Hazards of frontier refuelling

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phavoc
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Hazards of frontier refuelling

Postby phavoc » Thu Aug 08, 2019 7:25 pm

This CNN article mentions some of the weather conditions that a ship trying to enter and refuel in the atmosphere of a gas giant might encounter, let alone those brave souls looking to go down further and hide in the murky depths.

Tiny craft like free traders and scout ships would be tossed around by 400mph winds. Pilots would have to make rolls to retain control as the gusts struck them, though with internal gravity they might not feel the effects (though one has to wonder the limit of such an internal sump).

https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/08/world/hu ... index.html
ShawnDriscoll
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Re: Hazards of frontier refuelling

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Thu Aug 08, 2019 11:32 pm

I've always just used pilot skill to avoid hazards.
Old School
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Re: Hazards of frontier refuelling

Postby Old School » Thu Aug 08, 2019 11:37 pm

The Traveller Companion has rules on this, although they don’t appear to have been play tested. One would need to be suicidal to try to skim in a free trader. Make the skill rolls significantly easier, and the rules are viable.
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Re: Hazards of frontier refuelling

Postby Reynard » Fri Aug 09, 2019 12:08 am

Slap some aerofins on and going Deep is far less a problem. I assume a lot of vessels stay in the higher layers and avoid atmospheric problems by taking more time to scoop.
phavoc
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Re: Hazards of frontier refuelling

Postby phavoc » Fri Aug 09, 2019 4:44 am

Aerofins would provide no protection from storms of this magnitude. If anything, having more control surfaces would increase instability in certain cases.

Aero control surfaces are subject to stress like any other object. To be effective they have to be thin and aerodynamic, which means they would be vulnerable to being snapped off in certain situations. If you made them armored and thick like the hull then they could no longer perform their function.
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Re: Hazards of frontier refuelling

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Fri Aug 09, 2019 4:50 am

Not if they're TL15.
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Re: Hazards of frontier refuelling

Postby Condottiere » Fri Aug 09, 2019 7:35 am

Streamlined, aerofins, pilot skill, gravitational motors, and fly by wire.
Linwood
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Re: Hazards of frontier refuelling

Postby Linwood » Fri Aug 09, 2019 9:31 am

Intuitively I would think scooping fuel would go better if the ship stays in less turbulent parts of the atmosphere. Feels like the more turbulence you have the less efficient the scoops will be at collecting the gases you need.
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Re: Hazards of frontier refuelling

Postby Reynard » Fri Aug 09, 2019 10:48 am

As long as you have extra time you can play it safe. Refueling the Shallows of a gas giant takes twice as long and imposes only a -1 penalty to Piloting while using the Extreme Shallows is ten times normal time and no penalty as compared to using the Deep at normal time and -2 penalty. Aerofins add +2 to the task and I see nothing that says they'll get torn off any more than other external features unless you're riding the Extreme Deep. If you're down there, you are expecting Bad Things and went prepared.
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Re: Hazards of frontier refuelling

Postby Moppy » Fri Aug 09, 2019 11:29 am

phavoc wrote:
Fri Aug 09, 2019 4:44 am
Aero control surfaces are subject to stress like any other object. To be effective they have to be thin and aerodynamic, which means they would be vulnerable to being snapped off in certain situations. If you made them armored and thick like the hull then they could no longer perform their function.
Sorry but I disageee strongly. Ailerons on a jetliner look like they're about 5cm (2") thick, which is thicker than hull on some armored vehicles.

edit: Haven't measured it personally but I've walked around aircraft before.

edit: OK, photo time. Apart from the very tip, it's well over 5cm (2") and it still flies even if the edge breaks off. They can break (there was the airbuses that lost rudders) but they're much thicker and stronger than you probably think they are.

Image
Old School
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Re: Hazards of frontier refuelling

Postby Old School » Fri Aug 09, 2019 3:07 pm

Reynard wrote:
Fri Aug 09, 2019 10:48 am
As long as you have extra time you can play it safe. Refueling the Shallows of a gas giant takes twice as long and imposes only a -1 penalty to Piloting while using the Extreme Shallows is ten times normal time and no penalty as compared to using the Deep at normal time and -2 penalty. Aerofins add +2 to the task and I see nothing that says they'll get torn off any more than other external features unless you're riding the Extreme Deep. If you're down there, you are expecting Bad Things and went prepared.
You can make it less suicidal, but you can’t play it safe. The RAW are punitive, especially for large ships.

Even refueling in the extreme shallows, which takes a full day for jump-2 fuel, requires two pilot checks.

Getting to the shallows and back out again requires 4 pilot checks, two of which are at a -1 penalty. (Assuming you can enter the wisp layer with no check, which isn‘t made clear but makes sense to me). Fail any one of those, and you have to pass a difficult pilot check to avoid damage (you also have to repeat the failed roll, because you’re still stuck in the level you were trying to leave). Even with a skilled pilot, ship damage is going to occur regularly in gas giant operations. A damage roll of 8 causes a critical hit on a free trader. Test it out a couple of times and see how safe it is.

Lets say you’re a Pilot with a skill level of 2 and a dex bonus of +1. So a total of +3. Seems reasonable for your average tramp pilot. That means a passing roll on your four skill checks is: 5, 6, 6, 5. You will pass all four of those rolls less than half the time. Fail one of the 5s, and you now have to roll a 7 to avoid 2D damage. Fail one of the 6s, and you need to roll an 8 to avoid 3D damage. 3D damage is likely a critical hit on a 200 ton ship.

I suppose if you want to be generous you could use the extra time rule to give a DM+2, although time to switch layers isn’t specified. That would lower your odds of failing one of the rolls to about 20% and lowers the odds of damage even more, but it still seems an unacceptable risk.

Aerofins would be a must, but impose a huge space penalty, limiting the ability of a trader to be profitable, and J4 warships don’t have room for them. Big warships can shrug off the damage, but for small ships, skimming is a bad deal.
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Re: Hazards of frontier refuelling

Postby Moppy » Fri Aug 09, 2019 4:29 pm

In mongoose there would be a computer pilot assist modifier as well. I don't remember what the computer numbers are but i think the computer in the free trader can fit that program.

To borrow from Pathfinder, if you feel it is routine you might allow players to "take 7" on a 2d.

Traveller is one of those games where almost nothing in the rules works like the lore says.
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Re: Hazards of frontier refuelling

Postby Old School » Fri Aug 09, 2019 5:31 pm

Moppy wrote:
Fri Aug 09, 2019 4:29 pm
In mongoose there would be a computer pilot assist modifier as well.
Afraid not, unless you’re making a house rule. A computer “expert” program can give a +1 to a skilled traveller, but not for piloting, as pilot checks are DEX based. This works for astrogation, but not pilot checks.

A free trader could only use Virtual Crew/0 to pilot the ship. Anything more exceeds its bandwidth. Virtual Crew replaces the crewmember. It does not give a DM to a crew member attempting the task.

Making the task Routine (6+) rather than Average (8+) makes a lot of sense here. Perhaps also adding a DM for a ship with a higher thrust rating as well.
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Re: Hazards of frontier refuelling

Postby SSWarlock » Fri Aug 09, 2019 7:12 pm

Ships taking part in gas giant skimming will also need to take into account the radiation in said gas giant's magnetic field. However, this isn't that difficult to do, as an article on the Popular Science website discusses (see following link).

www.popsci.com/how-juno-spacecraft-will ... radiation/
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Re: Hazards of frontier refuelling

Postby Moppy » Fri Aug 09, 2019 7:30 pm

Computer assistance should work on ship piloting and shooting. If not you have to delete the Evade (piloting, dex) and Advanced Fire Control (gunnery, dex) computer programs. But by the letter of the rules you are correct. I just never noticed because I assumed it had to, due to the above programs.

I wonder if the reason they don't make errata is that the whole book would fall apart? :-) One of the SCP is where they get a researcher to chronologically order their database, but they've had so many reality shifts, that by fixing events n time she causes the timeline to unravel.

If it's anything like real life, making a ship do a manevuer it's not supposed to requires a combination of pilot and engineer. That's one of the things I like about Star Trek. Their crazy maneuvers require the engineer to reverse the polarity of the klystron generator at exactly the right moment.
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Re: Hazards of frontier refuelling

Postby AnotherDilbert » Fri Aug 09, 2019 8:20 pm

Old School wrote: Afraid not, unless you’re making a house rule. A computer “expert” program can give a +1 to a skilled traveller, but not for piloting, as pilot checks are DEX based. This works for astrogation, but not pilot checks.
Expert software can explicitly pilot a ship (Core, p155, Automated Duties).

I interpret the limitation to INT and EDU tasks only to apply to unskilled tasks, not augmented tasks. A trivial example would be the guide-lines in a reversing camera, it will not allow unskilled operation of a vehicle but will aid a normal driver with a DEX-skill.

Old School wrote: A free trader could only use Virtual Crew/0 to pilot the ship. Anything more exceeds its bandwidth.
A Free Trader can both afford and manage to run Intellect + Expert/3, giving an effective skill of Pilot-2.
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Re: Hazards of frontier refuelling

Postby steelbrok » Fri Aug 09, 2019 8:56 pm

I used to do a random roll for gas giants, if they were too big then the radiation belts generally precluded frontier refuelling.
Old School
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Re: Hazards of frontier refuelling

Postby Old School » Fri Aug 09, 2019 9:28 pm

AnotherDilbert wrote:
Fri Aug 09, 2019 8:20 pm
Expert software can explicitly pilot a ship (Core, p155, Automated Duties).

I interpret the limitation to INT and EDU tasks only to apply to unskilled tasks, not augmented tasks. A trivial example would be the guide-lines in a reversing camera, it will not allow unskilled operation of a vehicle but will aid a normal driver with a DEX-skill.

A Free Trader can both afford and manage to run Intellect + Expert/3, giving an effective skill of Pilot-2.
p. 155 is directly contradicted by P. 106, which states that Only INT and EDU-based checks can be attempted. I can envision a scenario where an INT based pilot check is made, but normal operation is DEX based. Core is also followed by High Guard, which introduces separate (and much more expensive, in both bandwidth and credits) virtual crew software for piloting, gunnery, and sensor ops (but not engineering). Your house rule for allowing expert software to augment DEX based tasks but not perform them unskilled is reasonable, but this goes against your next sentence that you would allow Expert 3 to fly the ship.
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Re: Hazards of frontier refuelling

Postby Old School » Fri Aug 09, 2019 9:28 pm

AnotherDilbert wrote:
Fri Aug 09, 2019 8:20 pm
Expert software can explicitly pilot a ship (Core, p155, Automated Duties).

I interpret the limitation to INT and EDU tasks only to apply to unskilled tasks, not augmented tasks. A trivial example would be the guide-lines in a reversing camera, it will not allow unskilled operation of a vehicle but will aid a normal driver with a DEX-skill.

A Free Trader can both afford and manage to run Intellect + Expert/3, giving an effective skill of Pilot-2.
p. 155 is directly contradicted by P. 106, which states that Only INT and EDU-based checks can be attempted. I can envision a scenario where an INT based pilot check is made, but normal operation is DEX based. Core is also followed by High Guard, which introduces separate (and much more expensive, in both bandwidth and credits) virtual crew software for piloting, gunnery, and sensor ops (but not engineering). Your house rule for allowing expert software to augment DEX based tasks but not perform them unskilled is reasonable, but this goes against your next sentence that you would allow Expert 3 to fly the ship.
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Re: Hazards of frontier refuelling

Postby Old School » Fri Aug 09, 2019 9:38 pm

Moppy wrote:
Fri Aug 09, 2019 7:30 pm
Computer assistance should work on ship piloting and shooting. If not you have to delete the Evade (piloting, dex) and Advanced Fire Control (gunnery, dex) computer programs. But by the letter of the rules you are correct. I just never noticed because I assumed it had to, due to the above programs.
One thing to remember is that Evade and Advanced Fire Control are much more expensive and bandwidth intensive than your standard Expert Packages. They also require higher tech levels. Same for Virtual Crew, which allows for automated Piloting (but not assisting a skilled pilot 😁). Given the we’re talking about operating a spaceship, I’m good with that. So they are kinda like expert programs, but not entirely.

There’s also a rule for Aslan ships that Fire Control can assist the gunner, but not replace a gunner. Because that’s just how Aslan roll.

Keep in mind as you decide how you want to interpret these rules for your game, the easier and cheaper you make it for computers to do the work, the less your characters matter. That often detracts from gameplay, even if it seems more realistic.

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