This page was last updated on 1 January 1998.

Preliminary thoughts on some Triplanetary variants

Triplanetary as a tactical system for The Company War

This is a project I have been working on for some time, as well as a rewrite of Mayfair'sThe Company War's strategic rules. One of these days I will pull my notes together and post them in this location, until then, let's talk about gravity for a moment.

One of the problems in using Triplanetary in this way is that Cherryh's ships are way more powerful than anything fielded in Triplanetary, not only in raw combat power but also in terms of engine performance. As a result, it's simply inconceivable that the Norway, for example, would go careening off into space because of a gravity arrow, but Mallory might use the gravity of a planet to perform a maneuver otherwise outside Norway's performance envelope. Also, planets and such are important because they are obstacles to hide behind, and because they potentially can affect a ship's jump drive.

The solution in this case, I think, is to simply treat all the gravity arrows (except those around the star) as being optional. Presumably, uses of thrust sufficient to show up at the scale we are playing the game in are the "7Gs slammed into your seat" impulses, not routine maneuvering thrust that we see all the time.

This rule does beg some interesting questions, e.g., can ships now break orbit without expending thrust? How are the hollow gravity arrows handled? How are unpiloted objects (mines and torpedoes) handled? I haven't thought through all these ramifications yet -- but check this space for further developments.

Triplanetary as a tactical system for Albedo

While rereading some of the materials for Chessex's Albedo RPG, I was struck by how close the combat values of Albedo ships seem to match those in Triplanetary. The more I though about this, the more the similarities stood out: Albedo is clearly based on vector movement, most ships are armed with torpedo-like weapons which do the majority of the damage (with other weapons mostly relegated to point defense), and maneuvering fuel becomes an issue.

Here are some preliminary thoughts on combining the two:

  • The single combat value used in Triplanetary split into an offensive and defensive rating. There is a chart in the Albedo Ship Sourcebook which gives this value on a per-weapon system basis.

  • In addition, there should be some defensive value based on the size of the hull. Large ships are less vulnerable than small ships.

  • Point defenses are used as DRM, as in Albedo combat rules. They should probably only be effective to a point, however, as we don't want ship to become invulnerable. Excess capability above the point provides redundancy in event of damage.

  • A more detailed combat table could be used. Ships in the Albedo universe usually take some damage -- occasionally even very severe damage -- yet continue to retain some functionality. Perhaps Triplanetary's d6 table should be replaced with a d10, with some of the results being critical hits (which would use the damage tables found in the Albedo RPG).
Unfortunately, the ship construction rules contained in the Albedo Ship Sourcebook are badly broken. In addition to sloppy writing and editing such as having the definition of a unit of thrust off by a power of ten and constantly referring to "weight" instead of "mass", there are other places where critical data is missing (e.g., size of propulsion reactors, to determine the maximum number that can be fitted for a particular hull-size) or inconsistant (the numbers on the table for the mass of the decks doesn't match the numbers given in the text). All in all, a great idea, but executed so poorly as to be useless.

These are only some preliminary thoughts -- please feel free to comment on them, and check back for further developments.