Archive for the Traveller Category

Version 3.4.3 update

Posted in Boardgames, Design system, Intercept, Other vector movemet systems, Traveller on December 11, 2016 by Mr Backman

Board and counters

Vesta acquisition. In response to the verbal from the autopilot, Dieter Ulans flipped his datavisor in front of his eyes and prepared to take direct command of the massive ring of lasers and reaction engines that was Hercules. He hit the juicer button and felt the rush as the drugs began to wash into his veins. “Com’monn jockey juice!” he whispered and then began to croon: “All my thoughts of you, you, you — all that I’ve sought is you, you, you.” The tiny green symbols on the datavisor began to zip past his eyes at an increasing speed.

From the rulebook to Battlefleet Mars 1977 – Essentially the Expanse setting but 39 years before it aired.

Rules

There are lots of changes all over the rules, too many to mention. Sections have also been rewritten, gotten new or updated illustrations or have been rearranged, to clarify and simplify without actually changing too much.

As always, read the front page to get a feel how the game works. Then, read pages 2-3 which cover tasks and initiative, very important to grasp. From then on, simply start playing a turn and read as the turn progresses, the rules are written in turn sequence order.

You can download it all here, as usual, with the updated designs, maps etc.

Tasks

The task system has gotten a facelift and a slight change to what Miss margins give what result. All tasks are now highlighted in red in the table columns to make them easier to find, they are also duplicated on the four reference pages at the back. All degrees of success or failure are now three points wide:

  • Very Good You rolled at least 6 points above the target number.
  • Good You rolled 3-5 above the target number
  • Fair You rolled 0-2 above the target number
  • Miss You missed by 1-3
  • Bad You missed by 4-6
  • Very Bad You missed by 6 or more 

Movement

The movement rules are basically the same as before but rewritten and clarified with step by step illustrations on how movement is performed. The section on plotting has also been clarified and with a detailed example illustration showing all aspects of plotting.

fractional-thrust

Fractional thrust Ships don’t come with Thrust in increments of whole Gs, fractions in increments of 0.25 Gs allow the ship an extra G on certain turns of every group of four turns. The mapsheet holds helpers for this and there is also check-boxes for fractional thrust, loaded and unloaded, on the ship Datacard too. All ready-made designs have these already filled in for you. A ship with 1.25 Gs of thrust would thrust 2 G on turn 1 and 1 G on turns 2-4, 2.5 Gs of thrust would thrust 3 G on turn 1 and 3 and 2 G on turns 2 and 4. A ship with 0.75 Gs of thrust would thrust 1 G on turns 1, 2 and 3 but cannot thrust on turn 4 of every group of 4 turns.

Free traderDatacard fractional thrusts

As damage to Thrust and Power affected how many Gs a ship could thrust this has been changed too, so you don’t have to recalculate what fractions to use as you get damage. Now Thrust and Power damage affects how many turns in a row you are allowed to thrust. All, 2 turns , 1 turn or not at all for No damage, Light, Severe or Critical damage. Plotting rules teach you to draw a circle around your ship whenever it drifts and thus reset the clock on thrust.

Sensors

The fundamentals of the sensor rules remain the same, just clarifications and better examples. The only changes I can think of is that you no longer can use your Visual/IR and Radar sensors when popped in. On the other hand, ships may now pop in at any time during a turn as long as they haven’t used their weapons yet. Ships lose any tracked enemies and any launched missiles when popping in but as you know the vector and position on your targets when they were tracked reacquiring them should be fairly easy.

Oh, one more thing. Intercept now allow 2×2 scans, 2×2 square scans are +2 (+4 for radar), 2×2 boxes are -2 (-4 for radar). I didn’t allow them before because they didn’t have a clear center but showing where your scan is located should pose no problem anyway.

Map coordinate legend

The plotting rules now teached how to refer to boxes and sqaures on the map, using the legends on the map. To efer to the top left box of the map, say “Ay-one”, to refer to the bottom left square of the box where the latrge planet is in say “Dee-six one-five”. Always use column-then-row for the boxes followed by column-then-row for the individual squares.

Combat

The combat section has been rewritten and lots of die modifiers have been removed or baked into other rules. How much a ship thrusts no longer affect how hard they are to hit, we simply give a +2 DM on attacks, and defense when  drifting.

Underpower When a ship didn’t have enough power to use all their weapons when thrusting or drifting we previously used two DMs, peculiarly placed low on the Datacard and was often forgotten (I admit to cobbling it in wherever there was room).

Freetrader underpower ratings

Now, Underpower is one of All+, All, 2 turns, 1 turn, No fire, ships have separate Underpower ratings for Thrusting, Drifting or Jump prepping (more on that in the optional hyperspace rules). When a ship has Severe damage in its power location its Underpower rating is one level worse, All+ becomes All, All becomes 2 turns and so on.

Damage

Damage has changed considerably in this version. Ships now have only one DAB (Damage ABsorption) rating for the entire ship instead of one per location, ARM (for ARMour) is still per location and sometime even have two values, popped out / popped in for Surface damage, full power / silent running for high powered power locations representing their vulnerable heat radiators.

Penetration and Damage tables

How do we handle different damage at different locations then? We have three separate columns on the damage table, one for Hull, one for Crew, Core and Power and one column for Surface and Thrust.

Aerobraking & landing

I seem to rewrite the aerobraking and landing rules once every two weeks or so but now I have something that I feel I’m done with as it is fairly simple yet contains everything I want it to do. Docking and ramming has been moved to the optional rules as they tend to be used more rarely. I have increased the safe speeds for aerobraking somewhat so they become more useful. New illustrations and two examples help clarify things. there is even a little section dealing with your ships signatures when landed and how your sensors work through and atmosphere. Yeah, landing on the day side of a planet with atmosphere will make you harder to scan but your Visual/IR sensors will be blind from the bright atmosphere.

Optional rules

Campaign rules If you want to play a series of Intercept scenarios and have your crews and/or entire navy improving is skill from experience this is for you. The rules merely deal with how to track skill improvements but also skill loss from crew damage. There are also some bare bone outlines of scenarios to help you with ideas. This system is what we use at work when playing and interconnected series of space fights.

Redlining Have you ever wanted to pull all the safeties as captain Phillips did when Somali pirates tried to intercept him, or yell at your engineer ordering him to once again do the impossible? In other words, have you ever wanted to redline your engines?

You decide if you want a 50% boost to your thrust this turn or doubling it for a turn, the latter is of course more dangerous. There is a considerable likelihood that your thrust location will get a CD (Continuing Damage) ie ‘fire in the engine room!’ and you may even risk damaging your engine. Redlining, as well as powering up from silent running and the usual jury-rigging of battle damage is done by your trusty Repair Crew.

Jump distances for planets and asteroids

Hyperspace The rpg Traveller has a faster than light system that works by travelling far away from any planet, jumping into hyperspace, spending about a week there and exiting somewhere else parsecs away from where you started. I have shrunk how far one must travel to safely jump to fit planet and safe jump onto an Intercept mapsheet. There are some fairly detailed rules about how to jump, fuel use, astrogation, misjumps etc and where you will end up. In my system, all jumps have you end up somewhere, near a gas giant, planet or asteroid, even when you misjumped into an ’empty’ parsec hex in the original Traveller.

If you are playing a Traveller campaign I suggest you not only replace the space combat and starship movement rules with Intercept, replace the hyperspace rule too.

Design system

There are tons of changes to the design system too. Most importantly I think you get all the important design spec data in one place. As shown by this part from the Free trader design spreadsheet available in both InterceptBundle and Designs.

Ship stats for the Freetrader

Three little orange dots appeared on the screen. Look at him — blowing out decoys even though he knows we’re out of maneuver — that Kolnichok, grinned Dieter. So which one is you, Joey, and which are the aluminum balloons? (Seven dots grew on the screen, all had slightly different vectors.) Now you know my heater can take you in one flash and you also know that one zap is all I’m going to get. And if I take it you’ve got a perfect excuse to blow me up for the honor of the company rather than recapture valuable property for the accountants. So what’s it going to be? I think you shot off too many balloons too early Joey — cause the other ones aren’t making the course correction you just did. Ain’t that you, Joe?

Ulans squinted and tapped his foot.

From the rulebook to Battlefleet Mars 1977 – notice the green grid tactical maps where one could play out space battles with vector movement, in 3D no less, in 1977!

battlefleet-mars

The contents of SPIs Battlefleet Mars boardgame from 1977.

Post new year post

Posted in Intercept, Rules, Traveller on January 11, 2016 by Mr Backman

Well this will be a short update where I briefly mention some of the new stuff added, I’ll go into more detail about some of them later on. Sorry about the long delay. Rules are hereand designs are here.

Jumpdrives

Before jumping the ship must inject fuel into its jump bubble, a layer of ionized hydrogen surrounding the ship, thicker the longer distances that are jumped. Jump prep takes 15 min to 60 minutes and uses 10% of the ships volume in jump fuel, per number of parsecs jumped, or Jn as the range is called. Small intrasystem jumps termed J0 spend only 5% of fuel but takes the same prep time. Ships with very small powerplants must turn off floor field and other power hungry components when prepping, the procedure is then called jump dimming, because traditionally the earlist jump capable ships turned interior lighting red during this, to warn the crew that a jump was in progress.

Rules can be found on page 30-31 as well as well as in the design rules on page 36, basic Jump prep or Jump dim time is on a row below the underpower modifiers, Underpower Thrust, Underpower Drift and Underpower Prep respectively.

Batteries

Batteries are either set to power just the floater and possibly Impulse thrust, or power for the entire ship. In both cases you input a nominal endurance in hours and Ship.xls will calculate the actual endurance loaded / unloaded. Multiply the hourly endurance by 4 and tick off each turn running on batteries, Impulse thrust is noted in GTurns used, typicaly twice as much as Floater alone. Ships running on batteries have the same IR(Power) signature as with a running powerplanet but no Neutrino(Power).

Don’t add batteries to your designs unless you fully understand the above rules, batteries are tricky and costly and not really needed for most designs.

All you need to do is to set the TL of the battery, whether you want its data for powering Float or the entire shio and the nominal endurance in hours, rules are on page 36.

Fuel converters

The Ammonia and Methane fuel converters have been combined into one, the water cracker is still a separate unit as it requires much more power. The special tankage row of ship.xls can hold any of water, ammonia or methane, but only one at a time.

I have added one Cutter fuelconverter and one Cutter fuelshuttle to the designs as the cutters are such common I though it would be good to get two ready made specialties aside from the regúlar one. Both the Mercenary cruiser and Survey cruiser has them as small craft.

See the sidebar on page 36 for details.

Workstations

The various waorkstation rows has been turned into one so all workstations must now be of the same type. The bridge workstation, aside from being a tie breaker for when Ship tactics skill are equal it also gives longer endurance, used by the optional Fatigue rules on page 25.

Battery modifiers

The modifiers for attacking with multiple indentical weapons, maybe from different ships if a Ship tactician is commanding them, have been modified to simplify designs at the cost of slightly harder to remember the breaks. The breaks are 2 for +2, 3 for +3, 9 for +4, 30 for +5 and 90 for +6. Fit three turrets with small missile launchers each for a +4 bonus from 9 missiles in a volley for example.

The tables are on page 9 and page 41 and of course in the 4 page table dupes at the back. Print out the last four pages at the back of the book to get handy references during play. All commonly tables and figures are there.

Detailed ranges and relative vectors

Those who want more detailed breakdowns of ranges and relative vectors can find tables for both on page 32.

Brace for impact

Every submarine movie has the captain yelling ‘brace for impact’ and now you can too in Intercept! At the end of movement, right before rolling for G-Loc you may opt to have the Crew and Repair Crew brace themselves. Bracing means they cannot Scan, attack or defend and they cannot perform repairs or power up powerplants. Bracing for impact ends at the end of the turn so you can thrust and turn or aerobrake while bracing for impact any number of times in a row. Basically, you cannot sense, fight or repair but take less battle, crash and aerobrake, you can also stand high G effects better.

The rules are on page 32, G-loc specific on page 25.

Nukes in space!

Posted in Intercept, Rules, Traveller on April 6, 2015 by Mr Backman

Atomic blast

Humankind have detonated 17 nuclear devices in space during the cold war the largest being the US Starfish at 1.4 Megatons. From Wikipedia:

“Starfish Prime produced an artificial radiation belt in space which soon destroyed three satellites (Ariel,TRAAC, and Transit 4B all failed after traversing the radiation belt, while Cosmos V, Injun I and Telstar 1 suffered minor degradation, due to some radiation damage to solar cells, etc.).”

“The worst effects of a Soviet high-altitude test occurred on 22 October 1962, in the Soviet Project K nuclear tests (ABM System A proof tests) when a 300 kt missile-warhead detonated near Dzhezkazgan at 290-km altitude. The EMP fused 570 km of overhead telephone line with a measured current of 2,500 A, started a fire that burned down the Karaganda power plant, and shut down 1,000-km of shallow-buried power cables between Aqmola and Almaty.”

If you are playing in the Traveller setting nukes are only allowed by the Imperial Navy or System defense forces and can only be used in wartime. Mercenary slang for wars involving nukes is ‘Bad war’, all other wars are called ‘Good war’.

Missile nuke option

  • Large nuclear missile TL 6+
  • Medium nuclear missile TL 7+
  • Small nuclear missile TL 8+

Consult the tech chart above to see at what Tech Level each missile class gets the nuke option. Nuke option reduce thrust with -2G and have a price multiplier of x10. PEN & DAM +12 when directly impacting a target but they can also be proximity detonated for +3 DM to hit and PEN & DAM -6, proximity detonation is not a design option but a choice the missile operator can do when attacking.

Nuke attacks and defense
Nuke attacks work the same as for normal missiles but the target may defend using one laser battery and one nuclear damper battery. Ships with a functional Neutrino detector will know if a missile is a nuke or not, all others must guess. Firing a nuclear damper on non-nuke missiles has no effect, of course.

Proximity detonation
The nuke missile operator may elect to detonate the nuke some way off the target for a +3 DM and PEN & DAM -6. Damage from proximity detonations should use the Spray fire rules were the degrees of success give more hits rather than more damage at one hit.

  • VGood 3 Fair hits
  • Good 2 Fair hits
  • Fair 1 Fair hit

Nuke secondary effects
The X-Ray, neutrino and gravity burst from the detonation also affect nearby ships interfering with their sensors. Visual/IR and Radar lose any tracks unless they were popped down, Neutrino and Mass lose their tracks regardless. Max range for this effect depend on the size of the missile:

  • Small 1 square
  • Medium 3 squares
  • Large 5 squares

Fleet tacticians and nukes
Fleet tacticians allow their Ship tacticians to fly more dispersed formations. An Expert+ Fleet tactician allow his Ship tactician to have a wide enough separation from any nuke secondary effects!

Ripley: I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

Hudson: Fuckin’ A!

Burke: Hold on a second. This installation has a substantial dollar value attached to it.

Ripley: They can *bill* me.

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.

Changes to Intercept

Posted in Design system, Intercept, Rules, Traveller on April 8, 2013 by Mr Backman

Some of you may not know it but I keep doing updates to the rules, maps, datacards and design system on a regular bases, just download the Intercept bundle here. Quite a lot of updates have accumulated without andy update posts but I will try to summarise the most recent changes below. To see what version you have simply look at the headings row of the design system for version date. I always update Ship.xls and Data.xls in tandem.  You can see the version of the Data.xls where you see the Ship.xls version number.  To update your designs you need to copy each column labeled Edit from your old design and paste* it into the new Ship.xls, then close the old design and save Ship.xls as the old designs name overwriting it. When you paste it is much safer to do the Paste->Paste values to ensure that you won’t overwrite and formatting.

Updating the Ship.xls sheet

Thrust
All kinds of thrusters now correctly reports their actual thrust, the two values are Loaded / Unloaded performance. The Mtrl type field now goes from 0-3 with ever decreasing masses for most of a ships components. If you find your designs too low in acceleration and delta-V you should increase your material types to lighter but more expensive versions.

Editable Sun factor

Sun factor
There is now a light yellow field for the Sun factor. It should be easy to recalculate Vis(Hull) and IR(Hull) for other values of the Sun factor but now you can simply enter the value you want in the yellow box. Sun factor is +6 in the life zone of a solar system and goes up by 1 for each orbit inside and down by 1 for each orbit outside down to Sun factor 0. Mercury is +8, Venus is +7, Earth and Luna is of course +6, Mars is +5, Asteroid belt is +4, Jupiter and its moons are +3, Saturn and its moons are +2, Uranus and its moons are +1 and Neptune and its moons are 0. Pluto isn’t even a planet but as its orbit is never much closer than Neptune it is always 0 in Sun factor. Ships in Planet shadow subtract the Sun factor from Vis(Hull).

Living space
Living space and Life support determine the quality of life for the crew past the endurance of its crew stations. More living space per crew member means longer trips without physical or psychological effects. This is mostly here for roleplaying uses but if you design your own ships for competitive play make sure yiu stipulate the expected trip time requirements, ships using Jump drives should have at least one week endurance as this is the time the ship spends in hyperspace. Note that the Closed Lifesupport option requires lots of room for the green house but that entire volume is also treated as Living space and this is reflected on your ship designs.

Living space and crew comfort table

  • 1 m3 per crewmember Cramped 1 day cruise
  • 2 m3 per crewmember Normal 1 day cruise
  • 5 m3 per crewmember Roomy 1 day cruise
  • 10 m3 per crewmember Cramped 1 week cruise
  • 20 m3 per crewmember Normal 1 week cruise
  • 50 m3 per crewmember Normal 1 month cruise
  • 100 m3 per crewmember Cramped 1 year cruise
  • 200 m3 per crewmember Normal 1 year cruise
  • 500 m3 per crewmember Roomy 1 year cruise

Well, that is all for this update, more to come regarding the rules changes later (when I will also document the polar plane gravity sling stealth manuver sometimes called the Marre Red).

Intercept 3.2 update

Posted in Intercept, Rules, Traveller with tags , on November 18, 2012 by Mr Backman

Intercept 3.2 jay!

Oh, has it been this long since my last post? Why? Well, I switched from working at Starbreeze on Syndicate  and joined Machine Games to work on an as of yet undisclosed title.

Lately I have gone through the Interecpt rules, simplifying it and making it easier to play. The result is the all new Interecpt 3.2 available here and my ready-made ship designs based on Traveller available here. The most important changes have to do with the Sensor rules and how planet LOS is handled but there are small changes here and there throughout the rules. The aerobrake rules are also simplified and expanded to cover crashing into planets as well, however unlikely that may be.

Sensors in 3.2

Performing Scans work more or less the same as in 3.2; scans are normally done in boxes but the option to do really narrow scans on 1×1 and 3×3 squares remain. If your signal is 0-5 you have a Contact and if it goes to 6+ the Contact becomes Tracked. Contacts always tell you the position so narrowing down the Scan to get the much coveted 6+ Signal has become much easier. Consecutive Contact Scans have the Signal requirements for Tracked lowered as follows:

  • First Contact: Tracked on 6+
  • Second consecutive Contact: Tracked on 5+
  • Third consecutive Contact: Tracked on 4+
  • Fourth or more consecutive Contact: Tracked on 3+

Tracked Signal requirement goes back to 6+ as soon as the sensing ships fail to get a 0+ Signal out of it. This leads to interesting choices for the sensing ships: Should they reduce Scan area to increase Signal and risk missing the ship completely and thus nullifying the cumulative bonus?

Radar Scans treat Contact as Tracked so any Radar Signal of 0+ becomes a Tracked result. The flip side of Radar is of course that any ship getting a Tracked result of a target (0+ Signal) must tell everyone its position, ships therefore tend not to use their Radar until after they have already become Tracked.  Think of Radar as a flashlight searching for people at night and you’ll understand why you cannot find someone with your flaslight without them also finding you.

Planet Line Of Sight

One problem with the old planet LOS rules was that it was entirely up to the sensing player to make sure the Scan was correct, it was also quite hard to do Scans near the edge of the LOS blocked arc because Scans are always square while the edges of arcs are always jaggy. The new rules let the sensing player put his Scans wherever he wants them ignoring planet LOS, he can even put them on top of the planet itself. It is then up to the other player to check LOS using the following procedure: Target player checks what arcs are touched by the Scan. He then asks the sensing player what opposite arc, if any, his sensing ship is in. The sensing player must tell him whether he is inside one of those opposite arcs or not and the target player can simply ignore the Scan for targets inside the opposite Scan. If the sensing player did a Scan including the planet all arcs are touched so the sensing player then must tell the player in what arc his sensing ship is in that case.

Sunfactor

The Sunfactor represents the strong light, microwaves and neutrino emanating from the star. This factor is typically 6, +1 per orbit inside the hospitable zone, -1 per orbit outside the hospitable zone down to 0. Earth is 6, Mars is 5, Venus is 7 etc. The Sun factor is subtracted from Scans towards the sun as per the Sunblinding rules. Ships in the planetary shadow subtract the Sunfactor from their Visual(Hull). Optional: Streamlined and Airframe ships not in shadow and directly facing the sun subtract Sunfactor / 2, rounded up.

Sunblinding

Scans toward the sun are harder as he sensors are blinded by the sun. If your ship is below or south of your scan the Scan factor may be reduced by the Sunfactor. Mass scans ignore Sunblinding and any sensing ship in planetary shadow also avoid Sunblinding except Neutrino scans who suffer Sunblinding even when in shadow. Complicated?
Sunblinding subtract the Sunfactor from Scan.
Mass Scans ignore Sunblinding.
Neutrino Scans cannot use planetary shadow.

God must love vacuum, why else would he create so much of it?

Air-raft to orbiting ship

Posted in Science, Traveller on December 29, 2010 by Mr Backman

Various canon Traveller sources state that Air-rafts can reach orbit and in my Traveller campaign precisely that situation arose during my weekend session with my kids. I assume here that the ship we want to match orbit with is in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The problem is much simpler if the ship is hovering on its contragrav above the planet but that is not what the canon sources say; ‘orbit’ does not mean outside the atmosphere, it means outside the atmosphere with enough speed for centripetal forces to match gravity.

If you dig into the problem there are lots of complications that crop up:

Problems with the air-raft
An open topped vehicle is hardly built for vacuum as this costs a lot extra, so I guess the instrumentation, upholstery etc will break in vacuum. Another problem is that an air-raft produces something like 0.1 G thrust for propulsion which mean (ballpark calculations here) that to reach say 5 km/s orbital velocity they must accelerate for over an hour (ca 5000 seconds).

Problems with the calculations
To match the orbit of a ship the air-raft driver must eyeball the ship and vector (yes, LEO ships can be seen at dusk or dawn by the human eye) and then match that orbit by hand with the air-raft over a more than an hour long acceleration phase. The air-raft will have no instrumentation for orbit matching and the like, just an accelerometer based (Traveller vehicles does not rely on the crude GPS system we use) absolute positional instrument that also indicate height as well as speed gauges. Calculating the orbital mechanics and driving the air-raft to comply is in my opinion a really hard problem for a spaceship pilot and impossible for mere grav-jockeys. If you think orbit matching is a piece of cake try it yourself with the free PC space simulator Orbiter.

IMTU (In My Traveller Universe)
My TL progression differs from canon and GURPS Traveller and this causes even more problems:
(I don’t add gravtech until TL 10, so I can have cultures with jumpdrives without grav and floorfield, ‘Hard-SF with jump’ if you will)
Jumpdrives TL 9
Floaters TL 10
Floorfield TL 11
Gravthrust TL 12
Floater gravbelts TL 13
Reactionless drives TL 13
Gravbelts TL 14
Tractor beams TL 15
Pressor beams TL 16
Rattlers (high freq tractor weapons) TL 17

Floaters are grav ‘thrusters’ that can only negate gravity, they can never create upwards or lateral thrust, just negate the downward pull of gravity. Floaters and gravthrust have ‘thrust’ proportional to local gravity so a 1G (Thrust = mass) floater will negate gravity on all planets, regardless of gravitation (simplifies designing gravvehícles and ‘explains’ why gravthrust is useless for interplanetary travel). Floaters come at TL 10, are much cheaper and require much less power per ‘thrust’ than regular gravthrust. Regular gravthrusters produce floating at the cost of x1/10 thrust (a 1G gravthrust would use 0.1 G for floating and 0.9 G for propulsion for example).
My air-rafts are so cheap they use floaters powered by a fuelcell for lift and turbojet for thrust (both the fuelcell and turbojet are hydrogen powered and need an atmosphere with oxygen to work).

So IMTU the air-rafts cannot reach orbit at all, they cannot even operate in anything near vacuum, fitted with compressors they can work in Very thin atmospheres, but that’s it.



Edit: I have updated the Intercept design system to reflect the TL progression (and no, there are no tractor, pressor or rattlers yet).