DIY advanced tech starship upgrades

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
paltrysum
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DIY advanced tech starship upgrades

Postby paltrysum » Fri Jan 05, 2018 8:26 pm

In MgT2 High Guard, we have the "Primitive and Advanced Spacecraft" rules. For advanced spacecraft, you can upgrade your drives at higher tech levels to gain certain advantages. My question to the community is: Would you allow your ship's engineers to perform such work?

For example, updating the jump drive of a far trader so that it has energy efficiency, stealth jump, or other advanced characteristics requires higher tech and money. Presumably, some of these changes could be made at a shipyard, but it seems to me it's an excellent gaming opportunity to have the players do the work and possibly at a reduced cost to having it done in a shipyard.

Just wondering if any of you have done something along these lines in your campaign.
"Spacers lead a sedentary life. They live at home, and their home is always with them—their starship, and so is their country—the depths of space."
DickTurpin
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Re: DIY advanced tech starship upgrades

Postby DickTurpin » Sat Jan 06, 2018 3:15 am

Upgrades are not retrofitted to existing equipment, they are designed and built in prior to the equipment being installed in the ship during construction.

High Guard 2nd Edition, p. 48 "Altering Tech Levels: This is all handled by adjusting the Tech Level, price
and tonnage of components while a ship is being designed using the previous chapters."

So to go from a standard jump drive to a Stealth Jump, Energy Efficient jump drive would require removing the existing drive and replacing it with the appropriate new drive. That would most certainly require a full shipyard rather than just a little tinkering from the engineer.
Infojunky
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Re: DIY advanced tech starship upgrades

Postby Infojunky » Sat Jan 06, 2018 5:59 am

paltrysum wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 8:26 pm
In MgT2 High Guard, we have the "Primitive and Advanced Spacecraft" rules. For advanced spacecraft, you can upgrade your drives at higher tech levels to gain certain advantages. My question to the community is: Would you allow your ship's engineers to perform such work?
If it makes a better game for your group then Yes.

Note I have let players build ships cobbled together out of bits in a Starship junkyard.
Evyn
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Re: DIY advanced tech starship upgrades

Postby Condottiere » Sat Jan 06, 2018 9:41 am

Reaction rockets could be just a matter of scaling.

For a jump drive, you're looking at one hundred and forty cubic metres of a complex device that can arguably recreate a wormhole, and stabilize it for a week.
AnotherDilbert
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Re: DIY advanced tech starship upgrades

Postby AnotherDilbert » Sat Jan 06, 2018 10:06 am

paltrysum wrote: In MgT2 High Guard, we have the "Primitive and Advanced Spacecraft" rules. For advanced spacecraft, you can upgrade your drives at higher tech levels to gain certain advantages. My question to the community is: Would you allow your ship's engineers to perform such work?
I would not allow it.

It takes more than a little tinkering to transform a WWI era engine to a modern engine...
paltrysum
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Re: DIY advanced tech starship upgrades

Postby paltrysum » Sat Jan 06, 2018 9:09 pm

Glad I brought this up. I agree that a jump drive is a complex piece of technology, arguably the most complex thing that can be constructed in the Traveller universe.

That said, let's look at stealth jump tech for example. While it might not make sense to let the players cobble together this tech and add it to their J-drive in willy nilly fashion, what about a temporary "silencer"? Obviously if I want it to happen in my campaign, I can just make it so. But what do you guys think about the possibility of creating a device that "muffles" your jump signature on a one-off basis?
"Spacers lead a sedentary life. They live at home, and their home is always with them—their starship, and so is their country—the depths of space."
Linwood
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Re: DIY advanced tech starship upgrades

Postby Linwood » Sun Jan 07, 2018 1:01 am

I don’t think I’d let them do that on the fly, unless it was a “one-off” situation with a very real risk of doing major damage to the system in question. But as the result of an extended task taking weeks/months involving some very difficult Science and Engineer checks - sure, why not?

But as always YMMV...
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Re: DIY advanced tech starship upgrades

Postby Condottiere » Mon Jan 08, 2018 9:13 pm

Repairing them with chewing gum and string theory should be possible.

I think that all jump drives would need to be certified, especially do it yourself variants, if they are installed on a registered vessel.
Epicenter
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Re: DIY advanced tech starship upgrades

Postby Epicenter » Tue Jan 09, 2018 9:11 pm

I allow it. But there's I also apply a variant of the Ship of Theseus paradox. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_of_Theseus if you're unfamiliar )

However, I have the advantage of knowing guys who love to work on cars; like real fanatics ranging from guys who like to work on JDM stuff to guys who love to work on American cars from the 1950s and so on. A common discussion that occurs among these types is the Ship of Theseus paradox and certain variants of it:

* How many and what components can you swap out / upgrade before it stops being the classic car you were working on? (The answer usually is surprisingly messy with a broad answer of "as long as it looks like the original car" but then you can ask them "but how closely?" and get threatened with a sanding block gummed with bondo powder to the face.)

* A more pressing dilemma is: Is it still worth it to work on a classic component (99% of the time an engine) if you're replacing so many components the cost of the replacements is more than simply buying a reproduction part?

In the case of the changes you're talking about, I'd say many of them would require the so much modification you're moving into the realm of "rebuilding" the engine or basically replacing it with a better one. It'd cost nearly as much (or more) than simply buying a new part with the performance parameters you want except it wouldn't be as reliable or efficient as buying a new part that was designed and built from the ground up with the parameters required for the job without trying to make do.
Last edited by Epicenter on Fri Jan 19, 2018 2:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
steve98052
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Re: DIY advanced tech starship upgrades

Postby steve98052 » Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:09 pm

My impression of people who work on old cars is that to be legitimate antiques, they have to be repaired only from parts of similar vintage as the original vehicle, either from junkyard salvage or replacement parts that would have been used for repairs before the vehicle was an antique.

But for a Traveller starship, I think there's a lot more room for debate about what constitutes a new ship rebuilt from old parts or an overhaul. It's closer to the ship of Theseus in that sense. Individual worlds with enough shipyard to be a licensing authority would probably define rules in their own ways.

My understanding about present day weapons is that the serial number stamp on the receiver is the point of legal continuity; some shipyards may be similar, defining a ship as the serial number stamp on the hull's jump drive mount, for example, with a secondary definition for non-starships.
paltrysum
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Re: DIY advanced tech starship upgrades

Postby paltrysum » Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:51 pm

Interesting takes on the subject. In addition to the Ship of Theseus paradox, there's also the possibility that monkeying with your manuever drives, jump drives, life support systems, and power plants could result in a less efficient drive. Presumably, a shipyard has an array of efficient automated machinery and equipment that ensures production of the same equipment consistently. An individual engineer or team of engineers on a ship, hopping from planet to planet and using parts from several locales (Ship of Theseus again), would very likely not be able to replicate the efficiency of a shipyard. Your engineer might have access to very high-tech diagnostic gear and tools, but even so, a referee could reasonably argue that the end result is a larger (less efficient use of piping, circuitry, zuchai crystals, etc.) and less reliable (sophont error) drive.

I would like the engineering job in Traveller be more than activating the jump drive and fixing things when they get shot, but if you want your game to be realistic, you have to think that without a shipyard and all its tools, the work would suffer.
"Spacers lead a sedentary life. They live at home, and their home is always with them—their starship, and so is their country—the depths of space."
Condottiere
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Re: DIY advanced tech starship upgrades

Postby Condottiere » Wed Jan 17, 2018 8:28 pm

Your parsecs may vary

Reliability is not really factored in, but most commercial jump drives would be fairly generic and predictable, which the alphabet series sort of reflected.

In theory, an engineer should be able to supervise one hundred and five tonnes by himself, though than it's a full time preoccupation, at least eight hours of each day.

After that, he might miss signs where the engines start developing tress points and malfunctions.

As for the jump drive, outside of test runs, the only time they get fired up is when the pilot is prepared to transition.
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Re: DIY advanced tech starship upgrades

Postby Linwood » Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:03 am

[quote=paltrysum post_id=924638 time=1516215065 user_id=377364
I would like the engineering job in Traveller be more than activating the jump drive and fixing things when they get shot, but if you want your game to be realistic, you have to think that without a shipyard and all its tools, the work would suffer.
[/quote]

I do that IMTU by expanding the skill roles beyond the ship. For example, Engineer (power) could apply to any vehicle or building with a generator, battery, reactor, etc. Engineer (life support) could apply to ground HVAC systems as well, and so on. (I’ll admit I haven’t found a way to expand Engineer (jump) beyond jump drives...). Now there’s a much wider variety of things they could work on.
steve98052
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Re: DIY advanced tech starship upgrades

Postby steve98052 » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:30 pm

I would argue that there's no need to expand a necessary skill that's used regularly, but not in a dramatic way. For example, the jump engineer uses the skill a lot, when the ship is activating jump, and everyday maintenance, but it's background. Boring? Maybe. But not on that rare day when Something Dramatic happens to the jump drive.

Likewise, power plant engineer probably uses the skill every day, except off the ship on shore leave or an adventure. The skill applies almost exclusively to a starship fusion power plant, though it could be used for a planetside fusion power plant after a tour by the planetside plant's lead engineer or a deep dive into the technical manuals. But a fission power plant? Fuel cell? Internal combination? No, except for the crossover for the non-specialized engineering skill.

Want to talk about boring skills? How about spinal mount gunner for a character on a free trader? Heavy artillery in a non-military campaign? You might twist those into a campaign by having the free trader on a merchant marine mission transport a focusing assembly for a naval ship's meson gun, and then helping install it upon delivery. Or inspecting a load of surplus artillery to evaluate it as speculative trade merchandise. But other than that, those are background skills, side effects of random character generation.

But power plant engineer? Jump engineer? Every day, even if you rarely roll for it.
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Re: DIY advanced tech starship upgrades

Postby Condottiere » Sun Jan 28, 2018 1:00 pm

Manoeuvre drive and power plant would seem more like management by exception.

Jump drive would be a constant monitoring during the period of it's activation.

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