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  • Abstract star mapping

    Former Traveller player here. Saying that, I was reading Starships of the Galaxy for Daring Tales of the Space Lanes last night and saw something I really liked. Rather than mapping out space hex by hex they group stars into sectors of up to 10 inhabited worlds each (with an undetermined number of unexplored stars). Ships have FTL drives with a drive rating from d12+2 to d4, with the number indicating the number of hours (or whatever time unit you want) it takes to travel to another world in the same sector. Worlds in other sectors roll one additional die per sector. The drives to me capture the feel of the different speeds well, with cargo ships taking longer than fast military vessels. Anyway I like this approach. Does it really matter where planets are on a map? To me, as I get older, not really. The sector approach allows me to design groups of worlds without having to worry about cartography minutia. It also allows a galaxy spanning game if you so desire. The system is open enough for modification as well to add your own twist if you choose.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Darebear View Post
    Ships have FTL drives with a drive rating from d12+2 to d4, with the number indicating the number of hours (or whatever time unit you want) it takes to travel to another world in the same sector. Worlds in other sectors roll one additional die per sector.
    The system sounds sleek and efficient, I'd use it in a sci-fi game myself. But I'm confused by the above quote. So, a speedy fighter with a drive rating of d12 takes *longer* to get to the next planet than a beat-up old frigate with a drive rating of d4? Or do better ships counter-intuitively get lower die values? And do you actually roll the die, or just use its face value to determine the duration? Because if you're rolling, a d12 has a 1 in 3 chance of taking no longer than a d4.

    Savage Summaries-RAW, with added info from Clint:Combat Actions,Cover,Healing,Using Powers,Grappling,Chases
    Also:Persuasion,Better Bosses,Better Combat Rating
    And:historical tech levels,generic SW sci-fi tech levels

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    • #3
      Higher dies represent longer travel times. So yes it is counter intuitive to the basic savage system. This system is best used I think for hyperspace or jump drive universes. When you travel you never know how long it will take due to anomalies I’m hyper/warp space (gravitational fluxes, Black holes, ion storms, unstable warp currents, hyper-dimensional tachyon waves, etc). In the supplement civilian ships were d10. Military ships were d8. Fast ships were d6. There are modifications you can add to improve this by a die step of course (if you want to build let’s say the “Fastest Hunk of Junk in the Galaxy”). It was written by Wiggy who imo is the best writer for savage worlds.

      You could use this system with the sci-fi companion with little difficulty, or the last parsec. Not having to map a sector actually frees my mind up quite a bit. Sometimes too much information is a bad thing. Take the Traveller universe for example. How much of it is actually useable or even needed. I can write up a sector with a few worlds and interesting places quickly without needing to know the relationships between each world. What matters is how long travel takes to go from place to place. Distance is irrelevant since your base measurement is time rather than light years/parsecs.
      I made my time units days to travel to an explored star system on charted routes. For uncharted systems the time is weeks vs days using the astrogation rules for the last parsec, with inherent dangers of being in the warp fornsuch a long period. You could easily change the time units to whatever you wanted.
      Last edited by Darebear; 12-18-2019, 04:19 PM.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Darebear View Post
        ... I was reading Starships of the Galaxy for Daring Tales of the Space Lanes last night and saw something I really liked. Rather than mapping out space hex by hex they group stars into sectors of up to 10 inhabited worlds each (with an undetermined number of unexplored stars). Ships have FTL drives with a drive rating from d12+2 to d4, with the number indicating the number of hours (or whatever time unit you want) it takes to travel to another world in the same sector. Worlds in other sectors roll one additional die per sector. The drives to me capture the feel of the different speeds well, with cargo ships taking longer than fast military vessels. Anyway I like this approach.
        Wiggy is a hell of a game designer. Daring Tales of are generally brilliant, and the Space Lanes may be my favorite of the set. The no-map FTL system may be the best example of that brilliance.

        And you're right that making travel time-based is the choice that matters for narrative. If you define the in-setting engineering as being capable of matching that time schedule then you just have to be consistent about time; consistency is the pitfall that throws most professional science fiction.
        You can make the time hours and days, days and weeks, weeks and months, or longer. Whatever best fits the time and pacing of your stories.
        I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

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        • #5
          Yeah, I really like that system too. The only thing that irks me is the counter-intuitive scaling of the dice. I think one alternative option is to set a base time to travel anywhere in a Sector, then roll the Drive Die to subtract time from that number.

          The preset number will vary based on your setting. It could be 30 days or 15 hours or whatever. This is less elegant, true, and it requires more imput from a GM, but it stays closer to the Savage Worlds method of dice progression and gives the dice a purpose too.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Darebear View Post
            In the supplement civilian ships were d10. Military ships were d8. Fast ships were d6.
            So, do you actually roll the dice or just use their max value to determine travel time? Because if you're rolling, a d10 has a 60% chance of taking no longer than a d6.

            My point is, by rolling the dice you're really not getting that much difference in travel times for the cost (whatever it is) of having a lower die. But 10 days' travel is significantly different than 6 days' travel.

            It might be better to just roll a d6 for every ship, then add +0, +2 (fast), +4 (military), +6 (civilian), or +8 to the roll. Then a civilian ship would take 7-12 days, while a fast ship would take 3-8 days, a significant difference. And only a 15% chance of the civilian ship taking no longer than the fast ship. This also has the bonus of the modifier being lower for faster ships, which makes intuitive sense.
            Savage Summaries-RAW, with added info from Clint:Combat Actions,Cover,Healing,Using Powers,Grappling,Chases
            Also:Persuasion,Better Bosses,Better Combat Rating
            And:historical tech levels,generic SW sci-fi tech levels

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            • dentris
              dentris commented
              Editing a comment
              Depends on the nature and reliability of FTL and the universe in general. This works for places like WH40K (where the warp is random), and Star Wars (with inexplicable shortcuts and liberal uses of the word parsecs)

            • gigacanuck
              gigacanuck commented
              Editing a comment
              He mentions "worlds in other sectors roll one additional die per sector", so yes, I believe he is rolling the dice. While your point stands for travel within a sector, the speeds of different engines would be more consistent when travelling distances of multiple sectors.
              Last edited by gigacanuck; 12-19-2019, 04:13 PM.

          • #7
            Originally posted by ZenFox42 View Post

            So, do you actually roll the dice or just use their max value to determine travel time? Because if you're rolling, a d10 has a 60% chance of taking no longer than a d6.
            Yes, you roll the die. It's one die for travel within a Sector, with an additional die (of the same type) added for each Sector outside the one you're in.

            So if a ship with d6 FTL drive wants to travel to a planet 4 Sectors away, the pilot rolls 5d6 (1d6 for the Sector they are in, plus 1d6 for each additional Sector). Time is measured in hours, but as the OP noted, that can change with the setting.

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            • #8
              Originally posted by gigacanuk
              ...the speeds of different engines would be more consistent when traveling distances of multiple sectors.
              Originally posted by Deskepticon View Post
              So if a ship with d6 FTL drive wants to travel to a planet 4 Sectors away, the pilot rolls 5d6 (1d6 for the Sector they are in, plus 1d6 for each additional Sector).
              The lack of difference between drive rating dice stays the same over multiple sectors : roughly speaking (because now we're dealing with bell curves), a d10 ship traveling 4 Sectors still has about a 64% chance of taking no longer than a d6 ship (because the average time for a d6 ship is about 18, while the the average time a d10 ship would take is about 28).

              If this doesn't bother you, no problem. It's just that I think there should be a significant difference in travel times between ships with significantly different drive ratings.

              OTOH, the system I presented above works pretty well with multi-Sector travel : if you include the modifier per Sector, then for 4 Sectors a fast ship takes 5d6+10 (15-40, average 28) , while a civilian ship takes 5d6+30 (35-60, average 48). So the fast ship is clearly superior over longer hauls.
              Savage Summaries-RAW, with added info from Clint:Combat Actions,Cover,Healing,Using Powers,Grappling,Chases
              Also:Persuasion,Better Bosses,Better Combat Rating
              And:historical tech levels,generic SW sci-fi tech levels

              Comment


              • gigacanuck
                gigacanuck commented
                Editing a comment
                Yeah, just a quick visit to anydice says 5d6<5d10 89.63% of the time. I'm a bit confused by your math.

              • ZenFox42
                ZenFox42 commented
                Editing a comment
                Paladin - ok, so I was comparing means (or modes) to each other (5-18 occupies 56% of the range of 5-28 [and I just now realized I had done 1-18 vs. 1-28 to get 60%]). You're comparing the mode of 5d6 to the entire distribution of 5d10, which makes more sense.

                gigcanuck - I don't know anything about AnyDice, but if you were comparing (say) 10000 rolls of 5d6 to 10000 rolls of 5d10, I think that's the best way to do it.

                I agree that the d10 ship has only about an 8-11% chance of taking no longer than a d6 ship over 4 Sectors. But within a single Sector, a d10 ship still has a 35% chance of taking no longer than a d6 ship (comparing 10000 individual die rolls to each other). But a d6+6 (d10 equivalent) ship has only an 8% chance of taking no longer than a d6+2 (d6 equivalent) ship.
                Last edited by ZenFox42; 12-21-2019, 01:55 PM.

              • gigacanuck
                gigacanuck commented
                Editing a comment
                A d10 ship also has a 65% chance of taking longer than a d6 ship. As I see it, using just dice and no modifiers for engines provides a mixture of SW's signature jankiness in single sector travel, but also consistency over multiple sector travel.

            • #9
              I like the idea of a base die plus a variable based on the drive rating. I think it creates less of a skew between the drive types.

              I would go with a few levels:

              super-science (beyond the TL of the campaign)
              experimental / cutting edge
              military / souped up grade
              civilian/standard grade
              obsolete / initial prototype

              Modifiers to the roll could include:
              Dense star clusters -2
              Galactic Core -4
              scattered stars +2
              Stellar rift +4
              Nebulae cloud with forming Protostars -2
              stellar dust clouds +2
              Dangerous gravitational anomalies +4
              Last edited by Darebear; 12-20-2019, 04:06 PM.

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              • Deskepticon
                Deskepticon commented
                Editing a comment
                For what it's worth, Adventure Edition does away with this type of "itemization" in favor of Comprehensive Modifiers: a simple 1-4 point adjustment (either negative or positive) based on the GM's overall assessment of the situation.

                Also, the "jankiness" of the mechanic presented in Starships of the Galaxy already accounts for such things, albeit in an abstract manner. Each Sector simply represents 10 planets. If the dice consistantly roll low in that Sector, the GM might rule that means the Sector is in galactic core. If the dice later roll high, that would represent gravitational analomies, shipping blockades, or other things that need to be avoided or navigated around.

                And you can even blend the two systems if you want. If a GM determines a particular sector is in galactic core (based on the players' earlier lucky rolls), he might give them a Comprensive Modifier to reduce the travel time of future rolls within that Sector. Not only is this rewarding to the players, it builds the world/universe and gives it some personality.

            • #10
              Darebear - just curious, but how do you "pay" for faster ships within the game's mechanics? Does each speed cost a $ amount towards the overall cost of the ship, or does each ship get some "build points" to make, and faster engines cost more build points, or what?
              Savage Summaries-RAW, with added info from Clint:Combat Actions,Cover,Healing,Using Powers,Grappling,Chases
              Also:Persuasion,Better Bosses,Better Combat Rating
              And:historical tech levels,generic SW sci-fi tech levels

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              • ValhallaGH
                ValhallaGH commented
                Editing a comment
                In DTSL? The GM makes it available and decides what it costs the players. The Daring Tales lines are very pulpy that way.

            • #11
              If using DTSL I just either hand-wave it or charge whatever I think the players will pay based on their wealth level. If using the Sci Fi Companion then I go with -25% for obsolete drives, +50% for military drives and +100% for anything after that. Typically though the players only have access to standard drives. Ships are just too expensive for most players to own outright so I don't worry about the cost so much. Size stays the same as in the Companion. As I get older I don't worry about Traveller-type stuff as much. Most of that minutia does not contribute one bit to fun around a gaming table. Perhaps die-hard wargamers enjoy such computations. My group does not. They only want to know where are we going and can I bring my blaster pistol.

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              • #12
                Is there still a more traditional map for sectors, then, determining how far apart they are from one another?

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                • #13
                  You could easily draw something out using a pointcrawl method. A series of boxes or circles connected by lines indicating distance between sectors. Some sectors could be farther away than others. Between sectors could lie nebulas , hyper-mass (Black holes for my American friends), dust clouds or whatever else you want. All could combine to either slow or hasten travel between sectors.

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                  • #14
                    Originally posted by Freemage View Post
                    Is there still a more traditional map for sectors, then, determining how far apart they are from one another?
                    I think the intention is to be abstract and narrative-based.

                    Each "Sector" represents 10 habitable (known) worlds. I imagine this as a circle drawn around your current location. If you travel to a planet at the edge of that circle (one radii), your current Sector now changes slightly as the circle gets redrawn; the 10 planets might contain some of the same planets as before, but others as well (i.e., planets that would have been "one Sector over" before).

                    Even this is too formulaic as a Sector itself shouldn't represent distance, but travel time. Traveling to the edge of your current Sector in one direction might be a straight shot through hyperspace covering several dozen lightyears; going to the edge in the opposite direction might be a series of stop-and-go jumps, with considerable time spent in normal space. Distance might only be 1 or 2 lightyears.

                    As for the narrative element, if you are on Planet A and the story tells you to goto Planet N three Sectors away, travel assumes plotting a continuous voyage from A to N. Hypothetically, if you instead "planet-hopped" one Sector at a time, the aggregate travel time would be longer since each "Sector" gets redrawn whenever you stop. Hypothetically.

                    Likewise, if you then travel from Planet N to Planet B two Sectors away, the distance between Planets A and B might not be the sum---nor the difference---of their respective distances to Planet N. Again, Sectors represent travel time, not distance. So Planets A and B might actually be in the same Sector (rather than 1 Sector apart) or 8 Sectors apart (rather than just 5).

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                    • #15
                      Originally posted by Deskepticon View Post
                      Each "Sector" represents 10 habitable (known) worlds. I imagine this as a circle drawn around your current location. If you travel to a planet at the edge of that circle (one radii), your current Sector now changes slightly as the circle gets redrawn; the 10 planets might contain some of the same planets as before, but others as well (i.e., planets that would have been "one Sector over" before).
                      Question: on average, how many solar systems is that?

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