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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Traveller Tuesday: Staying RAD

Last game session, my intrepid band of murderhobos did a standard jump instead of a targeted jump, and so through random die rolling and GM maliciousness, they came out just a little too close to the stellar primary. This means I got to look at the rules for radiation...

Actually, the rules for radiation seem okay (at least for the moment; I might find something I didn't like and hack them later); it's the rules for shielding against radiation that I find funny.  Specifically:

According to the rules as written, a Vacc Suit decreases radiation exposure by 50. Which is all well and good and makes sense, considering that space is filled with hard radiation that isn't attenuated by an atmosphere or a magnetic field. However, also by the rules as written, starships without armor provide no radiation protection whatsoever.

WTF, over? A 24 kg suit gives more protection than the 20 ton hull of a Launch?   This is wrong.

Now, the easy answer is to just give all ships & small craft the same level of rad protection as a vacc suit, but that doesn't scratch my itch to tinker.

A quick & dirty lookup on ionizing radiation indicates that mass is what stops it; alpha particles can be stopped with a sheet of paper, and beta particles are stopped by your skin, but the penetrating types -- gamma, x-ray, and neutron -- require either dense materials, or lots of non-dense materials, to stop.  The game world supports this, by having objects with greater density (hazarous environment suits, battle armor, starship armor) block correspondingly more levels of radiation.  So it makes sense that the larger the ship, the greater its overall density, and therefore it would be better at blocking radiation.


  • All craft capable of space travel decrease radiation by 50 points. 
  • This stacks with vacc suit protection, so a suited pilot in a launch would have 100 points radiation protection. 
  • Size of the craft adds additional protection; take the higher of Hull or Structure rating times 10 and add that to the craft's radiation resistance. (It doesn't add more than this because hulls are pretty thin.) 
  • Starship armor adds even more protection. Rules as written say it decreases rad exposure by 500, regardless of whether this is 1 ton of armor or 100; this really should scale according to rating. 
    • I'm inclined to go with "Each point (not ton) of armor reduces radiation by 100 rads," but that has not been playtested.
  • Radiation shielding can be added to ships (High Guard, p. 42.) which protects against another 1,000 rads. Weirdly, this does not cost tonnage. I'm going to handwave this as protective insulation, or perhaps lead-based hull paint, or even a manner of construction, and try not to think too much about it. At the listed price of a quarter million credits per ton of ship, though, it isn't going to be a common option. 
    • Lifeboats should probably come standard with rad shielding, though. 
    • As should capital ships, because why would the government care about cost?
    • Since lifeboats stored within a ship would be really well protected, the concept of a "safe room" becomes logical.  Instead of shielding the entire ship, just shield an area inside it, like a stateroom or a sickbay or the passenger common area. 
    • A shielded bridge would probably be A Good Thing, just in case you needed someone to fly the ship during the solar flare. 
  • Passengers in low berths are considered to be protected by "hazard suit" levels of shielding, and therefore removes a further 200 rads of exposure. 

Yes, I realize these rules gives capital ships massive amounts of rad shielding. I feel this is a feature, not a bug, as cap ships are huge, and nukes are flung around like spitballs during such engagements. Radiation exposure shouldn't be a factor for their crews unless their ship's integrity is seriously compromised.

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