Let's Read “Traveller: Core Rulebook - Equipment”

Gadgets, Augmentations, Weapons, and Armor

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A part of my Let’s Read “Traveller: Core Rulebook” series. Go grab your copy of Traveller: Core Rulebook and join in.

The chapter introduces the equipment for our Travellers.

Credits

Credits are the currency in Traveller. Cr20 means 20 credits. MCr20 means 20 Megacredits or 20,000,00 Credits. With the concept of universal Credits comes the backing of a financial system. Let’s see if we get an inkling on how to adjudicate this.

Referee’s Note

Citizens of high-technology (TL8 or higher) planets often use electronic Credits. Transactions are authenticated and managed using computers or personal comms. While electronic Credits work perfectly well in-system, lack of faster than light communications in some universes means it is possible for a Traveller to outrun his Credits – having a million Credits in one’s bank account on Sylea is all well and good, but if you are twenty parsecs away and the data has not caught up with you, then it is inaccessible. Large banks, corporations and other financial institutions use X-Boat networks or similar facilities to synchronise important financial records, but private citizens must make arrangements to keep Credits available.

It is possible to notify one’s bank and have a line of Credit sent ahead (or at least sent at the same time) if you know your destination, but wandering Travellers must sometimes default to using physical cash or trade goods. In addition to physical Credits, precious metals, gemstones, radioactive elements or technological wonders are sometimes used as barter on many worlds.

These two paragraphs lay a lot of foundation. I love that there is no faster than light communication. In the introduction, we learned about faster than light travel, but communication must happen through these means. In other words, Traveller’s inter-system communication mirrors the 18th Century world.

I love this.

Standards of Living

This section sets a few comparable base costs. A fast-food “burger” would be Cr2-3, a fine meal Cr20. Traveller provides a table stating a Standard of Living, Cost per Month, and the Social Standing this is suitable for. Living below your standard of living can reduce your Social Standing.

Table 205: Traveller Standard of Living
Standard of Living Cost/Month Suitable for
Very Poor Cr400 Social Standing 2
Poor Cr800 Social Standing 4
Low Cr1000 Social Standing 5
Average Cr1200 Social Standing 6
Good Cr15000 Social Standing 7
High Cr2000 Social Standing 8
Very High Cr2500 Social Standing 10
Rich Cr5000 Social Standing 12
Very Rich Cr12,000 Social Standing 14
Ludicrously Rich Cr20,000+ Social Standing 15

So, to maintain social standing you need to keep up appearances.

Encumberance

A sidebar saying “be reasonable” about the amount of equipment. However, if you need some rules, here you go. I want to like encumberance systems, but I really don’t like inventory tracking. Which is odd, because I found myself really loving Torchbearer’s inventory management constraints. In Torchbearer, you have very few slots, and the character sheet provides guidance on those slots. I also like the quantum inventory of Blades in the Dark. You choose your mission load-out. The different load-outs have advantages and disadvantages. During the adventure, you check off inventory boxes to say “Yup, I have a ghost-phase-amplifier.”

Gear

For each sub-section, Traveller provides renderings of the equipment. We have a single page with the statistics, then a few pages of drawings. It works alright.

Armour

Armour provides soaks damage and some types soak radiation. Armour soaks anywhere between 1 and 25 points of damage and 0 to 290 rads. The better the protection, typically comes with higher technology, cost, and required training. Each armour has a base technology level, mass, and cost. Some armor requires adequate Vacc Suit skill training. Without training, Travellers experience penalties to all of their checks.

Augments

Travellers can purchase augmentations, improving their physical attributes, intellect, providing subdermal armor, data integrations, skill training/augmentation, and communication interfaces. Each of these are rather expensive and have an associated technlogy level.

The rules again reiterate that augmentations complicate medical treatment. Personally, I think I prefer the System Strain method Stars without Number. In Traveller, there are two costs: credits and potential complications when recovering. In Stars without Number you have the credit cost and your augmentations reduce a game statistic, which provides some in game flexibility around recovery, enhancement drugs, and even psionics. In other words, the cost in Stars without Number is ever present, much like Shadowruns Essence. Whereas Augments in Traveller add complications during recovery, so its less “ever present”. In Traveller, once you have one augment at you may as well buy all the augmentations, this feels a bit too generous.

Communications

A quick list of communication methods, from heavy long ranged early tech radios to compact comm devices.

One key discussion is that a Referee should not assume a planetary-wide communications grid.

Computers & Software

A quick discussion about computers. I’d imagine this chapter is quite different than anything from 1977 version of Traveller.

In Traveller, we care about processing power. Computers have a processor rating and programs have a bandwidth rating, which is the amount of processing used. You can run higher bandwidth programs on a slower computer, but only get the effects of the slower computer. And copying software is not feasible/possible.

The software varies from security protocols, intelligent interfaces, translation, knowledge, autonomous action, and so on.

I find this to be an interesting and useful section.

Medical and Care Supplies

This sections tells us the cost of hospital care and limb/organ replacement. We also get details on Cryoberth (cold storage), medical kits, and a sundry of drugs to deal with aging, radiation, combat enhancement, stimulants, hibernation, metabolic acceleration, and so on. Big Pharma has a place in the future.

Of particular note, we have anagathics. I love the little shout out to Dune (e.g. “there are natural spcies”) as well as the setting implication that anagathics are illegal and/or highly controlled but during character creation its your Social Standing that helps you if you choose to start taking anagathics.

These two aspects do a lot of implicit world building. Highlighting that laws likely don’t apply to those of higher social standing. Which is all to common and present throughout our collective history. In other words, the implicit world of Traveller is not the Star Trek utopia, but more in line with Dune.

Sensors

Binoculars, bioscanners, electro-magnetic emissions, geiger counter, If you have rules for radiation you better have a geiger counter in your equipment section. and other things.

No general tricorders, but for someone running a Stars without Number campaign, these sensors help me think about the technology available. Particularly as one character jury rigs devices.

Survival Gear and Supplies

A variety of odds and ends to keep your Traveller alive as they explore the dangers of the galaxy. We’ve got artificial gills, environment suits, grav belts, habitat modules, filter masks, breather masks, portable fusion generators, rescue bubbles, respirators, toolkits, and the lowly tent.

Melee Weapons

Traveller provides a variety of primitive melee weapons, ranging from 1D to 4D in damage. At this point, lets consider that you roll 2d6 to generate your Endurance . During your pre-adventuring career, you might bump this two points. We have melee weapnons that deal 4d6 damage. Without armour, a hit is likely to drop your Endurance to 0. In other words, combat is likely nasty, brutish, and short. The Traveller Core Rulebook provides one advanced melee weapon, the stunstick.

Slug Throwers

Antique pistols, revolvers, shotguns, gauss pistols, advanced combat rifles, and so on. Plenty of guns for each situation. Some provide autofire or can fire without recoil.

Energy Weapons

These weapons are more expensive and deal more damage. All of them have no recoil, and are well suited for zero-G combat.

Grenade Weapons

A handful of grenades for some one shot heavy hitting. As someone who’s first RPG memory was playing a Dralasite who threw a Tangler grenade to slow down an escaping mugger, I have a soft spot for non-lethal grenades in my role-playing games.

Heavy Weapons

Weapons for when you really need to mess some things up.

Explosives

Oh good, every murder hobo needs a Pocket Nuke, and its 6d6 × 10 damage and 1000 rads.

Weapon Options

This section provides some modifications you can make to your weapons; scopes, stabilizers, secure-fire, suppressors, etc.

Conclusion

Technological gadgets are an important part of a science fiction game. The core rulebook provides a solid set of gadgets. The equipment lists help frame the kinds of sessions to expect. We have equipment for survival, exploration, espionage, and gun fights. A solid list!

Up next Vehicles (not to be confused with Spaceships).