Character creation

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Red Bart
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Character creation

Postby Red Bart » Mon Feb 04, 2013 10:03 am

After making a couple of characters in Traveller it seems to me that they are a bit underpowered. If you stick to the 3 terms limit for average characters there is a big chance that you either do not qualify for a career or do not make your survival roll in at least one term. Also if you roll a score bonus (e.g. +1 Strength) two out of three times it doesn't increase your DM, so in fact doesn't really do anything.

Does anybody use any house rules to deal with this? For example having a term last 2 years instead of 4, and/or increasing a characteristic by +1D3 instead of by just +1. Or am I too critical of the traveller system, because it will create characters that are adequate enough anyhow?
ShawnDriscoll
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Re: Character creation

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Mon Feb 04, 2013 11:23 am

8+ is what you're rolling for. Are you wanting to roll 8+ everytime with your character?

If an increase in STR does not increase the Mod for it, then be thankful that a decrease in STR does not decrease the Mod for it.

Again, 8+ is what you are rolling for on 2D6.

Characters get more skills and toys if you age them more. Younger characters have much fewer skills and toys. But their characteristics are higher.

Are you a role-player or a roll-player?
Old timer
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Re: Character creation

Postby Old timer » Mon Feb 04, 2013 11:57 am

Technically, there is no limit other than what the GM impose on character generation, but the fewer terms the fewer skills a traveller character will have. I usually let players have 4 term characters, seems, to me, to be a sweet spot in character skills and capabilities.
Increase to physical attributes may seem a little low, but bear in mind that strength, endurance and dexterity are damaged in combat, so those bonuses, if nothing else, mean you can handle a bit more injury, +1d3 would create very powerful characters quickly, on average two rolls would result in the characteristic reaching the next bonus level.
Term wise, Chthonian stars setting for traveller makes use of the half term idea, a term last 2 years, though i do not know how that affects characters and their skill levels. Also dont forget that the connection rule will give characters more skills, as will the skill package at the end of character generation.
In traveller, +1 is a big thing, as already stated above, as you have to roll 8+ on 2d6, and the average on 2d6 is 7, and +1 means your character, on average, will pass skill rolls. As any skill roll is skill plus attribute bonus, it is easier than you might think to pass skill rolls.
Red Bart
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Re: Character creation

Postby Red Bart » Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:32 pm

I am new to the system, so admittedly I have little experience with character creation in Traveller. It just looks like the chance for not qualifying for a chosen career is pretty high, and the chance for not making your survival roll in a particular term is also pretty high. So if you have four terms, characters will be likely to only have about two successful terms.

I see that +1 is a big thing though in a 2D6 based system. The only thing that bothers me is that unsuccessful terms appear rather useless, and you only have very few of them (the core rules suggest an average of 3 and no more then 6 if I remember correctly). Particularly if you include the scoundrel rules which can put you in prison for several terms.

No slight to the Traveller system intended, and no roll-playing involved, I just wanted to know if more experienced GMs had a similar idea.
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Re: Character creation

Postby Old timer » Mon Feb 04, 2013 1:02 pm

Most careers in the core book have a qualification roll between 5 and 7+ (noble being the exception to this) so rather easy to get on 2d6, especially with a +1. Most advancement rolls are in a similar vein, as are survival rolls, though military ones are a bit harsh, but that fits the system.
In my experience, most four term characters have four successful terms, though changing careers can change those odds.
I am not sure what you mean by unsuccessful term, if you enter a career, you roll to qualify, and if you stay in that career, you do not need to make any more qualification rolls. If you fail to qualify, you either become a drifter or submit to the draft.
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Re: Character creation

Postby Captain Jonah » Mon Feb 04, 2013 1:10 pm

Qualification rolls are not that high until you start adding the penalties for multiple careers. Plus they all have a stat bonus. And you have the draft which is automatic if you don’t want drifter.

Most of the careers in the main rules are 5+, even without a stat bonus you need to be unlucky or a bad dice roller to fail the qualify. Even those with penalties such as second or more careers are only +1.

Survival roles are generally low unless you are in a high risk job, 4+ for the low risk stuff, 5+ or 6+ for the moderate risk. Few careers have 7+. Failing a survival roll still nets you the skill from that term and the stat loss is a cost that comes out of your benefits. Also not all survival rolls stop the career.
A failed survival roll costs you an advancement roll and a roll on the event table though I allow the event roll anyway and simply say that mishap comes at the end of the term.

In terms of stats, there are lots of options. Use the RAW or look at the many options available. If your ref is happy and you don’t have a single stat above 8 then reroll. Its your game. Average characters can be fun to play but if you want specialised then roll another character. If your ref has character creation limits you don’t like, find another game.

Three terms is too few. I know a lot of people swear by three terms but I much prefer the older experienced characters sort of game. The manga “Kid with potential” theme has its place but not at my gaming table. 4 terms is a minimum. 6 terms makes for a nice rounded character and unless you are unlucky you should avoid any aging. The whole idea that 30 is the prime adventuring age and that 42 is getting over the hill is one I personally find silly. Speaking as someone who would have great difficulty remembering being 42 anyway. :lol:
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Re: Character creation

Postby CosmicGamer » Mon Feb 04, 2013 2:47 pm

Captain Jonah wrote:4 terms is a minimum. 6 terms makes for
At 4 terms your too close to retirement (for most careers) so I have trouble believing someone just up and quits a successful career and tries their hand at something new and risky. Unless the characters are going to start the game still in the service or had to leave do to a roll, I'd keep going until retirement. Once retired, adventuring is something done for fun and/or additional income.
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Re: Character creation

Postby Hopeless » Mon Feb 04, 2013 4:11 pm

In the game i'm trying to turn into a campaign I had the starting age be 12 instead of 18 as the first two tours were effectively an apprenticeship as the society in that future was recovering from a century of hardship following a violent coup after a war.
It didn't help that 14 years prior to the start of my game the x-boat route which I replaced with an extra stellar gate network had self destructed taking every system that had a gate which held most of the advanced tech and population making it more important to have the next generation being trained in their future careers earlier than regular Traveller rules.

So thats effectively 2 extra tours available before that retirement bit shows up, depending on when they start the game they'll be lucky to even reach that much if they stuck with just 3 tours for character generation!
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Re: Character creation

Postby Red Bart » Tue Feb 05, 2013 9:19 am

A quick glance through the books shows that most qualification rolls are about 7+ and survival roll about the same. So with a +1 DM in the required characteristic for both makes it pretty doable to succeed in both. But that does require a decent roll for characteristics (at least two +1 DM rolls). I guess some of the characters I rolled were not "optimal" for the career. And looking at some careers in High Guard (naval intelligence, command, naval engineer) have some pretty insane qualification targets.

If I read the replies correct then it probably makes sense to have more than the recommended three terms though. Maybe I'll reduce the length of the terms to 3 years and allow continuing of a career until retirement (like CosmicGamer suggests), with a minimum of four terms.
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Re: Character creation

Postby CosmicGamer » Tue Feb 05, 2013 3:05 pm

Two separate issues. Qualification for a preferred career and the # of skills acquired.

Qualification
Red Bart wrote:A quick glance through the books shows that most qualification rolls are about 7+
Captain Jonah wrote:Most of the careers in the main rules are 5+, even without a stat bonus you need to be unlucky or a bad dice roller to fail the qualify.
While certain career books will vary, in the core rulebook 5 of the 12 careers have a qual target of 6 with nobles being higher. 4 careers have a target of 5. Merchant is 4. And Drifter is auto.

You can rearrange characteristics or pick a career suited to the characteristics as rolled so the DM for the first career you try to qual for should not be negative.

With a target of 6 and an average characteristic (no die mod) there is about 27% chance of failure. So in a group of four players you could expect one of their characters to fail their first qual. Perhaps not quite as terrible as "red" makes it out to be but certainly not a rarity of unlucky rolling.

With a +1 DM, or a career with a 5 as a target and no DM, the chance of failure goes down to around 16%. Now we are near 1 out of 6 players characters failing their qual roll. To me, still not a rare occurrence.

The game does have some alternate chargen rules. How about Select Career being another one. If someone has an idea of the type of character they wish to run, I'd allow selecting a career and not needing a qual roll. It's a game. Lets have fun. After all, What is the random roll for? To simulate chances of getting into a career? I think the roll is mostly random with just a small DM to reflect the more realistic ability of getting into a career. For example, one of those careers with a 5 as a target and one person has a +1 DM and another has no DM. All other things being equal and the person who is better qualified only has a 11% better chance of getting in?

Skills
Red Bart wrote:If I read the replies correct then it probably makes sense to have more than the recommended three terms though. Maybe I'll reduce the length of the terms to 3 years and allow continuing of a career until retirement (like CosmicGamer suggests), with a minimum of four terms.
I, and many others, have been happy with the number of skills that characters end up with.

With connection skills the characters can become level 2 in whatever main skill the player may have envisioned for the character or round out their skills.

Some suggestions though if a more skilled chargen is your thing.
- add more connection skills. I'd suggest one per term.
- add more skills to the skill package (#1)
- give basic training skills out at level 1. Although this causes a bit of imbalance to the average number of skills per term.
- increase the number of events per term
- you get one skill per term no matter if you pass or fail survival. get an additional skill roll if you don't have a mishap
- allow those with a high Int or Edu a roll for a chance to gain an additional skill during a term
- have characters go to college or vocational school prior to starting their career


(#1) Personally I don't like the skill packages. While I understand why it is there, so that characters get at least the minimum skills needed for a campaign, It just doesn't sit well with me how it is implemented. Characters magically gaining skills at the end of chargen; skills possibly not related to their career or any event. For me, we discuss what type of game we are going to play ahead of time and the careers and connection skills selected usually will cover any skill package need. Additional connection skills can supplement any deficiency and they provide a story verses just handing out skills from a package.

EDIT: For your consideration: If you have a detailed comment regarding any of the specific suggestions above it might warrant it's own thread and more detailed discussion.
Last edited by CosmicGamer on Tue Feb 05, 2013 4:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.
sjmiller
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Re: Character creation

Postby sjmiller » Tue Feb 05, 2013 4:06 pm

Red Bart, I have a few questions to ask you, since you are fairly new at this. Just want to make sure where you are coming from on all this.

First, I am curious where you find this suggestion/recommendation of limiting characters to three terms. Generally, over the 30+ years I have run various versions of Traveller, I have found that most players tend to make characters in the five to seven term range. Rarely, due to certain high rolls, do I see characters with eight terms. Most of the lower term characters are due to rolling exceptionally bad on reenlistment rolls (A natural 12 on Advancement in this version).

Second, what do you define as a "successful" term? To me, any term your characters passes the Survival roll is a successful term. Is it due to a lack of skills received? With this version of Traveller, you get a skill roll every term, more possible skills due to Events, and another for Advancement. You get a chance for a lot of skills per term, so I am not sure what you mean by unsuccessful terms. This term just confuses me.

With those things in mind, make sure you are checking through the list shown on page 5 for character creation. This checklist will help to make sure you are not skipping something. I know it cleared up a few problems I had when I first switched from Classic Traveller to Mongoose Traveller.

Also, I found the table on page 9, the Career Summary Table, a handy quick reference when making characters. It gives a lot of the important rolls (minus the DMs) in one handy location. The page number references means I can go where I need to find modifiers, skill tables, and the like. It is handy for initially picking a career, or when looking for a second career.

From reading your messages I get the feeling you are either not grasping some concept of character creation, or have skipped a step or two. That, to me at least, explains why you want to tinker with the character creation rules. Most folks I have met tend to do that when they are not wholly grasping the mechanics. I could be wrong, but that has been my experience.
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Re: Character creation

Postby 2330ADUSA1 » Tue Feb 05, 2013 5:39 pm

As I have said before in other threads, start your characters off with background skills depending on the planet they came from. Then have a education/college years skills. Then have them roll through terms of service 4-7 terms depending on rolls and player desires. That should give you a pretty good character to play for anyone.
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Red Bart
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Re: Character creation

Postby Red Bart » Tue Feb 05, 2013 7:04 pm

sjmiller wrote:First, I am curious where you find this suggestion/recommendation of limiting characters to three terms. Generally, over the 30+ years I have run various versions of Traveller, I have found that most players tend to make characters in the five to seven term range. Rarely, due to certain high rolls, do I see characters with eight terms. Most of the lower term characters are due to rolling exceptionally bad on reenlistment rolls (A natural 12 on Advancement in this version).
The sidebar on page 36 of the core rulebook. It doesn't exactly say that three is the average, but it mentions the number specifically. Furthermore it mentions six terms is more or less the maximum. Reading through it again, it doesn't literally say what I remembered, but I interpreted it as 3 average, 6 maximum.
sjmiller wrote:Second, what do you define as a "successful" term? To me, any term your characters passes the Survival roll is a successful term. Is it due to a lack of skills received? With this version of Traveller, you get a skill roll every term, more possible skills due to Events, and another for Advancement. You get a chance for a lot of skills per term, so I am not sure what you mean by unsuccessful terms. This term just confuses me.
I probably shouldn't have tried to introduce new terms. My bad :)
What I meant with an unsuccessful term was a term in which you either didn't qualify for the chosen career or you failed the survival roll.
sjmiller wrote:With those things in mind, make sure you are checking through the list shown on page 5 for character creation. This checklist will help to make sure you are not skipping something. I know it cleared up a few problems I had when I first switched from Classic Traveller to Mongoose Traveller.
This list is indeed very useful, and I am using it.
sjmiller wrote:Also, I found the table on page 9, the Career Summary Table, a handy quick reference when making characters. It gives a lot of the important rolls (minus the DMs) in one handy location. The page number references means I can go where I need to find modifiers, skill tables, and the like. It is handy for initially picking a career, or when looking for a second career.
I have bought all but the last of the little black books, so I am reading more through these then the list on page 9, because many of the careers there got replaced in these.
sjmiller wrote:From reading your messages I get the feeling you are either not grasping some concept of character creation, or have skipped a step or two. That, to me at least, explains why you want to tinker with the character creation rules. Most folks I have met tend to do that when they are not wholly grasping the mechanics. I could be wrong, but that has been my experience.
This could very well be the case. I started this thread to either learn a couple of useful house rules, or to learn where I went wrong. So far I got a lot of useful information. I think that I misremembered the optional rule in the sidebar on page 36. So raising the number of terms a character should go through will probably fix what I thought was wrong with character creation (i.e. making underpowered characters).
Looking back at the characters I rolled up I think what I did wrong was choosing careers that had either a high qualification or a high survival target (e.g. the saboteur has a survival of 8+, naval intelligence has a qualification of 11+) with not enough characteristics to back that up, causing them to have very short careers or no careers at all.
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Re: Character creation

Postby Greylond » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:17 am

Most characters my group makes go 5 terms, a couple have been 6 and one was 7 terms.
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Re: Character creation

Postby sjmiller » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:58 pm

Red Bart wrote:
sjmiller wrote:Second, what do you define as a "successful" term? To me, any term your characters passes the Survival roll is a successful term. Is it due to a lack of skills received? With this version of Traveller, you get a skill roll every term, more possible skills due to Events, and another for Advancement. You get a chance for a lot of skills per term, so I am not sure what you mean by unsuccessful terms. This term just confuses me.
I probably shouldn't have tried to introduce new terms. My bad :)
What I meant with an unsuccessful term was a term in which you either didn't qualify for the chosen career or you failed the survival roll.
Just to make it clear, you are not rolling to qualify for a career you are already in, right? If you are already in a career you skip the qualifying part and go right to choosing a specialization for the term.
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Re: Character creation

Postby Red Bart » Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:46 pm

sjmiller wrote:Just to make it clear, you are not rolling to qualify for a career you are already in, right? If you are already in a career you skip the qualifying part and go right to choosing a specialization for the term.
Thanks, but yes, I was doing that.
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Re: Character creation

Postby nats » Wed Feb 06, 2013 4:00 pm

sjmiller wrote:
Red Bart wrote:
sjmiller wrote:If you are already in a career you skip the qualifying part and go right to choosing a specialization for the term.
I play where you actually roll to qualify for a change of specialisation if you wish to try for a change. I dont like the way you can change specialisation willy nilly. Because they arent really specialisations, apart from the military careers most of them are actually different careers entirely. And even in the military in real life I am sure wont be able to just change from the cavalry to infantry just like that you would have to apply at the very least.
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Re: Character creation

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Wed Feb 06, 2013 9:59 pm

sjmiller wrote:Just to make it clear, you are not rolling to qualify for a career you are already in, right? If you are already in a career you skip the qualifying part and go right to choosing a specialization for the term.
Some players will roll for qualifying again when their character transfers to another specialisation in their career.

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