T5 Career Option – The Rogue

#traveller #travellerrpg #traveller5 #T5 #classictraveller #otu #rpg #rpgblog#travellerblog #roguecareer #rogues

The Traveller 5 [T5] character generation system is versatile. It has more than enough variation between careers – and even within most careers – to allow for wide variety of characters and skills. The ability to select some skill results, rather than a random result on the die roll (Shipboard skill has seven options, for example) allows a player to better customize the PC to his liking. This makes it much easier for a player group to gain all the skills necessary to crew a ship properly. I’ve played in groups where none of us could roll an engineer to save our lives. This small example shows why having some customization available can be important to a group of adventurers… er, Travellers.

In earlier versions of Traveller my favorite career has always been the Scouts. While they are still great in T5 (eight skills per term if you choose the Explorer branch, though you don’t receive the automatic Pilot skill anymore), my new favorite career is the Rogue.

ROGUE OVERVIEW

The Rogue career is a ‘catchall’ career for everything from misfits, to con artists, to call center scammers, to pirates, and much more. The ‘exact’ career description would depend on the player’s ideas and the skills rolled, of course. The PC may not even be a criminal. He may just be a person who takes what opportunities come his way, and if they are less than legal, so be it. Han Solo of Star Wars fame would certainly be a Rogue with these rules.

The Rogue career is an excellent choice if you are fortunate with your stat rolls. The rest of your stats can be junk, as long as you have that one good stat. Once you choose your initial Controlling Characteristc (CC) you use it for your entire Rogue career, for all rolls (Beginning the career, Risk, Reward, and Continuing). Indeed, play a Vargr character instead of a Human. Vargr use a stat called Vigor rather than Endurance, and roll 3D (3 dice), not 2D, for it. With a 3D average roll of 10-11, you have a solid chance of having a great Vigor score.

And many Imperials in the setting believe Vargr are all Rogues anyway, and not to be trusted much…

SCHEMES

Each Term in the Rogue career you roll to determine a Scheme – and its base Value. The reward is typically money – sometimes in absurd amounts, if you roll well – but can also be Ship Shares.

RISK

All careers involve Risk. No matter how high your Controlling Characteristic (CC) for this career is, you will always fail any roll on a max roll (“12” on 2D). If your CC is 12 or greater this gives you a great chance to rake in some cash (see DARING, below). The main issues with failing a Risk roll are, 1- you are injured; 2- you may spend your next Term in Jail; and 3- Your Reward roll result is halved. Them’s the breaks, right? You knew the risks when you chose this career. 😉

DARING

In all careers with Risk (all but Citizen, Craftsman, Entertainer, and Noble) you have the option to be Safe or Daring. Basically, you specify a number from 1 to 9. If being Daring this number reduces your chance of success, and increases your chances of Reward, Commission, and Promotion (if available to that career). And if being Safe it acts as the reverse of this.

Here’s the “cheat”, if you will, which should greatly increase the payoff from your Schemes. If your CC is 12 or greater, chose Daring to the level which will make your Risk roll 11 or less to succeed. For example, if your CC is 12, choose Daring for -1, giving you an 11 or less on 2D to succeed. You’ll gain a +1 to your Reward roll (see below). If a “12” always fails, why not gain a bonus on your Rewards?

REWARD

As I stated above, Rogues can rake in a LOT of cash. Or Ship Shares. If your Rogue has a high CC, the amounts can be very high, indeed. I was playing with the system recently, and generated a Vargr Rogue with enough Ship Shares to own a Free Trader outright – AND he had over 19,000,000 Credits in his pocket. It took him 6 terms to do so, but he’s set for the rest of his adventuring life. Well, until his ship’s engines get shot up, anyway.

In the Rogue career you determine its base value at the term’s beginning. If successful you add 1 to your CC (Controlling Characteristic), plus the reverse of your Daring DM (if any); say you reduced your Risk roll chance of success by 5, you add 5 to your Reward roll. Then you subtract a 2D6 roll (your actual Reward roll). This final number is multiplied by the Scheme’s Base Value you rolled earlier.

With good rolls and a little luck, your PC could rake in some serious cash, and/or more than enough Ship Shares to own a ship outright.

SKILLS

Only the Scout and Civilian careers gain more skills on average than Rogues. Well, Civilians in their first term or two anyway, assuming the PC succeeds at finding a job. (They quickly level off after 2 terms. Scouts gain 8 skills per term of they choose the Explorer branch, only 4 in Communications.)

Rogues gain two skills, plus four additional skills if their Risk roll succeeds (only one more if they fail), for a total of six (three on failure). The military careers (Army, Navy, etc) usually gain 4 to 5 skills per term, though the possibility of schooling can increase this. Over a lengthy career, Rogues can accumulate a good array of skills.

The skills available are varied, though they are “light” on the combat skills. I personally think Gambling skill should be available a little more (it only occurs once on the Rogue charts, out of seven available tables), but that’s probably just personal preference on my part.

And “most importantly” for any adventuring group, Rogues can gain significant ship skills. This can be important for some groups, especially small ones, as the Rogue can (hopefully) pull his own weight (mass?) aboard ship, rather than being a mere passenger. This may make it easier for some other players to trust the Rogue, as well…

IN CONCLUSION

The Rogue career seems to be a most excellent career choice. You have the potential to gain a good number of skills, some ship shares, and potentially a lot of cash. While many referees may consider the potential cash levels… excessive, it is very, very easy for referees to separate this cash from a player’s accounts. After all, there are ship repairs, expensive high tech gear, bribes, and so forth, which can quickly drain the Rogue’s cash reserves.

I hope you find my little foray into the Rogue career useful in some way. Please feel free to leave me a comment, suggestion, or idea.

Keep On Travelling!

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Traveller5: First Impressions

#traveller #travellerrpg #traveller5 #T5 #classictraveller #rpg #sciencefictionrpg #tabletopgaming #scifi #scifirpg

The new Traveller5 revised rules were made available for backers at the end of last week (via PDF download). While I have yet to finished reading them (I don’t believe that is feasible in one weekend, if one likes/needs sleep, or has a family/work/social life), I have read through the character creation, skill, and task sections, more than enough to begin rolling characters (always a favorite pasttime). I’ll post a detailed example of such in my next post. But here I’ll post some impressions I’ve gained so far.

SKILLS

The original, Classic Traveller (CT), did not have enough skills, whether skill choices, or gained/earned skills, in the game. Being the first ever successful sci fi rpg, it had its share of problems. But it was, and is, the grand daddy of sci fi rpgs, in the same manner that ALL RPG’s trace their roots to DnD, and Gary Gygax.
When newer systems came out, they expanded/changed/improved the skill systems – in general. Some systems appeared (to me) happhazzard in their application of skills and (notably) sub-skills. But overall these systems were an improvement. There was no real or realistic method of in-game skill improvement or experience, however. Many players developed various house rules to cover perceived shortcomings or deficiencies, with varying degrees of success.

In T5 skills have been revised in an interesting, believable, and most importantly usable system. Most skills are straightforward, and have a maximum attainable skill level of fifteen (15). Science skills and Knowledges (sub skills of certain skills) have a maximum level of six (6). After this level, further increases to such knowledges must be in specializations. For example, once Planetology reaches six, the scientist must specialize in a sub category with further skill levels, such as Gas Giants, Hell Worlds, or Terrestrial Planets. It’s a skill system which makes sense. It also works very well with the Task System (see below).

As to experience and skill increases, T5 rules assume the player has ‘interests’, hobbies, and goals. At a certain point in the game, the player and referee discuss the last game year, and reach an agreement on what skill increases for them. I.E., it is assumed a PC gains one skill level per game year, which I consider more than reasonable.

TASK SYSTEM

I really like this task system. Combine the controlling statistic with your skill, and other possible modifiers, then roll difficulty dice UNDER (or Equal To) this Target Number. With it a PC’s stats MATTER. Sure, you will have the occasional “force of nature” character, who’s high overall stats do much to make up for his lack of overall skill – at lower difficulty tasks, anyway. At higher difficulties high skill matters most, as you add 1D to your roll if your skill level (not your stat) doesn’t equal or exceed the task’s Difficulty level. Having to add an additional die to your roll can be problematic (at best) with higher difficulty rolls.

In most cases players will be rolling 2D, 3D, or maybe 4D for most tasks. A character with average stats (6-9), and decent skill levels (2-4), should have a reasonable chance to succeed at most tasks.

FLUX

EDITED: My original comments about Flux have been deleted, after comments and corrections by another gamer on a separate forum.

CHARACTER CREATION

I like the new character generation system. Your PC’s Statistics are, in general, the target numbers for your survival rolls (called Risk Roll now), as well as others. Each career has a slightly different path of rolls to be made, or different Stats to use. And the Rewards for succeeding vary. Whereas the military careers (Army, Marines, Navy) give Medals, the Scouts give Discoveries, Agents gain Commendations, Merchants gain Ship Shares, and the like.

And the career choices aren’t excessive. There are also two career choices (Functionary and Craftsman) which have minimum requirements to select. (Craftsmen must have high skills; Functionaries must have served in another career before applying.)

For my thinking, the secret, best career choice is the Rogue, especially if your PC has one really high stat. With the Rogue career, you have access to every skill you need to run a starship. But most importantly you have the chance to earn A LOT of credits. And I do mean a lot! A coworker and I rolled a Rogue who left the career with nearly 20 Million Credits – AND enough Ship Shares to gain a free trader. By himself. Admittedly, he was 46 years old, but still.

CONCLUSION

Well, that’s about it for this post. I’ll be back in a few days, after more reading and digesting of these updated rules.

These rules may not be for everyone, as many people don’t like detail heavy systems. But for me, they are great, as I love detailed games. More crunch is good, I say!

What are your impressions so far? Feel free to discuss!

Making the OTU “Mine” – part one

#OTU #traveller #travellerrpg #MTU #T5 #traveller5 #traveller5rpg #classictraveller #T20 #traveller20 #traveller20rpg #sciencefictionrpg #scifirpg

It’s a struggle many Traveller referees face – how to make Traveller’s Official Traveller Universe (OTU) “theirs”, while retaining the core elements which define the original. I’ve struggled myself with this in recent months. Certain elements drive me nuts – the Aslan race, specifically. While I would love to wipe space with the Aslan’s existence, the amount of work required is far beyond my level of patience (adding and detailing new, replacement, races, rewriting history with neighbors, etc).
In addition, “messing” with the classic Spinward Marches setting just seems… wrong. Vilani tradition on my part, perhaps?
And creating a new, original setting is just beyond me at this point in my existence. Perhaps I’ve become traditional in my advancing age, as well, reaching for the familiarity of the OTU… Or perhaps I am merely lazy.

So instead, I’ve decided on a partial rewrite of Gateway Domain, the main campaign region of the Traveller20 [T20] edition of Traveller. If you haven’t seen Gateway To Destiny, and you have a chance to acquire it, I highly suggest you do so. It is an excellent, well-thought-out, well-written sourcebook, even with the frequent typos. There are many excellent ideas in there.

However, while it is a great resource and setting, some things just are… wrong? Inconsistent? Perhaps, or they just bother me. Also, I have a few things I wish to import from other settings (Traveller:2300’s Dralasites, anyone?), and they have to go somewhere…

POLITICAL BORDERS

One of the goals of this project is to redraw some political boundaries, which goes hand-in-hand with a rewrite of a minor human race, the Sydites. In the OTU setting, the Sydymic Empire was crushed by the Imperium in a long war. This occurred right after the Civil War, which occured simultaneously with several other rebellions.

My thinking on this: the 3I should be too damned exhausted after a decades-long Civil War, combined with at least one major rebellion. So instead of being crushed, the Sydites managed to fight to a standstill, although they still lost 2/3 of their systems. Peace was eventually declared, the Empress bowing to the demands of an exhausted populace and Moot. The Sydymyc Empire, later renamed the Sydite Republic, is now a powerful economic state, having become a major trading partner with the Third Imperium. Indeed, some within the Imperium are suggesting the Sydites join the Imperium. Whether that occurs any time soon remains to be seen.

LORDS OF THUNDER

This group of K’Kree (all K’Kree are nasty buggers if you ask me) is a political “offshoot” of the K’Kree state. Zealots clamoring for a return to the Old Ways (extermination of all meat eaters), their warmongering ways did not sit well with the Overlord of Overlords (the overall K’Kree ruler). Being too large a group to easily exterminate (a common K’Kree response to intractable issues), they were instead banished.

The Lords of Thunder have been making a lot of noise lately, and are rumored to be poised to attack at least one human state, located on the Trailing edge of Gateway Sector. If true, this bodes ill for the region.

I have not yet decided if (when?) the Lords have attacked, though with the slow interstellar communications speeds, it would be some time before anyone in the Imperium were to learn of this. Adventurers in the region, however, could be caught in some interesting predicaments!

HIVER OUTPOST

In the original Gateway setting, the Hive Confederation set up a trading outpost just outside of the Imperial border, for “purposes unknown”. Knowing Hivers, some nefarious manipulations were probably being conducted. This was undoubtedly put in place to make it easier for referees to introduce this sly race into their campaigns. However, I have removed this from my setting. For now, at least… Mwahaha.

That’s it – for now! I will return with another installment at a later point in time – complete with a few pics of the redrawn borders.

Thank you for reading!

I Sometimes Miss the GURPS System

#gurps #fantasy #gurpsfantasy #runemage #roleplay

Specifically, I miss playing my old Runemage.

We were a party of adventurers in Gurps’ Yrth magic world setting, defending a Viking-esque plains town (Herdis) from a horde of orcs. 500 civilians, 150 who could fight, and 5 players. My PC was a Viking runemage, originally from the true Earth, where magic didn’t work. On Yrth it worked quite well for him…

The orc horde was across a small river, attempting to get across. A pair of towers with a drawbridge was their only easy, close access. At one point, after several forays, they were about to succeed in pulling down the drawbridge, allowing the horde to assault the walls. If this happened we were in serious trouble. There were thousands of them!

So my runemage, he pulled out three runes, concentrated for a bit, then released a spell.

Earthquake, centered on the drawbridge towers. I built it up as strong as possible before releasing it.

It took down both towers, and the drawbridge. AND killed around 800 Orcs, we estimated.

It was a good day, and a good campaign.

Life, the Universe… And Apathy

Well, I keep meaning to make a post here, and in the last couple months, that evil, evil thing called Life keeps interfering. Work. More work. A broken car. A brand new car. Sickness. (Summer colds are THE worst, especially when combined with seasonal allergies.) House issues. (I hate plumbing!)
So I finally, Finally begin work on a re-write of the T20 Gateway to Adventure setting this afternoon; some things there really bother me, and I’ve other details I want to add. Things start well.
Then I receive a text. A favorite Aunt, who’s been battling stage four cancer, has been airlifted to a hospital.

I shall return when life lets me do so.

Branj Dilgaadin – Seneschal, or Zhodani mole?

In Traveller’s Classic Era, rare rumors circulate stating Duke Norris’ Seneschal, Branj Dilgaadin, is a closet psionicist, and a powerful telepath. This is eventually confirmed after the Regency is formed; Branj Dilgaadin is named as the new head of a Regency organization for psionics.

This brings to mind several questions, and possibilities.

First off, do the Zhodani know this? If they do, they are wasting a perfect opportunity to destabilize the power and effectiveness of an Imperial leader (Duke Norris)? Exposing Dilgaadin’s psionics use would bring Norris’ leadership capabilities into question. (“The Duke relies on a psion?! What other laws is he breaking?”)

Second, if the Zhodani don’t realize this, they aren’t very good at spycraft, and deserve to lose!

This brings up another possibility: is Branj Dilgaadin a Zhodani mole?

In the Traveller wiki, it states Branj’s origins are ‘mysterious’ and unknown. Based on this tidbit alone he could be considered by some as Zhodani plant. This would make a degree of sense, unless you consider Zhodani performance in the 5FW. If Branj was feeding information to the Consulate (however slowly), they would have known of the eventual arrival of the Corridor Fleets, and prepared accordingly. Thus it seems unlikely he was a mole based on this. But the possibility cannot be completely discounted, as there are many factors involved, most significantly the well-known time lag when sending interstellar messages via jump space.

I’m relatively certain there are other possibilities to consider regarding the Seneschal’s psionics use (criminal influences; other, less-reliable Imperial Nobility; Megacorporations). Any of these possibilities may be of use to referees when planning their campaigns.

[Note: I meant to publish this a week or two ago, but the weather and related injuries caused a significant delay. I hope to keep ‘on track’ with a post every week or so in the future.]

Everyday Psions in Traveller

Or, “what about the regular people”?

Many Traveller campaigns and settings have touched on the subject of psionics. Indeed, psionics are a favorite subject for many players and referees, and may form the basis of a campaign or setting. As an example, some referees have built settings where psionic talents are necessary for FTL travel, or navigation, and this is also prominent in several science fiction stories. Any number of player groups have sought psionic training as a path to greater survivability – and power – whether for good, or selfish, purposes.

Psionics provide greater advantages for player characters – and for their rivals. They improve capabilities, survivability, and effectiveness. Psionic adversaries (Zhodani or otherwise) are a difficult challenge for most adventuring groups. Run properly, they can be used to give player characters fits – or nightmares.

But what about the common psionic? The mother of three with an administrative job? The small business owner? The factory worker? Psionic talents can provide the common citizen with significant advantages – provided they can keep their abilities hidden.

Any player worth their salt can easily use psionics for advantage. Their use in adventuring situations is rather obvious. But what about ‘real life’. This can also be ‘obvious’, but is infrequently considered. Let examine some possibilities.

[I won’t go into each talent’s capabilities, as I assume readers of this blog have knowledge of Traveller’s rules and official setting.]

AWARENESS TALENT

The ability to heal small cuts and injuries ‘on the fly’ is extremely valuable, especially if the psion works in a ‘dirty’ job or environment (trash collection, factory, farm, plumber, etc). Healing small cuts immediately can great reduce the risk of infection.

And who wouldn’t love to increase their strength at need? This would prove useful, or even valuable, when working in a warehouse, factory, or search and rescue, as examples.

CLAIRVOYANCE

Imagine the pesky customs officer, the one who seems to always find the expertly-hidden contraband, who always knows where to search. Is she merely lucky? Experienced? Or is she using Clairvoyance to make detailed searches?

Mechanics are ALWAYS dropping lug nuts, connectors, and tools in the most inconvenient of spaces. High technology will never correct this! Having the ability to locate the dropped item quickly is invaluable. Even if the item ends up being inaccessible, at least he knows where it is, and that’s half the battle.

Diagnostics of equipment is improved. Is the connector broken, or merely loose? Which part is broken? With Clairvoyance a psionic can speed up this process, saving valuable time.

In Search And Rescue operations, Clairvoyance is extremely valuable. Searches for survivors are conducted much more quickly and efficiently, without the risk of equipment [sensor] interference or malfunctions, and saving lives.

TELEKINESIS

Telekinesis may be THE most useful psionic talent for every day use.

The mechanic who dropped that lug nut can easily retrieve it, once he locates it. He can even use the talent to feel around for the dropped item, without risk of injury.

A plumber can use this talent to clear plugged pipes, safely and quickly, with little or no risk of damage to the pipes. Of course he can’t do anything about it if the pipe is already damaged; he’ll still have to replace the pipe.

A pest removal expert using Telekinesis can remove many pests safely and quickly. Why use traps and poisons when you can grab the critter with your ability? This can be especially helpful when dealing with skunks or their equivalent, squirrels, and small rodents hiding in the walls. You can also removed small corpses, which may be creating quite a stench.

TELEPATHY

The uses of Telepathy in everyday life are many and varied – and can get the psionic into trouble very quickly, if its use is not carefully considered.

Students can cheat on tests. Employees can literally read the boss’ mind. A retail security officer could read a suspected thief’s mind, whether for guilt ot intent. A criminal can read the mind of an investigator, so he knows what to say – or not say. A person could find out EXACTLY what his companion thinks of him/her. (This can of course backfire quickly! There are questions you may not want answered.)

An individual on a date could use the empathic abilities of telepathy to give their companion false emotions towards themselves (unethical and likely evil, but very possible). [This could make for an interesting mystery for a PC investigator, actually…]

TELEPORTATION

Using Teleportation is (literally) dangerous. If you attempt to jump too far, or change relative elevation too quickly, you could die; overheat, say, or splat into a wall. Not a desired outcome.

That being said, Teleportation is useful. Who needs a car? Teleport to work! It saves fuel and time, and thus credits. Just make darned sure no one sees you doing it. This can become increasingly difficult as a society’s technology (or level of paranoia) increases.

Forget something you needed at home? Take a restroom break, teleport home to get it, then back. (This assumes you have enough PSI available, of course!)

IN CONCLUSION

Psionics aren’t just for adventurers! The majority of psionics aren’t (yet?) travellers and adventurers, and are merely going about their lives and daily routines. Properly considered and run, they can be a source of irritation, information, or even adventure for many adventuring groups.

I hope you’ve found this an interesting read, and most of all HAVE FUN!