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"Other Options for Traveller Spaceship Combat Rules?" Topic

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Mako11 Inactive Member15 Feb 2016 6:01 p.m. PST

Seems to me these are pretty unplayable, much like the follow-on Striker rules, which were less of a combat system, and more a vehicle design system rules set.

It appears to me that many of the various iterations of the Traveller Spaceship Combat rules are much the same. Lots of details about the tech, but much less, if any info on how to use them for a skirmish, or space battle.

I'm thinking about using Full Thrust, or some other similar set of rules for small engagements between single ships per side, and/or for small multi-vessel engagements at the small end of the spectrum (Starfire, etc.), e.g. scouts, free traders, far traders, ship's boats, cutters, launches, etc.. Perhaps the occasional patrol ship, close escort, or system defense boat might be involved too.

I'm thinking the above would be modern day equivalents of fast boats used by smugglers, patrol boats, missile boats, and the occasional coast guard cutter, or naval frigate.

Seems to me that I could come up with damage points based upon tonnage, and that all of the beam weapons would do minor damage when hits occur, but that multiple hits would add up over time.

Similarly, even missiles would be fairly weak, in order to give the crew a chance to survive, but they'd do more damage than the beam weapons, and be more likely to cause critical hits to engines, hull, etc., etc.. So, they might knock out important systems, but not result in a vessel's vaporization in most circumstances, so the crew would have a fighting chance to either repair the damage, and/or evacuate the vessels hit. As real-world examples, many of the escort vessels hit by SSMs or bombs in the Falklands Conflict were knocked out of action, but many of their crews survived. Same goes for a lot of escort vessels and others hit by enemy fire during WWII, so looking to replicate something like that.

I'd like vessels and crews to have some chance of escape/evasion, when running blockades, or trying to outrun vessels of opponents in deep space, in order to keep things interesting for everyone involved.


Anyone done, or doing something similar for their Traveller spaceship combat, using either Full Thrust, or other rules?

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian15 Feb 2016 6:29 p.m. PST

Did you try Mayday? Classic Traveler, not the Fire Fusion and Steel or High Guard version

TGerritsen Supporting Member of TMP15 Feb 2016 7:04 p.m. PST

There's the Full Thrust modified rules from BITS UK- Power Projection Escort-


Fleet is still available on, but not Escort for some reason. Fleet is the larger scale ship game, escort is the version that can be played on a Traveller RPG scale.

I happen to have both.

dragon615 Feb 2016 8:17 p.m. PST

TGerritsen what is the difference between Fleet and Escort?

I have Fleet… or I did until a friend borrowed it and has no idea of where it is frown

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP15 Feb 2016 11:23 p.m. PST

Battle Riders and Brilliant Lances are the two GDW Traveller hex combat board games featuring the ships of the Traveller-verse.
Triplanetary, if you can find it, is the classic vector system from GDW, though it's more near future than far, and isn't that detailed on combat. (The optional vector system in the original GOBS is loosely based on it.)
And I believe Ad Astra Games offers official Traveller combat rules for miniatures.

CorpCommander16 Feb 2016 7:31 a.m. PST

Brilliant Lances is a bit overly detailed, in my opinion.

If you want a good system that plays fast use Starmada. If you want to do fleet actions, use the NOVA edition.

boy wundyr x Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member16 Feb 2016 8:19 a.m. PST

I'm planning on using A Sky Full of Ships. Starmada Nova would work too, but I wanted more differentiation amongst the fighters.

Colonial Battlefleet added spinal mounts in its last supplement, but they aren't scalable the way spinal mounts are portrayed in Traveller (you only get three types in CBF, and only one size each).

For your smaller battles though, probably anything would work, spinal mounts tend to be the bugaboo.

ubercommando16 Feb 2016 9:30 a.m. PST

I'll second Mayday and the Power Projection rules.

SBminisguy16 Feb 2016 9:32 a.m. PST
Darkest Star Games Sponsoring Member of TMP16 Feb 2016 11:47 a.m. PST

So what is the true difference between PP:Escort and PP:Fleet? Is Escort more detailed damage or something for the smaller ships, or is it more of an introductory system for PP:Fleet?

(What I am getting at is whether or not it could be used as a replacement for combat as in the various Traveller RPG rules, which would mean it would need to be more detailed than most FF based games)

wminsing Inactive Member16 Feb 2016 12:46 p.m. PST

I'd second Mayday as a good option (seems to aimed right at the game scale you want), as would PP:Escort.


Mako11 Inactive Member16 Feb 2016 1:44 p.m. PST

Thanks for all the suggestions. I appreciate them, and will check them out, further.

How do the Mayday rules work?

Dice mechanics, maneuvering, combat, ship damage tracking, etc.? Are they useful for a single vessel vs. a single, or pair of opponents?

Are there also rules for boarding actions, etc., in Mayday too?

Tri-planetary might be fun also, with a vector system, especially when maneuvering in and amongst planets and moons.

I'm primarily interested in a spaceship combat system as a bolt-on set of rules for solo, or small scenario, RPG play, but would like to have a bit more chrome than just a single, or a few die rolls to see if the vessel(s) can escape, or is destroyed. Having the ability to somewhat damage ships, but to still permit them to have a chance of escaping their opponents would be nice, assuming the crew aren't killed by a critical hit, etc..

I'm looking for a mid-level of crunchiness, to permit some interest in the battles, but without an overly onerous burden of tracking too many things. That's where I think something along the lines of Full Thrust, or a similar set of rules would be useful.

Rules that would permit pursuits, and evasion would be nice too, though from what I've seen, very few rules, if any, cover that aspect of combat.

Of course, some of the others, like PP:Escort, Starmada, etc., would be useful too, for small skirmishes/conflicts between nearby worlds in various star sectors, just for grins, too.

Are there any spreadsheets with listings of the Traveller vessels tonnage allocated to various systems, to view them side by side, e.g. for scouts, traders, close escorts, etc., etc.?

Those would be useful for developing damage charts for various vessels.

I ran across a listing for Star Trader, for Traveller (Mongoose version of the Traveller RPG rules), which is mentioned as a good trading system for solo play, and has received a lot of positive recommendations from people about it. It's available as a PDF for $4.06 USD, so I'll probably check it out.

Star Trader supposedly has a "stream-lined combat system" for space combat as well, so I'm wondering if anyone has it, or has tried it out, or heard about it?

It might be a bit too simplistic for what I'm looking for, but is probably worth a look as well.

Also, in case anyone hasn't heard, there's now a gaming APP for Star Trader too, if you have an Android (it may be available for other personal devices now too, I suspect), which seems to be well rated too.

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian16 Feb 2016 4:01 p.m. PST

Mayday uses a vector system like TriPlanetary, hex based. You track past, present and future positions for each ship. course are adjusted by applying thrust to the future position marker. otherwise pretty much the LBB rules.

I'll need to break it out as it has been awhile

TGerritsen Supporting Member of TMP16 Feb 2016 4:57 p.m. PST

Oh, sorry everyone. I originally posted last night and forgot to recheck today. Escort came out first and was focused on smaller vessels- while Fleet focused on large ship actions. Really the rules are the same, but the Escort book contains stats for smaller ships and weapons while fleet has stats for weapons and ships all the way up to dreadnoughts.

I'll grab the books later this evening and post further differences.

TheBeast Supporting Member of TMP16 Feb 2016 5:02 p.m. PST

SPI's Universe did something very similar called Delta V. Not a suggestion, just an observation in case you have it handy.

PP:Escort and Fleet are very similar from what I remember, but the scale of ship's systems are what differentiate the smaller from the larger. Difficult normal player ships in Fleet, or even Escort from what little I recall.

If I've got that wrong, FLAME ON!

Oh, Starmada is beloved, good set, but I'm a Full Thrust fan boy.


TGerritsen Supporting Member of TMP16 Feb 2016 6:02 p.m. PST

Well crap, I just went to my collection to grab Power Projection Escort so I could give a detailed description and it wasn't there. I found my copy of Fleet, which should have been right next to Escort, but I must have misplaced it.

About six months ago I was considering the exact same question as you, Mako, as I was considering running a Mongoose Traveller game, but wanted better spaceship combat. I remember pulling Escort and seeing that the ships were on the larger side for RPG scale (400 tons to roughly 1200 tons as I recall). Fleet covers larger ships, the smallest being the PF Sloan class fleet escort at 5000 tons. Then I decided to hold off and run a 5th Edition D&D campaign instead and must have…misplaced it.

Both are mods of Full Thrust, and use vectored thrust movement. It was just a matter of scale.

I'm really peeved now as I bought my copy of Escort in the UK when I happened to be there on a business trip the same weekend as GenCon UK when it was held at Olympia in Kensington. I got to play a participation game with the designers and being a fan of both Traveller and Full Thrust, I couldn't resist. I'll keep looking, as it's a prized part of my collection.

While looking, I did find a bunch of stuff I had forgotten I had- like Hard Vacuum and the Expansion!

I also have a copy of Mayday here. It does seem to cover all the RPG scale ships (from the scouts all the way up to the Kinunir class colonial cruisers). It probably would suit you. You can get it digitally here (though I probably paid less than that for the original printed edition- yikes). link

Ad Astra News Inactive Member16 Feb 2016 10:42 p.m. PST

We're launching Squadron Strike: Traveller in 2 days, but it's focused at the scales of PP:E.

On the other hand, you can use the Squadron Strike ship design spreadsheet to fudge the scale and design adventure-class ships.

On the gripping hand, spaceship combat in RPGs is always a problem. How do you build a system where everyone in the party has decisions to make, instead of sitting around while the pilot/captain makes all the decisions and some gunners get to roll dice? Then there's the TPK problem (Total Party Kill). If the players' ship get blown up, the campaign is over. If there's no chance of the players' ship getting blown up, you undermine the sense that there's anything at stake.

TheBeast Supporting Member of TMP17 Feb 2016 6:05 a.m. PST

How do you build a system where everyone in the party has decisions to make, instead of sitting around while the pilot/captain makes all the decisions and some gunners get to roll dice?

Has anyone gotten closer than FASA's Star Trek: Starship Tactical Combat Simulator?

As for TPK, if I played RPG's, I'd think that if you(GM) keep it down to capture, there can still be a real sense of danger. No one wants to be sent to the spice mines… or lose a REALLY sweet cargo.


kmfrye17 Feb 2016 6:22 a.m. PST

I'll echo "Power Projection:Fleet" as well as Full Thrust.

Both work well and are easily scale-able.

Keith F.

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP17 Feb 2016 9:08 a.m. PST

If you don't mind sacrificing vector stuff, and you're just trying to do PC level ships (Free Traders, Scouts, Pinnaces, System Defense Boats, etc.), you could always mod a fighter game like X-Wing (for really simple) or Silent Death (more complex).
I've never played it, but isn't the Battlestations board game essentially an RPG approach to spaceship combat, with each player being a crew member assigned a specific task? You could borrow that concept, and give the PCs space combat roles: The pilot maneuvers the ship, the gunners and missile gunners choose targets and decide when and where to shoot, the comm operator calls for aid/listens for enemy transmissions (maybe even has to crack a code), the engineer plans and effects repairs (obviously, this needs to be more than just dice rolling; maybe some sort of allocation of limited resources thing?), the navigator and/or tactical officer looks for tactical advantages or safe zones and predicts enemy actions, and the passangers strap in and sweat it out…
(Yeah, I've been binge-watching The Expanse… grin)

Darkest Star Games Sponsoring Member of TMP17 Feb 2016 9:51 a.m. PST

Ok, still a little unclear on the PP:E vs PP:F. What I think y'all are saying is that it is the same rules with the same details and everything, just a differentiation in the ship sizes. Same damage tracks, ship systems, etc.

I was hoping that PP:E had more detail for the smaller ships, like a Type T could take like 20 points of damage in PP:E but only 5 in PP:F or something.

Looking fowards to SS:T. Haven't tried any of the SS titles myself, but do have a couple of ships!

emckinney17 Feb 2016 11:02 a.m. PST

The new tutorial book in Squadron Strike is really cool and makes the learning curve a lot easier. SS:T is going to have its own version of the tutorial, but for vector movement and the Traveller-specific weapon traits and defenses.

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian17 Feb 2016 11:30 a.m. PST

for the real RPG feel, try Artemis

Requires a few PCs, LAN and a large monitor/projector

emckinney17 Feb 2016 12:27 p.m. PST

Yeah, I've seen the video of Artemis before YouTube link Looks really awesome.

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian17 Feb 2016 3:39 p.m. PST

We've played it a few time, the more the merrier. The current version support multiple ships (and crews) and I believe head to head

TheBeast Supporting Member of TMP17 Feb 2016 6:41 p.m. PST

'really cool'…

Not always a good sign, but that's the curmudgeon in me.

I remember a Byte magazine article that tried to work up pseudo-code for an Artemis-type system. I tried, or started to try to design protocols, to put one together on a school Trash-80 'network'.

You may commence to laugh.


Akalabeth18 Feb 2016 12:19 p.m. PST

I know Noble Armada (the original, not Mongoose) had rules for boarding combat and the ship diagrams had the ships divided into sections. It was after all paired with their Fading Suns RPG setting.

Not sure how easily that setting and the ships within it relate to traveler though.

Lion in the Stars18 Feb 2016 5:51 p.m. PST

I've never played it, but isn't the Battlestations board game essentially an RPG approach to spaceship combat, with each player being a crew member assigned a specific task?

Yes, it is.

David Johansen21 Feb 2016 9:18 p.m. PST

What's wrong with book II? (Mayday is the same but uses hexes) Actually don't answer that I've got my own list. Computer programming and drive damage not scaling up mainly. I'm planning to use book II movement and maneuvering with T5 one of these days. T5 fixes the drive scaling with damage to the drive letter code rather than performance so it will take a lot more to kill the engines on a 1000 ton ship than a 200 ton ship.

bobblanchett17 Nov 2016 10:14 p.m. PST

There's also a pen and paper version of LBB2/Mayday called "Intercept"

Lion in the Stars18 Nov 2016 10:58 a.m. PST

Wow, threadomancy.

OK, as mentioned, there's a couple full-vector games from Ad Astra that are actually licensed for Traveller.

You could do some conversion work using DP9's Jovian Chronicles engine. Takes some crunching on the design side, but once the ships are built it's pretty simple. You will need the Jovian Chronicles 1st Edition rulebook and the Jovian Chronicles Companion book. Though I should mention that JC ships are pretty big. The basic mecha and fighters are ~100ton monsters, a lot of the ships are in the 50k-ton range.

On the gripping hand, spaceship combat in RPGs is always a problem. How do you build a system where everyone in the party has decisions to make, instead of sitting around while the pilot/captain makes all the decisions and some gunners get to roll dice?

No, you need to move more to the Battlestations or FASA Trek model, where the pilot rolls dice to drive, gunners roll dice to shoot, engineer (and damage control team) rolls dice to fix what combat damage happens, sensor operators roll dice to either lock on targets (improve gunner's chances) or to jam the enemy sensors… etc.

Then there's the TPK problem (Total Party Kill). If the players' ship get blown up, the campaign is over. If there's no chance of the players' ship getting blown up, you undermine the sense that there's anything at stake.

If the players' ship gets blown up, you have lifeboats. Assume that the players get to the lifeboat, though you could add some drama and have them run to the lifeboat (which does require some planning, as you want them to be able to make it to the lifeboat with a bit of movement to spare)

emckinney18 Nov 2016 1:16 p.m. PST

The original Traveller space combat system did a lot to solve this with a feature that everyone complained about: ships didn't blow up! Damage was all in terms of destroying systems, so it was fairly easy for surviving party members to end up as prisoners, or to be left to figure out how to jury-rig something, etc.

EJNashIII21 Nov 2016 3:34 p.m. PST

I haven't had a chance to see it, yet, but there a new version of High Guard coming out.



emckinney24 Nov 2016 1:27 p.m. PST

It's not anything like the classic Book 5, AFAIK.

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