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Old 09-10-2018, 03:09 PM   #1
hal
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Buffalo, New York
Default Alternative GURPS TRAVELLER (or path not taken)

Hello Folks,
A while back, I had a web site up that had - based on GURPS VEHICLES 2nd edition, new hulls sizes (which was adopted by GURPS TRAVELLER after GURPS TRAVELLER 1st edition was printed) - but it also had the following ideas or concepts that were not used later on.

For example - I created "point defense" weapons that wouldn't be useful for piracy style aggressive attacks, but would be useful in missile defense mode. GURPS TRAVELLER: STARSHIPS made those point defense lasers obsolete due to the fact that normal laser weapons could be lowered in power to point defense mode. But purpose designed point defense lasers mean that governments can beathe a little easier knowing their civilian ships are armed only with light weapons, not the heavier ship damaging weapons.

Another thing I introduced was the concept of the Imperial version of the Norden Bomb sight. It was a hard wired computer that could only run Targeting software. This in turn, allowed the Imperials to gain an extra +1 benefit from "Targeting computers" installed in turrets or in the control areas for the turrets. Such computers were totally reliant upon the ship sensors for real time data.

Then there was the road not taken where it comes to spinal mounts. In GURPS TRAVELLER, they do one massive attack. BOOM. They overpower any attempts at a Meson Screen to defend a ship and outclass it entirely as written in GURPS TRAVELLER.

My path that I used before GURPS TRAVELLER: STARSHIPS came out was this:

For each TTL (Traveller Tech level) - they designed spinal mounts largely in a small, medium and large (which was often around 2,000/5,000/8,000 dton tons). So, why not build the meson weapons to those specs, with the following parameters:

1) the accuracy inherent in Spinal Meson guns is largely a function of "Rate of Fire" bonuses. The higher the rate of fire, the more accurate the weapon would be at long distances. This matched the observed properties of Meson weapons in High Guard perfectly

2) A high rate of fire for meson spinal mounts also mimicked the ability of spinal mounts to inflict multiple hits on its target.

3) by using a high rate of fire, damage values of Meson spinal mounts would be lower.

Which brings me to the other point about GURPS TRAVELLER versus HIGH GUARD combat...

In HIGH GUARD, Meson Screens actively protected the ship from enduring ANY damage from Spinal Mounts of the spinal mount value was low enough and the meson screen value was high enough. GURPS TRAVELLER doesn't have this property. My version of the spinal meson weapons did.

So - although I've since lost the work that went into these versions, I know how I got them, and it would be easily enough to re-do them again. Would anyone be interested in this for their own Traveller Universe?

One thing I noted about Meson Spinal mounts in GURPS TRAVELLER...

Meson Spinal Mounts are TTL (Traveller Tech Level) 11 weapon systems (earliest tech of introduction). In GURPS TRAVELLER, this works out to be GTL 9 per page 107 Sidebar. Yet, there are no TL 9 meson spinal mounts.

Thoughts? Comments?
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Old 09-10-2018, 08:26 PM   #2
Fred Brackin
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Default Re: Alternative GURPS TRAVELLER (or path not taken)

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Originally Posted by hal View Post
Hello Folks,

Thoughts? Comments?
This is at least conceptually close to things I have been thinking about lately. Specifically I've been thinking about how I would build ships using the same technologies available in Traveller but starting from scratch.

For example I would have more than one kind of missile. The 100mm Tactical Missile from UT serves ground forces as a perfectly good anti-air weapon and even has enough Delta-V to reach orbit. If I was in charge it might have made the transition to space as an anti-missile weapon. Possibly launched in barrages from pods. I can even find base Gurps stats for pods of 4 and 20 in Pyramid 3/37.

Yet there are only one kind of missile in CT and two in GT:Starships. There aren't even missiles as small as 100 mm in Spaceships.

I'd also have to design logical stealth "torpedoes" from scratch in Ve2 as well.

I'm also frustrated with time scales in GT. It just doesn't make _sense_ to only fire energy weapons once per minute. Spaceships is almost as bad and both suffer from over built reactors that you just don't use if you have the full freedom found with Ve2. You run energy weapons off power cells in Ve2.

I'm also frustrated with the scale in Traveler generally. Ships are _huge_. I live in a 20 dTon house but that'd be a light fighter.

If you think a Type T Patrol Cruiser ought to be the sort of thing that would make a good host for a PC group and start planning out customs inspection missions that are going to go bad you find out that the "Customs Gig" seats 24 and the Type T has an 8 man security force that has nothing better to do than go on such missions.

If you wonder the Gazelle might be a better choice because it has no security force but I'd rather have a 10 dTon Launch tan a 20 ton gig.

So yes, I am frustrated by the constraints built into the design systems that would be easiet to use.
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Old 09-10-2018, 08:56 PM   #3
hal
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
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Default Re: Alternative GURPS TRAVELLER (or path not taken)

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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post

<snipped stuff>

I'm also frustrated with the scale in Traveler generally. Ships are _huge_. I live in a 20 dTon house but that'd be a light fighter.

If you think a Type T Patrol Cruiser ought to be the sort of thing that would make a good host for a PC group and start planning out customs inspection missions that are going to go bad you find out that the "Customs Gig" seats 24 and the Type T has an 8 man security force that has nothing better to do than go on such missions.

If you wonder the Gazelle might be a better choice because it has no security force but I'd rather have a 10 dTon Launch tan a 20 ton gig.

So yes, I am frustrated by the constraints built into the design systems that would be easiet to use.
Ok, so what kind of time scale would you rather see? If it weren't for the Rate of Fire Bonuses - trying to hit anything at longer ranges would be exceedingly difficult.

There have been many times where I'd just about want to throw up my hands and go back to what I used to do in the bad old days before GURPS TRAVELLER ever got printed...

Use GURPS as the role playing rules, use TRAVELLER's original ship combat rules and take it from there. It worked for me long before GURPS TRAVELLER came out (ran two such campaigns easily).

Thing is - once the flaws in the TRAVELLER rules came to the fore (and STRIKER didn't help matters there either!), it seemed to make more sense to try and shift over to the direction that GURPS TRAVELLER was heading - including a mass based acceleration value instead of a volume based system that High Guard used.

What I really LOVE about the GURPS rules is not just the more realistic assessment for Fusion energy production, but also the sensor rules. Trying to reconcile the Traveller universe using the sensor rules from Mayday or Book 2: Starships just seemed to be a bit of an issue.

So, what are your thoughts on how long combat rounds should be, and lets see where that line of thinking takes us. Rather than shoot things down or accept things blindly - how's about looking at the road not taken. If I recall correctly, each "turn" in Traveller (Classic) was 1,000 seconds or just over 16 minutes.

I still remember hunting down the figures on ranges for Mayday and trying to reconcile them with High Guard ranges. ;)
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Old 09-10-2018, 10:57 PM   #4
tanksoldier
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Default Re: Alternative GURPS TRAVELLER (or path not taken)

Quote:
I created "point defense" weapons that wouldn't be useful for piracy style aggressive attacks, but would be useful in missile defense mode.
Pointless. Having only point defense weapons is like taking All Out Defense in personal combat.

You give yourself almost perfect defense... and your enemy absolutely perfect defense.

Quote:
But purpose designed point defense lasers mean that governments can beathe a little easier knowing their civilian ships are armed only with light weapons, not the heavier ship damaging weapons.
Everybody is already flying weapons of mass destruction anyway. Is a laser really more of a worry?
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Old 09-11-2018, 12:35 AM   #5
hal
 
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Default Re: Alternative GURPS TRAVELLER (or path not taken)

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Originally Posted by tanksoldier View Post
Pointless. Having only point defense weapons is like taking All Out Defense in personal combat.

You give yourself almost perfect defense... and your enemy absolutely perfect defense.



Everybody is already flying weapons of mass destruction anyway. Is a laser really more of a worry?
Addressing your last point first - there aren't going to be too many successful pirates if they use kamikaze tactics with their ship hulls. Might work once or twice, but then they'd be out of pirates or pirate ships. ;)

To answer the earlier points...

The goal of the point defense laser design is three fold.

1) it took away any offensive punch the laser weapon could have had, limiting it to strictly defense against incoming lasers

2) it increased the number of missiles it could engage per battle round and successfully shoot them down.

3) when on the ground, it was more of a laser gatling weapon that could fire constantly and do decent damage to normal player characters, normal vehicles, etc. Think the difference between a 75mm main gun versus a .50 cal machine gun. The point defense would have been the .50 cal high volume of fire light weapon versus the slower firing main tank gun.

Looks like I'm going to have to rebuild that old spreadsheet I used to create the energy weapons per the GURPS TRAVELLER guidelines.

;)
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Old 09-11-2018, 12:08 PM   #6
Fred Brackin
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Default Re: Alternative GURPS TRAVELLER (or path not taken)

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Originally Posted by hal View Post
Ok, so what kind of time scale would you rather see? If it weren't for the Rate of Fire Bonuses - trying to hit anything at longer ranges would be exceedingly difficult.
Something short. I'd rather not have to handwave whatever it is that the PCs are doing that takes so much time.

One thought is that the gunners are using the Precision Aiming Technique from Tactical Shooting. That takes up time and gives bonuses to hit.

The basic issue with space combat scale is that people seem to really, really want to move litle ship counters on a tabletop map even if there isn't anywhere to go. So you end up stretching Turn length to allow for enough movement to add up until it's worthwhile to move the ship counters.

If you boosted acceleration by an order of magnitude or two (more in line with current military space fiction) you could shorten the turn length by the same factor. Reducing weapon range could have a similar effect.
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Old 09-11-2018, 12:43 PM   #7
Mike Wightman
 
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Default Re: Alternative GURPS TRAVELLER (or path not taken)

Have you looked into using more realistic weapon ranges? Reduce the weapon ranges and you can reduce the timescale of a turn.

GURPS Spaceships is a great resource for this.
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Old 09-12-2018, 05:43 PM   #8
SteveS
 
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Default Re: Alternative GURPS TRAVELLER (or path not taken)

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Originally Posted by Mike Wightman View Post
Have you looked into using more realistic weapon ranges? . . .
This is a worthwhile point. As a starting point for that, look at the formula for diffraction-limited optics.

For ordinary light, the diffraction limit formula is
A = 1.22 w / d
where A is the angle in radians, w is the wavelength, and d is the diameter of the optical aperture. For example, consider a one meter aperture and green visible light at 500 nm.
A = 1.22 500 nm / 1 m = 1.22 0.510^-6 m / 1 m = 6.110^-7
Converting radians to degrees, minutes, and seconds that's 3.510^-5 degree, 2.110^-3 minutes, or 0.126 second.

So, a perfect one-meter beam blurs to two meters (and one-quarter intensity) at distance of 1.64 million meters, or 1640 km. Since GURPS simplifies damage to a half damage range, half damage is at 1160 km. (That's not really good math, however, because although the intensity declines according to the distance squared rule, it's the same total amount of energy on target. Intensity is the right figure for purposes of defeating armor, but total damage isn't reduced until the beam is wider than the target, or reduced by imperfect aim.

My description of "blurs to two meters" is an simplification. Instead of an initial one meter circle of constant intensity expanding to a two meter circle of constant intensity, it actually expands according to a wave function. The wave function looks like a bright circle surrounded by alternating dark and light rings of gradually decreasing brightness. You can see the effect through a good telescope focused on a bright star in steady seeing, or with a laser pointer on a plain surface.

Another complication with the diffraction rule is that the regular formula, with its 1.22 constant, is for ordinary light. With lasers, the 1.22 constant is replaced by the laser beam quality factor, customarily notated as "M^2" (upper case "M", superscript 2). The M^2 for good commercial lasers of low to medium power is typically close to the 1.22 of ordinary light, though, so it's a reasonable simplification to say that powerful Traveller ship lasers have an M^2 of 1.22, through the magic of high technology. (A mathematically perfect beam has am M^2 of 1.)

Reducing Traveller lasers to diffraction limits shortens everything about combat. I knew this stuff back in the classic era, tinkered with trying to get the physics to make sense, and eventually gave up for the sake of gaming fun.

Off topic, I found that the medical proton therapy is surprisingly similar to the described properties of the meson gun: energy deposited in the target increases exponentially with depth to a peak, and then drops off exponentially (at least that's what the graphs look like). No magic mesons are required.
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Old 09-12-2018, 07:33 PM   #9
Fred Brackin
 
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Default Re: Alternative GURPS TRAVELLER (or path not taken)

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T
Off topic, I found that the medical proton therapy is surprisingly similar to the described properties of the meson gun: energy deposited in the target increases exponentially with depth to a peak, and then drops off exponentially (at least that's what the graphs look like). No magic mesons are required.
That's probably just a normal bell curve for particle absorption in a medium of (relatively)uniform density. If you put a dense outer layer (like armor) before the soft inside you'd see proportionately more absorption in the armor.

You'd also se at least some ionization, secondary radiation and waste heat all along the path of sbsorption rather than at the peak of the bell curve only. Mesons still need to be magic. :)
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Old 09-13-2018, 12:27 AM   #10
SteveS
 
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Default Re: Alternative GURPS TRAVELLER (or path not taken)

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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
That's probably just a normal bell curve for particle absorption in a medium of (relatively)uniform density.
Ilooked it up, and it's actually a quadratic curve, not exponential, because the energy loss by charged particles is inversely proportional to the square of their velocity (and I think proportional to density). But because there's only so much energy to lose, that quadratic curve drops off very abruptly where the velocity reaches zero, because there's no energy left to lose at that point.
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If you put a dense outer layer (like armor) before the soft inside you'd see proportionately more absorption in the armor.
The total density that the charge particles pass through counts toward the quadratic curve, so more armor means the starting energy needs to be higher so that the peak of the quadratic curve is reached in the soft interior rather than inside the armor (or cryogenic fuel). Tuning a charged particle beam would include guessing thetotal density of armor so the peak lands in the soft spot.
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You'd also se at least some ionization, secondary radiation and waste heat all along the path of sbsorption rather than at the peak of the bell curve only. Mesons still need to be magic. :)
The most damaging energy would probably be the ionization, at least in crew hits. Ionization also hurts electronics unless they have optical back-up.

Secondary radiation would happen through nuclear spallation, and because a nucleus is so small compared with a whole atom, it's comparatively inconsequential except if the particles are slow neutrons at extremely high intensity.

Waste heat comes from re-neutralization of ionized atoms and re-bonding of free atoms and radicals.

All unstable particles, including mesons, decay exponentially. Making them temporarily stable then unstable requires magic. But charged particle Bragg peak matches what the mesons gun is supposed to do.


One way a meson weapon might work in combination with a different Traveller magical science might be for an unstable particle time-dilated to long life, until it reaches a nuclear damper, which shortens its life to the point where it is dangerous. So if a meson ship fires on a target that's using its nuclear damper (perhaps to protect against incoming missiles that might be nuclear), the damper create a problem that didn't exist before. But that's not at all like the described meson gun.
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