will have relatively easy targets. This also means that mercenaries would likely take jobs protecting worlds from raiders.

What else might be different in this sort of TU?
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Re: Thoughts on a TU w/o captal starships

Postby baithammer » Fri Jul 07, 2017 5:31 am

It would make for a very different game as the lack of larger jump ships would make colonization take far longer and trying to keep far flung colonies going would be far more time consuming and expensive. Human held space would be a far smaller and you'd see large convoys that take a very long time to move due to the coordination required.

Pirates would have a harder time operating as patrol fleets would be more numerous and less open space in colonized areas.

Smugglers would have a more interesting time though.
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Re: Thoughts on a TU w/o captal starships

Postby h1ro » Fri Jul 07, 2017 5:31 am

Firstly, I really like the idea of a small ship universe.

I also like the idea that as TL increases, the size of a ship capable of higher jump increases. I've not put numbers onto paper as I'm winging this post but it shouldn't be hard to come up with a table or formula.

Recent threads have shown me that you can build some pretty ferocious ships with 2e HG.

A 5000 ton limit will mean no spinal mounts on jump capable ships, the smallest spinal meson ships are 12,000 tons and 5,600 tons for PA and rail guns. I'd be tempted to make the maximum ship size one where spinals were possible on jump capable ships but max it out at 20 or 30,000. (Exact number to be determined by whatever balance seemed right to introduce - if you have a 120,000 ton SDB mounting the largest TL15 meson spinal then it's going to be murderous against ships larger than 10,000 tons. Hopefully AnotherDilbert will drop by the thread as he's way better at the number crunching than I am.

I'd want to see rules introduced that define how big a ship a ship yard can build - as you point out, SDBs can't be tendered in, you need to be able to build locally.

As to the effects on a game, for the most part I'd suggest they'd be minimal (or I'm bushed and can't think of any at the mo!). Most PC groups are on ships that can be crewed by a small number of people and don't really have dealings with the more powerful naval ships.

Mostly I just like the idea as it enforces a limit on ship size and you have to think of the best way to squeeze as much juice from a ship design as you can!
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Re: Thoughts on a TU w/o captal starships

Postby AnotherDilbert » Fri Jul 07, 2017 6:25 am

There would be no real difference. Instead of a BatRon you would have a gazillion frigates (pirates would be even more inconvenienced). Instead of a 500 kDt freighter you would have 100 ships of 5kDt.

To change the system you would need to change the price of ships or the speed of travel.

If you make ships more expensive, even fewer people would be in space travelling, not what I would want in a Traveller game...
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Re: Thoughts on a TU w/o captal starships

Postby AndrewW » Fri Jul 07, 2017 6:31 am

AnotherDilbert wrote:
Fri Jul 07, 2017 6:25 am
To change the system you would need to change the price of ships or the speed of travel.
Alternately, changing the speed of communication could have an effect as well.
heron61
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Re: Thoughts on a TU w/o captal starships

Postby heron61 » Fri Jul 07, 2017 7:22 am

AnotherDilbert wrote:
Fri Jul 07, 2017 6:25 am
There would be no real difference. Instead of a BatRon you would have a gazillion frigates (pirates would be even more inconvenienced). Instead of a 500 kDt freighter you would have 100 ships of 5kDt.
Given spinal mounts and 500 tons bays, I think the one difference would be that even with a vast fleet, successfully attacking a high tech hi pop world would be considerably more difficult, because they'd be defended by a fleet of huge SDBs. Given that a large spinal mount can do a 1 shot kill vs pretty much any 5000 ton ship, even with an equal volume of ships on each side, the invading fleet is going to lose pretty swiftly, and the rules about attacks by smaller weapons not doing crits on large enough ships make this even worse, since a 110000 ton ship is immune to all crits except those from spinal mounts (which the attackers won't have) and large bays (which even a 5000 ton ship is likely to have no more than at most 2). Meanwhile, only the largest attackers are even immune to crits from turrets.
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Re: Thoughts on a TU w/o captal starships

Postby Reynard » Fri Jul 07, 2017 11:32 am

Behind the scenes that most people don think about is the economics of trade. The universe doesn't run on free traders. It runs on super sized tankers, haulers and freighters. The efficiency of hauling would be nothing and the majority of worlds would never achieve any prominence. Pitiful GWPs. No real military capacity. No need for large starports.
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Re: Thoughts on a TU w/o captal starships

Postby AnotherDilbert » Fri Jul 07, 2017 4:29 pm

AndrewW wrote: Alternately, changing the speed of communication could have an effect as well.
Yes, I was stuck in the "speed of communication" = "speed of travel" assumption.

Faster communications would change the TU profoundly.
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Re: Thoughts on a TU w/o captal starships

Postby AnotherDilbert » Fri Jul 07, 2017 4:41 pm

heron61 wrote: Given spinal mounts and 500 tons bays, ...
Spirals can one-shot small ships, IF they can hit. With a malus for shooting at small ships and dodging they are not likely to hit.

Smaller ships will not use large bays, crits are not an effective way to kill ships. Large ships are immune anyway since they have too many Hull points.

Small ships will rely on attritional damage from bays and turrets, or missiles.

Missiles from many small ships can easily kill larger ships from stand-off distance. Since they cannot jump large monitors are sitting ducks...
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Re: Thoughts on a TU w/o captal starships

Postby h1ro » Fri Jul 07, 2017 4:51 pm

AnotherDilbert wrote:
Fri Jul 07, 2017 4:29 pm
Faster communications would change the TU profoundly.
And will arguably break all these years of canon. Doesn't seem like an option that's pursuable in the 3I setting.

Capital ships date back how many years? I'd say that using the OTU as a base, they're here to stay.

For an ATU, I'd love to see HG 2e ships with a size limit.
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Re: Thoughts on a TU w/o captal starships

Postby AnotherDilbert » Fri Jul 07, 2017 4:52 pm

Reynard wrote: Behind the scenes that most people don think about is the economics of trade.
This is exactly what I meant:
AnotherDilbert wrote: Instead of a 500 kDt freighter you would have 100 ships of 5kDt.

To change the system you would need to change the price of ships...
After a few kDt ships scale almost linearly. The economics doesn't change much between a 500 kDt and 100 5 kDt ships.
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Re: Thoughts on a TU w/o captal starships

Postby h1ro » Fri Jul 07, 2017 5:22 pm

AnotherDilbert wrote:
Fri Jul 07, 2017 4:52 pm
After a few kDt ships scale almost linearly. The economics doesn't change much between a 500 kDt and 100 5 kDt ships.
Both in their construction and cost to run?
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Re: Thoughts on a TU w/o captal starships

Postby AnotherDilbert » Fri Jul 07, 2017 6:28 pm

h1ro wrote: Both in their construction and cost to run?
The mortgage dwarfs all other costs, so the only difference is cargo capacity, hence income.

Lets build a simple 500 kDt freighter: J-3, no drop tanks, no external cargo, just as simple as possible:

500 kDt, J-3, 1G, Crew 903, Cargo 275 kDt, GCr 75.8 in quantity.
Image

Scale it down a 100 times:

5000 Dt, J-3, 1G, Crew 30, Cargo 2560 Dt, MCr 780 in quantity. CGr 78 for 100 small ships, ~3% more than the large ship.
Image

Under 5 kDt we need more crew which will decrease cargo space marginally, so shipping costs might be a few % higher in a small ship universe, nothing significant.

We see that running completely full, the large ship would break-even at Cr 625 per Dt cargo per J-3 and the smaller ships would break-even at Cr 712. OK, base cost is 14% higher for small ships.

The added flexibility of running more routes in time and space would make up for some of that?
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Re: Thoughts on a TU w/o captal starships

Postby h1ro » Fri Jul 07, 2017 7:12 pm

Thanks for the numbers!

Has anyone calculated the amount of trade available between systems in the Spinward Marches?

I know it's not that simple but there has to be a lot of trade to move a 275k dT cargo every 2 weeks.
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Re: Thoughts on a TU w/o captal starships

Postby Reynard » Fri Jul 07, 2017 8:01 pm

If anyone has, they need to get a life!

The interconnection of trade between all those worlds would be... complex. Pocket Empires said to exclude any world under population 6 as not economically significant which cuts out a hefty number. T5 has a simple Importance and Economics generation system to give you an overall picture how well a planet is doing and how it could fare compared to other nearby worlds.
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Re: Thoughts on a TU w/o captal starships

Postby h1ro » Fri Jul 07, 2017 8:16 pm

Reynard wrote:
Fri Jul 07, 2017 8:01 pm
If anyone has, they need to get a life!
Yeah, I hear ya!
Reynard wrote:
Fri Jul 07, 2017 8:01 pm
The interconnection of trade between all those worlds would be... complex. Pocket Empires said to exclude any world under population 6 as not economically significant which cuts out a hefty number. T5 has a simple Importance and Economics generation system to give you an overall picture how well a planet is doing and how it could fare compared to other nearby worlds.
I've been pleased to see the numbers appearing on the Traveller Map. I should dig up my copy of T5 and try to understand them.

It would be great if someone did sacrifice the time to do the numbers, putting that kind of depth into the 3I and really fleshing out the bones to get a better feel of how many ships there are plying the trade lanes. Granted, that's the whole different thing from playing the game where the plot determines the ships you encounter but I guess I'm leaning more to the setting development side of things these days than the actual gaming.
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Re: Thoughts on a TU w/o captal starships

Postby AnotherDilbert » Fri Jul 07, 2017 8:32 pm

h1ro wrote: Has anyone calculated the amount of trade available between systems in the Spinward Marches?
Gurps Far Trader has the rules for it. You might find some examples on CotI?
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Re: Thoughts on a TU w/o captal starships

Postby heron61 » Fri Jul 07, 2017 9:55 pm

AnotherDilbert wrote:
Fri Jul 07, 2017 4:41 pm
heron61 wrote: Given spinal mounts and 500 tons bays, ...
Spirals can one-shot small ships, IF they can hit. With a malus for shooting at small ships and dodging they are not likely to hit.

Smaller ships will not use large bays, crits are not an effective way to kill ships. Large ships are immune anyway since they have too many Hull points.

Small ships will rely on attritional damage from bays and turrets, or missiles.

Missiles from many small ships can easily kill larger ships from stand-off distance. Since they cannot jump large monitors are sitting ducks...
Excellent point, looking at the HG rules in detail, I was however also struck by the fact that Large Bays are awesome weapons for use against larger ships (3000+ tons), in addition to their general bonus to damage, they also get a serious to hit bonus against 3000+ ton ships. Given that SDBs can have *lots* of these, they'd be exceedingly effective against the larger attacking starships. Add in massive armor and screens on the SDBs (which are more difficult for attacking ships, simply due to space considerations), and we're talking about seriously unequal battles. Also, crits against 1000 - 5000 tons ships (ie serious military ships) aren't all that difficult with impressive weaponry, the +4 for Large Bays makes high Effect crits more likely, and (on average) a medium fusion gun bay is going to do a sustained damage crit against anything the size of the Kinunir with every hit.
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Re: Thoughts on a TU w/o captal starships

Postby Reynard » Sat Jul 08, 2017 2:16 am

Those ships COULD be awesome but if planetary budgets are greatly reduced because of economic restrictions navies will also be greatly reduced. Monitors and SDBs are already important organic defenses in systems IF they can be afforded. I remember Pocket Empires/Imperial Squadrons based the number of SDBs and warships it produced on factors for the planet.
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Re: Thoughts on a TU w/o captal starships

Postby Gypsy Knights Games » Sat Jul 08, 2017 3:09 am

heron61 wrote:
Fri Jul 07, 2017 3:23 am
So, originally in CT, starships were limited in size to 5000 tons. So, I'm wondering how the TU would change if this was kept, and vessels like the Kinunir were top-line military starships, rather than relatively small support craft. Presumably, larger non-jump capable ships are possible, since I can't see any reason that they wouldn't be. However, what if there was a hard limit on jump-capable starships of 5000 tons, so that jump bubbles (or whatever) simply can't be made larger than this. Obviously this would drastically change interstellar warfare, but what I'm far more interested in is how it affects other aspects of the TU (especially since, I sincerely doubt I'll ever run or play in a Traveller game where the PCs were soldiers in a war).

Off the top of my head, a couple of large pirate ships or a small pirate fleet made out of medium to large ships can effectively take on almost any ship, even military ones. OTOH, small traders are going to fair no better against a 1250 ton war ship than they will against a 125000 ton war ship, so nothing really changes for PC-sized trading vessels, except that pirates become more dangerous.

Also, unless you find a reason for large non-starships to be impossible, I'm assuming that there will be 50000 ton heavily armed system defense ships in any important system, making those systems largely immune to attack or raids. However, since such ships can't jump and hauling components of such large ships that you can then assemble would be quite costly, the only systems that will have such protection will be populous relatively high tech systems, and other systems that are either really wealthy or vitally important to the Imperium. The many medium population non-high tech systems won't have such protection, and so pirates and raiders will have relatively easy targets. This also means that mercenaries would likely take jobs protecting worlds from raiders.

What else might be different in this sort of TU?

I find this interesting as this is, for the most part, one of the basic building blocks of our Clement Sector setting. Almost exactly. Of course, we're not connected to the Traveller universe and the time period is quite a bit different (present in CS is 2342 rather than the far future of the OTU). If you're interested in this sort of universe, Clement Sector might give you some good ideas on where to go next.
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