Theoretical Skill Cap


Emperor Mongoose
So the Mongoose Traveller max skill cap is 3(INT + EDU). Has anyone ever had a character hit that? It seems to me that it is pretty close to saying "There isn't one.". Most characters seem to get 10 to 15 ranks during chargen. I doubt anyone would actually hit even an INT 4/EDU 4 character's cap in character creation.

I'm not sure that a skill cap actually serves any useful game purpose in the first place, so I am not bothered that it is that high. I'm just curious as to what the arguments were that led to it being set that high instead of just ignored completely or set at 2(INT+EDU) if it was actually supposed to sometimes limit someone.
The skill limit is not for character creation, but post-gen training.
The players in my group meticulously track every 7-day stretch they are able to devote to study.
Sure, but its still extremely high. An average character has a skill cap of 42. A campaign would have to go on for a long time to get from a starting character's 15ish skills to 42 with the training system. I am fortunate to have a group that happily plays for years' long games and I don't foresee any of my characters hitting the cap ever. The worst character in my game has a 39 cap and came out of chargen with 18 ranks because of some luck on events and duplicate gear rolls in mustering out. Picking up 21 more skill ranks would take ages even if they always went for a new rank 1 skill instead of improving existing skills. And then they could just raise their below average EDU. Most of my group has fewer starting skills and much higher cap.
On average, that character would need more than 7 in game years of training to hit the cap if they always raised a 0 skill to a 1 skill. Which isn't possible. So you'd have to spend some time adding new 0 skills or raising skills from 1 to 2, which adds a lot of game time to the calculation.

Anyway, my question was whether anyone has actually had the cap have an impact in their game? It doesn't seem like it would come up more than once in a blue moon, if that.
Seems ripe for roleplaying opportunities.

Cut the time requirement for non game critical skills, such as the Tea Ceremony Mastery.

Traveller skills are actually quite broad so I don't have a problem with them taking a while to learn. I have lots of skills in real life that don't match up to the breadth of a Traveller skill.

Drive (Wheeled) for example covers motorcycles, cars, 18 wheelers, and some kinds of construction equipment. And it gives Rank 0 to operate tanks, mechs, hovercraft, and more.

Which is fine for protagonists. You want them to be competent and able to handle weird situations. But something like Tea Ceremony Mastery is probably way to specialized to even count as a skill in Traveller. :p
IIRC back in the CT days, the limit was INT+EDU. No multiplier, so avg 14 levels.

Even then, never came close to maxing out on available skill levels.
Thanks guys, that's what I thought. I could see a situation where 2(INT+EDU) might pinch at some point, but 3x seemed like a limit that doesn't limit anything.
Eh, I roll up entire crews of large ships, just because i love the character creation. Getting a character with a limit of 21 isnt unusual.
I also have no problem with characters with 10 terms. I give everyone a skill roll, not just those who advance, at the end of each term. So a character who makes 10 terms will have at least 20 skills. Ignoring my house rule, that would still probably be 15.
Add in 2 skills out of every 3 terms to account for events and mustering out, and you get another 6, bringing total to 21-26.
Add in an extra 2 skills for high rank, and another 2 skills from first term, and its 25-30.

The limit does matter, even if its unusual. I'd say, probably 1 out of 10 players, who survive to 6+ terms (either at creation, or through a long campaign) might be impacted, weighted more heavily to higher term players.
Yeah, but the rules put the average limit is 3 x (7+7) = 42. With rank skills, a couple of connection skills and one or two from the skills package, a Traveller seems to end up with around 3 per term, maybe a little less. Depends on the career(s).

But at 3 per term, your average Traveller (not even considering the EDU and INT mustering out benefits) is going to take 14 terms to reach that,.. so 18 + 4 x 14 = age 74 is when it would start to be a problem. It does seem like the limit is not much of a limit, but at the very least, the high limit prevents Thunk the dimwitted barbarian from maxing out combat and athletics skills.

The limit is so high that it really doesn't need to be there for any reason other than to prevent the creation of super characters, but that's not normally the issue with Traveller, anyway. Battle Dress and a Fusion gun beats Thunk's Melee and Athletics mastery in any case, especially with a grav belt (for the Battle Dress wearer, not for Thunk, though it would be more fun that way).
if you play a character that long, ageing penalties will eventually kick in, and you might suddenly find you have naturally reached that skill limit without trying..
For me the problem is that have level 1 in very many different skills seems an amazing and unlikely feat. In some ways, I think the formula should not be just a straight addition.
The way I as a GM have approached "skill limits" is I include skill level 0 as 1 level towards the limit. My thoughts were the base level for a character is -3= no skill, as in the Ground Level in a lift (G). Therefore level 0 is an improvement in the skill so counts as 1 level towards your limit (the Floor 1 above the Ground in a building!). To me it seems odd to imagine a character with skill level 0 in every skill has not started on the path to his limit. I accept my approach may seem odd, but it makes the players think carefully on what skills to go for post-gen. To me the fun of RPGs is having to work out how to solve problems based on the skills you have, rather than having a skill for every problem. I allow 8 weeks of study during Jumps to attain a skill level. Under my system one of my players who deliberately chose a low INT and low EDU found he had reached the limit of skills he could have at the age of 38. That seemed realistic to me.
To me the fun of RPGs is having to work out how to solve problems based on the skills you have, rather than having a skill for every problem.
Yes! +1.

I am always trying to work in situations where the PCs don't have an appropriate skill, not to inflict the DM-3 Unskilled penalty but to challenge their creativity. Many times it devolves into GM/PC negotiation before the roll but if they say "Well, maybe we could try..." then I feel like I'm on the right track regardless of how we resolve the situation.

On the other hand, certain encounters I try to build with their strengths in mind. They're Big Damn Heroes after all, they should feel like total badasses every once in a while.