Building a Mercenary Force I: Recruiting

A core component of the developing Book 1: Mercenary Second Edition are mechanics that will allow players to hire their own squads, platoons and companies, and arrange them into fighting units. These rules are very much at the playtest stage, but we wanted you chaps to see them and make comment.

Without further ado, we first present the rules for recruiting mercenaries.

 

Recruiting

People are at the heart of the a mercenary force, be they frontline soldiers or support personnel. Well-defined recruitment procedures will ensure these employees will also be steady when under fire.

Going to planets in the hopes of finding the right personnel to hire, recruiters are often charismatic and persuasive, and attempt to get as many recruits as possible from each trip. To do this depends on the type of world they visit, the nature of mercenaries they are after, and their own personality. On a low-technology world, a charismatic recruiter might do a lot worse than visit settlements with the equivalent of a soap box, and harangue gathered crowds with stories of riches among the stars. On more developed planets, ploughing through networked databases and scattering advertisements online will likely prove more fruitful.

Recruits will have their resumes reviewed, checked and vetted before being passed on to the next stage where their skills are tested. This usually takes the form of several exercises designed to highlight any potential weaknesses and demonstrate the necessary skills, and it is at this point that a number of recruits will be dismissed, having failed to demonstrate those skills or shown to be mentally or psychologically unsuitable for the unit.

After this, recruits will be indoctrinated into the unit and taught how their skills will be applied within the context of other serving personnel. The ethos of the unit will also be made clear, as well as any rules or regulations they will be expected to follow.

Only after this lengthy process can the mercenary force be sure the new recruits will be a worthy investment.

 

The Recruiting Process

Despite any glamour that may be attached to the role of a dashing recruiter hitting a new world and beguiling young men and women to fight for his force across the stars, most of the work during recruitment involves going through reams of resumes drawn from immense databases.

To recruit personnel, a character must select the type of mercenary he is looking to recruit from the list on page XX, then make an Admin check.

This takes 1-6 weeks and includes selection, basic training and induction, assessment and shake-out of anyone who does not make the grade. However, multiple recruitment campaigns may be performed during this period, either for different types of mercenary or to gain larger numbers of the same type. The recruiter may make a number of Admin checks equal to the level of their Admin skill to recruit mercenaries during these 1-6 weeks.

A number of modifiers are applied to the Admin check, starting with either the recruiter’s Int or Soc modifier.

The rest are dependant on the type of mercenaries being recruited and the world on which recruitment is taking place, as shown on page XX. The referee is free to add further modifiers, dependant on his campaign and the actions of the players.

The Effect of a successful Admin check after all these modifiers have been applied will determine how many recruits have been found with the necessary skills and attitude. Roll a number of dice equal to the Effect – this is how many suitable recruits have been gained.

The recruiter is under no obligation to accept them all, but this is the maximum that can be hired with this recruitment campaign.

Population Code Recruiting DM
0 (Few) or 1 (Tens)
2 (Hundreds) –4
3 (Thousands) –3
4 (Tens of thousands) –2
5 (Hundreds of thousands) +0
6 (Millions) +0
7 (Tens of millions) +2
8 (Hundreds of millions) +2
9 (Billions) +4
10 (Tens of billions) +4
11 (Hundreds of billions) +6
12 (Trillions) +6
Government Code
0 (Anarchic) +1
1 (Company or Corporation) +0
2 (Participating Democracy) +1
3 (Self-perpetuating Oligarchy) –1
4 (Representative Democracy) +0
5 (Feudal Technocracy) –2
6 (Captive Government) –2
7 (Balkanisation) –2
8 (Civil Service Bureaucracy) +2
9 (Impersonal Bureaucracy) +2
10 (Charismatic Dictator) –2
11 (Non-charismatic Leader) +2
12 (Charismatic Oligarchy) +0
13 (Religious Dictatorship) –4
Law Level
0 +2
1 +2
2 +1
3 +1
4 +0
5 +0
6 –1
7 –1
8 –2
9 –3
Starport
A +2
B +1
C +0
D +0
E –2
X –4
Miscellaneous
Scout or Naval Base present –4
Pirate Base present +2
Halve recruiting time -4
Double recruiting time +2
Pay 10% higher salary +1
Pay 25% higher salary +2
Pay 50% higher salary +3
Pay 100% higher salary +4
Pay 10% lower salary -2
Pay 25% lower salary -4
Pay 50% lower salary -6
Recruits to have Tough +10% trait -2
Recruits to have Tough +20% trait -4
Recruits to have Weak -10% trait +1
Recruits to have Weak -20% trait +2

 

Planetary Population: The number of people living on a planet has a fundamental effect upon the efforts of a recruiting mercenary. The larger a population, the more likely there will be potential recruits. Planets with negligible populations (0 or 1) will usually have no chance of producing recruits, simply because there are not enough people to draw upon.

Government: The government of a world can affect the attitude of potential recruits. A democracy might give its citizens the freedom to choose a mercenary’s life, but a balkanisation of warring states might not take too kindly to mercenaries stealing their soldiers.

Law Level: Worlds with laxer laws, especially those based around the freer use of personal weaponry, tend to be happier hunting grounds for recruiters rather than those whose citizens enjoy a safer, if stricter, way of life.

Starport: Better facilities at a starport can greatly aid a recruiter’s efforts, while the lack of a well-functioning starport often means a population is not used to space travel and will be far less willing to leave their world.

 

Salaries and Equipment

Once recruits have been brought on board, they must be paid their agreed salary (the standard rate listed on page XX, plus or minus any adjustments made by the recruiter) and equipped. It is up to the owner of the mercenary force as to what equipment recruits are given, from weapons and armour to basic kit. However, referees will have the option to increase or decrease the effectiveness of mercenary units in battle if their equipment is markedly above or below the standard expected for those troops.

The table below lists typical mercenaries that can be recruited, but both players and referees should create their own to suit the requirements of the campaign and their own mercenary company.

In general, a monthly salary should be Cr. 1,000 for a recruit with a primary skill (the skill most applicable to the role they are being recruited for) of level 0, Cr. 2,000 for skill level 1, Cr. 3,000 for skill level 2, and Cr. 5,000 for skill level 3.

Skills the referee deems harder to acquire or otherwise be rarer in the marketplace (such as perhaps Heavy Weapons or Flyer) should command up to a 50% higher salary, as should recruits with multiple primary skills. The Tough +10% and +20% traits (see page XX) should typically command +25% and +50% higher salaries, respectively. In all such cases, the referee should be prepared to make final arbitrations for salaries of unusual recruits.

Recruits of skill level 4 and higher should be extremely rare, few in number and extremely expensive – mercenary forces are normally better off recruiting lower skilled personnel and increasing their skill levels through training and battle experience.

Recruit Salary Skills Recruiting DM Standard Equipment
Accountant Cr. 3,000 Admin 2, Advocate 1 +0
Combat Medic Cr. 2,000 Gun Combat 1, Medic 1 +0 Assault rifle, knife, flak armour, medikit
Computer Operator Cr. 2,000 Admin 1, Computers 1 +2
Electronic Warfare Operator Cr. 4,000 Comms 2, Sensors 1 -1
Gunship Pilot Cr. 3,000 Flyer or Grav, Heavy Weapons 1 -1 Autopistol
Heavy Weapons Soldier Cr. 2,500 Gun Combat 1, Heavy Weapons 1 +0 Machinegun, knife, flak armour
Intelligence Analyst Cr. 4,500 Recon 1, Sensors 2, Tactics 2 -2
Mechanic Cr. 2,000 Engineer 0, Mechanic 1 +0 Tool kit
Militiaman Cr. 1,000 Gun Combat 0 +2 Assault rifle, knife, cloth armour
Rifleman Cr. 2,000 Gun Combat 1, Recon 1 +0 Assault rifle, knife, flak armour
Sniper Cr. 3,000 Gun Combat 2, Recon 1, Stealth 2 -1 Sniper rifle, flak armour
Special Forces Soldier Cr. 5,000 Explosives 2, Gun Combat 3, Recon 3, Stealth 2 -4 Assault rifle, knife, flak armour
Tank Crewman Cr. 3,000 Drive (tracked) 1, Heavy Weapons (field artillery) 1 +0 Autopistol, flak armour
Truck Driver Cr. 1,000 Drive 0 +3

 

NCOs and Officers

Mercenary forces are not undisciplined rabbles (or, at least, they should not be), and require just as many NCOs and officers as government-backed military forces.

In general, NCOs should have the same skills (combat or otherwise) as the people they lead, along with one or more levels in Tactics (military), and perhaps a level in Leadership (the latter becomes more important the higher ranks they are).

Officers should have at least basic combat skills and one or more levels in both Leadership and Tactics (military). Effective officers should also have a level in Admin, though some mercenary forces have dedicated administrators to take this burden away from the fighting men.

NCOs and officers receive a salary dependant on their skills, as detailed previously, but gain an additional amount due to their given rank, as shown on the table below.

Rank Salary Increase (Cr.)
Corporal +500
Sergeant +1,000
Gunnery Sergeant +1,500
Sergeant Major +2,000
Lieutenant +2,000
Captain +3,000
Major +4,000
Lieutenant Colonel +6,000
Colonel * +8,000

* The Colonel of a mercenary force is often the owner or, at least, one of the owners and so will also receive a proportion of the profits the entire force earns. The salary, in comparison, is mostly symbolic and some Colonels forgo it altogether.

 

Alternative Pay Method

In an effort to defray starting costs, some mercenary forces operate on a split salary and share scheme for their recruits. While each member of the mercenary force is paid less on a monthly basis, they have a direct share of the (perhaps not inconsiderable) revenue the force brings in. A referee may choose to impose DM-1 to recruiting checks if this method is used, particularly if rival mercenary forces are not using it.

Under this salary-share scheme, salaries are halved.

Total payments to a mercenary force, after salaries and expenses have been paid, are divided up into equal shares. Each recruit receives one or more shares according to their rank and skill specialisations.

Before shares are determined, the mercenary commander (and possibly  his business partners) take 50% of all revenue after salaries and expenses as profit. Salaries of deceased members of the unit are paid to next of kin or another designated recipient; only surviving members of the unit receive shares. The remainder are divided into equal shares, with each recruit receiving one or more shares dependant on their rank in the force and level of skill, as shown on the table below.

Rank Number of Shares
Private 1
Lance Corporal 2
Corporal 3
Lance Sergeant 3
Sergeant 4
Gunnery Sergeant 4
Sergeant Major 5
Lieutenant 5
Captain 7
Major 8
Lieutenant Colonel 9
Colonel 10

Recruits with a primary skill of levels 2-3 will receive shares equal to one rank above their actual position. Recruits with higher levels in a primary skill will receive shares equal to two ranks above their actual position.

 

Design Notes

There are, of course, all sorts of things we could add to these rules, with more types of personnel being a start (don’t worry, they will be in the final version!). We could also lock down a far tighter regime for hiring people and what their skill sets are actually worth. On this side, we have kept things a little looser and provided guidelines rather than hard rules, as the buck always stops with the referee and he knows better than us what his campaign needs. An important consideration for us with these rules is that the players should be allowed to attempt pretty much anything (and you will see this line of thought come back in future previews when we start looking at, say, inadequate admin or medical facilities within a mercenary force). We also want to keep things fairly simple so a referee can leave the book in the hands of his players to work out what they want most of the time, but have the ability to make a quick (and easy) ruling when needed.

Anyway, have a wander around the Marches or the Reach and recruit a few willing men and women to see how this part of the rules work out, and let us know of any issues on our forums. Next time, we’ll show you how to organise your recruits into a proper mercenary force, and then we’ll go through the rules needed to get them fighting!

Mercenary 2: Skills and Specialities

The military requires individuals to not only adhere to discipline but also exhibit initiative to overcome obstacles. Personnel must learn to adapt existing skills to evolving situations and, if necessary, specialise in entirely new areas.

This sections introduces some new ways of handling existing skills and new skill specialities that will allow characters to expand what they are capable of doing. Those with the skills already will be able to use these specialities at level 0, while new characters or those undergoing training can go straight into a new speciality and perhaps get an edge on the enemy.

 

Using Existing Skills

The following are all suggestions for using skills within the Traveller Core Rulebook to cover a wider range of situations and tasks.

 

Combat Engineering

Combat engineering is the rapid construction of field fortifications, large-scale camouflage, appraisal of a structure’s ability to withstand enemy fire, and landmine placement and removal – the ability to mould a battlefield to best effect. This may be used defensively, to create a series of trenches and bunkers to resist attack, or offensively, breaching similar defensives as quickly as possible to allow an assault to take place.

This covers an enormous range of disciplines and so cannot be covered by a single skill or speciality, so a dedicated combat engineer needs to be well-versed in a range of skills. Instead, referees should call for checks on different skills according to what a player is attempting. A few examples are given below. All of these assume the players have appropriate equipment to hand.

 

Physically detecting mines during an assault on an enemy stronghold: Recon, Int, 10-60 minutes, Difficult (-2).

Using specialised equipment to detect mines on a road: Sensors, Int, 10-60 minutes, Average (+0).

Safely defusing discovered mines: Explosives, Dex, 20-120 minutes, Very Difficult (-4)

Build a short line of defensive trenches, barricades and obstacles: Trade (military engineering), Str, 1-6 hours, Average (+0).

Build a small bunker: Trade (military engineering), Str, 1-6 hours, Average (+0).

 

Instruction and Training

The transference of new skills and education is a vital one for any organisation, be it a small and tight-knit crew of a tramp freighter or a sector-wide military force. Although this can be attempted by anyone, some will always be better teachers than others.

Principally, training subjects in a new skill requires an understanding of the skill being taught (at least level 1) and use of Education and the Leadership skill. Those lacking levels in Leadership may still instruct subjects but will do so with the usual DM-3.

A character can learn new skills on their own, as covered on page 59 of the Traveller Core Rulebook, but having an instructor or tutor can speed this up the process considerably.  A good instructor can also teach skills to more than one subject at a time.

An instructor can teach one level of one skill at a time, starting at level 0 and going up to one level less than the instructor has himself in the skill being taught. So, an instructor with, say, Pilot 4 can teach subjects up to Pilot 3.

Teaching a level in a skill takes half the time it would normally take the subject to learn the skill by themselves, again as covered on page 59 of the Traveller Core Rulebook.

The instructor must then make a Leadership check, modified by their Education and the factors listed below.

 

+1 Teaching a single student
-1 Teaching 5-10 students
-2 Teaching 11-30 students
-4 Teaching more than 30 students
-2 Instruction time cut in half
-4 Other activities undertaken during instruction

Each subject being taught must then make either an Intelligence or Education check, modified by the Effect of the instructor’s own check. Success will result in the skill being gained, while failure will mean the lesson must be taught again, from scratch,

Quick and efficient training, therefore, requires a good teacher and a bright and receptive student.

 

Interrogation

The majority of interrogations can be handled using the Persuade skill. However, other skills can be brought into play by skilled interrogators to create a task chain, depending on how far they are prepared to go to get the information they want.

Most commonly, Deception is used to convince a subject that they should divulge information, perhaps suggesting that the lives of their comrades may be saved if they talk, or that the subject will in some way be rewarded. This also covers the classic Good Cop/Bad Cop approach, with one interrogator using Deception to soften the subject up, beginning a task chain that will end with another interrogator using Persuade. Social Science (psychology) is also a common skill among good interrogators and one that can be integrated into such a task chain.

The use of extreme methods of interrogation is not only controversial but their effectiveness is also disputed by some. One school of thought suggests that a subject will reveal everything if under enough stress or pain. The other counters that a subject will say anything it thinks the interrogator wants to hear. Nonetheless, some interrogators swear by these methods, which can be reflected by adding new checks into a task chain before the final Persuade check is atempted.

Typically, these will be skills such as Life Science (biology) and Medic, both being applied not for the benefit of living things but for deeper knowledge into the application of pain and the limits to which a subject can be pushed.

 

Specialities

The following specialities are intended for military characters (in service or mercenary) though others may find a use for many of them. Referees should also feel free to create their own and respond to requests for new specialities from players. Just remember – if it is already covered by a skill or existing speciality, you do not need a new one!

 

Athletics (archery): The use of bows and crossbows for hunting or in combat.

Drive (hover): For hovercraft and other ground-repulsion vehicles.
Weaving through a wooded area at speed: Dexterity, 1-6 minutes, Very Difficult (-4)

Gun Combat (energy carbines): Using energy weapons larger than pistols but smaller than rifles, such as laser repeaters.

Gun Combat (slug carbines): Using slug throwing weapons larger than pistols but smaller than rifles, such as submachine guns.

Heavy Weapons (flamethrowers): Using weaponry that projects a controllable stream of flame or acid.

Seafarer (personal): Used for any man-powered craft, such as canoes, kayaks, and rowboats.

Book 1: Mercenary Second Edition

As many of you will no doubt be excited to hear, serious work has begun on the second edition of Book 1: Mercenary for Traveller. It looks like it will be a slightly bigger tome than before, jam-packed with all sorts of goodies for military type characters, with a focus squarely set on mercenaries and mercenary campaigns.

So, what can you expect to see?

We have divided this book into six parts (at present).

 

Career Options

This first part of the book will be somewhat familiar for those of you who know the current Book 1: Mercenary and have been keeping up to date with our news and rumours. We previewed Pre-Career Options on Planet Mongoose a short while ago, giving characters a chance to get themselves an education before they start wandering the galaxy and looking for a job. Low tech worlds are not an issue here as, so long as there is a starport, Traveller fully embraces distance learning!

We take a good look at the use of skills, adding some new specialities to cover the likes of flamethrowers, bows, and hovercraft, and we have also done something I have wanted to do for a good few years now – hacked out the new skills that were added in the first Mercenary book. These have been something of a bugbear for me as, from the start, I did not want to have any new skills added to those in the Core Rulebook. New specialities were always fine, but not new skills. This is because we would always run the risk of ‘skill bloat’ where subsequent books add in new skills that have no rooting in previous works and, with the broad range of skills present in the Core Rulebook, it really is lazy writing to add more!

So, what are we doing with the likes of Interrogation and Combat Engineering, two of the main skills added in the first Mercenary? Simple; we integrate them into one or more existing skills, perhaps giving the chance to build task chains. For example, Interrogation can simply be replaced by Persuade but skilled interrogation teams can do much more than this and so become more effective. Imagine one interrogator with a high Persuade skill and another with a high Deception – a perfect blend of good cop/bad cop can be used, with the interrogators taking terns (and thus building the task chain). For those looking for even more finesse, Social Science (psychology) can be brought into play and, for those with the stomach, Physical Science (biology) and Medic…

New careers we have chopped right down, losing all the purpose built ‘mercenary’ careers (they may reappear in a Special Supplement in the future) but keeping and tweaking Air Force and Wet Navy (even if they are not used in a huge number of Third Imperium games, there will be lots of campaigns where they are applicable). We have also kept the extended D66 Event tables for Army and Marines, as well as the War Time Events table.

Finally in this part, we have revised the system for medals being awarded during careers, and these rules can be used for any military career (such as the Navy). While we have used the well-known Third Imperium awards, we have made it easy for you to swap them out for your own medals to suit your campaign.

 

Building a Mercenary Force

Once you have completed a job or two and had the odd windfall in a Travelelr campaign, you will start thinking about the bigger things in life – a starship, perhaps, or your very own force of mercenaries.

This part takes a good look at recruitment, the business of attracting skilled operatives and signing them up. We go through the whole recruitment process, detailing the best places to recruit from, the best people to do the recruiting (no Recruitment skill any more!), and what employees expect to be paid. We have kept this latter part as flexible as possible so while we do have a good list of suggestions of whom can be hired (for example, this is what a light infantryman costs per month, these are his skills, and you should probably give him an assault rifle), you can specify very focussed individuals with customised equipment, and the recruiting system will handle it easily. And it won’t just be soldiers you will need – there are a variety of specialists from comms operators and intelligence agents to cooks and drivers that you will need, depending on the size of your force.

Now you have some soldiers willing to fight for you, you will need to organise them into units and, from here, know how they will fight. After all, if you recruit an entire platoon of infantry, it would be a tedious process to roll for all of their attacks individually!

 

Battles and Wars

To handle this, we are taking a leaf out of two books we published more than a decade ago, the Quintessential Fighter and Seas of Blood. Both of these books introduced what we called the Open Mass Combat System (OMCS) into the D20 set of rules. The trick behind these rules was that they used the standard D20 combat system, so everybody already knew how they worked – we simply added a scaling system to handle larger formations of goblins, berserkers and trolls.

We are taking the same approach to the mass combat system in this edition of Book 1: Mercenary. Using a simple scaling system (which we will preview in the future!), you can take a group of men and build them into a squad, platoon, company… even an entire army, as there is no theoretical maximum size of unit that can be built (though larger units are less flexible, and your characters’ wallets might soon run into issues!). The big advantage of doing it this way is that whatever gets added to Traveller in the future (either from one of our supplements, or a rule/piece of equipment you have created yourself for your own campaign) will immediately be compatible with the mass combat system – it will readily integrate into your mercenary units and be used ‘as is’ with no conversion necessary. It will already have been done for you!

 

Missions and Tickets

If Book 1: Mercenary Second Edition can be likened to a three-legged stool (!), then Recruiting is one leg, Mass Battles another, and the Ticket System the third that allows this book to stand up and be used to its fullest!

However, the ticket system is a set of rules written specifically for the lazy referee (like me!) that generates missions and contracts for mercenary forces, details how they are dealt with, and what the results are. At any point, the referee can step in and create his own more detailed adventures to handle specific parts of the ticket, but the system remains behind everything to fall back on.

For example, the players have their own mercenary platoon, built of three squads, and they have got a contract to protect an installation from rebel fighters in the jungle. A major attack is launched, repelled, and the players see their chance to deal the rebels a heavy blow by chasing the routed forces back to their base (yes, morale is handled in the mass combat system too!). So, they take two squads with them, but leave the third behind at the installation to protect it.

At this point, the referee plays out the chase through the jungle and the wiping out of the rebel’s base as he would a normal adventure. However, when the rebel’s main force (not the diversion the players are chasing) hits the installation, its defence by the remaining squad can be handled by just a few dice rolls – the focus is on what the players are doing themselves and anything that happens to their force ‘off camera’ can be dealt with quickly, yet fairly. In this case, the players will return to the installation to find their battered, victorious squad waiting for them, or perhaps they will find they now have a siege on their hands with the installation in rebel hands…

There will, of course, be a long list of tickets already created for you, ready to go and good for any campaign!

 

Strongholds and Sieges

It is possible that very rich mercenary forces will want to build their own headquarters, and make sure it is thoroughly defended (you tend to make enemies in the mercenary business). However, this chapter is more about fortifications, strongholds, and other defences, things that tend to make the life of a mercenary commander difficult.

When you want to send your players slogging through a trench complex, up a muddy hill, all the while being bombarded by howitzers and snipers with laser rifles, only to find a walled bunker compound waiting for them at the top, this part of the Book 1: Mercenary Second Edition contains everything you need to construct the most fiendish set of defences, whatever the tech level.

 

Equipment and Vehicles

With this new focus on mercenaries and mercenary campaigns, there is a wealth of new equipment and, especially, vehicles, that players will want to get their hands on. After all, any edge they can get on their competition will mean more credits in the bank.

There is just one thing though… We have set ourselves a challenge that, despite this being a very ‘martial’ book, we are going to try to do this entire section without including any new weapons at all. We figure the Central Supply Catalogue pretty much has things covered on the weapons front, so let’s try to make this part of the book as interesting as possible without focussing it on gun bunnies!

 

 

We have pencilled in a release date of September/October this year but, as always now, it really will be released when it is ready, and this is where you can help! We have opened a thread on our forums where you can make comments and suggestions of your own, based on this preview and the rules snippets we will be posting over the coming weeks and months. So, feel free to dive in and let us know what you would like to see in this book – you have a very real chance to shape Traveller with a book that will be a cornerstone for many campaigns for years to come!

Pre-Career Education

Here at Mongoose, we are constantly work not only on new games and books but we also beaver away on existing games like the ones from thorslots.com, trying to find ways to make them better! This article is another take on pre-career education in Traveller, an attempt to unify everything we have done before, add some cool new bits, and generally improve on the system. Feel free to swing by our forums and let us know what you think!

Before a character embarks on a lifelong career, there are several educational options that it may be worth considering. These include going to university, attending a military academy, and perhaps engaging in further education beyond this to better prepare for careers ahead.

This usually takes place in a character’s first term, though it can be delayed up until the third term if a term or two in a career is desired. From term four and onwards, these options are no longer available.

A character can select one of the options below, making a dice roll for successful entry. If this is failed, the character must immediately attempt entry into a career and, failing that, be drafted as normal. Further attempts can be made in terms two and three if desired but only one attempt can be made at entry to one of these pre-career options in any one term.

Once successful entry has been achieved, the character will gain any skills noted and roll on the Events table on page XX. Upon successful graduation, one or more benefits will be awarded. Unlike a career, there is no mustering out or gaining of anything else other than the benefits listed. If graduation is not achieved, then no benefits are gained though the character may still have earned some skills during this time.

After successful graduation, a character may attempt to enter a career of their choice as normal, though pre-career options often given bonuses or automatic entry to certain careers, as listed under their benefits.

University

Most worlds have one or more universities within their major settlements but even citizens of the most remote system can engage in university education through the use of computer networks and interstellar communications. A university education will channel a character’s efforts into a narrow range of skills but there are few other ways to become more skilful within them so quickly.

Entry: Edu 8+.

DM-1 if in Term Two, DM-2 if in Term Three

DM+1 if Soc 9+

Skills: Choose a level 0 and a level 1 skill from the following list;

Admin, Advocate, Animals (farming or veterinary), Art (any), Astrogation, Broker, Comms, Computers, Engineer (any), Language (any), Life Sciences (any), Navigation, Physical Sciences (any), Social Sciences (any), Space Sciences (any), Trade (any).

Increase Edu by +1

Graduation: Int 8+. If 10+ is rolled, graduate with honours.

Graduation Benefits

Increase the skills chosen above to level 1 and level 2 respectively.

Increase Edu by +2

Graduation allows attempt to enter medical or flight schools.

Graduation grants DM+1 (DM+2 if graduation was with honours) to qualify for the following careers; Agent, Air Force, Army, Citizen (corporate), Entertainer (journalist), Marines, Navy, Scholar, Scouts, Wet Navy.

Graduation allows a Commission roll to be taken before the first term of a military career, so long as it is the first career chosen after university. Success will mean the character enters the career at officer rank (O1). If graduation was with honours, a DM+2 is granted on this first Commission roll.

Military Academy

For those who are looking to dedicate their lives to military service, there is no better option than joining an academy to round out an education. This is a popular choice for those coming from ‘military’ families or those having grown up never considering anything other than a life in uniform. A term within a military academy can set a recruit’s career for great things, so competition to gain one of the limited number of open student slots is fierce.

Before joining a military academy, you must decide whether it is an academy of the Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy or Wet Navy.

Entry: Air Force Dex 9+, Army End 9+, Marines End 10+, Navy Int 10+, Wet Navy End 9+

DM-2 if in Term Two, DM-4 if in Term Three

Skills: Gain all Service Skills of the military career the academy is tied to at level 0, as with basic training.

Graduation: Int 9+. DM+1 if End 9+, DM+1 if Soc 9+. If 10+ is rolled, graduate with honours.

Graduation Benefits

If entering the same military career the academy is tied to, for basic training the character may select any three Service Skills and increase them to level 1.

Increase Edu by +1.

Graduation allows attempt to enter medical school.

Graduation in an Air Force or Navy academy allows attempt to enter flight school.

Graduation allows automatic entry into the military career the academy is tied to, so long as it is the first career attempted by the character after graduation.

Graduation allows a Commission roll to be taken before the first term of a military career, so long as it is the first career chosen after university, with DM+2. Success will mean the character enters the career at officer rank (O1). If graduation was with honours, the character will automatically pass this roll.

Advanced Education

Successful graduation in university or a military academy gives characters a chance to enter advanced education in a highly prestigious flight or medical school. These choices are for characters determined to dedicate their lives to becoming a pilot (of aircraft or spacecraft) or doctor respectively. This consumes another four years of a character’s life but ensures they are highly specialised with automatic entry to the career of their choosing should they be successful.

Flight School

For both air forces and the Navy there exist flight schools designed to produce the very best pilots. The most famous of these cater for fighter pilots of agile aircraft and small space-going craft, but no less important are the schools that concentrate on the deft skills needed to manoeuvre the largest warships.

Entry: Edu 8+

DM+1 if Dex 9+

DM+2 if graduated with honours.

Skills: Admin 0, Physical or Space Sciences (any) 1, and either Flyer (any) or Pilot (any) 1

Graduation: Int 8+. If 10+ is rolled, graduate with honours.

Graduation Benefits

Gain two more levels to either Flyer or Pilot (any); these two levels must be put into different specialities.

Graduation grants automatic enlistment to the Navy (line/crew or flight) if the character has at least one Pilot skill, or the Air Force (air lift or flight) if the character has at least one Flyer skill, with an automatic commission before the career’s first term, allowing the character to start at officer rank (O1). Graduating with honours increases this to officer rank 2 (O2).

Medical School

There is more than one route to becoming a doctor, be it specialist or researcher, but the very best tend to be those who graduate a respected medical school. Successful graduation at medical school will guarantee a high-flying career.

Entry: Edu 8+

DM+1 if Int 9+

DM+2 if graduated with honours.

Skills: Admin 0, Life Sciences (any) 1, Medic 1

Graduation: Int 8+. If 10+ is rolled, graduate with honours.

Graduation Benefits

Gain Medic 2 and two more levels to Life Sciences (any); these two levels may be put into a single Life Science or split between two Life Sciences.

Increase Edu by +1

Graduation grants automatic enlistment to any military career (if the character went to a military academy, this must be the same career the academy is tied to). Graduating with honours grants an automatic commission before the military career’s first term, allowing the character to start at officer rank (O1).

Graduation grants automatic enlistment to the Scholar career, starting at rank 1. Graduating with honours means the character will start at rank 2.

Events During Pre-Career and Advanced Education

For every term a character spends in pre-career or advanced education, roll on the following table to generate an event. As with career events, other characters may be linked to with the connections rule – perhaps they even spent time in the same university or academy!

2D Event
2 You are approached by an underground (and highly illegal) psionic group who sense potential in you. You may test your Psionic Strength (as described on page 152 of the Traveller Core Rulebook) and attempt to enter the Psion career in any subsequent term.
3 Your time in education is not a happy one and you suffer a deep tragedy; perhaps you become hopelessly addicted to drink or drugs, a failed romance leaves you in tatters, or a fatal accident involving a close friends shakes your confidence. You crash fail to graduate.
4 A supposedly harmless prank goes and someone gets hurt, physically or emotionally. Roll Soc 8+. If you succeed, gain a Rival. If you fail, gain an Enemy.
5 Taking advantage of youth, you party as much as you study. Gain Carouse 1.
6 You become involved in a tightly knit cliché or group and make a pact to remain friends forever, wherever in the galaxy you may end. Gain D3 Allies.
7 Life Event. Roll on the Life Events table (see page 34 of the Traveller Core Rulebook).
8 You join a political movement. Roll Soc 8+.  If successful, you become a leading figure. Gain one Ally within the movement but gain one Enemy in wider society.
9 You develop a healthy interest in a hobby or other area of study. Gain any skill of your choice, with the exception of Jack-of-all-Trades, at level 0.
10 A newly arrived tutor rubs you up the wrong way and you work hard to overturn their conclusions. Roll 9+ on any skill you have learned during this term. If successful, you provide a truly elegant proof that soon becomes accepted as the standard approach. Gain a level in the skill you rolled on and the tutor as a Rival.
11 War comes and a wide-ranging draft is instigated. You can either flee and join the Drifter career next term or be drafted (roll 1D: 1-2 Army, 3 Marines, 4 Navy, 5 Air Force, 6 Wet Navy). Either way, you do not graduate this term. However, if you roll Soc 9+, you can get enough  strings pulled to avoid the draft and complete your education – you may attempt graduation normally and are not drafted.
12 You gain wide-ranging recognition of your initiative and innovative approach to study. Increase your Social Standing by 1.

As something of an experiment, we have created a handful of new PDF-only additions for Traveller. They are intended to be small, cheap, but with enough content to expand your games in different directions, or give you a good session or two as adventures.

 

Special Supplement 1: Biotech Vehicles

Special Supplement 1: Biotech Vehicles is a bolt-on for Supplement 5-6: Vehicle Handbook. Written by the same author (Colin Dunn), it provides everything you need to make organic vehicles, from the floating squid-airship we include as an example to, well, anything your imagination can come up with; tunnelling moles with hardened chitin skins, great biotech walkers that stride across the landscape, or truly alien weird, fleshy pod cars.

Biotech Vehicles also includes rules for organic battle dress (that has to be weird to put on!), as well as modifications and weapons unique to biotech. You can even power your vehicle by sunlight and give it effectively unlimited range during the day!

 

Special Supplement 2: Deadly Assassins

The second of the Special Supplements deals with three very different flavours of assassin. Each coming from a seperate ‘school,’ they concentrate on stealth, close combat and sniping, respectively. For high-powerered campaigns, we have included full careers for these assassins (don’t expect to stay long in the careers, they are tough!), though we think most referees will use them as adversaries for players – imagine the look on their faces when you tell them the Enemy they just rolled up is, in fact, one of these guys!

As well as all the very special (and extremely high-tech) equipment these assassins have access to, we have also included three assassins, all tooled-up and ready to be inserted into your campaign.

The Tricolore's Shadow

A complete adventure for 2300AD, The Tricolore’s Shadow sees the players take an innocent enough job, surveying a valley on a colony world. However, a downed French spy satellite soon creates an international incident that the players will find themselves caught up in. They must choose between confronting powerful governmental forces directly, or racing across the planet to get off-world and reach safety.

Terror's Lair

Alternatively, if you are currently lacking players, why not take a trip to Terror’s Lair? This is a solo adventure for 2300AD, putting you in the role of American Marshal Obadiah Thomas, assigned to track down and capture Felix Berthold. Will you be able to guess who the elusive Felix is masquerading as before he escapes?

We have included plenty of hints and tips on how to expand this solo adventure into group play, perhaps getting your players to all run through Terror’s Lair on their own so they are familiar with the background, before launching into a group game with their own characters.

 

We have several more supplements and adventures like this planned, with the next being an adventure bearing the ominous title Cowboys vs. Xenomorphs. This is a much larger supplement (and will have a hardcopy print option available at Drivethru), and includes full rules for running Wild West games using the Traveller rules, a ‘desperado’ career to create new characters (though a full set of pre-generated characters is available), a complete town to use as a base/setting and, of course, the actual adventure. The players, running from the law, come to a small mining town far outon the frontier. They decide to lay low, and get involved with some of the machinations of the residents. Then, something very bad happens, and they find that something terrible is lurking in them thar hills.

I think you can probably see where this one is going…

Cowboys vs. Xenomorphs is in editing and layout right now, and will likely be available on Drivethru at the end of the month.

 

 

 

 

Idle Friday

Just playing around with her 3D software, Sandrine came up with this. Some of you might recognise it…

Gionetti-class Light Cruiser

This light cruiser is named exclusively for posthumous recipients of the Imperial Starburst for Extreme Heroism.

Originally intended as a fast-reacting fighting ship, its actual use has evolved with experience. The ship is currently in favour as a flagship for many minor operations. Its high jump capability makes it extremely responsive to most situations, and it is possible to displace troops or service crew (or both) to provide quarters for command and staff personnel.

 

The Takel

A New Race for Traveller, by Jacob D C Ross.

The Takel are an aquatic native to the planet Umina. A minor race hindered by the unique nature of their planet and physiology, the Takel are not widely-dispersed among the stars.

Physiology
Takel are a genetically diverse aquatic species. They grow to a height of between 1.75 and 2 metres. There are no immediate differences in the appearances of male and female Takel beyond the great variation in appearance from one Takel to another. Takel are omnivorous, generally requiring a diet of 3,500 calories per day, with similar nutritional needs to humans.

The Takel

Takel bodies are incredibly flexible and dextrous. Takel colouring is variable, and any hue found in the visible spectrum (and beyond) may be present. Their skin can be uniform in colour, spotted, streaked or even covered in fractal patterns. Takel skin varies from smooth to bumpy to scaly. Due to their wild genetics, Takel offspring seldom bear any resemblance to their parents.

Takel each have eight arms (not tentacles), with each arm containing a great number of neurons connected to the brain. Each arm houses 3.5 percent of the total brain mass of the Takel, giving the arms amazing co-ordination. Seeing the impossible-seeming contortions, quick-as-a-flash movements and exotic colouring of the Takel, alien visitors to Umina have reportedly been moved to tears at Takel displays of dexterity, such as dance or athletics.

Takel have four eyes and two beaks, and effectively two faces. The first is found at the front of the head, while the second face is at the top of the head, allowing the Takel to see and eat prey while swimming at top speed.

Takel reproduce sexually and are egg layers, with the eggs kept within the mother. A typical Takel pregnancy has approximately twenty fertilised eggs but perhaps only two are likely to survive to term. Takel mature at approximately sixteen Earth years (seven Umina years) and live to about the age of 68 (29.75 Umina years).

Takel do not have vocal cords and so must use a vocoder in order to converse in other languages, in a similar manner to the Hivers. Takel language consists of a series of clicks made with their beaks, requiring non-Takel to use a specialised vocoder to speak in the Takel language.

The Takel manifest psionic ability in roughly the same percentage of the population as humans. Psionically-endowed Takel tend to have the same psionic strength as their counterparts in other species, but when in the water their abilities are enhanced.

The presence of unique mutagens on Umina severely affect Takel genetics. As a result, Takel have a wide variety of traits that manifest differently from individual to individual. When creating a character, roll once on the table below for any mutations present.

2D6     Result
2            Chamelon Skin
3-4        Poison
5-6       Two Tentacles
7           No Mutation
8-9       Thick Skin
10-11   Enhanced Jet Propulsion
12          Amphibian

Chameleon Skin: The Takel can change the color of its skin. This grants it a +2 DM on all Stealth checks, provided that they are wearing transparent clothing or are nude.
Poison: The Takel can deliver neurotoxin (see page 74 of the Traveller Main Rulebook) via a bite.
Two Tentacles: Two of the Takel’s arms are actually tentacles, terminating in hard claws. When used as weapons the tentacles do D6+2 damage.
Thick Skin: The Takel has natural Armour 1.
Enhanced Jet Propulsion: When using their jet propulsion (see below) the Takel gains an additional +3 metres that it may move in a turn.
Amphibian: The Takel is adapted for both land and water habitats, and may breathe air, but still needs a survival suit to venture into alien oceans and must ingest Umina-specific chemicals daily.

Psionic Sharing
In Takel who have a Psionic Strength characteristic, the ability to draw upon their environment for power is present. A Takel can power their talents by taking Psionic Strength from willing participants within a radius equal to Psi DM x 10 metres. The psion may take a single Psi point from one being per point of the psion’s Psi DM to power a talent. All participants must be fully submerged in the same body of water.

Takel Characters
When creating a Takel character, make the following adjustments:

Str –2
Notable Dex (4D6)
End –2
Edu +1

Aquatic: The Takel cannot operate outside Umina’s ocean (including other oceanic environments) without using survival suits.
Jet Propulsion: If a Takel chooses to do nothing but move for its turn and is in a fluid medium, it may use their innate jet propulsion system to double its movement. Each time it does this counts as two rounds of action for the purposes of fatigue.
Multi-tasking: Due to their complex neural systems, Takel gain an extra minor action each round.

To adventure outside of their ocean, including within an alien ocean, a Takel requires a survival suit.

Survival Suit (TL 13)
The suit is of non-Takel manufacture and must be imported. It is a nearly skin-tight apparatus that provides the salt water mixture a Takel requires to live,  including the unique mixture of chemicals peculiar to Umina. Using this suit, the Takel can survive and interact on land and within alien oceans. The survival suit costs Cr. 4,500 and requires Cr. 20 worth of chemical refills per week. A completely transparent model costs Cr. 13,500.

Takel Society
Takel live on Umina (C66A622-7 S R NI Ri Wa), and have done so for the entirety of their civilisation, which stretches back at least 32,000 years. This age is only verified by historical account, not by archaeology, as the lack of minerals on Umina and the mildly-corrosive nature of its ocean means few artefacts of the past have survived.

The Takel govern themselves by convention, meeting every two Umina years (4.4 Earth years) to settle important matters and direct Takel efforts. Once a majority of 80% agree on a course of action, that plan is enacted. Disagreements seldom arise, not because the Takel get along uncommonly well, but because of their individualistic natures. Takel leave one another to their own plans on the understanding they will not be bothered by their companions.

Takel science is somewhat lacking in most areas. Without access to vast mineral resources on the very sparse land of Umina, the Takel have not achieved much in the way of transportation or computer technology. As they are perfectly adapted to their environment, the Takel never researched housing or buildings beyond basic protective barriers to keep safe from large predators. The Takel have excelled in creating personal weapons and traps to defend themselves against the megafauna that stalk Umina, and their skill with medicine is astonishing. The Takel quickly adapted their own medical technology for other species after first contact. Since Umina is mineral-poor, offworld traders provide the Takel with TL 7 or TL 8 equipment they do not have the infrastructure to manufacture for themselves, while Takel medicine is at TL 14 and nearing TL 15.

Takel have a very permissive attitude with regard to body modification, as they do not have an orthodox ‘look’ to the species, and they are tolerant of physical forms outside of the norm. Rather than cybernetic enhancements, the Takel usually opt for biological enhancements. Some of the most popular include crustacean claws, bio-electrical shock systems, limb regeneration and echolocation organs. These are also some of the most popular augments that the Takel sell, after gills and corrosive-resistant skin.

Within galactic society the Takel play a minor role. Those who venture away from Umina generally find work as doctors, entertainers, scouts (especially useful on aquatic worlds) and soldiers. Few Takel do leave their world, however, as many find the need for a survival suit to be too great a burden for the chance to adventure. Umina’s ocean contains a certain mix of chemicals that the Takel require in order to survive, and so in addition to wearing a survival suit, the suit must be precisely calibrated.

Adventures
The majority of adventures involving Takel will take place on Umina. The small ocean planet contains scant few islands, but corporate and scientific interests have constructed a floating city, Namitam, that serves as the planet’s downport. Submarine tours are available for hire and the Takel will welcome strangers to their sea floor settlements, out of curiosity, if not hospitality. Umina has several sites of interest.

There is a portal near the southern pole, of unknown design. It is actually a jump gate, linking Umina with an unknown watery realm. The water within this realm contains the same mix of chemicals required to support Takel life, but does not appear to have a solid surface, although large spheroids of rock do float within it. It is home to all manner of aquatic creatures, as well as jump gates to other planets with a Hydrographic score of 7 or greater. The portal is large enough to allow passage to a submarine twice the size of modern nuclear subs.

A psion cult is hidden near the ruins. They are led by a mad Takel priest who wants to use the portal to hydroform the planets linked to the portal to be hospitable for Takel life. This would, of course, utterly decimate the native ecosystem of the hydroformed planet. The cult use their abilities of Telekinesis, Energy Kinesis and Psionic Attack to devastating effect (see Book 4: Psion). Additionally, the cult may inundate the minds of Travellers with images of their monstrous deity and false dangers, perhaps causing them to turn on their comrades or open the airlock while underwater. If the cult detect scholarly minds with appropriate political connections or technical knowledge they will try to capture and brainwash the crew in order to receive the information and materials their operation requires.

Campaigns
Takel perhaps work best as a supporting force. They make fine patrons in that most of what they want in terms of material must be imported and few Takel have the desire to leave their homes. Takel NPCs should be socially outgoing, but reserved enough to not readily allow strangers into their inner circle.

Takel encountered off-world will usually be merchants selling medicine or doctors offering bio-augmentations. Because of the cost of living incurred with the required modifications to most of their equipment, Takel medical supplies and other wares should be offered at a higher price than usual. Of course, Takel medical services are often more advanced than those readily available, so players will likely have use for them.

If the referee decides to use the Takel as an enemy, the easiest way would be by using the southern jump gate and the psionic cult that guards it. The referee should feel free to make the hydroforming apparatus work swiftly, eradicating native ecosystems quickly. For added threat, allow the Takel to win their first planet with ease, taking the capital of whatever government the players serve, Earth, or a player’s homeworld. In true battle the Takel would prove to be a serious nuisance, utilising guerilla tactics like stealth strikes and harrying units.

 

On Assignment

Every now and again, one question pops up on our Traveller forums – after finishing a term during character creation, how do you change assignments within the same career? If, for example, you are a marine working in Support, can you buck for some ‘trigger time’ and become a Star Marine or join a Ground Assault battalion?

Before we give the grand answer to this eternal dilemma, it is worth pointing out that Traveller is not like many other roleplaying games. Balance between characters is far more nebulous, and this is down to the nature of the game.

At its most fundamental level, Traveller is about ordinary people trying to make their way in the world.  Your character has just finished his career and is effectively getting a second start in life, built on his past experiences.  He may have a pension, my have some savings but, other than that, how he gets on in life is up to you. Maybe your character will be a trader, plying the space lanes in a succession of larger freighters as his bank balance increases. Perhaps he will be a mercenary, intentionally seeking war zones and lending his service to the highest bidder. Or he could just ‘see what is out there,’ exploring the galaxy and taking whatever work happens to pop up on the next planet. You could start your own business, mine asteroids, start a criminal organisation, be a space ship salesman (or thief), or become the galaxy’s greatest (ageing) rock star.

Given that, balance between characters is not much use and we intentionally don’t give it much more than a nod in terms of the number of skills and credits a character can earn in a career. After all, one of your friends may be determined to build a combat monster whereas you might prefer to play a ‘face man’ who can bend people round his little finger with a little silver-tongued work. Just as in the real world, both characters have their merits – after all, a blood-thirsty maniac would be no good to us here at Mongoose when it comes to laying out books (Will is more your silent, cloaked assassin type).

So, back to the question; after finishing a term during character creation, how do you change assignments within the same career? Can you just switch, do you need to roll to enlist again, or what?

Here is the official answer…

It doesn’t really matter.

Really, it does not matter.  You are not going to break the game or end up with a monstrous, unbalanced character whichever method you choose – or whether you choose not to allow it at all.

All I can really tell you is what we do in our own games in the office. And before I go on, let me stress that this does not in any way denote the ‘proper’ way of playing the game. It really is just what we do. By all means take this as a starting point for your own campaigns or choose your own options. It is your game and we won’t be busting down your door for doing it differently!

When I am running the character creation session, I tend to vary between allowing an automatic switch and rolling for qualification/enlistment again.  Which is usually determined by the career and also the character involved – an Event may suggest a change in career path, or the player may make a good case for why his character should be allowed to make the change, based on the personality of the character and where the player wants to take him. When rolling for qualification/enlistment, however, I don’t usually use the negative DM for previous careers. After all, the character is already in the career and has, to an extent, already proved himself. Of course, you may want to impose your own penalties if the character has had a string of rather unfortunate Events…

Here are some examples of how we do things.

Agent
If a character is in Law Enforcement, it makes plenty of sense for them to make an automatic move to Corporate, especially after a notable event, good or bad (good may mean they are headhunted, bad may mean the character was ‘encouraged; to leave law enforcement and had no choice but to go corporate). If, however, the player wants to take the character into Intelligence, this may be automatic if (for example) they get Event 8 and successfully go undercover to investigate an enemy and impress an intelligence agency. On the other hand, without such a boost, a straight qualification roll may be more appropriate.

Army, Navy and Marines
These can all be treated in a similar way, and we normally do this based on whether the assignment can be seen as a ‘sideways’ move or is a fast track to something more in the limelight.  For example, in your campaign, Support and Infantry in the army may be seen as being the ‘core’ of an armed force and therefore at a similar level as each other, allowing automatic swaps between them. However, if Cavalry is seen as being somehow more important or a ‘cut above’ the rest of the army, then an enlistment roll may be the way to go. On the other hand, if someone in the Infantry rolls, say, Event 12 and displays heroism in battle, perhaps a switch in assignment may be an automatic benefit as well as the promotion or commission.

Citizen
Well, how many times have you changed job in your life?  It is entirely appropriate to switch assignments on the fly with the Citizen career.

Drifter
Unlike the Citizen career, being a Drifter is more likely to lock a character into a certain way of life, and so it may be better to treat each one as a separate career in its own right. After all, if you have a Scavenger working as part of a salvage crew, he is unlikely to suddenly become a Barbarian – though maybe something like Event 8, where the character is attacked by enemies, could not only leave him injured but marooned on a low tech world. Now that is a great plot hook to bring back into the game later in the campaign!

Nobility
I would tend to let players switch between Administrator and Diplomat as they saw fit, as the two can have some obvious links as the character becomes one of the movers and shakers of their world. However, Dilettante… Maybe it is just me, but I am not sure such characters will end up doing anything truly worthwhile!

Ranks
The final question when switching assignments is how to handle Ranks and, again, I would base it upon the career in question.  If you are switching between assignments within the same military (such as our Army example above), then it makes perfect sense for the character to retain their current Rank and, hopefully build upon it. The same can be said for more informal organisations or even different organisations that have a common basis. For example, a Rogue who starts as an Enforcer, becomes a Thief and ends up as a Pirate could perhaps retain his Rank through all assignments (gaining Skills and Benefits only as he ranks up within each assignment, so you don’t get to ‘double up’ on Benefits), with the reasoning that their reputation is growing and begins to precede them. Someone who has made his name as an Enforcer or Thief could easily be accorded great respect among Pirates. The same argument cold be made for Citizens, as their CV/resume gains weight.

On the other hand, perhaps it does not work so well for Entertainers. How many times has a real world celebrity decided they are no longer a singer/actor/socialite and tried to do something ‘serious’ only for their career to disappear down the plug hole? And, again, the Drifter has somewhat defined lines between its assignments and keeping Rank makes little sense there.

In these cases, it is perhaps better to muster out, get your cash/benefits, then roll for the qualification and start as Rank 0 in a different assignment, effectively treating it as a new career.

The Golden Rule here is to not hamper a player in what he wants to do with his character. There are enough dice rolls to end his character’s greatest dreams already, and if he wants to attempt to do something with his character, let him.  His choices and the dice rolls that follow will determine whether his career choices are the right ones…

Martial Arts in Traveller

By Jacob DC Ross

Whether an alien fighting master or a human mystic warrior, martial artists have long held a place in science fiction. This article introduces new options for players who want to train their characters in the way of unarmed combat. The hard-brawling thug and the wise pacifist will both find ways below to resolve a conflict with their bare hands.

Styles
To take a martial arts style, simply choose the appropriate style skill, as listed below, whenever a character has the opportunity to take Melee (any) or Melee (unarmed) by substituting Melee (style). With the referee’s permission, aliens with Natural Weapons may choose one style to be usable with the Melee (natural weapons) skill. A character may know multiple styles, but may not use more than one in a round.

Offensive Style
Offensive styles are based primarily on attacks, although defense and strategy are also factors. Offensive styles include boxing, savate de rue and karate. A practitioner of offensive styles may use Strength or Dexterity as modifiers when rolling to hit or for damage.

Grappling Style
Grappling styles are based on getting close to an opponent and immobilizing them. Such styles include sumo and Greco-Roman wrestling. Grapplers only use Strength for their style. Grapplers add their Strength DM to all damage done during a grapple, and gain a cumulative +2 DM to their Melee (grappling style) rolls made to control a grapple for every round they have controlled the grapple consecutively.

Soft Style
Soft styles focus on throws and other less-damaging strikes. Judo is a prime example of a soft style. Soft styles may only use Dexterity as their relevant characteristic. Soft practitioners double their Dexterity DM for the purpose of winning control of a grapple, but cannot chose the option of inflicting damage equal to 2+Effect, and damage from throws and unarmed strikes is halved. Changing stances from prone after being thrown or knocked prone by a soft practitioner is a significant action.

Defensive Style
Defensive styles teach patience, waiting to strike until the perfect opportunity presents itself while blocking incoming attacks. Jeet kune do is an example of a defensive style. Defensive styles use either Strength or Dexterity when rolling to hit or for damage. A defensive martial artist may dodge or parry in combat once per round without taking the penalty to subsequent actions.

Acrobatic Style
Acrobatic styles stress incredible maneuvers that allow the practitioner to place themselves in advantageous positions. Parkour and capoeira are acrobatic styles. Acrobatics use Strength or Dexterity. As a significant action, a practitioner may make a daring dash or leap, rolling Melee (acrobatic style) 8+ and adding the Effect to their Initiative on the next round, as well as half the Effect as a negative DM to hit them. In order to use this technique at greater than Personal range, a character must move on their minor action before attempting the leap or dash. Any character may use Athletics (acrobatics) or Art (dance) in this manner, but may never use those skills to strike in combat.

Anti-Cybernetic Style
This rare art is taught to combatants who find themselves frequently opposed by cyborgs. Anti-cybernetic styles use either Strength or Dexterity. When an anti-cybernetic practitioner strikes a cyborg with a melee attack, the cyborg must throw Endurance with a negative DM equal to the Effect of the attack or have one of their augmentations temporarily go offline. Unless the cyborg has self-repairing augmentations, the damage lasts until minor repairs can be made.

Psionic Style
Psionic fighters concentrate on anticipating their opponent’s actions and enhancing their own capabilities to attain victory. This style grants the psionic martial artist a new Talent that includes the Enhanced Awareness, Tactical Awareness, Psionically Enhanced Strength, and Body Armour powers.
Equipment
Cestae: Battle gloves made from leather at TL 1 to high-density diamond thread weave at TL 10. Cestae add +2 damage to unarmed strikes and do not count as a carried weapon. They allow for parrying of most bladed weapons, with the TL 10 version capable of parrying a mono blade. Cost: Cr. 10 for TL 1 and Cr. 250 for TL 10.

Adventure Seeds
What follows are a few ideas for a martial arts-themed tournament adventure, as well as some complications which can result. Players can participate in any of these tournaments and reap the rewards that come with victory or feel the crush of defeat.

Tournament
The tournament is an assemblage of martial artists, each striving for the championship, in order to prove the worth of themselves and of their styles. Tournaments can take many forms:

1. A one-on-one single-elimination tournament between members of many species, akin to the Olympics of Earth. Combatant NPCs should be of all races imaginable, perhaps many not yet encountered by the players. Players fight in front of judges who assign points based on hits, with three consecutive hits, throws or successful grapple rounds counting as a point. First to three points wins, but must win by at least two points.
2.  A one-on-one single-elimination match in a zero-g cage. Obstacles, both static and dynamic, are in place, imposing a difficult (-2 DM) penalty on all actions within the cage. Combat continues until one player is incapacitated or quits.
3. A tag-team or one-on-one single-elimination wrestling match held in a square ring. Teammates must tag one another via touch to switch out, and teammates cannot act together in the ring against a lone opponent, although the referee can be distracted against penalising cheaters. The match continues until one player is successfully held prone in a grapple for three consecutive rounds.
4. A rare psionic tournament, where psions are allowed to use their abilities. It can take the form of any of the other tournament formats.
5. A simultaneous team-on-team single-elimination tournament pitting equal teams against each other. The match continues until all contestants on one team submit or are incapacitated
6. A free-for-all among all competitors, with victory going to the last man standing.

Complications
Not every tournament is as it seems. The complications below can spice up a game or surprise players.

1. The tournament organizers approach the players, demanding they throw a specified match. Acceptance of their demands will gain Cr. 10,000. Defiance will earn Enemies among the local organized crime syndicates.
2. Government agents recruit the players to infiltrate the tournament, suspecting the organizer of being a multi-system crime lord. The players must gain access to his inner circle.
3. As above, but the organizer is a master psionic combatant who plans to take telepathic control of the victor’s body for his own use.
4. One of the combatants is a Rival or Enemy of a player, or is acting on that antagonist’s behalf. The fighter will show no mercy to the player, and will not stop fighting if he has won and the player submits. If he loses, the player had better watch their back…
5. A mysterious, masked competitor is actually a prominent noble. The players are charged with protecting him during the match, by taking out the most dangerous opponents first, depending on tournament format. The noble might be itching for a real fight, or he might take vengeance on anyone who defeats him in combat some time after the tournament is over.
6. It is said that a secret master of a player’s style is going to be present. He may pass on secret techniques to those he judges worthy.

Vehicle Handbook for Traveller

** Disclaimer: These rules are as the current draft, and may change (again) before release  **

Supplement 5-6:  The Vehicle Handbook has changed a great deal since it was first commissioned.  As it stands, the design system itself is currently in the latter stages of playtest, and it is about ready to take you on a walkthrough of how the system works.

This book has become what we call a Christmas Tree Project (where everybody wants to hang something off it), a real magnet for ideas.  When the playtesting started in ernest, those ideas came in thick and fast.  ‘I want to create a high TL rickshaw for a frontier world,’ someone would cry, and we would sit back, smug, knowing that was already possible.  Then someone else would say ‘so what about Jabba’s Sail Barge, but one really driven by the wind?’  Ah. Missed that one.

What has become clear is that we could spend a year playtesting this book and constantly adding new ideas as they occur, but that would do no one any good.  Instead, I think you can expect to see a lot of free material and add-ons for this title after release.

Not that it is in anyway incomplete.  From primitive wood and straw carts pulled by muscle-power alone to high tech pilotless drones, grav rail trains and aerodynes, we have a great deal of ground covered.  Oh, and we threw in a complete Battle Dress design system as well, with possibilities ranging from small and light industrial skeletons that just give a small Strength boost to something just shy of a Space Marine dreadnought (which would actually be a Walker in the design system).

Anyway, on with the showcasing of the system!

The Design Process
We wanted the design system to be comprehensive, but also extremely easy and fast to use.  Designed by Colin Dunn (also behind the forthcoming 2300AD), the new system does exactly this.  After a brief introduction, you will turn the page and be presented with a Crash Course in Vehicle Design, which walks you through the necessary steps;

Step 1: Choose a Chassis Type
Step 2: Chassis Modifications
Step 3: Add Armour
Step 4: Weapons and Weapon Mounts
Step 5: Add Modifications
Step 6: Fill in vehicle roster sheet

And that is all you need to do.  Let’s take a real example (remembering that these figures are from a playtest draft and may change upon release!).  Let us say we wanted to create a nice family sports saloon for the late 21st Century. Let’s build Jaguar’s next car!

We’ll assume TL 8 for this vehicle (and TL is a big factor in vehicle design, as it automatically – and seamlessly – alters the materials and power systems used of the vehicle, along with adjusting how various modifications work).

We have to pick a Chassis Type at first.  This will obviously be a Light Ground Vehicle (it travels on the ground, and is not a big lorry or truck).  We already note in the book that a typical ground car has 5 ‘Spaces’.  This is a Jaguar, so we’ll give it 8 Spaces (Jaguar owners will make some sort of joke now about about only 2 of those Spaces being available for luggage and passengers…).

Consulting the Light Ground Vehicle Chassis page, we can immediatly find out that this will cost us Cr. 9,600 (at this stage, this is also called the Base Cost) and will result in a car with Hull 4 and Structure 4. At this stage, the car will have a top speed of 120 km/h and a range of 400 km.  Clearly, the speed will have to be improved, though the range may be generous!

At this stage, we can also make some changes directly to ther chassis – make it a motorcycle (or mono-wheel!), give it additional wheels, off-road capability, tracks, and so forth. However, none of those are really needed here.

Next, add armour. At TL 8, we have a Base Armour of 3, and I don’t see the need to improve it.  We could increase it to maybe 9 to make it an armoured ‘government’ car, but we’ll leave that for now.  Armour 3 is good for us. And we won’t put any weapons on the civilian model either.

Modifications next, and there are lots of these to choose from.  First off, a great big super-charged engine (Jaguar do have an electric car – powered by gas turbines – in the works, but let’s go Old Skool for this one, and make a ‘proper’ XJR). Let’s increase Speed by 80% for a start – this will take it up to 216 km/h, at a cost of 8 Spaces.  We will then decrease the fuel capacity (we could just as easily decrease fuel efficiency instead, but we need to claw back some space), by 30%, leaving us with a range of 280 km/h.  A little generous, if you ask me, but that gives us 3 Spaces back.

4 Spaces will be taken up by passengers and the driver (we won’t go Double Occupancy on this car, leaving that for the minis driven by students instead…) and, currently, 1 Space left for cargo, or about 250 Kg or thereabouts.  Again, if you have seen the boot (trunk) of a Jaguar, that is probably generous!

This is a Jaguar, however, so we’ll add some toys.  Advanced Controls with drive-by wire steering and brakes, along with a heads-up display, will set up back Cr. 10,960, but increase Agility to +1.

We’ll skip past the fission plants, explosive belts, and life support options, however useful they may be getting to Sainsbury’s on a Saturday afternoon.

A Sat Nav would be standard of course, coming in at Cr. 2,000 and let’s give it an integrated comms unit (mobile phone to you and me) at Cr. 500. Let’s give it basic sensors as well (they already have radar these days), at a cost of Cr. 5,000.

Moving through the options, we’ll ignore modifications for Stealth and ejection seats… However, we’ll take a Cr. 4,000 entertainment system and a Cr. 500 fire extinguisher system. We alos make a note to do a stretched limo version of this car later, with a 3 person hot tub in the back (if you have to ask why a three person tub, you are too young to read this…).

So, we are left with;

New Model Jaguar XJ Cr. 32,060
Hull 4, Structure 4
Speed 216, Range 280
Agility +1, Armour 3

Advanced Controls, Basic Navigation, Basic Communications, Basic Sensors, Entertainment System, Fire Extingusher.

Simple as that! Just start off with a base chassis, and you can layer pretty much anything you want on top. Tanks with steam engines? No problem.  Airships powered by aimed beams of energy shot into the sky?  Already in there. There is a huge range of potential in this book, and much, much more begging to be added afterwards as players come up with some really weird and wonderful designs!

Pop along to our forums if you have any suggestions for vehicles, and if you want to be in front of the queue for this book, simply visit its page!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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