Discussion - De-Canonizing Striker and TCS

Last Updated 9 March 2004.

2004 #167

Message: 11
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2004 20:42:38 EST
From: Richard Aiken
Subject: Re: [TML] JTAS and a Gift.
To: tml@travellerrpg.com

In a message dated 2/6/2004 2:48:07 AM Eastern Standard Time, hal@buffnet.net writes:
> The ironic part is, I'm not either passionately pro or anti piracy. For
> me, the Jury is still out as neither side has really presented a case I
> can go with. Gut level, all I can do is try to figure out what is needed
> for piracy to exist since quite a few "big names" state it can't.

I'm not fantatically pro-/anti- either, really. I just don't see how people who want a loose Imperial rule can also support an absence of piracy. The only way you get an absence of piracy is to have a firm rule - one which actively patrols against it. Now, in rich systems, you wouldn't have piracy - as the system government would patrol against it. But in poor ones? Which are dependent on whatever the local IN fleet can spare from watching/countering external enemies? I think that pirates would find some cracks to exploit in such systems.

> Why hasn't anyone ever bothered to do a full write up about it?

I suspect because you would have to nail down exactly how jump drive works, for one thing. This varies too much between TUs - and even between different official versions of Traveller - for an overall definition to work. I've mentioned this already in another reply, but take heat dissipation.

Ships spend a week in jump. What happens to the heat they built up? Can they radiate it away into jump space? If not, how do they deal with it? With those same magical heat sinks which let them zoom about between planets without any noticeable radiator fins (in the canon pics, at least)? And which let them hide their infared sigs from sensors, even if not built with stealth tech?

The following are MTU answers to some of the above: Discussions with Leonard have made me think that all non-stealthed commercial ships use retractable radiator arrays, which are only braced against thrust from one direction and only to a ship's normal, loaded G rating. These ships have enough heat sinks to hold the heat which they internally generate during jump, but (being built to maximize profit and minimize expense) only just enough for the job. As soon as they emerge from jump, they have to deploy their arrays and begin dumping heat. Especially because they will now be engaging their manuever drives and thus very quickly generating even MORE heat.

All such ships become:

  1. Targets - Dumping this heat immediately (as their low-capacity heat sinks will require) makes them bright IR targets on every sensor set out there - patrol and pirate alike.
  2. Vulnerable targets - As the arrays are not armored (they can't be and still function!), weapon hits would quite easily disable or even destroy them. With no way to dump heat, the ship has to shut down its powerplant. BTW, this would easily explain the CT damage/repair rules. Those "Powerplant" and "Manuever" hits on the CT damage table (under this scheme) reflect not hits on these actual components, but rather reductions to the array's capacity to either shed heat (for "Powerplant" hits) or resist accelleration (for "Manuever" hits). It isn't that the ship can't power weapons and/or accel at max any longer, but that it dare not do so or major components will begin to melt/overload. But once out of combat (either having escaped or been captured) it would be the work of moments (by swapping out standardized units) to return the array to full capacity in both areas.
  3. EXTREMELY vulnerable targets - Some marginal ships (read, "poorly-maintained PC buggies") might be so close to heat-overload at jump breakout that they literally can't safely engage their manuever drives until they have shed some of the heat from their sinks. This would - natch - leave them nothing more than juicy, totally-immobile targets for any lurking pirates.

> What kinds of fleets
> are in the Official Traveller Universe and why? (Thomas Bont did a
> wonderful write up of a fleet by the way!)

I vote for "as many big guns in as many hulls as is tactically/economically possible." As for what those tactical/economic limits are, that too depends upon the rules set being used - particularly the first part. So an overall setting for piracy becomes even harder to establish.

> Why did Marc Miller decanonize
> STRIKER and Trillion Credit Squadron when it comes to the financial
> structure of Traveller's Military and government spending?

Er . . . Hunter apparently told him about the rancorous debate I and Hans were maintaining, here on the TML and back on JTAS, wherein Hans was beating me severely about the head and shoulders with Striker/TCS. So MM reminded us both that these two publications were essentially stand-alone boardgames, ones which addressed limited subsets of the Traveller universe and which had never been intended for wider application.

> Suffice to say - I'd have liked to see whether or not piracy can or can
> not exist as given in the current incarnation of rules. I'd like to see
> if a pirate could make a go of it. To do that however would require
> either inquiring minds working together in an "enjoyable" simulation of
> the problem rather than individuals with axes to grind.

Agreed. See above. Just as the detailed mechanics of sail technology were important pre-requisites to sailing-era piracy (the comparative ease of ship maintenance, but high vulnerability to damage of masts/rigging were essential facts), the mechanics of jump/manuever technology are important prerequisites to Traveller piracy. Without a detailed set of ground rules describing how these function (particularly, if/how they are vulnerable), nothing further is possible.

> As for Captain Hal's laws on piracy? Hmmmmm. I don't even have a ship
> ;)
> But if I did have to pick a name for a pirate ship? I'd pick the name
> "Luther's Revenge" in honor of Martin Luther - who dared to question the
> Catholic Church on Dogma that didn't make sense to him.

Hear! Hear! :-)

Richard Aiken

(Will insert a cute quote when I get a-round-tuit . . .)

Return to Top of Page