Sensor rules 3.1

Ah, finally something new at this website! My excuse; well, mostly work actually but I have also been fiddling with some En garde inspired rules for Traveller which I will post here whenever I have enough stuff written.

I have playetested Intercept with my girlfriend mostly but also with some of my colleagues at work and certain errors cropped up regularly enough to warrant investigation. Intercept is a double-blind system without a referee so it requires a great deal of trust between the players. If a player does his scanning wrong it is hard to detect the error until after the session when the players typically look at each other’s plotted maps. The errors were of three kinds:

  • Coordinate errors People weren’t as used to cartesian coordinate systems as I thought they’d be. If one could merely point at the box or boxes scanned on the common map a lot of errors would go away.
  • Planet LOS errors The planet Line-Of-Sight rules were hard to do right as one had to match the square scan against the jagged blocked arc.
  • Aerobrake errors We had only a few of those because aerobraking is so rare but whenever a player tried such a stunt the chances were high that he would do it wrong.

Coordinate improvements

The plotting map is now divided into 5 square x 5 square areas called boxes. These boxes are easy to see on the map and if player A says he scans in the x = +5, y = +15 box (or simply points at the box on the common plotting map) the other player can easily check if his ship is inside or outside of the box. No more counting on scan radii to see if one is inside or not (or using the my custom-made plexiglass scan guides). Scanning individual squares (either 1 x 1 or 3 x 3 squares) require a bit more scrutiny but the 3 x 3 square scans can only be done in the same or adjacent boxes of the scanning ship and the 1 x 1 square scans can only be performed inside the scanning ship’s box itself. These small scans are rarely used and are dead giveaways to the scanner’s own position and as they are so rare the players can agree beforehand to not allow them if you both feel they add too much complexity.

Planet LOS changes

Planet LOS is much simplified thanks to the addition of map boxes. Check what arc of the planet the scanning ship is in and the boxes along the opposite centerline are illegal for scans. If a scan includes the central box containing the planet the scanner must tell his opponent what arc is blocked, the arc opposite of the scanner’s arc that is. Yes, scanning the central box gives the opponent more information that before but that is a small price to pay for a much simpler LOS system with far less errors. If you are scanning the tiny 1 x 1 squares or 3 x 3 squares you still have to abide the old rules which simply states that the scans cannot include squares in the opposite arc from the scanner. As 1 x 1 and 3 x 3 square scans are so rare one could agree on not allowing such scans if you both feel they add too much complexity.

Aerobrake changes

Aerobrake manuevers are typically done before being spotted as it allows you to slow down the ship while still being stealthy (no large Visual, IR, Neutrino or Mass signatures from the drive) and must therefore be easy to do without asking your opponent how it works. The new aerobrake rules uses requires the ship’s Present to be on the planet for aearobrake to take place, if the ship merely crosses the planet square it has flown above or below it. A ship can actually maintain a steady polar orbit by jo-jo-ing back and forth across the planet as long as its Present never end up on the planet.

The singularity; Rapture for nerds – Ken MacLeod

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