In consequence of inventing machines, man will be consumed by them – Jules Verne

So, once again there is a new version of Intercept; the rulebook, the design system and all of its ready made designs. So what has changed then one may wonder? Too many changes to count but let’s just briefly mention a few.

Traveller skills

All task rolls are now assumed to be used with Traveller skills as DM. This means that all target numbers have been changed to match, the game plays as before, just easier to integrate with the Traveller rpg. I am assuming Mongoose version of Traveller here which means that it will also work with Classic Traveller, Megatraveller and TNE, Cepheus engine will of course also work. I assume a skill level for a task is 2 for civilians and 3 for Scouts and Navy, wary as you see fit.

Pilot rolls are still made against the ships Size and the Pilot default table still uses the ships Size but modified with the skill of the Pilot.

Armor

Ships Armor was too high for high TL designs because of a bug I had missed in the design system. All armor values have been updated for all designs, the SDB Dragon class is still built like a tank but a little bit easier to kill for example.

Missile to hit and damage

Missiles are now more affected by their relative vector, their attack vector as it is called. Their to hit chances vary more and their PEN and DAM vary more by attack vector, you have been warned. I have also extended the max relative vector out to 10+ squares per turn for very hard to hit (and defend against) and a truly devastating damage.

Well, that is all folks, until next time. I’m thinking about maybe writing a thing on custom missiles, lots of interesting things to do there, to surprise your opponents. Keep the solar wind to your back side.

Posted in Rules, Traveller on April 13, 2020 by Anders Backman

“The hedonic-treadmill theory says every time you achieve a goal, you set your sights on the next one,” says Art Markman, a University of Texas psychologist and Psychology Today blogger. “If your main goal is high status, you won’t enjoy it once you’re there.”

I have posted my rules for social class, NPC motivations, reactions and how to influence NPCs using their motivations here.

Tasks

Whenever a task roll is mentioned rules to determine the target number, what skill and modifiers to use will be given, as well as what the degrees of success or failure are noted. See my page on Traveller tasks here for details here.

Maintenance

Every quarter of a year (13 weeks) characters adjust their SOC by various factors, this can lead to one or more increases or decreases in their SOC. There are 5 modifiers to check; Family, Upkeep, Wealth, Socializing and Punishment, each will give a Social Modifier (SM) that can be either positive or negative. You add them all up, taking their sign into account of course, and that is your final SM score. Roll a D6 against this SM score and if you rolled equal or lower you raised your SOC by 1 if the SM is positive or lowered by one of the SM is negative, if you succeeded you may roll another D6, add it to the first and if the sun is still equal or lower you gain or lose another SOC, keep rolling until you fail. Say your final SM is +3. Your first D6 is 1, so you get +1 SOC and can roll again. Your second D6 is a 3, 1 + 3 is four which is higher than the SM of 3 so you stop, with SOC + 1 for this quarter.

Note that if your SOC is the same as your Family SOC, you pay normal upkeep for your SOC, your wealth is equal to or below your SOC, you don’t socialize publicly and you haven’t been convicted of any crimes your total SM will be 0 so your SOC cannot change.

Family SM

Family SOC is usually what SOC you started with but if the referee wants to track the rise and fall of a family this may change during play as well. If your parents are unknown your Family SOC is 5. Family SM is calculated like this:

+2 if Family SOC is 3+ higher than your SOC

+1 if Family SOC is 1-2 higher than your SOC

0 if Family SOC is equal to your SOC

-1 if Family SOC is 1-2 lower than your SOC

-2 if Family SOC is 3+ lower than your SOC

Upkeep SM

You must pay upkeep every quarter (13 weeks) to pay for food, clothes, beer etc. This also simplify play as you don’t need to keep track of small expanses like this during actual play. Look at the Upkeep column of the table below to determine what Upkeep cost at each SOC. If buying 1 to 2 levels above your SOC gain you a +1 SM and buying 3 or more above your SOC gain you a +2 SM, buying lower than your SOC works similarly. If you do buy some fashion item during play and the referee deem you must pay for it you must find an item at the given Art Class (AC) which might be tricky, or treat Upkeep as that of the bought AC if lower. Ignore Upkeep while in prison, use the Punishment SMs instead.

+2 if Upkeep-SOC 3+ higher than SOC

+1 if Upkeep-SOC 1-2 higher than SOC

-1 if Upkeep-SOC 1-2 lower than SOC

-2 if Upkeep-SOC 3+ lower than SOC

Art class

Art Class (AC) is a multiplier to price for fashionable items. AC 0 is the normal level that is most common and whenever nothing specific is said the item is AC 0. Higher AC items may or may not be of higher quality as well, AC -1 or -2 are always of lower quality and whenever there are rules for breakage take these modifiers into account.

High class skill let you judge the actual AC up to your skill level, anything above will only be known as higher but not its exact value. Let’s say some merchant is selling you a dinner dress at x30 the normal price indicating that it is AC 3. If your character has High class skill 1 you know it is above AC 1 but may not be more than AC 2. If your character or your valet has High class 3 she can certify that the dress is indeed AC 3 and thus worth the x30 price tag. Note that it is only when seen in public situations that AC matter, nobody cares if you were sweat pants and ugly v necked t-shirts at home.

Wealth SM

Wealth is based on the amount of visible money (house, ship, stocks etc) you have from the table. There is no negative SM from having too low wealth. Use the table to determine what your level of wealth corresponds to as a SOC. Ships are valued by age:

10 years or more old 70%

20 years or more old 50%

50 years or more old 17%

or you can use this formula for ships at least ten years old: Value = Base value x 0.7^(age / 10)

+2 if Wealth-SOC 3+ higher than SOC

+1 if Wealth-SOC 1-2 higher than SOC

Socializing SM

Socializing means being seen in the company of others in public. Keep track of both the highest and lowest SOC your are seen with and note that if you are 3 or more SOC below the ones you hang with they will lose status for being seen in the company of you. Those you hang with discreetly or secretly won’t affect this SM in any way.

+2 if the highest SOC you socialize with is 3+ higher than your own SOC

0 if the highest SOC you socialize with is equal to your own SOC

+1 if the highest SOC you socialize with is 1-2 higher than your own SOC

-1 if the lowest SOC you socialize with is 3+ lower than your own SOC

Punishment SM

If you are convicted of a crime you will suffer an SM at least once but also every 13 weeks if the punishment last long enough. Note that for very low SOC punishments can sometimes give positive SMs. Punishment Levels (PL) will be explained in much more detail in an upcoming post and rulebook pdf called Crime and Punishment.

Well, that should be enough for you to all start climbing up the greasy pole. The Social class pdf available here for download detail rules on reactions, NPC motivations and how to influence them based on their motivations, there is even a little guide on how to determine what reaction is required for a particular favor, also based on NPC motivations. Next I will post an article detailing how to use these motivations in a variety of ways, as an example I will list the primary and secondary motivations of all crew members aboard the Serenity.

What a vision you are, in your fine dress. It must have taken a dozen slaves a dozen days to get you into that get-up. ‘Course your daddy tells me it takes the space a school boy’s wink to get you out of it again. Forgive my rudeness. I cannot abide useless people.

When you create your own vector movement system, as I am sure everyone does, you need to determine what map scale, turn length and acceleration units are. There is an obvious formula from school that most seem to use and but will argue for why this is wrong and why one should instead use another formula, also from school.

Mapscale

Typically one decide on the map scale first (how large will the hexes, squares, inches or centimeters be?). Deciding on scale is mainly about what you want in your maps, do you want planets to be one unit or less in scale? Do want to show Earth and the moon on the same map? Do you want to fit the inner solar system on your map, like Triplanetary? And so on.

Some examples:

Intercept 10 000 km per square, 15 minute turns, 1G per square.

Intercept large scale 100 000 km per square, 60 minute turns, 1G per square.

Traveller LBB 1000 km per inch, 5 minute turns, 1G per inch.

Mayday by GDW 300 000 km per hex, 100 minute turns, 1G per hex.

Triplanetary ~10 million km per hex, 1 day per turn, ? G per hex.

Intercept let you play using two different scales and switch back and forth as you like, there’s even a smaller scale in the works if I can iron out the problems with planets taking up large parts of the map, that scale will be 1 000 km, 4 minute turns and 1G per square as usual.

We will later calculate what acceleration Triplanetary is likely using based on the distance and time scales and formulas learned.

Formulas

High school math teaches us two formulas for determining distance traveled, one for when applying constant acceleration from a standstill and another when having constant speed.

The two formulas are:

Notice how formula 2b is the same as formula 1 but without the 1/2 multiplier. Distances traveled become twice as far in formula 2 so one of them must be wrong, right?

Not so fast! The formula from high school actually looks like this:

Formula (3) also take the velocity from the previous turn into account (the v0 term). As v equals a multiplied by t we get our beloved formula (2b) as the first term, or something similar at least.Why is the first term twice as big as the second term? Well, the the first term assumes the speed is constant through the time segment t while the second term treat is as increasing, the distance traveled can be seen as areas in graphs with speed plotted versus time, like this:

If we use formula (3) to determine total distance traveled while t keeping t as the turn length and v as v (n-1) where n is the number of turns we’ll see that as the number of turns increase the grey area will more and more resemble a rectangle (the triangle of the last turn will contribute less and less of a fraction of distance traveled).

The grey area is the distance traveled. If we call one rectangle as 1.0 and one triangle as 0.5 we get the following distances:

Turn 1: 1 triangle plus 0 rectangles = 0.5

Turn 2: 2 triangles plus 1 rectangle = 2.0

Turn 3: 3 triangles plus 3 rectangles = 4.5

Turn 4: 4 triangles plus 6 rectangles = 8.0

and so forth…

You see that as the number of turns increases the number of rectangles increases faster than the number of triangles. So, as the number of turns increase the the number of rectangles will outstrip the number of triangles.

In the vector movement systems of Triplanetary, Mayday, Traveller, Intercept etc we use a vector that both represent velocity and acceleration however. So we either decide that one unit length should be correct for acceleration from a standstill but wrong for drifting or accelerating with a prior velocity (1) or we decide that one unit length should be correct for drifting and approach correct when handling prior velocity (2).

Too much theoretical bullshit you say? OK, let’s do a practical example.

Let’s travel from a standstill to the moon as see which of formula (1) or (2) most closely fit (3). We ignore braking at the moon just go to the moon as fast as possible. The average distance between the earth and the moon is 380 000 km so let’s go with that.

Units for formula (1)

A = 10 m/s^2

T = 1000 s

S = 5000 km

Distance earth – moon will be 76 squares.

Traveling 76 squares with 1 unit acceleration will be

1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9+10+11+12 = 78 units after 12 turns (12 000 s) = 3 h 20 m (We overshot the moon by 2 squares but this is the closest we could get)

Units for formula (2)

A = 10 m/s^2

T = 1000 s

S = 5000 km

Distance earth – moon will be 38 squares.

1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9+10 = 46 units after 10 turns (10 000 s) = 2 h 45 m (We overshot the moon by 8 squares but this is the closest we could get)

The correct value using formula (3) and setting v0 to zero is (8 718 s) = 2 h 25 m

Sorry about the long winded explanation but for some reason most vector systems get this wrong. Doesn’t matter when you play of course but say you want to travel from earth to the moon using actual mapboard movement you’d find that the travel time would not match the calculated value.

Apollo 11 50 years anniversary July 16 1969

Yes, 50 years ago today a couple of Americans started their travel from earth to the moon , certainly not under constant 1 G acceleration and they made damned sure their velocity was as close to zero as possible before they hit the moon. Apollo 11 did the trip in about half a week.

Today is Traveller day. Just read what’s written on the box and you’ll get it.

Traveller was the first science fiction rpg ever published, it came out the same year as Star Wars but before the movie was released, a happy coincidence. Traveller was a strong influence for the Elite computers games as well as the Firefly and Expanse TV series, Traveller has also influenced Intercept which of course is eminently usable as a space combat system for the Traveller rpg.

Oh, and Traveller used vector movement for its starships instead of some lame-ass Trek thing…

Attack vector
A highly detailed boardgame employing vector movement with perhaps too much detail on simulation and maybe not enough on the game aspects. Fully 3D with interesting mechanics for that.

Battle Rider
This is a great game from GDW depicting fleet battles in the Traveller universe. It used special cards to handle all randomness instead of dice and used the tried and tested Mayday movement system. Another Great game by Frank Chadwick.

Mayday
A nifty hex paper boardgame using vector movement. The first vector boardgame I bought and still my favourite. It was a spin-off from GDWs Traveller rpg which also employed vector movement.

Triplanetary boardgame
Triplanetary was one of the first boardgames ever to use vector movement.

Vector rally
The first vector movement game I ever played. All you need is graphpaper and some pencils.

Intercept

Intercept bundle
Rules, design system and everything else needed (version is on the first page of the rules).

Intercept designs
Some ready made design sketches for common Traveller ships using the Intercept design system, examples come from commerce, navy and scouts (2010-11-06 version).

Science

Atomic Rocket
The best site on the internet! Loads of interesting stuff on anything dealing with Hard SF, rockets and space combat. Bookmark this site and check out regularly unless you are Trekkie or space fantasy buff.

Centauri dreams
Discusses extrasolar planets, advanced propulsion, astronomy and other interesting subjects.

Rocketpunk manifesto
Lots of articles on Science fiction that asks interesting questions about the Canon of Hard SF.

Science fiction

Atomic Rocket
The best site on the internet! Loads of interesting stuff on anything dealing with Hard SF, rockets and space combat. Bookmark this site and check out regularly unless you are Trekkie or space fantasy buff.

Rocketpunk manifesto
Lots of articles on Science fiction that asks interesting questions about the Canon of Hard SF.