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 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.
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.
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.