Mercenary >

New Combat Rules

Aiming for the Kill

Specifically aiming for a kill works exactly like regular Aiming, but does not add to the character’s DM to hit the target. Instead, the character gains a bonus of +2 to his damage equal to the number of minor actions he spends Aiming for the Kill. He cannot dodge, duck, or move while aiming. He also loses his Aim bonus if hit or distracted. The maximum bonus obtainable from Aiming for the Kill is +6.

Extreme Range Firing

Any weapon that has the ability to fire into the Distant range band can potentially strike targets even beyond, so long as the firer can see the target. Weapons fired at this extreme range do so using the modifiers for Distant range with an additional DM of -2. Only characters with at least three levels of skill in the weapon may fire at extreme range. To fire at extreme range, characters must be stationary and prepared to fire from some kind of rest (tripod, tree limb, bunker embrasure and so on). Vehicles must be stationary for weapons to be fired at extreme range from it. Energy-based weapons (lasers, PGMPs, and so on) inflict half damage (round up) at this extreme range. This can be combined with Aiming for the Kill (above).

Blind Firing

Blind firing works exactly like any other form of firing (including automatic), but it always treats the firer as having Level 0 in that weapon’s relative skill. Additionally an extra die is thrown when firing, but before any calculations are made the highest die (or one of the highest, in case of a tie) is removed completely. For automatic firing this extra die is thrown after all the dice are paired up, with one extra die rolled for each pair of dice. Any successful attack(s) needs to then have a die rolled to randomly choose which eligible target in the firing line is hit – whether friend or foe.

Panic Fire

In order to call upon Panic Fire, a character must be using some form of small arms slug thrower. Panic fire uses all remaining rounds in the weapon, and hits are resolved as if the weapon were being fired with an Auto rating two higher than the weapon would normally have. For every shot there is a -2DM penalty to hit. If there are insufficient bullets left in the weapon’s magazine prior to firing then there will be no benefit from using Panic Fire.

Parabolic Fire

To throw a grenade or launch another projectile in a proper parabolic arc, the character makes the appropriate skill (Heavy Weapons, Athletics and so on) check with a penalty depending on how far the shot is intended to land (see table below), regular range modifiers do not apply. If the check is successful, add the Effect to the projectile’s damage. No matter what happens, the projectile scatters in a random direction 1d6 minus the Effect in meters. This means that even a failure could still potentially strike the target (or scatter back over the obstacle for short parabolic arcs!), but get no bonus to damage.

Parabolic Weapon Ranges

Weapon Type Personal Close Short Medium Long Very Long Distant
Ranged Attacks
Thrown Out of range -1 -2 -3 Out of range Out of range Out of range
Launcher Out of range Out of range Out of range -2 -3 Out of range Out of range
Artillery Out of range Out of range Out of range Out of range +0 +0 -1

Shotgun Spread

Any shotgun loaded specifically with flechette rounds can be fired like a common round at a single target up to Short range, using the standard statistics for the weapon. If firing at a target or group of targets at Medium or Long range, the frag shell has its damage reduced to 2d6 but gains a +1DM bonus to hit, and can hit not only the target aimed at but also anyone (friend or foe) within 1 metre of the initial target.

Suppression Fire

Suppression fire works by having the character actually target the areas surrounding the target; a wall, a tree or even the ground at their feet are all perfectly suitable. The impact of the character’s attacks are often enough to give pause to a potential attacker. The firing character rolls his shooting attack as normal, except with a -2 DM for trying to hit cover and nearby objects to the target(s). This attack action also uses up double the normal amount of ammunition per attack. Failures are treated as normal misses. Success means that the firer has hit close enough to the target to force them to duck away, stalling their next action by adding an initiative penalty equal to the Effect of the attack. Suppressed targets also receive a -1DM penalty to any skill checks that they try to perform in both the current and following combat round. Automatic fire can be used for Suppression fire, but no target can be affected twice by Suppression fire on the same action. The target must be allowed to take one action before he can be suppressed again. If multiple hits are used upon the same target, the highest Effect takes precedence. There are some situations and instances that can make a target so unshakeable that they do not care about Suppression fire, and will not be harried by it. Some of those exceptions are found on the list below.
  • Vehicles, or targets fully enclosed in vehicles
  • Zealots
  • Mechanical or android targets
  • Targets wearing full Battle Dress
  • Suicidal targets

Ground Force Weaponry against Starship-scale Targets

Gaining a +4DM bonus to hit anything on the starship-scale, ground force weaponry must divide its damage by 50 before comparing it to a starship-scale target’s armour. Because a single weapon will, obviously, be unable to punch though armour it is possible for multiple weapons to all target the starship simultaneously, and the cumulative effect can inflict damage. Every additional ground weapon beyond the first can add half its damage dice to the total before dividing the total by 50 in order to calculate damage.

Battle System – Large Scale Conflict in Traveller (top)

There are eight types of units in the Battle System engagement rules. They are as follows:
  • Infantry – Any basic combat unit made up of men on foot or single-driver vehicles (bikes, sleds and so one) equipped with rifles, energy weapons and other automatic firepower.
  • Heavy Infantry – Any combat unit wearing Battle Dress and equipped with Heavy Weapons.
  • Close Quarters – Any combat unit equipped solely with pistols, melee or natural weaponry.
  • Vehicle – Any unit consisting of a small number of individual multi-crew vehicles (AFVs, hovertraks, etc.) or single larger vehicles (tanks, grav carrier, etc.).
  • Artillery – Any unit of long-range weaponry used to attack the enemy from the farthest limits of the battlefield; also a unit of Artillery Battle Dress soldiers.
  • Ortillery – Space based artillery, normally only available to one side in a battle. Less accurate than regular artillery, but deadly and immune to enemy fire from the ground.
  • Close Air Support (CAS) – Aircraft of any sort that support land troops. These can include aeroplanes, helicopters and grav vehicles designed for this role.
  • Command – The primary leadership centre of the entire force.

Creating A Military Force

Unit Statistics

Once the make up of an army is decided there are a number of statistics for each unit that need to be noted. They are as follows:
  • Unit Type (Infantry, Artillery and so on)
  • Unit Strength (numbers of men)
  • Unit Rating
  • Morale
  • Tech Level

Unit Strengths

Init Size Maximum Members in Unit
Infantry Heavy Infantry Close Quarters Vehicle Artillery Ortillery1 CAS Command
1 Fire Team 10 5 20 1 1 1 1 5
2 Squad 20 10 50 2 2 1 2 8
3 Platoon 40 20 100 4 3 1 4 10
4 Company 100 50 500 12 4 1 8 15
5 Battalion 500 100 1000 36 5 1 12 20
6 Regiment 1000 200 1500 72 6 1 16 35
1 Ortillery normally takes the form of a starship in orbit and can represent anything from a small patrol ship to a squadron of cruisers to a huge dreadnought.

Unit Skill

Skill Rating Description Average Skill
1 Raw (militia, untrained conscripts) 0
2 Trained (unbloodied troops) 0
3 Regular (professional soldiers with a smattering of troops with combat experience) 1
4 Veteran (experienced troops, most with plenty of combat experience) 2
5 Elite (special forces) 3

Unit Type

This is simply determined by what manner of members make up the unit; Infantry, vehicles and so on.

Member Strength

This is the effective number of members in the unit. This is also the number of ‘hits’ the unit can withstand before being destroyed.

Unit Rating

The unit rating also reflects the average skill levels of the troops. Raw troops will have a few individuals with skill 0, but many without any skill whatsoever. Trained will all be of skill 0, whilst elites will have a skill of 3, on average (and on very rare occasions, even more than this). Different units are specialised in different skills, as shown below. The defining skill of the units is calculated using the base average of the unit members.
  • Infantry – Gun Combat (any non-pistol)
  • Heavy Infantry – Heavy Weapons
  • Close Quarters – Melee (any) or Gun Combat (any pistol)
  • Vehicle – Drive, Flyer or Seafarer (depending on the type of vehicles)
  • Artillery – Heavy Weapons (field artillery)
  • Ortillery – Gunner (any)
  • Close Air Support – Flyer (any)
  • Command – Tactics and Leadership

Unit Morale

Unlike personal Morale (see earlier in this chapter), this statistic is based partially on the skill of the unit and their faith in the commands of the force commander. The Unit Morale of each unit is calculated by adding the Unit Rating number to the Unit Size plus the Leadership skill of the primary Command unit of the army. If, during battle, a unit’s morale reaches 0 it is broken and will attempt to flee the field or surrender, depending on the circumstances on the battlefield.

Tech Level

All units equipped to Tech Level 3 or less are considered to be Close Quarters units.

Deployment Zone

Each force has three deployment zones in which to place its forces. These are named Front Line, Reserves and Support, any unit may be placed in any of these zones, apart from Close Air Support and Ortillery, which are always assumed to start in the Support zone.

Placing the Units on the Battlefield

Once all of an army’s units have been formed, rated and recorded in order to keep track of their statistics, the force commander (or the commanding player) will decide where exactly on the battlefield the units will begin. They, of course, will be allowed to move once a battle has begun. Ortillery units are not considered to be on the battlefield, as such, bringing their devastating firepower down upon their enemies from the safety of orbit. They are, for convenience, positioned in the Support Zone of their army. Close Air Support units are held in reserve, they do not enter the battlefield until their commander decides they are required and when they do appear it will be in their own Support zone.

Execution of Battle

The Execution of Battle phase comprises of the following phases.
  • Command Phase – Deciding which and how many units will act this round
  • Action Phase – Giving units their actions and recording the results
  • Morale Phase – Recording the Morale losses or gains of each unit, recording broken units
  • Withdrawal Phase (optional) – Force commanders may decide to flee from combat

Command Phase

Both sides’ primary Command Units must roll a Leadership throw 8+ to determine the number of Unit Actions the army will receive this round. If successful, the army is allowed the Command Unit’s Tactics level plus the Effect of the throw in Unit Actions. If a failure, the army simply receives the Command Unit’s Tactics level in actions instead. This is a very important throw for the army, and the primary Command Unit should be protected because of it. A Command Unit will receive a +1DM to the Leadership roll if they are situated within their Reserves zone, being closer to the action they will be able to judge the situation on the ground that much more clearly. However being closer to the front lines also means that they are more likely to become subject to enemy attacks. The Command Unit can choose to use these Unit Actions as it sees fit during the Action Phase. Unused Unit Actions are not carried over from round to round, and must be used or wasted. If an army is without a Command Unit at all during the Command Phase, every unit in the army immediately loses one point of Unit Morale and must each pass a Unit Morale test in order to take a Unit Action with a -1 DM. Losing the command element of an army is often the breaking point of the conflict, and few armies last long after that happens. The Command Unit can also try call up any CAS units he wishes to use during his Command Phase, needing to roll Tactics 8+. The Effect of the roll should be noted, this is how many Battle Rounds the CAS can stay before they have to leave the battlefield to replenish fuel and munitions. A failed roll means the unit is delayed and the Command unit can try again the following Battle Round.

Secondary Command Units

Should the primary Command Unit be destroyed or broken, the secondary Command Unit takes control and becomes primary. However, the unexpected re-structuring process is harmful to the chain of command, and the Tactics and Leadership skills of the unit are reduced by 1 (minimum of 0).

Action Phase

The Action Phase begins with each commander choosing to spend Unit Actions on their army’s individual units. Each unit may accept up to 2 Unit Actions in this manner, each one chosen as an Attack or Manoeuvre action. A unit may only use one Manoeuvre action each round, but is not limited on its Attack capability. Thus, a unit could Attack twice with two Unit Actions, Manoeuvre and Attack with two Unit Actions, or Manoeuvre or Attack with one Unit Action. The force commander with the most Unit Actions rolled (or the highest Tactics level in the case of a tie) chooses one of his units with Unit Actions this round and activates them. Once they have finished their first (or only) Unit Action, the enemy commander may then do the same. This order continues until all Unit Actions have been taken. Once the Unit Actions have been spent or assigned, the force commanders can take turns performing them. It is important to note that all units that have been given two Unit Actions cannot perform their second Unit Action until after all other units with Unit Actions have performed their first.

Range Attack Modifiers

Unit Type 0 1 2 3 4 5
Infantry +0 +1 -1 -2
Heavy Infantry +1 +1 +2 +0 +0
Close Quarters +1 +0
Vehicle -1 +0 +2 +1 +0 -1
Artillery -1 +1 +2 +2 +2
Ortillery +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 +1
CAS +2 +2 +1 +1 +0 -1
Command +1 +1 +1 +0 +0

Attack Difficulty (Unit vs. Unit)

          Defending Unit      
Attacking Unit   Infantry Heavy Infantry Close Quarters Vehicles Artillery Ortillery CAS Command
Infantry 8+ 9+ 8+ 10+ 8+ 9+ 9+
Heavy Infantry 7+ 8+ 8+ 9+ 8+ 10+ 9+
Close Quarters 8+ 9+ 9+ 10+ 8+ 11+ 8+
Vehicles 8+ 8+ 7+ 9+ 8+ 10+ 9+
Artillery 7+ 8+ 8+ 9+ 10+ 11+ 10+
Ortillery 8+ 9+ 9+ 10+ 11+ 11+
CAS 7+ 8+ 7+ 9+ 8+ 9+ 8+
Command 9+ 10+ 8+ 10+ 8+ 11+ 9+

Unit Damage

Attacking Unit   Target Unit
Infantry Heavy Infantry Close Quarters Vehicles Artillery Ortillery CAS Command
Infantry +0 -2 +1 -3 -1 -3 +0
Heavy Infantry +4 +1 +3 -1 +0 -2 +2
Close Quarters +2 -3 +3 -4 -5 -5 +1
Vehicles +5 +2 +5 -1 +0 -3 -3
Artillery +15 +8 +15 -1 -3 -2 +3
Ortillery +20 +10 +20 -2 -2 +2
CAS +10 +4 +10 +1 +2 +0 +1
Command +3 +1 +4 -3 -2 -2 +2

Manoeuvre Actions

When a unit is given a Manoeuvre as its Unit Action, it can move into an adjacent deployment zone. Ortillery is unable to move, Close Air Support can move through up to three zones in a single manoeuvre action. This is to symbolise the unit making headway or taking a withdrawal on the battlefield. It is possible that a unit will not be able to enter a deployment zone as it may be locked by enemy forces. Each unit can effectively block one enemy unit from entering the deployment zone it occupies, as long as it has morale greater than 0. Infantry and Heavy Infantry units can block two units from entering their zone, Ortillery and Close Air Support are unable to block enemy units, and no unit can block an enemy Close Air Support unit. When a non-broken (see Unit Morale above, and the Morale Phase below) unit uses a Manoeuvre action to move away from the enemy (making the number higher), they are considered to be tactically withdrawing, and regain 1 point of Unit Morale. A unit that moves out of its support deployment zone away from the enemy is considered to have retreated from the battlefield and takes no further part in the battle.

Attack Actions

When a unit decides to make its Attack action, it must first pass an immediate Unit Morale test by rolling equal to or under the unit’s current Unit Morale on 1d6 in order to take action. It is possible for a unit with high morale to automatically pass this test. Once the unit has verified its ability to perform an Attack action, the unit chooses a valid target unit for its attack. Each type of unit gets a different DM for attacking enemy units different distances away, showing its ability to inflict damage upon targets that are close or far away. This DM is then used to modify the Attack Skill throw made to attack that target, added to which is the skill of the attacking unit. The distance modifiers and the unit’s difficulty to inflict damage upon the enemy are found on the preceding tables. A listing of ‘-’ means the unit is unable to attack effectively at anything at that range. Once the unit has declared a valid target for its Attack action, the unit then makes its Unit Skill throw at the difficulty listed on the preceding table. If it fails, the unit’s attack was ineffectual and no actual damage is inflicted (but the target’s Unit Morale still suffers). If successful, there is the potential of inflicting casualties upon the enemy unit. The Effect from a successful Attack action helps determine how much damage is inflicted upon the target unit. The Effect is added (or subtracted) to the modifier listed on the preceding table. These modifiers show how easy or difficult it is for a specific type of unit to harm another type of unit. Particularly hard-to-damage units like vehicles or artillery tend to have much smaller numbers, so inflicting even a single casualty upon them is a success for an attack.

Additional Modifiers

  • For each point of unit size +1 to the casualties inflicted.
  • Technology level has a huge effect on casualty results. Deduct the difference between the tech levels from the casualties inflicted upon a unit with a higher technology level, and add the difference to any casualties inflicted upon a unit with a lower technology level.
A unit that manoeuvres into an enemy zone and attacks that turn doubles the amount of casualties it inflicts for that attack upon any enemy unit within the same deployment zone, representing the bonus that the attacking force gets from flanking fire. CAS units do not benefit from this bonus, nor can they be subjected to it. A maximum of two units are able to attack a single enemy unit in a single Battle Round. However they can attack that unit up to two times each if they have enough actions allocated to them. Ortillery and Artillery units require forward observers to plot out enemy positions and call down fire upon the enemy. This takes one action, leaving these units only able to fire once per Battle Round, and then only if they have been assigned two actions during the Command phase.

Rally Action

Additionally, the Command Unit of an army may perform a special type of action that boosts Unit Morale called a Rally action. This costs a Unit Action, and functions otherwise like a Manoeuvre action. The Command Unit chooses a single unit in his force that has lost Unit Morale to send a communiqué to and makes a Leadership throw 9+. Failure means that the unit is even more confused by the communication, losing another point of Unit Morale. If successful, the targeted unit regains lost Unit Morale equal to the Effect of the throw. Once all units in the army that received any Unit Actions have taken their first one, no matter the status of the enemy army’s progression, units that received a second Unit Action may begin to take them. The phase continues back and forth until one side has no more Unit Actions to take, at which point the other side takes all remaining actions in rapid succession. When all Unit Actions have been used and resolved, the Action Phase ends.

Morale Phase

At the beginning of the Morale Phase the army units must check to see if they qualify for any Unit Morale loss or gain. The following are the ways a Battle Unit loses or gains Unit Morale.
  • All units that were attacked in some way (successfully or not) immediately lose one point of Unit Morale.
  • Any unit that shared a deployment zone with a friendly unit that was utterly destroyed this turn loses one point of Unit Morale.
  • Any unit that shared a deployment zone with a friendly unit that routed this turn loses one point of Unit Morale.
  • Any unit reduced to less than half of its starting Member Strength loses one point of Unit Morale.
  • All units in an army that has a Command Unit destroyed or broken this turn loses 2 points of Unit Morale.
  • Any unit whose attack destroys an enemy unit gains 2 points of Unit Morale.
  • Any unit whose attack destroys an enemy Command Unit gains 3 points of Unit Morale.
  • Any unit that attacks an enemy unit which then routs this turn gains 1 points of Unit Morale.
Once all of the units have had their Unit Morale adjusted for whatever reason, any units that have fallen to 0 Unit Morale are now considered to be broken. Broken units are no longer capable of engaging the enemy and are removed from the army’s roster. Once all units have taken stock of their new Unit Morale values and whether or not they have broken, the Morale Phase ends.

Withdrawal Phase (optional)

A commander can decide to withdraw his forces from battle, either piecemeal or all at once (conceding defeat in the latter case). If neither force commander wishes to use the Withdrawal Phase, the round ends and a new Battle Round begins with a new Command Phase. If both force commanders decide to use the Withdrawal Phase, all units leave the battle without suffering any further casualties or damage. The battle ends immediately. If one force commander chooses to use the Withdrawal Phase and the other does not, the withdrawing army will be subjected to one last volley of attacks as they flee the battle. Every non-withdrawing unit can make a single Attack action at one enemy unit. The Referee can choose to create further scenes of chasing down the fleeing units as they scatter away from the battlefield, seeking refuge from the enemy. In many cases however, even the victorious units will want to take count of their own wounded and casualties, leaving the routed forces to their own. Ortillery and CAS units are unable to act on the field of battle on their own, if all ground forces of their army are withdrawing or have been routed or destroyed they will automatically be assumed to have withdrawn from the battle, leaving their enemies victorious.