|Lucas Trask, Space Viking Extraordinaire|
First let me set the framework for my topic. High Level Play (hereinafter HLP) in Traveller is a particular type of play. It is play that goes beyond a random patron hiring PCs to do a random thing. HLP is about PCs with power.
Many game systems will have obvious mechanical cues when the players engage in HLP. Level based and point based systems are the most obvious and telling systems.
In level-based systems, like D&D, HLP is obvious. What level of fighter or magic-user are you playing? Tenth? Fifteenth? Twentieth? As everyone begins the game at 1st level, the differences from low level to high are very plain.
In point-based systems, like GURPS, HLP is also obvious. Look at how many character points your PC has. GURPS suggests starting out “potential heroes” with 100 points. PCs can increase their CP up to 400, 500 or even more points. The differences in skill and power are extensive. GURPS Supers has characters built on 1,000 points and more – into the realms of the gods!
Dice pool systems, like the eponymous D6 system are also plain. Count the number of dice your PC has in attributes and skills. Anyone who understands probability can tell at what #D rank a character can begin to do the impossible with ease. For those who don't: the highest difficulty number is 30. A PC with 8D in an attribute or skill can beat a 30 1 time in 3. At 9D, it's 2 times out of 3.
Traveller does not have dice pools, or character points, or levels. The central mechanic is “roll 2D6, add modifiers and beat a target number from 1 to 15”. The main modifier is skill level, but this is most commonly 1, sometimes 2 or 3, rarely 4 or better.
One can tally up a PC's total skill levels and call that a measure of high level play, but that's not the way to do it. I point out that Fenton Tukachevski has a grand total of 3 skill levels, and yet he could engage in HLP. See below.