The Mutara Sector
Here, I’ll attempt to go over the basic mechanic, in a generic way, and talk of some of the “house rules,” we’ll be using since our campaign is a little unique. Don’t sweat the details if this is over your head, you’ll get the specifics after a little bit of playing the game.
The Basic Mechanic
Playing the game is pretty simple. For any action you try to do, you roll 2 6-sided dice and add them together. Then you add a bonus based your statistics (such as strength, intelligence, etc. depending on the task. Sometimes this bonus is negative). If you are skilled in the thing you are trying to do, you get to add an amount equal to that skill level. If you’re not skilled at all in this task, you get a -3 for being untrained. After all that, you’re trying to get 8 or more. If you do, you succeed. If not, you fail your attempt and something bad happens. Sometimes tasks are especially easy, and you need less than 8, or sometimes things are hard, and you need to get higher than an 8. The amounts will change depending on the difficulty of what you’re attempting.
For example: Rick is trying to convince the Star Marine guards to let him pass into a restricted area with a fake ID. His ‘Social’ characteristic modifier is +1, and he has the ‘deception’ skill at level 2. So he gets a +3 to his roll. But, this is a particularly hard task, giving him a -2 for difficulty. So he only gets a +1 total. He rolls two dice, getting a 3 and a 4. With his bonus, that adds up to 8, which is just barely enough! He manages to convince the guards, but just barely. They will be extra suspicious of him, watching him closely in case he tries anything.
Combat works in a very similar fashion, using combat-related skills, but there are a few more modifiers to account for, for example, if your target is behind cover, or actively dodging, etc. It’s not very complicated, and after a few rounds of combat, should you choose to fight someone, it’ll go quick and smooth.
One thing you should note, is that this game has no “Hit Points.” Instead, when you take damage from a punch, or a gunshot, that damage comes directly out of your physical statistic scores (your Strength, Dexterity, and Endurance scores). Because you use these scores to make rolls in battle, it is built in that as you take damage you become weaker, and your attacks are less effective.
Making your Travellers works a bit different in this game than other RPGs. Here, there’s no “classes” to choose from. You simply go through a series of dice rolls to determine your stats, then, keep rolling to determine your backstory. It’s not as weird as is sounds. For example, you could say that your character tries to go into the Imperial navy as a kid. You roll to see if he makes the cut. If you fail the roll, you enter the draft, or become a drifter. If you make the roll, you go into the navy. Each of those paths provides a different series of rolls where events happen to you that relate to that career path, and along the way you learn many skills and gain cash and items.
By the end of several career terms, your character will have amassed a considerable set of skills, to use as we adventure in the Mutara sector. At this point, your character will probably be in their mid 30’s, or you can choose to make them start out much older, and have more higher level skills as a result. There some risk to doing so, as aging gives penalties to your rolls.House Rules for Character Creation:
- Re-rolling: Sometimes you really want a certain thing, and the dice just go the wrong way. To alleviate some of the pressure, you get 3 re-rolls at any point in the creation process. You can use them however and whenever you want, to help guide your character in the path you’d like to go. Outside of these, you’re stuck with what the dice say.
- Benefits and Connections Substitutions: At the end of careers, you usually get benefits in the form of cash, or stuff. Also the game lets you make “connections,” to other players during character creation. Because of the sandbox style, open exploration nature of our campaign, some of these benefits and connections will be kindof useless, such as ship shares, contacts, allies, etc. For these, instead of taking a useless benefit, you can instead learn a new skill at level 1, or raise the level of a known skill by 1 (excluding the “jack of all trades” skill. Also, you can’t raise anything above level 3). And it’d be nice if you could justify a story reason why your character would learn that skill.
- Skill Packages: The game has a built in mechanic to let you pick some skills that are handy for adventuring after the career process is over. The idea is you character is getting ready for some exploratory adventure. Since our party is ever rotating and expanding, we can’t handle this is the same way the rules describe. Instead, at the end of making your character, you can choose any 2 skills from the following list: Pilot (any) 1, Astrogation 1, Sensors 1, Survival 1, Recon 1, Gun Combat (any) 1, Stealth 1, Medic 1
Most RPGs have a system where battles give you experience points, and you become stronger as you go, reaching superhuman levels very quickly. Traveller tends to take a more realistic look at things. In Traveller, there are no experience points, and no “levels.” Instead, the rewards are: money, rare items, new story developments, and the ability to learn more skills. Our house rule for advancement will be, for every session you play, you get to learn a new skill at level one, or raise any known skill by one. You cannot raise a skill to higher than 3. And, this rule does not apply to the “Jack of All Trades” skill.
There are some shops on Mutara station where you can buy some basic supplies, but since the station is so far removed from society, the shop is rarely stocked with new, or high level supplies. Nothing is available above TL (technology level) 8, nor are weapons available for purchase on the station. In fact, weapons are banned on the station, and must remain stowed in hangar bay lockers except for security and law enforcement personnel. On top of that, just because it’s at TL 8 or lower doesn’t mean it’s available. If you want to buy something, head over to Clyde Peabody’s shop and see what he has, the inventory is always changing.
You find good gear by going out to other planets with better items and weapons available.
There is a sector map here on the site. I will happily scan and update maps as you explore more areas, however, I will only scan and post a map that you yourself make. I am providing a paper copy of the current map at every session, if you want to make new notes on it, so that you can “update” Jack’s wall map in the Tavern, then I will scan and post those drawings and notes.
In this game, we will not be using a grid, tiles, or miniatures. Occasionally we might draw a crude overhead map of a combat area, but most of the time I doubt we will need it. We should be able to handle everything through description and visualization.