Saturday, April 17, 2021

Almsgiving as Adventure: Charitable Work in Traveller

During this Lenten season (for the Orthodox Church, Pascha this year is on the 2nd of May) I have thought about giving & almsgiving. There are lots of references in the Scriptures to the importance of giving alms. Generosity is a Christian virtue, a way to live out the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself.

Traveller players get to set their own goals, how the PCs will make their mark on the galaxy. Common goals include military victories, building trade empires, amassing great wealth and seeing all the places you can go. Or murder-hoboing. I have a suggestion for a different sort of goal.

What about almsgiving as a campaign framework? Yes, Travellers can strike off large amounts of cash from the character sheets by fiat, or by purchasing new vehicles or starships. What I propose is a means of disposing of cash for a larger purpose.

Pick a charitable organization (see the list) and then go on adventures to raise money for that charity. Give away the profits. Make the success of the charitable organization (CO) the goal. The CO serves as the source or generator of adventures first by inspiring the PCs to make money. Second, the CO as an organization will need the PCs to protect and defend it from various sources of harm.

Referees can create evil empires, and dissolute Nobles, so why not earnest and hardworking people who care for their fellow man in one of these:

Charitable Organizations

  • orphanages – tending to the fatherless! This is commanded in the Scriptures.

  • monasteries (esp. ones that need life support equipment, or themselves do charity work)

  • homeless shelters

  • widows or elderly assistance: also practiced in Scripture.
  • private Veterans' homes – (PCs with military backgrounds should know about these)

  • urban development projects

  • poor or low-tech communities

  • under- or ungoverned territories

  • refugee camps

  • immigrant camps

  • displaced person camps/shelters (natural disaster victims, etc.)

  • prison ministries

  • half-way houses

  • hospitals and free clinics

  • private and parochial schools

  • foster homes

  • anti-trafficking groups & shelters for victims.

That's plenty to go on with, but I've probably missed a few types of CO. Add them in the comments if you will.

Charitable Adventures

What sort of adventures can the PCs have when working with a CO? Here are some ideas. Any of these situations could be set up as 'prevent this bad thing from happening' as well as 'it's happened, now how do we fix it?'

  • A camp or shelter can be the setting for plenty of role-playing drama. People in camps have their own jealousies, rivalries, and agendas. They can be targeted by ICO's, hostile governments or just people with vendettas.

  • What if the orphanage is sitting on valuable land or an exploitable resource? Big Bad Businesses want to force them out to get at the resources.

  • Natural disasters can threaten a CO's land or buildings or people.

  • High-profile NPCs (High SOC) want to work for the CO and must be protected if the work takes them into dangerous neighborhoods.

  • CO's can exist in a war zone! What if not all the combatant sides are willing to respect the neutrality of the CO?

  • A landlord may have reasons to want the CO off of his property. Or maybe he's just VERY picky about when the mortgage payment is due. Pay up or else!

  • The CO may serve a locally disfavored or low-SOC group. The neighbors don't take kindly to having 'their kind' living so close. Again, plenty of role-playing opportunity when dealing with the Upper Class Wives Club. No, you can't just shoot them.

  • On the other hand, what if the local criminal gang wants to recruit from the group the CO serves? A more direct approach may be needed to get them to back off.

  • CO's will always be in need of equipment and vehicles, which can break down at the most inconvenient times. PCs with skills can be called upon to keep things going in the clutch.

  • Supporting a CO lends itself to the Fetch Quest. The CO needs a piece of equipment (medical devices are good) and mo one nearby or maybe on-planet has one! Where can the PCs go to get it, and can they get back before it's too late for Patient A?

  • Working with a CO will bring the PCs into contact with lots of important and interesting NPCs. Maybe their work brings them to the attention of other Patrons. It could also make them known to antagonistic NPCs, who the PCs have thwarted.

Referees who encourage PC-NPC interaction will find much to work with in this concept. A CO of any size will have dozens or scores of people who work for it, run it or are served by it. Connect the PCs with an orphan, or a refugee, and their motivation for adventure becomes much more personal. If the significant NPC is threatened or harmed, the mission has far more impact.

How will the CO influence the world around it? What if the PCs are able to get powerful NPCs like the Rulers of Worlds interested in supporting the work? The possibilities are vast!

In Christian charity, there is a principle to be observed, given to us by the Lord in Matthew 6:3-4. To wit, when you give, "do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing." That is to say, charity is not about making yourself look good. Don't blow your own horn.

Not all charitable work must be 100% anonymous, but the PCs should not seek recognition. If the PCs follow this precept, the Referee should provide them (again, in secret) some positive DMs when interacting with NPCs to secure aid for the CO. God promises that charity done in secret will be rewarded openly.


An Appeal to my Readers:

Please consider giving alms to this real-world charitable organization, the IOCC.

International Orthodox Christian Charities.


  1. > A camp or shelter can be the setting for plenty of role-playing drama. People in camps have their own jealousies, rivalries, and agendas.

    This is basically the core reason for the location of our adventures in Finstead on Drachir. I just rolled random events for the month starting after ya'll clear out the lair you just found. The camp is getting some new neighbors.

  2. A good idea, and missions can always be generated. Maybe the CO needs help in moving to a disaster, or an important NPC wants the PC's can get involved.

  3. As a Roman Catholic, and as a teacher, I concur that this is an excellent way of connecting RPGs with another curricular area - Religious, Moral and Philosophical Studies. I already use Traveller and other games-based mediums to support Literacy learning.

    And here is a link to a development blog for a forthcoming release:

    Hugh O'Donnell MSc