Advice for a newbie Referree

cunningrat

Banded Mongoose
I've always loved the setting of Traveller, but haven't actually had the chance to play very much -- maybe a dozen sessions over 3-4 different campaigns. I've convinced my current group to give it a try, because I do love the setting and it never fails to set my imagination on fire, but that said, I am a new Referree.
To add to my issue, none of my group have played Traveller before, so I am going to have to be explaining the mechanics to them as I learn them myself.

What advice would you give a new Referree?

I already know about travellermap.com and wiki.travellerrpg.com and travellertools.azurewebsites.net.
I am also using mostly published adventures, at least for the first little while. I'm planning to start with Last Flight of the Amuar, then use a bit of GM sleight-of-hand to yank the group down to the Borderland subsector and launch into the (somewhat edited) Pirates of Drinax.

Any advice, handy tips, pitfalls to avoid, etc. would be much appreciated!
 

OrdosMalleus

Mongoose
I am a newbie as well, but I can tell you I found Seth Skorkowsy's series of videos about Traveller 2e on YouTube really helpful.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QdCq91MP9wE&t=2s
 

AnotherDilbert

Cosmic Mongoose
Get the players in the right frame of mind. If they are not familiar with Traveller and the Third Imperium, they will play something they are familiar with, such as Star Wars or Star Trek (or even DnD).

Give them a short written brief about the world: The nature of jump, slow communication, The Imperium, decentralised rule, etc.

Have them watch a few episodes of Firefly or perhaps Dark Matter.

Make the players understand and agree to that hack-n-slash will not work (unless that is what you want to play?).


Then worry about minor things like dice mechanics...
 

Condottiere

Emperor Mongoose
Find out what the players want and expect.

Tell them what you expect of them.

Mention what type of science fiction genre you'll be emphasizing, and explain if they don't know the difference.
 

Saladman

Banded Mongoose
I've come around to the idea of introducing new players to Traveller with pre-gens and a one session one-shot, even if they're going to roll characters later. I know character creation is a huge part of the game traditionally, but I've seen new school players struggle with it when they don't know how good Skill-2 is, or don't fully realize how the -2 penalty for doing two things at once penalizes "single class" characters while the Task Chain rule rewards complementary skill sets. Now I would either pre-roll and lightly edit characters, or simply assign skills. A pilot for instance might get Pilot 2, Pistols 2, Gambler 1, Computer 1, Diplomat 1 so he's got a range of things to do, and some other character entirely might get Sensors 3 for the chance of a well-timed task chain roll to help with piloting.

When you do roll characters, set a term limit. 4 or 5 is common. Mongoose char-gen breaks down somewhat when everyone rolls into old age. Skills get higher than the 2d6 curve is meant to handle.

Learn and teach the Task Chain rule and the changing time increments rule early and often. That's central to the game engine. I wish they were right on the character sheet (a thing to consider if you have the skill to do it quickly).

Consider what tech levels and specific weapons you want to start with in the game. One PC with a PGMP in the first session can outshine other players and make your job much more difficult. Be prepared to say no to high tech/high power weapons even for players who get a Weapon result in character creation.

On the flip side though, gaining and using new gear is a central part of the game. Grav belts, flamethrowers, air rafts, and a wide range of other stuff players can think of that isn't in the book can all be available for purchase, looting or reward. Run with that as the game goes on.

Do some amount of prep. One carnivore, one omnivore and one herbivore for the same biome gets you the basics of an encounter chart, is enough to get you through one session someday, and introduces you to the system. Don't spend too much time on this kind of thing though. The session after you use the first batch is a good time to do more.

Similarly, get just a couple of deck plans in a format you like ready and printed to use someday. One or two each of buildings and outdoor maps as well. Again, don't spend a lot of time on it, and don't worry about getting too many until you use the first.
 

cunningrat

Banded Mongoose
Saladman said:
Learn and teach the Task Chain rule and the changing time increments rule early and often. That's central to the game engine. I wish they were right on the character sheet (a thing to consider if you have the skill to do it quickly).

Thank you, that's exactly the kind of advice I was looking for!

Your other advice -- about pre-gens -- is something I wish I had thought of, but that horse has already left the stable: chargen is done. But I think I've dodged some of the bullets you mention. All the PCs only went for 3 terms, no one has any equipment yet, and they have a wide range of skills between them: some overlap but not a lot. So there's lots of room to play with task chains.
 

paltrysum

Cosmic Mongoose
Saladman said:
When you do roll characters, set a term limit. 4 or 5 is common. Mongoose char-gen breaks down somewhat when everyone rolls into old age. Skills get higher than the 2d6 curve is meant to handle.

Learn and teach the Task Chain rule and the changing time increments rule early and often. That's central to the game engine. I wish they were right on the character sheet (a thing to consider if you have the skill to do it quickly).

Consider what tech levels and specific weapons you want to start with in the game. One PC with a PGMP in the first session can outshine other players and make your job much more difficult. Be prepared to say no to high tech/high power weapons even for players who get a Weapon result in character creation.

On the flip side though, gaining and using new gear is a central part of the game. Grav belts, flamethrowers, air rafts, and a wide range of other stuff players can think of that isn't in the book can all be available for purchase, looting or reward. Run with that as the game goes on.

Great tips. I'm going to hitch hike on your post a bit, Saladman.

Task chains encourage player cooperation and they totally have fun with them. It enhances the immersion when the players can imagine their Travellers interacting with each other, and task chains provide a vehicle for that.

And a big yes on your term-limit idea. Over time, whatever training method you allow will enhance their skills, but frankly, it works better when most people are operating with a skill level of 0 or 1, with an occasional 2 or 3.

As for tech, I recommend starting in a place where super high-tech simply is not that available. Let them come into it in time if they make their way to worlds of TL12+, but making the acquisition of that TL-12 gauss rifle worthwhile is not necessarily a bad thing. Delayed gratification is good!

If I might add one more, make ship ownership challenging. Play those quirks into the game and let the mortgage be the albatross it is supposed to be. It's fun owning and running a ship, but it actually enhances the game when there are challenges associated with it. Also, the trade rules can make your characters rich quite fast. Come up with limitations. Customers who don't pay. Speculative cargo lots that don't work out. Disgruntled passengers. You don't want to make game play miserable, but it should be challenging in a fun way.
 
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