troupe Traveller

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
steve98052
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troupe Traveller

Postby steve98052 » Sat Nov 11, 2017 9:00 pm

Troupe play originated with Ars Magica, but it is good for Traveller too, particularly in trigger happy campaigns, since combat can be pretty lethal. So here's a troupe play template.

Start by agreeing on a lead game master and a campaign style (merchant, mercenary, military, exploration, scoundrel, bounty hunter, espionage, diplomatic, corporate tool, colonist, idle noble, working noble, etc.).

Then it's time for character generation. Each player generates a character. There's no need for a limit to the number of terms, as long as a character fits a role in the campaign -- which might in some cases be an adversary for the party if the lead game master or a vote of the players decides that it's not a fit as a player character.

For a no-ship party (colonists, or travellers who travel commercial), repeat rounds of character generation until all necessary jobs are filled, or an agreed number of characters are generated.

For a ship based party, agree on a ship type that fits the campaign style -- an old beater subsidized merchant that's served out its subsidized obligations and released to free trader service, a mercenary ship, a diplomatic carrot and stick gunship, a covert mission ship masquerading as a beat-up old merchant, a super-yacht, etc. -- and continue until the party has accumulated enough ship shares to control the agreed ship type, until all staterooms are full, or an agreed number of characters are generated.

For a really large ship, such as an Azhanti High Lightning, it would take too long to accumulate enough ship shares or fill all the staterooms, so just go until the interesting jobs have a lead and an understudy. For a modest ship, such as a basic free trader, the crew might be filled out before enough characters or ship shares have been accumulated, so keep going, and treat some of the characters as planetary partners (brokers, honest or shady, friends and family of the crew, etc.), who join the crew in the event of vacancies.

If the generated characters don't own all of the ship shares, non-player characters own the rest, and may exercise their rights as minority partners. If the characters own less than a majority, the non-player co-owners are technically in charge, and will act as benevolent patrons if the players keep them happy, or troublesome partners if the players aren't doing their jobs well.

When the agreed number of characters have been generated, each player gets to choose their regular cast member characters ("Regulars"). If more than one player wants the same character, lead game master has lowest priority, then players who generated a character have higher priority, and otherwise the player with the least Traveller experience has priority. (Encourage the newbies, right?) All the other characters go into the red-shirt pool.

During play, everyone plays their Regular. Any time a Regular is out of play (unconscious, jailed, far away, getting intensive training in a new or improved skill, or just completely unsuited to the activities of a game session), a player can pick up a red-shirt, with preference for red-shirts who have never (or not recently) been actively played, were previously played by the player, were generated by the player, or are simply the most suitable for the session.

If a Regular is out of action for a long time (dead, hospitalized, imprisoned, kidnapped, extended training, sabbatical, etc.), the player can play one red-shirt at a time without a Regular, take a turn as session game master, promote a red-shirt to a Regular, or bring back an old Regular. (A red-shirt should only be promoted if the player has already played him, her, or it; if it's too early in the campaign for the player to choose one, pick a red-shirt to be a provisional Regular to make sure that the character is fun.)

Once a character has been a Regular, he, she, or it remains a Regular attached to the same player, but players shouldn't switch between one Regular and another except between sessions or when a plot development demands it.

Each player should play a red-shirt occasionally, even if their Regular isn't forced out of play by plot events, to make sure that red-shirts get some play too. Occasionally a session can feature all red-shirts, particularly if a session game master has a stand-alone plot that doesn't fit the Regulars.

When a session includes many more characters than players (a mercenary combat engagement, a giant planetside party that most of the crew attends, etc.), red-shirts are taken out of action more easily than Regulars. In combat, they're down from a single wound (not necessarily dead or unconscious, but at least demoralized to the point that they're not fighting effectively). At a party, they go sit on the sidelines the first time someone declines an invitation to dance. And so forth. They might return to action if the plot needs them, but by default they're out.

If something happens that permanently removes a character from play (crew hit in space combat, artillery hit in ground combat, a marriage or new job that requires them to leave the ship, etc.), it happens to a red-shirt unless it happens because a player takes an individual risk with a Regular.

Otherwise, red-shirts are the same as Regulars.

Any further ideas on how to do this?
TrippyHippy
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Re: troupe Traveller

Postby TrippyHippy » Sun Nov 12, 2017 7:12 am

Absolutely. Have been arguing this for years - the Troupe style play is absolutely suited to Traveller.
Outtasight!
Infojunky
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Re: troupe Traveller

Postby Infojunky » Sun Nov 12, 2017 7:16 am

TrippyHippy wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 7:12 am
Absolutely. Have been arguing this for years - the Troupe style play is absolutely suited to Traveller.
It's not like we haven't discussed it before. It works amusingly well.
Evyn
steve98052
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Location: near Seattle

Re: troupe Traveller

Postby steve98052 » Mon Nov 13, 2017 5:30 pm

Interesting. I did a search for "troupe", and I didn't find much, particularly anything about how to do it in practice. I like the idea of being able to play a larger ship; most people who have played a lot of Traveller have done mostly small ships, so it's a chance to do things differently.
TrippyHippy
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Re: troupe Traveller

Postby TrippyHippy » Mon Nov 13, 2017 7:20 pm

Troupe style play is mostly discussed, as the game that coined the idea, in Ars Magica.

In this game there are three tiers of character type: Magi (Wizards, very powerful), Companions (competent characters) and Grogs (Underlings, soldiers and servants). They collectively form a Covenant, which is a community run for the Wizards and emerges as a sort of extra, unifying character that is collaboratively created and evolved through the story. Each player has a Mage and a Companion to play, while the whole group can also play from a pool of Grogs in any given scenario or adventure. The 'Storyguide' (Referee) alternates through a campaign, largely centred on the evolution of the Covenant, with players also alternating in the characters they choose to play.

Traveller works well for this style of play because:

a) You can easily generate characters with different tiers of experience.
b) The starship serves as a central covenant and basis of a community.
c) The mechanisms for putting together a large crew for a larger ship is already there - it's just we are used to generating them as NPCs.
Outtasight!
Condottiere
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Re: troupe Traveller

Postby Condottiere » Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:57 pm

You could do that as well with henchmen, in Dungeons and Dragons.

The trick for a good play through was being able to compartmentalize.

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