career differences

katta

Mongoose
Hello all! Today it is time for "strange things I have found in character creation". This game is very much based on money. Equipment can carry you a long way and that is gated behind TL (solvable in game: visit a better world) and money. Now, from the career, the best (and only, I think) way to get money is through career benefits. It is quite useful to stick with one career and arrive at lvl 5 or 6 for the juicy bonuses. Thus, what you want to optimize are:

- survival rolls
- promotion rolls

I understand that for most careers it is a trade-off: in some careers it is easier to survive and in some it is easier to get promoted (if you survive). I see that there is a hidden rule for almost all the careers: advancement roll difficulty + survival roll difficulty = 12.

My questions arises from the ALMOST part.

- why does the noble, administrator have a sum of 10 only? With just 4+ int as difficulty to survive a char with +2 (12) in intelligence will survive automatically. This makes it very easy to reach the lvl 5 or 6 in the career.
- why all the scout careers instead have a sum of 14? They are so much harder to pursue. The difference of 2 points on a 2d6 roll is very noticeable.
 

Sigtrygg

Emperor Mongoose
You must new relatively new to Traveller.

Traveller character generation developed from an idea the folks at GDW had for generating the sons of powerful nobles during a dark ages/middle ages game. The idea was that you could develop the son s over time to gain useful skills, but the more they did the greater the risk of them being killed (battle, assassination, disease). This became a minigame in and of itself.

When classic Traveller was written the above character generation was adopted and adapted so that different careers had different risks and rewards built into them. Join the army for example and you would likely survive, get a commission and gain a rank, but staying in the army for another term was a bit more difficult than say the scout service. Join the scouts and you had a greater risk of death, no ranks at all, but access to the chance of a ship and useful skills, plus you could easily stay in the service.

So each career was built around different enlistment, survival, commission, promotion and continuation rolls. Generating a character was a minigame and yes, your character could die during their prior service.
 

katta

Mongoose
I do not see why my "age as a traveller" should matter but ok. I generated already 20+ characters for 2 campaigns.

Ok, I understand now why scouts are harder: on a 6 roll on the benefit table you get the full ship instead of ship shares or 25% of another ship.

I still do not get why the noble, admin is easier tho. I am talking from the point of view of someone that has first hand experience on this career: in the current campaign I got a full safari ship, tas, 2 ship shares and other amenities. I am 50 years old and I was lucky with the aging rolls, ok. However, the fact that I could disregard survival rolls (I had +2 int) and promotion rolls were super probable really helped
 

Reisender

Cosmic Mongoose
Well, careers are a complex matter. Entry requirements, survival rolls, events, available skills and finally benefits all play a role and are not easily balanced. I don't think it is a good approach just to pick one aspect, e.g. money, and then compare the careers just based on that aspect alone.
And then there is the roleplaying aspect...
 

Ramentu

Mongoose
The noble career do have a SOC10+ entry requirement, higher than any other.
The skill sets are heavily oriented toward social interactions.
Those 2 factor do limit the player choices if he want the increased money.

Also, you can only spend 10k of excess cash on starting gear. Still worth it long term, of course.

Aside for the chance at a free ship, the Scout also have more choices for trying for JAOT (tied with the colonist, I think, but with a great personal dev table).
 

katta

Mongoose
- considering that with 10 SOC you qualify automatically I consider this the easiest career to enter. I do not even need to roll if I rolled well before.
- otherwise, ok, I need to roll and is a little harder but in that case... ok, let's compare stuff that is more similar. Why noble, admin gets a 10 total to progression + survival while noble, diplomat and noble, dilettante get 12? They have the same career benefits, the same entry difficulties and almost the same skills. Diplomat gets steward and dilettante gets jack of all trades. It does not look fair. Getting -1 on survival AND progression difficulty is too good in comparison (IMHO)
 

agentwigggles

Banded Mongoose
I dont understand what you're going after.
Its super easy to game and break character generation. that's not up for debate. You just don't try to DND optimize it. It will get boring, because its trivial.
Here a rule legal thing you can, but any GM should tell you no.
Term 1: Naval Academy
Term 2: Army Academy
Term 3: Merchant Academy
Congrats, you've gotten way more skills in three terms by getting basically 2 basic training and then you ride out in broker making money.
 
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katta

Mongoose
there is a merchant academy? Cool! I have only the core rulebook.

- I thought academies could not be chained (my DM does not allow it I think and I understand why)
- you get strong penalties for trying to enter the academy after term 1 (notice, not 1 career, term 1)
- all the skills are just level 0
- you are a broker, yes. But you are also broke. Money is key in many parts of this game. Not many benefits from changing 3 careers

I am trying to suggest places where the game is a little unbalanced (IMHO). My strategy is not "dodgy" like chaining academies, it is pretty straight forward and, to me, OP. I am not going after anything. This game is quite detailed on expenses, costs, budget, and tries to be precise and I like it. However, I see a few discrepancies and I wanted to know the reason. This in particular feels deliberate but I do not get it.
 

Arkathan

Cosmic Mongoose
I do not see why my "age as a traveller" should matter but ok. I generated already 20+ characters for 2 campaigns.
Historical background of the development of the rules. Not your experience with the Mongoose iteration of the rule set. The game has been around since the 70's, and character generation was in place then, only deadlier. There was no injury table. If you failed the survival roll, you threw away your sheet of paper, because there were no laptops or cellphones, and you started over.
I still do not get why the noble, admin is easier tho. I am talking from the point of view of someone that has first hand experience on this career: in the current campaign I got a full safari ship, tas, 2 ship shares and other amenities. I am 50 years old and I was lucky with the aging rolls, ok. However, the fact that I could disregard survival rolls (I had +2 int) and promotion rolls were super probable really helped
Traveller Nobles are not Medieval nobles. They are relatively pampered. You are much more likely to die if you are one of the people a noble sends off to fight than if you are sitting in your mansion giving orders.

Scouts have it bad because they are scouting. Think Red Shirts on an away mission. They are the guys who find out the hard way that that pretty flower is not only carnivorous, but poisonous, and those seed pods have an AP rating of 5 when they explode in your general direction.
 

katta

Mongoose
thx for the explanation Arkathan! Ok, I see, it is flavor. I guess it can be balanced with the fact that being an admin is boring so less people are inclined to take this career even if it is in some sense "the optimal choice". Ok, it makes sense
 

AndrewW

Cosmic Mongoose
There was no injury table. If you failed the survival roll, you threw away your sheet of paper, because there were no laptops or cellphones, and you started over.
I used a desktop computer to make Classic traveller (not that it was called Classic back then) Traveller sheets, don't need a laptop or cellphone, or tablet for that matter.
 

Arkathan

Cosmic Mongoose
I used a desktop computer to make Classic traveller (not that it was called Classic back then) Traveller sheets, don't need a laptop or cellphone, or tablet for that matter.
Traveller had been out for several years before TRS-80's were down to $1000 (80's money) and Commodore 64's got below $500.
Only really rich people and companies had computers, and they were still teaching punch card programming in colleges.
By the early 90's I was using the Mega-Traveller computer game to generate NPC's and a typewriter with a serial port to print them out.
 

AndrewW

Cosmic Mongoose
Traveller had been out for several years before TRS-80's were down to $1000 (80's money) and Commodore 64's got below $500.
Only really rich people and companies had computers, and they were still teaching punch card programming in colleges.
By the early 90's I was using the Mega-Traveller computer game to generate NPC's and a typewriter with a serial port to print them out.
Right when it came out yup, but that was changing quickly. Was before Book 6: Scout came out that I had a computer.
 
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Garran

Banded Mongoose
It's also worth noting that the Survival/Advancement situation is much more variable outside of the core book, so I suspect that the "mostly 12s" of the core is more a matter of inertia than intent.

Also, if you want to be an administrator, move to the Imperium. Zhodani administrators have a really rough time of it. (I'm actually left thinking that Administrator is low-difficulty in the Imperium as a joke about their love of bureaucracy.)
 

Saladman

Banded Mongoose
Here a rule legal thing you can, but any GM should tell you no.

Any GM should immediately expel you from the game for even asking, but I take your broader point.

- why all the scout careers instead have a sum of 14? They are so much harder to pursue. The difference of 2 points on a 2d6 roll is very noticeable.

Setting/flavor reasons - it's supposed to be more dangerous in the game world. And in Classic I think they got extra skills to compensate, so it was a way of either redeeming or killing and starting over a character with bad stats. MongTrav kept some of the outline of that, but a survivable survival roll softened the push-your-luck minigame aspect of Classic in favor of a "just keep rolling" balance.

So I routinely fixed a couple of things in my 1e game to my satisfaction. First thing was balancing Scouts out to other careers, I also moved civilian-type careers' first bonus skill to Rank 1 in line with others.

I also cap total terms at 4. I don't like the wide spread you get when players can roll to infinity, and differences in rolls (aging, promotion, survival) start to add up. I think a cap of 4 or 5 terms is not uncommon.
 

NOLATrav

Banded Mongoose
Yeah, I usually limit PCs to 5 terms.

But I’m also staring to think about postponing the aging rolls a couple terms based on TL… don’t think I will but the table keeps agitating for it. Improved life expectancy and all… So I’ve been rolling up some 7 term characters to see what that looks like.
 

Arkathan

Cosmic Mongoose
Yeah, I usually limit PCs to 5 terms.

But I’m also staring to think about postponing the aging rolls a couple terms based on TL… don’t think I will but the table keeps agitating for it. Improved life expectancy and all… So I’ve been rolling up some 7 term characters to see what that looks like.
I like what the 1e Sword Worlder book did. Diet and vitamins contain chemicals similar to anagathics, so they roll against endurance to see if they need an aging roll. Weak Sword Worlders die "young" while the hearty folk persevere. It also incentivizes taking a few points away from INT/ED to get those skill pool caps down just a bit.
 

NOLATrav

Banded Mongoose
I like what the 1e Sword Worlder book did. Diet and vitamins contain chemicals similar to anagathics, so they roll against endurance to see if they need an aging roll. Weak Sword Worlders die "young" while the hearty folk persevere. It also incentivizes taking a few points away from INT/ED to get those skill pool caps down just a bit.
Interesting. I think I have that pdf, I’ll take a look.
 

Arkathan

Cosmic Mongoose
Interesting. I think I have that pdf, I’ll take a look.
Misremembered. Not an extra roll. Add or subtract END mod. pg 21.
Sorry about that.

Still, the additional END saving throw mechanic can be applied, and I've used that one in CT. Three dice, roll under your END to avoid an aging roll.
 

NOLATrav

Banded Mongoose
No worries. All grist for the mill. Polity or species-based adjustments feels good, deepens the fluff as it were.

It gets fiddly, allowing for different backgrounds for characters (and thus differing TLs). I’m thinking of going with the broad tech paradigms (Pre-Stellar, Common Stellar, etc) to provide a +DM or maybe offset the term count.

Thankfully it doesn’t seem to be affecting things too much, with the age-extended characters I’ve been rolling up. Kind of like starting your D&D group at third level instead of first level.

It occurs to me, the players and I are all in our forties and early fifties. Wonder if that has anything to do with it, lol.
 
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