Changes in the newest edition of Traveller 2300 (AD)

2300AD4ME

Mongoose
So I'm recently back to Traveller 2300 in my "games to play". I played the original quite a bit back in the day. Never really liked the combat system. It wasn't the lethality that I was against, it was the static damage of weapons... no variability.... no letting the dice rule. Beyond that, I didn't like that there wasn't a system of gaining experience and skill levels beyond character creation. Things were hinted at of course, but no real system of improving by experience, or guidelines as to training in downtime (lots of downtime on week long interstellar voyages).

So for anyone who's purchased and used the newest version published by Mongoose, what did you think?

I've purchased a Mongoose revamp of RuneQuest in the past, and honestly did not like what they had done with the game. So I'm a little gun shy to shell out as much as it would be to fully replace my vintage set, without knowing if I'm going to nix it right out of the box.

Please weigh in.
 

2300AD4ME

Mongoose
So, since I made this post I started looking all over for information regarding the differences. What I found was 2300AD is now just a subset of Traveler rules, and that you need the Core Traveler rule set, and the 2300 materials if you want to play 2300.

Still, there is information I can't find online. Some questions I have are:

What is the combat system like? Before it was d10 rolls of varying difficulty, with all sorts of mods. Weapons did static damage, both actual and concussive/shock.

Is there a system to increase your skills beyond character creation? If so, what are they?

As an aside, are there any 2300AD specific active Discords out there?

Thanks for reading/replying.
 

vili

Mongoose
2300AD4ME said:
What is the combat system like? Before it was d10 rolls of varying difficulty, with all sorts of mods. Weapons did static damage, both actual and concussive/shock.

Skills checks in the current system are always 2d6 (+ your skill), against a target number (the higher, the more difficult).

Weapon damage is a combination of a dice roll (a machine gun may make 5d6 damage, a hunting rifle 3d6, etc.) and the level of success that you made in your skill check (if you needed to roll 8 to hit and rolled 11, you get an additional +3 to damage). There are also damage rules for different fire modes like single shots, burst shots and full auto.

I personally find the combat system a little fiddly and slow, and as a result have begun to either abstract it or avoid combat situations entirely. Other players and GMs in our group are more at home with the system (and combat in general) and can play it better.

2300AD4ME said:
Is there a system to increase your skills beyond character creation? If so, what are they?

The current Traveller system is similar to the original 2300AD in that characters are experienced adults with full background histories, rather than young starting adventurers. In the updated 2300AD system, most new characters will probably be in their 50s, fully formed adults.

That said, it is possible for characters to spend their free time studying, and thus attempting to increase their skills during the campaign. There are rules for it.

And nothing of course stops you from starting with young characters, or in general allowing characters to gain skills and experience points during a campaign. The Traveller Companion book actually has some optional rules for this.

2300AD4ME said:
As an aside, are there any 2300AD specific active Discords out there?

Not that I know of, but it would definitely be great to have a separate 2300AD corner somewhere, whether on this forum or somewhere else.
 

feld

Banded Mongoose
I just realized there is ONE set of changes that I am competent to speak to. The ship designs and ship design system. I'm an aerospace engineer on a crewed spaceflight program for my day job today but, back in the day, the first spacecraft I ever designed was an American frigate using Frank Chadwick's 2300AD Star Cruiser Naval Architects manual.

So I can speak to the s/c designs and the design system if you like. Is that of any interest to you?

Very Respectfully,
feld
 

vili

Mongoose
feld said:
I just realized there is ONE set of changes that I am competent to speak to. The ship designs and ship design system. I'm an aerospace engineer on a crewed spaceflight program for my day job today but, back in the day, the first spacecraft I ever designed was an American frigate using Frank Chadwick's 2300AD Star Cruiser Naval Architects manual.

So I can speak to the s/c designs and the design system if you like. Is that of any interest to you?

I don't know about the OP, but I would definitely be interested in hearing your thoughts on this!
 

feld

Banded Mongoose
vili said:
I don't know about the OP, but I would definitely be interested in hearing your thoughts on this!
Well...here's a wall of text.
BLUF: Overall I'm a fan of the Mongoose 2300AD material and am really liking the 2nd edition spacecraft stuff but I'm seeing places were a "naval focused campaign" could run into issues. Nothing that you couldn't work around...but you'd have to work around it. The new Aerospace Engineer's Handbook is in a great spot for what it is - a sourcebook for a hard-ish SF RPG...but it's not as clear that the numbers behind the setting as hard as its predecessor.

Large-ish points:

1. The new Aerospace Engineer's Handbook (AWH) was a joy for me to read because for the first time all of the stuff a budding aerospace engineer could want are found in the same place. One book and I can design interface craft, system craft, starships, missiles and other remote objects. Alien tech in there too. There's never been a product in the setting that did these things all in the same place. I can even design the warheads for detonation lasers and submunition dispensers. This is, for my money, many steps forward. None of the stuff I say below should detract from that.

2. The team has clearly thought thru and updated the aerospace tech in the setting in a number of great ways. They added reaction drives because they realized stutterwarp ships still need them both to operate below the wall and also because stars are moving relative to each other and the stutterwarp drive doesn't change your actual velocity at all. So you need to use a combination of thoughtful stutter maneuvering, gravity assists, and engine action to adjust your velocity at some point(s) during your trip. Or you're likely to arrive in the destination star system moving at a velocity greater than local stellar escape velocity. Not too useful. Other little "updates" like making civilian fission reactor fuel thorium while militaries use uranium/plutonium because they need to breed material for all their nuclear weapons is a nice touch. Making laser arrays use giant James Webb Space Telescope-like foldable apertures silently (and IMHO correctly) retconned the fact that you don't get practical laser weapons with ranges like the ones in 2300AD without either very large mirrors or very short wavelengths. I think Colin et al chose correctly by choosing the former because high power x-ray and gamma ray lasers look to be beyond the tech level in the setting. Again, bonus points from me.

3. However...the degree to which the technology in the game represents a "reasonable" (dangerous word) projection of the current state of the art in aerospace technology is, for me, actually less clear now than it was in the original Star Cruiser Naval Architect's manual. The primary reason for this is that original Star Cruiser design sequence tracked volume, mass, and surface area and the new Traveller(High Guard?)-based one does not. That means that the stats for all of the ship equipment are in thrust/power/whatever per volume. As a rocket guy ... I don't primarily think in volume so it's hard for me to be sure but a few of Mongoose's numbers have given me pause. The Core Rulebook #3 page 66 shows the Manchurian Star Carrier 50 ton cargo rocket. It's listed as a takeoff *mass* of 500 tons and a payload *mass* of 415 tons. As far as I know a payload mass fraction that good (415/500 = 0.83) is physically impossible for even the best theoretical chemical rocket. That's a chemical rocket propelled vehicle where 83% of the mass is cargo. Yeah. Uh. No. SpacEx's Starship's is something like 5% payload by mass if the tweets are accurate. An aircraft typically lives around 50% payload mass fraction. And they don't have to carry their own oxidizer. So I'm scratching my head on that big rocket. Glancing at power density for MHD turbines and some other numbers I'm not sure how much unobtanium is in the plumbing here anymore. In GDW 2300 AD I could easily go check ... because real world technical literature talks more about mass than volume. Here it's harder to tell. That detracts from the feeling of immersion for me.

4. This sentence on page 7 of AEH is at best un-necessarily proscriptive and at worst just plain wrong for the setting:

"Spaceframes are oriented with their decks perpendicular to the axis of travel, like an office building."

That's only true if the spaceframe hull in question spends a lot of its life under thrust. If it spends it's time under stutterwarp ... things look different. The KENNEDY deck plans in the same AEH (page 188) are the best example. What the heck did they do to the KENNEDY? The ship as shown here is clearly designed on the assumption that the crew will stand on the decks like they're in a skyscraper when the reaction drive is on. "We've all seen the Expanse! What's the problem?" I hear you ask. The problem is that this is 2300 AD. Military starships in this setting spend WAY more time under stutter than under thrust. KENNEDY will spend maybe a few hours under thrust during an entire deployment. The rest of the time that central cylinder is in micro-gee. The really sad part is that KENNEDY deck plans in the "First Edition" Mongoose 2300 AD rules had the command spaces running the length of the central cylinder as a single long deck. I think Mongoose had it right the first time and shouldn't have changed it. This is a step back for me. I blame the Expanse. At least Mongoose didn't stick the bridges on the nose cones like a certain OTHER RPG company I could mention. But now we have TWO artistically attractive representations of the KENNEDY.

Other random stuff:
-The new asteroid mining stuff is needed and good.
-I think Mongoose gets the prize for being the first to put in light-lag modifiers for remote vehicle operations. Love that.
-The biggest space fission reactors in the setting output in the 100 MW range. We build cores like that today that can last 20 years. The ones in original 2300AD basically never needed refueling. Why do the ones in the Handbook need to be refueled every five years?
-Aerospace Engineer's Handbook subtly changed gravitic detection of stutterwarp signatures by making it non-directional. That means all the cool trailing tactics from Dave Nielsen's "Lone Wolf" scenario in Challenge 33 at least have to be revisited to make sure that trailing a starship at FTL pseudo velocities is still possible. I'm not sure it'll still be possible in the way he describes it there because he pretty clearly had grav scan giving the shadowing ship directional information.
-I really really really want Star Cruiser 2. Please?
-It looks in the rules like maybe each rod in a detonation laser MUST target a different ship. If this is the case I think that is neither physically reasonable nor wise from a game mechanics standpoint. Combat in this setting is supposed to be deadly. Getting hit by 2% of a multi-kiloton nuclear bomb focused into a coherent pulse should ruin anyone's day.

So I could say more but this is already way too long. The OP cared a lot more about the more typically useful human scale RPG stuff. Obviously nothing I say above matters if your characters spend all their time working on that scale. I'll move all this somewhere else if you want.

Vili, if you want more of my thoughts on this then PM me or we could start a new thread.
 

vili

Mongoose
feld said:
Well...here's a wall of text.

That's not a wall of text, that's a wall of brilliance! Thank you so much for taking the time. This will certainly help our group better understand, interpret and houserule the new edition's spaceship concepts.


feld said:
The OP cared a lot more about the more typically useful human scale RPG stuff. Obviously nothing I say above matters if your characters spend all their time working on that scale.

I actually respectfully disagree here. A couple of years ago, I spent a lot of (too much) time thinking about spaceships in 2300AD. Not because I'm that interested in running or playing adventures that centre around space travel, but because spaceships determine how different systems and planets are connected to each other in this universe. In my view, it is only by understanding how spaceships function, how they travel, which parts of the journey are the most difficult, and how much interstellar trade, migration and information exchange they can support, that one can start to understand the psychology of a frontier colonist and what their relationship with the rest of the universe might be.
 

feld

Banded Mongoose
Your opinion re: the criticality of s/c to any science fiction setting are actually very close to my own. I just find that most players don't enjoy going to that level and don't want to come across like I think they "have to." I find many folks are pretty sensitive about it.
 

Colin

Mongoose
feld said:
vili said:
I don't know about the OP, but I would definitely be interested in hearing your thoughts on this!

Other random stuff:
-The new asteroid mining stuff is needed and good.
-I think Mongoose gets the prize for being the first to put in light-lag modifiers for remote vehicle operations. Love that.
-The biggest space fission reactors in the setting output in the 100 MW range. We build cores like that today that can last 20 years. The ones in original 2300AD basically never needed refueling. Why do the ones in the Handbook need to be refueled every five years?
-Aerospace Engineer's Handbook subtly changed gravitic detection of stutterwarp signatures by making it non-directional. That means all the cool trailing tactics from Dave Nielsen's "Lone Wolf" scenario in Challenge 33 at least have to be revisited to make sure that trailing a starship at FTL pseudo velocities is still possible. I'm not sure it'll still be possible in the way he describes it there because he pretty clearly had grav scan giving the shadowing ship directional information.
-I really really really want Star Cruiser 2. Please?
-It looks in the rules like maybe each rod in a detonation laser MUST target a different ship. If this is the case I think that is neither physically reasonable nor wise from a game mechanics standpoint. Combat in this setting is supposed to be deadly. Getting hit by 2% of a multi-kiloton nuclear bomb focused into a coherent pulse should ruin anyone's day.

So I could say more but this is already way too long. The OP cared a lot more about the more typically useful human scale RPG stuff. Obviously nothing I say above matters if your characters spend all their time working on that scale. I'll move all this somewhere else if you want.

Vili, if you want more of my thoughts on this then PM me or we could start a new thread.

Thanks for the positive notes. In retrospect, I would agree with some of your points around the drive systems. Not having mass in the equations does make it more difficult to simulate a 'hard SF' space craft. Given that restriction, I strived for more of a hard science 'feel'. (btw, there is no writing team. It's just me. There is, however, a great editorial and rules reviewer team, so we've got that.)

To some of your points above:
The limited life span on fuel cores for civilian ships ensures that it is an issue that Travellers will have to deal with in the course of a game, if they are crew on (or have use of) a nuke boat.
It is possible to track a ship using the GADS system, but you have to have multiple ships. It is possible to compare the detection strengths and triangulate based on that.
I've discussed Star Cruiser II. There are no immediate plans, but it is a possibility.
In general detonation laser warheads were designed to target multiple opponents. There doesn't mean that they _must_ do so. You could use a rule that up to 2D rods could target a single ship, which throws in enough variation there to keep things interesting.
 
Colin said:
In general detonation laser warheads were designed to target multiple opponents. There doesn't mean that they _must_ do so. You could use a rule that up to 2D rods could target a single ship, which throws in enough variation there to keep things interesting.

Detonation "lasers" require a waveguide for every ray they cast. To target multiple vessels the missile must look like a WW2 naval mine, with lots of waveguides pointing in different directions.

Since all 2k3 missiles have no external waveguides sticking out of them (see pic), the waveguides must be internal and aligned with the missile body. The missile fires one burst of X-Rays directly forward, or at a very slight offset.

Now, you can design a multiple-target bomb-pumped ray-caster, but it would not look like a missile. Here is a picture of the original conception:

xray04.jpg


Each "rod" is a waveguide for a single ray. Each rod needs to be individually targeted, and pointed at the target. Also remember, these aren't focused beams, but rather are collimated, meaning their effective range is on the order of tens or hundreds of km, vs 100,000's of km for a focused X-ray laser on a ship.

The only way a 2300AD missile makes physical sense is if it has the bomb at the back, and a number of rods running along the body which guide the X-Rays forward.
 
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