Traveller Q&A provides answers to questions from readers on various aspects of MegaTraveller and 2300AD. If you have a question you would like to have answered, send it to Digest Group Publications Q&A, 8979 Mandan Ct., Boise, ID 83709. We will publish the best of these questions with answers in this column.
All answers in this column are reviewed by GDW and thus are official answers to your questions.
MegaTraveller Errata: If you send us a business-sized SASE with two stamps on it, we will send you the latest MegaTraveller errata sheets. There are two parts available (tell us which of the two you want): one dated 6/1/88 and the other dated 10/1/88. Each part contains different errata - you need both parts to have all the errata. The errata not only correct some inconsistencies in the rules, but also include valuable clarifications and suggestions.
Yes, you are very perceptive. The central sectors of the Imperium were given a special tech level modifier of +1 when they were generated, in addition to all the other regular modifiers. - Joe D. Fugate Sr.
Why are tech level 16 worlds suddenly becoming commonplace? There are 24 of these worlds in one sector alone (Massilia) according to Traveller's Digest Issue 11. -S.0.
There are several marginally tech level 16 worlds in the Imperium, and the sector with the most tech 16 worlds is Massilia Sector (Margaret's territory, interestingly enough...). Even though a world's tech level may officially be 16, remember what it says about tech level in the Referee's Manual:
"Large areas of the world away from the starport or away from large population centers may be one or even two tech levels lower."
To clarify further, the tech level 16 rating comes when a world makes a major advance in a certain technological area. For instance, if a world has advanced to the point that it can build fusion power plants whose volume is under 0.09 kiloliters, then it has crossed the boundary to tech level 16 power plant construction. Other technologies may still be at tech level 15. The tech level 16 rating indicates the best technology that is available, which is not always the same as the worldwide technology. - Joe D. Fugate Sr.
In Issue 10, there were some animal encounter tables. The life force entry confused me. For most of the animals, the unconscious number was higher than the kill number. How can this be right? Also, shouldn't the penetration value on animal weapons be more for an animal weighing 2,000kg than it is for an animal weighing 200kg? - P.M.
The animal encounter tables on page 22 of Issue 10 were published before MegaTraveller was available and so they are Traveller animal encounter tables, rather than MegaTraveller tables. To convert the tables to MegaTraveller, divide all the values in the hits columns by 3. To use the first entry as an example: it reads 13/6; converting it to MegaTraveller gives us 4/2 (drop fractions). Convert all values in the same fashion.
The first number indicates how many damage points it takes to render the animal unconscious, and the second number is how many additional damage points it takes to kill the animal. For example, using the 4/2 above, it takes 4 damage points to knock the animal unconscious, and then 2 more damage points to kill the animal. It is not at all unusual for some animals to require more damage for unconsciousness, and then require less damage to finish them off. Notice from the example just given, however, that it really takes 6 damage points to kill the animal: the first 4 will knock the animal unconscious, the rest will kill the animal.
For simplicity's sake, the wounding capability (damage points) of animal weapons is increased when the animal's mass increases, but any potential penetration increase is ignored. Also, it was judged that by ignoring the penetration element, animals are a little less deadly. An adventurer who survives a scrap with an animal is a happy adventurer. Since animals are NPCs (non-player creatures, in this case), we felt less of a need to give the animal a greater chance of outliving a player character. - Joe D. Fugate Sr.
How do robot brains and starship computers differ? Can robot programs be loaded into a starship computer? - D.T.
Robot brains and starship computers are different. Different enough, in fact, that program transfer between the two involves, as a minimum, several formidable tasks.
Modern day analogies often help to explain why things in MegaTraveller are the way they are, so let's look at an analogy. Consider the most advanced automobiles on the road today. They incorporate several microprocessors. Are the programs in automobile microprocessors interchangeable with the ones on my personal computer? in other words, can I load Space invaders into my car's engine computer, and play Space invaders in my car while the engine is not running? Of course not.
So it is with robot brains and starship computers. Each is designed for certain specific functions. The robot brain is designed to be a very small, efficient processor of abstract concepts (very good at pattern recognition, essentially), while a starship computer is more of a traditional, "dumb but reliable", distributed processor. Program interchange between the two is not impossible, but does involve many technical tasks requiring a good array of skills. I'd say a series of formidable tasks involving mechanical, electronics, robotics, and computer skill, as well as education would be called for. Since each such interchange is usually a custom job, several of the tasks will be uncertain. This means that while you may make the mods, you'd dam well better test them several times first Uncertain tasks are great for this kind of in-game research and development by characters. The players must retry the die rolls until they feel the results they are getting are reliable. We've used this technique a few times in our own playtests, with good results. You should see the players squirm when the process they are developing is critical, results are inconsistent, and time is running out! It's great fun.
Okay, you've managed (with much effort) to transfer your starship's navigation program to your robot's brain. Good. Are you sure you'll trust your life and ship to the first jump vector generated by your robot? - Joe D. Fugate Sr.
How many can sleep in a bunk on a starship? - P.M.
I'll answer this question with another question: how many people can sleep on a standard couch? A starship bunk is about the same size.
While two people could get by in one bunk, it is a desperation move at best, and it's going to be mighty uncomfortable. One person is what they are designed for. - Joe D. Fugate Sr.
I had a problem when a HEAP round penetrated an APC. It was a chassis hit, but what happened to the people inside? The people inside had armor, but looking at Striker, it would only have added +2 to the "Outer" armor for purposes of penetration. We argued for 20 minutes, then I pulled GM's prerogative and used a temporary solution. What's the official answer? - MJ.
This is a very good question, and not specifically covered in the rules. As far as an official ruling, I'd say all explosive rounds that penetrate a vehicle's hull also cause crew hits to all crew members in the danger space of the explosion (in other words, they get hit at half the penetration value of the explosive round). - Joe D. Fugate Sr.
I've been troubled by something ever since Travellers' Digest Issue 11. The capital of the Rule of Man was at Hub/Ershur in Massilia sector, Subsector A. Yet in that issue, the subsector is not called Ershur, but instead is named Kerr. Why is that? - M.M.
That was the Rule of Man, this is now. While the subsector was called Ershur over 1,000 years ago, in the early years of the Third Imperium the subsector was renamed. The famous Imperial statesman and arbitrator, Zuan Kerr (-22 to 67), was largely responsible for bringing that subsector into the growing Third Imperium. The subsector had been particularly hard hit by the Long Night and the population had developed an intense hatred of the Solomani and of interstellar governments in general.
The subsector was named after Kerr, in honor of his remarkable achievement of convincing the majority of the worlds in that anti-Imperial subsector to join Cleon's new Imperium at last. Kerr devoted the best years of his life to bringing these worlds into the Imperium. During the more than 50 years that he spent in this subsector (from 3 to 57) he literally lived on each world, and became a local inhabitant.
Kerr was a vocal opponent of Emperor Artemsus' militaristic "pacification growth" concept, first espoused by Artemsus in 60. Kerr had much sympathy in the Moot However, Kerr died in 67, and over the next ten years, Artemsus was able to sway the Moot, now that the great champion of the "Kerrian" political period was dead. The Pacification Campaigns started in 76, and lasted for some 60 years. Historians consider the pacification period under Artemsus to be one of the darker periods of Imperial history. - Joe D. Fugate Sr.
In the back of the Director's Guide (about page 102) there is a list of travel times in the section labeled "Interplanetary Travel Time". This section states: "multiply interstellar speed (in ly per day) by 0.645 for the in-system speed in AU per day." If you use the speed and time scales given in the starship combat section, the same ship may travel far greater distances in one day. Why is this so? - G.S.
One thing to be cautious of is taking tactical combat rules and assuming that the time scale, weapon range, and movement scale are all the same. Many combat rules use a distance scale oriented toward weapon range, with a time scale intended to compress a conclusive amount of game-time battle damage into a reasonable session time. The chosen movement scale may simply be one that "keeps the pieces on the map", and in effect is yet a third scale. This makes the game playable and doesn't really hurt the feel of the game, even though the movement scale does not match the time scale or the weapon range. Miniatures rules are particularly prone to the "three different scales" approach.
Since few battles last more than a day, the designers of a tactical game also don't worry about movement scale accuracy for long-distance travel. If you plot out the distance a tactical unit (pick just about any tactical game you like) could move in a week's or a month's time, you'll find the unit to be moving much faster than is reasonable.
Such is the case with the 2300AD starship combat (and, the same is true, incidentally, of MegaTraveller starship combat - in case you hadn't noticed). You cannot use starship combat to gauge in-system travel times over extended periods. The rate in AUs of 0.645 x ly speed is the correct rate to use. - Joe D. Fugate Sr.