Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Calling All Traveller Refs

I keep hearing about how easy Traveller's combat is. For the most part, I agree -- particularly that it's fast, which is nice for someone who's used to running post-1992 editions of D&D. But tracking damage and attendant modifiers for NPC has been giving me a bit of a headache, especially when I'm handling several different NPCs, as I am wont to do in combat. There's three different bins that damage needs to go into, and all the bins do different things.

I've started using a hit-point-esque system, where End+Str or End+Dex, whichever is greater, gives me hit points and then the remaining attribute gives me how far the character can go into negative hit-points before dying. That makes it hard to keep track of changing modifiers, so I handwave it. ("Eh, he looks pretty messed up, -1 to attack.") This works out okay, but I'm worried that I'm missing a more elegant or classic solution.

Fellow Traveller refs, I seek your wisdom! How do you handle NPC damage when you're tracking it for several NPCs at once?


  1. When I've run Traveller, I can't remember this coming up much - but then I never went in for really big gunfights. Since you're using a (completely reasonable) handwave anyway, I'd be tempted to go for a sorta mooks rules - say your NPCs can take, say, 10 damage before dropping out of the fight, with maybe a -1 penalty at 5 damage... or even go for a 'one hit and you're down' rule for unimportant NPCs. Traveller can do cinematic firefights pretty well like that, as long as the PCs manage to not get hit themselves.

  2. One thing you could do is create a small chart to keep track of hit points, instead of writing it down each time it changes.

    Each row would represent one NPC. The columns would be hit points, separated into 3-5 hit point chunks. Then just put a penny on each NPC, at their full health to start, and when they take enough damage, shift it down the row to the next level of hit points. Penalties would be associated with certain columns, after 2 shifts, it could be -1, for example.

    On a full sized sheet of paper, one could probably fit two columns of NPCs, each with three or four boxes next to them depending on how many hit points they have.

  3. Millsy: Mook rules is an excellent idea. Although, your comment brings up another point -- I really could just solve this problem by toning down the fights. Not every session has had combat in it, but it's kind of something I do out of habit. Doesn't necessarily have to happen, unless the PCs go looking for it.

    silusoftwighlight: Perfect! (And another use for my beloved graph paper.) I had a dim, unformed idea that something like this was possible, but that's a very workable implementation.

  4. For the classical bar room brawl, Your house rule seems like a nice idea to speed up things.

    For gunfights, I usually say that if a NPC is hit, then he is down, and just keep track of the PCs. For even larger battles I use Striker rules.