Vehicle Handbook Development Diary – Taking to the High Seas

In a universe full of grav vehicles and spacecraft, it is easy to brush over more down-to-earth methods of travel. However, we wanted one of the core areas of the Vehicle Handbook to be more mundane vehicles that demanded attention from referees, that provided encouragement to be inserted into adventures – and keeping them relevant even at higher Tech Levels, where lower tech solution to a problem still made sense (especially in terms of cost).

The Research Ship is a good example of the latter. It appears in an era where grav transport is beginning to be ubiquitous but, for a mere MCr3.31 provides long term scientific support not possible with the equivalent grav vehicle. Perfectly fine so long as you don’t need to get anywhere fast.

 

Research Ship

Capable of conducting a wide variety of scientific investigations, the research ship provides a full suite of research facilities and can stay at sea for extended periods of time without resupply. Even in a technologically advanced society, the use of such watercraft does not strain research grants and so the pioneers of science can conduct their research without real world hindrances.

TL 9 Armour  
Skill Seafarer (ocean ships) Front 9
Agility -6 Sides 9
Speed (cruise) Slow (Very Slow) Rear 9
Range (cruise) 8000 (12000)  
Crew 4 Traits -
Passengers 12
Cargo 22.5 tons Equipment Atmospheric Sampler, Autopilot (enhanced), Communication System (improved, increased range, satellite uplink), Computer/1 x 2, Crane (heavy), Fire Extinguishers, Galley (seats 10), General Purpose Laboratory (4 scientists), Holding Tank (6 spaces), Hydrographic Sampler, Internal Bay (5 tons), Navigation System (improved), Sensor System (improved, increased range x 2), Sensor System (improved, underwater), Staterooms x 16
Hull 1200
Shipping 150 tons
Cost MCr3.31

 

We have had modern Sloops pop up in previous vehicle books for Traveller – but some rich guy’s plaything is not a lot of fun, so we have gone back in time for the new Vehicle Handbook and provided something more appropriate to pirates!

 

Sloop

Typically sporting a single mast (some rare boats may feature two), the sloop was designed as a utilitarian vessel – cheap, easy to build, and capable of a wide range of seagoing functions from fishing to mercantile activities. However, those seeking to prey upon merchants quickly saw a sloop made for a fine pirating vessel when armed. Fast, manoeuvrable and with a shallow hull that let it sail up rivers or ride right over shoals, a good pirate can make a powerful name for themselves in this boat.

TL 3 Armour  
Skill Seafarer (sail) Front 1
Agility -1 Sides 1
Speed (cruise) Very Slow (Idle) Rear 1
Range (cruise) -  
Crew 70 Traits -
Passengers 5
Cargo - Equipment Crane (light)
Hull 130
Shipping 32.5 tons
Cost Cr62500
  Weapons Fixed Mount (Black Powder Cannon, left) x 7

Fixed Mount (Black Powder Cannon, right) x 7

 

Weapon Range Damage Magazine Magazine Cost Traits Fire Control
Black Powder Cannon 0.5 7D 1 Cr50 - -

 

And because Black Powder Cannons are inherently cool, we made provision for piracy on rivers during the age of steam (or the odd civil war, if you prefer).

 

Liberty-class Ironclad

Sitting low in the water, due to its immense weight of armour, the Liberty-class can, in theory, sail the oceans but is much more comfortable (and safe) on rivers as it has a tendency to be swamped by any wave. The Liberty is intended to bombard shore-based targets as much as engage other ironclads and serves as a superb blockading vessel, its sheer size making it a stable platform for its weapons.

TL 4 Armour  
Skill Seafarer (ocean ship) Front 10
Agility -6 Sides 10
Speed (cruise) Very Slow (Idle) Rear 10
Range (cruise) 500 (750)  
Crew 60 Traits -
Passengers -
Cargo 3 tons Equipment Bunks x 10, Smoke Discharger
Hull 400
Shipping 50 tons
Cost Cr
  Weapons Fixed Mount (black powder cannon, left side) x 4

Fixed Mount (black powder cannon, right side) x 4

Weapon Range Damage Magazine Magazine Cost Traits Fire Control
Black Powder Cannon 0.5 7D 10 Cr500 - -

 

But what about the warships of tomorrow? Before grav tanks make them all obsolete, perhaps they will look a little like the Achilles-class…

 

Achilles-class Frigate

For many Tech Levels the main workhorse of any fluid ocean navy, the Achilles-class is perhaps the ultimate expression of a frigate before grav technology truly outmodes them. Despite their relatively small size frigates are both fast and extremely well-armed, able to threaten vessels much larger than themselves, while still capable of engaging in a wide variety of roles such as search and rescue, anti-submarine patrols and fleet air defence.

 

TL 9 Armour  
Skill Seafarer (ocean ship) Front 10
Agility -5 Sides 10
Speed (cruise) Slow (Very Slow) Rear 10
Range (cruise) 8000 (12000)  
Crew 120 Traits -
Passengers -
Cargo 10 tons Equipment Anti-Missile System (minigun), Autopilot (improved), Bunks x 30, Camouflage (improved), Command Centre (seats 10), Communications System (improved, encrypted, increased range x 2, satellite uplink, tightbeam), Computer/1, Control System (improved), Crane (heavy), Decoy Dispenser, ECM (improved), Fire Extinguishers, Freshers x 10, Galley (seats 30), Internal Bay (10 tons), Navigation System (improved), Operating Theatre, Prismatic Aerosol Discharger, Sensor System (improved, hardened, increased fidelity x 2, increased range x 2), Sensor System (improved, hardened, increased fidelity x 2, increased range x 2, underwater), Smoke Discharger, Stateroom x 2
Hull 2000
Shipping 250 tons
Cost MCr9.58
  Weapons Large Turret (heavy laser cannon x 2, improved fire control) x 3

Fixed Mount (long range anti-air missile, top, improved fire control)

Fixed Mount (torpedo, left side, improved fire control)

Fixed Mount (torpedo, right side, improved fire control)

Weapon Range Damage Magazine Magazine Cost Traits Fire Control
Heavy Laser Cannon 25 2DD+2 - - AP 20 +2
Long Range Anti-air Missile 40 8D 15 Cr330000 One Use, Smart +2
Torpedo 50 5DD 5 Cr60000 One Use, Smart +2
Minigun 0.5 2D 600 Cr1000 Auto 6 -

 

Stay tuned for more previews of forthcoming Traveller books, there are plenty on their way!

 

 

 

 

Vehicle Handbook Development Diary – August 26th

The development of the new Traveller has been a fairly long road, but a most enjoyable one – tinkering with interstellar mechanics for your day job never has a dull moment!

The Core Rulebook came out earlier this year, and High Guard has just been released in ebook format, while we are just awaiting on the Central Supply Catalogue to come back from print.

Right now, we are putting the final touches to the Vehicle Handbook, the tome that will not only allow you to build just about any vehicle you can think of but also comes packed with loads of already-created vehicles that can be inserted straight into your campaign.

Many of these will be obvious – we need a high TL tank for the armies of the universe, for example, just as we need a TL5 tank for players to use when they are on more backward worlds. However, there is always the desire to push things alittle bit further and see just what the design system is capable of.

So, I have been doing just that!

Here is one example. I decided it would be whizz-o-whizz if we had a hypersonic transport in the book – basically, a Concorde II. This is what I came up with as a first pass:

 

Concordia II Hypersonic Airliner

Before the advent of grav technology, supersonic airliners like the Concordia II provide the fastest form of air travel though high ticket prices tend to place them beyond the reach of the common man. However, those who can afford it are in for royal treatment and a transportation system that can get them to anywhere on the planet in a matter of a few short hours. The Concordia II is capable of speeds in excess of Mach 5, though it normally supercruises at around Mach 4.

 

TL 8 Armour  
Skill Flyer (wing) Front 2
Agility -1 Sides 2
Speed (cruise) Hypersonic (Supersonic) Rear 2
Range (cruise) 8000 (12000)  
Crew 5 Traits -
Passengers 80
Cargo 2 tons Equipment Autopilot (improved), Bunks x 2, Communication System (basic, increased range x 2, satellite uplink), Computer/1, Control System (improved), Entertainment Systems x 80, Fire Extinguishers, Fresher x 8, Galley (seats 10), Navigation System (basic), Sensor System (basic, increased range x 2)
Hull 150
Shipping 300 tons
Cost MCr165

 

The trouble with doing this kind of aircraft at TL8 is, of course, ubiquitous grav technology is just around the corner (not to mention spacecraft), so the Concordia II very much represents the last gasp of traditional passenger aircraft. It carries a mere 80 passengers and will struggle to get across the Atlantic (massive range was never really a thing for the real Concorde). However, it is fast. Very fast. Mach 5 in perfect first class comfort. We even have a decent bar in there where passengers can stretch their legs and get a drink (and maybe some peanuts).

The downside?

Well, take a look at the cost. How many passengers are you going to have to fly to pay that back, eh? (Again, the real Concorde had a similar issue).

This aircraft could be made a lot cheaper under the Vehicle Handbook system, but I managed to create a ‘perfect storm’ of requirements – the increased speed was a big spend (there was no way I was going to settle for a mere supersonic transport!), as was range. You want a small super-fast fighter, it is not a problem, but if you want to get a bunch of passengers across an ocean in an aircraft like this, you need to spend the Credits. And as far as those passengers go? Just squeezing in 80 of them was tough enough. The seats might be comfy, but you will be wanting to use that bar to get some space.

Then again, at the speed this thing goes, you won’t be sitting down for long.

It does beg the question though: Aside from being an exercise in what the Vehicle Handbook is capable of creating, who in their right mind would actually purchase and try to run one of these?

Well, we have had some ideas…

  • A world that has yet to discover grav technology (or decent space travel, for that matter) simply has no choice if they want to go far and fast. That grav tech breakthrough might be just around the corner, TL-wise, but they may not know that.
  • A world of the super-rich might find it simply more convenient to fly like this rather than use some sort of sub-orbital shuttle. It may be that check-in for the Concordia II takes minutes whereas any type of spacecraft requires you sit in the spaceport lounge for two hours while they repeatedly scan your luggage (they won’t scan you, you are going first class – and terrorists never go first class).
  • Money might not be an object. Dictators spring to mind here.
  • It might appear on a world that has a no-space-travel-zone imposed upon it. Atmospheric flight is just fine, but your oppressors might well shoot down anything that comes anywhere close to orbiting.

So, given that, the Concordia II will be making an appearance in the Vehicle Handbook, however impractical it might actually be in the ‘real’ world.

What do you think? Take a trip to our Traveller forums, and let us know! And swing back here from time to time – we want to make these Development Diaries a permanent (and regular) feature of Planet Mongoose, and you never know when we might accidentally drop a hint of projects that are in the works but have not been announced!