Saturday, August 15, 2015

How do you search for things in Traveller?

Search skill in Traveller explained

A lot of modern RPGs have a specific skill for Searching. It makes sense, lots of times an adventure calls for finding some object or person. But where does one go to school to be taught how to search a room?
Has anyone seen my keys?
Traveller’s skill list does not include a Search skill. In effect, it says “who needs that?  Anybody can search.”  But how is this handled in play?  See for yourself, it is laid out pretty plainly in Double Adventure One, Shadows.

I present a series of statements from the text of the adventure, which is a location-based scenario where the PCs proceed through a structure looking for the solution to the problem the structure presents. I quote:

For careful search throw 5+; if successful . . . [location 2]
Careful search (throw 8+, +2 if more than 4 persons are searching) [location 3]
Careful search (throw 6+, +1 if Mechanical skill in any degree) [location 4]
Careful search  . . . (throw 6+, +3 for electric torches or cold lights) [location 7]
A careful search (throw 9+, +1 for the number of persons searching) will reveal . . . [location 9]
Careful search (throw 10+, DM +8 if anyone has IR goggles) [location 10]
Careful search (throw 9+ DM +3 if more than two persons are involved) [location 11]
Careful search (9+, +3 if Mechanical skill is present) [location 12]
Careful search (throw 10+) will reveal . . . [location14]
Careful search will reveal nothing [location 18]
Careful search (7+, DM + electronics skill) will reveal . . . [location 21]
Do you see it yet?

The PCs must announce that they are going to carefully search the area. Then the referee decides on a search difficulty (target number) and asks them how they are searching (the torches & IR goggles). The referee determines if there are any skills the searchers possess that are relevant (Mechanical, for example) and calculates the total DM. The player(s) make the throw, the referee adds the DMs and announces the results. It is very simple.

A few words of advice

As the referee, keep in mind the straight 2D6 percentages (7+ is 58%, 8+ is 42%, etc) when assigning the target number. The stuff that searches turns up should be helpful or beneficial but not critical.

Don't make the piece of information or object that the adventure revolves around something that they could miss by a poor roll when searching. Make that something they have to find by role-playing or player deduction. Searching activity can provide the players with clues and hints and such, not handing them the solution because they rolled some dice.

Maybe in another post I'll talk more about how this process can be applied to lots of common adventuring activity without the need for more skills on the character sheet.

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