Character Development: Traveller (Mongoose Edition)

Ttraveller_coveroday’s game will be Traveller. Traveller was one of the first role-playing games, debuting in 1977 from Game Designer’s Workshop. Marc Miller is the man behind the setting and mechanics. Traveller is a science fiction roleplaying game of the far future. Humanity has gone to the stars and found them crowded with other forms of life and other sentient races, and science and technology have advanced vastly over the present day – but the essential nature of humanity is unchanged. Life continues as it does today, only spread out over the sea of stars. A mighty Imperium unites thousands of star systems under a single rule, but it is beset by enemies both internal and external.

We’ll be using the Mongoose Publishing edition, which is heavily based on the original Traveller (also known as the little black books or Classic Traveller), but character generation doesn’t have to be quite so lethal. Classic Traveller is well-remembered as a system wherein your character could die during creation, before they are ever played. Mongoose uses a Mishap table to cut down on lethality. When we play, we use a house rules that states if a character suffers a career-ending mishap, you toss a d6. On a roll of 1-3, the character dies. On a roll of 4-6, you roll on the Mishap table (of course, your character may die anyway due to an injury).

If you are interested in checking out Traveller, the Mongoose Edition is available on Drive-Thru RPG. Classic Traveller is also available in PDF form through Drive-Thru, as well. With that said, let’s get started.

I’ll begin by generating my attributes, rolling 2d6 six times and assigning them as desired to the six attributes: Strength, Dexterity, Endurance, Intelligence, Education, and Social Standing. My rolls were 10, 9, 5, 6, 5, 6 and I want to try for a naval career as a fighter pilot, for which I will need Dexterity and Endurance. Of course, I’ll need Intelligence to make it into the Navy in the first place. I decide to arrange my stats as:

STRength 6
DEXterity 10 (+1 DM)
ENDurance 6
INTelligence 9 (+1 DM)
EDUcation 5 (-1 DM)
SOCial Standing 5 (-1 DM)

I’ve already decided on a name for my character; Anya Cordova. From this, we can see that Anya has average strength and endurance, good intellect, and superior dexterity. Because her Deterity and Intelligence are so high, she gets a +1 Dice Modifier on each. Unfortunately, her low Education and Social Standing mean that she suffers a -1 Dice Modifier on each. Still, I think that she stands a good chance of getting what she wants. We’ll see…

Now I need to decide on her homeworld. There are literally thousands of worlds available in the Traveller universe, and after consulting with my GM, I get permission to randomly determine her homeworld’s attributes. (Some GMs may have a list of planets for you to choose from or may prefer that you come from the same world.)

For world creation, we roll on a series of tables in the rulebook. I’m not going to go into further detail here, but the results are below:

D52443A-6 S NI, Po

This means that the planet is about 8,000 km in diameter (slightly smaller than Earth), with a surface gravity of .45, a very thin and tainted atmosphere, a temperature below -50 degrees Celcius, and about 36% to 45% water in the form of ice. Even so, it’s home to some 10,000+ inhabitants. The government is largely a self-perpetuating oligarchy with very strict laws against imports and off-worlders. A class-D starport means limited repair facilities, with unrefined fuel. The overall tech level is 6 (The system does support a Scout base, however.) The world is both Poor and Non-Industrial.

Looking on the the Background Skills table, being from a Poor world gives her Animals at 0. Her education DM of -1 means that she gets 1 other skill, and I’ll take Engineer 0. So, she enters the world at 18 years old with the skills Animals 0 and Engineer 0. Next, she’ll try to get into the Navy.

To qualify for the Navy, she needs to make an Intelligence throw with a +1 modifier (for her Int DM) and get a roll of 6 or better. A roll of 8 plus 1 is 9, so she is the newest cadet in the Imperial Navy! She begins her career as a crewman.

During her first term in the Navy, she picks up the core skills that she will need to be a pilot. She picks up Pilot, Vacc Suit, Zero-G, Gunner, Mechanic, and Gun Combat, all at level 0 (in Traveller, level 0 indicates base proficiency). For her term of service, she will focus on her specialty (flight). A roll of 1 gives her Pilot (any). Since she already has Pilot at level 0, she now has Pilot 1 and must specialize. She chooses to specialize in Small Craft, since I envisioned her being a fighter pilot.

Next she needs to make a Survival roll in order to remain in her chosen career. To survive, she meeds to roll a 7 or higher against Dexterity. I rolled a 6, +1 for her Dexterity DM makes 7, so she barely passes. Time to see what happens during this term. A roll of 7 on the Event Table indicates that she experiences a Life Event. A roll on the Life Event table dictates that she gains a Contact. I’ll say that she meets an officer who takes a liking to her and takes her under his wing; an Ensign named Karl Markov.

The next thing to check for is commission. She will need a roll of 8+ against Social Standing in order to earn a commission. Unlikely, but not impossible. The roll is an 8, but I have a DM of -1, so she doesn’t earn a commission this term. SHe might advance as an enlisted person, however. An Education roll of 10 (-1 DM) means that she beats the requirement of 5, and becomes an Able Spacehand. She gets Mechanic at 1 as part of the package, and can also make another roll for Skills and Training. This time she elects to roll on the Personal Development table and gets a result of +1 End. Thus, at the end of her first term, she looks like this:

Age: 22
STR 6 DEX 10 END 7
INT 9 EDU 5 SOC 5
Animals 0, Gun Combat 0, Gunner 0, Mechanic 1, Pilot (Small Craft) 1, Vacc Suit 0, and Zero-G 0
Contact: Naval Ensign (Karl Markov)

In her second term, she continues in the Navy, rolling on the Specialist: Flight table and getting Pilot (small craft). This time she fails her survival roll. At this point, she must roll a d6, getting a 4 and having to roll on the Mishap table. At least she didn’t die outright. She gets a 1 and is severely injured in action. A severe injury means that she must lose 1d6 from a physical characteristic. She’ll choose End, wanting to keep her Dexterity. A roll of 6 means that it was a very severe injury. Her END is now 1.

Since she failed the term, she doesn’t get an Event roll and she must muster out of the service. Since she survived one full term, she gets one roll on the Mustering-Out Benefits table. She can either go for cash or a more tangible benefit. I’ll take the Other Benefit. A roll of gives her either +2 EDU or two ship shares. Two ship shares is a big deal, but I think that the education will serve her better. So at the end of her second term, Anya has:

Age: 26
STR 6 DEX 10 END 1
INT 9 EDU 7 SOC 5
Animals 0, Gun Combat 0, Gunner 0, Mechanic 1, Pilot (small craft) 2, Vacc Suit 0, Zero-G 0
Contact: Naval Ensign, Karl Markov

Having been ejected from the Navy due to her injuries, she decides that perhaps the military is not an appropriate career for her. She’ll try instead to get into the Merchant sector as a Free Trader. She needs a 4 or higher on Int to make the cut. She gets a DM of -1 for each previous career, so with her DM of +1 for the characteristic, it’s an even roll. She barely makes it in with a 4.

Since she has already been through basic training, she gets a single skill from the Service skills table, and chooses Drive 0. Her first roll will be on the Specialist table for Free Trader and she gets a result of Vacc Suit. Her survival depends on a roll of Dex 6+, which she makes easily. For her event this term, she is offered the opportunity to smuggle illegal items onto a planet. If she accepts, she might get an extra Benefit roll and Streetwise 1, but she doesn’t want to take the risk and gains an Enemy in the criminal sphere. This is a minor crimelord named Lewis Shrek.

She cannot be comissioned, since the merchants are not a military organization, but she could advance in her career field. She beats the Int 6+ roll and becomes a free trader rank 1, gaining Persuade 1 and rolling on the Specialist table for Engineer. Coming out of her third term, she looks like:

Age: 30
STR 6 DEX 10 END 1
INT 9 EDU 7 SOC 5
Animals 0, Drive 0, Engineer 0, Gun Combat 0, Gunner 0, Mechanic 1, Pilot (small craft) 2, Persuade 1, Vacc Suit 1, Zero-G 0
Contact: Karl Markov, naval ensign
Enemy: Lewis Shrek, minor crimelord

As she stands now, she is a pretty competent (if physically weak) character. She could quit while she’s ahead, but I think I want to squeeze one more term out of her. She stays for another term of being a Free Trader.

This time, she rolls on the Specialist table again, getting a result of Vacc Suit. She’s getting to be pretty handy with a vacc suit! She makes her survival roll and learns Engineer (J-Drive) 1 due to events. Furthermore, she makes her advancement roll and becomes a Free Trader 2 and also picks up +1 Dex off the Personal Development table. She now stands at:

Age: 34
STR 6 DEX 11 END 1
INT 9 EDU 7 SOC 5
Animals 0, Drive 0, Engineer (jump drive) 1, Gun Combat 0, Gunner 0, Mechanic 1, Pilot (small craft) 2, Persuade 1, Vacc Suit 2, Zero-G 0
Contact: Karl Markov, naval ensign
Enemy: Lewis Shrek, minor crimelord

She’s starting to get one in years, now, and she will now begin making aging rolls. A roll of 7 minus 4 (the number of terms she has served thus far) is a 3, so she doesn’t suffer aging effects… yet. I think I can get one more term out of her.

For this term, she rolls on the Specialist table once more and gets Sensors. She barely squeaks her Survival roll this time, but it still counts. During this term, she is accussed of a crime she did not commit and loses 1 from her Social Standing. Even so, she manages to advance, and picks up both Jack of all Trades 1 and +1 Dex again. She makes the aging roll, but decides not to tempt fate and musters out as a rank 3 Free Trader.

She gets one benefit roll for each term, plus two benefit rolls for her rank, for a total of 5 benefit rolls, up to three of which may be for cash. She’ll try for cash first, getting 10,000 credits. I have a reason for wanting more, so she’ll go again with cash and this time, brings down 40,000 credits. That’s almost sufficient for my needs, but I’ll go one more just for good measure. This time she only gets 5,000 credits. Her last two rolls are for Other Benefits and she gets a blade of her choice and +1 EDU. She finishes at:

Age: 38 55,000 credits
STR 6 DEX 12 END 1
INT 9 EDU 8 SOC 5
Animals 0, Drive 0, Engineer (jump drive) 1, Gun Combat 0, Gunner 0, Jack of all Trades 1, Mechanic 1, Pilot (small craft) 2, Persuade 1, Sensors 0, Vacc Suit 2, Zero-G 0
Contact: Karl Markov, naval ensign
Enemy: Lewis Shrek, minor crimelord

Finally, she decides to seek medical treatment to hopefully recover some of her lost Endurance. As a Mercant, she may be able to defer some of the costs of treatment. A roll of 8 on 2d6 + 4 (the number of terms she served as a Merchant) covers 75% of her medical bills. Since it costs 5,000 credits to restore a characteristic point, her total comes to 30,000 credits, of which she owes 25% (7,500 credits). After paying for her recovery, this is the finished character:

Anya Cordova
Age: 38 | 47,500 credits
STR 6 DEX 12 END 7
INT 9 EDU 8 SOC 5
Animals 0, Drive 0, Engineer (jump drive) 1, Gun Combat 0, Gunner 0, Jack of all Trades 1, Mechanic 1, Pilot (small craft) 2, Persuade 1, Sensors 0, Vacc Suit 2, Zero-G 0
Contact: Karl Markov, naval ensign
Enemy: Lewis Shrek, minor crimelord
Weapon: Blade (2d6 damage)

She is a competent pilot and engineer, and her Jack of all Trades skill reduces her unskilled penalty by 1. She would be a welcome addition to any group of intrepid explorers. She could use a few implements of destruction, such as a pistol, but other than that, she’s good to go!

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