Sci-Fi Setting – TNEC-2199

TNEC-2199 – Traveller: Near Earth Campaign

My Storium game is in a Sci-Fi setting, based on the Game Designer Workshop table-top RPG, “Traveller“. The version I am focusing on is a somewhat “House Ruled” version of the “classic” “Big Black Book” edition of the game.

I’m going to keep notes here concerning game mechanics that have been modified for use with the Storium challenge-card system. Also, milieu background, and things that characters living in that time & place would “just know”.

Game Mechanics for Storium

“Jump” Drives / Hyperspace

Plotting a successful hyperspace jump requires two successful “Challenges” of 3 points each. These are:

Skill: Navigation

Nature: “Pilot-Navigator”

Resource Cards: “Ship Management System” / “Ship Computer”, AND/OR “Reactor Core” / “Power Plant”

Strong Outcome: Piloting Challenge Reduced 1 point, Jump takes 4 – 6 days to complete

Uncertain Outcome: Jump takes 6 – 8 days to complete

Weak Outcome: Piloting Challenge Increased 1 point, Jump takes 7 – 9 days to complete

Skill: Piloting

Nature: “Pilot-Navigator”

Resource Cards:

  • “Ship Management System” / “Ship Computer”,
  • “Hyperdrive” / “Jump Drive”,
  • “Reactor Core” / “Power Plant”

Strong Outcome: Smooth HYSPEN, smooth NORSREN, and a bit quicker than you expected, too.

Uncertain Outcome: A little bit rough on the way in, and on the way out, but you’ve survived worse. No appreciable time saving.

Weak Outcome: A roller coaster on the way in, and a gut-churning tumble and slam coming out. Check for damage, and check to see you’re even in the right star system.

Starship Combat

Destroying another starship is a challenge based on the size and armor of the target:

  • 0 – 99 tons, 1 point Challenge
  • 100 – 299 tons, 2 point Challenge
  • 300 – 499 tons, 3 point Challenge
  • 500 – 799 tons, 4 point Challenge
  • 800 – 1299 tons, 5 point Challenge
  • 1300+ tons, 6 point Challenge
    • Target loses 1 Challenge rating for every 2 “Tech Levels” or TL the attacker has over it
    • Target gains 1 Challenge rating if it is a purpose-built military vessel

Nature: “Gunner-Marine”

Resource Cards:

  • “Ship Management System” / “Ship Computer”,
  • “Ship-to-Ship Cannons”,
  • “Anti-ship Missiles”

Strong Outcome: Target either destroyed or disabled & surrenders

Uncertain Outcome: Target escapes with heavy damage, and you’ve taken a beating too.

Weak Outcome: Target escapes with moderate damage, but you are crippled; start repairs while you still have air. If the target was either military or a pirate, they might be back real soon ready to start a boarding action.

TNEC Setting / History

In the year 2207 AD, a joint US-Soviet research team created the first rift-fold generator. The system, pioneered by Igor Bakarov and Richard Turner, was based on the ill-fated “Philadelphia Experiment” in the 1940’s. This experiment was intended to use intense magnetic fields to bend light to “cloak” a docked destroyer at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyards. What in fact happened was that the destroyer disappeared in a thunderclap of sound and a maelstrom of winds.

It was found 155 years later by a Moon-Explorer mission of UN astronauts, buried in the dust of the Sea of Tranquillity. The crew was, of course, dead from explosive decompression. The hull was in two pieces, apparently from having dropped onto the surface. Otherwise, the vessel was in perfect condition.

The US immediately re-opened the files on the “Philadelphia Experiment” and began research. The Soviets quietly requested the US allow the research to be a joint undertaking. After deliberations, they agreed.

The rest is history. Ten years of research, two test facilities (one lost during a Fold-Implosion) and a dozen un-manned test vehicles later they successfully “Jumped” a computer-guided drone past the outer area of the OORT Cloud. This was the first vehicle to pass the realm of comets and enter truly interstellar space. In slightly less than a week of travel, it emerged from “Jump-Space” on March 21rst, 2107 completely safe.

TL 9

Within two years the UN had produced a manned vehicle called Explorer I. It was the first craft of its kind to operate under the UN’s auspices and carry the Bakarov-Turner Hyperdrive. The Explorer I never emerged from Jump-space. The crew of three—Mission Commander Insulu Mandella (S.Africa) , Engine Specialist Yuri Sagarin (USSR) and Medical Scientist Janet Carleson (Cdn) — are assumed to have perished.

The loss of Explorer I set the UN Space Initiative back five years. The next vehicle, Explorer II, was heavier, armored and carried far more systems redundancy. It arrived on October 6th, 01h00 GMT, 2114 within the Alpha Centarian solar system. The 7-man, 5-woman crew commanded by Lucile Delucy (France) became the first members of humanity to visit another star system.

They spent a week in the Alpha Centari system conducting scientific experiments and then returned to Earth as heroes. Five more Explorer missions were conducted over the next three years to Alpha Centari. Explorer II was lost due to a Fold-Implosion on Bakarov ignition on departure from the Sol system after a year-and-a-half. A newer, more robust Explorer III replaced it.

In early 2120, the cutting-edge UNSS Explorer IV joined it. This United Nations starship was composed of three separate vehicles. The command and control vehicle containing minimal maneuvering capability and the massive Bakarov-Turner Hyperdrives as well as superlative communications facilities. The second vehicle was a high-G fuel-scooping tanker used to supply the other two craft with fuel. The third craft was a streamlined, reentry capable vehicle loaded with sensors and scientific palettes with which to explore Carlson’s World.

The one semi-Earth-like world had been named after the Canadian Medical Scientist who perished with the loss of Explorer I. She had said it was her dream to be the first person to walk on another Earth.

After extensive pre-flight trials and tests, Explorer III & Explorer IV fly a joint mission to Alpha Centari in mid-July. Explorer III remains in system for a full month, which was its maximum duration. It also was the longest Interstellar mission so far for what would eventually become the United Nations Deep Space Navy (UN-DSN). Explorer IV immediately overshadowed that achievement by remaining in system for another 60 days, being replenished by a round-trip mission by Explorer III. Both Explorer vehicles returned to Earth jointly, laden with a dozen-plus man-year of scientific data that would conclusively prove that Carlson’s World was colonizable by humans, and rich with raw resources.

In 2122 the first Challenger-series starship is built. Over the next five years, seven of these ships are built. They are named after the US astronauts who died in the crippling Space Shuttle explosion in the late 1980’s. All of them are hybrid craft, blending raw cargo hauling capability with scientific exploration missions. Carlson’s World is widely explored. By 2125 there was a permanent UN Research Station on Carlson’s World and a starship service platform in geosynchronous orbit above it. By 2127, there is a Challenger mission every two weeks to Alpha Centari and an Explorer mission every month to adjacent areas.

In 2128, after a grueling and record-breaking five-month mission, Explorer III explodes after Normal Space Re-Entry (NORSREN). All UN-DSN craft are grounded for six months to ensure that the accident is not immediately repeated. Analysis of the wreckage and flight recorders reveals operator error, caused by fatigue, to have been the cause. All further UN-DSN operations are limited to a maximum of 100 days (now called the “hard hundred”).

TL 10

In 2130, Solar Freight Inc. converts one of its 330-ton in-system freighters into a starship after purchasing a set of Bakarov-Turner Hyperdrives. SFI becomes the first mercantile concern operating between two star-systems. After one year of operations, they declare their investment recouped twice over. Almost a dozen companies immediately begin converting Earth-Mars freighters for the Sol-Alpha Centari run. By the end of 2132, there are 30 non-DSN ships making the trip, including two luxury liners.

In 2135, the UN-MS Raccoon and the UN-ML Jewel of the Nile collide at the 100-diameter range of Earth as Raccoon conducts a NORSREN. Over 500 lives are lost. The UN immediately mandates strict flight control regulations, a “harbour traffic control” system for the area between the asteroid belt and Venus, and insists all civilian craft be required to pass annual safety inspections.

In 2136, the Coalition War begins on Earth and rapidly spreads to Mars, the Belt and Carlson’s World. Several Terran Nations, fearing that the UN is growing too powerful, attack a variety of UN installations around the world. As a planetary civil war erupts, the United Nations Deep Space and Near Space Navies are formed to deal with privateers and pirates and protect UN personnel and colonists. At the worst point of the war, the 5000-person colony on Carlson’s World is wiped out by a neutron bomb. The War lasts 5 years until the United Nations Assembly is effectively now functioning as a world government.

The next decade is spent in measured and controlled growth as the UN repairs the damage of the Coalition War. In 2150, the UN offers exploration charters to several multinational conglomerates. Essentially, the UN opens anything anyone can reach up to exploration and colonisation.

In 2142, United Electric Engines announces a safe, efficient fusion reactor for use aboard starships. It rapidly replaces the dangerous uranium fission reactors in use. By the end of the decade, most ships have converted over to the more effective United Electric Engines power plants.

TL 11

In 2151, Oberon Space Industries unveils the new OSI’51-2 engine. Improving on BTH Corp’s technology, OSI manages a hyperdrive capable of twice the range per jump. By year’s end, OSI usurps BTH Corp’s monopoly on hyperdrive construction.

In 2177, a UN Deep Space Ranger (DSR) mission charting near-human space discovers a wrecked alien spacecraft. The craft was apparently attacked with nuclear weapons and lasers. This discovery does two things: it confirms that Mankind is not alone amongst the stars, and prompts the UN to re-arm all of its N/DSN & DSR vessels.

Due to sporadic corporate infighting in 2180, the UN issues weapon permits to frontier merchant ships to allow protection from privateers. Mindful of the slaughter at Carlson’s World during the Coalition War, it rules that possession of nuclear devices is a Capital Crime under UN law.

2199 … the present.

Starship Operations / Conventions

Decompression Protocols

If you get a hole torn in your hull, everything in the compromised compartments is going out the hole, or is going to turn an unhappy shade of blue when the atmosphere in the compartment runs out.

“Decompression Protocols” on starships in TNEC is where ship crews voluntarily pump the air out of compartments they think are in danger. Pure combat ships will often decompress the entire vessel, with the ship crews having donned their spacesuits until the battle is over and the hull re-pressurized.

This ensures that the vessel gets to keep all of it’s precious atmosphere, and damaged compartments do not suffer explosive decompression.

Starship Technical Data

Series 99 Star Sled, Fast Intruder (TL 10)

300 tons
Performance: Jump: 2p | Accel: 3G’s | Power Plant: 195 MW Fusion | 180 tons fuel
Computer: Mod:3 with FCS Mod:1bis
Weapons: 3x Ship-to-Ship Energy Cannons | 3x Anti-Ship Missile Launchers | 3x Defensive Screen / Chaff Launchers
Accommodations: 6x 2-person staterooms, 6x deep hibernation berths
Range: 2x 2-parsec jumps, 8 weeks continuous sub-light operations
Magazine: 72 missiles, 72 “Sand” Canisters
Vehicles: 1x 10-ton AFV, 1x 2-ton Speeder
Cargo Space: 24 tons, variable configuration load bay

Serpent Class Attack/ Raider (Type IS | YOL 2078 | TL 10)

148 tons
Performance: Jump: 1p | Accel: 5G’s | Power Plant: 104 MW Fusion | 40 tons fuel
Computer: Mod:6 Integrated
Weapons: 2x Ship-to-Ship Energy Cannons | 1x Anti-Ship Missile Launchers | 0x Defensive Screen / Chaff Launchers
Accommodations: 2x 2-person staterooms, 0x deep hibernation berths
Range: 2x 1-parsec jumps, 4 weeks continuous sub-light operations
Magazine: 24 missiles, 0 “Sand” Canisters
Vehicles: none
Cargo Space: 1.8 tons

The Serpent-Class Attack Raider is essentially a jump-capable fighter. DSN and private organizations use them for long-range operations. 45 of these ships were built over 20 years. The last was completed in 2098.
The ship can be fitted with Lhyd Drop Tanks at a cost of 24,000 per use, giving the Serpent +1Jp1, and reducing manoeuvre and agility while the tanks are carried.

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