New to Traveller - Char Creation Question


Hi! After 40 years I've finally taken the plunge into Traveller. Firstly, may I say that Mongoose has done a spectacular job of updating the game from the (now ancient) copy of MegaTraveller I purchased back in the 1980's. But enough of this flattery - to my question!

I had a player choose Military Academy during Pre-Career generation. This grants all Service Skills to level 0. But rolling on the Pre-Career Events table, the player rolled 11 - "War comes and a wide-ranging draft is instigated." They do not graduate. Their SOC was not high enough to "pull strings" and graduate anyway.

This caused some confusion. The Skills section of Military Academy states "Gain all Service Skills of the military career theacademy is tied to at level 0, as with basic training." If the player continues into the Army for their first Career Term, the Basic Training section states "For your first career only, instead of rolling for a skill,you get all the skills listed on the Service Skills table atlevel 0 as your basic training." This would technically be the character's first career out of school/pre-career. So the debate within our group boiled down to:

Does the character gain all Service Skills again raising them to Level 1? Do they simply repeat basic training and receive no additional skills? Or do they treat this term as "not their first career" and generate skills by rolling on a table of choice as they would in a second term?

Sorry for the lengthy question but I hope you can help.
Thanks Matt

To be clear here. This player would have been better off choosing a DIFFERENT career after being caught up in "war" (per Pre-Career Event roll). They at least would have gained some skill levels (either basic training or standard skill roll). Continuing in the Army for their first post-education term would not give them any skills unless they pass an Advancement roll.

Is this correct?
While the RAW is that they get nothing, in a case like that I'd give them the skill roll that usually happens on the 2nd+ term instead of a does-nothing repeat of basic training.
While the RAW is that they get nothing, in a case like that I'd give them the skill roll that usually happens on the 2nd+ term instead of a does-nothing repeat of basic training.
I wouldnt do that. That defeats the purpose of the gamble of doing pre career.
If they graudated, they would have gotten all the basic training on top of 3 skill ups. So entering their first career term, they're getting at a 4-5 +1s to their skills. Verses 1-2 +1s to their skills.
And this isnt better mechanically, they also have a much better chance of becoming an officer.
They didn't graduate. They didn't even get to finish the term. In that context it's fair to count it as basic training rather than having an entire term that does nothing.

Otherwise the player may as well just junk the character on the spot and start over.
They didn't graduate. They didn't even get to finish the term. In that context it's fair to count it as basic training rather than having an entire term that does nothing.

Otherwise the player may as well just junk the character on the spot and sta
I understood they didnt graudate. And they still have a basic training. They dont need to go into a military career. Or even the same military career they went for the academy for.
Lifepath system isnt trying to be fair.
Of course if the player isnt happy with the character after done, then reroll. There isnt any point in making them play a chacter they dont like. But Life Path system throwing curve balls, is the point of the life path system.
Rules are Rules, but there is Rule Zero.

In some cases, I'm thinking of US military academies anyway, the sudden outbreak of a major war led to early graduation followed by being shunted into active duty (and promoted perhaps rapidly in an 'Army of the the Untied States' vs. 'Regular Army' fashion), so for those in an academy, it would make sense for not only letting them roll a (single) skill, but also for commission (with the graduation DM) for the appropriate service - rather than the random Draft. And then forcing them them to remain in service for Term 2. If a war was so serious that they pull people out of an academy to fight, the military is unlikely to waste time sending cadets to basic training to learn skills they already have, they are likely going to be shunted straight into an assignment. But that's just my opinion on how I would handle it.

If the same event occurred for someone in University, then I would maybe use the rule as written - which is written a little fluffily: the assumption is that Term 1 is the interrupted university education and term 2 is the Draft. I could make the case, using some convolution of the above logic (meaning, what would be the point in wasting years to get someone ready), that the university student would get the 'attended school' skills (a 1 and a 0 as normal), then basic training in the drafted service, still in term 1, and then start term 2 in the service, without it being a 'first/term/basic training thing. Not what the text says, but I think running it that way would make more sense for me if I were the Referee. And it makes for a better character backstory.

But again, that's not what the rules say. What the rules do allow for is the opportunity to make a connection with another Traveller (military or otherwise) and gain a skill that way.
I'm not a big fan of adding "haha, you chose poorly" to Chargen on top of the innate randomness already present. It's not like Traveller produces oodles of skills such that 1 more is going to break things. I'd certainly rather give a skill table roll over telling a player "Hey, I know you choked the graduation roll in the Academy and lost out on those skill points, but at least you get an entire 4 years of nothing to follow it up!".
Well now I'm curious if failing a pre career is choosing poorly.
Define some terms.
Skill ups. Is when you gain any skill increase, including -3 to 0.
And doing 2 terms. 1st term is Pre career. Second term is a career. Then compared to 2 career terms consequective. 2 terms of 2 different careers. Then looking at Graudating for the Pre Careers. Not including skills from ranks, because I dont want to write up a full character generation matrix of maxxing skill gains.

Failing College.
3 skill ups.
2nd Term First Career
6-8 skill ups.
Total for 9-11 skill ups.

Failing Academy.
6 skill ups.
Career same as the academy.
1-3 skill ups.
Toal for 7-9 skill ups.

Failing Academy
6 skill ups.
Career different than academy.
6-8 skills up.
Total for 12-14 skill ups.

2 Careers, concurrent.
1st Term
6-8 skill ups.
2nd Term
2-4 skill ups.
8-12 skill ups.

2 Careers, different.
6-8 skill ups.
1-3 skill ups.
Total: 7-11 skill ups.

College Graudated
5 skill ups.
6-8 skill ups.
Total: 11-13 skill ups.

Academy Graudated, going into the same service
9 skill ups.
1-3 skill ups
10-13 skill ups.

Academy Graudated, different career
6 skill ups.
6-8 skill ups.
12-14 skill ups.

So the lowerest end, is Failing the Academy going into the same Military Career. Which is a max of 9 skill ups.
The winner is Failing Academy different career and Graduating Academy different career.
Though not by much.
There's a lot of disingenuous counting going on there. Counting a Rank 0 skill the same as a Skill 1 award or a +1 skill award is ridiculous. It is a useful thing, but it does not STACK with the Skill 1 award or a skill +1 result. Your rank 0 and 1 assigned skills as an enlisted just overwrite your lvl 0 skills without any effect for having ever had the 0 (except for the Marine, who can take Melee (blade)1, which isn't a basic training skill).

MgT2e 2022 did remove the rule that anyone going to a Military Academy had to go into that service. Which does make the calculations less punitive at the cost of making less sense. It is now merely that you automatically *can* enlist instead of must enlist. So you do have your Academy + other career, but don't forget that your Skill 0s from the Academy don't stack with your Basic training 0s from your new career. You are likely to have a few skill overlaps rather than getting six more lvl 0 skills.

Event skills are not very likely. Navy gives a skill on 4 of the 11 results. Marines have a skill on 4 results, chance of a skill on 3 results. Army is 4 skill results and 2 skill chance results.

Assuming you make all commission, promotion, and survival rolls (and ignoring events), comparing enlist in the army 2 terms, University + 1 term army, and Academy + 1 term army:

Enlist: 5 skills @0, 4 pts of skills (Rank 01)
Enlist: 4 skills @0, 5pts of skills (Rank E2)
University: 5 skills @0, 7 pts of skills, +2 EDU (Rank 01)
University Fail: 6 skills @0, 5pts of skills, +1 EDU (Rank 01)
Academy: 4 skills @ 0, 5 pts of skills, +1 EDU (Rank 01)
Academy Fail: 5 skills @0, 3pts of skills (Rank E1)

It also assumes that none of your rolled skills replace a Rank 0 skill, which is actually pretty likely to happen.

And that's with the weirdness that the army actually has a choice of skills in basic, so you actually get a benefit from repeating basic as an army academy failure, plus army and marines have a E0 skill grant. A Naval Academy fail would have 1 less skill point.

Any term after that, is 1 guaranteed skill roll, chance of a 2nd skill roll. Small chance of an event skill. Possibly 1 more skill total from ranking up, if you don't already have it.

What it boils down to is that going to the Military Academy (Marines/Army) is, if you graduate, slightly better (+1 EDU) vs just enlisting, while going to the academy and failing is worse than just enlisting, moreso in the Navy. So that's 3-5 skill/stat points riding on 1 die roll. Making it literally the most important die roll in Chargen. University graduation is 3 skill/stat points, but it doesn't also cost you in your next career.