Scale damage

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
evo
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Scale damage

Postby evo » Tue May 07, 2013 10:24 am

Hi,

I am prepared (new GM screen + character sheet + skills set + character creation revisited + personal background) to play Traveller for the first time. Everything seems ready (or almost), but I have a question about the scale damage. I found no clear answer in the Core rulebook (FR & UK).

The only partial answer I have is on page 151 : "starship weapons do 50X damage to regular vehicles". Ok, the size of the weapons must be proportionate to that of the starship. But to remain consistent, vehicle-scale weapons must be divided by 50 against starships. Therefore, it do not a scratch. It seems to be a huge multiplier/divider, when you compare today individual firepower on armored vehicles. In my mind, a Starfighter in atmosphere could be defeated by a vehicle-scale missile launcher (like a S.A.M. mounted weapon).

Can someone explain to me the Damage Scale rule ?
Individual scale -> Vehicle scale -> Starship scale
Armor or Damage multiplier ?

Thank you.
Last edited by evo on Tue May 07, 2013 5:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
CosmicGamer
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Re: Scale damage

Postby CosmicGamer » Tue May 07, 2013 11:56 am

It's not unusual for people to have this question. For the most recent discussion, see viewtopic.php?f=89&t=55873.

Book 1 Mercenary does cover this. Not, perhaps, to some peoples liking, but I prefer using the rules as written if available for consistency when playing with others. Online games, conventions, and so on.
locarno24
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Re: Scale damage

Postby locarno24 » Tue May 07, 2013 12:32 pm

The Mercenary guide:
Gaining a +4DM bonus to hit anything on the starship-scale, ground force weaponry must divide its damage by 50 before comparing it to a starship-scale target’s armour.
I would personally agree with you - however, the key thing to remember is that the 'generic' traveller light fighter is also unarmoured on a starship scale, and with only one structure point, a hit equals death. So you can reasonably take one down with a shoulder-fired missile.

It's pretty easy to make a g/drive fighter into a flying tank, however, and that will laugh at your best efforts. Twelve points of starship-grade armour, for example, will laugh at a spread of nuclear-tipped ship-to-ship missiles - each of which should easily be the equivalent of a pocket nuke likely to do 150-300 damage in 'normal' scale without too much effort.

If you want ground forces to be able to inconvenience a starship, then either you should be talking about an unarmoured civilian ship (where you'll still do single hits on the unarmoured hull), or you should be talking about massive concentrated fire:
Because a single weapon will, obviously, be unable to punch though armour it is possible for multiple weapons to all target the starship simultaneously, and the cumulative effect can inflict damage. Every additional ground weapon beyond the first can add half its damage dice to the total before dividing the total by 50 in order to calculate damage.
So a big mob firing gauss weapons can actually do non-trivial damage, even to an armoured lander.
Understand that I'm not advocating violence.
I'm just saying that it's highly effective and I strongly recommend using it.
evo
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Re: Scale damage

Postby evo » Tue May 07, 2013 5:33 pm

Ok, thank you.

I read the thread, and the house rule from "hdan" seems to be a good idea. But if the subject is not unusual, this reflects a problem.
;)
rgrove0172
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Re: Scale damage

Postby rgrove0172 » Wed May 08, 2013 4:50 pm

Its a huge problem and one I cant believe hasnt been fixed before now. The transition of damage between the two scales requires a house rule to work at all. Im not sure why there is a different scale at all, it seems it would have just as easy to construct starships as big vehicles and use the same rules. The problem gets even worse if you are using the 2300 setting when the separation between space craft and vehicles is even more pronounced.

These kind of issues, and many other similar ones, have unfortunately put my 2300 campaign on hold while we consider an entire tome of house rules and modifications. At this point enthusiasm for the game is waning and the possibility of it being dropped for something else looking probable.

Oddly what inspired me to adopt Traveller as the rules system of choice for our SciFi venture was its age and supposed maturity. We never expected to find glaring rules issues in a game that has been around so long and undergone so many revisions.
Strithe
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Re: Scale damage

Postby Strithe » Wed May 08, 2013 5:28 pm

rgrove0172 wrote:Its a huge problem and one I cant believe hasnt been fixed before now. The transition of damage between the two scales requires a house rule to work at all. Im not sure why there is a different scale at all, it seems it would have just as easy to construct starships as big vehicles and use the same rules. The problem gets even worse if you are using the 2300 setting when the separation between space craft and vehicles is even more pronounced.

These kind of issues, and many other similar ones, have unfortunately put my 2300 campaign on hold while we consider an entire tome of house rules and modifications. At this point enthusiasm for the game is waning and the possibility of it being dropped for something else looking probable.

Oddly what inspired me to adopt Traveller as the rules system of choice for our SciFi venture was its age and supposed maturity. We never expected to find glaring rules issues in a game that has been around so long and undergone so many revisions.
Given the technological assumptions of the OTU the invulnerable to tank-fire starships make sense. Remember even an "unarmored" ship is supposed to take high-speed hits from micrometeors without being vaporized. For 2300AD this is a problem, though. The assault landers can fairly easily take a hit from a tank's main gun and keep coming, and missiles are even easier to shrug off.

Fixing it's actually pretty easy: Just use a 10 or a 20 multiplier between the two scales instead of 50. It's not perfect but it's about right as far as any spacecraft that are likely to interact with vehicles. In this way an assault lander is still going to be a tough target but the pilot is still going to be nervous if the LZ is covered by tanks or heavily-armed infantry.

Really, my bigger issue with the new 2300ad rules as written is that shoulder-fired plasma guns are a bit too powerful and vehicle-mounted missiles are too weak (at least when compared to the original setting). Maybe Colin's intent was to only have the missiles be effective against lightly-armored vehicles instead of tanks.

For my own games, I halve the damage dice for the PGMP's, but give them better armor-piercing abilities and a small area-effect damage according to the guidelines in the CSC. It seems a bit closer to the values in the original rules.

For the vehicle mounted missiles, I bump the anti-tank missiles up to Mega AP, and double the damage dice. I give the anti-aircraft missiles AP damage, and also double the damage dice. This feels more "right to me".

I also give the shoulder-fired missiles better AP values as well.

If you're interested in some other "fixes" (or, to be honest, stuff I did because it suits my tastes) I wrote this for Freelance Traveller a while ago: http://www.freelancetraveller.com/featu ... stint.html

It may help you, or you may think it far worse than the core system. YMMV.
ShawnDriscoll
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Re: Scale damage

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Wed May 08, 2013 6:58 pm

evo wrote:The only partial answer I have is on page 151 : "starship weapons do 50X damage to regular vehicles". Ok, the size of the weapons must be proportionate to that of the starship. But to remain consistent, vehicle-scale weapons must be divided by 50 against starships. Therefore, it do not a scratch.
Interesting. I'll take a look at this. I always assumed a vechicle could shoot the crap out of a parked spaceship. Having 50x weapon damage didn't also automatically mean having 50x armor for me.
rgrove0172
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Re: Scale damage

Postby rgrove0172 » Wed May 08, 2013 10:03 pm

Here here! I agree completely. Its been my perception that spacecraft are in fact rather fragile, and that the weapons they use on one another are designed more for accuracy and range rather than damage. Comparatively speaking I think a round from a 120mm main tank armament would obliterate the typical small interstellar transport, while a pulse laser on a ship would have little chance to seriously damage a ocean-going cruiser for example. I realize the rules dont reflect this at all but if I were to consider it, rules free, it would seem to make sense. Our spacecraft of today are terribly fragile, and yes they have to consider micrometerorites too. I dont see that changing all that much with the passage of time and improvement in technology, they will always be spacecraft where every kilogram = money and energy.
locarno24
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Re: Scale damage

Postby locarno24 » Thu May 09, 2013 7:33 am

Our spacecraft of today are terribly fragile, and yes they have to consider micrometerorites too.
They do, but they get up to a much lower relative speed.

A deep-space probe getting up to speed for an earth-to-mars transit today will burn a reaction engine sufficient to make escape velocity and that's about it.

Mars Express - one of the fastest transits made to date - took a 5 month 'cruise' phase and was dealing in speeds of 10,000 km/h. Which sounds fast, but in interstellar terms really isn't.

By comparison, even a comparatively arthritic Traveller freighters can get a 1G continuous burn all the time from start to turnover at halfway - and when your velocity is going up 9.81 m/s per second you can build up a real head of steam. To put it in perspective, that 10,000 km/h speed is passed after four and a half minutes of acceleration.

Using the transit times in the rulebook, a world-to-adjacent world flight is about 37 hours. Assume we're talking acceleration for half that time, and you get a peak velocity of more like two million km/h.

The difference in impact would be pretty massive. A thousandth-of-a-gram speck of dust that's more or less stationary relative to the solar system at large will impart an impact to Mars Express of just under 4 KJ - the equivalent to a few seconds of direct sunlight. To the players in the S.S. Mortgage Deficit, it's 213 MJ - 533 times greater and the equivalent impact of a sizeable freight train doing 100 mph.

An orbital satellite, or a ship which will never do anything other than planetary-local hops, needn't be any more armoured than today. If it's going to be accelerating at multiple G for a significant period of time, it becomes more important.
Understand that I'm not advocating violence.
I'm just saying that it's highly effective and I strongly recommend using it.
Colin
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Re: Scale damage

Postby Colin » Thu May 09, 2013 9:46 pm

The scaling issue came up for discussion when I was writing this version of 2300AD. Personally, I do not like the scaling rules when applied against 2300AD ships. I also wanted to do small craft as vehicles.

I was overruled, primarily to ensure consistency between the versions. I would use a scale value of 5 rather than 50 for 2300 spacecraft, personally. That has a better feel to me.

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