Simple rules clarification

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Hoth GM
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Simple rules clarification

Postby Hoth GM » Wed Feb 08, 2017 9:22 pm

Hey everyone, glad to be a part of the forums now! I enjoyed reading through many of the threads here and am glad to now have an account to take part. Being a longtime GM but new to Traveller with Mongoose 2e, I thought you could help me out with a couple basic clarifications.

First, with local system travel the handy dandy table outlines travel times based on Gs of acceleration. I have been assuming this means a maneuver drive 1 is capable of 1g travel, 3 up to 3g, and so on. Just wasn't 100% sure since its not specifically stated anywhere (but certainly seems to be the straight forward answer).

Second is character creation. We ended up deciding it made the most sense that everyone come to an agreement on what term to end creation. One player wanted to do one more term before ending, but we weren't sure how to resolve all the connections everyone made in previous terms or what those players who didn't continue would have been up to those 4 extra years, and with that solution they would still have to roll for aging. If everyone did a different number of terms and started the game at different ages, it seems hard to line up their background stories if they meet in a significant event in term 2, when they're the same age... Or meet in pre-career education and one Traveller does two additional terms past the other.
Basically there's no issue if everyone does the same number of terms, but can players do more or less? This isn't addressed at all in the creation rules, wondering what you all do regarding this, and how you resolve the gap in time.
Thanks!
legozhodani
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Re: Simple rules clarification

Postby legozhodani » Wed Feb 08, 2017 9:37 pm

Hello and glad you could join in.

For the connections we do the full character creation, with however many terms each wants/ends up. Then we link the players. this means we can link a 26 yo with a 52 yo as we see fit. So could be student/teacher or criminal/cop or navy officer/medic etc your guys choice.
Hoth GM
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Re: Simple rules clarification

Postby Hoth GM » Wed Feb 08, 2017 10:41 pm

legozhodani wrote:For the connections we do the full character creation, with however many terms each wants/ends up. Then we link the players.
Ahh, so you run through the whole process and then at the end see what events you have, see where it lines up with other players terms, and work out the connections then? Well that makes sense! We came up with connections as the events occurred during creation. Thanks for the clarification, that would resolve the complication we ran into.
legozhodani
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Re: Simple rules clarification

Postby legozhodani » Wed Feb 08, 2017 10:53 pm

Yep, wait until the end when all the maths is done and then have fun linking silly stories. Does make it a lot of fun and gives good links for characters to build relationships on.
Hoth GM
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Re: Simple rules clarification

Postby Hoth GM » Wed Feb 08, 2017 11:08 pm

legozhodani wrote:Yep, wait until the end when all the maths is done and then have fun linking silly stories. Does make it a lot of fun and gives good links for characters to build relationships on.
That's what we all loved about this system as long time D&D players. Someone's merchant career would fail and they'd end up meeting another player joining in piracy. Another was a law agent who went undercover, and the player who was a pirate saved his skin when his cover was blown. All through events we made these stories and everyone agreed it was the most fun had in character creation. Then when someone said "I want to go one more term" I locked up as the GM because all these great connections have already been made, linking their timelines.
With your advice, I look forward to the next character Gen; it will certainly give the player full personalization. I'll try not to be too obvious in killing these ones off... Haha kidding.
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Re: Simple rules clarification

Postby Jeraa » Thu Feb 09, 2017 4:42 am

Hoth GM wrote:Hey everyone, glad to be a part of the forums now! I enjoyed reading through many of the threads here and am glad to now have an account to take part. Being a longtime GM but new to Traveller with Mongoose 2e, I thought you could help me out with a couple basic clarifications.

First, with local system travel the handy dandy table outlines travel times based on Gs of acceleration. I have been assuming this means a maneuver drive 1 is capable of 1g travel, 3 up to 3g, and so on. Just wasn't 100% sure since its not specifically stated anywhere (but certainly seems to be the straight forward answer).
Correct. But do note that the tableis most likely flawed. Check the bottom of the 4g and 5g columns. If they have the same numbers, the table not entirely correct. This is a problem in my copy as well as being incorrect in 1e as well.
Second is character creation. We ended up deciding it made the most sense that everyone come to an agreement on what term to end creation. One player wanted to do one more term before ending, but we weren't sure how to resolve all the connections everyone made in previous terms or what those players who didn't continue would have been up to those 4 extra years, and with that solution they would still have to roll for aging. If everyone did a different number of terms and started the game at different ages, it seems hard to line up their background stories if they meet in a significant event in term 2, when they're the same age... Or meet in pre-career education and one Traveller does two additional terms past the other.
Basically there's no issue if everyone does the same number of terms, but can players do more or less? This isn't addressed at all in the creation rules, wondering what you all do regarding this, and how you resolve the gap in time.
Thanks!
As has been said, wait until after the characters are made to determine connections. Or set a limit on number of terms served.
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Re: Simple rules clarification

Postby steve98052 » Thu Feb 09, 2017 6:21 am

Back in the classic rules, there were two rules constraints on character age. First was that the Survival roll wasn't a mishap, it was a start over. (That's a bit silly, both for wasted time and because it only makes unbalanced characters improbable; it doesn't assure balance.) Second is the aging roll, without the option to go into debt buying anagathics. One could also argue that the strong negative effect of age on psionics was a motivation for players to muster out after a single term and start the search for a Psionics Institute, but I don't know how often people played that way.

One published classic character was over 100 years old, with a huge skill list, sustained by anagathics.

So how do we balance characters now? One way is to cap starting age. Another is to throw tougher challenges at tougher characters -- but that doesn't balance a party ranging from one who goes out into the world with background skills and basic training and someone who's taking up adventuring as a way to make retirement fun. Another is a soft cap on starting age. Another, if players don't mind, is to ignore balance, and let some of the party be young and careless, while others are looking for an exciting way to pay for their grandkids' university.
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Re: Simple rules clarification

Postby locarno24 » Thu Feb 09, 2017 8:32 am

Hoth GM wrote:
legozhodani wrote:Yep, wait until the end when all the maths is done and then have fun linking silly stories. Does make it a lot of fun and gives good links for characters to build relationships on.
That's what we all loved about this system as long time D&D players. Someone's merchant career would fail and they'd end up meeting another player joining in piracy. Another was a law agent who went undercover, and the player who was a pirate saved his skin when his cover was blown. All through events we made these stories and everyone agreed it was the most fun had in character creation. Then when someone said "I want to go one more term" I locked up as the GM because all these great connections have already been made, linking their timelines.
With your advice, I look forward to the next character Gen; it will certainly give the player full personalization. I'll try not to be too obvious in killing these ones off... Haha kidding.
It's a thing I most love about traveller - not only is it providing your stats and skills, but it gives a real sense of 'instant backstory' for your characters that gives an immediate advantage over "you are all in a tavern, looking for a quest".

The Enemies, Contacts and Rivals are good, too. Especially when you get one individual being one person's contact and another person's rival!

But yeah, unless everyone agrees to do the same number of terms, generate connections afterwards to avoid problems of age difference.
Understand that I'm not advocating violence.
I'm just saying that it's highly effective and I strongly recommend using it.
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Re: Simple rules clarification

Postby Condottiere » Thu Feb 09, 2017 9:20 am

All things being equal, but recognized has having differing values, you'd want a points system; then you can scale your characters.
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Re: Simple rules clarification

Postby Hoth GM » Thu Feb 09, 2017 5:55 pm

Condottiere wrote:...a points system...
Can't wait to see everything the Traveller's Companion will deliver. I know this will be one of them.
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Re: Simple rules clarification

Postby steve98052 » Fri Feb 10, 2017 12:38 am

Condottiere wrote:All things being equal, but recognized has having differing values, you'd want a points system; then you can scale your characters.
In most editions of Traveller, characters have varied in power. That's fine with players who are OK with it -- both players who don't feel shortchanged by playing a 22 year old drifter whose highest characteristic is an 8 and players who don't steal the spotlight even though they have a 66 year old count who has never missed an aging roll and owns a starship free and clear -- and a game master who can make sure every player gets something interesting to do. It's not so good with players who get too competitive or game masters who have trouble tailoring adventurers to the players as well as the characters.

GURPS Traveller seems to be the main exception to this, but it seems to lose some of the classic flavor with its success at balancing, and it's too crunchy for some players. On the other hand, it is my favorite for starship construction rules, weapon and gadget lists, and attention to detail on regularizing everything.

It's possible to mix systems to retain the classic variability of characters and the background that the career system can provide, while giving some balance. For example, one could roll characters with Mongoose rules, then convert to GURPS as closely as points allow to createsome balance, and even go back to Mongoose or a third system for actual play. In my case, I'm rolling characters with Mongoose and using GURPS for ships and gear, then converting to Risus for actual play. That may shortchange the hypothetical count and inflate the drifter, but it should smooth play. I'll see after I get a chance to run a few sessions.
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Re: Simple rules clarification

Postby Condottiere » Fri Feb 10, 2017 2:42 am

I've enjoyed playing underpowered bourgeoisie characters.

But you can have a physically underpowered character, but one who's invested his resources into social networking, and a large arsenal of hardware, giving the party access to resources they wouldn't normally have available.
legozhodani
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Re: Simple rules clarification

Postby legozhodani » Fri Feb 10, 2017 12:13 pm

I think pretty much every player in our group has a PC with at least one stat with a - modifier. Makes much more fun. I'm always rather wary of point based systems. We always allow a little wriggle room when rolling ours, just to stop some of the more insane results, or to help fit in with the players vision of the character. So saying I'm very keen to see what the Companion Book comes out with.
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Re: Simple rules clarification

Postby Epicenter » Fri Feb 10, 2017 5:38 pm

Hoth GM wrote: Second is character creation. We ended up deciding it made the most sense that everyone come to an agreement on what term to end creation. One player wanted to do one more term before ending, but we weren't sure how to resolve all the connections everyone made in previous terms or what those players who didn't continue would have been up to those 4 extra years, and with that solution they would still have to roll for aging. If everyone did a different number of terms and started the game at different ages, it seems hard to line up their background stories if they meet in a significant event in term 2, when they're the same age... Or meet in pre-career education and one Traveller does two additional terms past the other.
Basically there's no issue if everyone does the same number of terms, but can players do more or less? This isn't addressed at all in the creation rules, wondering what you all do regarding this, and how you resolve the gap in time.
Thanks!
There's no "canon" method to generate player parties. It's up to you and your players to decide what works best.

Most posters are replying with the method that is typically used. It gives the most freedom to the players to generate what they want.

I find it a bit dissatisfying - after GMing for a long time I've come to realize when it comes to chargen, giving the players complete freedom to generate who they want actually increases the workload on the GM because now you have to tailor your game(s) not to clash with some character concept (and sometimes, players in their desire to be "unique" will make characters that have difficulty playing well with others, like a member of the Ine Givar who will attempt to sabotage anything to do with the Imperium at any opportunity). Given you're running the game, I think it's only fair that you can set broad or specific stipulations on the kinds of characters you want in your game. Obviously, the most strict your requirements, the less creative freedom the players have, so there's a balancing act there (though personally I find truly creative players can thrive even in pretty restrictive chargen situations).

For instance, I think it's perfectly fair for you (if you're running, say, a game about Imperial Marines) to require that all players be Imperial Marines, within a set number of terms and even tell them that they can only be of a certain range of ranks (fudging the ranks if a character is over or under it). This is obviously a fairly restrictive example, intended to keep the characters within a roughly similar skillset and rank (so you can form a more egalitarian team as opposed to a officer + subordinates).

Meanwhile, in a game with more freedom, if you want to run a game about a crew of a Free Trader, you're still in your rights require certain things of the characters involved, probably very loose and general guidelines. For instance I usually have a fiat ruling of "no anti-social lone wolf concepts" and "no concepts that would sell the other players down the river at the drop of a hat" types. I also often require of my players: "The players must have an Astrogator, Pilot, and Ship's Engineer. This cannot be a single character to do all of these roles. All the players may have some of these skills, but someone must at least have these skills." (though I'll sometimes fudge the chargen and allow someone to, say, get Piloting skills even though their character class normally doesn't get it, in exchange for some other skill the character has to represent some special circumstance "you're a member of an organized crime cartel, but they needed a pilot so your organization had you trained as a pilot.")
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Re: Simple rules clarification

Postby steve98052 » Fri Feb 10, 2017 5:46 pm

One fudge factor I've used for creating pregenerated characters was to choose which skill table to use after the die roll, rather than before. On the other hand, I didn't rearrange characteristic rolls after rolling them. Also, I discarded characters with a net minus to their total characteristics modifiers, but kept the ones with plusses that balanced or exceeded the minuses.

One possible balancing rule would be to have players roll for final age at the beginning of character generation, maybe 18 + 2×2d (minimum 22, average 36, maximum 42), possibly extended by "must continue" rolls, and players' choice of round up or down in rolls for half terms.
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Re: Simple rules clarification

Postby Hoth GM » Fri Feb 10, 2017 7:14 pm

steve98052 wrote:One fudge factor I've used for creating pregenerated characters was to choose which skill table to use after the die roll, rather than before.
I tried this on the second round of character creation. I made a character with a couple players to get a feel for it (and because it's fun!) before starting a campaign (a couple couldn't make it to the first night). We followed the rules, choosing a table beforehand then rolling. When everyone showed up the next week for the official character generation for the campaign, I let them roll then choose a table, especially because one player kept choosing a table in hopes of getting some other skills but rolling the same number every time. Sure, you get a higher rank, but it was a skill not really applicable to what he was building. In another case a player had max skill allowed at creation and rolled the same one... yet again. I think I may follow this method in the future, it seems to provide more opportunity.
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Re: Simple rules clarification

Postby Hoth GM » Fri Feb 10, 2017 7:56 pm

Epicenter wrote: I find it a bit dissatisfying - after GMing for a long time I've come to realize when it comes to chargen, giving the players complete freedom to generate who they want actually increases the workload on the GM because now you have to tailor your game(s) not to clash with some character concept (and sometimes, players in their desire to be "unique" will make characters that have difficulty playing well with others, like a member of the Ine Givar who will attempt to sabotage anything to do with the Imperium at any opportunity). Given you're running the game, I think it's only fair that you can set broad or specific stipulations on the kinds of characters you want in your game. Obviously, the most strict your requirements, the less creative freedom the players have, so there's a balancing act there (though personally I find truly creative players can thrive even in pretty restrictive chargen situations).

For instance, I think it's perfectly fair for you (if you're running, say, a game about Imperial Marines) to require that all players be Imperial Marines, within a set number of terms and even tell them that they can only be of a certain range of ranks (fudging the ranks if a character is over or under it). This is obviously a fairly restrictive example, intended to keep the characters within a roughly similar skillset and rank (so you can form a more egalitarian team as opposed to a officer + subordinates).
Absolutely, and it all depends on the plan of the campaign. I've run games that require certain types of characters and games that players can create whatever they want; it all depends on the story and setting you're aiming for. 99% of the time its all turned out well and fun, but it didn't work out so well in one case... I'll share that in a moment.
A positive example is one where I was a player coordinating with the GM. I had created an evil character that was practicing necromancy without the parties knowledge, but never working against the party's goals. As it eventually started to become a little more apparent that my character's interests might be looked down upon by the others, it was time to leave the party. He ended up turning on them in a great set-piece coordinated with the GM: reanimating a bunch of nasty creatures and taking that time to make his exit. All the other players (long time friends) loved the turn. It took extra work with the GM, which he was willing to do. It became one of our epic moments that continues to be referred to til this day. However, any player with a plan like this not working with a willing GM can lead to a mess. That's why we pretty much have a standing rule, as many others do in games with alignment systems, "no evil characters".
Epicenter wrote: ...I usually have a fiat ruling of "no anti-social lone wolf concepts" and "no concepts that would sell the other players down the river at the drop of a hat" types.)
Ahhhh anti-social lone wolf concepts brings up another outstanding memory, this time with me in the GM's chair. I learned this lesson first hand. To make an outstanding story short: we had a party that ended up in a small hamlet. They were invited to dinner with the baron because of their heroic actions in a nearby large city. Well, one character was an "anti-social lone wolf" type who had a feral class feature. He ended up at the baron's table. Despite players having the discussion of leaving him out, they decided to give him a change since he's a part of the group... and things went south. I RPed the baron as you would expect at a proper dinner in his manor: not amused at the behavior of the feral party member. Well, it didn't stop, and the player of the feral character escalated things a bit, ending with feet on the table. So the baron had the player's character removed by his men. If he went along, it all would have been ironed out in the end... but he resisted, killed a guard, and made a run for it. A caged animal, great way to stick to your character concept! The party paladin, to make up for the whole terrible issue and save relations with the baron, pledged the party to chase after the player, right there at the dinner table, meal's not even cold. They caught up to him outside the castle walls, and the player RPed himself out of the party. It was a sore spot for the player and he held it against me for quite some time, but everyone else insisted to him that it was an amazing session. He stuck to his character design and it made a scenario I never could have planned, and everyone enjoyed. We all said he should just make a new character and know his previous one is still out there, perhaps to return some day... at least he wasn't dead. It made a great memory, but unfortunately that player took it too personally.

Party balance is important and as you said, a good GM can prevent those issues at the start. But if it works out right and players are all in it for the fun, willing to accept whatever corner their character design and own RP skills might get them into, it can lead to amazingly fun sessions a GM could never prepare for. It's more work, but I'd say some of our most fun and memorable stories came out of such situations. The most fun I have as a GM is when the players create a story and scenario I didn't expect.
Granted, that doesn't mean I'm ready to allow another powder-keg like that and hand the players the fuse. :lol:
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Re: Simple rules clarification

Postby steve98052 » Sat Feb 11, 2017 3:03 am

I think I have the quotes right; if not, my apologies.
Hoth GM wrote:A positive example is one where I was a player coordinating with the GM. I had created an evil character that was practicing necromancy without the parties knowledge, but never working against the party's goals.
This reminds me of a similar case. I had a character with a pretty stout magic sword. He and the rest of the party got into a really tough battle, and my character was wounded near death. While he was lying unconscious, the sword spoke to him for the first time: "I can save you, but [there's a catch]." (I forget how the game master phrased it, but he whispered to me or passed a note.) Death of a catch? I had my character accept, and he stood up, stronger than ever. Later, the sword requested some small evil act, suggesting a rationalization and offering a reward. Little by little, the acts of evil -- and the rewards -- escalated, and consequences for not agreeing started to appear. Eventually, he was pretty much an evil demigod under control of the sword, which the game master said was inspired by Stormbringer. I think that may have concluded that campaign, possibly with my character killing everyone else, but in any case my character had to retire. Everyone enjoyed that campaign.
That's why we pretty much have a standing rule, as many others do in games with alignment systems, "no evil characters".
I think a better general rule would be, "All are evil or none are." I would say that would apply even in games where there's no formal alignment. Another way to say it might be, "We don't need to share the same goals, but we can't have opposed goals."

Once I had a Shadowrun character who was a street doctor with a bug against the corporate police, because he had family who were city police. His general attitude was pretty much Robin Hood. The rest of the party were just out for power and loot. I think they eventually voted me out, because my attitude that violence was not the answer to every question wasn't really a fit for the other players.
Epicenter wrote:I usually have a fiat ruling of "no anti-social lone wolf concepts" and "no concepts that would sell the other players down the river at the drop of a hat" types.)
. . . Well, one character was an "anti-social lone wolf" type who had a feral class feature. . . . We all said he should just make a new character and know his previous one is still out there, perhaps to return some day... at least he wasn't dead. It made a great memory, but unfortunately that player took it too personally[/quote]Too bad the player didn't know how to take that situation. He should have been pleased at sticking to his character concept, even if it meant retiring the character. I suppose one way to salvage the situation might have been to propose a second campaign where his character was one of a team of of like minded characters, along with the other players, and alternate that group of characters with the original group plus his replacement character. One possible outcome would be the new group campaign fizzling out without the hard feelings. The other might be for the two groups to never meet, but each see signs of the other group's actions, so that they're ever elusive rivals. But the way it happened was unfortunate.
Party balance is important and as you said, a good GM can prevent those issues at the start.
I'm not sure even a good game master can avoid problems with a party out of balance unless players buy in to the idea that balance is not a priority. Years ago, balance was an issue every time a new character entered, either because a new player entered or because a character died and a replacement was needed. (1) In the first popular fantasy game, the solution all of my players understood as customary worked within a quirk of the rules: dividing experience points equally among party members meant that a new character gained levels rapidly, even if their main contribution to a conflict was, to keep the horses quiet while the rest of the group made a sneak attack on the mob of drunken frost giants. (2) In an early Traveller campaign (classic when classic was the only edition), a group just accepted that one player always had to have the toughest character because that was his style and he was a fun guy, and the toughest adversaries always shot at him first. (3) In several points based games, we customarily granted bonus advancement points to characters adventuring out of their league. So, in cases 1 and 3, we used the rules to promote balance, and in 2 the players and game master adapted around the player who liked having the toughest characters.
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Re: Simple rules clarification

Postby Hoth GM » Sat Feb 11, 2017 4:27 pm

steve98052 wrote:I think a better general rule would be, "All are evil or none are." I would say that would apply even in games where there's no formal alignment. Another way to say it might be, "We don't need to share the same goals, but we can't have opposed goals."
Agreed. We occasionally had jokingly chatted what it would be like to play an all evil character party, but we never did it. I really like how you put it though regarding goals instead of alignment: they don't have to be the same just not opposed. That worked out well for the party in my first Traveller campaign that I've just started. A very mixed bunch, but their goals don't clash. Retired law enforcement agent who worked undercover, a pirate who's getting out of the organized piracy groups, merchant who had some rough ventures in the past but now has his own ship to start his own business, and a retired star marine hired by the merchant to be his security. I think it's going to be a lot of fun with the situations they're going to find themselves in.
steve98052 wrote:Too bad the player didn't know how to take that situation. He should have been pleased at sticking to his character concept, even if it meant retiring the character. I suppose one way to salvage the situation might have been to propose a second campaign where his character was one of a team of of like minded characters, along with the other players, and alternate that group of characters with the original group plus his replacement character.
It was. Unfortunately he just wasn't up for playing in a game GM'd by me anymore. We all loved what happened, which came all from his RP of his character concept. To paint a picture: we were ready to hand him the RPer award of the year, a small golden figure of a bard to commemorate his character portrayal that made us all gasp, laugh, and cry. He threw the award in the trash and stormed out the door. Okay, so it wasn't really that dramatic, but we were disappointed he didn't want to play anymore.
steve98052 wrote:
Party balance is important and as you said, a good GM can prevent those issues at the start.
I'm not sure even a good game master can avoid problems with a party out of balance unless players buy in to the idea that balance is not a priority.
... (another example of) the players and game master adapted around the player who liked having the toughest characters.
You make a good point. An experienced GM can help structure a party to work well together, but some balance issues just come from personality. Or, like you said, the players acknowledge an imbalance and the players buy into it. It seems that Traveller is really good at providing imbalance while everyone is strongest in one area. I imagine a party with a high level diplomat, the body guard, and the pilot. The quests may center around the diplomat character, but everyone shines in their own situations.
Having a blended party that creates unforgettable stories (like the feral character at the baron's table) is what gaming is all about. That same player in another campaign in which I was also a player had a character that was reaching nearly god-like level of unstoppability. The other characters were the same level, but he combined class features into some questionable combos. For most of us, we like creating fun and strong builds, but its really about the adventure and story creation. He really enjoys scrubbing through rulebooks and finding the maximum power in combining different class features, etc. It resulted in the rest of the party feeling pretty ineffectual in all combat situations, which was a big part of the rule set we were using and the GM's game style.
This being my first experience with Traveller (and so far we're loving it), would you say that it would be much more difficult for a min/max, rules loophole type player to make some kind of super build? There's no concern of that with the current gaming group, I'm just curious and sounds like a fun new direction to take our discussion.
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Re: Simple rules clarification

Postby Epicenter » Sun Feb 12, 2017 10:57 am

Traveller does have careers which are basically like character classes, especially if someone specializes in something.

Like in D&D or similar games - the biggest issue in Traveller is if two players end up specializing in the same thing. If you have two pilots, two engineers, two combat types, and so on, comparisons between the two are inevitable and will lead to problems regarding imbalance. Similarly, if you have a 10-term character who has "secondary" skills which are better than someone else's defining ability, there's going to be problems with imbalance making one player feel like they're a fifth wheel.

Other than that, provided everyone has their own specialty and is reasonably good at it, other kinds of imbalance aren't as pronounced. You can have a 30 year old character next to a 65-year old character who is vastly more skilled and it isn't a big problem as long as there aren't areas where they directly compete.

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