Prime Directive Traveller

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
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daryen
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Postby daryen » Wed Jun 15, 2011 4:56 pm

You did read my last post, right?

Let me be more definitive. The cinematic map-less combat system included in the MGT core book looks eminently usable. The details will all be different, but the mechanics should be the same. Quite frankly, I don't see an issue here.

Also, in addition, there will probably be a section on how individual player skills can affect combat in the board game, if one so chooses.
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Postby dreamingbadger » Wed Jun 15, 2011 5:17 pm

daryen wrote: 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.
Hi Mike,
I recognised your Avatar so hoped this was you. Glad you recgonise the value of a "cinematic" combat system, and ideally one that facilitaies the particpation of many players, so that they don't get bored in the process of combat. I'm not sure it needs to be "mapless",indeed some mechanism for visualisation is helpful,as it is with ground combat, but it does need to be particpatory.
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Postby captainquirk » Wed Jun 15, 2011 5:33 pm

Hi Mike,

Yes, I read it. But you were still talking about the existing board games too. So I wanted to be definitive also.

Somewhat reassured!
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Postby SteveCole » Wed Jun 15, 2011 5:51 pm

Hello to you all.
I’m the President of ADB, Inc., and owner of most of the stock. I designed SFB, F&E, FC, SFBF, and other games. I am NOT an RPG player but I have expert RPG people working for me, and they guide company decisions on those product lines. I haven’t overuled Jean Sexton (our RPG manager) on anything, not in a very long time. (I am a registered engineer. I don’t tell my lawyer or my doctor how to do their jobs, and they don’t tell me how to build bridges. It works for us.)
===
I have seen a lot of excitement here, a lot of guessing, a lot of bad (mostly old or obsolete) information, and a lot of questions. I will try to convey some information and answer some questions, but I have to say that most of the answers are "We are looking into that and really, sincerely, appreciate your input."
====
Nerroth is Gary Carney, a friend and customer, but he’s not a company spokesperson and his views of what products ADB, Inc., does and should do are somewhat… unique.
====
The earliest you might see the first book is Christmas, and that's not a promise.
====
Will there be room in the PD Traveller core book for the species in GPD4e but not in PD20M, such as the Veltressai and Rovillians; or is it too soon to tell?
ANSWER: It is way too soon to tell. They were in the GURPS book and left out of the PD20M book because the PD20M books (even requiring you to use a separate book) are much longer than GURPs.
At this point, it’s not even certain that the Core PDT book will follow the pattern of the GURPS core book. It may be totally different. (I had always assumed that it would be just a "yank this out and put that in" book but in the last few hours Jean has told me that she needs to discuss this with me at Origins, one of the two weeks a year that she is in the same city as I am.)
====
Will the core Traveller/PD corebook include starship rules or will we need to use CtA or SFB to game with ships?
ANSWER: This seems to be the biggest question. The simple answer is I don’t know. The probable answer is yes, because the traveller market is very different from GURPS or PD20M and "the ship is a character" is true of Traveller and not of the others.
Now, remember, I am a veteran gamer but not an RPG player. (Ok, I confess to playing D&D for a year or two about three decades ago.) I look at people who want to fly the Starship Enterprise with a crew of 465 people in their RPG and just wonder what they’re thinking. If you’re talking about "small ships with crews of five or six people" the things that SFB and FC treat as "targets" then I can very much assure you that the SFB/FC system cannot handle that kind of combat. We did indeed include "how you could use your RPG characters in SFB/FC" in the other books, but don’t take that as any indication we ever thought anybody was actually going to do it. I remain curious how you do an RPG where the various members of the ship’s crew actually have something to do during the game, but I am familiar with take a real world military platoon of 20 guys out into the woods (training, not war) and it was fairly obvious to me that they were all doing something worthwhile. I am sure that Jean and Mike West will make that happen.
====
Getting Traveller rules for SFU ships is more than half the reason I'd buy the game; it's a "no sale" for me without it. Sorry to be negative.
ANSWER: This is the kind of information we need. I am not in business to print games that I want to play, but games YOU want to play.
===
A design system? You want to use High Guard to be able to build the Enterprise?
ANSWER: If they’ll buy it, we’ll print it (and Mike W will design it) but I still cannot understand RPGing a ship with a crew of 450. That said, I just love my little G1 gunboat and think it would be spiffy for this sort of thing, and the published SFU history already says that thousands of them were sold off as post-General War surplus and were used by adventures, prospectors, and traders. I think that some kind of "car wars" customization system would be sweet and if you want it, you’ll get it.
=====
IMO, it would be a terrible mistake to take the same approach to Traveller PD that has been taken with other PD systems. If the parties involved want it to live up to their expectations and those of the potential audience, the releases must be Traveller RPG supplement first, with the PD/SFU setting as a secondary concern. That means Traveller compatible rules for starships and starship combat within a roleplaying environment; the Traveller character generation system; worlds, equipment and economics based on Traveller.
ANSWER: This is the kind of information we need. I am not in business to print games that I want to play, but games YOU want to play.
===
RPG campaigns that were along lines of "Scrappy crew on a tramp Freighter" rather than a more military based campaign.
ANSWER: I might comment that our RPG games (PD20, PD20M, and GURPS) are actually geared for that, not for military stuff.
===
Hopefully, something can also be done around deckplans, too.
ANSWER: We have published a bunch of deck plans, mostly of smaller ships. The Free Trader in the core PD book is kinda big (crew of 20-30) but the gunboat in Klingons may be more what you want. The frigate in Federation has a crew of 200 and is more there are pretty art than actual RPG material.
===
I'd NEVER consider using SFB. The idea is laughable. I don't have two days to spare gaming out a small engagement which is taking place as part of an RPG story. And none of the board/tabletop options have mechanisms for integrating with RPG characters.
ANSWER: Well, a typical small battle in SFB (one small ship per side) using the kind of ship an RPG group would use (a skiff) would last under an hour, simply because SFB cannot handle that kind of combat very well. A game designed so that a cruiser has 200 damage boxes doesn’t handle and RPG team skiff with five damage boxes. The granularity is just… icky.
===
It's important to realise that Traveller has always provided rules for ships. This is the big difference. Neither GURPS or the D20 variants ever had workable rules for ship combat within their core product. Traveller does.
ANSWER: This is the kind of information we need. I am not in business to print games that I want to play, but games YOU want to play.
===
As has already been said, ignore what Traveller fans expect, and the line will bomb. You're going to get (or not get) more sales from the RPG segment of the market than from the board gaming market.
ANSWER: That statement is true of any product ever produced for any market, and I cannot imagine why anyone would think that any company with the brain cells to stay in business for 30 years would do something that dumb. Really, I agree with everything you said, but I already knew that.
===
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 as well. So you don't get the old conundrum of who plays the Captain and why does he keep beaming into hostile situations?
ANSWER: You are about a decade behind the memos here. TFG did PD1 and did it all for "prime teams" but when ADB did PD, we did it for "be anything you want to be." In GURPS PD (or PD20M or PD20) you can be a prime team, a bridge crew, a family, investigative journalists, or Federation marshals. You can be anything. Rigid military organizations don’t really work for RPGs. [Ok, there is one RPG where rigid military organizations not only work but are required, but none of you have ever heard of it.]
===
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.
ANSWER: This is the kind of information we need. I am not in business to print games that I want to play, but games YOU want to play.
===
Ship design I can't see happening. Likewise planets. Not officially anyway.
ANSWER: I can see ship customization being fun. As for planets, I am sure there are no end of "how to design a planet" systems out there. I don’t really care if we refer you to one or copy one; that’s a decision for the designer and line editor, not the publisher, to make.
===
Stand alone vs requires another book: I don’t know yet.
===
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.
ANSWER: I answered this above.
===
I wonder how much ADB is wiling to listen to the market rather than just repackaging the same old thing?
ANSWER: Well, if I wasn’t willing to list, why am I here? And why do I have an expert RPG line editor to tell me what I think?
===
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.
ANSWER: the print version is available on our shopping cart and your game store can order it for you: ADB 8400, ADB 8402, etc.
===
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.
ANSWER: I am sooooo glad I have Jean and Mike W to do this for me.
===
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.
ANSWER: Allow me to confirm the above.
===
...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.
ANSWER: I am not away of any feedback we have ignored. Many people post things on forums we don’t read and somehow think we got the message. If you want us to know something, tell US.
===
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.
ANSWER: See above. I’m waiting to see what turns up. I’ve always been curious how RPG play can influence what a 600,000 ton starship does.
===
President of ADB,Inc. Designer of SFB, FedComm, F&E, etc.
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Postby captainquirk » Wed Jun 15, 2011 6:13 pm

Hi Steve,

Thanks, great info.

I'd imagine that what people are really going to do with PD Traveller is play bridge crew. One of the reasons PD1 didn't work so well is that it was locked around the idea of the prime teams. I know you changed that in later editions and widened the range of characters.

But in terms of what can a character do that will influence a 600,000 ton starship... well, be the bridge crew for starters. OK, we know that the SFU is a different beast, but what people WANT to play is what they see on TV. And the bridge crew and main characters make a difference.

If all we wanted to do was play a tramp freighter, well Traveller does that and has done that for thirty years. It might not make sense (let's face it, the original source material didn't always make a lot of sense either!) but a lot of people are going to want to play this as being in command of their own Connie.
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Postby rust » Wed Jun 15, 2011 6:31 pm

First, thank you very much for answering the many questions. :D
SteveCole wrote: I’ve always been curious how RPG play can influence what a 600,000 ton starship does.
Many, many years ago, when FASA's Star Trek roleplaying game was
published, it was applauded for its method to give each player character
a role and task during starship combat, basically the same role and task
the characters had in the movies.

In short, the pilot character makes / rolls for the attack and evasive ma-
neuvers, the sensor operator works on / rolls for the quality of the target
data, the gunner character uses these data to aim and fire the weapons,
the engineer character increases the output of the drives or does damage
control, and so on, just as the characters did in the movie.

This requires of course that these player characters are members of the
bridge crew or in equivalent positions, which leaves the problem that they
rarely also have the skills required for other types of adventures. We usu-
ally handled the problem with two characters per player, one a member
of the bridge crew and played during starship combat and thelike, the se-
cond a kind of marine or other specialist for the adventures on the surfa-
ces of planets.
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Postby dreamingbadger » Wed Jun 15, 2011 6:45 pm

@rust exactly right... it's not about micro manging 400+ people it is about playing a role .. its about being legendary :)
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Postby IanBruntlett » Wed Jun 15, 2011 6:46 pm

dreamingbadger wrote:@rust exactly right... it's not about micro manging 400+ people it is about playing a role .. its about being legendary :)
Seconded! Do that and I'll buy it :)
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Postby captainquirk » Wed Jun 15, 2011 7:02 pm

Yup! That was what I was trying to say too.

That would be awesome!
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Postby captrooper » Wed Jun 15, 2011 7:07 pm

Definitely! I couldn't agree more.

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Postby daryen » Wed Jun 15, 2011 7:47 pm

Well, one of the nice things about combining SFU ships with the Traveller combat system from the basic game is that there are relatively few weapons on an SFU starship. Even the Connie has only six-ten phasers, four photons, and possibly a drone/missile rack.
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Postby BP » Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:42 pm

Traveller ST seems rather simple to implement IMHO...

TL
This is just above normal 3I - pretty much already defined in books such as CSC (antimatter, dis-integrators, tractor beams and repulsors, etc. IIRC). Warp drive and such is just alternate tech. Compatibility with existing material should be very high using this approach. (Jump can be equated to various warp speeds to match max X parsecs per week perhaps.)

charGen
Most federation PCs go through Academy with different specialties. Scientists seem to be only real exception. Skill lists are optimized for higher levels/fewer skills - i.e. Engineering covers all specialities and appears enough times for a 3 term PC to easily have level 3 in chosen specialty. Just subtly different in this way then standard MgT (which makes it somewhat harder to get mostly what one wants without point-based selections).

Ship Design
Just add TL options to crudely match star trek canon...

Setting Specific
Credits probably don't have meaning - PCs would have stock issued equipment (phasers, tricorders, etc.) and be able to have replicators create things as anticipated.

Cinematic 'invincibility' is easily accommodated by providing PC DMs automatically skewing success further in their favor for combat and injury. Also injury rules can be modified to account for PC's being unlikely to die (negative characteristic points - discouragement for players is PC being out of action for long periods...).

Time Travel - limited to Referee as a plot gimmick... i.e. Players shouldn't be able to just travel around in time at will. Time travel should also be via random encounters.
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Postby rust » Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:50 pm

BP wrote: Credits probably don't have meaning - PCs would have stock issued equipment (phasers, tricorders, etc.) and be able to have replicators create things as anticipated.
To ensure that the player characters' resources do not get out of hand
and all the problems are solved by throwing several tons of technology
at them, one could:

- use basic, profession specific equipment kits which the logistics experts
consider sufficient for all standard tasks,

- provide additional mission specific equipment sparingly, and demand
that it is returned at the end of the mission,

- use "replicator budgets" to limit the amount of additional stuff the play-
er characters can generate this way.
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Postby Greg Smith » Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:02 pm

rust wrote:- use "replicator budgets" to limit the amount of additional stuff the play-
er characters can generate this way.
There weren't replicators in classic-era Trek. I don't know how the SFB universe deals with them.
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Postby rust » Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:09 pm

Greg Smith wrote: There weren't replicators in classic-era Trek. I don't know how the SFB universe deals with them.
The index of GURPS Prime Directive mentions them (I only looked at the
preview, I do not have the PDF).
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Postby phdillman » Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:18 pm

rust wrote:
Greg Smith wrote: There weren't replicators in classic-era Trek. I don't know how the SFB universe deals with them.
The index of GURPS Prime Directive mentions them (I only looked at the
preview, I do not have the PDF).
Well, in PD20 and PD20M, there are replicators, but they have limits. If they didn't one could replicate whole ships and base. Basically the GM is allowed to introduce errors for complex items. Besides, they take LOTS of power and just not a normal everyday thing on small ships.

I imagine that GRUPS like PD20 uses a bunch of handwavem to keep reolicator use to a minimum.
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Postby AndrewW » Thu Jun 16, 2011 12:57 am

BP wrote:Cinematic 'invincibility' is easily accommodated by providing PC DMs automatically skewing success further in their favor for combat and injury. Also injury rules can be modified to account for PC's being unlikely to die (negative characteristic points - discouragement for players is PC being out of action for long periods...).
But if the player was issued a red shirt they get negative DM's.
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Postby AKAmra » Thu Jun 16, 2011 1:33 am

rust wrote:
Greg Smith wrote: There weren't replicators in classic-era Trek. I don't know how the SFB universe deals with them.
The index of GURPS Prime Directive mentions them (I only looked at the
preview, I do not have the PDF).
I just pulled out my copy PD GURPS 4e and gave it a quick skim, there's about a page and a half of pretty dense text on replicators, so they do give it some attention. The summary answer given for the limits of replicators are cost and quality. It can be cheaper to go get the real deal instead of using the replicator. Star Fleet's deep pockets can give the false impression that replicators are more commonly used in the SFU than they really are.
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Postby BP » Thu Jun 16, 2011 1:35 am

rust wrote:To ensure that the player characters' resources do not get out of hand
and all the problems are solved by throwing several tons of technology
at them ...
Hehe... cockiness and handiness seemed to be Trek's signature limitation.

Away teams were generally 'equipped' with clothes, a phaser, tricorder and communicator - and a repertoire of witticisms and dramatic exclamations :lol:

Trek had certain 'limitations' already in place (power draw being one of them - seemed to limit scale) - but physical tech really didn't seem to be one of them... (mental seemed more limited)

'Replicators' can only make:
- what has already been made (i.e. what's in books/Ref allows)
- what fits in the replicator ;)
- what can be taken out of the replicator (i.e. holodeck door)

While I initially was referring only to the 'food replicators' that I seem to recall also were used to 'materialize' phasers and such on demand, the tech I'm referring to here really covers the food replicators, transporters and holodecks since all seem to based on the same basic concept irregardless of techno-babble used (a 'pattern' of data or extrapolate-able data and ability to re-organize/create matter using energy).

Add in the 'dis-integrator' tech (like phasers) and you basically can't get much more hi-tech than that!

The mumbo-jumbo doesn't matter to me - the basic concept, though, is that Trek offers really high tech at no momentary cost (even time-travel). But, just like with money, having access to tech isn't the same as having solutions!

Tech doesn't solve problems - people solve problems! :lol:
Greg Smith wrote:There weren't replicators in classic-era Trek. I don't know how the SFB universe deals with them.
The original episodes had the food slots. ;)
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Replicator_%28Star_Trek%29

Described there as molecular rather than atomic and rearranging rather than creating matter (from the air or molecular injection into the slot?).

EDIT: referred to in pre-TNG times as 'food synthesizers' that used turbo-lift tech... though that is rather vague (still could be as mentioned in Wikipedia - replicators based on transporter style tech).
Last edited by BP on Thu Jun 16, 2011 5:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby BP » Thu Jun 16, 2011 1:38 am

AndrewW wrote:
BP wrote:Cinematic 'invincibility' is easily accommodated by providing PC DMs automatically skewing success further in their favor for combat and injury. Also injury rules can be modified to account for PC's being unlikely to die (negative characteristic points - discouragement for players is PC being out of action for long periods...).
But if the player was issued a red shirt they get negative DM's.
Nah - that would still give them a chance! :lol:

[RSM - Red Shirt Mechanic - implies automatic death. Roll for level of drama...]

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