Some random questions from first time Traveller GM

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
apoc527
Lesser Spotted Mongoose
Posts: 738
Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2008 3:55 am
Location: Seattle, WA

Some random questions from first time Traveller GM

Postby apoc527 » Wed Apr 14, 2010 5:23 am

I have a few questions for more experienced Traveller Refs. How would you handle the following types of checks/skill rolls/saving throws/etc in MGT?

1. An intuition check to determine if a PC senses danger quick enough to react. (My feeling is that this would be a Recon check...but does it use Intelligence?)

2. A "mental strength" or will power check. Say a vampire is trying to dominate you. How do you resist? (I guess this goes for any psi power...is there a way to be mentally tough enough to resist that power?)

3. Is Social Standing basically a Charisma or "Personality" characteristic? I know that Vargr replace SS with Charisma, but how do you represent a smooth talking PC who isn't nobility? Why is there such a link between social standing (which may have nothing to do with force of personality) and your ability to get along with people? Why have Intelligence be used in place of SS whenever you want? Super smart people are often not very people-smart. Anyway, this seems like a legacy characteristic, but it's an interesting one for newcomers to the game.

Have people just created and used new characteristics? Since skills are not linked directly to characteristics, this seems like an easy fix, and the Core book mentions doing just this. But is it necessary?

4. Is there some way to make a higher Dexterity translate into a better dodge? Dodging in combat can be done by anyone and I believe it gives a -2 DM to any attacker. Does a Dex 4 character dodge as well as a Dex 15 character? How could you deal with the difference? What I'm getting at here is some kind of passive defense based on physical characteristics. One possible rule could be that you can make a Dodge check using Dexterity. Your Effect then becomes the negative DM suffered by the attacker. Another option would be to say that the DM for dodging is equal to -1 + -(Dex DM). What I'm looking for is a way to make a nasty alien creature really hard to hit with ranged weapons. Would this be covered solely by a high rate of movement to get the -1 DM per 10 m moved defensive penalty?

Thanks!
-Apoc527
BP
Cosmic Mongoose
Posts: 2802
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 7:40 am

Postby BP » Wed Apr 14, 2010 5:58 am

1. 'Senses' danger? - what senses are involved; what type of danger.
These would have an impact on the answer...

2. Will power check? - that is an opposed check (higher effect wins) - I would say Int should factor in there (though it might be a negative DM in certain cases!).

3. Social Standing? - is defined as a 'character's place in society', but it is used more as a the ability to socialize. Smooth talker is more a skill in Traveller than a characteristic - with the social standing positively affecting the skill. So the Carouse, Deception and Persuade skills come into play along with an appropriate DM (dexterity, intelligence, social standing - it all depends on the circumstance).

Creating extra characteristics is probably not commonly neccessary - though can be handy for different settings and aliens.

4. Is there a way... - sure, whatever you want! Dodge gives a -1 DM to both parties and a -2 DM to the dodger if there is cover. Other options to pursue could include natural Athletics skill, or DM changes by species.
ColHut
Stoat
Posts: 84
Joined: Wed Mar 11, 2009 3:24 pm

Postby ColHut » Wed Apr 14, 2010 7:49 am

'Senses' danger?
May well be education based (recognizing elements of a trap etc), or if something completely unknown - intelligence, both I think recon but YMMV
'character's place in society'
And thus includes influence with position etc You just don't mess with Lord Slobbergasp III for whom doors open, exceptions are made, and deals successfully struck on his terms - he has powerful friends. etc.

regards
User avatar
Vargr
Stoat
Posts: 81
Joined: Thu Dec 24, 2009 6:09 pm

Re: Some random questions from first time Traveller GM

Postby Vargr » Wed Apr 14, 2010 7:59 am

apoc527 wrote:I have a few questions for more experienced Traveller Refs. How would you handle the following types of checks/skill rolls/saving throws/etc in MGT?
I am by no means an "experienced Traveller ref", but here are my opinions:
apoc527 wrote:1. An intuition check to determine if a PC senses danger quick enough to react. (My feeling is that this would be a Recon check...but does it use Intelligence?)
In my game all rolls dealing with pure perception default to INT. We haven't dealt with psionics yet. By "pure perception" I mean something relating solely to your senses; percieving the quality of a handgun for instance also involves intelect and knowledge so I would do it a Weapon Use (Slug Pistol) roll under EDU.

apoc527 wrote:2. A "mental strength" or will power check. Say a vampire is trying to dominate you. How do you resist? (I guess this goes for any psi power...is there a way to be mentally tough enough to resist that power?)
You don't have to resist it because there aren't any vampires in Traveller. :)

If you are talking about "supernatural" stuff then just assign a target roll to resist the power 6+ for Easy, 8+ for Average, etc.
Increasing your mental resistance to specific forms of "mental attack", the same way folks IRL get increased immunity to poisons and diseases once they come into contact with them, would be a matter of assigning a positive modifier to an individual after he resists a mental attack.
apoc527 wrote:3. Is Social Standing basically a Charisma or "Personality" characteristic?


It is neither. It is a measure of that person social status. The modifier, if any, might be used in certain social occasions; but the character's charisma or personality are determined by skills and by its player's role-playing.
apoc527 wrote:Have people just created and used new characteristics?
Yes they have. I have seen character sheets that almost doubled the number of stats.

apoc527 wrote:4. Is there some way to make a higher Dexterity translate into a better dodge?


Lots of them. Just come up with a new rule. Anything from rolling 2d6 under DEX to negate an attack to using the stat modifier, etc. The Core Book is not written in stone.
apoc527 wrote:What I'm looking for is a way to make a nasty alien creature really hard to hit with ranged weapons. Would this be covered solely by a high rate of movement to get the -1 DM per 10 m moved defensive penalty?
That is one option, assuming the creature has the space and terrain to run its high rate of movement each round.

An easier option is just putting "Ranged attacks get -X to hit" on the creature's stats. :)
rust
Chief Mongoose
Posts: 5941
Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2008 10:17 pm
Location: Sonthofen / Germany

Re: Some random questions from first time Traveller GM

Postby rust » Wed Apr 14, 2010 10:28 am

apoc527 wrote: 1. An intuition check to determine if a PC senses danger quick enough to react. (My feeling is that this would be a Recon check...but does it use Intelligence?)
Since most of the characters of my settings do not have the Recon skill,
I use an Intelligence check for general perception.
2. A "mental strength" or will power check. Say a vampire is trying to dominate you. How do you resist? (I guess this goes for any psi power...is there a way to be mentally tough enough to resist that power?)
The Traveller assumption is that a psion with sufficient psi power will suc-
ceed, no matter whether the target is more intelligent or has more will-
power than usual.
On the other hand, at least one previous version had a Willpower stat or
skill to give characters a somewhat better chance to resist things like psi-
onic attacks, torture and thelike.
In the absence of such a skill or stat I would use the Intelligence attribute
modifier, for example an INT 12 of the target would get the psion a -2 dif-
ficulty modifier.
3. Is Social Standing basically a Charisma or "Personality" characteristic? I know that Vargr replace SS with Charisma, but how do you represent a smooth talking PC who isn't nobility? Why is there such a link between social standing (which may have nothing to do with force of personality) and your ability to get along with people?
Social Standing works well for certain types of societies, including at least
the core region of the Third Imperium, and less well for other societies,
most probably including the frontier regions of the Third Imperium, whe-
re personality and skills probably are more impressive than birth and no-
ble titles.
In most of my settings I replace Social Standing with either Charisma or
Influence, depending on what fits better into the setting.
4. Is there some way to make a higher Dexterity translate into a better dodge?
Of course, just give characters with high Dexterity an appropriate die mo-
difier.
User avatar
Vargr
Stoat
Posts: 81
Joined: Thu Dec 24, 2009 6:09 pm

Re: Some random questions from first time Traveller GM

Postby Vargr » Wed Apr 14, 2010 12:05 pm

rust wrote:Since most of the characters of my settings do not have the Recon skill, I use an Intelligence check for general perception.
I forgot to mention this on my last entry. The Recon skill is perfect for the case the OP was refering to (sense danger). Normal folk without any military or paramilitary training tend not to be very good at, say, spotting (or sensing) ambushes. That's where that pesky -3 DM for not having a skill comes into play.
rust
Chief Mongoose
Posts: 5941
Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2008 10:17 pm
Location: Sonthofen / Germany

Re: Some random questions from first time Traveller GM

Postby rust » Wed Apr 14, 2010 12:21 pm

Vargr wrote:Normal folk without any military or paramilitary training tend not to be very good at, say, spotting (or sensing) ambushes.
True, but for example the core book's Navy career does not provide the
characters with the Recon skill, and several other careers and specializa-
tions have the same problem.

While it is plausible that a shipboard life does not train one for classical
recon tasks, someone with a couple of years in the navy should still have
a better "danger sense" than the average accountant, I think.
User avatar
Stainless
Lesser Spotted Mongoose
Posts: 593
Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2008 10:42 am
Location: South West UK

Re: Some random questions from first time Traveller GM

Postby Stainless » Wed Apr 14, 2010 12:23 pm

apoc527 wrote: 1. An intuition check to determine if a PC senses danger quick enough to react. (My feeling is that this would be a Recon check...but does it use Intelligence?)
I'd say its a non-skill based test. In addition, it should be at least "Difficult -2" or "Very difficult -4" because if it were not, everyone would be able to sense danger routinely and there would be far fewer accidents than there are in the world! The attribute DM would be either Int or Edu, depending on the nature of the danger being perceived.
apoc527 wrote: 2. A "mental strength" or will power check. Say a vampire is trying to dominate you. How do you resist? (I guess this goes for any psi power...is there a way to be mentally tough enough to resist that power?)
I'd go for a simple opposed test with Int being the DM. If one, or both, are psionic, then add in the Psionic strength DM.
apoc527 wrote: 3. Is Social Standing basically a Charisma or "Personality" characteristic? I know that Vargr replace SS with Charisma, but how do you represent a smooth talking PC who isn't nobility? Why is there such a link between social standing (which may have nothing to do with force of personality) and your ability to get along with people? Why have Intelligence be used in place of SS whenever you want? Super smart people are often not very people-smart. Anyway, this seems like a legacy characteristic, but it's an interesting one for newcomers to the game.
I'd use a non-skill test (if the situation wasn't covered by a particular skill such as carouse) and assign a difficulty modifier according to the situation and a subsequent DM according to the player's roleplaying.
apoc527 wrote: Have people just created and used new characteristics? Since skills are not linked directly to characteristics, this seems like an easy fix, and the Core book mentions doing just this. But is it necessary?

4. Is there some way to make a higher Dexterity translate into a better dodge? Dodging in combat can be done by anyone and I believe it gives a -2 DM to any attacker. Does a Dex 4 character dodge as well as a Dex 15 character? How could you deal with the difference? What I'm getting at here is some kind of passive defense based on physical characteristics. One possible rule could be that you can make a Dodge check using Dexterity. Your Effect then becomes the negative DM suffered by the attacker. Another option would be to say that the DM for dodging is equal to -1 + -(Dex DM). What I'm looking for is a way to make a nasty alien creature really hard to hit with ranged weapons. Would this be covered solely by a high rate of movement to get the -1 DM per 10 m moved defensive penalty?

Thanks!
You could run this numerous ways. I think I'd go with the simplest way of incorporating an attribute into a test by using the attributes DM, with a downward cap at -2.
AndrewW
Cosmic Mongoose
Posts: 4391
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2008 11:57 pm

Re: Some random questions from first time Traveller GM

Postby AndrewW » Wed Apr 14, 2010 5:05 pm

rust wrote:While it is plausible that a shipboard life does not train one for classical
recon tasks, someone with a couple of years in the navy should still have
a better "danger sense" than the average accountant, I think.
And not all navy jobs are on board ship.
User avatar
Twin Agate Dragons
Mongoose
Posts: 196
Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2009 10:14 pm
Location: Valley of the Sun (AZ)
Contact:

Postby Twin Agate Dragons » Wed Apr 14, 2010 9:52 pm

I think we should be the ones to have questions considering that you are the world's first time traveller GM. :lol:
Sarûnia: A Pathfinder Inspired Campaign Setting
Blog / On Facebook / Pathfinder Database
BP
Cosmic Mongoose
Posts: 2802
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 7:40 am

Postby BP » Wed Apr 14, 2010 10:17 pm

Well - he already knows all our questions then!

(Of course, he knows all our answers then, too...)
apoc527
Lesser Spotted Mongoose
Posts: 738
Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2008 3:55 am
Location: Seattle, WA

Postby apoc527 » Thu Apr 15, 2010 2:32 am

Hahaha. Indeed, unfortunately, I came from the past, not the future, so I can't answer anything most of you don't already know.
-Apoc527
apoc527
Lesser Spotted Mongoose
Posts: 738
Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2008 3:55 am
Location: Seattle, WA

Postby apoc527 » Thu Apr 15, 2010 2:55 am

So, everyone has said that Intelligence is used for "pure perception." I suppose I can buy that, but what about the not particularly bright but highly astute woodsman-type on a low PL world? Would this person best be represented by a high Int, but a low EDU? That seemingly works very well, but a high Int might give that character more credit than he's due.

But then again, what would you do with a "Perception" characteristic besides roll the occasional Recon check and resist non-existant vampires?

I'll just have to play the game and see what comes up...
-Apoc527
tneva82
Cosmic Mongoose
Posts: 3133
Joined: Mon May 22, 2006 5:08 pm

Postby tneva82 » Thu Apr 15, 2010 3:37 am

apoc527 wrote:So, everyone has said that Intelligence is used for "pure perception." I suppose I can buy that, but what about the not particularly bright but highly astute woodsman-type on a low PL world? Would this person best be represented by a high Int, but a low EDU? That seemingly works very well, but a high Int might give that character more credit than he's due.
Yes high-int, low EDU. With low edu he's not going to be solving complex mathematical formulas for sure ;-)
皆と友達ができませんが皆に友好的ができます

You can't be friend with everybody but you can be friendly to everybody
BP
Cosmic Mongoose
Posts: 2802
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 7:40 am

Postby BP » Thu Apr 15, 2010 4:33 am

The astute woodsman will have experience - this is represented by skill (such as Recon). He doesn't have to be that bright to still react to his senses - which can in turn be attuned to his surroundings.

Intelligence is an innate characteristic of the PC as are the rest of the characteristics. Characteristics are what the PC is 'born with' so to speak. Obviously these can and do change.

Bear in mind - the idea is not to simulate all senarios using characteristics and skills. Rather, to affect the odds when the random element of failure or success is required to put a spin on things.

As a Ref, there is no need to require die roles in certain situations. If you have a woodsman in the woods - he's gonna sense the clumsy city dweller thug following him. Likewise, in a city, with all its background noises, smells and such - he might be even less perceptive than the average city dweller - i.e. have no real chance.

If a player states he is being alert for something - then a task check might be in order - with situational DMs created on the spot. Otherwise, as the Ref, you may give hints to the player instead of die roles. If the player cottons to something, then he might use his skills to attempt to clarify things (likely resulting in a task check).
apoc527
Lesser Spotted Mongoose
Posts: 738
Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2008 3:55 am
Location: Seattle, WA

Postby apoc527 » Thu Apr 15, 2010 4:42 am

This is helpful. Even though I've GMed for almost 17 years, we've really played system-heavy games. D&D 3.0 through 4E; Cyberpunk 2020; Star Wars d20 (WEG d6 Star Wars was less rules-heavy); Alternity, etc etc. These games tend to have skill checks and rules for many, if not most, situations the players come upon. The strength of this game design philosophy is that it never feels like the GM has just screwed over the PCs for the heck of it. If a GM does that, obviously, he risks alienating his actual players and losing his group. GMs have to realize that they actually have the very difficult job of being responsible for everyone's mutual enjoyment.

Nonetheless, even with that reality at the forefront of my thoughts, I've not GMed what I consider to be a rules-lite game system. MGT certainly qualifies by comparison to other systems I've run. I'm used to being supported by the game rules, and even though we've been playing together for most of that 17 years, with a break for college (or perhaps because of it), we are comfortable enough with each other to get into some arguments about the game rules and what's happening. Just on Monday night, someone else was GMing a fantasy (low tech level, low magic) Alternity game and we hit a minor road bump when the rules didn't cover something that was rather important. The GM had a different feeling about it than the rest of us, and we eventually worked it out, but I'm somewhat concerned about that happening all the time in a more freeform system like MGT. (That's why I asked for tips and tricks.)

Anyway, I just need the experience of running this system to get comfortable with it. I consider us to be pretty good roleplayers, already not rolling the dice all the time (we've gone whole game nights without rolling the dice). So, I don't think it will be too big of a stretch, but I just don't want to ruin the experience and sour everyone on this new system (that would suck, seeing as how I've purchased almost every book for it).

Ok, rambling is over. Thanks for reading this far if you bothered!
-Apoc527
BP
Cosmic Mongoose
Posts: 2802
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 7:40 am

Postby BP » Thu Apr 15, 2010 4:55 am

17 years with the same basic bunch? That's cool!

I'd think by now the gang knows the GM ain't out to spoil the party! ;)

The first several years of play I remember things were rules-heavy, but then we began to ignore and create our own rules, let the dice cool down between sessions, and really get into the roleplay. Traveller provided a nice blend of action as well as intellectual challenge that won out over the monster thrashing, treasure seeking binges we had started with.

One thing I really liked about Classic Traveller - the terse, but fairly consise rule books (~50 pages - and digest sized so that is really closer to 25). Of course, I never followed the 3I setting. And I avoided all the other editions of Traveller (nothing really wrong with them - I was just satisfied with my CT and homegrown settings).
apoc527
Lesser Spotted Mongoose
Posts: 738
Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2008 3:55 am
Location: Seattle, WA

Postby apoc527 » Thu Apr 15, 2010 5:10 am

Heh. Yes, it's very cool to have the same basic bunch for so long. But why don't you ask them why I'm banned from DMing D&D? Heh heh heh.

Let's see..."hold person + coup de grace" and "the 5 dudes who ambushed us and buffed for 2 minutes beforehand with potions" would come immediately to mind.

Interestingly enough, I (and the other main GM) took things too far away from "GM vs. Players" (not that I'm advocating for this ever, but just recognizing that it's a style) and got into "plot immune player characters" where nobody really felt that death was a likely outcome. It certainly got us into the mode of playing RPGs like we were playing Mass Effect--Cmdr Shepard is a super-badass and therefore, we won't ever lose. So that's why we went 5 years of nearly constant weekly play with ZERO player character deaths. Seriously, that's just wrong. (This also partly arose out of a desire to move away from the hack 'n slash gaming of our youth and to try out more epic plot-based gaming--it was fun, but we overcorrected.)

So, to that end, we're going back the other direction right now and TWO PCs (including mine) have died in the past two weeks. It's fun though, and I think it's good training for when I take over with Traveller in a few more weeks.

Wow...I'm in a rambling mood, aren't I?[/b]
-Apoc527
BP
Cosmic Mongoose
Posts: 2802
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 7:40 am

Postby BP » Thu Apr 15, 2010 5:37 am

Ah - this is something we addressed early on and I have used ever since to train new players.

Each player generates mutliple PCs, all low skilled - and plays them in a few short sessions adventure in which a good 50% (or more) of the PCs will die! This teaches - avoiding PC attachment syndrome and that PCs should take risks - and players should expect consequences. It quickly becomes very fun. In CT, I even created a custom supplement - Expendable Crewman.

A Ref shouldn't be out to kill off PCs - where's the real fun in that (oh Joey - lightning stuck - turns out you're dead). Challenges involve beating the odds - even with the stock end of a blaster if all else fails! The best games - the PCs walk away with just their shirts and some dignity (if they managed to keep their shorts).

Players must understand this, though, for things to work. Otherwise, they will mistake challenge with the Ref enjoying his omni-potent powers.

PCs shouldn't be immune to death - but players should have a chance to save their PCs. In Traveller, a PC that has 'died' should have the option for deep freezing in many circumstances - but only if the team gives up something to make this happen (entanglement with the local authorities, loss of coin to make this happen, competition gets away with the goods, etc). To me, good roleplay basically is creating an interactive movie - ad hoc so to speak. There is a director (the Ref) and the actors (PCs), but the story is really being made up by the actors as they go along, with the director keeping things consistent. Killing off major actors isn't totally unusual, but neither is it the norm.

(Ramble mode *off*)
rust
Chief Mongoose
Posts: 5941
Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2008 10:17 pm
Location: Sonthofen / Germany

Postby rust » Thu Apr 15, 2010 9:16 am

apoc527 wrote: I suppose I can buy that, but what about the not particularly bright but highly astute woodsman-type on a low PL world?
I would recommend to follow the "inner logic" of the setting whenever
possible, and to use die rolls only when this "inner logic" of the setting
does not provide an obvious outcome.

In the case of the woodsman, it is most likely that he will sense that so-
mething is wrong, and I would give his player some kind of appropriate
hint ("Strange, those Sully Birds are not singing today ...").

In my view, the game mechanics are there to deal with unclear situa-
tions where several outcomes are equally likely and where it is impor-
tant which one happens, to use them in other situations just slows
down the game and interrupts the developing story.

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 38 guests