Visitors to the Undercity

The majority of Mega-City One citizens have no desire to visit the shadowy world of the Undercity.  Even in the direst of emergencies, most would rather face the radioactive wasteland of the Cursed Earth rather than the ruined streets and buildings far below the massive slabs of City Bottom.  Many remember the terrible monsters that have occasionally emerged to threaten the City and believe that the dark underworld is crawling with similar creatures.  Others are more straightforward and associate prestige with how high they live in the massive cityblocks – the very idea of living on City Bottom is repugnant; the thought of human life existing beneath the ground would fill them with horror and disgust.  Most, however, simply do not know – or care – that the Undercity really exists, too wrapped up with their everyday lives to bother with semi-mythical places.

A small minority of citizens are prepared to risk life and limb by organising expeditions to the old cities.  The adventurous, the desperate, or the just plain greedy, dare to venture below the City into the darkness despite the Justice Department strict prohibition of the practice.  However, any visitor must be careful to ensure that they can exit the Undercity as easily as they entered it – City Maintenance squads quickly seal up any holes and fissures that they find, which can leave the unfortunate intruders stranded in the dingy caves and caverns!

The Justice Department also have a vested interest in keeping the Undercity under control.  Despite existing beyond their normal jurisdiction, judges are occasionally sent on missions into the darkness in order to eliminate some terrible threat or apprehend some particularly important fugitive.  On more than one occasion, judges have been dispatched on the request of the Undercity dwellers themselves to deal with some new terror, but this is very much the exception rather than the rule.  A chronic lack of judicial manpower has ensured that regular Undercity patrols are a thing of the past, but there is still a form of regular law enforcement.  Judges can choose to take the Long Walk into the Undercity when they retire from active service.  Each takes an oath ‘to bring Law unto the Lawless – until death!’ but the midnight world of the Undercity is very different to the bright lights of Mega-City One and only the most exceptional lawman can last for long.

 

Citi-Def Squads

Probably the most common visitors to the Undercity are members of the Citi-Def, intent on gaining some ‘real-life combat experience’ without the inherent risks of starting a Block War and the certainty of a long stretch in the Iso Cubes.  Before the Apocalypse War, the Justice Department would allow carefully selected groups of Citi-Def access into the Undercity, and during the conflict the old cities even acted as a base for many units of guerrilla fighters, allowing them to launch lightening attacks against the occupying Sov forces before fading back into the shadows of the buried streets and buildings.  Following the extensive rebuilding programme that followed the massive destruction, many of the old entrances to the Undercity were sealed over and the judges decided that to allow visitors to the subterranean world was simply too risky and difficult to administrate.  Modern Citi-Def squads must take a more clandestine approach, sneaking in via the sewer system or even boring through the rockcrete foundations of their cityblocks.

Most Citi-Def squads take great pride in the fact that they are always ready for enemy action, and to this end they tend to over-prepare somewhat, often carrying awkward or inappropriate heavy weapons or specialist equipment when embarking on a training mission.  However, there are still the small minority of units that believe that they can deal with anything that the underworld can throw at them armed only with a handgun and a flashlight.  It is usually only Citi-Def Officers and Jaeger squad commandoes that will embark on training missions to the Undercity – the normal citizens that make up the ranks of the Citi-Def militia are either disregarded as unsuitable or are simply not interested in crawling about below the sewers, preferring to watch game shows and soap operas instead.  A typical Citi-Def training squad will consist of an Officer accompanied by three to six Jaeger squad commandoes, equipped with spelunker suits and Nightrider rifles with high-powered flashlights.  Most carry enough rations to last for some considerable time, but some will be expected to live off ‘the land’ – surviving on only what they can catch and kill.  Most find that they would rather go hungry.

Undercity dwellers tend to regard visiting Citi-Def as little more than an irritation – no matter how stealthy and well drilled the part time soldiers attempt to be, with their noisy equipment and blazing lights they cannot help but be conspicuous.  Most tribes and troggie clans are prepared to ignore or avoid the intruders, knowing that they will soon return home to their own environment as soon as they get bored or hungry, or get killed by something bigger and meaner than them.  Others, such as the peaceful Philadelphian trog tribes, will offer to act as guides, skilfully steering the intruders away from anything really dangerous in return for some small trinket or piece of technology.

 

Criminal Cartels

Attracted by the fact that the Undercity is outside of the jurisdiction of the Justice Department, many large criminal cartels have had the idea of establishing a permanent base below the streets of the Mega-City.  This is often a very expensive operation – transporting the raw materials to build a secure building from the surface world to the Undercity without attracting the attention of the judges is an almost impossible task that requires elaborate planning and an enormous investment of resources.  Many fall at the first hurdle, attempting to bore a tunnel large enough to transport large construction vehicles and robots through the slabs of City Bottom.  Naturally, this is a rather noisy and conspicuous business that rarely goes unnoticed!

However, an organisation that is able to establish a base is able to reap the benefits.  The most typical Undercity base is used as a manufacturing plant, able to churn out anything from illegal weapons to drugs without much chance of discovery by the judges.  In theory, the cartel should be able to flood the streets of Mega-City One with untraceable contraband.  In practice, things rarely work out that way.

The Undercity dwellers themselves are a major headache.  Unlike the temporary visits by the Citi-Def squads or the transient, nomadic fugitives and refugees, the criminal cartels clearly intend to stay on a permanent basis.  Many tribes naturally take great exception to this invasion of their territories and will do their best to make the intruders lives as difficult as possible – sneaking in to steal anything that is not physically fixed down or simply murdering anyone they encounter.

A typical cartel base is a collection of modular, pre-fabricated buildings that has been constructed in a specially cleared area of an old city, or a repaired and re-fitted ancient ruin.  Unable to connect to the City’s power supply, the cartels must ensure that there is a powerful generator available which includes more than enough power to run all of the outposts needs.  Large lighting rigs illuminate the surrounding area, and 30 – 50 human guards are supposed to ensure that the Undercity dwellers keep their distance.  A team of construction and assembly robots toil endlessly at production lines, churning out illicit contraband, which must somehow be smuggled into the Mega-City.  Short of investing a huge amount of capital by installing one of the new teleport systems (which are unreliable even in the best of conditions), this will require a tunnel, which usually leads into some structure located on City Bottom – an old warehouse or Ecom unit is the most common – but the need to maintain a stable entrance into the world above is often the most difficult part of the operation, as the judges and City Maintenance alike will waste no time sealing the fissure without warning.

 

Refugees

Mega-City One has had more than its fair share of wars, natural disasters and invasions.  Some citizens have become so accustomed to citywide death and destruction that they have established a well-practiced drill, which is put into effect as soon as the first signs of a threat appear.  Thousands of citizens pack up whatever that cannot bear to part with and make for the relative safety of the Cursed Earth or the Undercity until the danger has passed, taking elaborate measures to escape over the city wall or burrowing through the slabs of City Bottom.

The residents of the Undercity usually avoid the refugees if at all possible – they know that these ‘upsiders’ will only enter their shadowy home in the most desperate emergency, and they themselves should hide should the threat extend below the Mega-City.  Sometimes, though, the fleeing citizens find no safe haven as the crisis has a dramatic effect on life in the Undercity.  The corrupting influence of the Sisters of Death was able to reach into the simple souls of the deep troggies during the Necropolis crisis, sending them on terrible rampages of death and destruction.  During the Judgement Day war, the dead of the Undercity arose to attack the living, just as happened all over the entire world, and the most recent influx of refugees found themselves fighting side by side with the Undercity dwellers.  Many thousands of troggies, human tribesmen and refugees were killed in the brutal hand to hand fighting.  The Undercity has never quite recovered from the repercussions of this terrible battle – especially considering that some of the undead remained animated after the defeat of the necromancer Sabbat.  The Apocalypse War resulted in the population of the Undercity almost doubling, as many of the citizens that had fled to hide from the occupying Sov forces had no homes to return to afterwards.  Others discovered that the life of an Undercity dweller was more exciting than their own tedious existence and decided to stay, a few simply did not believe that the Mega-City One forces could possibly have defeated the apparently unstoppable Soviet war machine, dismissing any subsequent news reports as propaganda intended to flush them out of hiding.  Some were still suffering from the Block Mania contamination and had become so involved in fighting the various Undercity tribes that it has simply never occurred to them to go home!

What constitutes a refugee party varies enormously, from a lone individual fleeing via the sewer system to a massive, hundreds strong column that has made its way beneath the ground by using enormous construction vehicles or robots to bore a huge tunnel.  Many blocks have established an evacuation drill that is put into effect at the first sign of an emergency, but in the event of an actual alarm most citizens will panic, grabbing the first thing that comes to hand (no matter how inappropriate or useless) and fleeing.  Most refugees will be unarmed, but about one in ten are equipped with small arms or hand weapons.

 

Fugitives

A citizen fleeing from the judges is often prepared to take desperate measures to avoid a long spell in the Iso Cubes.  Those that can afford it make use of a perp runner, a criminal highly skilled in smuggling fugitives out of the jurisdiction of the Justice Department.  Even though it is the closest ‘judge free’ area, few perp runners will take the effort to deposit their charges into the dark underworld.  Boring a tunnel through City Bottom is a time consuming, costly exercise that often attracts the attention of the very people that the runners are intent on avoiding.  In any case, even ruthless criminals find the thought of life in the Cubes preferable to struggling for survival in the Undercity.

Most fugitives that find their way below ground make their way unaided, squeezing through fissures or navigating through the sewer system.  It is usually only the most odious of criminals who are prepared to try to make themselves a new life in the Undercity – vile murderers tempted by the lack of judicial interference hampering their ‘fun’.  These individuals often join with the most violent Undercity tribes, frequently rising quite high in rank.

 

Tourists

Taking a tourist trip to the buried cities is a relatively recent craze.  Naturally, the practice of arranging package trips to the Undercity is highly illegal, but this only adds to the attraction.  For an extortionate fee, groups of citizens are smuggled below City Bottom, taking rooms in a once majestic hotel or famous landmark, while costumed entertainers provide re-enactments of historical events for the tourist’s amusements.  Many of the visitors are attracted by the opportunity for sightseeing, but they are frequently disappointed – it is too dark to see anything in most of the Undercity.

Most of these tours are arranged by totally unscrupulous conmen, intent on draining their customers of cash for as little work or effort as possible.  Others are more sinister – chump dumpers who simply abandon their charges in some dark corner of the Underworld to be killed by troggies or some monster, or even slavers who had no intention of taking their customers to anywhere other than a Cursed Earth slave market.

Even if tourists have been forewarned of the dangers of the Undercity, they are usually poorly equipped to survive below ground, often bringing no more than a vid camera and a bad taste in clothes.  Some tourists are intent on a ‘hunting trip’ to the Undercity, loading up with heavy weapon and determined to bag a trophy – similar to the ‘dinosaur hunters’ that have been venturing into the Cursed Earth for many years.  The Undercity is a very different environment to the Cursed Earth, however, which requires a very different approach – many hunters have failed to take this into account and have paid the price.

Most Undercity dwellers, except the most territorial and aggressive, tend to ignore and avoid sightseers.  A non-violent exception is the pathetic troggie sub-breed known as wretches – the cadaverous, blind creatures tend to crowd around the visitors, begging for a few scraps of food.  This approach does not normally work, but the tourists seem to regard the creatures as ‘charming’ parts of the scenery.  Naturally, all tribes will react against any violent act, often tracking down and swiftly eliminating any group that seems to be a threat to them.

 

Treasure Hunters

Seedy bars and clubs in the Mega-City are full of tales of the riches of the United States left abandoned in the old cities before their entombment.  In a city where any pre-Atom War artefact is considered a priceless collectable, many of the more gullible citizens are prepared to risk life and limb in order to visit the savage underworld beneath their feet.  Many pongo’s can make a fine profit selling ‘treasure maps’ detailing the locations of valuable items.  Most of these are simply copied out of old atlases, giving a vague idea of some famous landmark that may still contain some valuable item, others are completely fictional pieces of artwork that ‘guarantee’ the owner will find huge riches, but bear no relation to reality.  A few are genuine, accurately showing a location rich in valuable items – Gloomingdales department store in New York is a favourite, as it once claimed that it stocked ‘everything’, or the old United States Mint in Philadelphia, still reputed to hold millions of credits worth of old coins.

Most treasure hunters are enthusiastic amateurs, who believe that they can conquer the Undercity equipped only with a spade and a flashlight.  This is almost always a fatal mistake – most landmarks are occupied, or at least claimed, by the various Undercity dwellers, who take great offence to upsiders arriving on their territory unannounced to steal their property.  Others come better prepared, with diggerbots, ultrasonic scanners and adequate lighting as well as a selection of weapons to keep the threat of the troggies at bay.  Most realise that they have been hoodwinked and quickly give in – everything truly valuable that was left behind has long since been looted or broken in the years since the long night began.  Some are more patient, or more stupid, often spending a fortune in time and money tearing old buildings or monuments to pieces seeking valuables that no longer exist.  The United States Mint, for example, has been visited by so many different groups of fortune seekers that the fortress like structure resembles a honeycomb, riddled with tunnels and pits and verging on collapse.

A few treasure hunters actually become successful, finding a cache of priceless lava lamps or un-opened self-assembly book cases, which he then sells for a fortune on the antiques black market.  These exceptional individuals can make a very good, if illicit, living from their subterranean activities.  Others make a living by scavenging illegally through the Mega-City sewer system, seeking valuables other citizens have accidentally flushed away.  Even these ‘sewer scrapers’ are sometimes surprised by what they find washed up in storm drains or channels.

 

The Junk Prospector

The Mega-City antiques market places a great deal of value on artefacts from 20th and 21st Century popular culture – items that a contemporary individual would regard as rubbish or of short term worth.  Ancient newspapers and books are often banned by the judges, which only adds to their appeal – old copies of the New York Times, comic books or one time blockbuster novels find their way onto the Justice Department’s vetoed list, boosting their ‘collectable’ value no end on the black market.  Other items can be legally owned, but are extremely rare.  Ancient craze items such as Rubik’s cubes were at one time produced by the million, but only a handful have survived into the 22nd Century.  Even packaging is valuable – tins, bottles and even carrier bags can fetch millions.  It is not unknown for a collector to kill in order to obtain some rare item that was simply thrown away by its original owner.

The absurd prices that some citizens are prepared to pay for an old Wellington boot or a Sylvester Stallone movie poster naturally attracts many perps into ruined Cursed Earth towns and cities, or the buried conurbations of the Undercity in search of valuable junk.  The savage environment or its inhabitants kill many before they can find anything of value, but a few manage to locate a valuable ‘seam’ of junk.  Some still speak of the legendary Filmore Faro, who rediscovered the town of Memphis in the Cursed Earth and made his fortune selling Elvis memorabilia to the Sov block.  Some still speak in awe of his priceless coat made from ring-pull tabs, but always seem to ignore the fact that he was driven completely insane as his brain was fried in the radiation saturated wasteland before he chanced upon the old city.  The chance of making a huge profit always outweighs the dangers.

 

The Justice Department

The forces of the Justice Department are usually the only legitimate visitors to the Undercity.  Unlike most intruders, the judges make use of the great Undercity Gates instead of having to find a tunnel or fissure through City Bottom – although it is not unheard of for a team of judges to be dispatched through a hole, even if it only to see where it leads.  However, the judges lack the manpower to do anything other than make occasional visits, usually only when there is some pressing emergency brewing in the dark underworld.  Unlike the Cursed Earth, there is little or no monitoring of the Undercity, no circuit patrols or Hotdog Runs to give an occasional update of the situation below the city.  It is often years between missions – the judges often find that any information that they possess is hopelessly out of date when embarking through the Gates.

Occasionally it is the Undercity dwellers themselves who request the presence of the judges.  They are fully aware that the great judges are able to deal with threats that they have no chance of coping with – troggies have emerged to request help against the terrifying Vampire Cloud and to end the insane domination of Brad Evil, for example.  The judges know that the troggies will only emerge into the hated light in the most desperate of situations and usually take their complaints seriously enough to investigate.

More often, though, the judges will venture into the Undercity to deal with some menace that has emerged to attack the citizens of Mega-City One.  These threats vary from the relatively mundane – such as Slick Willy and his troggie cult’s abduction of dozens of upsiders to act as slaves in his mad plan to bring the Mega-City crashing down in 2099 – to quasi-supernatural monsters emerging to bring carnage to the roads and pedways – for example, the werewolf attacks in 2105 or the Holy Fiend murders of 2114.  Most residents of the Undercity know enough to make themselves scarce whenever the judges venture into the Undercity – even the dumbest troggie realises that trouble always follows the black clad lawmen and he will need to find a safe place to hide until the shooting stops!

A judge’s standard issue equipment is usually enough to deal with anything that the Undercity can throw at them.  With their access to the large Undercity Gates, the judges are also among the only visitors who are able to bring any vehicles with them, although anything larger than a Lawmaster will have great difficulty on the shattered streets.

 

The Undercity Long Walk Judge

No judge is expected to remain on the streets forever.  Even the toughest lawman knows that, one day, their usefulness will come to an end and they will be forced to retire.  However, it would be foolish to expect old judges to live out their final days lazing around in a Crock Block.  Once retired from active service, there are still several valuable roles that they can fulfil.  The most experienced are given the opportunity to pass on their knowledge gleaned from their decades on the streets by becoming Judge Tutors in the Academy of Law, training the next generation of Cadets in the statutes and application of the Law.  Others are given administrative roles in Sector Houses, where they are able to offer guidance and assistance to their former colleagues.  But there are always a few who find such tasks tedious.  The only alternative is known as the Long Walk, when a retiring judge is given the opportunity to leave the confines of the Mega-City to bring the Law to the Lawless in the wastelands beyond the Justice Department’s normal jurisdiction.  Most who decide to ‘take the hike’ choose to venture into the radioactive wasteland of the Cursed Earth, but the blackness of the Undercity is also an option.  The Long Walk Judges are practically the only official law enforcement that exists in the shadow-cloaked underworld.  A judge who becomes disillusioned with the Justice Department is also given the opportunity of taking the Long Walk, but most choose to simply renounce their authority and become a normal citizen.  Unfortunately, the threat of the Long Walk has been used in the past as the ultimate disciplinary measure, particularly during the reign of Chief Judge Silver and the second term of Chief Judge McGruder.  Corrupt judges suspected of committing some terrible crime were permitted to take the Long Walk as the honourable alternative to a sentence on Titan or a Cursed Earth work farm – unfortunately, beyond the strict control of the Justice Department, these highly dangerous individuals tended to run amok.  Some of the most notorious maniacs and murderers to wander the Undercity and the Cursed Earth were former Long Walk judges.

A judge taking the Long Walk is marked by a great ceremony.  Twenty-one judges flank their departing comrade, each saluting him with a single shot as he passes.  The traditional lament is recited as he exits the Mega-City for the final time.  As the gates to the City clang shut behind him, the judge is alone for almost the first time in his life.  From now on, he can only rely on himself – there is no back up, no comrades to come to his aid should he get into trouble.  He has only his training and experience to keep him alive in a new, hostile environment.  It takes a truly exceptional individual to survive longer than a few months as a Long Walk judge.

 

Mercenary II: Mass Combat

In the last playtest preview, we showed you how to put your recruits together into a cohesive force – now we show you how to get them fighting!

 

Battles using the mass combat system use exactly the same rules presented for combat in the Traveller Core Rulebook, with just a few changes. These changes are listed below but, whenever in doubt, the Golden Rule is always assume that the standard combat rules from the Traveller Core Rulebook are used as normal. This will allow you to use rules from any Traveller book with no conversion or adaptation necessary at all.

 

Initiative

In mass combat, Dexterity is not a factor for determining Initiative. Each unit must instead make a Tactics (military) check, with Intelligence used as a modifier. This is made by the leader of the unit.

 

The Combat Round

A combat round in mass combat usually lasts for six seconds of game time, just as it does when it involves characters. This is increased to a minute if units of greater than Size 1,000 are present, and an hour if units of greater than Size 10,000 are present.

 

Minor Actions

As with characters, units can perform one minor action in every round (or two if they forgo their significant action), allowing them to move, change stance, draw/reload and aim as normal.

However, movement is increased to 50 metres if the rounds are a minute in length and 2,500 metres if the rounds are an hour in length.

 

Significant Actions

Again, the significant actions available to units are the same as those for characters.

 

Miscellaneous Actions

For both minor and significant actions, miscellaneous tasks are effectively unlimited for units, as a unit has many members that can be delegated to perform them. However, while a unit may perform many miscellaneous actions in a single turn, only one miscellaneous action of any one type may be performed in that turn.

For example, a unit may have someone make a Leadership check to issue specific orders to another member, one member use a psychic power, while yet another tried to break through the security systems to open a bunker door they are all attacking. However, the unit could not have two members make Leadership checks to issue orders to the same individual (they would likely contradict each other and the individual may not know who to listen to – or worse, would choose who they want to listen to…).

Any individual of a unit not actively engaging in the unit’s own action will instead act as though they were an individual character for that round, using the normal rules in the Traveller Core Rulebook.

 

Reactions

Units may make reactions just like characters. Dodging, for example, represents a unit taking best advantage of the terrain around it in order to avoid taking incoming fire. It also represents the effects of suppressing fire upon a unit forced to take multiple dodging reactions in a turn.

 

Attacks

Attacks are performed by units in the same way as for characters, using all the common modifiers to attack listed on page XX of the Traveller Core Rulebook, including the use of environmental conditions, cover, and automatic weapons. Range bands are also used as normal.

 

A unit takes damage to its Endurance score. When this reaches 0, the unit has ceased to function as a fighting unit. Its individual members are assumed to have been killed, seriously injured or disbanded, scattering themselves in an effort to leave the battlefield. The unit will take no further part in the battle and is effectively destroyed, though it may be possible to recover some of the individuals and rebuild the unit (see page XX).

 

Outmatching

When one unit is much larger than the enemy unit it is fighting, it will outmatch its enemy. The unit it is fighting will be outmatched.

This has an effect on both attack rolls and damage dealt, and is based on the unit’s Size. If a unit is at half the Size or less of its enemy, it will be outmatched. If it is at least twice the Size of its enemy, it will outmatch the target. In either case, the table below is consulted for modifiers to both attack rolls and damage.

Unit Size is… Attack DM Damage
At least ten times the size of the enemy or more +5 x10
At least five times the size of the enemy +3 x5
At least three times the size of the enemy +2 x3
At least twice the size of the enemy +1 x2
No more than 50% the size of the enemy -1 x1
No more than 33% the size of the enemy -2 x1
No more than 20% the size of the enemy -3 x1
No more than 10% the size of the enemy -5

Damage is further multiplied by the overall Size of the attacking unit. Larger units are able to carry a lot more guns and unleash a truly awesome amount of firepower. Damage is therefore modified by unit Size as shown on the table below.

Unit Size of Attacker Damage
10 or less -5
11-20 -3
21-50 +0
51-100 x2
101-250 x3
251 or more x4

 

Morale

Even the most disciplined and battle-hardened troops have their limits. When great adversity rears its head, be it through starvation, lack of ammunition or watching half one’s own unit get massacred, troops can lose the will to fight, becoming less effective in battle or even breaking into a full blown rout.

This is handled by the Morale score of a unit.

A Morale check is made the same way as a characteristic check, rolling two dice and applying the unit’s Morale modifier. Morale checks are necessary whenever one of the situations below arises. Referees can, of course, call for a Morale check in other circumstances as they see fit.

Situation Morale check Difficulty
Unit Endurance reduced to half of original score Average (+0)
Unit Endurance reduced to quarter of original score Difficult (-2)
Unit Endurance reduced to one third of current score in a single round Very Difficult (-4)
Unit suffers more damage in a round than enemy during close combat Average (+0)
Unit suffers damage from an enemy unit of three times or greater Size Difficult (-2)

Morale checks can also be subject to further modifiers, depending on the specific circumstances in which they are taken.  Some suggestions are shown on the table below but, once again, referees can change these modifiers or impose new ones dependant on the mission being undertaken and the actions of the players.

Situation Morale Modifier
Unit in a strong defensive position +4
Unit not paid last month -1
Unit not paid for last three months -4
Unit won last battle +1
Unit on the winning side in the campaign +1
Unit lost last battle -2
Unit on the losing side in the campaign -4
Unit not eaten in the past day -2

 

Recovering Casualties

The Endurance of a unit does not specifically track deaths of individual members though, after a heavy battle, there are likely to be plenty of those. As mentioned earlier, a unit’s Endurance is a representation of its ability to continue fighting through individual death, injury, surrender and cowardice.

At the end of every battle, a percentage of lost Endurance points can be recovered as those who were injured receive medical care and those who ran come out of hiding.

Roll 2D for each unit, modified as shown on the table below. Then compare the total on the next table which will show you the percentage of Endurance points that can be recovered.

Unit… Recovery modifier
Was reduced to 0 Endurance -4
Was reduced to at least 25% of its starting Endurance -2
Was reduced to at least 50% of its starting Endurance -1
Was reduced to at least 75% of its starting Endurance +2
Was reduced to 0 Endurance in close combat -6
Has at least one Medic for every 10 individuals + double Medic skill
Has at least one Medic for every 30 individuals +Medic skill
Has at least one Medic for every 100 individuals + ½ Medic skill

 

2D Endurance Recovered
1 or less None
2 10%
3 25%
4-5 33%
6-8 50%
9 66%
10 75%
11 90%
12 or more All

 

Characters Within Mass Combat

Generally speaking, the players’ own characters should be kept apart from mass combat – have the players make the rolls for the units under their command, by all means, but their actual characters should have a chance to perform heroics and necessary tasks beyond the skills and daring of the men and women they are leading.

The length of the round in most mass combats is the same as a combat round for characters (six seconds), so anything a character could attempt to do in a round of combat is equally applicable during a round of mass combat.

If a player’s character is within a unit engaged in mass combat, he should always have the chance to act independently, on his own initiative order (giving him every chance to act before his own unit, and thus perform some truly heroic/stupid actions).

 

Engaging Units

Individual characters may not engage units as such, but will instead attack individual members of the unit. This is done using the normal combat rules presented in the Traveller Core Rulebook. Every casualty they cause in an attack will reduce the unit’s Endurance by 1.

 

Morale

The characters of players are effectively immune to morale, with the players themselves making the choice of whether to fight on or surrender (though units trying to surrender may take a dim view of characters continuing to fight and thus provoking the enemy). Indeed, many actions by characters can have a direct influence on how the unit they are within or near will fight.

The table below lists a few options players may try to boost (or not) the morale of nearby units, though the referee is always welcome to add more as the need arises – all else being equal, a player should always be rewarded for bravery and earn the respect of the unit. The DM earned by the player is applied to the next Morale check the unit is called upon to make, though the referee may extend this to several checks if the action was particularly noteworthy.

Player’s Action Morale DM to Unit
Single-handedly killing an enemy leader +2
Single-handedly killing a minor officer or sergeant +1
Destroying an enemy vehicle +1
Destroying an enemy armoured vehicle +2
Fleeing the battle or hiding in fear -4
Reducing an enemy unit’s Endurance by at least 10% with one attack +1


Battlefields

The mass combat rules presented in this chapter handle battles between two forces simply and easily. Even when two entire armies are fighting one another, each is assumed to be acting as a single unit, even though both might have separate companies, air units, artillery and specialised troops. It is assumed all such components are acting together in the best fashion they can to achieve the combat results that are rolled for each round.

However, at some point, both players and referee are going to want to add a bit more detail to their battles. The players might want to detach a company from their main force, for example, and send it on a wide-flanking manoeuvre to make a direct strike on an enemy artillery position, thus making things easier for the rest of their army. They may want an armoured unit to take position in a thick forest and lay low, hidden as they wait to launch an ambush. Perhaps they issue orders for a company to split with its three platoons each assaulting a different section of trench lines.

This is when a mass combat using multiple units is desirable, with the players giving orders to each unit as they respond to the actions of units under the control of the referee. There are two ways to handle this.

 

Map-Based Battles

The immediate response of some referees will be to grab a few sheets of graph paper and start plotting out terrain and unit positions – and this is perfectly valid. Every unit uses the same rate of movement as it does in regular Traveller combat, so the referee need only pick a scale suitable to the units fighting and the battlefield he has planned.

For example, if two company-sized infantry forces are fighting, split into separate platoons and, possibly, squads, then the referee might use a scale of 50 metres to a square on graph paper. This will give enough room for each unit to occupy a square and a unit on foot will be able to move one square every ten rounds.

The benefit of using maps in this fashion is that everyone will know where every unit is, there will be no confusion during the battle and players will be able to make direct, tactical decisions.

The downside is that map-based battles take more time for the referee to prepare and can seem a little ‘flat.’ Traveller is, ultimately, a game of the imagination, and staring at graph paper with little symbols denoting units marked upon may not be the most exciting approach for some groups.

For when the referee wants to inject a little colour into his battles without spending a great deal of time preparing before the game begins, albeit at the cost of hyper-accuracy, we recommend using the freeform system described next.

 

Freeform Battles

Fundamentally, there is no reason why a mass combat cannot run in the same freeform way most firefights involving the players and a handful of enemies are played; the referee describes relative positions of the combatants, their actions, and how they respond to the actions of the players.

In this way, each unit is a single combatant and operates in much the same way as a single combatant in a firefight.

For example, the players might be leading their company against enemy-held fortifications, having first split it into three platoons (3 units) and then splitting a single specialised squad of explosives experts from one of those platoons (a fourth unit). The players themselves are each leading one of those platoons personally, or perhaps they have formed a temporary field base just out of range of the fortifications and are controlling their units via remote communications.

They have identified three weak points in the fortifications that will be the target of each platoon (perhaps a small bunker and two separate trench lines), while the demolitions squad has been ordered to approach one of the main walls of the fortified position while remaining unseen, using the platoons’ assault as cover.

This is where the combat begins. The referee will describe how long it takes for the platoons to reach their firing positions and begin attacking their targets, while the demolitions squad is making Stealth checks as it moves into position. The players make the appropriate roll and then perhaps start to react in alarm as the referee describes the gunships moving in to attack one of the platoons on their flank…

At the end of the day, it all comes down to the referee, his players, and their preferred style of play. If you and your players enjoy pouring over maps and figuring out the most efficient way to destroy the enemy, then map-based battles are likely what you are looking for.

If, instead, your players prefer to hear about the explosions ahead and bullets whizzing past their ears, while shouting orders at their men to advance, the freeform method may be more to your liking.

You will find Traveller can handle both styles, or even a mixture of the two, quite readily.

Mercenary II: Force Organisation

In the last preview of the playtest rules for Book 1: Mercenary Second Edition, we demonstrated the rules for basic recruitment. Now, how to organise your recruits into a coherent force that can be used in-game…

 

Force Organisation

Once you have recruited your first few soldiers, you will need to organise them into a fighting force. These will be formed into one or more units within the mercenary force.

Units are used in larger battles to handle dozens, hundreds or even thousands of fighting men without players and referees rolling for the attacks of each one. By organising a mercenary force into one or more distinct units, it will be all set to take missions and launch attacks (or fight defensive actions) against any enemy it is contracted to take on.

 

Standard Organisation

A mercenary force may ultimately be organised into any pattern its commander chooses as his whim, but there are certain accepted formations that have withstood the test of time, and most forces mirror these in at least some fashion.

The basic unit of any military force, mercenary or otherwise, is the squad (sometimes called a section). The size of a squad can vary wildly, dependant on the nature of the force it is part of, casualties sustained and its precise role on the battlefield. Squads typically contain between 6 and 20 fighting men (any more and it is probably best termed a horde), with 8-12 being most common. Larger formations are built by bringing a number of squads together to form a larger cohesive unit.

Again, how larger units are composed is up to the mercenary commander but there are tried and tested formations that have been proven in battle.

Platoon: 3-5 Squads
Company: 3-5 Platoons
Battalion: 3-6 Companies
Regiment: 2-5 Battalions

Larger formations, such as Divisions or Armies exist, but it is very rare for mercenary forces to reach such huge sizes. Many struggle to stay at Company size and most are based around a single platoon or two.

 

Units in Traveller

All units, regardless of size, are represented the same way in Traveller, with a unit roster. An example of a unit, in this case a squad of mercenary light infantry, is shown here.

Unit Name: Rawshack’s Razors                Organisation: Squad

Type: Light Infantry                                       Size: 12

Morale: 7

Endurance: 12                                                Attack/Damage: +1/3D

Traits: None

Skills: Gun Combat (slug rifles) 1

Weapons: Assault rifle (3D)

Armour: Cloth TL10 (5)

 

Unit Name

This is the designation used to identify the unit, whether in official terms (1st Platoon, C Company, for example) or a nickname, as shown for Rawshack’s Razors.

Organisation

These are used as an easy reference to define the unit, based upon its organisational size (squad, platoon, etc.). As with the unit’s name, this can be, in theory, anything the mercenary commander desires but most follow the standard organisation model described earlier.

Type

This is the unit’s role on the battlefield and, again, its definition is largely down to the mercenary commander.

Size

This is the number of men, robots or vehicles within the unit.

Morale

Even the most hardened soldiers have their limits. Morale represents the unit’s continued willingness to fight in extreme conditions. Most units will have a Morale of 7, though this can change depending on conditions and experience.

A unit’s basic Morale is modified by the factors shown on the table below. Other circumstances can affect Morale as shown on page XX.

Unit Morale Modifier
Leadership + Unit leader’s Leadership skill level *
Unit paid 10% higher salary +1
Unit paid 25% higher salary +2
Unit paid 50% higher salary +3
Unit paid 100% higher salary +4
Unit paid 10% lower salary -2
Unit paid 25% lower salary -4
Unit paid 50% lower salary -6
Highest unit skill level 0 -1
Highest unit skill level 2 +1
Highest unit skill level 3 +2
Highest unit skill level 4 +3

* Note that if the unit leader does not have the Leadership skill, the normal DM-3 for not having the skill applies.

Morale is treated as a new characteristic, and checks are made with it in the same way as other characteristics, such as Strength and Intelligence, using a modifier based upon its score as shown on page 6 of the Traveller Core Rulebook.

Endurance

This represents the amount of casualties a unit can sustain before it ceases to be a functioning fighting force. Normally, Endurance is equal to the Size of the unit.

Attack/Damage

This is a quick reference that shows how skillful a unit is in battle and how much damage it deals. Combat between units is covered on page XX. Attack is equal to the skill level of the unit’s main Gun Combat, Heavy Weapons or Melee skill, and Damage is equal to the damage of the weapon used by that skill. It is possible for a unit to have multiple Attack and Damage scores to reflect different weapons it carries.

Traits

These are a number of special rules some units have to reflect their capabilities in battle. Traits are covered fully on page XX.

Skills

While the individuals of a unit will have a lot of different skills between them, this lists just relevant battle skills that all share, taken as an average. It is assumed that some members may well have higher or lower skill levels but the skill level of the majority is used.

Weapons and Armour

While a unit is likely to be carrying a great deal of varied equipment, only its main weapons and armour are recorded here, together with the damage and armour protection for easy reference.

 

Creating a Mercenary Force

When starting a mercenary force from scratch, it is likely individual squads will be created from individuals recently recruited. A newly formed mercenary force, therefore, is likely to have just a squad or two, meaning it can be represented by just one or two unit rosters.

As mercenary forces grow in size, things can get a little more complicated and players may find it useful to have several unit rosters, each representing different levels of the force as a whole.

For example, let us return to Rawshack’s Razors, introduced above and assume they were the first squad recruited for a new mercenary force.

Two more identical squads are later recruited, Talman’s Tigers and Banoi’s Badgers. They all have the same unit rosters as the Razors, meaning this mercenary force has three unit rosters, one for each squad.

However, there will be times when the whole mercenary force fights as a single unit – under the standard organisation model, three squads make a platoon, so a new unit roster is created to represent all three squads fighting together as a platoon-sized force.

This can be done whenever you have several units with identical Morale, Traits, Skills, Weapons and Armour, combining them into a single larger unit.

 

Unit Name: Rawshack’s Regulars                           Organisation: Platoon

Type: Light Infantry                                                      Size: 36

Morale: 7

Endurance: 36                                                               Attack/Damage: +1/3D

Traits: None

Skills: Gun Combat (slug rifles) 1

Weapons: Assault rifle (3D)

Armour: Cloth TL10 (5)

 

Because we have brought together three identical squads, we can simply add their Size (and thus their Endurance) together to create the platoon. When this mercenary force is used in battles, its player can decide whether to use the platoon as a single, large unit which will be more powerful than its constituent squads, or break it back down into squads for greater flexibility.

This is why it is useful to have not only a single roster representing the bulk of a mercenary force, but also rosters to cover smaller units within the greater organisation, that can be broken off for individual missions and battles.

Note that if Rawshack’s Regulars were to add a different type of squad, perhaps a heavy weapons squad, it would need its own unit roster and could not be combined into the platoon as it would have different skills and weapons.

 

Traits

Some units have traits, additional rules that represent equipment and abilities not reflected elsewhere in the unit roster. Many can be added to a unit simply by recruiting people with the relevant skills and equipping them accordingly. For example, to add the Support trait to a platoon-sized unit, a player need only recruit a number of people skilled with heavy weapons, such as rocket launchers, and then purchase those weapons.

 

Marksmen xXD

The unit has several designated marksmen within its ranks, soldiers trained to pick out specific enemy targets or those within cover. These marksmen are armed with weapons designed to take advantage of their skills, typically with either dedicated sniper rifles or scoped versions of the main squad weapon.

The presence of marksmen allows one or more of the dice used to deal damage to be re-rolled upon a successful attack. The number of dice that can be re-rolled depend on the number of marksmen present, as shown on the table below.

Number of Support Weapons Number of Re-rolls

One per 5 men

3D
One per 10 men 2D
One per 20 men 1D

 

Support +XD

This unit has several members who carry support weapons such as machine guns and rocket launchers to lend a greater weight of firepower to the unit’s attacks. This increased the Damage dealt by the unit according to the number of support weapons in the unit and the damage they deal, as shown on the table below. Support weapons must either deal more damage or have a higher Auto score than the rest of the weapons carried by the unit.

  Damage of Support Weapons
Number of Support Weapons 3D or less 4-6D 7-8D 9-10D 12D or more

One per 5 men

Support +1D Support +1D Support +2D Support +3D Support +4D
One per 10 men - Support +1D Support +1D Support +2D Support +3D
One per 20 men - - Support +1D Support +1D Support +2D

 

Tough +XX%

The unit has exceptional tough members within its ranks who are able to shrug off adversity. If the unit has a majority of members with individual Endurance scores of 9 or higher, then the unit gains the Tough +10% trait. If their Endurance scores are 12 or higher, this increases to Tough +20% and if their Endurance scores are 15 or more, this becomes Tough +30%.

A unit’s own Endurance is increased by its Tough trait. For example, a unit that normally has Endurance 20 but also has the Tough +20% trait will instead have Endurance 24.

 

Weak -XX%

The unit has members within its ranks who are noticeably weak and susceptible to adversity. If the unit has a majority of members with individual Endurance scores of 5 or less, then the unit gains the Weak –10% trait. If their Endurance scores are 3 or less, this decreases to Weak –20%.

A unit’s own Endurance is decreased by its Weak trait. For example, a unit that normally has Endurance 20 but also has the Weak –20% trait will instead have Endurance 16.

 

So, now you have recruited some warm bodies, and got them to line up in specific units. Next preview will show you how they fight!

Building a Mercenary Force I: Recruiting

A core component of the developing Book 1: Mercenary Second Edition are mechanics that will allow players to hire their own squads, platoons and companies, and arrange them into fighting units. These rules are very much at the playtest stage, but we wanted you chaps to see them and make comment.

Without further ado, we first present the rules for recruiting mercenaries.

 

Recruiting

People are at the heart of the a mercenary force, be they frontline soldiers or support personnel. Well-defined recruitment procedures will ensure these employees will also be steady when under fire.

Going to planets in the hopes of finding the right personnel to hire, recruiters are often charismatic and persuasive, and attempt to get as many recruits as possible from each trip. To do this depends on the type of world they visit, the nature of mercenaries they are after, and their own personality. On a low-technology world, a charismatic recruiter might do a lot worse than visit settlements with the equivalent of a soap box, and harangue gathered crowds with stories of riches among the stars. On more developed planets, ploughing through networked databases and scattering advertisements online will likely prove more fruitful.

Recruits will have their resumes reviewed, checked and vetted before being passed on to the next stage where their skills are tested. This usually takes the form of several exercises designed to highlight any potential weaknesses and demonstrate the necessary skills, and it is at this point that a number of recruits will be dismissed, having failed to demonstrate those skills or shown to be mentally or psychologically unsuitable for the unit.

After this, recruits will be indoctrinated into the unit and taught how their skills will be applied within the context of other serving personnel. The ethos of the unit will also be made clear, as well as any rules or regulations they will be expected to follow.

Only after this lengthy process can the mercenary force be sure the new recruits will be a worthy investment.

 

The Recruiting Process

Despite any glamour that may be attached to the role of a dashing recruiter hitting a new world and beguiling young men and women to fight for his force across the stars, most of the work during recruitment involves going through reams of resumes drawn from immense databases.

To recruit personnel, a character must select the type of mercenary he is looking to recruit from the list on page XX, then make an Admin check.

This takes 1-6 weeks and includes selection, basic training and induction, assessment and shake-out of anyone who does not make the grade. However, multiple recruitment campaigns may be performed during this period, either for different types of mercenary or to gain larger numbers of the same type. The recruiter may make a number of Admin checks equal to the level of their Admin skill to recruit mercenaries during these 1-6 weeks.

A number of modifiers are applied to the Admin check, starting with either the recruiter’s Int or Soc modifier.

The rest are dependant on the type of mercenaries being recruited and the world on which recruitment is taking place, as shown on page XX. The referee is free to add further modifiers, dependant on his campaign and the actions of the players.

The Effect of a successful Admin check after all these modifiers have been applied will determine how many recruits have been found with the necessary skills and attitude. Roll a number of dice equal to the Effect – this is how many suitable recruits have been gained.

The recruiter is under no obligation to accept them all, but this is the maximum that can be hired with this recruitment campaign.

Population Code Recruiting DM
0 (Few) or 1 (Tens)
2 (Hundreds) –4
3 (Thousands) –3
4 (Tens of thousands) –2
5 (Hundreds of thousands) +0
6 (Millions) +0
7 (Tens of millions) +2
8 (Hundreds of millions) +2
9 (Billions) +4
10 (Tens of billions) +4
11 (Hundreds of billions) +6
12 (Trillions) +6
Government Code
0 (Anarchic) +1
1 (Company or Corporation) +0
2 (Participating Democracy) +1
3 (Self-perpetuating Oligarchy) –1
4 (Representative Democracy) +0
5 (Feudal Technocracy) –2
6 (Captive Government) –2
7 (Balkanisation) –2
8 (Civil Service Bureaucracy) +2
9 (Impersonal Bureaucracy) +2
10 (Charismatic Dictator) –2
11 (Non-charismatic Leader) +2
12 (Charismatic Oligarchy) +0
13 (Religious Dictatorship) –4
Law Level
0 +2
1 +2
2 +1
3 +1
4 +0
5 +0
6 –1
7 –1
8 –2
9 –3
Starport
A +2
B +1
C +0
D +0
E –2
X –4
Miscellaneous
Scout or Naval Base present –4
Pirate Base present +2
Halve recruiting time -4
Double recruiting time +2
Pay 10% higher salary +1
Pay 25% higher salary +2
Pay 50% higher salary +3
Pay 100% higher salary +4
Pay 10% lower salary -2
Pay 25% lower salary -4
Pay 50% lower salary -6
Recruits to have Tough +10% trait -2
Recruits to have Tough +20% trait -4
Recruits to have Weak -10% trait +1
Recruits to have Weak -20% trait +2

 

Planetary Population: The number of people living on a planet has a fundamental effect upon the efforts of a recruiting mercenary. The larger a population, the more likely there will be potential recruits. Planets with negligible populations (0 or 1) will usually have no chance of producing recruits, simply because there are not enough people to draw upon.

Government: The government of a world can affect the attitude of potential recruits. A democracy might give its citizens the freedom to choose a mercenary’s life, but a balkanisation of warring states might not take too kindly to mercenaries stealing their soldiers.

Law Level: Worlds with laxer laws, especially those based around the freer use of personal weaponry, tend to be happier hunting grounds for recruiters rather than those whose citizens enjoy a safer, if stricter, way of life.

Starport: Better facilities at a starport can greatly aid a recruiter’s efforts, while the lack of a well-functioning starport often means a population is not used to space travel and will be far less willing to leave their world.

 

Salaries and Equipment

Once recruits have been brought on board, they must be paid their agreed salary (the standard rate listed on page XX, plus or minus any adjustments made by the recruiter) and equipped. It is up to the owner of the mercenary force as to what equipment recruits are given, from weapons and armour to basic kit. However, referees will have the option to increase or decrease the effectiveness of mercenary units in battle if their equipment is markedly above or below the standard expected for those troops.

The table below lists typical mercenaries that can be recruited, but both players and referees should create their own to suit the requirements of the campaign and their own mercenary company.

In general, a monthly salary should be Cr. 1,000 for a recruit with a primary skill (the skill most applicable to the role they are being recruited for) of level 0, Cr. 2,000 for skill level 1, Cr. 3,000 for skill level 2, and Cr. 5,000 for skill level 3.

Skills the referee deems harder to acquire or otherwise be rarer in the marketplace (such as perhaps Heavy Weapons or Flyer) should command up to a 50% higher salary, as should recruits with multiple primary skills. The Tough +10% and +20% traits (see page XX) should typically command +25% and +50% higher salaries, respectively. In all such cases, the referee should be prepared to make final arbitrations for salaries of unusual recruits.

Recruits of skill level 4 and higher should be extremely rare, few in number and extremely expensive – mercenary forces are normally better off recruiting lower skilled personnel and increasing their skill levels through training and battle experience.

Recruit Salary Skills Recruiting DM Standard Equipment
Accountant Cr. 3,000 Admin 2, Advocate 1 +0
Combat Medic Cr. 2,000 Gun Combat 1, Medic 1 +0 Assault rifle, knife, flak armour, medikit
Computer Operator Cr. 2,000 Admin 1, Computers 1 +2
Electronic Warfare Operator Cr. 4,000 Comms 2, Sensors 1 -1
Gunship Pilot Cr. 3,000 Flyer or Grav, Heavy Weapons 1 -1 Autopistol
Heavy Weapons Soldier Cr. 2,500 Gun Combat 1, Heavy Weapons 1 +0 Machinegun, knife, flak armour
Intelligence Analyst Cr. 4,500 Recon 1, Sensors 2, Tactics 2 -2
Mechanic Cr. 2,000 Engineer 0, Mechanic 1 +0 Tool kit
Militiaman Cr. 1,000 Gun Combat 0 +2 Assault rifle, knife, cloth armour
Rifleman Cr. 2,000 Gun Combat 1, Recon 1 +0 Assault rifle, knife, flak armour
Sniper Cr. 3,000 Gun Combat 2, Recon 1, Stealth 2 -1 Sniper rifle, flak armour
Special Forces Soldier Cr. 5,000 Explosives 2, Gun Combat 3, Recon 3, Stealth 2 -4 Assault rifle, knife, flak armour
Tank Crewman Cr. 3,000 Drive (tracked) 1, Heavy Weapons (field artillery) 1 +0 Autopistol, flak armour
Truck Driver Cr. 1,000 Drive 0 +3

 

NCOs and Officers

Mercenary forces are not undisciplined rabbles (or, at least, they should not be), and require just as many NCOs and officers as government-backed military forces.

In general, NCOs should have the same skills (combat or otherwise) as the people they lead, along with one or more levels in Tactics (military), and perhaps a level in Leadership (the latter becomes more important the higher ranks they are).

Officers should have at least basic combat skills and one or more levels in both Leadership and Tactics (military). Effective officers should also have a level in Admin, though some mercenary forces have dedicated administrators to take this burden away from the fighting men.

NCOs and officers receive a salary dependant on their skills, as detailed previously, but gain an additional amount due to their given rank, as shown on the table below.

Rank Salary Increase (Cr.)
Corporal +500
Sergeant +1,000
Gunnery Sergeant +1,500
Sergeant Major +2,000
Lieutenant +2,000
Captain +3,000
Major +4,000
Lieutenant Colonel +6,000
Colonel * +8,000

* The Colonel of a mercenary force is often the owner or, at least, one of the owners and so will also receive a proportion of the profits the entire force earns. The salary, in comparison, is mostly symbolic and some Colonels forgo it altogether.

 

Alternative Pay Method

In an effort to defray starting costs, some mercenary forces operate on a split salary and share scheme for their recruits. While each member of the mercenary force is paid less on a monthly basis, they have a direct share of the (perhaps not inconsiderable) revenue the force brings in. A referee may choose to impose DM-1 to recruiting checks if this method is used, particularly if rival mercenary forces are not using it.

Under this salary-share scheme, salaries are halved.

Total payments to a mercenary force, after salaries and expenses have been paid, are divided up into equal shares. Each recruit receives one or more shares according to their rank and skill specialisations.

Before shares are determined, the mercenary commander (and possibly  his business partners) take 50% of all revenue after salaries and expenses as profit. Salaries of deceased members of the unit are paid to next of kin or another designated recipient; only surviving members of the unit receive shares. The remainder are divided into equal shares, with each recruit receiving one or more shares dependant on their rank in the force and level of skill, as shown on the table below.

Rank Number of Shares
Private 1
Lance Corporal 2
Corporal 3
Lance Sergeant 3
Sergeant 4
Gunnery Sergeant 4
Sergeant Major 5
Lieutenant 5
Captain 7
Major 8
Lieutenant Colonel 9
Colonel 10

Recruits with a primary skill of levels 2-3 will receive shares equal to one rank above their actual position. Recruits with higher levels in a primary skill will receive shares equal to two ranks above their actual position.

 

Design Notes

There are, of course, all sorts of things we could add to these rules, with more types of personnel being a start (don’t worry, they will be in the final version!). We could also lock down a far tighter regime for hiring people and what their skill sets are actually worth. On this side, we have kept things a little looser and provided guidelines rather than hard rules, as the buck always stops with the referee and he knows better than us what his campaign needs. An important consideration for us with these rules is that the players should be allowed to attempt pretty much anything (and you will see this line of thought come back in future previews when we start looking at, say, inadequate admin or medical facilities within a mercenary force). We also want to keep things fairly simple so a referee can leave the book in the hands of his players to work out what they want most of the time, but have the ability to make a quick (and easy) ruling when needed.

Anyway, have a wander around the Marches or the Reach and recruit a few willing men and women to see how this part of the rules work out, and let us know of any issues on our forums. Next time, we’ll show you how to organise your recruits into a proper mercenary force, and then we’ll go through the rules needed to get them fighting!

Mercenary 2: Skills and Specialities

The military requires individuals to not only adhere to discipline but also exhibit initiative to overcome obstacles. Personnel must learn to adapt existing skills to evolving situations and, if necessary, specialise in entirely new areas.

This sections introduces some new ways of handling existing skills and new skill specialities that will allow characters to expand what they are capable of doing. Those with the skills already will be able to use these specialities at level 0, while new characters or those undergoing training can go straight into a new speciality and perhaps get an edge on the enemy.

 

Using Existing Skills

The following are all suggestions for using skills within the Traveller Core Rulebook to cover a wider range of situations and tasks.

 

Combat Engineering

Combat engineering is the rapid construction of field fortifications, large-scale camouflage, appraisal of a structure’s ability to withstand enemy fire, and landmine placement and removal – the ability to mould a battlefield to best effect. This may be used defensively, to create a series of trenches and bunkers to resist attack, or offensively, breaching similar defensives as quickly as possible to allow an assault to take place.

This covers an enormous range of disciplines and so cannot be covered by a single skill or speciality, so a dedicated combat engineer needs to be well-versed in a range of skills. Instead, referees should call for checks on different skills according to what a player is attempting. A few examples are given below. All of these assume the players have appropriate equipment to hand.

 

Physically detecting mines during an assault on an enemy stronghold: Recon, Int, 10-60 minutes, Difficult (-2).

Using specialised equipment to detect mines on a road: Sensors, Int, 10-60 minutes, Average (+0).

Safely defusing discovered mines: Explosives, Dex, 20-120 minutes, Very Difficult (-4)

Build a short line of defensive trenches, barricades and obstacles: Trade (military engineering), Str, 1-6 hours, Average (+0).

Build a small bunker: Trade (military engineering), Str, 1-6 hours, Average (+0).

 

Instruction and Training

The transference of new skills and education is a vital one for any organisation, be it a small and tight-knit crew of a tramp freighter or a sector-wide military force. Although this can be attempted by anyone, some will always be better teachers than others.

Principally, training subjects in a new skill requires an understanding of the skill being taught (at least level 1) and use of Education and the Leadership skill. Those lacking levels in Leadership may still instruct subjects but will do so with the usual DM-3.

A character can learn new skills on their own, as covered on page 59 of the Traveller Core Rulebook, but having an instructor or tutor can speed this up the process considerably.  A good instructor can also teach skills to more than one subject at a time.

An instructor can teach one level of one skill at a time, starting at level 0 and going up to one level less than the instructor has himself in the skill being taught. So, an instructor with, say, Pilot 4 can teach subjects up to Pilot 3.

Teaching a level in a skill takes half the time it would normally take the subject to learn the skill by themselves, again as covered on page 59 of the Traveller Core Rulebook.

The instructor must then make a Leadership check, modified by their Education and the factors listed below.

 

+1 Teaching a single student
-1 Teaching 5-10 students
-2 Teaching 11-30 students
-4 Teaching more than 30 students
-2 Instruction time cut in half
-4 Other activities undertaken during instruction

Each subject being taught must then make either an Intelligence or Education check, modified by the Effect of the instructor’s own check. Success will result in the skill being gained, while failure will mean the lesson must be taught again, from scratch,

Quick and efficient training, therefore, requires a good teacher and a bright and receptive student.

 

Interrogation

The majority of interrogations can be handled using the Persuade skill. However, other skills can be brought into play by skilled interrogators to create a task chain, depending on how far they are prepared to go to get the information they want.

Most commonly, Deception is used to convince a subject that they should divulge information, perhaps suggesting that the lives of their comrades may be saved if they talk, or that the subject will in some way be rewarded. This also covers the classic Good Cop/Bad Cop approach, with one interrogator using Deception to soften the subject up, beginning a task chain that will end with another interrogator using Persuade. Social Science (psychology) is also a common skill among good interrogators and one that can be integrated into such a task chain.

The use of extreme methods of interrogation is not only controversial but their effectiveness is also disputed by some. One school of thought suggests that a subject will reveal everything if under enough stress or pain. The other counters that a subject will say anything it thinks the interrogator wants to hear. Nonetheless, some interrogators swear by these methods, which can be reflected by adding new checks into a task chain before the final Persuade check is atempted.

Typically, these will be skills such as Life Science (biology) and Medic, both being applied not for the benefit of living things but for deeper knowledge into the application of pain and the limits to which a subject can be pushed.

 

Specialities

The following specialities are intended for military characters (in service or mercenary) though others may find a use for many of them. Referees should also feel free to create their own and respond to requests for new specialities from players. Just remember – if it is already covered by a skill or existing speciality, you do not need a new one!

 

Athletics (archery): The use of bows and crossbows for hunting or in combat.

Drive (hover): For hovercraft and other ground-repulsion vehicles.
Weaving through a wooded area at speed: Dexterity, 1-6 minutes, Very Difficult (-4)

Gun Combat (energy carbines): Using energy weapons larger than pistols but smaller than rifles, such as laser repeaters.

Gun Combat (slug carbines): Using slug throwing weapons larger than pistols but smaller than rifles, such as submachine guns.

Heavy Weapons (flamethrowers): Using weaponry that projects a controllable stream of flame or acid.

Seafarer (personal): Used for any man-powered craft, such as canoes, kayaks, and rowboats.

Dino Rampage

In Mega-City One’s past history , recovered dinosaur DNA was used to create clones for the Dinosaur National Park. When the Atomic War ravaged the city, the dinosaurs were able to escape their confines and while most were recaptured or exterminated, many found their way into the Cursed Earth where they thrived.

In the present day, dinosaurs are a constant worry for every Cursed Earth settlement, who add them to the list of ever-present dangers along with rad storms, raiders and mutated vermin. Occasionally, a dinosaur may wander close to Mega-City One and slip past the defences unnoticed, where it will lurk in a ruined sector, preying upon the unwary.

Dinosaurs are a great way to challenge your campaign force in Mega-City One, as they are an unusual enemy that can pop up almost anywhere, and you do not need an opponent to face them! While we have not released any dinosaur-specific models, you will find a quick trip down to your local toy shop will furnish you with many different species eager to tear your forces apart.

The following dinosaurs can be used in games of Judge Dredd. All dinosaurs follow the Big and Dumb rule.

 

Big and Dumb: Dinosaurs were never noted for their brains and tend to follow their instincts, ignoring anything else. They never take Will to Fight checks and automatically pass all Will checks they are called upon to make (even against Psi Talents – they just do not have a big enough brain for a psyker to find!).

 

Large Carnivore                                      500 Credits

The most well-known carnivorous dinosaur is the Tyrannosaurus Rex, though there were many species of two-legged monsters equally capable of tearing Mega-City One apart. There is little more dangerous than a rampaging T-Rex.

Move Agility Shoot Melee Melee Dice Will Armour Hits
Large Carnivore 8” -2 - +6 2D - +5 25

Type: Illegal Minion

Equipment: Jaws

Weapon Damage AP Special Rules
Jaws 4 -5 Power Shot, Smasher

 

Large Herbivore                                      300 Credits

Dinosaurs such as the Brontosaurus and Brachiosaurus fit this category, huge swamp-dwellers that became the largest creatures to ever walk the planet. Though normally placid, they are easily spooked and can become very unpredictable when scared.

Move Agility Shoot Melee Melee Dice Will Armour Hits
Large Herbivore 6” -4 - +4 4D - +7 30

Type: Illegal Minion

Equipment: Stomp

Weapon Damage AP Special Rules
Stomp 6 -6 Smasher

 

Aggressive Herbivore                            400 Credits

In a world of large carnivores, it pays to be well-armoured with a foul attitude if you just eat plants. Dinosaurs such as the Triceratops evolved with armour-plating and some useful weaponry to keep predators away. These defences work well in Mega-City One.

Move Agility Shoot Melee Melee Dice Will Armour Hits
Aggressive Herbivore 8” -2 - +4 3D - +8 16

Type: Illegal Minion

Equipment: Horns

Weapon Damage AP Special Rules
Horns 3 -6 Parry, Power Shot, Smasher

 

Dino Rampage

This scenario allows you to bring dinosaurs into your games of Judge Dredd, be they taking place within the city, Cursed Earth or some far off alien moon!

One or more dinosaurs has intruded into your force’s territory and must be seen off before it causes too much damage.

 

Forces

You can choose any campaign force to face off against the dinosaurs. You must choose a number of dinosaurs to face, their combined Credits equalling or exceeding that of your force.

 

Set Up

As with most games of Judge Dredd, aim to get as much terrain on the table as possible – do not make it easy for yourself, or we will bring in flying dinosaurs, and you won’t like that!

Place the dinosaurs in the middle of the table, no more than 6” away from one another. You must then deploy your entire force, at least 12” away from a dinosaur and no more than 18” away.

The dinosaurs have the first Phase of the game.

 

Special Rules

Dinosaurs are somewhat unpredictable but they rarely have a pleasant attitude. At the start of every dinosaur Phase, roll a die for each dinosaur, apply the listed modifiers and consult the table below to see what they do.

Die Roll Dinosaur Actions
2 or less Spooked
3-4 Confused
5-7 Irritated
8 or more Rampage!

+1   Lost one or more Hits last Turn
-1   Reduced to half of starting Hits
+2   Has Line of Sight to one or more of the force’s models
-2   Is a Large Herbivore
+2   Is a Large Carnivore or Aggressive Herbivore
-1   A Psi Talent was used on it last Turn
-1   Was Confused last Turn
+1   Was Irritated last Turn
-2   If attacked by a Fire weapon

 

Spooked: The dinosaur sees something it really does not like. It will take two Move actions to move as fast as possible away from the closest model it has Line of Sight to. Failing that, it will move directly away from the closest model.

Confused: The dinosaur tries to figure out where it is. It does not take any actions and will go on Alert Status. It will perform a Melee action against the first enemy model that completes an action within its Move, regardless of whether it has Line of Sight to that model.

Irritated: The dinosaur is getting testy and the slightest provocation may set it off. As it is, it merely follows its instincts, eating whatever is close by or trying to move little creatures off its territory. It will perform two Melee actions this Turn, chasing after the nearest enemy model that is in Line of Sight. If no enemy is in Line of Sight, it will instead become Confused.

Rampage!: The dinosaur is angry! It will perform three Melee actions this Turn, chasing after the nearest enemy model that is in Line of Sight. If no enemy model is in Line of Sight, it will simply go after the nearest enemy model.

 

Victory

You gain victory if you manage to destroy the dinosaurs or get them to run off the battlefield. Any other result is a loss and you must try to patch up your force after the dinosaurs have run through it!

 

 

As always, let us know what you think of these rules and if they go down well, we may add more dinosaurs and maybe some of the other monstrous creatures found in the universe of Judge Dredd!

Operation Pedestal

New ships continue to roll out of Mongoose’s 3D Design Studio, including some civilian vessels. Watch out a little later this year for the SS Ohio.

 

The island of Malta suffered greatly during the early part of the war. Though only a small island, barely 17 miles long, its position in the centre of the Mediterranean made it strategically vital as a British base. Constant attacks from the air devastated the island, with many of the islanders forced to live in caves after thousands of houses had been shattered by bombs, and the constriction of supplies getting to Malta meant that many starved as disease swept through the population.

Backed up by the Luftwaffe, the Regia Marina made convoy runs to Malta near impossible, the wrecks of many ships lying at the bottom of the Mediterranean a testament to their efficiency. British seapower, by comparison, was thinly stretched. By May 1942, the situation became acute with the island reported as having no more than six weeks worth of food and fuel – after that, Malta would be defenceless and its people subject to famine.

In secrecy, a relief convoy was planned, Operation Pedestal. It was intended to be the biggest and most heavily armed convoy put to sea. All available resources were committed, making it a real ‘all or nothing’ operation. Central to this was the SS Ohio, an American tanker with a British merchant mariner for a master, Captain Dudley Mason. This ship was the biggest tanker of the day, displacing 9,000 tons, and yet was also the fastest; more importantly, it could carry enough fuel to keep Malta fighting for months. Refitted at Glasgow, the Ohio was armed with anti-aircraft guns and its sides fitted with armoured plates to withstand torpedoes, all designed to get the ship through the most dangerous thousand miles of sea. Joined by thirteen other merchant ships and nearly 60 warships, the Ohio started the voyage from Gibraltar to Malta on August 10th.

The first casualty was from a lone German submarine (U-73) that had stalked the convoy. The carrier, HMS Eagle, was hit by four torpedoes on August 11th and sank. Operation Pedestal had barely begun and the convoy had already lost its strongest protector.

The battle was on. The rest of the convoy forged ahead, while warships of the Royal Navy fanned out on all sides to protect the convoy from further attack. Early on August 12th, the air attacks began.

A thick barrage was put up over the fleet from the anti-aircraft guns from every ship, and the first attack was beaten off with no damage to any ship of the convoy. However, within hours, an Italian submarine penetrated the convoy’s defences and stealthy crept up to two of the cruisers among the escort. HMS Cairo and HMS Nigeria had been fitted out with long-range radar to spot incoming air attacks. One salvo of torpedoes struck both cruisers with a torpedo each, disabling both, while another sped past them to hit the Ohio, punching a ten metre hole in its side and setting light to a fire whose flames leapt higher than the ship’s mast. Resisting the temptation to abandon the ship, Captain Mason allowed the inrushing seawater to douse the flames before ordering fire fighting teams to finish off.

The attack had also wrecked the Ohio’s navigation and it veered dangerously off course and into the path of other ships. The convoy began to lose cohesion as its formation broke down. Right at this point, when the convoy was mired in confusion, German and Italian bombers swept in to attack. Two merchant ships were destroyed with ease while another, the Brisbane Star, was disabled.

On August 13th, the convoy began to pass through a narrow bottleneck called the Sicilian Straits, the most dangerous part of the route. These waters were heavily defended and the Axis powers had concentrated their submarines, E-boats and bombers, all tasked with destroying the convoy.

E-boats conducted hit and run attacks with torpedoes throughout the night. By morning, there were just four merchant ships left, escorted by a handful of destroyers, a tiny remnant of what Operation Pedestal had started. Despite all this damage, the Ohio was still afloat.

As day broke, the Luftwaffe intensified its attacks. Near misses buckled the armoured plates of the Ohio, while another filled her prow with water. An aircraft crippled by the remaining fleet’s guns skittered across the waves to slam into the side of the tanker – and then a bomber crash-landed onto the foredeck of the Ohio. The debris was cleared but then two bombs exploded very close to the Ohio, lifting it up out of the water. While the bombs had not sunk the ship, the force of their blasts had blown the fires out in the Ohio’s boilers, leaving it adrift and a sitting target. The mission to re-supply Malta was all but over.

Again with perfect timing, a new threat was then launched at the remaining ships of the convoy, as battleships, cruisers and destroyers of the Regia Marina, under the direct orders of Mussolini, moved to finish them off.

A flight of Wellington bombers was dispatched from Malta to attack the Italian warships, a last bid to avert disaster. These bombers flew over the Italian fleet and, as well as bombs, dropped illuminating flares. They then broadcast fake radio messages, ostensibly calling in another strike from American Liberators.

The ruse worked. To those intercepting these messages, it appeared as though a massive Allied air attack was being mounted to completely wreck the Regia Marina. Mussolini needed no further convincing, and ordered his fleet back to port. Without this threat, Operation Pedestal was still in with a chance.

Within hours, the Luftwaffe swept in to finish off the convoy itself. This time, a 1,000 lb. bomb exploded next to the Ohio, and the shockwave cracked the tanker’s keel. Though the Ohio did not sink, her structural integrity was shattered. It was now only a matter of time before she broke up and sank. Captain Mason gave the order to abandon ship, as he worked furiously with his officers and the rest of the fleet to find a way to get the ship to Malta before it was too late – after all, the island was by now only 90 miles away.

The destroyer, HMS Penn, tried to tow the tanker, but Ohio’s rudder had been jammed by the latest attack, making this impossible. The attempted towing made the convoy extremely vulnerable, and the Luftwaffe came back for another attack. This time, however, they were to find that the convoy had just moved into range of the Spitfires based on Malta and a vicious air battle erupted above the ships. The RAF managed to keep the attacks at bay.

With crews from other ships, the crew of the Ohio was brought back on board the tanker and they joined the air battle with the anti-aircraft artillery on the deck. However, despite all appearances of action, the Ohio was still on the verge of coming apart, regardless of enemy attack. There was every possibility she would break up in sight of Malta.

The situation desperate, an idea from the captain of HMS Bramham was gambled upon. Two destroyers, Ledbury and Penn (Bramham would later take the place of Ledbury) took position either side of the Ohio and were lashed to the tanker, forming a type of trimaran. The destroyers would thus be able to support the stricken tanker as they limped their way to Malta, in what was now a race against time before the Ohio disintegrated.

One by one, the surviving ships of the convoy reached the Grand Harbour of Malta – the Port Chalmers, Brisbane Star (which had much of its bow blown off), Melbourne Star and Rochester Castle. Finally, on the shoulders of Bramham and Penn, the Ohio finally made it into the harbour, under the eyes of the people of Malta who cheered the ships in.

Operation Pedestal was not the success that had been planned, but it brought enough supplies in to keep Malta fighting and ensure the island would not be forced to surrender due to starvation.