So this Combat Arm from the Central Supply Catalogue I just got as a benefit...


Banded Mongoose
Rolled up an army Lt-Col with 3 combat implant benefits and sorely tempted to apply the rule that you can use second and third implant benefits to upgrade the implant another two levels even if it takes it over the TL and Cr limit.

Moreover she actually left the army after an injury mishap which makes it part of her backstory.

Which looking at the Central Supply Catalogue gets me the Combat Arm-13:
At TL13, a slimmer arm is made almost completely from
non-ferrous alloys, advanced plastics and super-conductive
circuits. This arm is considered to have STR 18, grants a +6
bonus to Armour, and can be fitted with any melee or pistol
weapon at +10% more than the weapon’s standard cost. Any
pistol integrated in the arm will have an external port for
magazines or power packs.

And all for just Cr75,000 if you buy it (and can you get two?)

Which seems just a tad unbalanced - the +6 armour bonus is actually better than Subdermal Armour +5 at TL14 which costs 500,000 - and if one arm gets you +6 then really you might as well have both replaced to get +12 protection...

And as for STR augmentation to get +3 you need TL15 and Cr 5 million - but you get way more than double that effect with one combat arm.

Of course the STR 18 only applies if you are using the arm but as you'll probably have a chaindrive axe in it and be doing 4D+6 damage every hit does that really matter?

So what's the downside for this hugely powerful and surprisingly cheap augment ?

Sure its obviously outsize and cybernetic but at TL13 it is specified to be 'slimmer' - and if it can be slimmer I'd assume they'd go for only slightly outsized - and you can add the natural-looking option and wear baggy clothing and gloves which would make it not obvious unless you look at it closely.

I'd rule that even at TL13 it is nevertheless noticeable enough to impose a -1 to SOC-based tests in any status where cyborgs are looked at somewhat askance.

I'd suggest that at levels below TL13 it should also impose a DEX penalty for fine manipulation skill tests - including the use of missile weapons designed for normal human hands.

I'd also say that the Arm cannot allow feats of strength that make use of the whole body - you may now theoretically be able to lift a small car but your spine and shoulder is not cybernetic so will break if you try.

Plus you are subject to EMP attacks that can leave you with a useless limb and can face significant repair costs if it gets damaged.

I am also inclined to introduce a hit location chart (and there is one in T5) and rule that the extra +6 protection only applies to hits to the Arm itself.

I'd also require a 2D roll whenever the Arm is damaged with any result less than total damage incurred against the Arm so far causes it to malfunction and become useless, and if equal to total damage it will still function but at half strength and a -1DM to skills using the Arm (which can be cumulative).

Has anyone else any more suggestions?

Overall however I think the cost of this augment should be errata'd and increased by x10 or x20...


Keep in mind rolling the same combat implant upgrade is not that probable. From tens of heroes created in our sessions, only a few (under 5) have managed to stack luckish rolls and gain skill 4 or significant upgrades.

As for the arm, I also see it as pretty strong augmentation. Since there are no images for this chapter, I can only assume what it looks like. We have no further insight into the design draft.

The STR bonus is situational, it doesn't effectively increase the STR of the traveller, like the STR augmentation, which actually makes him tougher (more physical characteristics).

(those are my own interpretations in order to balance it)

I imagine the arm as some sort of robot-arm, designed primarily for combat. It is attached to the torso in order to achieve better bio-mechanic (thus the bonus to armour).
The arm is highly distinguishable from a normal limb (unless covered by armour or loose dress).
More advanced armours require custom tailoring in order to fit/utilize the arm, which increases not only the cost but also limits the availability of such armours.
Any fine dextrous applications of the arm (almost) automatically fail, as it's not designed for that. Meaning - typing on keyboards with normal speed; providing first aid; engineering; operating interfaces which are not designed for this arm.

You can always add a zero to the price.

For example - the legs implant which grants speed - I imagine them as the runner leg prosthesis.


As far as my interpretation, the extra strength only really applies to damage rolls and weapon handling rolls (for things like bulky). I don't think the armor is that big a deal as it does Not say that it stacks with other forms of armor. In addition, it does come with a clear negative: If they need medical treatment, for every tech level below 13 their care provider suffers a cumulative negative to their medic roll. This is going to come up because anyone getting a combat arm intends to get into fights.

Also, while the TL13 armor is slimmer, it's still bulkier than a standard arm. Security checkpoints might harass or conduct additional checks on anyone with an obvious combat implant (treat it as a permanent modifier to law checks to see if their checked or apprehended). While you pointed out that they might pay for upgrades for making them harder to spot, police forces might react more aggressively if they are surprised by a hidden arm, same as someone not revealing that they are a concealed carry for a firearm and a weapon is spotted. The narrative can reinforce other things that, while not discouraging players from making that choice, can reveal consequences for their choices. :)


Indeed it doesn't mention it can stack. That is a significant drawback indeed, only beneficial if the traveller is without any good armour.

In this case, the price might be ok, and any the additional drawbacks I made can be toned down.


... Acknowledged. I can even understand why they would, as it adds a useful bit of buffer for melee-centric characters. However, I have chosen to interpret that it does not. Armor, unless otherwise stated, doesn't add to each other; you just use the one with the best number. Since one of the armor types (subdermal) specifically states that it stacks as an exception to the rule and the arm does not, I'm not including it. Now mind, this is giving the writers the benefit of the doubt, and most days reading through this book feels like watching someone rolling a 10 on a 14 difficulty check.

Annatar Giftbringer

Cosmic Mongoose
Personally, I’d allow the armour to stack, But I’d only allow it for damage to the combat arm, such as unarmed parry or other situations where the arm specifically takes damage.

I also wouldn’t let it stack with Subdermal Armour, but once again that only goes for hits on the arm.


Banded Mongoose
If a character serves 7 terms and gets to rank 5 you get 10 benefit rolls so three sixes or whatever gets you that particular benefit is by no means unlikely.

Re armour clearly it all has to be tailored to the individual at purchase and to cover what would logically be a far greater range of human and non-human body types (back in the 1970s Marc and Co at GDW had no way of knowing the likely effects of life on lower or higher than earth gravity worlds on human anthropometrics and what we now know is that people born on Mars or Luna let alone the asteroid belt would be freakishly tall and slender while anyone from a hi grav world would be short and squat) than we have today - so fitting one arm bigger than the other hardly seems a massive challenge.

Plus IMTU any armourer will make heavy use of 3D printers far beyond our TL7 ones and so if they lack ready made pieces to fit they can print out some very quickly.

Re security issue unless it has a weapon embedded inside it a Combat Arm is just a very sophisticated prosthetic and no more of a weapon intrinsically than the un-augmented fists of a champion professional boxer who can do almost as much damage - let alone an Aslan's dewclaw or a Virushi's ability to accidentally crush someone to death by sitting on them.

I'd actually say the main reason they are not more common even amongst military types is because actual citizens of the imperium are not minimaxing RPGers - having an insensitive and somewhat less dextrous robo-arm is so much less attractive than being able to get back your natural one.

But regrowing or transplanting limbs should not be easy or cheap - medi-clones according to T5 take a year to force-grow and even at TL15 transplant surgery should be complicated and expensive - so I can see these replacement arms being an occasional stop-gap measure particularly in the military where there are real advantages.

Moreover you can use Mr Raczak from Starship Troopers (who I'd say has the uncamouflageable TL11 version) for inspiration...

Still think they are underpriced at KCr75 though...


Emperor Mongoose
That's cultural, deliberate social engineering, which serves two purposes.

Justifying and promoting a warrior elite and the requirements for being part of the electorate.
I could envision some really interesting story arcs for a party where one of the travellers had this, and most of those scenarios involve magnets. Large, debilitating magnets.


Banded Mongoose
Given that the game depicts a militaristic neo-feudal empire that is very shortly to disintegrate into civil war causing the death of literally trillions and turning thousands into giant cemetaries I don't think that Mr Raczak's or however it's spelt weird politics would be that problematic...


Banded Mongoose
Er the Arm uses 'non-ferrous alloys' so magnets aren't going to stop our veteran with the outsize robo-arm...

An EMP grenade would be much cheaper.


Well, you can always rule that the Benefits rolls only cover the implants from the core book (i.e. no combat arm).


Banded Mongoose
Problem with that is that the implants in the core book are basically crap and only neural comm, skill augmentation (of which you can only have 1 and for a skill you already have at -0), +1 subdermal armour and wafer jack/4 qualify under the KCr50 and under TL12 limits.

Plus if you disallow the CSP augments you logically also have to disallow all the other gear there - so no one gets the chaindrive axes or static swords or Combat Env Suits or Poly Carapaces (and the Armour selection in Core is particularly crap given the Cr10,000 limit) from chargen.

While if you were running a normal campaign with real players a GM might want to limit their initial access to stuff like that (although most will be able to afford it anyway from their mustering out benefits as soon as they get to a planet with a low enough law and high enough TL or streetwise their way into the black market) I am only doing a solo one and prefer running a small number of very competent characters to a larger number of less competent ones.

Speaking of which I just rolled up a 9 term (and he only took a serious ageing hit in the last one as I have modded ageing to take account of sensible assumptions about hi-tech gerontology so he still has A986B5) ex-army and ex-agent character who is entitled to no fewer than 6 combat implants (remember army gives you a 1/3 chance per benefit roll of getting one).

So looks like I am going to have a whole little squad of ageing cyborg commandos - which is cool as I going to start off running Rescue on Ruie where they have to fight a large platoon of TL7 concentration camp guards to rescue the Baron's son...


Banded Mongoose
Also find your outsize Robo-Arm keeps accidentally crushing your beer cans and smashing computer keyboards (as if they'd still have such a thing) for just 7,500 credits you can implant an additional manipulator with STR 6 and DEX 10.

But why stop at one of each? - take two Robo Arms and a couple of additional manipulators and you can both be firing your Robo-Arm-Equipped-Man-Portable Autocannon and tweeting about it on your personal comm at the same time...


RogerMc said:
. . .
Re armour clearly it all has to be tailored to the individual at purchase and to cover what would logically be a far greater range of human and non-human body types (back in the 1970s Marc and Co at GDW had no way of knowing the likely effects of life on lower or higher than earth gravity worlds on human anthropometrics and what we now know is that people born on Mars or Luna let alone the asteroid belt would be freakishly tall and slender while anyone from a hi grav world would be short and squat) than we have today - so fitting one arm bigger than the other hardly seems a massive challenge.
. . .

Do we know that low gravity humans will be tall and slender and high gravity humans will be short and stout?

I know that has been an assumption of science fiction since the pulp era, but since there are no examples of humans growing up on low or high gravity worlds we definitely don't know it experimentally. As far as I'm aware, there hasn't even been animal experimentation to prove or disprove this.


Emperor Mongoose
Darwin would favour dwarfism in high gravity, low centre of gravity, more support for the skeleton.

I'm not too sure that low gravity would promote a great deal of growth beyond a bit above average; zero gravity isn't good for us even in the medium term.

Trees are supposed to grow to enormous heights, and there would be less restrain on possible mountain peaks; both aren't usually mobile.


Banded Mongoose
We do know that astronauts in zero-G for any serious time get on average 2cm taller as their vertebrae loosen and lengthen and then lose that 2cm back on earth as it compresses again.

The rest is speculation but speculation that is fairly agreed that Belters and Martian colonists would probably be taller and slenderer than Earthers.

And as the average inhabited planet size in Traveller is 5 compared to Earth's 8 that means human standard would be much taller and frailer.

I handle this in character generation by using the planets size DM as a negative modifier to STR and END and a positive one to DEX - and to balance this out also make TL DM a positive modifier to EDU (first DM point), SOC (second DM point) and INT (third DM point).

Which does save fiddling about with special gravity DMs for every planet you land on which if anyone remembered to apply them might well be a lot more punishing to characters.