Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Random Encounters: The Rulers of Worlds

Have you ever noticed that John Carter, no matter where he goes, meets the rulers and leaders? Tars Tarkas, Dejah Thoris, Tal Hadjus, the prince of Zadonga, The chief priest of the White Martians, the Queen of the Black Martians, the displaced king of the Yellow Martians. Everywhere, he's encountering the Nobility. Why does this not happen in my games? Earl Dumarest, interstellar wanderer and Traveller also runs into the high & mighty regularly. Dominic Flandry rubs shoulders with the rich & powerful all the time. 

Working from memory, the adventure anthology 76 Patrons has several Noble patrons. None are world-rulers or Dukes, but still, the concept of a Noble patron is well established.

So why is it that in all the years I've been playing Traveller, my PCs have never once met a Duke or a Count or King?  I can't say that I'm 'doing it wrong' but I surely have been missing out on a lot of adventure possibilities.
There is no reason why this outfit could not appear in Traveller. TL-4, anyone?
"So your Majesty. We hear you've got a little revolution problem. We can fix that for you."

 From the Wikipedia entry on Traveller:
Sociological: Interstellar society is socially stratified (high, mid, and low passage; SOC [Social Status] is a primary character attribute). Affairs are often managed by independent nobility, who make use of classic titles such as Baron, Duke and Archduke. The typical game shows how being a traveller crosses classes and breaks stratification.
Look at the Patron Lists, from The Traveller Book. You've got your criminal types (swindler, smuggler, terrorist, spy) and your ordinary citizens (scholar, courier, police, tourist) but you also have people with real power and authority: Diplomats, Naval Officers, Government Officials, Playboys, Governors, Doctors. Many of these could reasonably be nobility as well.

List One: 16 of 36 entries could be Nobles. One entry says this specifically. That's 45%
List Two: 20 of 36 entries could be Nobles, One entry says this specifically. That's 55%

Near to half of all patrons could be Nobles. How have I been missing this?

Next question: Why will Dukes & Counts come to Travellers for assistance? Surely they have people in their employ/service that can handle most routine matters?  Well, yes. So when they come to the starport tavern to hire a band of travellers, you know it's an unusual circumstance. Four reasons come to my mind why a noble would hire the PCs to do a job.
  1. Deniability - nobody can prove that they were working for me!
  2. Expectation of neutrality in local politics. Travellers don't have a long-term commitment to outcomes on this world; they will move on.
  3. Skill sets the nobles don't have. Maybe this is because of TL differences, or the unusual nature of the job.
  4. A level of risk the noble is unwilling to put upon regular staff. 
Other reasons may occur to you. Leave a comment below. 

To get me started with incorporating Nobles into games as potential Patrons, here's a Who's Who of Imperials in Holtzmann's Corridor. This adds to, rather than replaces my post on World Leaders in the Corridor.
  • Admiral Jupater, Naval Base Holtzmann
  • Mrs. Adesuwa Onajobi, CEO Ferrocore Mining and Metals
  • Seneschal Fuentebravia of Dimitrov, or the Duke when he's in residence 
  • Naval Rear Admiral, Dorothua Station 
  • Army General Dorothua Garrison

Imperial Ambassadors to:
  • Miltramos
  • VanGoff's World
  • Kemasiik
  • Worosha
  • The Triplanetary States

All of the Ambassadors are of Marquis status or higher.

Embassies have a lot of Knights and Barons as junior ambassadors and legates and such.

Imperial Consuls on:
  • Narok
  • Armstrong's World
  • Ferrocore

Consular rank is reserved for Barons or better.

Imperial Trade organizations will have Regional Offices on Holtzmann & client states, Narok, Ferrocore and Armstrong. Many are SOC-A, some are of the nobility.

There is NO Imperial presence on Cadawala, Chapolco, Faldor, Mavramorn, Pampati, Ramsa, Schamel, Tabraz, or Tagus.

Lots of rich Imperials (SOC-A or higher) will own property on Corridor worlds, maybe even entire subordinate worlds. In summary, possible Noble encouters are all around. I want to see this happen more. Not all the time, but more often.

Portrait of Charles I of England courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art


  1. Totally swiping this for my current Traveller game! Thank you!

  2. You're welcome! When you use this in play, please come back and share what happened. Enjoy.