Improving Characteristics

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DivineWrath
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Improving Characteristics

Postby DivineWrath » Fri Mar 28, 2014 11:34 pm

Hi, I'm new around here. I've been reading Mongoose Traveller on and off for a while now, but there is something I haven't been able to find an answer for, improving characteristics. Pardon me if this was answered elsewhere, but I've gone through 10+ pages of forum threads here (and read a lot of them) with no answer.

How do you improve characteristics, like strength or social standing? I'm looking for ways to train a character, not slap on some cybernetics. I can find rules for improving skills, but not characteristics. At this time, it seems that you have to be either lucky during character creation or get cybernetics.
CosmicGamer
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Re: Improving Characteristics

Postby CosmicGamer » Sat Mar 29, 2014 12:02 am

There is no built in mechanic for improving characteristics during game play.

This is not a game where characters start out at level 1 with 0 xp and keep improving. Characters typically are into their prime and have acquired skills and improved themselves during chargen.

Here is my answer to this question in a PbP game of mine.

SOC can change based on what happens in the game. Marry a Navy Admiral if you have aspirations of brushing elbows with the elite. Get convicted for serious crimes and you probably won’t be invited to the Barons New Year party any more.

I think that the characters current physical stats at the end of chargen were achieved and maintained by whatever the player chooses. "I work hard at maintaining my physique." or "I spend all my time studying and learning." Personally I don't want to go down the road of characteristic improvement and you probably don't want me to either because any game mechanic I created would also allow characteristics to drop because a sudden change in a characters routine and the long term commitment needed to improve one thing could very well make something else drop.

That said, one can improve their athletics skill via the Learning New Skills mechanics that are in the rules.

So in summary,
Game Mechanic: STR, DEX, and END can be enhanced by improving the associated athletics specialty skill.
My way: SOC changes are done by the GM based on role play.
My view: INT and EDU would take a considerable span to improve; beyond the scope of my games so far.
ShawnDriscoll
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Re: Improving Characteristics

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Sat Mar 29, 2014 12:57 am

Characteristics are improved during character creation, depending on the career you go in. Remember, you're not 18 at the beginning of a game. For SOC increase, it all depends on what SOC means in the culture you're in. SOC could have a plus or minus affect for your character in situations. If you pay for some plastic surgery, maybe your SOC can go up? It depends on the culture though. What is your character's homeworld culture? SOC can go up by just being rich in some cultures, too. And what is being rich, etc?
Dracous
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Re: Improving Characteristics

Postby Dracous » Sat Mar 29, 2014 7:09 am

I make use of the Athletics skill. I try not to just use the stat by itself in a check, but in a situation where a stat check is needed, I make an athletics skill check instead. A player can then train athletics skill using the normal rules.
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DivineWrath
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Re: Improving Characteristics

Postby DivineWrath » Sun Mar 30, 2014 1:56 am

Nothing? I figured as much as I couldn't find it. Strange that it isn't covered.

Oh well, thanks for confirming my suspicions.
CosmicGamer
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Re: Improving Characteristics

Postby CosmicGamer » Sun Mar 30, 2014 2:27 am

DivineWrath wrote:Strange that it isn't covered.
We're talking about characters that are often in the age range that they have to make saving rolls to avoid aging penalties to characteristics. Deciding not to have middle aged folk improve their base physical characteristics as they continue to age doesn't seam strange to me.

If you had mechanics where characters can keep improving stats like some other role playing games, the typical 60 year old guy would be all maxed out strength and dex and much more physically fit than younger folk.

"Don't worry sonny, just keep working out and one day you'll get old and strong like me."
DivineWrath
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Re: Improving Characteristics

Postby DivineWrath » Sun Mar 30, 2014 3:52 am

CosmicGamer wrote:"Don't worry sonny, just keep working out and one day you'll get old and strong like me."
Considering that this game has anti aging drugs, Anagathics (see p. 94), that might actually be a real possibility.
Galadrion
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Re: Improving Characteristics

Postby Galadrion » Sun Mar 30, 2014 1:19 pm

DivineWrath wrote:Considering that this game has anti aging drugs, Anagathics (see p. 94), that might actually be a real possibility.
Considering the game also has cybernetics, there's already a little bit of characteristic improvement built in. In both cases, all it takes is money... although in the case of anagathics, it becomes an ongoing drain.

Personally, I do allow ongoing improvement, although it's slow and very uncertain. (Face it: how many middle-aged or older folks do you know - or have even heard of - who have significantly improved their physique? It takes a great deal of time and devotion to the effort, which most people aren't going to carry through on.)

Base system (can be used for any characteristic except Soc, which uses something else): the character must devote thirty-plus hours per week to improving the characteristic. (This means the player declares to the referee which characteristic is being worked on - and also means that it's nearly impossible to improve more than one characteristic at a time. It could conceivably be done, but you're not going to have the time to do anything else... like get involved in adventures.) At the end of each month, the character makes a Difficult check using the characteristic DM. Once the player has accumulated a number of successes equal to 6 plus the (current) characteristic DM, the characteristic improves by one. A spectacular success (highly unlikely) provides two consecutive successes, while a spectacular failure resets the counter to zero.

Any DM's the referee feels are appropriate can be applied. Some possible examples: access to a professional-athletics quality gym (for Str or End training) could provide a +1 on the roll. Hiring a coach could provide a DM of +1 for every 2 ranks of Leadership the coach has (and would probably cost around Cr 1,500 per month for each +1 provided; coaches of this caliber are neither common nor cheap).
CosmicGamer
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Re: Improving Characteristics

Postby CosmicGamer » Sun Mar 30, 2014 2:02 pm

DivineWrath wrote:Considering that this game has anti aging drugs, Anagathics (see p. 94), that might actually be a real possibility.
In certain cases I can see this. But where does it end?

Some people could work out all day (endurance allowing) from sunup to sunset but still never have the same abilities as a pro athlete. Two pro athletes could do the same workouts but one (maybe mid 30s) might not improve physically (but can continue to have a better mental understanding of the game) while the other (maybe in early 20s) keeps improving.

People have different body types and some have limits to what they are capable of. Do you set limits on how much one can improve or can every 40 year old have the potential to become the next Olympic gold medal winner?

Overall, I'm not trying to discourage anyone from playing the game the way they want. Just describing how I do things. My philosophies. Possible alternatives. How I interpret the rules.
Galadrion wrote:Considering the game also has cybernetics, there's already a little bit of characteristic improvement built in. In both cases, all it takes is money...
In general, we are no longer hunter gatherers and the need for the general population to be physically fit (beyond health issues) is minimal. As time continues moving forward there will likely be even less need. Machines and robots with a large database and computing power (high EDU ad INT) doing all the heavy lifting (STR), being fast and capable of delicate work (DEX) and rarely needing to sleep or rest (High END although some down time for routine maintenance and batteries recharged).

People who wish to, have an easy way with augmentations to enhance their abilities and it doesn't take as long to acquire nor does it require constant upkeep (not a game mechanic but for realism, one would need to keep working out to maintain their physique).
Galadrion wrote: It takes a great deal of time and devotion to the effort, which most people aren't going to carry through on.)
I agree with this.
Galadrion wrote: Base system (can be used for any characteristic except Soc, which uses something else): the character must devote thirty-plus hours per week to improving the characteristic. (This means the player declares to the referee which characteristic is being worked on - and also means that it's nearly impossible to improve more than one characteristic at a time. It could conceivably be done, but you're not going to have the time to do anything else... like get involved in adventures.)
This points to a major game design decision. Does one want a mechanism that promotes not role playing and adventuring and instead grinding out characteristic improvements?

For me, I like an intellectual role playing game so I play mostly with the rules as written and don't feel a strong need to add a mechanic for characteristic improvement to my games. If and when a player role plays a character as an extreme work out fanatic who stays on the ship instead of going off adventuring with the other characters, then I will do my GMing thing and deal with it without the need for any pre defined mechanics.

If I were ever to have a group of players that were overly concerned with the randomness of characteristics I'd use the point allocation system.

If I were ever to have a group of players that were overly concerned with improving characteristics during game play I'd think about creating a system - but like I said before: any game mechanic I created would also allow characteristics to drop because a sudden change in a characters routine and the long term commitment needed to improve one thing could very well make something else drop. Also, not role playing maintaining ones characteristics that are at a higher level due to training has consequences and one could revert back to their natural state.

A weight lifter or marathon runner who gets busy with work and spends time at night school to learn new things and can't train for a few months can't perform the same as they used to.
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Re: Improving Characteristics

Postby Boneguard » Sun Mar 30, 2014 3:17 pm

DivineWrath wrote:Nothing? I figured as much as I couldn't find it. Strange that it isn't covered.
Yes and no.

You got to keep in mind that Traveller is an old old-school game. Back in the late seventies and eighties, most games would not have stat improving mechanic other then:

1) At Character creation thought Race, Starting Age or (in some cases) Class.
2) In game play thought Aging or magic/cybernetic enhancement.

D20 games makes heavy use of stats improvement through leveling...which can be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it.
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Re: Improving Characteristics

Postby Nerhesi » Mon Mar 31, 2014 5:27 am

It is strange in this day and age, that it isn't covered. We can't really give any logical reasoning.

It is a game. Games allow for advancement. The only valid reason, as mentioned earlier, is that old games didn't allow for attribute advancement. Advancing attributes, is not impossible, when you consider you can advance skills. More difficult? sure - but that doesn't mean impossible.

Do it yourself bud - treat it just like a skill, but place the following guidelines:

a) It can only be advanced by 3 points (so max of 1 tier change_
b) Each point increase takes a # of weeks equal to the value you are try to reach. Or double that, or whatever. (e.g. Strength 7 to 8? 8 weeks)
ShawnDriscoll
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Re: Improving Characteristics

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Mon Mar 31, 2014 6:08 am

Why does a player need to advance his characteristics in Traveller?
DivineWrath
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Re: Improving Characteristics

Postby DivineWrath » Mon Mar 31, 2014 6:12 am

I made a quick and dirty rule for improving characteristics based upon the rules for improving skills during play (see p. 59). Essentially, you improve characteristics the same way you would to raise skills, you determine your character's characteristic total is determined by adding all characteristics. To increase a characteristic, you must train for a number of weeks equal to your characteristic total + the next level of your characteristic.

Overall, after playing with some numbers, I found it is much more worth your while to train skills than characteristics (using my house rule). An average 1 term character (difficult to determine average) might have characteristic of 777777 (42 characteristic points), 8 lv 0 skills, and 1 lv 1 skill. For such a character, it would need to train for 1 to 3 weeks to raise a skill, while it would take 50 weeks to raise a characteristic. Quite the difference. In addition, raising a characteristic does not offer any promise of any effect (raising Str from 7 to 8 would not offer any improved performance on Str skills). So this means that it might take several years to improve characteristics enough to get a bonus, during which time the character would have been able to improve many many skills.

Since this was a quick and dirty write up, there is going to be some room for improvement. I worry about that latter.
Nerhesi
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Re: Improving Characteristics

Postby Nerhesi » Mon Mar 31, 2014 3:18 pm

DivineWrath wrote:
Since this was a quick and dirty write up, there is going to be some room for improvement. I worry about that latter.
Good job man. I was toying with something like that - it is definitely going to be better to improve the skills so you that removes any min-max/balance concern. What remains is anyone wanting to do it for a purely RP / in-world reason. Makes sense to when you consider long-term training that results in physical or mental improvement.

In a few cases, near the cusp of an attribute DM it may be beneficial, but I suspect you'll find that only the case for people with lower attributes, raising low attributes (888888 going to a 98888). Even then, that 57 weeks of training to get a +1 DM to str rolls.

I'd probably change this advancement to DIV 2 at the end. 26 weeks is still brutal. Considering a basic character taking 8 to 10 weeks to raise a skill.
DivineWrath
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Re: Improving Characteristics

Postby DivineWrath » Mon Mar 31, 2014 7:53 pm

I did some searching (since I knew of a few examples) of things where a single point increase to a characteristic would be valuable. I figured it would make the ability to raise characteristic more valuable if each small increase had rewards. This was a quick search through the book, so I don't expect to have found all the instances where a small increase to a characteristic is valuable.

Damage (on p. 65) indicates that damage suffered is first subtracted from End, then from either Str or Dex (target's choice). Str, Dex, and End is in effect serve as hit points for a character (some more important than others), so each point matters.

Likewise, Psionic powers (if you use such rules in the game) typically work by spending Psionic Strength, so the amount you have is also important. Also, a high Psionic Strength is helpful in learning Psionic talents.
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Re: Improving Characteristics

Postby Jame Rowe » Mon Mar 31, 2014 10:11 pm

ShawnDriscoll wrote:Why does a player need to advance his characteristics in Traveller?
For example, a Soc 2-4 character might want to make Soc 7 so he's more likely to get treated as an "average joe" instead of "hey trailer-trash!" Or someone with EDU 7 might decide to go get a Master's Degree or a PhD. An End 4 character might want to be tougher. So, same as anyone in the real world. A GM can make it work in certain ways.

It's sort of how I would want to make my Int 15 Pathfinder character - a cleric/wizard/mystic theurge - have an Int of 16 or 17: in order to make spells better. It works for Traveller too.
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ShawnDriscoll
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Re: Improving Characteristics

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Tue Apr 01, 2014 2:05 am

Jame Rowe wrote:It's sort of how I would want to make my Int 15 Pathfinder character - a cleric/wizard/mystic theurge - have an Int of 16 or 17: in order to make spells better. It works for Traveller too.
There's a T20 for that.
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Re: Improving Characteristics

Postby Boneguard » Tue Apr 01, 2014 11:21 am

ShawnDriscoll wrote:
Jame Rowe wrote:It's sort of how I would want to make my Int 15 Pathfinder character - a cleric/wizard/mystic theurge - have an Int of 16 or 17: in order to make spells better. It works for Traveller too.
There's a T20 for that.
I'm going to have to agree with ShawnDriscoll here. Comparing Traveller to any d20/pathfinder game is comparing Apple and Orange. It's different mechanics that cannot be compared, the Same way I cannot compare Traveller VS GURPS:Traveller as they offer a different type of game play.

If you want to play Traveller like you play D20/Pathfinder T20 might be a system you would enjoy more.
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Re: Improving Characteristics

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Tue Apr 01, 2014 2:36 pm

Boneguard wrote:I cannot compare Traveller VS GURPS:Traveller as they offer a different type of game play.
I used to play GURPS Traveller a lot. But it didn't have the CharGen I was used to. And it didn't have a Traveller feel to it. It just seemed like I was playing GURPS Space with some Traveller setting thrown in.
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Re: Improving Characteristics

Postby Jak Nazryth » Tue Apr 01, 2014 2:52 pm

Since I approach this as a role-playing, sci-fi/fantasy game, and not a reality simulator, I allow stat increasing because I give out experience points. My players can spend XP's on skills or stats. They also can increase their skills by the "training" game mechanics as normal. But IMTU you not only learn by siting at a desk or in a library "training" but you tend to learn faster by "doing".
I give out 1 xp after every game night, or at the end of an adventure. Players can spend the xp on anything they use during the adventure (or try to use), including saving up for stats. They use the point based system at the end of character generation system in the main book as a basis to buy up skills and stats. So someone may save up 10 xp over 9 months (in-game time) and the buy up their strength, or dex, or IQ etc... Its up to the player to define what they do to increase their stat... "I'm working out, stretching, reading and practicing mind games, catching up with my continuing education classes...etc... It doesn't really matter to me as long as they have a logical reason as they save up their xps. Like I said, this is a roll-playing game, not reality. Social is different. They can raise their social with a series of major role-play situations. That has never happened yet in my campaign, but it doesn't mean it could in the future, namely the Vargr character has built-in game mechanics on raising his charisma, (social standing for a Vargr) So since their IS a point-based purchase system already built into the game mechanics, I simply allow the continuation of the point-buy system with xps.

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