Friday, April 20, 2012

troupe Traveller

So I made this super-simple Traveller character sheet that holds five PCs per page.  Eight of them come with one of the pre-gens from Adveture 4: Leviathan already filled in for the first character.  Like this:

Stupid red squiggly lines.  Anyway, the eight pre-gens fill out the command staff of the ship nicely, putting the players in charge of the ship.  The other four slots on each will be generated randomly using the normal methods and then jobs on the ship found for them.  So, for example, if you put together a character with the skills Admin-1, Computer-1, Gunner-1 they could be assigned as the Boat Deck Officer (Admin-1, Comp-1 required) or as the Fire Control Officer (Comp-1, Gunner-1) or as one of the Computer Operators (Comp-1).  Or anybody can wash dishes and chop onions as a Galley Hand, no skills required.

Each player operating a stable of up to five characters on the ship is advantageous in the following ways:
  • Cuts down on my work fleshing out the rest of the crew.
  • No need to send the whole dang command crew down with every landing party.
  • Makes it easier to switch scenes "Meanwhile, back on the ship..."
  • By running different PCs with different jobs, we all will get a better sense of how the ship operates.
  • Combat in classic Trav is pretty brutal.  It's good to have some back-ups ready.
  • Gives the players a sense that there are people on the ship they can trust to handle things while they are planetside or whatever.
Since we're using the basic generation system I don't think it will take too long to fill up the sheet.  As is typical for games of this period, buying equipment will probably take the longest.  I ought to figure out how to streamline that.

So which player gets to be the captain?  Hell if I know.  I think I'm just going to fling the charsheets down on the table and let the players work that out among themselves.  If they can't figure it out that have no business flying a fifty billion credit starship into unknown space.


  1. >Combat in classic Trav is pretty brutal. It's good to have some back-ups ready

    I have (and play) Mongoose Traveller. Last time we played, my players were disappointed at how poor damage was, which came to a head when they tried to execute someone with a pistol and found there was no way they could actually kill them with one shot with it. I agreed and just flat out doubled all damage.

    Then they fought some dudes and had a micro grenade launcher. That got pretty brutal pretty quickly.

    1. A Nguyen Ngoc Loan type execution is not the sort of situation which I would use the combat system at all. Maybe I'd allow a saving throw of some sort (roll 4D, survive on a 24?) but that's all the mechanics I would employ.

    2. Or some sort of "head shot" rule where you roll damage and subtract that number from each physical characteristic at once.

    3. I'd just say as a referee that in that situation, there's no possible way the dude is getting out alive and it doesn't matter whether they spend 1 bullet or 20 on him. I could see the situation being different if the pistol could fire only twice before the guy's rescue forces arrive, or the pistol only contains one bullet, or his armor is unremovable and the pistol round might not get through, or if he's a tough alien and one bullet might not do it regardless of how helpless he is.

      But if it's a naked dude getting executed I'd just say it's a one-bullet show regardless of what the rules say.

      Then again, in a different game I could see mitigating factors come in immediately. If the game focuses on people who have outstanding luck, or magic powers that they could use to deflect the bullet to sever their bonds, that would certainly matter. But Traveller isn't really like that afaik.

  2. Anonymous1:25 PM

    As far as equipment, most of the adventure pregens have theirs listed.

    Extra weapons, vacc suits, exploration gear, etc. should all just be purchased when the ship is and left as ships inventory to be drawn as needed.

    Some special items and new gear from adventures special gear lists can be bought as needed.

    Lots of gear in the game is so bulky that most characters couldn't carry it all the time anyways. it would be left on the air raft or on ship.

  3. "Stupid red squiggly lines." Is that just a screen cap from your text editor application? Most have a print preview. If you capture from there bet you could get rid of the "Stupid red squiggly lines."

  4. Anonymous2:13 PM

    As is typical for games of this period, buying equipment will probably take the longest. I ought to figure out how to streamline that.

    Equip the ship's stores and the weapons locker yourself. Then the command PCs draw from them as needed. Players can fill out personal items owned by PCs in off minutes, but only when the PC in question is in their quarters.

  5. Love troupe style play, ever since an Ars Magica game years back. Dark Sun had something similar. Keeping a stable of characters just seems like such a useful technique but I'm a little surprised it doesn't see more use.

  6. This sounds really great. Trek Trav? And filling out the crew with real characters sounds like the "single point of light" campaign Chris Kutalik was talking about a few months back.

    "how the ship works" - my view of Trek was changed forever when I saw a conference paper on pulp fiction of the 1910s, which said that before aviation popularized the individual heroic airman, the pulps were full of submariner stories, involving ensemble casts of specialists.

  7. what edition are you playing, out of curiosity? if not mongoose -- why not? just a matter of owning the books already?

  8. After doing char gen a bunch of times manually I was totally hooked; I was thinking of thinking of making an android app for this but that seems dumb to me.

    Alternately, something like this: What do you think?

    1. Not a bad idea, but there are decision points to navigate in the process.

    2. Anonymous2:05 PM