Thursday, September 11, 2014

Mongoose Traveller Core Rulebook MGP 3800 Part 8 Spaceship Combat

Spaceship Combat

Let's get the elephant in the room out of the way. No Vector Movement.

Wither this is a good thing a or a bad thing depends. I think it's a bad thing. Vector movement was an important part of Classic Traveller Space combat. Have no fear, it comes back as an alternate in High Guard
Really, the space ship rules and the non character generation rules in High Guard should be taken as a whole, which I will do, post my High Guard post(s)

So, if no vector movement, what do we have instead? Well, a band based system that used the thrust of the ship to determine how long it takes to go up or down one band. This works fine, assuming 2 ships, because, after 2 points makes a line. With 3 or more, life gets ugly. Ugly enough as to almost be unplayable, giving the fact that the bands aren't the same size. Making tactical movements is really, really tricky. As I said, Vector movement, The One True Movement System For Traveller Space, comes back in High Guard, but as it stands, ick.

All that being said, the TMB space combat system really does work well for 2 ships. The postion of all the members of the crew needs to be determined, but that's sort of a given assuming you have a full crew.

Steps in combat are

  1. Set up.

  2. Manoeuvre

  3. Combat

  4. Ship's Action

Set up

This is just the find range, find where every one is located at, determine initiative, like the set up in damn near all modern role playing games.


This is some what simplified, given the lack of vector movement, it's just a matter of deciding how many of your thrust points you want to apply towards changing range bands (and if going up or down the scale) and how many you are keeping to dodge and like that with.


Combat is very much like personal combat, as far a rules mechanics go, in that you roll 2 dice, plus modifiers based on weapon type vs range and the skill of the gunner to get 8+ to hit, armor reduces damage and the target can take reactions to coming under fire to modify your chance of a hit. The number of reactions depends on the number of thrust points the target ship has left after the manoeuvre phase. On of the possible actions that uses a thrust point is "line up a shot", which makes a pilot check part of a task train for taking the shot. It's not quite clear if this applies to all shots that turn or just to one, but I rule it's for all shots, based on the wording "his gunners", not "a gunner", but I can see why some one might think it only applies a single shot. Not a game killer either way.
Beam weapons are done per each, not per turret. Missiles, at least in the no vector version, have a turn until impact based on their range, or, if you want to be crazy, they are a thrust 5 ship. Gah. Tracking that many on the band based system? Ouch.

There is a "quick boarding actions" chart, in case you don't want to do a normal Traveller combat to solve the assault.

Ship Action Phase

In this phase you may attempt to repair damage systems, get (or break) a sensor lock, attempts to increase your initiative or change positions with in the ship.


Damage is tracked via the same system as vehicles, in that there is two types of damage points, hull and structure, and you don't take structure damage, in general, until you are out of hull points. The total amount of damage a hit does is cross referenced against a chart which reduces it to "single, double or triple" hits against a given system on the ship. The effects of single etc hits is listed per system. Stronger hits might do multiple single etc hits, as an example, 37-40 points of damage is going to do a triple, a double and a single hit. Each of these hits would be rolled on the target chart to determine what got kissed.

The chapter ends with a shadow text block explaining that a starship class weapon does 50x damage, so if you roll 6, you are doing 300 damage on the personal/vehicle damage levels.

Next up, Psionics!


  1. I suspect that part of the problem may be that people who are used to cinematic space battles often overshoot wildly when they try to play something realistic. The version of Traveller I started with, Starter Traveller, had a one-dimensional vector system, which was a surprisingly playable compromise.

    Of course if you want to get really extreme about it, I wrote up a version of vector movement that gives physically realistic results, something you don't get out of any other game except Attack Vector: Tactical. Takes a while to play, though.

  2. The flat surface vector movement system is what I meant.