Testing the new rules - first NPC character

Jak Nazryth

This is my first NPC under the new rules. He's your basic Human, 3I, Spinward March/Trojan Reach area. I will make him late 40's/early 50's as one of the first NPC's my players will meet when I kick off my game in 3 weeks

I've already run into an unusual situation... If you want to skip the stat rolls and skills for this NPC, just skip down to "QUESTION:"

First of all, I rolled really well in his stat rolls.
B,B,B,C,C,9 Yeah... really well. Kinda wish I was playing a character instead of GMing this NPC.. ;)
I picked 5 background skills at 0 (Admin, Carouse, Flyer, Streetwise, Survival)
I decided to go military academy (Navy) and he graduated with honors... the dice continue to love this NPC
So I automatically enter the Navy and BEFORE his term even starts, He is rank 01 (Ensign) with Melee (Blade 1)! Is this a correct reading of the "graduate with honors" rule?
He automatically gets in Navy because he graduated.
Got my basic training skills at 0, (Pilot, Vacc Suit, Athletics, Gunner, Mechanic, gun Combat)
He survived and rolled 2 contacts for his life event (college buddies last a life time)


NOW... Per the military academy rules on page 15, since he graduated with honors, he was already a commissioned officer BEFORE entering the service. Can he therefore try for advancement at the end of his first term? If he rolls well, and he did, he ends up as a rank 2 sublieutenant at the end of his first term. I'm not sure you can normally advance more than 1 officer rank per term... but since he was an officer already, BEFORE his term began, I think the answer is yes. Is this correct?

That weird situation aside, I do have a couple more questions on commissions. I don't have a military background, so the whole com/non-com thing gets a bit fuzzy for me, especially when they mix.

1) In a normal situation, no military academy... normally if you roll well enough at the end of your term you advance 1 level and get to roll on the skills and training table (page 17). But if you try for a commission instead, under the "commission" paragraph (page 16), it only says you advance one rank in officer. It does not state anywhere "roll on the skills and training table" within the paragraph discussing commissions. I am assuming that you STILL get to roll on skills and training if you get a commission, just like "normal" advancement. Is this correct?

2) If a new NPC/PC enters the Navy he is rank 0, Crewman. Then he spends 2 terms as a "normal guy" and advances each term, at the end of his second term he should be a Petty Officer 3rd class, rank 02. But if he rolls great and gets a commission at the end of his 3rd term, will he be referred to as an Ensign (rank 1) even though he was already a rank 2 character? Or is he called an Petty Officer 3rd class Ensign? Blah... what a mouth full. Or are the non-com 'normal" 2 ranks simply dropped completely and for the rest of his career simply referred to his rank on the officer chart? I know the first two non-com ranks still count towards mustering out benefits, but I'm just curious what "title" others would use when greeting him.

I think that is MORE than enough for tonight. For my next NPC I won't go anywhere near a service career... ;)
Commissioning should be an OPTIONAL roll for players - if they want to play Enlisted, don't roll for Commission.

If you succeed at your Commission roll, I don't think they get the skill roll for Advancement - that is separate - they do get the Officer Rank skill (usually Leadership-1).

1) My interpretation of the rules would be that a character who enters their first term from the Academy DOES get to make an Advancement roll that term. Alternately, just treat it like an Automatic Commission roll and move on.

2) It is a bit confusing, maybe this help: After 2 terms as an Enlisted person they are RANK 2, (actual Rank E2), then they get Commissioned: Now they are Rank 2 but O1. I THINK it says that you add their enlisted rank and officer ranks together to get their "ranks" for Mustering Out Benefits. It is confusing, but if you just think of their Rank NUMBER and their Rank TITLE as two different things, it shouldn't matter if they are officer or enlisted...

2a) Do it however you want...
Navy Academy is a university with a specialization in turning out university educated officers, because the Navy wants both the general education that comes from the university side of the education and the specific training that is focused on producing a steady supply of ensigns.

I would house rule that anyone who attends Navy Academy must follow that term with at least one term in the Navy -- or else serve a term as a prisoner. If they fail to graduate, they enter as E0 crew. If they graduate, they have a shot at a commission as an O1 ensign. If they graduate with honors, they're O1 automatically.

Additional house rules:
- An 11 roll, in either a military academy or regular university, is graduation with honors. A 12 is graduation with high honors. A 13 or better, or natural 12, is graduation with highest honors. High or highest honors don't grant anything more regular honors, just something to boast about and give characters added flavor.
- If a character fails to graduate university or a military academy, they get a roll for how long they lasted before washing out. Maybe 1 to 4 means they were there one to four years before washing out. In regular university, 5 or 6 means they can (optionally) continue one or two more years and take another graduation roll, but in a military academy it means E0. In the real world, students don't always graduate in four years, but the military is less prone to be patient with laggards. Additionally, it gives some age variety in new characters -- why should every new character be 18 plus a multiple of four years old?
- It stands to reason that characters might leave careers in less than four years on some occasions too, particularly in cases of mishaps.

Best I can tell, characters who gains a commission from university or military academy starts their military career as an O1, so they're fully eligible to complete their first regular term with a promotion to O2. I don't know real world military practice, but that seems consistent with my limited understanding of real practice (which in any case isn't the same in every country).

One thing I do know about real world US military practice is that not all terms are four years. A university friend was in Air Force ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps). He tried for pilot, which would have had an obligation of six years service, but only qualified for navigator, which had a five year service obligation; other Air Force jobs had four year obligations. (The Air Force screwed up his paperwork so badly somewhere along the way that they released him from any obligation, I think partly because they had an oversupply of newbie officers at the time, so he got part of his university on the Air Force's tab.) I also remember advertising offering full university for just two years of enlisted service. Rules change with the military's personnel needs and political winds.

To express real practice in terms of character generation, one might rule that all military characters get automatic "must continue" terms during periods of war that are significant enough to be mentioned in Traveller canon. But I don't know how to reconcile that with deciding characters' starting age during character generation rather than before starting to roll.

More thoughts later.
Depends on how much time and money they invested in your training; if you quit early, you probably have to pay them back.

Generally speaking, the optimum rate of return the military will get out of you is between the second and third year, which is why my take on the Solomani has the military readjust terms to three years.

The Soviets used to have two year conscription periods for their army, because they're basically cannon fodder, and three for the navy, because those guys were specialists.
You can only either get a commission or a promotion in a term not both. So as it was the first term that he was commissioned in as an officer my own thinking is no he couldnt then try for a promotion to rank 2 in the first term. He should see that term out as Rank 1.

I do enjoy the character generation as a little game but it is a little wanting in terms of creating a personal character to play in an actual rpg game that you can relate to. Its a lovely idea but it just doesnt work well in practice. I definitely believe a player should be able to choose their character and skills so they are playing the type of person they want to.D&D chargen is much better. The v1 book did provide ways to point-buy a character but that always seemed a bit dead of anything interesting to me.

I would certainly hope that the Traveller Companion has a decent alternative chargen method similar to D&D where you use dice to generate the character but you can pick many of the more important facets like career and skills from a list.