Monday, November 16, 2009

Filling Billets 1

I've talked about the Traveller adventure Leviathan a couple times before. The eponymous spaceship flown by the PCs in this module has a full complement of 55 officers and crew, making it a much bigger affair than the Millennium Falcon level operations in many outer space RPGs.

An assumption behind the adventure is that the PCs will fill out the top officer positions and then hire on the rest of the crew themselves, aside from a handful of positions that are to be filled by personnel from the company that owns the ship. Each job on the ship is given a position number and a list of qualifications. For example, the Captain of the vessel must have the skills Administration-1, Computer-1 and Pilot-1, while the two Cargo Handlers require Vacc Suit-1, Strength 8 and Endurance 7.

The other limiting factor is rank. You generally need someone with a first officer rank to fill a first officer billet. In the case of a Leviathan-class merchant cruiser, the assignment is prestigious enough that you can convince a recruit to accept a demotion of one rank to secure an assignment. So an ex-admiral might take the captain's slot, while you have a chance of convincing a captain to serve as a first officer, etc.

The module points the referee towards two Trav supplements, 1001 Characters and Citizens of the Imperium, for pregenerated crewmen. I've often wondered how easy it would be to crew the Leviathan with the NPCs from these two books, so I've decided to find out. Today I'm going to look at the First Officers of the vessel and see if I can fill those spots from the two supplements.

Position 02: Captain

Other 107

I was surprised to find exactly one NPC who could fill this billet. The Navy and Merchant NPC lists have plenty of captains, but none of them qualify for this assignment. Merchant #94 is a captain with 2 out of three required skills and Jack-of-all-Trades at a whopping level 5. I'd trust that character with the assignment, but only Other #107 actually has all three required skills. Which means the only qualified merchant cruiser captain has no Navy or Merchant service experience. Weird. Incidentally, another interesting candidate for this assignment is Other #58, whose only skills are Computer-5 and Forgery-3. Imagine a group of junior officer PCs, halfway into their voyage through unknown space, discovering their captain is an unqualified fake!

Position 03: Executive Officer

Navy 61
Bureaucrat 38*
Scientist 26, 36

If I was Other 107, I'd probably take a hard look at the Navy character to help maintain a disciplined ship. At first I thought employing Scentists anywhere on the roster would be odd for a mercantile venture, but the Leviathan is meant to explore new markets. In fact, the module calls for four company scientists to be carried as passengers, to help analyze data found during the voyage. A few more on the payroll might not be a bad idea, though maybe not as X.O. The Bureaucrat would be a fun choice from the ref's point of view, assuming the recruitment roll is made. Assume he worked a straight corporate desk job up until this point and you basically have Hermes from Futurama as second-in-command of the ship.

Position 04: Pilot

Navy 58
Scout 3, 18, 53, 55, 59, 66, 75, 84, 88, 116, 125,
Merchant 8*, 12*, 27*, 47, 56*, 81*, 89*, 122*, 126*, 132*
Pirate 9, 16

A crapload of Scouts qualify for this slot because all Scouts get at least one rank of Piloting skill. Most of the Merchants that qualify would have to agree to a demotion. Either of the pirates could be applying with fake credentials their pal Other #58 cooked up for them. One of them might be trying to go straight while the other one has mutiny on his mind. Or maybe they're just working stiffs who happen to have worked on private warships carrying letters of marque.

Position 05: Chief Engineer

Scout 64

Over a thousand NPCs to pick from and only one guy qualifies for Chief Engineer. Clearly Scout #64 wears a kilt.

Position 06: Chief Gunner

Navy 107
Scout 68, 89
Other 1, 136

Five candidates iseems reasonable. Twenty plus possible pilots looks like a big pain in the ass, while one captain and one engineer applicant would worry me if I was the money guy planetside. My gut here is to call in the Navy character for the first interview, since shooting people is sort of what the Imperial Navy is all about.

Normally all these top assignments go to the PCs. Seven pregens are provided for this purpose. But once the PCs are hired on, they're supposed to fill out most of crew themselves. Tomorrow I'll look at the Second Officers and see what the PCs would get to work with.


  1. I always loved the solo-game potential of Traveller.

  2. Great post! I love the way you have started with a given situation and some resources, compared the two, and lo and behold - nice adventure ideas pop out! I particularly like the idea about the captain whose qualifications are forgeries. That is gold. Now I'm really looking forward to tomorrow's post.

  3. "Clearly Scout #64 wears a kilt"

    You gonna pay for that milk I just spilt! *grins*

  4. This is the sort of thing that keeps me coming back to the blog. I love seeing how game supplements intersect to build a setting in practice.

  5. It might be interesting to play the module as a Lower Decks type scenario -- the PCs are hired on as crew. Maybe something happens to the officers and they have to step up to bat. Maybe they happen to the officers.

    Does the dearth of NPCs who could fill in as captain or chief engineer indicate a rarity of the necessary skills, or just that the game designers expect PCs cover such things and so didn't make NPCs to compete, do you think?

  6. Does the dearth of NPCs who could fill in as captain or chief engineer indicate a rarity of the necessary skills, or just that the game designers expect PCs cover such things and so didn't make NPCs to compete, do you think?

    The shortage of availble Chief Engineers can probably be attributed to the tight specifications. Engineer-2, Mechanical-1 isn't that hard to roll up in several career paths. Had Engineer-2, Electronics-1 and Engineer-2, Computer-1 would work just as well in my opinion, and would open up the number of possible applicants.

    For the captaincy the requirment of both Admin-1 and Pilot-1 is a bit of a killer. Not many characters get the opportunity to learn both those skills.

    But none of the first officer positions were ever intended to be filled with the NPCs from Supps 1 and 4. The players are meant to fill those billets and pregens with the necessary skills are provided.

  7. Are “me too” comments as faux pas in blog comments as in forum threads? Eh, I don’t care! I echo what PTR said. And what everybody else said to boot.