Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Dark Nebula - Back to the Roots!


I have been thinking about the worldbuilding and "4X" aspects of my Dark Nebula Traveller OTU variant. I tried to do the economic worldbuilding using Trillion Credits Squadron and Fifth Frontier War. However, both came out a bit off to my taste, filling the small two-subsector Nebula Region with hundreds of big ships and vast planetary armies. While epic in scale, and officially Traveller, they were a bit... Overwhelming.

Thus, I went back to this setting's roots, and will use the Dark Nebula and Imperium boardgames for this sort of worldbuilding. Just as intended! Why also Imperium? Because I think that some of the changes in the transition from Imperium (the original game) to Dark Nebula (the sequel) do not go too well with this sort of worldbuilding. Oh, and I also like Motherships and Fighters, as in Imperium!

So, here is my Unified Dark-Imperium Theory!

  1. Take Imperium and Dark Nebula rules. Other than as described in the following points, use the Dark Nebula rules as intended, with imports from Imperium as noted below.
  2. Turns are 1 years each, unlike 2 years as in Imperium/Dark Nebula. With the Phasing Player 1st Action/Non-Phasing Player Reaction/Phasing Player 2nd Action turn structure in these games, this means one major game-world event every 2 months of Traveller game play, as follows (approximate dates):
    1. Solomani Maintenance and Production Phase and Solomani First Movement/Combat Phase - January/February.
    2. Aslan Reaction Phase - March/April.
    3. Solomani Second Movement/Combat Phase - May/June
    4. Aslan Maintenance and Production Phase and Aslan First Movement/Combat Phase  - July/August.
    5. Solomani Reaction Phase - September/October.
    6. Aslan Second Movement/Combat Phase - November/December.
  3. Production also uses the half the Imperium/Dark Nebula rate, so production turns stay the same, and are thus faster (1 year to build most ships; 2 years for larger ships. Faster than in RAW Traveller but befitting the 5-year arc I'm planning.
  4. Clarification: as noted in the rules, ship markers denote squadrons. However, I am tempted to make Capital Ships (B/BB/B1/B2-classes) singular. So, a single Dreadnought would be, narratively speaking, as powerful as a squadron of cruisers.
  5. Clarification: the aforementioned squadrons include support craft, apart from transports,  tankers, and fighters, which are, of course, their own markers. This includes various logistics ships and small escorts, among others.
  6. The Imperium/Dark Nebula budget does not include most small ships. It deals with large combatants of strategic importance. Even a Destroyer, under this system, is over 1,000 tons in size (as in High Guard). All sorts of patrol frigates, couriers, customs cutters, etc. under 1,000 tons may exist below this strategic scale, again with the exception of large fighter formations.
  7. Ground units denote Corps (or Field Armies?) rather than the Divisions noted in the original rules. This seems more appropriate for planetary conquest than mere divisions.
  8. Use Imperium-style outpost/world markers. Such a marker is sufficient to control a planet.
  9. Income uses Imperium's Terran model: 8 RU per connected world; 6 RU per unconnected world; 1 RU per connected outpost; and 0 RU per unconnected outpost. There is no initial budget other than that.
  10. Initial budget is still 40 RU per side, representing existing assets. Each side also gets standard income on the first term, in addition to the initial budget. However, these initial 40 RU provide the player with ships immediately on game start, while 1st turn income permits the beginning of ship construction, which will be ready next Turn (i.e., in 1 year).
  11. Neutral Worlds begin with an initial budget of 16 RU.
  12. World markers, as in Imperium, cannot be manufactured. There are world markers on the following worlds:
    1. Solomani: Maadnin, Mechane, and Gazzain.
    2. Aslan: Kuzu, Blatta, and Vaxt.
    3. Neutral: Mizah, Karpos, Rim, Godoro, and Valka.
  13. Outposts can be manufactured and transported to target worlds. Neutral systems do not possess or need outposts. There are outpost markers on the following worlds:
    1. Solomani: Avair, Zloban, Llavia, Kamat, Icat, and Omoro.
    2. Aslan: Ikona, Bor, Xida, Rosa, and Panas.
  14. To control a system (including a neutral one), a power (Solomani or Aslan) requires the presence of either a friendly World marker, an Outpost marker, or any military unit in the system.
  15. Controlling enemy Worlds (including non-allied Neutral Worlds) requires the presence of an occupying military unit in system, after destroying all enemy forces in the system and Neutralizing the World marker.
  16. World and Outpost markers do not attack, but they do defend. The invader must attack or bombard them and defeat them, leading to their Neutralized status (in case of Worlds) or to their destruction (in case of Outposts). A non-Neutralized World or Outpost market prevents the invader from controlling the system. A World marker has a Combat rating of 10, again, used for defense only. An Outpost has a Combat rating of 2.
  17. Conquering non-World neutral systems is automatic, as local forces are insufficient to counter significant military effort by the Powers. However, to hold unto such world, the occupying Power must maintain a military presence in that system, or install an Outpost in it.
  18. Each Neutral World is on its own. This means a 8 RU budget per turn for each Neutral world, typically used for system defense (which may be hired as mercenaries by allied Powers).
  19. Missile Boats, Motherships, and Fighters exist, as per Imperium.
So, these are the ground rules. In my next post, I will put these rules to use to determine the initial forces available to each faction.

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