Prime Directive Traveller

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
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locarno24
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Postby locarno24 » Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:30 am

Agreed on ship combat. RPG ship combat rules have very different needs to a wargame - you'll be focusing on a single ship, you want to have that feel of detail (I suppose, like SFB) but above all you want to be focusing on the crew, not the ship, and you want to be able to do it in a meaningful way without a board or miniatures.

Mongoose Traveller does that very well because it's designed for that. A wargame quite justifiably won't care which of the ship's eight heavy phasers ensign Ricky is stationed at but an RPG should because (a) he's a slightly worse shot but more importantly b) he's me.

If Mongoose are producing both a Traveller book and an ACTA book I would heartilly recommend a 'guide to crossovers' chapter in one of them to allow big games to be played with the players in place - e.g.

"If a PC is on board, every level of the Leadership skill above 2 adds +1 to the ship's crew quality. Only one PC may add this bonus, no matter how many are aboard."

"If a PC is on board, every level of the Engineering skill above 2 adds +1 to the ship's speed. Only one PC may add this bonus, no matter how many are aboard."

etc, etc. Traveller is great for one-on-one duels, but this lets the players take part in big battles using ACTA if, and only if, you want to.


Also - ship combat is an outgrowth of ship design. The design is a good thing because people will want deck plans for this stuff!
Understand that I'm not advocating violence.
I'm just saying that it's highly effective and I strongly recommend using it.
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Postby Renny » Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:13 am

Scarecrow wrote:An excellent example of a fast and simple, miniature-less, character/bridge based starship combat system is RED ALERT for Savage Worlds by Mike Callahan.

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Postby captrooper » Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:27 am

Scarecrow wrote: I've mixed feelings about PD. On the one hand, I think it's better suited to gaming than 'proper' Trek rpgs because it's based around specialist away teams or 'Prime Teams' that can easily all be the same rank and can all be low rank aswell. So you don't get the old conundrum of who plays the Captain and why does he keep beaming into hostile situations?
On the negative side, it always felt a bit too 'HOO-AH! SIR, YES SIR!' militaristic, which doesn't really feel like touchy-feely Star Trek (even TOS wasn't that bad). I guess it's easy enough not to play it that way, though.
Only the 1st edition PD was specifically Prime Team centred - in the newer Gurps and D20 versions you can be bridge crew etc... A little more open. If your players are uncooperative you are back in that 'capatin says to...' situation though :)

------

To the other comments in the thread: I think that a version of Traveller starship combat would be an advantage over the extant PD versions. At the moment, for PD when it comes to ship combat I pull out ST:STCS and use that. The ADB options take far longer, and require more skill than most players will be willing to invest.

Ship design I can't see happening. Likewise planets. Not officially anyway.

The game won't be Traveller, it will be Prime Directive - and as such will have differences (I personally expect it to be standalone, not like the Judge Dredd system where you need the core rulebook, but that's just an opinion based on how I think ADB would want it). It will not appeal to all Traveller players. It is after all more of a niche game. An MgT version will get it out there more (as it will be carried by more vendors) and it will be more comfortable as a system than Gurps or D20 to players like me.
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Postby Scarecrow » Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:45 am

captrooper wrote:
Only the 1st edition PD was specifically Prime Team centred - in the newer Gurps and D20 versions you can be bridge crew etc... A little more open.
Interesting. I've not looked at the Gurps or D20 versions.
captrooper wrote: (I personally expect it to be standalone, not like the Judge Dredd system where you need the core rulebook, but that's just an opinion based on how I think ADB would want it).
Really? Weren't the GURPS and D20 standalones? Didn't they require the core rule book?

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Postby rust » Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:07 pm

Scarecrow wrote: Really? Weren't the GURPS and D20 standalones? Didn't they require the core rule book?
At least the current (4th edition) version of GURPS Prime Directive is a
standalone product, the GURPS core rulebooks are not required (but ra-
ther useful if one wants to move away from standard situations).
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Postby captrooper » Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:12 pm

Scarecrow wrote:
Really? Weren't the GURPS and D20 standalones? Didn't they require the core rule book?

Crow
D20 isn't, but GURPS (the latest version) is standalone. As I said it's an opinion, and it would make what is taken from the core rules and what isn't easier to manage. I'm not too worried if I'm wrong though, as I already have the core rules (and then some) :)

Of course, Mongoose my well want you to have the core rulebook (who can blame them for wanting to maximise sales).

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Postby captainquirk » Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:21 pm

Getting a sinking feeling about this...

The problem is that ADB doesn't really understand RPGs - hence their view that ship combat would be resolved using SFB, Fed Commander or Starmada, which no-one who really plays RPGs a lot would consider acceptable.

I don't want just a rehashed PD rulebook that loses all that is good about Traveller. If this doesn't have good Traveller style career development tables al la Mongoose, and a ship combat system akin to MGT then it's no sale to me. PD is a relatively niche product because it doesn't do what people really want from an RPG.

I can use the PD fluff that's already been published and make up my own "a phaser does 24D of damage" stuff. I wonder how much ADB is wiling to listen to the market rather than just repackaging the same old thing?
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Postby rust » Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:39 pm

captainquirk wrote: PD is a relatively niche product because it doesn't do what people really want from an RPG.
I have the impression that Steve Jackson Games shares your opinion, be-
cause I was unable to find a print version of the current edition of GURPS
Prime Directive, it seems it is only available as a PDF - which would nor-
mally mean that the publisher would not expect it to sell well enough to
pay for a printed version.
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Postby captrooper » Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:52 pm

rust wrote: I have the impression that Steve Jackson Games shares your opinion, be-
cause I was unable to find a print version of the current edition of GURPS
Prime Directive, it seems it is only available as a PDF - which would nor-
mally mean that the publisher would not expect it to sell well enough to
pay for a printed version.
Because SJG don't publish the GURPS:PD book, ADB do under license from Steve Jackson Games! It's also print on demand book. That is one of the reasons I think ADB pursued a relationship with Mongoose - if Mongoose publish the books/games they get carried by their distribution and can actually be bought places.

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Postby captainquirk » Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:04 pm

Which still won't do any good if the product is shoddy.
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Postby captrooper » Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:12 pm

captainquirk wrote:Which still won't do any good if the product is shoddy.
Agreed, but Mike West has already said that ship combat and stats are probable inclusions:
daryen wrote:However, providing a 'cinematic' combat resolution seems very reasonable. It is also understood the need for providing Traveller-esque statistics for SFU ships, even if they can't be outright designed from scratch. Hopefully, something can also be done around deckplans, too.

Just please keep in mind that this is all still early in the process, and it will take some time for things to take form.
It is going to be different from vanilla Traveller (and should be), but it seems to be taking the good bits to me. So world and ship design are not likely to be a part of it? No problem IMO, they are not needed for PD.

I maintain some excitement about this project!

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Postby Rikki Tikki Traveller » Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:31 pm

Actually, I think it might be pretty easy to convert the Traveller Ship Combat rules over to PDT.

The Maneuver Drive is the Impulse Drive and the Rating is SPEED instead of acceleration. Most people have a problem with the acceleration/speed thing anyway and this would eliminate vector movement. I would expand the TL that different ratings come in at a bit so that not every ship can be M6

The Warp Drive is already in the Core Book, just expand on it for various Tech Levels.

Phasers are Lasers (or Particle Beams or whatever)
Photon Torpedoes are Torpedoes (maybe a bit more powerful or something).

Drop Turrets and Spinal Mounts and just use Bay Weapons.

Deflector Shields are like Armor, but they have a FACE (use a hex face per shield) and after they absorb a certain amount of damage, they drop (and a PC has to regenerate them ASAP). Use any of your Shields (Nuclear Dampeners or Meson Screens) as the starting point for size etc.

All the rest can be left as is, or with just slight modifications.
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Postby Iron Domokun » Wed Jun 15, 2011 2:22 pm

Getting a sinking feeling about this...

The problem is that ADB doesn't really understand RPGs [rest of message snipped]
Steve Cole doesn't really understand RPGs, and freely admits this. That's why SVC has handed over most of the responsibility for the RPG line to others.

Jean Sexton is the RPG line editor, and over the past few years has done a huge amount of work with the line, including editing several books for GURPS, D20, and the conversion to D20 Modern. Those books have been successful (especially the D20M versions).

Mike West is doing the conversion, and he's a long term Traveller player and has even written some Traveller material, so he knows Traveller and what Traveller players expect. He's also very experienced as an SFU staffer.

I've interacted with both Jean and Mike for years as an SFU player and minor contributor to the SFU, and I know they'll both do everything they can to make Prime Directive Traveller the best game they can.

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Postby mechascorpio » Wed Jun 15, 2011 2:36 pm

Iron Domokun wrote:Mike West is doing the conversion, and he's a long term Traveller player and has even written some Traveller material, so he knows Traveller and what Traveller players expect. He's also very experienced as an SFU staffer.
I don't think we should take for granted that someone who said this:
daryen wrote:A combat system? Why? You have your choice of SFB, FC, Armada, and, soon enough, ACTA. Why would yet another combat system be needed?
...knows for certain "what Traveller players expect". But he's asking for feedback so that's a good sign. I'll remain open minded, but I've watched ADB ignore way too much feedback over the years about what would make the PD releases better roleplaying games (even with Jean as editor). So pardon me if I don't take your word that "the best game they can" will be as good as it should be.
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Postby IanBruntlett » Wed Jun 15, 2011 2:43 pm

daryen wrote:A combat system? Why? You have your choice of SFB, FC, Armada, and, soon enough, ACTA. Why would yet another combat system be needed?
Well, as many GMs can confirm, less is more.

By having the starship etc rules in the Core Rule book, it helps keep down the number of books I have to 1) carry to a game and 2) buy. I've only had one space battle. The PCs were off somewhere and they left jump space to emerge into a full blown battle. Within seconds the PC's ship was disabled, tumbling through space and left alone by both sides of the conflict. They survived.
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Postby MongooseMatt » Wed Jun 15, 2011 3:05 pm

Iron Domokun wrote: I know they'll both do everything they can to make Prime Directive Traveller the best game they can.
I have also just told Steve that I want to stick my oar in on this one, which will probably please Mike no end :) However, this is a game I have been wanting to play for a very long time now, and I am not going to miss the opportunity!
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Postby daryen » Wed Jun 15, 2011 3:31 pm

mechascorpio wrote:
daryen wrote:A combat system? Why? You have your choice of SFB, FC, Armada, and, soon enough, ACTA. Why would yet another combat system be needed?
...knows for certain "what Traveller players expect". But he's asking for feedback so that's a good sign. I'll remain open minded, but I've watched ADB ignore way too much feedback over the years about what would make the PD releases better roleplaying games (even with Jean as editor). So pardon me if I don't take your word that "the best game they can" will be as good as it should be.
Yes, I do know Traveller. I understand the need for being able to resolve space combat. A space combat system was needed for most version of Traveller because they had no alternative. Either the rulebook provided a space combat system, or you didn't have one.

Prime Directive Traveller is different. There are already three ways to resolve combat in the SFU (four if you count the simple F&E system), and there will be another with ACTA. That is quite different and fairly unique from anything that has happened with Traveller before.

That said, a 'cinematic' (i.e. map-less) combat system makes sense. I think that would be a good addition, and provide something in PDT that no other version of PD has. Given that is what is in MGT, just doing a 'conversion' process like RTT said could be a good solution.
msprange wrote:I have also just told Steve that I want to stick my oar in on this one, which will probably please Mike no end :) However, this is a game I have been wanting to play for a very long time now, and I am not going to miss the opportunity!
Dude, I have cast my stones and slung my arrows before. For me to expect any different now would be irrational and stupid. I am a grognard (having been told that in no uncertain terms before). To expect any less in return would be foolish.
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Postby captainquirk » Wed Jun 15, 2011 4:41 pm

The reason I say that ADB doesn't understand roleplaying games is that we aren't looking for a wargame. So frankly from an RPG perspective it doesn't matter at all that there is SFB, FC, Starmada or ACTA because none of them are relevant in the slightest for an RPG. And several of us have already stated this quite clearly. We don't want to play a wargame (and if the case of SFB an incredibly complex and time-consuming one) right in the middle of an RPG story.

What we DO want - and again, several of us have already said this - are mechanisms where it makes a difference what an individual RPG character is doing.

I don't care what happens in an SFB simulation of starship combat. I gave up on SFB years ago when it became a suffocating beast. What I do care about is whether MY character can hit that Klingon as he closes. Because of MY character's RPG skill rating in phaser operations or whatever the skill is.

SFB and FC and Starmada have no room whatsoever for player character skills to make a difference. Not sure about ACTA: SFU since it doesn't exist as yet.

It's not a question of not having an alternative. It's having a starship combat system where the player characters make a difference. Sometimes all of the difference. They are the heroes, after all.

And I honestly think that if you ignore this and just churn out yet another cut and paste same old version of PD then you will lose most of the market which could have been yours with Traveller.
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Postby AKAmra » Wed Jun 15, 2011 4:54 pm

Matt - I'm glad to see that Mongoose is going to be directly involved and not just serving as a publisher on this, I think it will benefit the final product.

Daryen - Yes, a "map-less" starship combat system is what I meant, like the one in the core Traveller book; I wish I would have thought of putting it that way.

I can understand the reluctance to create yet another mapped, tactical game and agree that it's not needed.
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Postby mechascorpio » Wed Jun 15, 2011 4:54 pm

msprange wrote: I have also just told Steve that I want to stick my oar in on this one, which will probably please Mike no end :) However, this is a game I have been wanting to play for a very long time now, and I am not going to miss the opportunity!
I'm really pleased and a bit relieved to hear this, Matt, thanks. I think your perspective will be hugely valuable.

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