Friday, December 18, 2015

So, What Did YOU do in the Navy?

Being a lifetime Navy man, having grown up around it and selected for E-6 in the most recent promotion cycle, I felt the need to assign ratings to the various careers in the Imperial Navy to add some depth to the careers.

The enlisted grades of the Navy in Traveller have been influenced by the post World War II U.S. Navy since the publication of the classic High Guard in 1980. In my Traveller Universe, I see there's a need for assigning ratings (jobs) to each grade. He's not just a Chief Petty Officer, he's a Chief Gunner's Mate, or a Chief Boatswain's Mate. Having the same title for everyone is what the Army does.

A full list from the Navy, along with the construction guides for badges is found here at the Navy Personnel Command Website. A more user friendly, along with descriptions of each rate can be found at Wikipedia. To avoid going into lots of depth, I am limiting this to just the careers found in the Mongoose Traveller High Guard. Also, characters who are only in the Crewman career won't be covered. If a character gets out after one term, he can be an undesignated Spacehand, but multiple terms can be rated as the player desires, giving the opportunity for shipboard administrators. Also, the Support career I find to be rather useless, because these should not have an enlisted grade cap  for any of these, and medical is impossible to qualify for on the enlisted side. The Admin career makes no sense. I might end up writing a skill table for Supply sailors at somepoint in the future.

Steve McQueen in 'The Sand Pebbles'
Steve McQueen as Machinist Mate 1st Class
Jake Holman in The Sand Pebbles
The Black Gang. Domain of Mr. Scott. F'ing Nukes. All terms of endearment or derision. If a more nautical flavor is desired, the most junior characters can use the rate of Firehand instead of Spacehand. Just don't piss them off, as they tend to have tools around like big wrenches or electrical testing gear.

Damage Control has a few quick ideas for assigning rates. Most obviously, is the rating of Damage Controlman. Also a choice is the similar Hull Technician, which is more broadly defined. If you want a limited amount of rates, Machinist Mate is the go-to for 'Generic Engineer'. And if the character works on fighters and small craft, Aviation Structural Mechanic is a choice as well.

The Electronics path gives us a few ideas. It depends on what the image for the character is. Are they running the electrical generation and distribution system on the ship? Electrician's Mate is the way to go. Performing delicate repairs on any piece of electronics from Night Vision Equipment and Inertial Compasses to the Sensor Relays and whatever else comes their way? Electronics Technician is what the character is. Running the ship's internal communications circuits and hooking up clandestinely to the planet's information network for fresh information when moored? Interior Communications Electrician is the rate of choice. Characters who find themselves working with small craft can take the rates of Aviation Electronics Technician or Aviation Electrician's Mate

Mechanic gives us a range of options. For starters, we can go with Machinist Mate for almost any slot. Also a choice, is Machinery Repairman, for characters that find themselves working more fabricating equipment.  Fighter and Small Craft support characters could be rated as Aviation Machinist Mates, or as Aviation Support Equipment Technicians.

Rating Badge MT.jpg
Missile Technician
"If I wasn't a gunner, I wouldn't be here! Fire #1!" A military ship, sailing blue or black oceans, is a platform for weapons, and the crews that man them are vitally important. In theory, I have been a weaponeer since I enlisted, wearing first the Missile Technician rating badge, and now the Gunner's Mate.

Rating Badge GM.jpg
Gunner's Mate
The Fire Control specialization could represent a character who is a designated Fire Controlman, or it could be the actual on the mount crew of a bay weapon. If it's the later, I would refer to him as a Gunner's Mate - Bays. The dashed off designation is a service rating, and shows the spacer as a specialist. A character with a more significant level of Computers and Sensors would be a Fire Controlman, while a Gunner's Mate - Bays would be more Gunner and Mechanic.

Turret specialists are easy. They are all Gunner's Mates - Turrets. Even a missile turret or bay won't have a Missile Technician in my Traveller universe, as having been one, the specialization isn't present. The rate works primarily on the Trident II Strategic Weapon System at this point, and nuclear weapons, although taboo, are too common to require a special rating.

Screens are an interesting spot. While modern submarines do carry a limited supply of countermeasures, and chaff rockets have been aboard warships for around 50 years, there is nothing like Nuclear Dampers, Meson Screens, or Black Globe Generators in the modern world. The now disestablished rating of Electronic Warfare Technician would go well with the sandcaster operator, the best idea might be to make up your own title, like Screen Technician.

Image result for the hunt for red october jonesy
STS2(SS) Jones from "The Hunt for Red October"
Your sensor operator wants to be him.
This is the most straight forward career to transfer to ratings, I found, mostly because  of how it's structured. Astrogation career path is pretty much a Quartermaster with a few adjustments. I take the Helm specialization as being a Boatswain's Mate. Yes, the deck apes that everyone makes jokes about. First, this rate in the US Coast Guard can command patrol boats, and in the Navy may be the craftmasters of yard craft. Second, real BM's can be up with the bridge as much as working the lines on the deck. Sensors specialization takes you to the Operations Specialist rating, although more weapons oriented might be more Fire Controlmen.

This refers to more small craft operators. In my opinion, I would have them as straight up Naval Aircrewmen, although if the referee is sufficently Old School, the World War II rating of Naval Aviation Pilot is available. The various rates that were used by World War II bomber gunners are also acceptable.

Also, I would love to hear from someone who can explain to me how the Royal Navy's enlisted system works, or where I can find out. That would be a very nice way to expand it all.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Character Generation

I am running character generation per the rules in Mongoose Traveller, with High Guard and Mercenary with the following exceptions.

UPP Generation: Roll 12D6, and re-roll any 1's that turn up. Any 1's that are re rolled are kept. Assign 2D6 pairs freely to each characteristic, keeping in mind the intended role of the character.

High Guard ranks: I find 9 enlisted ranks too many to go through and have a reasonable character for the job when only rolling every four years for advancement.  Promotion, on the first term only, is to E-3 on the table (Able Spacehand). Interestingly, this is more consistent with the basic Mongoose Traveller book. When rolling for commission in a specific Naval Career, enlisted personnel with a minimum grade of E-6 will stay in that career, and are promoted to O-2 (Sublieutenant) before the end of the term.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Ship

The crew mans the newly built Patrol Cruiser INS Boxing Kangaroo (PC-1589234), a typical, if newly built, 400 displacement ton member of it's class at the Imperial Naval Yard, Light Craft Section at Alice Springs, Australia at Terra/Sol (SR 1827). This assumes it is the version on pages 118-120 of Mongoose Publishing's Supplement 2: Traders and Gunboats.

A Quick Guided Tour

When moored planet side, the ship is boarded either through the G-Carrier garage, Ship's Boat Hangar, or one of  two airlocks on the ventral surface. The preferred method is to use the G-Carrier garage, with the belly mounted doors retracted, and a set of stairs known as the 'brow' that lead up to the iris valve. A larger fork system is used to move pallets up to the cargo bay. Shipboard security begins at the foot of the brow, and a 'comms box' is placed here for the watchstander to use.

Up the brow, we go into the cargo bay is a 4.5 m *15 m space. It contains a variety of power hookups for attaching fresh food preservation units, as well as tie down points. Across the cargo bay is a standard 30 dTon Ship's boat in its full hangar. Among other items, it is used for stowage of the Marine's Battle Dress, and can be quickly reconfigured into either a personnel shuttle or for cargo use. Forward is the barracks space for up to 12 sophonts, Normally, it is empty, and the racks are stowed, and this area is used as a crew's lounge. Forward, is the missile magazine for 120 standard 210 mm missiles, supplied to two missile racks. The aft end of this level is taken up by the ship's jump drive.

To go up to the second upper level, there are iris valves in the two airlocks that connect to lower engineering, a third forward of the iris valve to the jump drive in the cargo bay, and a fourth in the missile magazine. For the purposes of this tour, we will go up through the cargo bay.

This leads us to the main engine room, where we are at the power plant. The two units of the maneuver drive, capable of providing 4 g's of acceleration, sit at the outboard edges of the room. Forward of this is the staterooms, providing accomodation for twenty. They feature double bunks, a fresher, and standardized fittings for stowage of personal belongings. Forward of this is small common area, used for messing. The Kangaroo is modified from the standard design, with the port forward bulkhead here pushed out into some of the space used as the Captain's Office, for use as a small galley.

Forward of this is the bridge. Aft, in the center is the Captain's chair, with  a variety or read outs. It also has the ability to takeover any other bridge station. Forward, are on the port side the pilot's console, and starboard the astrogator's station. The two forward most stations are multi-function stations, but normally the port side one is set up as engineering control, and the starboard as sensors. The turrets can be controlled from here, but this is considered to be doctorinally inferior to local control with the captain selecting targets. The forward most section of the ship is the electronics bay, full of the radar, lidar, and other sensor systems. Most of the equipment is mounted in standardized modules easy to swap out to repair. At the aft end of the bridge, there are two small spaces. On the port side, the captain has a small office, this is also where the ship's in port routine is conducted. The starboard has the ship's locker, and stores the vacc suits and small weapons. Heavier weapons are stowed with the Battle Dress. This space is normally locked.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Introduction and Purpose

The idea of this blog is to document a possible Mongoose Traveller solo campaign that I will be running on my own.

The general idea is the first campaign will be the adventures of the crew of a Type T-Patrol Cruiser operating under Imperial Navy orders in the Solomani Rim. Their mission will be to show the flag, keep a war from starting, and not get into too much trouble on Startown Liberty.

Many of the posts will include quite a bit of 'chrome' to make it come alive. Also, I spent six years

The Cast will include:

Our intrepid Captain, the scion of a minor noble family who's only a Lieutenant.

The First Officer/Astrogator, a Sublieutenant who is commissioned from the ranks. The pilot is a hotshot kid who doesn't know he's screwed up.

The Chief Engineer, the daughter of a Marquess who ran away and enlisted, and her two assistants to be detailed later. She may get an unwelcome surprise

The Lead Gunner, the typical old spacer who thinks the entire purpose of a ship is to move and power his weapons. His three Gunners may have their own habits.

The Marine Sergeant, who leads two fireteams, and can't think beyond his Corps. He is really handy with Battle Dress. His fireteam is three grunts, standard Imperial Marine issue.

The Marine Corporal leads the second team and flys the Ship's Boat, and has the medic, armorer, and piper/G-Carrier driver as his group. They can function as grunts as well.