Gamergirl
 member, 112 posts
Sun 26 Aug 2018
at 09:15
Traveller RPG Character Creation help
I have been thinking about starting a Traveller game.

The last time I attempted this, all the characters submitted were a bunch of former Admirals and Generals that were hooked on anti aging drugs and all had amazingly high skills.

What is the best was to avoid this?

I was considering imposing term limits, denying access to anti aging and stating that if you fail a survival roll in character generation, you leave your career and become an adventurer.

Could anyone give me any advice on this?

Thanks
bigbadron
 moderator, 15638 posts
 He's big, he's bad,
 but mostly he's Ron.
Sun 26 Aug 2018
at 10:06
Traveller RPG Character Creation help
When I ran a Traveller campaign here, I used a generation program to create a bunch of characters (30 I think) with different careers, leaving their names and genders blank.  I also left a lot of cascade skills blank (just listing them as Gun Combat-3 or the like).

When the players applied, I just told them, "Okay, we have these roles on the ship's crew still available, which one would you like to play?"  When they selected a role, I showed them five different characters who would fit that role, and just told them to pick one.

The characters had varying lengths of service in their careers.

All the players had to do was give them a name and gender, and specify the cascade skills.  And write up a bit of background (why they left the service, that sort of thing).
Syrris
 member, 440 posts
Sun 26 Aug 2018
at 13:34
Traveller RPG Character Creation help
  Were these characters all done up using the RPOL die roller? Given the random nature of chargen you can have characters all over the place and that means you can't really be sure if they're 'legit' unless you can audit the rolls.

  Now, my first thought is that if they're all ex-General and ex-Admiral, it sounds as though you have the perfect setup for a themed game, one that probably trends more toward celebrity tour/on a lark for these newly-retired senior figures, or at the very least 'strategists on call' for governments having a crisis, rather than the typical tramp freighter gig, so I might just be inclined to run with it myself...


  My guess is that you're dealing with the Mongoose version?

  Anagathics generally present the problem of being illegal (in most places) and extremely expensive. That's usually enough of a limit in its own right, especially since those factors tend to create serious complications during actual play. (Those aging ex-military types might well be off on that farewell tour because they know that age really is about to catch up with the lot of them, putting a bit of an urgent shadow over everything that they do...)

  I wouldn't force chargen to end with a survival failure. A character already loses a lot when it happens, and that idea could easily result in characters who are first-term washouts, who will end up being nigh useless.


  Term limits are a common gimmick, although they have a few problems: you can't really do an older, more experienced character (they all end up youngish), someone with bad survival results (or bad events) might want to go extra terms to try to compensate for it (the randomness problem re skill sets), and it can happen that someone's supposedly final term gives them the 'you must continue for another term' event (I've actually had this happen on what I expected would be a final term!), or they end up in the prisoner career (which you can't leave until you're done), which short-circuits the limit for those characters.

  You could avoid that last problem by declaring that no one goes more than one term over the limit, or just doesn't go over the limit at all (the advancement special doesn't trigger and/or your prison time is simply done), but it doesn't really solve the first two issues.

  On the other hand, if your main concern is the 'too many skills' angle then a simpler option might be to cap the total number of skill ranks (and stat ups) that someone can get at character generation, at least prior to Connections and Package. 20 would be hit by term 4 at the earliest and is more likely around term 6-7, although unlucky types might take a lot longer; it gives a reasonable amount of room to develop. This doesn't affect the potential issue of high rolls vs low rolls for initial stats, of course, so you might want to accompany this by setting the initial stats at a specific total (48 gives some flexibility) pre-race modifiers.



  I believe that there is also an unofficial point-buy method floating around on the Mongoose forums but I don't have any experience with it so I can't attest to how well or badly it works (or whether it has issues with corner cases). Unfortunately, the official one won't show up until next year at the earliest since that book has been getting pushed back repeatedly.
icosahedron152
 member, 901 posts
Mon 27 Aug 2018
at 06:10
Traveller RPG Character Creation help
Which version of Traveller are you using? Mongoose Traveller has an official point-buy system that you can tailor to your needs.

The easiest way to get the game you want is to post your requirements up front - no anagathics, no psionics, no promotions beyond O3, or whatever you choose for the game you want to run.

That way, all the RTJs should be from players who are on the same page with you, and they won't (shouldn't) get frustrated by trying to achieve things that you don't want them to achieve.

Keep it small. Give the PCs enough headaches that they don't have idle hands for the devil to make work for. Every time they make money, find something they need to spend it on, before it goes to their heads.
Altho
 member, 80 posts
 Hidebound Paleogamer
Mon 27 Aug 2018
at 12:56
Traveller RPG Character Creation help
I just started a game myself. I find that when you set expectations of the type of game you are running, it acts quite efficiently as a filter. Simply setting aside books 4+ (I'm a Classic "LBB" Traveller GM myself), really cuts back on the overskill-overkill problem.
horus
 member, 550 posts
 Wayfarer of the
 Western Wastes
Mon 27 Aug 2018
at 18:44
Traveller RPG Character Creation help
I would second Altho's advice:  excluding the stuff in the later supplements and setting well defined expectations from the outset will work to your benefit as a Referee.

I prefer point-buy systems to the Classic character creation system.  Folks don't generally have time to waste creating characters only to see them die or become seriously wounded in their later terms of enlistment.  I use Traveller Plus, a free system for character creation that was built for online play. It lets folks more easily create characters they want to play.

(Note to self:  look into Mongoose Traveller a bit more closely.)

The neat thing about a point-buy system is that it's easier to create characters that are outside the norms.  Setting a limit on the available points starting out helps to set clear expectations of what characters for your game should look like.

May fortune favor your enterprise!

This message was last edited by the user at 18:45, Mon 27 Aug.

engine
 member, 659 posts
Tue 28 Aug 2018
at 05:19
Traveller RPG Character Creation help
In reply to Gamergirl (msg # 1):

Why do you feel the need to avoid it?

I recommend telling the players up front that you'd like to avoid it. Not all players want to play such characters; I've never seen anyone interested in building such a character.

I recommend talking the the players what an "adequate" character is for your game. I often get told "more is always better" in Traveller and I'm glad to see that I'm right in thinking that that's not always the case.
icosahedron152
 member, 902 posts
Tue 28 Aug 2018
at 09:08
Traveller RPG Character Creation help
More is definitely not better. I've played some really great games with characters who have only a few low level skills. The important thing is to make sure all your characters are balanced. You can't easily run characters from LBB1 and LBB5 in the same game without it feeling unbalanced, for example.
engine
 member, 660 posts
Tue 28 Aug 2018
at 15:47
Traveller RPG Character Creation help
In reply to icosahedron152 (msg # 8):

What do you mean by balanced? It has a few different meanings I know of and possibly more.

I don't think your statements back up up the point we agree upon. It's good to have verification that one can have a great game with such characters as you describe, but I don't see what prevents one from having a really great game with the kinds of characters described in the original post. And, if the players wanted to make such characters it seems like they preferred to do that for some reason, and might not have enjoyed playing less developed characters.
Altho
 member, 81 posts
 Hidebound Paleogamer
Tue 28 Aug 2018
at 15:53
Traveller RPG Character Creation help
At a guess, based on Icosahedron's post, he meant that some characters would not be far more powerful than others (e.g. Skippy the Scout with Pilot-1, Gun Combat-1, and Vacc-Suit-1 adventuring with Admiral Sir Horace Horace, with Pilot-3, Admin-2, Gunnery-3, Gun Combat-3, Vacc Suit-2, etc.)
Syrris
 member, 441 posts
Tue 28 Aug 2018
at 16:25
Traveller RPG Character Creation help
  There's a certain amount of flexibility there in that characters might be focused on different skill-sets, which reduces the impact of one having a higher total than the others. This only works to a point, and the effect of varying attribute rolls can easily overshadow it (especially since good rolls there tend to make everything else turn out better), so you may want to use a standard total for those even if everything else is done randomly. All the same, be prepared to allow a mulligan or two if someone ends up with a character that the dice hate or one that gets turned into something that the player really doesn't like.

This message was last edited by the user at 16:27, Tue 28 Aug.

engine
 member, 661 posts
Tue 28 Aug 2018
at 16:39
Traveller RPG Character Creation help
In reply to Altho (msg # 10):

A fair guess, and that's the way I would use "balanced." But I've also seen the term used to mean "the characters cover all the bases in terms of skills and other capabilities." Either one raises issues in standard Mongoose Traveller character generation, since there isn't a ton of control over either aspect of a group of characters.
icosahedron152
 member, 904 posts
Wed 29 Aug 2018
at 07:11
Traveller RPG Character Creation help
Altho's guess was correct.
engine
 member, 662 posts
Wed 29 Aug 2018
at 07:21
Traveller RPG Character Creation help
In reply to icosahedron152 (msg # 13):

Okay. How does one accomplish that kind of balance, given random character generation? I've never been sure how to gauge relative power levels, since skill sets are rarely the same and it's hard to know from the outset how important or valuable a given skill is. Is the guy with Gun Combat 1 more or less powerful than the one with Carouse 4?
icosahedron152
 member, 905 posts
Wed 29 Aug 2018
at 11:40
Traveller RPG Character Creation help
I've never been a fan of random character generation. Players have less buy-in for random characters, and it is more difficult for a GM to weave a plot around random characters.
Balance is best achieved by weaving a good plot around a group of similarly empowered characters.

Unless the plot constrains the party into gun combat, the person with Carouse 4 will probably enjoy more success in typical encounters than the person with Gun Combat 1.

Balance is exactly what it says on the tin - ensuring that all PCs have an equal claim on the limelight. It's a mixture of skills and plot that allows everyone to shine - and preferably not at the expense of others.

This is more difficult to achieve if one rule set allows one skill roll per four-year term, and another rule set allows one skill roll per year. That should be pretty self-evident.
engine
 member, 663 posts
Wed 29 Aug 2018
at 19:49
Re: Traveller RPG Character Creation help
icosahedron152:
I've never been a fan of random character generation.

Me neither, but that's what we're working with here, I thought.

icosahedron152:
Unless the plot constrains the party into gun combat, the person with Carouse 4 will probably enjoy more success in typical encounters than the person with Gun Combat 1.

Possibly. Both skills seem to me as though they require the referee to angle the game towards them. I mean, Carouse can be used in almost any situation, but it can't really be used usefully unless the referee makes it useful.

icosahedron152:
Balance is exactly what it says on the tin - ensuring that all PCs have an equal claim on the limelight.

Be careful; others use the exact same word very differently.

icosahedron152:
It's a mixture of skills and plot that allows everyone to shine - and preferably not at the expense of others.

This is more difficult to achieve if one rule set allows one skill roll per four-year term, and another rule set allows one skill roll per year. That should be pretty self-evident.
Of course. Why would anyone use two different rule sets together and expect that to work?

This message was lightly edited by the user at 00:41, Thu 30 Aug.

icosahedron152
 member, 906 posts
Thu 30 Aug 2018
at 04:17
Re: Traveller RPG Character Creation help
engine:
Of course. Why would anyone use two different rule sets together and expect that to work?

Why indeed? But in my experience they do. At least in CT. To a point, they had no choice.

Originally, there were three books with balanced generation. Then LBB4 was added, allowing more rolls when you chose the detailed generation for mercenary characters.

You could argue that mercenaries were very well-trained characters who were much more 'capable' than run of the mill characters, but then LBB5 came out and did the same thing for Navy characters, then LBB6 did it again for Scouts, then LBB7 did it for Merchants, and LBB8 even did it for Robots. By this time, your general purpose adventurer who is supposed to be at the heart of Traveller, was now the runt of the litter when it came to skills.

Faced with this imbalance, I came up with my own point-buy system many years before Mongoose did. But that's what Traveller Referees did back then - adapt and survive.
Altho
 member, 82 posts
 Hidebound Paleogamer
Thu 30 Aug 2018
at 11:40
Re: Traveller RPG Character Creation help
There was also a matter of timing of release and the availability of new books.

I was able to get Mercenary and High Guard, but there was a long time between those two and the release of Merchant Price (or so it seemed to me). Paranoia Press even stepped into the void with their Merchants and Merchandise, and Scouts and Assassins books to try to adapt the more high-skilled character generation into the game, but those weren't always easy to find either.

So, IMTU, we tended to have grossly overpowered Ex-military players who dominated the Scouts, Merchies, and 'Others', to say nothing of the Citizens of the Imperium Classes who never got any upgrades, but who many players were interested in playing...