Traveller: Contested Combat WIP

Contested Combat WIP

thoughts on how to make contested combat rolls work so combat is much faster and more lethal



The standard way of doing combat is to have a long list DMs covering all the options which slows the game.

So how do you simulate a firefight without lots of DMs?

What are the key points?

1. Effective armor modifies this general rule but except in the context of surprise characters should almost never be standing out in the open in a fire fight – they should either be in hard cover or running for hard cover

2. As a consequence tactics involve weight of fire, suppression, fire and movement etc i.e. the defender will try and put down enough fire to prevent the attackers moving forward while the attackers try to put down enough fire to either make the defenders bug out or to suppress them enough to allow a detachment to outflank or assault

3. Although weight of fire is the dominant factor, morale, leadership and tactics can be critical also.

How can the key points be abstracted into as simple a system as possible (aka fast system) while still simulating the key points enough to allow player decisions.


Key Point

In the above context what could weapon skill be reasonably defined to mean? It could be defined to mean not just weapon skill itself but also the surrounding skills i.e. use of cover, fire and movement etc. If defined this way a target’s weapon skill could be used to contest the attacker’s weapon skill.


Skill Covers (Almost) Everything Firefights

So in its simplest form say you have two characters firing at each other both with rifle-2, assume they’re using both cover and their weapon according to their weapon skill so both roll 2d6, add their weapon skill DM, winner wins.

rule #1 surprise and encounter distance as book

rule #2 two states, in cover or not

rule #3 sequence

  • flee
  • tactics action (success adds DM+1 to team’s weapon skills)
  • leadership action (success DM+2 team’s remove suppression)
  • action

rule #4 actions

  • fire/attack
  • run to cover (side or forward)
  • run to cover firing (side or forward)
  • assault (close range)
  • flank (close range, suppressed flank)
  • retreat
  • remove suppression

rule #5 highest skill goes first

  • being attacked is the attacked character’s turn also

rule #6 cover

  • cover is by area not by character
  • character assumed to be using weapon skill to make use of available cover
  • cover bonus +0 to +4

rule #7 cases

  • fire vs fire (cover bonus applies to both)
  • fire vs run to cover firing (cover bonus vs half cover bonus)
  • fire vs run to cover (cover bonus vs half cover bonus)
  • fire vs assault (cover bonus defender only)

rule #8 contested rolls

  • winner wins
  • winning roll needs to be 8+
  • each skill rank gives DM+2
  • cover bonus if applicable

rule #9 : a character running to cover can use a melee skill to dodge if it is higher than their ranged skill

rule #10: if a character running to cover wins a contested roll they don’t get hit but they don’t hit the firer either

rule #11: a character running to cover (or assaulting) can choose to fire from the hip, this only gives a DM+1 per skill rank rather than DM+2 but does produce a hit if the runner/assaulter wins

rule #12 : if the winner wins by +1 or +2 they score a suppression; +3 is a hit, +6 is two hits etc

rule #13:  suppression

  • can’t move or shoot while suppressed except to flee or retreat
  • remove suppression on 8+ (cover bonus applies)
  • firing at suppressed character – contested roll but suppressed doesn’t hit if wins

rule #14

  • mooks can only take one hit
  • special NPCs are wound first
  • large  creatures may have multiple wounds

rule #15

  • a character on the flank facing a suppressed enemy on the opposing flank can flank
  • character moves on to same range band and fires, moves back
  • enemy gets no cover bonus


Basic Example

(ignoring armor and weapon types for now)

smuggler (pistol-3) and wookie pal (melee-2) in an argument with bad guys (pistol-2, pistol-1, melee-1) in a cantina when it goes aggro

say cover in the cantina is all DM+2

no surprise.


round one

smuggler has highest skill so goes first, dives for cover while shooting from the hip at the pistol-1. smuggler has DM+3 for skill (running / diving for cover while shooting from the hip gets DM+1 per skill rank instead of DM+2) and DM+2 for cover for DM+5. the pistol-1 stands and shoots for DM+2 -> 15 vs 6 or +9 to the smuggler so two hits and pistol-1 goes down.

wookie melee attacks the melee-1 for DM+4 vs DM+2 -> 9 vs 9 -> fight continues

pistol-2 dives for cover


round two

smuggler and pistol-2 trade shots, DM+8 (skill + cover) vs DM+6 (skill + cover) -> 18 vs 16 -> pistol-2 suppressed

wookie vs melee-1 -> DM+4 vs DM+2 -> 12 vs 4 -> +8 -> two hits -> the melee-1 gang member drops


round three

pistol-2 is suppressed but can choose to flee so flees (goes first) and runs for door firing from the hip at wookie, wookie dives for cover -> DM+2 (pistol-2 only gets DM+1 per skill rank as firing on the move) vs DM+6 (wookie using melee-2 skill to defend for DM+4 plus DM+2 cover) -> 8 vs 13 -> miss

smuggler fires at fleeing pistol-2 -> DM+6 vs DM+4 -> 16 vs 11 -> hit, pistol-2 is wounded


round four

pistol-2 staggers out of the cantina wounded. smuggler and wookie leave the cantina by the other entrance before guards or reinforcements arrive.


Different Weapons (WIP)

Weapons should be different because choice of weapon is a characterful thing so… range DM: melee, short, medium, long ranges.

Pistol: +2 / 0 / – / –

Shotgun: +4 / +4 / – / –

Rifle: 0 / 0 / +2 / +2

Auto Weapons

burst bonus marked (b). suppression bonus marked (s).

suppression fire: DM+2 but if a hit is scored then it counts as two suppressions

burst fire: a hit counts as two hits

Auto Rifle: -2 / 0(b) / +2(s) / +2(s)

Assault Rifle: -2 / +2(b) / +2(s) / -2

SMG: 0 / +4(b) / 0(s) / –



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