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What was the 'failed promise' of early Traveller?

Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
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I'm probably just biased because almost all the early Traveler games I saw were long distance investigation/exploration oriented games (with sometimes a side of trading), so its probably colored my views. Under those circumstances, barring another ship that was paralleling your actions, it would have been startling to run into many of the same ships.
 

Knaight

Registered User
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Mirroring the reaction chart still feels clunky, and there are weird cases around getting repeats. I'd probably try an encounter deck for 52 ships where you can make notes on thr cards, including whatever the starting reaction is.
 

Anfelas

Registered User
Validated User
You could use the oft neglected d66 matrix - d6 x axis d6 y axis - for 36 and then wed it to the reaction table - it is the same ship only if you roll the same d66 result and reaction table result for a ship encounter.
Fill in the d6-d6 matrix with the types of ships encountered within the subsector
I roll a 6 and a 6 for the ship type encounters and then a 10 for its reaction. I will only randomly encounter exactly the same ship if I again roll a 6, 6 and 10.
 

Kimera757

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Validated User
And then they wonder why the PCs go all murderhobo on the uppity peasants again and again and blame the system...
That didn't make much sense to me.

Killing peasants is a player issue. The peasants could be nice, neutral, or actively hostile... if you have bad players, their PCs will abuse or kill the peasants.

Likewise, the number of people who run combats all to the death baffles me, when we had a morale system from the beginning. It gives a mechanical indication that most critters aren't going to fight to the death. They'll break and run when things go against them. I have so many players that expect everything to fight to the death over the years that it's clear that not only do GM's skip rolling morale, they don't even think about having beaten foes turn and run.
It makes sense to me, especially if the GM likes complex battles. An entire battle could fall apart because the NPCs were getting the upper hand but then their boss got critted. After that happens once or twice the GM steps away from it. Morale was being rolled too often per battle. It should only be rolled once in a battle, at most, IMO. Unfortunately, if the GM steps away from the morale system, they don't really have a tool to say when the battle is about over. This is especially true if a complex battle was swinging back and forth with evenly-matched opponents.

(This reminds me of how terrible a poorly-rolled intimidation is. You're winning, and you roll terribly. So now the opponents are invigorated... even though you're obviously winning and they're obviously losing!)

It's even worse on the player side. When your side is losing, it's often because a PC dropped, and now the rest of the PCs will heroically try to rescue the fallen PC, which means they're still on the battlefield. It's also pretty hard to run away fast when you're carrying an unconscious PC and the highest hit point total in the party is a 10. It's hard to run away when there's opportunity attacks. It's hard to run away if you're a dwarf, or wearing heavy armor. It's hard to run away if you've been strategically surrounded (although that's probably entirely the fault of the losing side).

I don't think reaction tables or morale needs to completely go away, but it needs to be modernized. Also "flavor text" needs to be added. I don't want to come up with a reason, on the fly, for why the orcs aren't hostile that I'm raiding their home.
 

CK!

Creator of Things
Validated User
I don't want to come up with a reason, on the fly, for why the orcs aren't hostile that I'm raiding their home.
Okay. Then that particular rule, as written, and this style of play, isn't for you?

I'm not trying to be dismissive. I'm, in fact, not being dismissive.

But I can't shake the feeling that some people can't accept the fact that certain rules exist, that work, for certain peple . But that those same rules might not work for them. And that's okay.

Instead, the rules must be declared in need of repair or replacement as if the person in question's personal preference of play is some sort of universal dictate that is obvious and should be the standard by which other people should play.

No one here who likes the original Traveller rules is suggesting they are for everyone or would give the same pleasure to everyone else. (If I'm wrong about that point me to the comments. I'm willing to be wrong... but I don't think I am in this case.)

And Traveller Books 1, 2, and 3 are not going to hound people to their homes and make people play them. So you are safe on that front. If the rules don't give you the kind of play you like you move on... no harm, no foul.

The reaction and morale rules don't "need to be modernized." You want different rules -- which is great! Create different rules! But for other people they work fine as they are.
 
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Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
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Yeah, but at that point, when discussing the evolution of games, it ends up turning on "Who is the game trying to serve and how many of them are there?"
 

rstites

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It makes sense to me, especially if the GM likes complex battles. An entire battle could fall apart because the NPCs were getting the upper hand but then their boss got critted. After that happens once or twice the GM steps away from it. Morale was being rolled too often per battle. It should only be rolled once in a battle, at most, IMO. Unfortunately, if the GM steps away from the morale system, they don't really have a tool to say when the battle is about over. This is especially true if a complex battle was swinging back and forth with evenly-matched opponents.
A GM wanting a long battle that ebbs and flows by design is most definitely wanting something at odds with most early RPG combat systems. That is most definitely a style that is far better catered to by a number of more modern systems. OD&D, Traveller, RuneQuest, etc. at their base are designed around quick hitting tactical engagements, which generally are a few rounds of exchanges at most and then the two sides separate.

To me, the entire point of the combat is to allow the PC's to find clever ways to overcome their enemies without unduly endangering themselves. Taking out the leader to force a morale check is exactly what the system should do IMO. The entire focus of early D&D combat is to force morale checks on the enemy: do to excess casualties, due to taking out a leader, due to showing how powerful you are, etc. Obviously, in the more fantastical side of things, causing that check becomes more difficult at higher level.

It's even worse on the player side. When your side is losing, it's often because a PC dropped, and now the rest of the PCs will heroically try to rescue the fallen PC, which means they're still on the battlefield. It's also pretty hard to run away fast when you're carrying an unconscious PC and the highest hit point total in the party is a 10. It's hard to run away when there's opportunity attacks. It's hard to run away if you're a dwarf, or wearing heavy armor. It's hard to run away if you've been strategically surrounded (although that's probably entirely the fault of the losing side).
Yes, all of those represent failure states of some sort. It's possible for it to just be due to bad luck, but it's generally because you made a poor decision along the way and are now paying the price for it. If you're being heroic to save a fellow PC, then you really aren't routed. In the early days, we left lots of PC's behind to their fate. That's what happens when you get in over your head and get your butt kicked. If you charge in, then it just results in a TPK, which is pointless. (Sometimes, those left behind are taken prisoner instead, so you have something to do once the survivors recuperate and recruit some more help, so even more adventure ahead!)

If you turn and run away, that is when most of your casualties happen. Classically, that is always when the most casualties happen in warfare, so no real surprise that a tactical-based game results in the same result. I'd note that early D&D, for example, actually allowed for tactical withdraws without generating the equivalent of an attack of opportunity. So long as you kept your organization and maintained the flanks, you had a chance of withdrawing in order.

I don't think reaction tables or morale needs to completely go away, but it needs to be modernized. Also "flavor text" needs to be added. I don't want to come up with a reason, on the fly, for why the orcs aren't hostile that I'm raiding their home.
I can easily come up with a reason on-the-fly why the orcs might not be hostile: they are scared and want to try to appease the PCs, rather than fight. Put the ball in the PC's court here: are they willing to murder orcs who're groveling and asking to be left alone? Does your setting provide an enemy for this group of orcs? They might try to persuade the PC's to go attack their enemies: the enemy of my enemies is my friend. Maybe they just want to string things out for a while to preserve their hides. All of those are really easy to come up with, and all are far more interesting then running an orc vs. PC battle yet again. If it comes to that, it comes to that, but why not find something more interesting then just an hacking-fest?

Having said all of that, if you really just want to have an orc-sword fodder game, then reaction rolls are definitely not a mechanic you need at the table. I'd also want a game that's a bit less lethal for going all-in on combat than most of these early RPGs too. However, I'd also probably want to go play an actual skirmish game at that point TBH.

I'll readdress your own statement to you here:

"Killing peasants is a player issue. The peasants could be nice, neutral, or actively hostile... if you have bad players, their PCs will abuse or kill the peasants."

How is that really different from orcs, or barbarians the next valley over, or whatever else in your setting?

Btw, even early D&D has creatures that you can just kill in waves without recourse to reaction tables or morale checks: undead. That's why they were so fearful in early D&D. You couldn't force morale checks on them. Incidentally, that's what the cleric does in the game mechanically: they force undead to make a morale check against their level (purity or something akin to that I suppose).

EDIT: I stayed with D&D above because that appeared to be your reference. Traveller has both systems too. However, because combats are more frequently at range, it's far more feasible to run away from combat and escape than in most fantasy RPGs.
 

Rupert

Active member
Validated User
A GM wanting a long battle that ebbs and flows by design is most definitely wanting something at odds with most early RPG combat systems. That is most definitely a style that is far better catered to by a number of more modern systems. OD&D, Traveller, RuneQuest, etc. at their base are designed around quick hitting tactical engagements, which generally are a few rounds of exchanges at most and then the two sides separate.

To me, the entire point of the combat is to allow the PC's to find clever ways to overcome their enemies without unduly endangering themselves. Taking out the leader to force a morale check is exactly what the system should do IMO. The entire focus of early D&D combat is to force morale checks on the enemy: do to excess casualties, due to taking out a leader, due to showing how powerful you are, etc. Obviously, in the more fantastical side of things, causing that check becomes more difficult at higher level.
This matches the fiction these games were looking to for inspiration. There are a huge number of stories, both modern and very old, in which you have something like "The pretender's side looked to be winning when a chance arrow slew him. At that point the pretender's army broke as his followers saw their cause was lost and fled". In modern small unit warfare, killing the leader of a unit is recognised as a desirable primary gaol - even if the unit stays in the fight it loses direction and co-ordination until a new leader establishes control (at which point you them...).
If you turn and run away, that is when most of your casualties happen. Classically, that is always when the most casualties happen in warfare, so no real surprise that a tactical-based game results in the same result. I'd note that early D&D, for example, actually allowed for tactical withdraws without generating the equivalent of an attack of opportunity. So long as you kept your organization and maintained the flanks, you had a chance of withdrawing in order.
D&D3.x, etc. did too. If you took the retreat action you got to move out of an opponent's reach without taking an attack of opportunity, and then you could spend the rest of your round moving away. The problem was that this left you in range of a move-and-attack or a charge, so the opponent got to chase you and probably hit you unless the rest of your side still had them in melee combat - retreats worked for the first couple of characters to try it, but not for those who were last to disengage.
 

CK!

Creator of Things
Validated User
(Sometimes, those left behind are taken prisoner instead, so you have something to do once the survivors recuperate and recruit some more help, so even more adventure ahead!)
It's one of those things people forget about all the time. Or perhaps it never occurs to them.

I suppose some might say, "If there aren't rules to explicitly tells us to do it and how to do it, how are we supposed to know how to do it or that we should?"
 
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