Merry Christmas

Posted in Intercept on December 24, 2013 by Mr Backman

Vector_XMas

Nothing new here. except a tiny update to the rulebook clarifying the Planet LOS rules. Anyhow, merry midvinterblot which is what this fine holiday was originally called, before it was stolen by you-know-who.

Update 2013-12-09

Posted in Intercept on December 10, 2013 by Mr Backman

Planet LOS in Star Wars

The  Design system has been updated so that headings for SA (Surface area), Volume and Power turn red if the values become too large (too much surface area for the hull, too much volume for the hull, not enough power to run all components). Note that any components with power use value in Bold must be handled while playing as they are optional to the ships running; weapons and the various fuel converters are examples. Note also that weapons can operate with less than full power allocated with DMs from the Underpower table, the gun is sinply firing at a lower rate of fire reducing power draw and hit propability.

The Subsidized merchant actually has its power heading in red because it cannot run its Floater and Floorfield at the same time, yeah pretty crummy those subs but they are definitely the cheapest merchants per hauled cargo.

The rulebook has gotten a better movement example and the section on Planet LOS has been rewritten to simplify and clarify 2013-12-09

Subsidized merchant DataCard

Posted in Design system, Intercept, Rules with tags , , , , on December 1, 2013 by Mr Backman
Image courtesy of mr Ian Stead http://biomassart.wordpress.com/

Image courtesy of mr Ian Stead http://biomassart.wordpress.com/

“What a piece of junk!” – Luke Skywalker
“You came in that thing? You’re braver than I thought.” – Leia to Han 
“Would it help if I got out and pushed?” – Leia to Han
“It might!” – Han to Leia
“She’s the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy.” – Lando Calrissian

Subsidized merchant DataCard

I have updated the DataCard and Intercept rulebook, get ‘em while they’re hot, at the downloads page 2013-12-01

The design system holds everything there is to know about your ship but to use it for an Intercept space battle you need to fill in its DataCard. The DataCard holds all data crucial to space battles where the Ship.xls hold everything there is to know about the design. Print out DataCard.pdf and fill in your designs. We will use the Subsidized merchant as worked examples on how to fill in the DataCard. There is a ready-made Subsidized merchant and Launch document in the Designs.zip and eventually I’ll fill out the rest of my designs. OK, let’s get on with the worked example shall we. The little thumbnail above is the entire DataCard but I will break it down into pieces a comment on each part s it gets filled in. As always, go to the downloads page to look for the latest version of everything – the rules, the design system and sometimes also the DataCard may all get updates now and then.

DataCard1

First we write the ships name at the top left of the DataCard. To the right of the name we see some rows of checkboxes. The one labeled Turns can be ignored as it is used by the Deterministic optional rules indicating how many steps of turn the ship has for each of the four turns. The row labeled AB Initiative side A check the odd boxes and side B check the even boxes. These are used for tie breaking Initiative. The lowest row of boxes labeled Frac thrust is where you check the turns where your fractional thrust gives you an extra G. Look up Fractional thrust in the rule book for details, our Subsidized merchant happens to have  no decimal thrust when loaded or unloaded so we leave them unchecked.

DataCard2

To the right is a box for Size; +8 for our example. This is the target number for all Pilot rolls (and a Tactician rolls too, however unlikely in a Subsidized merchant).The Comp# box should hold your computers model number. Make sure there is room for the computer dice pool. These can can be used to improve all Pilot, Tactician, Attack, Defense, Sensors or Repair roll by rolling one or more dice from the pool and picking the two highest D6, every four turns the computer dice pool is replenished by the current Model #. We write 1: for our Model-1 computer. To the right of that are four boxes were we write the beam to-hit numbers for 1, 3 and 10 squares range and the missile to-hit value, all taking our ships Size into account. Look up the numbers and subtract Size to get your ships target numbers. These are the base numbers your enemy roll against to hit your ship. We write 4+, 7+, 10+ and 6+ respectively.

Write your ships Thrust Gs (Loaded/Unloaded)  in the Thrust box.  The last box in the top row, the Fuel box, holds how many GTurns worth of fuel the ship has, loaded/unloaded. The box is large enough for you to tick off fuel use when playing. Only ships with Fission or Fusion thrusters have this value, Impulse drives expend no fuel when thrusting and neither does a Floater, our ship write 10/20: here. Yes, the sub is known for its extremely low delta-V, that old-timer who belittled the sub crews has obviously never flown one as their low delta-V requires careful planning and experience.

DataCard3

The next row should hold the ships Streamlining type; Open frame, Normal, Streamlined or Airframe, also add the areobrake damage modifier for speed here. The name of the streamlining should be entered but also the damage modifier for speed which is important when doing areobrakes or landing. The damage per speed modifiers is from the areobrake table in the rulebook, in the section on planets.

  • Open frame The ISS or other irregular structures. +6/1 speed but you shouldn’t really do any areobraking with these. If you areobrake facing is off by two or more your first speed brake will be treated as Open frame. Hulls with Critical damage are always treated as Open frame.
  • Normal A car or a subsonic aircraft. +3/1 speed. If you areobrake facing is off by one your first speed brake will be trated as Normal unless it is Open frame. Hulls with Severe damage are always treated as Normal or worse.
  • Streamlined A jetfighter or the space shuttle. +1/1 speed. This is the minimum streamlining for reasonably safe areobrakes and atmosphere landings. Hulls with Light damage are always treated as Streamlined or worse.
  • Airframe The SR-71 or other extremely streamlined hypersonic designs. +1/3 speed. Areobrakes and atmosphere landings are safe unless your facing is off or brake more than your frame can handle.

We write Streamlined +1/1 and 7% 1 for the percentage of wings an extra areobrake (1 for every full 5%). Wings is only used for aerobraking in Intercept but may be more important in roleplaying situations, especially for the Subsidized merchant.

DataCard4

Below this there’s a large box where all the ships Signatures should be entered. If your battle takes place where the Sun factor is not +6 you should enter the actual value to get properly modified Signatures. Remember that if the Sun factor is, say +5 you should subtract 5 from Visual(Hull) when the ship is in the Shadow column, instead of the usual 6. Note the Sun factor at the top of your map sheet as a reminder.

DataCard5

The box with the ship status check boxes can be ignored as they are only used in-game to indicate status changes, I’ll show you their picture anyway.

DataCard6

Below that there are some boxes for the Sensitivity of your sensors. We enter -1 for our Optical (Visual/IR) and -5 for our small radar. Note that radar Scans are the only ones using any significant amounts of power.

DataCard7

To the right of this we have the crew box where the numbers and special notes of our crew are entered. We write 1 Pilot, 1 Astrogator, (2) Sensor ops, 3 Gunners and 2 Techs. The parenthesis around the Sensor ops value indicate that Gunners and Sensor ops serve dual roles; if any attacks or defense-rolls were made in a turn we get -2 on our Scan factor as the same crew members were doing both tasks.

DataCard9

To the right of this there’s the hit location box where damage, continuing damage, jury rig repairs and frozen watch revival is tracked. There are also check boxes for the current location of the repair crew. Enter the ARM and DAB values for you design here. The Subsidized merchant has these values: Hull +20 ARM +25 DAB Surface +15/+17 ARM +19 DAB Crew +20 ARM +22 DAB Payload +20 ARM +22 DAB Power +20 ARM +22 DAB Thrust +17 ARM +19 DAB The Surface part has 4 check box rows for Top/Front, Left, Right and Bottom/Rear and should be applied damage based on what facing the attk came from. The Power part may have two values; the left for full power and the left when Silent running, only ships with vulnerable radiators have two values there.

The column of check boxes labeled RC tells the current location of your Repair Crew. Check its location whenever it moves to a new location,Repair Crew takes the same damage when that location is hit. To the right of the RC column there is one labeled JR which stands for Jury Rig. Jury Rigged locations are treated as having one level less damage for damage effects purposes.

The check boxes labeled L, S, C and D are used for the damage level of a location and they stand for Light, Severe, Critical and Destroyed. Damage to an already damaged location work like this:

  • New damage level is higher Replace the old damage with the new, uncheck JR but CD remains.
  • New damage level is equal Add one damage level, uncheck JR but CD remains.
  • New damage level is lower Keep the old damage level, uncheck JR but CD remains.

The CD column stands for Continuing Damage which is damage that may get worse over time, like fires and the like. A hit gets Continuing Damage if the Damage roll turned up as a 6. Each turn, after repairs and if repairs failed, roll a D6 per CD; 1 and the CD is removed of itself, 2-4 has no effect and 5-6 increases damage one level. If a non-Hull location gets Destroyed from CD remove the CD there and add a CD to the Hull location, even if the Hull is completely undamaged. A Destroyed Hull, as you can imagine, destroys the ship. Yes, a tiny hit in the Surface location can, with lots of sheer luck, eventually destroy the entire ship.

DataCard10

The three boxes labeled Volley A – C are used to note endurance expenditure for missiles with longer endurance than one turn. If more than 3 volleys are in flight at the same time simply note this on a separate piece of paper. Below all is the area for weapons and mounts.

DataCard13

The right part holds the number and types of various weapon. Sand casters, Meson screen and Nuclear dampers write their ARM values in the PEN column and missiles treat the Range column as the controller range. Our Subsidized merchant has two sand-casters, two lasers and two missile launchers, one for each of the two large turrets mounted  Left and Right.

The right part holds the mounts of the ship and their respective locations. Our ship has 2 Large Turrets mounted on the left and right, each with one Sand-caster, one 10 MW laser and one Small missile launcher.

It should be self-evident how this work for your own designs. Note that different missiles can have different parameters and a ship may carry more than one kind so all variants should be noted so somewhere and each volley clearly noted what type it holds. A single volley can only hold one type of missiles but the launcher can choose which type it launches, even from a magazine.

Well, that is all folks. Look at the Lauch values and see if you understand how that design is put together. Note that the Small turret mounted on top is NOT standard issue but a modification done for my daughters Launch and can be a pretty nasty surprise to anyone believening that the Launch of a Subsidized merchant is harmless.

Tactics in Intercept

Posted in Intercept on November 29, 2013 by Mr Backman

Space tactics

“You understand that there is no case in military history where an Enclosure has been completed that the attacking forces have not eventually won, except where an outside Navy exists in sufficient force to break the Enclosure.” – Bel Riose

Ship tactics “The individual has been trained in the operation of a starship or space ship in battle”. Ship tactics can control a group of ships with the same position and vector as the Tacticians ship, all commanded ships must still have Pilots but on ships smaller than 500 m3 (100 dTon)?the Pilot and Ship tactician can be the same person, roll once with the lowest of the two skills in that case. Note that Ship tactics win ties against both Fleet tactics and Pilot rolls.

Fleet tactics “The individual has been trained in the use of formations and maneuvers in naval operations”. Fleet tactics can control a group of ships within the same or adjacent box and vectors off by no more than 1 compared to the Tacticians ship, all commanded ships must still have Pilots and the Fleet tactician can never be the same person as the Pilot. Note that Fleet tactics win ties with Pilot but loses ties with Ship tactics.

Ship tactics and Fleet tactics has been part of Traveller ever since High Guard was published by GDW way back. Both flavors of tactics work the same in Intercept but apply to different ships. Ship tactics apply to all ship with the same position and vector as the commanding ship while Fleet tactics apply to all ship in the same or adjacent boxes a vector that is off by no more than 1. Why would anyone learn Ship tactics when Fleet tactics apply to more situations? Well, Ship tactics win over Fleet tactics in tie situations.

So, what then does the two space combat tactics skills do? In ships where the Pilot and Tactician is the same person, which is only allowed with ships less than 500 m3 (100 dTon), roll the Pilot task with the lowest skill of Pilot or Tactics. If the Pilot and Tactician is not the same person you roll one Pilot task and one Tactics tack and use the lowest result. The result then applies to all ship under the Tacticians command, for both turning and Initiative purposes. The task or tasks are always rolled vs the largest modified Size ship under command, modified by Hull and Crew damage as usual.

There is one more advantage for a group of ships under Tactician command; they may group identical weapons as a single battery even when coming from different ships. A hundred single gunned fighters may fire as a single 100 weapon battery giving it a whopping +6 DM to hit, and the same goes for missile volleys. However, commanded ships can NOT group weapons or screens from different ships together for defense, except for firing at missile as if they were ships.

So, in short, Tacticians allow ships under his command to turn and move, and most importantly; fight, as one and have Initiative as one. Tacticians turn groups of ships into single units, allowing them to fight as one, which, incidentally, also immensely speed up large engagements.

“Great empires are not maintained by timidity” – Tacitus

Fighters in Intercept

Posted in Intercept, Rules, Science fiction on November 23, 2013 by Mr Backman

Vulnerable? Nah, sitting strapped atop a fusion rocket with only three centimeters of glassteel for canopy, taking on huge warships at fist-fighting range, no, that does not make me feel vulnerable, why? I just trim my moustache, whistle a few bars of the Imperial march and tell my buddies to ‘smoke me a kipper, I’ll be back for breakfast’.

So, young lovely, what are you doing after this dreadful yawn of a ball? Meet me at the Areobrake salute and I’ll buy you a drink.

Single crew fighters have been a standard troupe in Science Fiction but their usefulness have been questioned on Atomic Rocket and other hard SF sites. This article will argue for their existence from an Intercept perspective; why would one build small fighters in Intercept except for coolness and Traveller canon?

Fighters have one thing going for them; their Size. Small ships are hard to hit and tend to win the Initiative. Fighters are small enough to allow the Pilot and Ship tactician being the same person so grouping them together under the command of an ace Pilot / Tactician makes perfect sense, remember that guns of the same kind can be grouped into batteries even if they sit on different ships as long as they are all under the same commander. Capital ships can easily kill a fighter with a single shot but only if they can hit them. Grouping together lots of low powered weapons will steal precious surface area from larger weapons and the fighters will probably maneuver themselves into the cracks between firing arcs or even the blind aft centerline were they can attack with impunity. Large fighter groups can also work as a mobile anti missile system defending their motherships.

What then can the capital ship do in defense? They can build really thick hulls and rely on internal sensors alone (neutrino and mass) but a more viable solution is to have their own fighters engaging the enemy and protecting their aft centerline.

So, we have dashing and brave squadron leaders with excellent pilot and ship tactics skills dogfighting around the capital ships and that one, ex farm boy, young pilot can happen to score a cascading damage hit through the radiators of that huge, space station like, enemy ship, a hit that might eventually, through cascading damage, blow up the entire ship, with huge amounts of sheer luck (or is it Luke?). You can download an example fighter design (among other ships) at the downloads page.

Yes, the single-seater fighter ship is very much alive and well in Intercept!

Custom crew

Posted in Design system, Intercept on November 17, 2013 by Mr Backman
Nostromo Crew courtesy of http://alienseries.wordpress.com

Nostromo Crew courtesy of http://alienseries.wordpress.com

Crew? I pilot the ship, I astrogate for hyperspace, I scan with my sensors and if I see something I don’t like, I shoot it with my lasers. Repairs? Hah, my ship is too scared of me to ever break down.

Sir Charles Pancroft, Baron of Centry, on the merits of a one man ship crew.

Centry/Glisten/Spinward marches 023-1013

Custom crew example

Intercept make various assumptions regarding crew size which may not fit your concept of how the ship should be crewed. As an example, Intercept assumes that Gunners and Sensor ops hold dual roles (the lower number of the two is in parenthesis to indicate this). Write your own value, including 0, to override whatever Intercept has calculated. I have added some smarts to the design sheet to help you see what effects your crew numbers will have:

  • Tactician (Pilot) The ship is small enough that the Pilot and Tactician can be the same person without penalty. Instead of using the lowest result of the Pilot roll and the Tactician roll he simply roll once using the lowest skill of Pilot and whatever flavor of Tactician skill he uses (Ship tactics or Fleet tactics).
  • Sensor ops (2) Sensor ops or Gunners crew number in parenthesis indicate that Intercept assumes the two positions are dual-role. If you intend to Scan after combat your attacks and defenses are modified by -2 and your scans are also modified by -2. If you want dedicated Gunners and Sensor Ops to avoid penalties from dual role simply write the number in the light yellow edit column to the right.
  • Gunners (-2) A negative value in parenthesis after the crew type is your Undermanning modifier, ‘(No)’ means you cannot perform tasks by that crew category  because you have less than 10% of the required crew.
  • Technicians (No FW) A ‘(No FW)’ means your Repair Crew must be repaired instead of revived by Frozen Watch because it has more than 50% robots.
  • Low passage? A ‘?’ indicate that you don’t have enough freezers for the numbers you have chosen.
  • Total crew? A ‘?’ indicate that you don’t have enough life support units for the numbers you have chosen.
  • Frozen watch (x2) A ‘(x1)’ or ‘(x2)’ after Frozen watch indicate how many levels of damage you can restore from Frozen watch. You can never have more damage level restores than 2 no matter how large frozen watch you specify.

The design system and ready-made designs have been updated as has the rule book (look at the top row for Ship.xls version and Data.xls version. Ship.xls version should be 2013-11-17 or newer). You can download them all from the Downloads page.

Q: What do you call a timepiece that stops whenever the temperature goes below zero?

A: The frozen watch.

Intercept 3.3 update

Posted in Design system, Intercept, Rules, Traveller on November 10, 2013 by Mr Backman

Laser with mirror

Yeah, it is true, I finally managed to put it together and get it ready to download. there are lots of changes, rearrangements and tweaks, too many to mention all so I will just give you the major points. I have scattered some illustrations here and there in the rules to liven things up a bit and to exercise my limited artistic abilities.

Download the latest version of Intercept and designs from the Downloads page.

Design system

The design system has gotten some changes here and there but now for the first time there is actual documentation on how to design ships in the rulebook. This part is placed at the end, right before the tables and charts, so you can print out the Design rules in a separate booklet if you like.

Mapsheets

There are many changes to how ships interact with planets and these changes are reflected in the new mapsheets. There is one sheet with a small planet in the middle, one with a large planet and also one where a large and small planet are placed far apart to play out scenarios in the Earth – Moon neighbourhood. The mapsheets are now included in the Intercept bundle.

Missile customization

Various missile customization options are tabulated in the rules but maybe not too deeply explained. Read about missile customization here.

Planets

Planets have their own section now with rules on planetary line of sight, gravity etc in one place instead of scattered throughout the rules. The rules for stable orbits now cover polar orbits as well.  The planetary line of sight rules and sun shadow rules have changed considerably so make sure you read up on planets if you use them in the game.

Consolidated Pilot task

A fancy name for the section where various Pilot related stuff is located. You will find rules for docking, ramming, landing on planets, crashing into planets, voluntary and mandatory areobrakes etc. This section is a good place for a Traveller referee to get less ad-hoc and more believable rules for ship to ship and ship to planet interaction with more choices and participation by the players while still taking the characters skill into consideration.

Traveller integration

A page on how to integrate Intercept with Traveller has been added, to be filled with rules and tips whenever someone actually bothers to give me feedback. For me, Intercept is Traveller so I see no real point in writing conversions for various Traveller versions, the most likely one to get this treatment will be the Mongoose version of Traveller which I like in many ways, mostly for its adherence to the original LBB version. Just subtract 1 from your Mongoose or Classic Traveller skill level to get the D to use in Intercept, GURPS players should use (skill – 10) / 2.

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