Primitive and Advanced Spacecraft.

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
AnotherDilbert
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Re: Primitive and Advanced Spacecraft.

Postby AnotherDilbert » Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:33 pm

I tried a conventional design (with budget drives):
Image
About the same price as the Free Trader, but the profitability is unsatisfactory.


We can make it larger and hence more expensive:
Image
but the profitability is still unsatisfactory. The gunners and their staterooms are expensive...


We could make it larger still and probably make it profitable, but low-pop planets have limited trade, and a too large cargo hold would often go half full. The planetoid hull allows a ship that is large on the outside (good for combat) while still cheap and reasonable capacity. The saving on the hull and armour easily pays for the boat.


There are no High Staterooms, nor are they required for high passengers. High Staterooms only give a bonus to finding high passengers. Neither is Common Areas absolutely needed, just recommended.


Fixed Mounts saves not only a single Dton for a turret, but also a gunner and his 4-5 Dton stateroom, for a total of ~6 Dt per hardpoint. For a few turrets we are talking 10-20 Dt less cargo space, severely impacting the margin of profitability.

While lasers on fixed mounts are questionable, missiles do not really have a problem. Missiles that can accelerate at 10-15 g for an hour can easily change direction after launch.

Very small missile salvoes (from a hardpoint or two) does not make much sense since they are very vulnerable to EW and missing, but if we have four hardpoints and hence can launch 12 missiles per round they are very effective. A double salvo can often kill a small civilian ship (like a corsair) in a single attack. That is one reason I made the planetoid 400 Dt, not just say 350 Dt, even if the cost and payload, hence required amount of freight is a bit high.
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Re: Primitive and Advanced Spacecraft.

Postby Old School » Sat Feb 23, 2019 6:39 pm

If you’re trying to make a buck, gunners should be sharing a stateroom. And the amount of armor carried is crippling to revenue.
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Re: Primitive and Advanced Spacecraft.

Postby AnotherDilbert » Sat Feb 23, 2019 7:21 pm

Old School wrote: If you’re trying to make a buck, gunners should be sharing a stateroom.
I go with single occupancy for commercial ships. Old habit:
LBB2'81, p14 wrote: A commercial ship must have one stateroom for each member of the crew.
MgT2 seems to agree even if the specific requirement is dropped:
HG, p21 wrote: Each stateroom consumes 4 tons and costs MCr0.5. Most ships will allocate one person to each stateroom.

Double Occupancy
Some ships have bunks in their staterooms rather than single beds, allowing two people to share the same stateroom. This is called double occupancy and is often done on exploratory ships, privately-owned vessels and, especially, military ships.

Old School wrote: And the amount of armor carried is crippling to revenue.
Agreed, but this was supposed to be a survivable ship, as opposed to my earlier budget designs. Armour 6 was basically chosen to be safe from 1DD weapons on the ground. It does take a good chunk out of laser damage (fired by non-optimised civilians).
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Re: Primitive and Advanced Spacecraft.

Postby Reynard » Sat Feb 23, 2019 11:34 pm

Wait, how often do commercial traders put themselves up against fusion gun and mass driver bay weapon?! Or are they regularly expecting to be shot at by cannon bearing ground tanks?
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Re: Primitive and Advanced Spacecraft.

Postby AnotherDilbert » Sun Feb 24, 2019 12:33 am

Reynard wrote: Wait, how often do commercial traders put themselves up against fusion gun and mass driver bay weapon?! Or are they regularly expecting to be shot at by cannon bearing ground tanks?
Where did that come from?

I mentioned ship's lasers and ground scale weapons (except hi-tech anti-tank weapons since that would require much more armour). I was thinking about unruly mobs and corrupt starport guards with light weapons and perhaps a bazooka.

Landing your ship in dodgy starports can be just as risky as piracy.
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Re: Primitive and Advanced Spacecraft.

Postby phavoc » Sun Feb 24, 2019 12:56 am

AnotherDilbert wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:33 pm
I tried a conventional design (with budget drives):
Image
About the same price as the Free Trader, but the profitability is unsatisfactory.


We can make it larger and hence more expensive:
Image
but the profitability is still unsatisfactory. The gunners and their staterooms are expensive...


We could make it larger still and probably make it profitable, but low-pop planets have limited trade, and a too large cargo hold would often go half full. The planetoid hull allows a ship that is large on the outside (good for combat) while still cheap and reasonable capacity. The saving on the hull and armour easily pays for the boat.


There are no High Staterooms, nor are they required for high passengers. High Staterooms only give a bonus to finding high passengers. Neither is Common Areas absolutely needed, just recommended.


Fixed Mounts saves not only a single Dton for a turret, but also a gunner and his 4-5 Dton stateroom, for a total of ~6 Dt per hardpoint. For a few turrets we are talking 10-20 Dt less cargo space, severely impacting the margin of profitability.

While lasers on fixed mounts are questionable, missiles do not really have a problem. Missiles that can accelerate at 10-15 g for an hour can easily change direction after launch.

Very small missile salvoes (from a hardpoint or two) does not make much sense since they are very vulnerable to EW and missing, but if we have four hardpoints and hence can launch 12 missiles per round they are very effective. A double salvo can often kill a small civilian ship (like a corsair) in a single attack. That is one reason I made the planetoid 400 Dt, not just say 350 Dt, even if the cost and payload, hence required amount of freight is a bit high.
In the spreadsheets it says "Passengers High 6", on this one, and 10 on the other. That's what I was referring to.

True, missiles have 360 degree arc, which belies the whole idea of having a missile launcher in a turret. They should always be a fixed mount (in either a launch cell ala a VLS system or connected to a magazine). That's issue has been there since day one. Since missile receive no bonus from launching in a turret you are correct in that it would save you tonnage by not having the associated tonnage.

However I would say that a merchant using missiles (especially a budget one at that) wouldn't be the norm. A single missile costs Cr20,800. So a merchant firing a single 3 missile salvo would be throwing away Cr62,400. That's a more reasonable price for a missile than they used to be, but that also means missiles are (or should be) relegated to the military and para-military forces only. No merchant, especially one flying around in a very cheap ship, is going to toss out that kind of investment (especially an investment that might required continual usage to score a hit). Like you say small salvoes aren't very useful, therefore they aren't a good weapon for merchies.
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Re: Primitive and Advanced Spacecraft.

Postby AnotherDilbert » Sun Feb 24, 2019 2:38 am

phavoc wrote: In the spreadsheets it says "Passengers High 6", on this one, and 10 on the other. That's what I was referring to.
Quite, that means the ships is given capacity for that many High passengers: 6 regular staterooms and a steward (with another stateroom). Free Traders have always been able to carry high passengers since the early days of LBBs.

phavoc wrote: However I would say that a merchant using missiles (especially a budget one at that) wouldn't be the norm. A single missile costs Cr20,800. So a merchant firing a single 3 missile salvo would be throwing away Cr62,400. That's a more reasonable price for a missile than they used to be, but that also means missiles are (or should be) relegated to the military and para-military forces only.
A triple Pulse Laser turret costs MCr 4.
A triple Missile fixed mount costs MCr 2.35.

The laser turret would cost a stateroom for the gunner at another MCr 0.5 and lost revenue of up to kCr 5 each jump for the displaced cargo space.

The laser turret also requires 13 Power which might be another Dt power plant at MCr 0.5-1 or so.

If we intended to launch a lots of missiles every week it would be an uneconomical choice, but if we fire a few salvoes a few times in the ship's lifetime missiles are clearly a more economical choice than lasers.
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Re: Primitive and Advanced Spacecraft.

Postby phavoc » Sun Feb 24, 2019 4:18 am

AnotherDilbert wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 2:38 am
Quite, that means the ships is given capacity for that many High passengers: 6 regular staterooms and a steward (with another stateroom). Free Traders have always been able to carry high passengers since the early days of LBBs.
I don't disagree with the history of the LBB. But the rules also state that High passage is the equivalent of first class, with all that entails - entertainment, great food, things to do, and the steward. The problem is that tramp freighters aren't going to be able to provide that - especially something as low-end as this ship. It's fine for passengers who don't mind travelling like crew, but if you are paying top-credit for passage you should receive all the benefits of that.

I'm not picking on your design for that. It's a logical fallacy that has stayed with the game for quite some time.
AnotherDilbert wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 2:38 am
A triple Pulse Laser turret costs MCr 4.
A triple Missile fixed mount costs MCr 2.35.

The laser turret would cost a stateroom for the gunner at another MCr 0.5 and lost revenue of up to kCr 5 each jump for the displaced cargo space.

The laser turret also requires 13 Power which might be another Dt power plant at MCr 0.5-1 or so.

If we intended to launch a lots of missiles every week it would be an uneconomical choice, but if we fire a few salvoes a few times in the ship's lifetime missiles are clearly a more economical choice than lasers.
That's a fair point. It is cheaper in the short-run to go with missiles. You could go with software for the gunner (or have cross-trained crew for that). If we assumed the cost differential, you would get 7 full reloads (or 84 missiles) and the triple missile rack for the cost of the triple laser turret. After that the lasers would prove to be more economical. Though missiles do take up space, too, so there's that displaced cost to factor in. Lasers also give you the ability to shoot down other missiles (and if you varied what you carried in your magazine you'd have other potential as well).

So I guess it would depend on how often you would encounter people you need to shoot at (and whether you got away from each encounter). With so many ships in Traveller running around fully armed I'm assuming space is rather dangerous!
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Re: Primitive and Advanced Spacecraft.

Postby Linwood » Sun Feb 24, 2019 5:02 am

A lot of nice work here!! I think you’ve got the makings of a supplement built around these designs!

Wouldn’t using beam lasers instead of pulse cut the costs a bit?

I could also see commercial operators going with single laser or laser/sandcaster turrets instead of triple laser. Much like some of the WWII merchant ships that were equipped with a single deck gun of questionable utility for defense.

I will grant you that knowing a prospective target has triple pulse lasers and missile tubes might scare off a lot of part-time pirates using converted merchant vessels.

Traveller doesn’t seem to have much about shipping contracts (probably because they could tie a party up on one route for too long) but I could see differing levels of protection being a point of negotiation sometimes. A well-armed vessel might be able to negotiate higher delivery prices on runs with known pirate activity, which would help out the margins. At least until the Imperial Navy gets called in to clean the b******ds out and make shipping cheap - I mean safe - again.
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Re: Primitive and Advanced Spacecraft.

Postby AnotherDilbert » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:05 am

Linwood wrote: Wouldn’t using beam lasers instead of pulse cut the costs a bit?
Yes, it would cut cost a bit, but also effectiveness (slightly) and range (significantly). With a decent sensor we actually have a good chance of seeing, and hence fighting, a pirate at range.

Linwood wrote: I could also see commercial operators going with single laser or laser/sandcaster turrets instead of triple laser. Much like some of the WWII merchant ships that were equipped with a single deck gun of questionable utility for defense.
Sure, but if we are not interested in combat-effectiveness we can just use a budget ship. A civilian ship with a pop-gun of two should just surrender if confronted by a corsair, instead of fighting and getting its crew and passengers killed.
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Re: Primitive and Advanced Spacecraft.

Postby baithammer » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:36 am

Sure, but if we are not interested in combat-effectiveness we can just use a budget ship. A civilian ship with a pop-gun of two should just surrender if confronted by a corsair, instead of fighting and getting its crew and passengers killed.
Or jettison some high value cargo and change direction.
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Re: Primitive and Advanced Spacecraft.

Postby AnotherDilbert » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:50 am

phavoc wrote: You could go with software for the gunner (or have cross-trained crew for that).
Quite, but skill level would generally be low, compromising the performance of the systems we have payed dearly for. I have included Virtual Crew/1 with the ships, that would be Gunnery-0 and no characteristic mod if used to fire weapons. A professional gunner would add +2 or so.

phavoc wrote: If we assumed the cost differential, you would get 7 full reloads (or 84 missiles) and the triple missile rack for the cost of the triple laser turret. After that the lasers would prove to be more economical.
The displaced cargo space would pay for about 12 missiles every two years or so. That would be a full reload every 6 years. Over a 40 year life-span that would be another 6 reloads.

phavoc wrote: Though missiles do take up space, too, so there's that displaced cost to factor in.
The first 12 missiles are included in the mount. Only reloads take more space. We probably don't need reloads.

phavoc wrote: Lasers also give you the ability to shoot down other missiles (and if you varied what you carried in your magazine you'd have other potential as well).
Missiles can also kill incoming missiles.

phavoc wrote: So I guess it would depend on how often you would encounter people you need to shoot at (and whether you got away from each encounter). With so many ships in Traveller running around fully armed I'm assuming space is rather dangerous!
Yes, indeed, that is the fundamental question. I assumed a freighter that might be able to survive an occasional encounter with a pirate. Victory is not needed, just survival. Scaring the pirate off without a fight is the best kind of survival.

The mortgage system implied low loss rates for commercial shipping. If the loss rates were even 1%/year we would have a cumulative risk of loss ~33% before the mortgage was payed off. That would mean that the mortgage system would be much more expensive, or simply unavailable outside the safe core of the Imperium.

Piracy is a low risk, or else the trade system breaks down completely.


If we intend to fight every few weeks we need much sturdier ships. And much higher freight prices.
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Re: Primitive and Advanced Spacecraft.

Postby AnotherDilbert » Sun Feb 24, 2019 12:00 pm

baithammer wrote: Or jettison some high value cargo and change direction.
Yes, that might work if we are lucky enough to have some cargo worth more than the ship (both in fenced value).

If we look at the Trade Goods table few cargoes are worth the kCr ~500 or so needed to be worth more than the ship.
EDIT: That presumes a new ship, which is unlikely. Let's say kCr 200-400 per Dton?

It also presumes help is on the way, else the pirates can just take both: First the ship, then the jettisoned cargo (since it is on a constant course and speed).
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Re: Primitive and Advanced Spacecraft.

Postby Libris » Sun Feb 24, 2019 12:48 pm

phavoc wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 12:56 am
True, missiles have 360 degree arc, which belies the whole idea of having a missile launcher in a turret. They should always be a fixed mount (in either a launch cell ala a VLS system or connected to a magazine). That's issue has been there since day one. Since missile receive no bonus from launching in a turret you are correct in that it would save you tonnage by not having the associated tonnage.
It has always been Traveller canon that missile racks are in turrets and not fixed mounts. To maintain this canon there has to be reason why otherwise anything over 100 tons would have fixed missile racks. It’s likely down to the definition of ‘turret’ and what that which implies whereas I tend to think of it more as a ‘automated’ mount. i.e. a mount that has more options.

Logically though missile launch systems would likely be launch cells of some description like current navy warships as opposed to slung on the outside like contemporary aircraft whether in a ‘turret’ or ‘fixed’ mount. If only to protect them from the hazards of space, atmosphere and random player characters with sniper rifles.

My reason ‘why’ is simple. While the weapon system itself is virtually identical a turreted (or bay system) has the necessary equipment to auto load new missiles or select the missile type required from the onboard magazine - a fixed mount does not and has to be manually reloaded which takes twice as long as a turret version.

It doesn’t fix the problem completely as most civilian ships are unlikely to have a magazine but it makes a lot of sense for military ships of any sort to prefer ‘turretted’ missile racks to ‘fixed’ mounts.
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Re: Primitive and Advanced Spacecraft.

Postby Linwood » Sun Feb 24, 2019 3:02 pm

A (I think) related question - for larger systems with multiple inhabited worlds I think it’s a given that most cargo haulers traveling between worlds would be sublight. Taking out jump drives saves a lot of capital and operating expense and opens up a lot more useful space for cargo, staterooms, etc.

But at some point the longer travel times associated with sublight travel might make J-1 costs competitive for reaching more distant worlds in the same system. I think that may be a different calculation for passenger service vs. cargo, and maybe different for perishable goods or chances to exploit limited opportunities (fads, unexpected shortages, sudden emergencies, etc.). (A business would also look at things like the cost of carrying cargo for extended shipping times on their books as inventory but I don’t think Traveller has a mechanic for that.) It might also mean some design changes - larger common areas for instance - to improve crew and passenger morale. Any thoughts on where that might be?
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Re: Primitive and Advanced Spacecraft.

Postby Old School » Sun Feb 24, 2019 3:23 pm

I’m not sure your question, Linwood. When sublight travel takes longer than a week, then certainly J-1 enters the equation. It adds cost in credits and cargo space, as well as a complete disconnect from the universe, in return for speed.

As a general rule, non Perishable cargo will ship via the cheapest method (including consideration of inventory costs, etc).

If you’re asking at what point this considerstion comes into question, I’d say around 8-9 days of travel. If there is a enough demand for people or goods to get there quicker, someone will provide that service. Jump-1 is cheap enough in terms money and space that i think it would become the standard fairly quickly, especially for passenger travel. Many multi star systems, for example, have stars that are quite distant in terms of sublight speed, but a small fraction of a parsec. Some travller supplements describe these multi star systems in detail, although I don’t Remember any of them actually giving distances.

Random thought: why does in system cargo need a crew? Within the concept of traveller tech, an automated piloting system can handle this task just fine, greatly reducing the costs. I could also see a concept similar to today’s harbor pilots to bring ships into port (although I don’t know that this has ever been mentioned in any traveller setting)
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Re: Primitive and Advanced Spacecraft.

Postby baithammer » Sun Feb 24, 2019 5:37 pm

Libris wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 12:48 pm
phavoc wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 12:56 am
True, missiles have 360 degree arc, which belies the whole idea of having a missile launcher in a turret. They should always be a fixed mount (in either a launch cell ala a VLS system or connected to a magazine). That's issue has been there since day one. Since missile receive no bonus from launching in a turret you are correct in that it would save you tonnage by not having the associated tonnage.
It has always been Traveller canon that missile racks are in turrets and not fixed mounts. To maintain this canon there has to be reason why otherwise anything over 100 tons would have fixed missile racks. It’s likely down to the definition of ‘turret’ and what that which implies whereas I tend to think of it more as a ‘automated’ mount. i.e. a mount that has more options.

Logically though missile launch systems would likely be launch cells of some description like current navy warships as opposed to slung on the outside like contemporary aircraft whether in a ‘turret’ or ‘fixed’ mount. If only to protect them from the hazards of space, atmosphere and random player characters with sniper rifles.

My reason ‘why’ is simple. While the weapon system itself is virtually identical a turreted (or bay system) has the necessary equipment to auto load new missiles or select the missile type required from the onboard magazine - a fixed mount does not and has to be manually reloaded which takes twice as long as a turret version.

It doesn’t fix the problem completely as most civilian ships are unlikely to have a magazine but it makes a lot of sense for military ships of any sort to prefer ‘turretted’ missile racks to ‘fixed’ mounts.
Autoloaders are assumed if space is dedicated to storing missiles, otherwise you need someone / thing to hump missiles from the cargo bay.

Further, your missiles don't become useless in a dogfight when up against a craft that has a large advantage to the roll as the winners determining facing is rendered mote in regard to turrets. ( Still loses smart trait, but at least the missiles can be used for more dakka.)
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Re: Primitive and Advanced Spacecraft.

Postby Libris » Sun Feb 24, 2019 6:32 pm

baithammer wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 5:37 pm
Autoloaders are assumed if space is dedicated to storing missiles, otherwise you need someone / thing to hump missiles from the cargo bay.

Further, your missiles don't become useless in a dogfight when up against a craft that has a large advantage to the roll as the winners determining facing is rendered mote in regard to turrets. ( Still loses smart trait, but at least the missiles can be used for more dakka.)
True, but magazines/autoloaders are throwbacks to the original High Guard which never had fixed mounts. It’s the fixed mounts that are breaking canon not the autoloaders. It’s an easy add to restrict the fixed mounts when it comes to autoloaders.
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Re: Primitive and Advanced Spacecraft.

Postby AnotherDilbert » Sun Feb 24, 2019 6:51 pm

Old School wrote: I’m not sure your question, Linwood. When sublight travel takes longer than a week, then certainly J-1 enters the equation. It adds cost in credits and cargo space, as well as a complete disconnect from the universe, in return for speed.
Quite, but the problem is that when the distance is that far it's generally because the planets are on opposite sides of the star. The star blocks the direct jump route.

E.g. on the route from Earth to Jupiter the necessary detour can add up to four days of acceleration in addition to a micro-jump.
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Re: Primitive and Advanced Spacecraft.

Postby AnotherDilbert » Sun Feb 24, 2019 7:11 pm

Libris wrote: True, but magazines/autoloaders are throwbacks to the original High Guard which never had fixed mounts. It’s the fixed mounts that are breaking canon not the autoloaders. It’s an easy add to restrict the fixed mounts when it comes to autoloaders.
CT did have fixed mounts, both in HG (for small craft) and for ships in the Alien Module Solomani.

Autoloaders of missiles are not mentioned in either CT nor MgT, as far as I know.


I have always assumed that military ships have autoloaders from the magazines, whereas civilians with a random added missile rack does not and need to reload as described in LBB2. As far as I know that is a home rule.

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