What’s our vector, Victor?

That hole-punched Book 2 is actually my original from Deluxe Traveller in 1982.

Most of the Traveller starship combat we’ve ever done was “theater of the mind”-style descriptive. More recently, I’ve used Mayday rules a few times. I’ve never even tried the Starter Traveller band system, though I think it would probably work just fine.

In my early days, I really struggled with the vector system outlined in Book 2. I really wanted to be able to do it, but I didn’t quite get it. I remember even asking my dad to help me with it but he didn’t really get it, either. It took a long time for me to grok, and I think a huge issue I had was that lines 1 and 2 in the example–explained as 75mm and 25mm in length, respectively–were BOTH THE SAME LENGTH. As a kid, it never occurred to me that a book like that could have an error in it, and I assumed that I just plain didn’t understand something about what the rules meant. Also, the talk about the vector’s angle in degrees is not necessary and only added to my confusion.

When the lightbulb finally went on, I was able to figure it out…mostly. The 100mm per G length was too large for me (I didn’t have a gymnasium floor to play Traveller on) so I reduced that to 10mm. And I proceeded to fight out battles on paper with a pencil and a ruler, sometimes needing to tape another sheet on the edge, and watching a web of vectors grow.

Tonight, for probably the first time since the 1980s, I busted out a ruler and drew some vectors, thankful for a whiteboard. It all came back pretty quickly, and 30+ years has helped me figure out even quicker ways to lay them down. I think that the original vector system is a lot of fun, though I need to brush up on some of the combat rules. In play, I’d probably erase the previous vectors, but I wanted to watch the track grow and be able to make sure about what I was doing.

I probably should get a larger whiteboard. I’ve often contemplated putting a 4’x8′ sheet up on the wall of my study. Maybe this is the excuse I need.

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4 Responses to What’s our vector, Victor?

  1. Dick says:

    If you’d like another take on how to do vector movement without undue complexity, you might want to take a look at the (free, downloadable) pdf for the Full Thrust miniatures game. The basic rule set uses “cinematic” movement (pretty much Star Wars-style rules where ships fly somewhat like aircraft) but the two Fleet Books introduce then refine a more realistic vector system that works very, very well IME. It’s particularly adaptable for use with Traveller, since ship thrust ratings never exceed 6 so you can just plug your maneuver drive ratings right in unchanged. Main hack involved would be deciding what Traveller’s range bands would be – I’d recommend using 12MU (MU being inches, or tens of cm, or whatever you’re measuring by) myself and just using the regular Traveller combat rules.

    If you wanted to get fancy you could start messing around with firing arc restrictions base weapon mountings, but that’s pretty optional.

    GZG dowmloads page is here:


    There’s also a Traveller-to-Full-Thrust conversions called Power Projection, which you can see over here:


    It’s pretty good IME, although annoyingly the “PP: Escort” book seems to be OOP and that’s the more suitable of the two for small actions between the kinds of ships adventurers usually have access to. PP: Fleet is more big naval battles between whole squadrons of capital ships and their support elements, so less useful for roeplayers.

    • Kilgore says:

      Thanks, I’ll check it out. Even though I really, really like the Book 2 vector rules, there is a lot of stuff not covered. Some of the blank you can figure out or fill in using bits from Mayday, High Guard, and the missiles supplement, but it’s really barebones (like the rest of Books 1-3). I have no issue with that, but getting more ideas from more places can be good.

      • Dick says:

        We pretty much used Mayday for starship fights back in the LBB days, at least once the game actually came out. If nothing else the map and counters were nice aids if you didn’t want to stick to range bands and “Theater of the Mind” (gad, that always sounds so pompous, doesn’t it?).

        • Kilgore says:

          > “Theater of the Mind” (gad, that always sounds so pompous, doesn’t it?)

          Yeah, I’m not a fan of it but it’s what everyone is using these days

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