The Mercenary Kickstarter is Now Live!

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The Mercenary Kickstarter is Now Live!

Postby MongooseMatt » Fri Feb 05, 2021 10:34 am

The Mercenary Kickstarter is now live!

You can join in on the fun right here:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/19 ... far-future

Across Charted Space and throughout other universes, mercenaries are recruited to fight the wars of others, taking great risks to gain great rewards.

With the Mercenary box set, you will be able to have your Travellers recruit and equip their own mercenary unit, from a single squad to a massive battalion, and take on the most lucrative contracts as they fight their way across the stars. Your mercenaries will be able to pick up tickets that will see them engage in counterinsurgencies, strike operations, train resistance fighters in the wilds, police unruly populations, and take on the heaviest warfighting jobs available.

Everything is provided in the set for you to do this, from the initial creation of the mercenary unit to the building of tickets for your Travellers to attempt, with specialised units and equipment enhance a unit's capabilities, and enough adventuring material to kickstart any new campaign.

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Re: The Mercenary Kickstarter is Now Live!

Postby RogerMc » Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:03 pm

a) Great!

b) I do however teally wish you could work out a way to reduce the pdf only level price as £45 is for me (and I know not everyone is on a restricted income so I do mean just me) such a steep entry point that I will have to wait to see how many of the stretch goals are reached before committing

Which is of course a bit of a prisoners dilemma as if we all did that then there would be no stretch goals reached...

c) Thank you so much for putting up book 1 as a freebie.

Speaking of that draft I do have a couple of potential errata:

There is of course no 2nd Lieutenant rank in Mongoose Traveller 2nd ed (although there was IIRC one in 1st edition Mercenary with its extended rank tables) and yet that non-existent rank is referred to multiple times.

This is not a problem for me as in my Traveller 2nd Lt is officer rank 0 (Cadet is not really a rank but the title held by academy students until they receive a commission) and I suggest Martin considers either doing that or revisiting the table and revising the rank slots.

I'd also point out that squads in current day armies are generally 8-12 soldiers made up of 2 or 3 fire or heavy weapon teams and are typically led by a sergeant - in the current US army by a staff sergeant of NATO-6 grade (which would equate to an E4 in MGT2).

Plus 'lance' has AFAIK not been used as a military unit title since the 16th century and the current equivalent for the smallest armoured unit of more than one vehicle is typically 'section'.

(see: https://fas.org/man/dod-101/army/unit/toe/index.html and https://www.army.mil/ranks/ for more on US army ranks and structures)

FWIW My suggestion based on current armies would therefore be:

Fire/Weapon Team: 2-4 soldiers led by a Trav E2
Squad: 2 fire and one weapon team or one AFV or artillery piece led by a E3
Section: 2 squads or 2 AFVs/guns led by an E4
Platoon: 2-3 sections or 3-5 squads plus an HQ commanded by a O0 or O1 with an E5 as senior NCO
Company: 3 or 4 platoons plus an HQ commanded by an 02 or O3 with an E6 as senior NCO
Battalion: 3 to 5 companies plus an HQ and support units commanded by an O3 or O4
Regiment: 2-5 battalions plus an HQ and support units commanded by an O5
Brigade: 2 regiments or 3-5 battalions plus an HQ and support units commanded by an O6.

It also needs to be stressed that mercenary units do not have to follow standard regular army organisation and can be either officer-light or officer heavy depending on the mission and unit culture.

Also organisation charts help a lot!
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Re: The Mercenary Kickstarter is Now Live!

Postby MongooseMatt » Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:09 pm

All noted, and all on the cards to review.

You note that merc units have the option to be very different - we also don't want to lean massively on what modern forces 'should' look like, as we are assuming a rough TL12 as average, and equipment at that level is going to have a powerful effect on organisation.

But, we want to hear everything!
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Re: The Mercenary Kickstarter is Now Live!

Postby Geir » Fri Feb 05, 2021 5:19 pm

I was going to try to be first one or in the first ten to back this but at GMT +8 I fell asleep to awaken with it already backed.
Will try to read through the first book a bit this weekend, but I also noticed the squad size as being smallish too. (though on RogerMc's note, Lance Corporal is still used by the USMC, among others... lance sergeant on the other hand, not so sure if it still exists)
If you're going to have your own mercenary unit, it can be fun to invent your own ranks and structure, which might help elan (morale?), but it's also liable to confuse veterans and increase the fog of war.
And "Second Swindonian Rifles"... makes me wonder what happened to the first one...
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Re: The Mercenary Kickstarter is Now Live!

Postby Condottiere » Fri Feb 05, 2021 9:48 pm

Flavourwise, hard to go wrong with Pournelle, pre Stirling.

There are any number of reason why unit numbers are preserved out of order or no longer utilized.

For The Romans it tends to be the loss of the Eagle and the circumstances thereof, despite later recovery. For the French, it was mutiny.
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Re: The Mercenary Kickstarter is Now Live!

Postby RogerMc » Sat Feb 06, 2021 10:54 pm

I was referring to the draft book having 'lance' as a unit name rather than to the rank.

A lance was in the late middle ages the basic military unit consisting of one knight or man-at-arms and his entourage which generally included one or more archers, squires, pages and so on.

However the lance as a unit ended with the disappearance of the feudal man at arms and his retinue from the battlefield in the 16th century - although it may have a certain redolence in mercenary history as the condottas or contracts signed with Italian mercenary captains or Condottieri of that era generally specified how many lances the captain would bring to the field.

The modern NCO ranks seemingly however have nothing to do with that archaic unit name but seemingly originated from the need to give ordinary cavalry troopers a higher rank than an infantry private.

As for Lance-Corporal it is also a British and Commonwealth army rank as well as a USMC one and the US Army equivalent would be PFC.

'Lance Sergeant' however has not been a rank in the US since 1903 and not a rank in the British and Commonwealth armies since 1946

How it got into Traveller in the first place and has hung on all these years while other weirdnesses of Classic Traveller like the original Marine ranks of Ensign and Force Commander have disappeared is therefore a bit of a mystery.

But of course there is no reason why the armies of the 56th century should have exactly the same rank structure as those of the 21st and I rather doubt that the the Galanglic words for Sergeant, Captain haven't significantly mutated or been replaced with the odd Vilani or Sylean or whatnot rank over all those centuries.

And of course every army will have its own rank structure - although there would obviously be a standard table collating ranks and some sort of standard stripe, pip and star insignia system just as NATO currently has so that the Antisminarchos from Greekworld who turns up in your trench shouting at you could be instantly understood to be an Imperial O4 and equivalent to a Lt Col.
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Re: The Mercenary Kickstarter is Now Live!

Postby RogerMc » Sat Feb 06, 2021 10:54 pm

I was referring to the draft book having 'lance' as a unit name rather than to the rank.

A lance was in the late middle ages the basic military unit consisting of one knight or man-at-arms and his entourage which generally included one or more archers, squires, pages and so on.

However the lance as a unit ended with the disappearance of the feudal man at arms and his retinue from the battlefield in the 16th century - although it may have a certain redolence in mercenary history as the condottas or contracts signed with Italian mercenary captains or Condottieri of that era generally specified how many lances the captain would bring to the field.

The modern NCO ranks seemingly however have nothing to do with that archaic unit name but seemingly originated from the need to give ordinary cavalry troopers a higher rank than an infantry private.

As for Lance-Corporal it is also a British and Commonwealth army rank as well as a USMC one and the US Army equivalent would be PFC.

'Lance Sergeant' however has not been a rank in the US since 1903 and not a rank in the British and Commonwealth armies since 1946

How it got into Traveller in the first place and has hung on all these years while other weirdnesses of Classic Traveller like the original Marine ranks of Ensign and Force Commander have disappeared is therefore a bit of a mystery.

But of course there is no reason why the armies of the 56th century should have exactly the same rank structure as those of the 21st and I rather doubt that the the Galanglic words for Sergeant, Captain etc haven't significantly mutated or been replaced with the odd Vilani or Sylean or whatnot rank over all those centuries.

And of course every army will have its own rank structure - although there would obviously be a standard table collating ranks and some sort of standard stripe, pip and star insignia system just as NATO currently has so that the Antisminarchos from Greekworld who turns up in your trench shouting at you could be instantly understood to be an Imperial O4 and equivalent to a Lt Col.
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Re: The Mercenary Kickstarter is Now Live!

Postby Being » Sun Feb 07, 2021 6:56 pm

There are still Lance Sergeants in the British Army. The Foot Guards and the Honourable Artillery Company still use the rank.
British & Commonwealth NCOs are usually given more responsibility than equivalent ranks in other armies. In the Infantry, Corporals lead Rifle "Squads" (2 Fire Teams) which are called sections.
A Corporal in the teeth arms is respected rank and will have usually earned the rank by merit and have had to pass a demanding tactical/leadership course.
A Lance Corporal will be an experienced soldier earmarked for promotion and awaiting a place on a JNCOs course. He leads a Fire Team in an Infantry unit.
A Rifle Platoon will only have 1 Sgt, 3 Cpls and 3-4 LCpl's. No other NCOs.
Remf units have more NCOs as the rank is often awarded with trade qualifications and NCO courses in these units are not as demanding as those in the teeth arms.
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Re: The Mercenary Kickstarter is Now Live!

Postby Condottiere » Sun Feb 07, 2021 11:07 pm

Leaving aside BattleTech and MechWarrior.

The modern connotation is that of a non commissioned officer leading a sub unit, essentially enhancing the span of command, and I rather suspect this is rather deeply embedded in unit type traditions, like cavalry regiments using corporal in preference to sergeant, due to their etymology.

My suggestion, as in most things, just be consistent when creating military hierarchy.
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Re: The Mercenary Kickstarter is Now Live!

Postby RogerMc » Mon Feb 08, 2021 3:30 am

The foot guards and honourable artillery company still have lance sergeants - I rest my case...

It is a good point that the British give more responsibility to lower ranked NCOs than the Americans - part of which is down to our only having having the four (or six counting warrant officers) non commissioned ranks to the American dozen or more.

What is interesting about those US Army tables of organisation and equipment I linked to is that even the lowest ranked member of a rifle fire team or vehicle or gun crew is now expected to be an E3 (PFC or in UK terms a lance corporal) rather than a E1.

And OTOH British officers now tend to have less responsibility than their US equivalents - for instance US companies continue to be mostly commanded by captains while in the British army they are mostly now led by majors (while in the RAF flights are now led by squadron leaders, squadrons by wing commanders and wings by group captains...).

On real thinking about future military https://warontherocks.com/2021/02/kill- ... ttlefield/ on the current day French theorist General Guy Hubin is fascinating:
Hubin’s vision is not dissimilar from Training and Doctrine Command’s insistence that there be “flexible command relationships” that “allow for the rapid reallocation of multi-domain capabilities and formations across functional components and echelons to achieve convergence.” Training and Doctrine Command wants to “allow the creation of favorable force ratios through rapid task organizations [economy of means] and re-organization of reinforcing fires and capabilities among echelons.” Naturally, multi-domain operations requires a more horizontal flow of information and more flexible lines of communication. Hubin, however, wants to go further. Hubin wants to break the rigidity both of the shapes of army units and of their physical relationship with one another, more specifically their homothetic relationship relative to a fix point, and, likewise, the fixed area within which each echelon operates. Armies will need to be able to adjust who is subordinate to whom, create or suppress levels of responsibility, and permanently adapt the size and maneuver space of a given echelon. The “rectilinear shapes” of brigades and battalions are “inherently constraining” and no longer necessary, so armies had best be willing to back away from them. Everything must be fluid. The only predefined structure that will remain, he writes, is the platoon, the artillery piece, and the “engineering group.” Sometimes, several of these will be grouped together. Likewise, subordination will have to be flexible. One will see an armored unit engage under the orders of one commander but then pass under the command of another six hours later and end up under the orders of a third the next day.

One of the problems Hubin sees with the homothetic system is that, to a considerable degree, the commanders at the division, regiment, and company level are responsible for the same tasks of “conception,” “conduct,” and “execution.” This already has become problematic. Division-level commanders have little to do with the conduct of operations, and company-level commanders are too busy to do anything beyond execution, and, more often than not, they have to rely on instinct. Most interesting is the fate of the captain, which Hubin aligns with the “group” level, meaning the battalion-level combined arms tactical group. “The group conceives in haste and can only conduct,” Hubin writes, “which means to organize, coordinate, and articulate the means in space and time and monitor the coherence of the action.” But now that warfare is becoming more decentralized, and combat is increasingly the affair of small echelons, the system is losing all of its coherence. There needs to be a new division of labor, one that has nothing to do with the legacy hierarchy of the homothetic system, i.e., divisions/brigades, regiments, and companies, and is built entirely around the functions of conception, conduct, and execution.
Taken another 35 centuries forward the TL15 Army or Marine squad would have the destructive capabilities of a much larger TL7 unit (including the ability to call in orbital strikes or to be whisked away hundreds of kms in their own grav apc) and so there would be a strong case for making every echelon of organisation smaller and leaner.

And are you really going to trust your marine squad with the capability of burning down a small city to a mere corporal in his second term because that is how WW2 armies were organised?

Plus of course Traveller character generation produces vastly more officers than any real life army anyway and there is no fun playing an RPG where you have to sit jacked into a battle computer in your command centre because that is what a TL12 army colonel would actually need to do to deal with the massive amount of information a hi-tech battlefield would generate.

So the higher the TL, the smaller the unit and the more senior NCOs and officers...
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Re: The Mercenary Kickstarter is Now Live!

Postby MongooseMatt » Mon Feb 08, 2021 11:51 am

The Mercenary Kickstarter for Traveller has got off to a cracking start! Fully funded within 4 1/2 hours, three stretch goals have already fallen.

Backers will now receive, along with the main box set, two standalone Mercenary Adventures, plus the Field Catalogue - a hardback book that not only contains lots of new equipment and vehicles sold to mercenary units but also a weapon design and customisation system that will allow you to tailor your mercenaries to specific roles.

We have lots of new previews on the way, so swing by and see what the latest news is!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/19 ... far-future

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Re: The Mercenary Kickstarter is Now Live!

Postby Condottiere » Mon Feb 08, 2021 1:58 pm

Classical battalion structure was lieutenant colonel, major and eight captains, each nominally commanding hundred men companies, though in the field you could half that.

I always got the impression, at least in modern times, for the British it's a question of rank inflation and pay grades, because command slots became fewer, the obvious case of having more admirals than warships in the Royal Navy, compared to the the Wehrmacht, where a senior non commissioned officer can lead a platoon.

Which is probably what inspired the Sword Worlds model.
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Re: The Mercenary Kickstarter is Now Live!

Postby Condottiere » Mon Feb 08, 2021 2:01 pm

Or maybe it's two majors, one for each wing.
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Re: The Mercenary Kickstarter is Now Live!

Postby Ursus Maior » Mon Feb 08, 2021 5:16 pm

Condottiere wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 1:58 pm
I always got the impression, at least in modern times, for the British it's a question of rank inflation and pay grades, because command slots became fewer, the obvious case of having more admirals than warships in the Royal Navy, compared to the the Wehrmacht, where a senior non commissioned officer can lead a platoon.
A lot of that has to do with the professionalization of armed forces. When I served in the German Bundeswehr often an Unteroffizier (OR-5) led a squad ("Gruppe") in lieu of a Feldwebel (OR-6). Consequently a Hauptfeldwebel (OR-7) usually led a platoon, back then mostly made up of conscripts. Now, without conscripts and relying solely on professional soldiers or at least volunteers, the Unteroffizier has stepped back to where NATO armies usually put their OR-5 ranked soldiers: they now lead fire-teams ("Trupp"), leaving Feldwebel ("segeants") to lead squads. The most senior NCOs still can lead platoons, but it has become a job for later in the career. Also, platoons are not longer filled with OR-3 Hauptgefreite (PFC), but many soldiers will be OR-4 Stabsgefreite, Oberstabsgefreite or - starting in autumn - Korporal and Stabskorporal. Because yes, what the Bundeswehr apparently needs is a rank called "corporal" or "staff corporal" that is in fact not a NCO, but the most senior enlisted rank in all of NATO.

But what to offer professional soldiers other than career and paycheck options? It's simple as that.
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Re: The Mercenary Kickstarter is Now Live!

Postby Sigtrygg » Tue Feb 09, 2021 10:44 am

It's a slow day here in lockdown Britain so I just took a look at the four Mongoose Traveller kickstarter campaigns I have backed, these numbers are rounded approximates:
DNR 1200 bkr, £111,000
GR 1130 bkr. £113,000
JTAS 900 bkr, £64,000
ECC 561 bkr, £43,000
avg 950 bkr, £83,000

Merc appears to be doing well...
but it is noticeable that the adventure/campaign packs do so much better
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Re: The Mercenary Kickstarter is Now Live!

Postby MongooseMatt » Tue Feb 09, 2021 10:38 pm

Interesting analysis.

A few comments though. First, JTAS was a 'little' Kickstarter and was never going to rank among the heavyweights. Element Cruisers was a bit left field and, with hindsight, should have been pushed as a bridge crew campaign set rather than a deck plans set.

We have always thought the key to the Deepnight and Great Rift projects were the fact that they centred on deep space exploration.

As for Mercenary, it had an _extremely_ quick uptake, and there are still 25 days to go...
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Re: The Mercenary Kickstarter is Now Live!

Postby RogerMc » Wed Feb 10, 2021 2:19 am

The British army currently has over 200 generals for under 80,000 troops - a ratio of 1:400 and has 13,000 officers to just 66,000 other ranks or 1:5.

As for NCO's there are 18,000 Sergeants and warrant officers and 22,000 corporals and lance corporals to just 25,000 actual privates - and that is with fewer NCO rank slots than the US Army.

We haven't quite got to the state of the French ancien regime military yet where 1/3 of the army were officers and there were more admirals than ships but with these trends we'll get there.

EDIT: The Royal Navy already has more admirals (41) than major surface ships and submarines (34) and more admirals and commodores (126) than commissioned vessels of any size at all (84) meaning you could put a commodore on every minesweeper and patrol boat and still have the 41 admirals to spare...

And I can't see why the labour market forces that drive this rank inflation (evidently you can't just increase pay rates for every grade but can fiddle with TOEs to increase the grades required for posts and then promote people into them to pay them more) wouldn't still apply in the 56th century - even more so as presumably in a post-scarcity society there is not the huge pool of unemployed labour living in poverty or the lack of general welfare services that currently makes the military an attractive or the only career choice for many.

So maybe Traveller with its high commission chance and rapid promotion is not that unrealistic after all.
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Re: The Mercenary Kickstarter is Now Live!

Postby Ursus Maior » Wed Feb 10, 2021 3:00 pm

I feel your pain when it comes to flag officers, it certainly is a bewildering development. Given the many departments and offices modern navies have, this might be the cause. The Imperial Navy might be a similar case, especially since it is strongly intertwined with Imperial nobility. That is never a positive factor for leanness.
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Re: The Mercenary Kickstarter is Now Live!

Postby Condottiere » Wed Feb 10, 2021 6:36 pm

I'd say the actual issue is that the all branches of the British military have fallen below critical mass, which is where the tank crisis came in as well.

In actuality, the Imperium probably has more qualified volunteers than it knows what to do with, because you can bet in lieu of the clergy, the aristocratic second and third sons (and now daughters) will be clamouring for positions in the military, bureaucracy and/or diplomatic arms.
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Re: The Mercenary Kickstarter is Now Live!

Postby RogerMc » Sat Feb 13, 2021 5:35 am

I agree the British army (and even more so Navy and air force) have fallen below some sort of critical mass threshold.

However just looked at the US Army rank breakdown which for generals is rather less silly (1:1400 personnel rather than 1:400) but pretty similar as regards officers to enlisted men (1:5 compared to 1:4).

But both armies are quite effective with a rank structure that would make a nineteenth century general rub his eyes with amazement and so it is anachronistic to assume that the 2021 army is abnormal and that the 1821 or 1941 army should be the norm.

This may just be what the rank structure of a high end L7 army is.

And I suspect less technologically focused armies (the PLA or Indian armies for instance?) might have lower rations of officers to men?

But clearly there is a trend to more ranks and more officers and NCOs (and warrant officers which no version of Traveller ever addresses) as TL's rise.

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