>Classic Traveler: Expanding Horizons

>Ah, Traveller. I’m amazed I’ve managed to go this long without taking a look at you. . .

My dad, a non-gamer, sometimes tells me stories about his minimal exposure to role-playing games over the years; his opinions about D&D as he saw it largely mirrored my own (thank goodness for 4th Edition…), but one thing I was unaware of until recently was that he and a few friends actually did do a few things with a different game. Traveller. Granted, they spent most of their time drawing absurdly detailed diagrams of their space ships, but that’s not the point. The point is, hey, look, I connected with my dad over something.

I think I just dated myself. . .

Anyway! Greywulf over at Greywulf’s Lair is doing a week of Classic Traveller, and the game is available for a free download at the moment on RPGNow. If you know anything about me, then you know that when I hear the word, “free,” my ears prick up, so I gave it a download and started running through character generation.

Character generation in Traveller is almost a game unto itself. This game is widely renowned for being the only game where it’s possible for your character to die before you start playing. Seriously, you have to roll the dice to see if you live or not. Most GMs will doubtless soften that to some kind of crippling injury, but really, it just makes the whole process feel tense. Fun, but tense.

You start out with a base; your character is about 18, probably (but not necessarily) human (though that’s really entirely up to you – Traveller doesn’t care much about that sort of thing). You roll for stats using 2d6 and record the results. I rolled pretty decently on my first trip through the system, and got the following:

Strength 11, Dexterity 11 Endurance 6, Intelligence 8, Education 7, Social Standing 4

I should point out here that the “average” score is 7, so that leaves me with a character of above average strength and agility, with slightly above average intelligence. Little else remarkable, but hey, not bad, right? I picture him as a human from a slightly heavier gravity world. Maybe he started as part of a family of laborers before moving out to where his gifts would be more useful. I’m thinking that genetic engineering might have been involved, and I’ve always been fond of that particular idea in sci-fi.

I am also amused to notice that the game wants me to write the higher numbers on the sheet using Hexadecimal notation. So, I suppose that 11 should actually be written as “B” – but I opted to stick with the value I’m familiar with and just note that I’m using base-10.

Rather than choose a class, Traveller has you figure out your character’s “Prior Service” – or, what you’ve been doing up until now. There are six tracks, Navy, Marines, Army, Scout, Merchant, and “Other” – whatever that means. You roll to attempt to enlist in one, and if you fail you roll to get drafted into one. With his high strength and dexterity, I decide that he’s a natural for the Army – the planetary warriors, rather than ship-based boarding parties – and roll accordingly. I make the enlistment roll easily, thanks to the +3 bonus I get for my ability scores. I also make the survival roll, thanks to a +2 from my education score. Awesome.

I make the roll to get commissioned as an officer. He’s a Lieutenant in the army, but never advanced higher than that; sadly, I fail my reenlistment attempt. Guess the army life wasn’t for him, even if he was pretty decent at it.

Now, I do skills. My automatic skills for being in the army – and a Lieutenant – are Rifle-1 and SMG-1. The term of service you’re commissioned as an officer gets you one extra skill, and the first term of service in a career gets you 2 rather than one. I roll once on personal development and again on service skills, netting a +1 to Education and the blade combat skill, which I have to pick a blade for. I like swords, and the Cutlass is supposed to be good, so I put down Cutlass-1. Now that my Education has gone up to 8, I decide to roll on the Advanced Education Table for my extra skill from being commissioned, and get “Admin.” While I might have preferred something like Tactics or Computer, Administration means, basically, that he knows how to deal with bureaucrats. I assume that this means without shooting them. Zing!

Evidently his time as an officer helped to cool off any hot-tempered reactions he might normally have had to red tape. Most likely a useful skill to have aboard any space-faring ship that will have to deal with legal issues or port bureaucrats – IE, practically all of them. Nice.

Now, it’s time for Mustering out, since he failed to reenlist. I get to roll twice, thanks to being commissioned during this term (At least rank 1), and there are two tables. I opt to roll on the Benefits table once, and the Cash table once. I get another Gun skill, which I put into SMG – now SMG-2 – and roll high on the cash table, netting 20000 credits. Bet those will come in handy.

I also add 4 years to his age for the term of service, placing him at age 22. Young, fresh out of the army, and with an understanding of weapons and bureaucrats. Sounds like a shoe-in for security chief or hired mercenary, doesn’t he? I put down his name, “Gavin Windwalker,” and start toying with ideas for a backstory … or with the idea of running through the whole process again for another character.

Hope you enjoyed reading – I may feature more Traveller on the blog, depending on how things happen, but it’s been fun so far and I haven’t even gotten to creating a spaceship yet! 😀


3 responses to “>Classic Traveler: Expanding Horizons

  • greywulf

    >Great! Glad you're finding character generation just as much fun as I do. The ideas really do start to jump off the page, and I'm liking the idea of a genetically engineered high-grav grunt :)The "Other" service is usually taken to mean Spy, but it could be anything from Career Criminal to Everyday Civilian – it all depends on what skills you roll, and how you read them. I'm posting up about Starship Generation tomorrow!

  • Shinobicow

    >God. Character generation is a blast with this game isn't it. I am having a good time doing some posts about it over at my blog as well. I didn't have quite as lucky an experience as you did with yours though I must admit.

  • Jonathan

    >@greywulf: Ahhh, that explains the "Other." Thanks, Greywulf – looking forward to Starship Generation!@Shinobicow: It really is, isn't it? I have mixed feelings about the luck of my few attempts. I tend to get pretty decent starting stats in at least a few areas, but I don't get the best of luck with reenlistments or promotions so far. I did manage to get a Marine to survive after a particularly good stat roll, though – he needed the bonuses from Int, Strength, AND Endurance in order to not only get in, but survive his two tours of duty. Great stuff. Didn't make it higher than Ensign, though.

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