Monday, March 20, 2023

More on Skills: Administration

Let's look at Admin skill . . .

Administration: The individual has had experience with bureaucratic agencies, and understands the requirements of dealing with them and managing them. When contact with officials is required, understanding their needs and motives will assist in dealing with them. A basic throw of 7+ will successfully resolve normal interaction without further problems (such as avoidance of police harassment, insuring prompt issuance of licenses, approval of applications, avoidance of close inspection of papers, etc.). Apply these DMs: no expertise, -3; per level of admin expertise, + 2.

When serving in a bureaucratic organization, admin expertise allows competency in the eyes of superiors. Apply a DM of +1 per level of expertise, with the exact throw to be determined by the referee under the circumstances.

Referee: Admin expertise should also affect the quality of work and potential for success of an organization which the character is controlling or managing. (emphasis added)


One of these people has Admin-5. Can you guess which one?

A brief conversation with Marc Miller at TravellerCon 2022 produced this insight:

MWM: “Admin-1 is knowing that you can enter the building through the loading dock and no one will stop you.” 

Me: “So Admin-1 is a high-visibility jacket and a clipboard?” 

MWM:“Pretty much, yes.”

A few levels of Admin and the adventure Exit Visa becomes a trivial problem to solve. From the Referee’s text of that ‘adventure’: Other Skills: Administration and streetwise may be used as skills to assist in getting an official to help. If the skill is mentioned in the official's listing, then it can be used as a DM. However, only one person may use such a skill while dealing with the official. Thus, the most capable individual should step forward to deal with the bureaucrat. Some skills are listed as double. A listing of double administration indicates that each level of administration skill applied to the situation counts as two. Most of the bureaucrats in the adventure are influenced by Admin skill.

Nota bene that while it is customary for skills to add a +1 per level to a task throw, Admin skill adds +2 per level when "resolving normal interactions". Also, it is nowhere a stated rule that skills add only +1 per level. In CT, each skill is handled separately by the skill description. Read them carefully!

Need to circumvent local law level to bring weapons on-planet? Send the Administrator at the licensing bureau. Boom, done. Get the corporate Patron to supply your group with better gear? Simple. Keep the Port Authority from examining your forged cargo manifest? No problem. The skill description for the Forgery skill directly mentions using Admin to keep your dodgy manifest from being examined in the first place.

In my post about the Bureaucrat career I mentioned that the COTI list of characters included a Director (rank 6) with the unearthly skill of Admin-7. Given the general rule expressed above for using this skill, the Director simply CANNOT FAIL at any related task. What can't this guy do?

Also, doesn't The Director sound like a cool name for a mysterious villain, the head of some shadowy organization, like SPECTRE? Maybe I'll write an Amber Zone featuring The Director . . .

Remember that Admin skill is applicable for the sale of goods on the trade tables? How would you like a +3, +4 or +5 on selling your radioactive ore, or gems, or computers? If your Free Trader had The Director acting as Broker, then you would never lose money. Ever. 2D +7 is always going to be over the 100% sale price mark. Well, maybe. Try selling Wood on an Agricultural planet (resale DM -6) and you might lose money. Then again, you might not: -6+7=+1.

Almost any group of people with a mission will be more organized than a typical group of Travellers. What could Admin-3 do while working for an NGO or Armed Group?

If Travellers decide to buy land, they can use Hirelings with Admin skill to run the place while the boss is off adventuring. A Hireling with Steward skill may be in charge of the household, and handling visitors, but the administrator makes sure the bills get paid and the grounds get patrolled.

Alternately, how could Admin help a Traveller who wants to fight back against a corrupt government or evil megacorp? Get into their organizational heads and use their own processes against them? Leverage the next higher level of authority to exert its influence? Predicting what an organization may or will do – and making the PC's plans around that knowledge.

I have long understood that organized crime uses knowledge of local law against law enforcement – exploiting loopholes and specific wordings to avoid arrests and the like.

The Leadership skill definition specifies that the skill is directing men in combat. I suggest that Admin skill can be used as Leadership skill for non-combatants. This skill is about working with bureaucratic agencies – or any group of people with its own internal organization and hierarchy. Part of working with an organized group is motivating that group to work towards goals, to pool effort towards a desired end, in short, leadership. Directing a double-envelopment with Marines in BattleDress is worlds away from running a staff meeting at the local Charitable Organization. It is all a matter of what the PCs want to accomplish in the worlds. 



Image Credit: Pixabay


  1. In my own life, Administration can be an incredibly powerful skill. The other part of Admin is knowing the bureaucratic culture. It's not always the same, but it rhymes in different places.

  2. I mentioned Admin in my example character in a blog post,

    "from Admin-0 to Admin-1 takes it from an 17% to 83% chance of avoiding trouble. If are travelling from one system to another and know you'll have to deal with bureaucrats at either end, would it be worth hiring this guy to help? "