Archive for April, 2013

Changes to Intercept

Posted in Design system, Intercept, Rules, Traveller on April 8, 2013 by Mr Backman

Some of you may not know it but I keep doing updates to the rules, maps, datacards and design system on a regular bases, just download the Intercept bundle here. Quite a lot of updates have accumulated without andy update posts but I will try to summarise the most recent changes below. To see what version you have simply look at the headings row of the design system for version date. I always update Ship.xls and Data.xls in tandem.  You can see the version of the Data.xls where you see the Ship.xls version number.  To update your designs you need to copy each column labeled Edit from your old design and paste* it into the new Ship.xls, then close the old design and save Ship.xls as the old designs name overwriting it. When you paste it is much safer to do the Paste->Paste values to ensure that you won’t overwrite and formatting.

Updating the Ship.xls sheet

All kinds of thrusters now correctly reports their actual thrust, the two values are Loaded / Unloaded performance. The Mtrl type field now goes from 0-3 with ever decreasing masses for most of a ships components. If you find your designs too low in acceleration and delta-V you should increase your material types to lighter but more expensive versions.

Editable Sun factor

Sun factor
There is now a light yellow field for the Sun factor. It should be easy to recalculate Vis(Hull) and IR(Hull) for other values of the Sun factor but now you can simply enter the value you want in the yellow box. Sun factor is +6 in the life zone of a solar system and goes up by 1 for each orbit inside and down by 1 for each orbit outside down to Sun factor 0. Mercury is +8, Venus is +7, Earth and Luna is of course +6, Mars is +5, Asteroid belt is +4, Jupiter and its moons are +3, Saturn and its moons are +2, Uranus and its moons are +1 and Neptune and its moons are 0. Pluto isn’t even a planet but as its orbit is never much closer than Neptune it is always 0 in Sun factor. Ships in Planet shadow subtract the Sun factor from Vis(Hull).

Living space
Living space and Life support determine the quality of life for the crew past the endurance of its crew stations. More living space per crew member means longer trips without physical or psychological effects. This is mostly here for roleplaying uses but if you design your own ships for competitive play make sure yiu stipulate the expected trip time requirements, ships using Jump drives should have at least one week endurance as this is the time the ship spends in hyperspace. Note that the Closed Lifesupport option requires lots of room for the green house but that entire volume is also treated as Living space and this is reflected on your ship designs.

Living space and crew comfort table

  • 1 m3 per crewmember Cramped 1 day cruise
  • 2 m3 per crewmember Normal 1 day cruise
  • 5 m3 per crewmember Roomy 1 day cruise
  • 10 m3 per crewmember Cramped 1 week cruise
  • 20 m3 per crewmember Normal 1 week cruise
  • 50 m3 per crewmember Normal 1 month cruise
  • 100 m3 per crewmember Cramped 1 year cruise
  • 200 m3 per crewmember Normal 1 year cruise
  • 500 m3 per crewmember Roomy 1 year cruise

Well, that is all for this update, more to come regarding the rules changes later (when I will also document the polar plane gravity sling stealth manuver sometimes called the Marre Red).

Goodbye Vectors, hello April fools!

Posted in Boardgames, Films and TV, Intercept, Rules, Science fiction, Vector movement on April 1, 2013 by Mr Backman

I have recently come to the conclusion that not many people find Vector movement to be neccessary or even preferrable for a space combat system. Less and less people read actual Science Fiction, ie something not based on films, games or comics, so it gets harder and harder to sell the idea that vector movement is how spaceships move and they should therefore like it.

So, today I have decided to go with the flow and embrace the more cinematic style of space combat. Battles from SciFi universes such as Star Wars and Star Trek could run battles using the Intercept rules with double blind hidden movement, fully deterministic, logarithmic values etc without foregoing their popular cinematic movement style.

What then IS a proper cinematic movement system? I have decided to break down the two most popular settings, Star wars and Star Trek and see how we could emulate that in our game:

Star Trek

I have complained about the various scientific inaccuracies of Star Trek but failed to mention its strengths; Star Trek shows us a positive and humanistic view of the future. Enterprise and its brave crew aren’t on a mission to subjugate planets and aliens, they are there to explore and help and always keeping in mind the prime directive, never interfere destructively. Star Trek also gave us the female perspective with Lt Uhura as a near equal on the bridge yet still able to express her female side with her short hemlines and sensuality. Star Trek also stress how important emotions are to us humans, always trumping cold logic. Kirk wins by persevering over staggering odds despite Spocks logic telling him his efforts are futile. We can learn something from this as politics is often too much ruled by logic and hard facts ignoring the very thing that makes us unique in the world; our emtions.

Star Trek ships use subspace warpdrives to quickly move from system to system. There are cases when they have battled during warp but this is too different to regular combat and will be covered in a future post. Star Trek ships always move with the nose in their forward direction. Some kind of drag seems to be in effect as ships with damaged impulse drives tend to slow down and ultimately stop. Top speed vary little between capital ships as is eveident from their inability to outrun each other. The Wrath of Kahn end battle has Kirk using thick clouds of a Nebula to turn the tides on Kahn instead of merely outrun him. The ability to turn seem more or less the same, regardless of speed and ship size.

Star Wars

I have often critizesed Star Wars for being a fantasy story disguised as Science Fiction. This may or may not be true as all Science Fiction is really nothing but some other literary genre in disguise (Blade runner is crime fiction, Barbarella and Zardoz is soft-porn etc). What Star Wars did to Science Fiction is to put religion as center stage. Many know me as a fervent atheist but what is atheism exactly, if nothing but a different faith? All humans need to believe in something and to hold something higher than himself, to serve and strive for. Star Wars also show us that not everything can be settled by a majority vote; there are issues and questions that must be handled by wise and spiritual elites, far better at judging changes in tradition and culture. Jedi knights show us a solution to the problems facing todays democracies; the lack of spirituality and disregard for tradition.

Star Wars ship jump between solar systems very much like the Traveller jump drives but no combat seems to occur while in jump space. Star Wars ship seems to have vastly different top speeds depending on size where smaller ships outrun bigger ones. Star Wars ships turn slower the faster they go as is evident if one analyze the dogfights in Star Wars Episove IV.

Star Trek cinematic movement rules

Use as much of the Deterministic optional rules as possible to get the feeling of Kirk and Klingon in a battle of the minds. It is especially important to use the deterministic ruls of Initiative where the Initiative goes to the ship which ‘skipped’ more steps, see the Deterministic combat rules for details on this.

Ships should note their speed and can move to any square in their forward arc. Turning is done anywhere during movement.

All ships can turn 4 steps each turn regardless of size, -1 step if Hull or Crew has Light damage, -3 if Hull or Crew has Severe damage. No turning if Hull or Crew has Critical damage.

Ships can increase or decrease speed by Acc, top speed is 6 regardless of Size, Acc etc. Ships lacking thrust reduce speed by 1 each turn until stopped.

Star Wars cinematic movement rules

Do not use the deterministic rules as Star Wars portray battles as individual skill rolls. Give your hero characters lots of skill bonus.

Ships should note their speed and can move to any square in their forward arc. Turning is done anywhere during movement.

Ships roll Pilot tasks vs Size as usual noting the steps of turning. Reduce turning steps by one for each full multiple of Acc in speed. Ships moving at top speed cannot turn at all.

Ships can increase or decrease speed by Acc, top speed is Acc * 4. Ships lacking thrust reduce speed by 1 each turn until stopped.

Well, that is all folks, get out and enjoy this beautiful April fools day!