Prevalence of military vets among PCs

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Hakkonen
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Prevalence of military vets among PCs

Postby Hakkonen » Wed Jun 17, 2020 8:51 pm

In the Traveller game I'm in (or was, before the pandemic, and hopefully will be again eventually), all four PCs have at least some military experience. My character was career Navy, another PC was a career mercenary, a third was drafted into the Navy for three terms, and the last spent one term in the Marines. I'm curious if this is typical for Traveller groups. Do you see a lot of civilian characters?
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Re: Prevalence of military vets among PCs

Postby AnotherDilbert » Wed Jun 17, 2020 9:03 pm

Yes, mostly civilians.

But most groups contain some military characters.
Garran
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Re: Prevalence of military vets among PCs

Postby Garran » Wed Jun 17, 2020 9:11 pm

The system does produce a lot of military-background characters; it's partly a setting thematic (they're more likely to be the adventurous type, and to have some relevant experience and connections) and partly a legacy issue - the earliest edition only offered military careers; later editions added civilian options.

That careers like Navy and Scouts give great skillsets for operating a starship certainly doesn't discourage them.


It'll depend somewhat on the campaign though. General "adventures in space" scenarios are going to favor action-oriented characters; scenarios oriented toward diplomacy, intrigue, and investigation are more likely to put civilian skillsets center stage.

Of the three play-by-posts I'm in right now, the small one is civilian oriented (Scout, Noble, Scientist) and the two larger ones have mainly military/quasi-military rosters. (Although one of those is running Pirates of Drinax, which encourages rough and ready types.)
Last edited by Garran on Thu Jun 18, 2020 12:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Prevalence of military vets among PCs

Postby Condottiere » Wed Jun 17, 2020 11:02 pm

The players should discuss with the dungeon master the type of campaign they'd like to experience, and he would suggest the type of skillset(s) best suited.

If familiarity, not specialization, of spaceships and weapons is sufficient, you can always have second civilian careers.
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Re: Prevalence of military vets among PCs

Postby paltrysum » Thu Jun 18, 2020 3:54 am

The majority of Travellers that have graced my campaign have been civilians, but the numbers are fairly close, maybe 60/40. Let's see:
  • An ex-merchant and pirate
  • A psion
  • An ex-scout
  • A journalist/scholar
  • A marine colonel
  • An ex-pirate/saboteur (agent)
  • A noble (who served two terms in the navy)
  • A scientist (and psion)
  • An ex-army NCO/mercenary
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Re: Prevalence of military vets among PCs

Postby Varulv » Sat Jun 20, 2020 11:56 am

Back in the days, in the 80’s when we were young, there was a strong dominance of characters with a background in Imperial Navy or Imperial Marines and a lot of action packed sessions.

But as we have matured over the years, so has our gaming style, and today there is a much more interesting mix of characters (but even the civilians do have a tendency to be quite proficient in the use of small arms).
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Re: Prevalence of military vets among PCs

Postby Old School » Sat Jun 20, 2020 7:48 pm

My campaigns might punish a traveller with no combat ability, although it could certainly be done. Our style tends to lead to a lot of military and agent types. Probably 2/3 are military, scout, or agent, although that includes 5 term characters with only one or two military terms. But even the diplomat or scientist in the group is going to have at least Vacc Suit 0 and Gun Combat 0, plus something useful to do on a starship.

Now that you ask I need to go check the numbers.
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Re: Prevalence of military vets among PCs

Postby Hakkonen » Sun Jun 21, 2020 6:25 am

Old School wrote:
Sat Jun 20, 2020 7:48 pm
But even the diplomat or scientist in the group is going to have at least Vacc Suit 0 and Gun Combat 0, plus something useful to do on a starship.
Isn't that what the skill package is for?
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Re: Prevalence of military vets among PCs

Postby Old School » Sun Jun 21, 2020 1:52 pm

Hakkonen wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 6:25 am
Isn't that what the skill package is for?
Sure, that definitely helps. Between background skills, free skills from connections, and the skill package, no excuse to not have basic competence to suit the campaign. Mongoose is pretty generous with the skills.
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Re: Prevalence of military vets among PCs

Postby NOLATrav » Sun Jun 21, 2020 2:57 pm

Scouts, Rogues and Agents predominate in our games. We see about 30% straight up military characters. But we play an old school OTU where the Imperium is the jackbooted oppressor. Also we use the Spica Publishing career books from 1e, where the Space Patrol (we call it System Patrol, or SysPat, or just “spats”) is a popular option for players who want a military flavor without the in-universe stigma of being ex-Imperial stormtroopers.

I’ll never stop saying it - the Spica career books are fantastic. They add a great depth to the game universe and the non-military careers offer a good base of skills regardless of what direction your campaign is headed.
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Re: Prevalence of military vets among PCs

Postby Commander Zoom » Tue Jun 23, 2020 4:24 am

Over the years, military types probably comprised about 50% of the players in the games I ran and/or played in.

For example, my current game has 4 players:

Ex-Imperial Marine Gunnery Sergeant - a killing machine and good planetary surface skills
Senior Scout (IISS) - typical swiss army knife character
Free Trader Captain - ship handler and people skills
Ex-Imperial Navy Commander/Physician (Kludged together the Physician Career with Imperial Naval Academy, Medical School and Navy) - this person is in fact a physician, not a ship handler or gun bunny, though the naval background provides a variety of useful adventuring skills.

So:
1 true military - marine
1 civilian (arguably paramilitary) - scout
1 true civilian - free trader
1 technically military - physician with military stuff mixed in

I'd say my current players are fairly typical.
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Ursus Maior
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Re: Prevalence of military vets among PCs

Postby Ursus Maior » Tue Jun 23, 2020 8:02 am

I always felt ex-military characters in Traveller were a strong force since CT. Back then, there were three military careers plus scouts in the core rules, but most other occupations were just that: "Other". Now, I started my first Traveller campaign for 15 years or so and my PoD campaign has the following Travellers:
  • One ex-marine, now the captain of the Harrier.
  • One ex-scout turned pirate.
  • One Drinaxian noble diplomat, who is also a psion.
  • One Aslan ihatei
I could use one more player in theory, but I'm out of candidates in my circle. We're playing via Roll20 every Friday and a fifth player brings a fifth calendar with him or her. So, unless my wife joins, that'll be getting complicated quite fast.
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paltrysum
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Re: Prevalence of military vets among PCs

Postby paltrysum » Tue Jun 23, 2020 4:00 pm

I prefer to see a mostly non-military group. It's nice to get a few combat skills—after all. who doesn't like a good brawl or gun fight here and there—but Traveller is not well-suited to a sustained series of combat encounters. Characters will eventually get slaughtered in most cases. Groups with a wide range of non-combat skills are much better suited for problem-solving, roleplaying-intensive adventures.
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Re: Prevalence of military vets among PCs

Postby Linwood » Tue Jun 23, 2020 5:13 pm

CT was heavily weighted towards military and paramilitary types. It took a while for most of the non-military careers to be introduced and even longer before they were seen as being on a par with military careers (which often had far more detailed support;ements). Not an unusual phenomenon - a lot of other game systems have struggled with that. But it has definitely improved over time and MGT2 has done well there.

But I think there is an inherent bias in some cases. Non-military careers simply don't seem as exciting as the military ones to some players. And I think for some GMs (myself included) it can be harder to create scenarios and campaigns where non-military characters are naturally central to the plot on occasion. (Note - good players can find a way to get around this.) Maybe a stronger emphasis on the Profession skill since that seems more common in the non-military careersl. (Hostile Environment comes to mind.)
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Re: Prevalence of military vets among PCs

Postby paltrysum » Tue Jun 23, 2020 5:49 pm

Linwood wrote:
Tue Jun 23, 2020 5:13 pm
But I think there is an inherent bias in some cases. Non-military careers simply don't seem as exciting as the military ones to some players. And I think for some GMs (myself included) it can be harder to create scenarios and campaigns where non-military characters are naturally central to the plot on occasion. (Note - good players can find a way to get around this.) Maybe a stronger emphasis on the Profession skill since that seems more common in the non-military careersl. (Hostile Environment comes to mind.)
I know what you mean. I've been "training" my players to attempt tasks that they do not necessarily have the skills for. For example, sure it's great that you have Science (planetology) 2, but how does that come into play when we need someone who can answer a xenobiology question? Well, for one thing there's the fact that the player will have Science 0, but in addition, if they apply some creativity, I am likely to reward them with a reduced task difficulty. A player might say, "Well, I'm familiar with this type of ecosystem from my planetology skill. Can I leverage that to figure out what the local flora and fauna might be like?"

You can't always let them bridge gaps like that; otherwise, what's the use of having any specialties? But from time to time, I like to reward that type of creative thinking. One of the guys I play with referred me to a Marc Miller interview a while back in which he let on how his gaming sessions go. They sounded pretty free-form and didn't rely too heavily on the skills that the characters had. More about letting them do cool stuff in the fictitious universe they were in. I'm not an advocate for too free-form of a style, but some degree of loosening things up seems to make everyone have more fun at the gaming table and to stop focusing so much on gaining more skills and pluses everywhere.

The results aren't in yet, but I'm hoping that over time, it encourages them to continue to make interesting, full-fledged characters and not just chasing more levels of Gun Combat (slug).
My published Traveller adventures on DriveThruRPG:
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Re: Prevalence of military vets among PCs

Postby Old School » Wed Jun 24, 2020 1:50 am

Everyone knows that Gun Combat 4 with a scoped rifle and and hard cover is good times. The first time that the players come up with a Carouse-Persuade-Gamble task chain on their own is rewarding, as they realize how much fun that part of the game can be as well.
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Re: Prevalence of military vets among PCs

Postby paltrysum » Wed Jun 24, 2020 4:06 am

Old School wrote:
Wed Jun 24, 2020 1:50 am
Everyone knows that Gun Combat 4 with a scoped rifle and and hard cover is good times.
Honestly, there simply is no counter argument to that. ;)
My published Traveller adventures on DriveThruRPG:
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