This is another post in a series of tools I’m building to make running Classic Traveller easier for me. Although an upcoming convention has put a deadline on these tools, I’ve been meaning to do them for a while as I would use them in any Traveller play.
This third installment is perhaps, for people who really love Classic Traveller, the boldest and most interesting.
As we all know, when attacking with a weapon, one makes a Throw for an 8 or higher on 2D6. This roll is modified by several factors:
- The character’s weapon expertise
- Modifiers due to the character’s Strength or Dexterity not being high enough to handle the weapon properly
- Modifiers due to the character’s Strength or Dexterity being high enough to provide an advantageous DM
- A DM produced by cross-referencing the weapon with the armor the weapon is being used against
- A DM produced by cross-referencing the range of the particular weapon to the target
- A character may use his expertise level in his brawling or blade weapon weapon as a negative DM when engaged in brawling or blade combat
- Characters suffer a DM when the number of rounds they’ve used a Brawling or Bladed Weapon exceeds the value of their Endurance
- DMs based on conditions (darkness; shooting at a target firing from cover) and so on.
- Any other DMs the Referee chooses to apply.
That’s a lot of modifiers to add up!
It’s especially tricky in regard to the Weapon/Armor matrix and the Weapon/Distance matrix. There’s two tables, lots of rows and columns, and even though the DMs might not change very much in a given combat, lots of people end up checking them on each roll because there’s no clever place to log combat DMs for a given combat.
A while back I read a post from a poster named Supplement Four at Citizens of the Imperium in which he described how he wrote out the DMs for a weapon on an index card. If a character picked up a new weapon, he got a new card. If a character handed off a weapon to a compatriot, the player handed that card over.
I loved that idea.
I also know that dealing with the Weapon/Range Matrixes and the Weapon/Armor Matrixes can be a bear and slow down combat. I know that the the old Judges Guild Traveller Referee Screen did a great job of combining these two matrixes into one table to get a throw number, like this:
Which seemed like a great idea, but still was a pain in the neck in terms of lookup, as the table was so big. (The section above only covers Blade weapons and animals weapons. The whole table includes firearms and three more ranges.)
So I decided to combine Supplement Four’s idea with the Judges Guild screen. I went in whole hog and made up a complete set of Classic Traveller Weapon Cards. That link will lead you a PDF with every weapon from Traveller Book 1, as well as the bows and crossbow weapons from Supplement 4: Citizens of the Imperium.
If you look at the card, you’ll find the information to determine:
a) the Throw required for the weapon based on target armor and distance
b) the DMs for the weapon based on the character’s Strength or Dexterity.
c) a space for the Player to write in his character’s “Personal DM.” (Personal DM is the DM based on the PC’s weapon expertise added to the DM for Strength or Dex.) See the handwritten element in the upper left cell as an example.
[Note that while the DMs for minimum and advantageous characteristics are listed at the top right, you don’t need to calculate them for every Throw. They are already added into the Personal DM. They are there for reference if characteristics drop from combat or rise due to training. For this reason, the Personal DM cell should be marked in pencil. It can rise and fall because of characteristics.]
This is an example card for a Player Character called Mattos, one of my convention pre-gens. Mattos has an expertise of Blade-5.
If he gets near you, he is going to manhandle you and drive that thing right up into any soft spots in your armor. (Soft spots he has studied and knows quite well.)
When it comes to the brawling and bladed weapons, a PC can use his weapon expertise as a -DM to parry the attackers blows, so the expertise should be placed after a slash in the Personal DM cell. (See example above.)
So, to do damage to an opponent
1. The Player rolls 2D6
2. Addes the DM from the Personal DM cell
3. Sees if the total value is equal to or greater than the value found by cross-referencing the armor and range.
There might be situational DMs (cover, darkness), DMs due to exceeding Endurance for the number of Blows, or DMs the Referee adds. But certainly having the cards above makes even these additional elements much easier to sort out.
The PDF has four of the same weapon per page, with most weapons repeated across two pages (for a total of eight cards per weapon). I did this so I can print them out in one printing and have enough for the whole group if everyone is carrying the same weapon, and have one for the Referee as well.
I know many people prefer coming up with news systems or using Striker or Snapshot for their rules. I am intrigued, however, with the notion that different weapons are better against different types of armor and that you want the right tools for the job. I also like the fact that certain weapons drop dramatically in effectiveness at different ranges. (If someone gets right in your face while you’re carrying a Rifle, that Rifle is not as effective as his dagger, for example.)
There’s lots of info I could have added to the cards: Ammo capacity, weight, and so on. I tried all of this, in different permutations. I even tried placing the information on the back. Ultimately each of these designs became too unwieldy. I opted to keep it streamlined and simple. If you need to know what you need to roll with the base DMs, this is what you look at.
To track ammo, I suggest a scrap of scratch paper or index card. I also suggest using something like the Gear Sheets I linked to in this thread. In this way, all the book keeping of weight and ammo is on one sheet, and you look at that when that’s what you want to check. And you look at the Weapon Card when you want to find out what you need to hit.
Other people will design such tools in different ways. This is how I decided to make these.
So, if these are of use to you, print them, cut them into quarters, and you’re good to go!
The idea is that if the Player has this:
In front of the player he should be able to have any information he needs for play at the tips of fingers at a moment’s notice.
I am impressed. Thanks for going to all this work. I had thought of doing the same thing for my traveller group because I always liked the flavour of the original Traveller combat – but was pressed for time. I had discovered I had a copy of Snapshot with a table for most ranges and had thought to extend it. I like your approach better, weapon by weapon. But I am not as patient or persistent as you I suspect so I tried the quicker option that was to use the new mongoose rules which my players liked. They hadn’t played trav at all so had no baggage or preference. We have moved on to use a striker variant and they liked that, but I think after reading this we might do at least one classic scenario with classic combat.
Nice weapon cards! You must be using 1981 LBB or The Traveller Book weapon damage stats. Do you prefer them over 1977 damage?
I am using the 1981 rules. (I used a mix of the ’77 and ’81 LBBs)
I find the damage in the 1977 rules a more fidily than they need to be with the +2 and -1 and such. I don’t think the movies really change much, but add one more step.
Looking forward to hearing how this went
The day before the convention, my fiancée’s mother went into the hospital. (We are in Los Angeles, she is in Oklahoma.)
We didn’t have a lot of information, but it was clearly bad (pain, weakness, dizziness) and so my fiancée started making plans to travel out of town. So I scrapped my plans to go to the convention, knowing I should hang out with my love and help her weigh when to travel. (She was getting phone call and text updates all weekend… And wanted to share them with me.)
It turned out it was the right call. She was getting updates all weekend, and was told by her sister “Come out now,” around 8pm on Sunday night. We bought tickets an hour later and I drover her to the airport at 4:30am the next morning.
And so… No gaming last weekend. But I’m glad my honey got out to support her mother and father. (I’m here taking care of the dogs.)
You made the right call definitely. Hope all goes as well as it can do for you+loved ones.
Yes, it wasn’t too tough a call. And thanks for the kind wishes. We’ll see how it goes!
I hope your lady’s parents are doing better. I am up in the LA area every couple of weeks: if you want to playtest that game before the next Con, I’d be more than happy for the chance to dust off my old dice.
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I’m not seeing how you get a zero modifier for his rifle. Shouldn’t it be -1? A +1 for skill and a -2 for Dex.
You are correct. It’s an error.
Do you have the original files for these? I’d like to make a set with only one card per weapon.
I think I’ve found some errors on the Hands/Brawling card. Shouldn’t Jack be 7/8, Mesh 10/11 and Reflec 6/7?
If anyone does actually re-make these in an editable format, I’d be grateful for a share!
Ah ha! I was able to use Omnipoint to convert the 81 file to Word format. I’ll try and make some time next week to proofread it, and then share my update.
Well, that took a lot longer than I expected. Turns out the formatting was still all wonky. At that point, I decided to just start from scratch. I made an editable spreadsheet, and a PDF version. Here’s a link. If you find any errors, or have any suggestions, or make an alternate, I’d love to hear about it!
Thanks so much for making these cards available. And, what a great Traveller series of posts that you have written! I am new to this site and am sure I will profit a lot from it. Right now, I am most interested in the differences between the classic era versions. Thanks to your posts I purchased the Deluxe Traveller (1981), and am comparing it to my hardcover of The Traveller Book. My next step is to compare the 1977 version with the ’81. I am most intrigued by your saying the ’77 has formulations you prefer.