Friday, October 22, 2021

From Front Office to the Frontier - the Bureaucrats Career

 Adventures in the Office? Or maybe more than meets the eye?


What are Bureaucrats?

Individuals serving a government or organization in a management or executive capacity.” From The Spinward Marches Campaign version of the COTI careers. In the Supplement book we find the same. The only useful addition is from the pages of sample Bureaucrats: “They are assumed to have mustered out of their particular bureaucratic service and have embarked on some sort of activity within the universe.” [As opposed to outside of it?]

I have long regarded the Bureaucrat career as a placeholder. Something to round out the COTI tables to a multiple of six entries. Paper-pushers at the Department of Redundancy Department. Why would anyone from this background become a Traveller?

The usual answer is “they got bored with the desk job.” I suppose that serves well enough for now. I cannot think of any examples from adventure literature of a cubicle-dweller deciding to live a life of Adventure, except perhaps as a comic relief or buffoon character that the actual heroes have to protect. If you know of a good example, please share in the comments!

Let's take a look at the nuts and bolts of the Bureaucrat career.

Enlistment: 5+ (83%) plus DMs for EDU8+ and STR 8-. This is the only career that grants a DM for a physical stat below a target level. Pretty low bar for entry. Education is the key characteristic for this career. It pays to know stuff.

Friday, September 24, 2021

More on Skills - Rulership, from Sword of Cepheus

Or, How to be The Boss

This post is mostly about Sword of Cepheus, but I will bring it back around to Classic Traveller.

I have not seen a skill by this name, or with its implications, in any other game that I can think of. All that we are given in the Sword of Cepheus skills list is this:

Rulership: administration and dealing with realms, bureaucracies and the law. Also covers forgery.”  So, what this guy did for a living:

"L'etat, c'est Moi." 
 

As given, Rulership is a conflation of the CT skills Administration, Bribery, Forgery, and Legal. What interests me is the phrase “dealing with realms”.

What does this imply about the setting of the game? My read is that characters may end up in charge of realms, whether kingdoms, duchies, towns etc. They can end up as Rulers in Sword of Cepheus. If Conan the Cimmerian can do it, why can't your PCs? I would love to see Stellagama publish a realm-building supplement.

Let us call this Type I Rulership. There can also by Types II & III.

If your game works better by letting Rulership address all of these disparate tasks equally, well and good. If you want more nuance in handling this broad-application skill, read on.

Who gets Rulership skill? Nobles do, obviously (at Rank 3, 2 skill slots), but so do Commoners (at Rank 3), Pirates (only 1 Adv Ed skill slot), Priests (1 skill slot), Rogues (1 skill slot), Sailors (1 skill slot), Scholars (at Rank 1! 2 skill slots), Soldiers (1 skill slot), and Vagabonds (1 skill slot). So just about everybody except Shamans and Barbarians. I think this is odd. Unless you keep in mind the wide range of tasks this skill covers.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Follow me, men! More on Skills - Leadership

The skill as described in Classic Traveller:

The individual has led troops in battle or on adventures and is possessed of a knowledge and self assurance which will make for a capable emergent or appointed leader.”

Like this guy here: 

Leadership is a specifically military skill, then. I had long assumed that Leadership was good for any instance of a PC directing NPCs. There's nothing wrong with playing it that way, but that's not what the skill description indicates.

Leadership is a required ability to control a group of more than six no player hirelings or soldiers. Such a group will tend to obey the general orders of the character with the highest leader expertise. Reaction throws are necessary when the leader and the group first meet. DMs may be applied: +1 per level of leader expertise when consulting the reaction table.

Leader-3 or better is sufficient to allow soldiers to obey orders without hesitation. Leader-4 or better will allow a positive DM when recruiting soldiers or hirelings for adventures. The throws and DMs for such hirelings depend on the situation imposed by the referee.”  This is the only direct reference to hirelings I could find in CT.

Friday, September 10, 2021

My first Traveller campaign - a look back

I have often on this blog written about my Traveller adventures with my sons. But my first attempt at Traveller, as an adult anyway, with me as the Referee, was with my wife, Angela. It seems appropriate to write about this, because my wife died in May of this year, four months ago today. This is the reason for my long absence from the blog. With my return, I want to remember my wife and her impact on my gaming life in particular. This blog is not the place to discuss the fullness of my marriage.

In the first year we were married we moved from North Carolina to Pennsylvania as I took a job at a school there. We knew nobody, and had been married less than a year. What to do?  Play Traveller, of course. 

Angela was fond of the Dragonriders of Pern series by Ann McCaffrey, so she asked if her game could take place on a world like that. I've said before that you can model just about anything with Traveller, so I said sure, let's have a world with starships and dragons. I selected Bellesile from my TU, and set about designing the world and figuring out how humans and dragons exist together. I kept all the notes from that project in a folder through all the subsequent moves.

She named her character Alina Madrig, and chose the Noble career after getting a good SOC score. This is her hand-written character sheet:


Alina also possessed Animal Telepathy - she could talk to the dragons! Beyond rolling dice, she took a character building guide I found online and wrote out a pretty thorough description of who Alina was, where she was from and whom she knew. I used that to build a list of major NPCs that her character could interact with. She may have had the most complete backstory of any Traveller character I've ever dealt with.