Doin' it My Way - House rules for my Traveller Universe

Espionage Tasks
I acknowledge that most of these are based upon the Dragon Magazine articles
"Space Age Espionage" (April 1987) and "Rogues of the Galaxy" (May 1985) I have altered them to suit my taste.


Surveillance is the action of a character observing someone's actions at great length without the subject's notice, or it is an individual detecting if he is being observed.

Dms for Surveillance
+1/lvl of Recon skill, if in a wilderness setting
+1/lvl of Streetwise or Liaison skill in an urban setting
+1 for INT 9+
+1 for vision devices (binoculars, etc.)
+1 for successful Disguise

Winning gets the observer information about the target. Losing means getting no information. Losing by 3+ means the agent is 'made' by the target.
Dms for Counter-surveillance
+1 for EDU 9+
+1 - +3 for electronic surveillance equipment
+1/lvl of Recon skill, if in a wilderness setting
+1/lvl of Streetwise or Liaison skill in an urban setting

Winning means the surveillant got no information. Winning by 3+ means the target has 'made' the observer and can retaliate, or present the observer with false information. Losing means the surveillance went undetected by the subject.


Stealth represents the ability to move and act quietly, without attracting unwanted attention. A stealthy character can perform many maneuvers requiring high dexterity, such as climbing vertical surfaces or walking across narrow ones. The Referee will determine the target number for any attempted action. The stealthy character should get +DMs for high levels of DEX.
Example: to cross a room without activating motion-detecting alarms- 10+, DM +1 for Dex 11+
To climb a large tree: 4+, DM +1 for Dex 7+
To climb a drain pipe: 8+, DM +1 for Str 8+ or Dex 9+
To walk on a narrow path without falling:9+, DM +1 for Dex 9+

Stealth can be applied to such sleight-of-hand tricks as picking pockets or planting items on a person. The referee sets a target number, and one of three things results:
Roll >target, action succeeds
Roll=target to (target-2), action fails but goes unnoticed
Roll<(target-2), action fails and is noticed by subject


Concealment represents the ability of a searched person to conceal items on his person or in his immediate area. While the base chance of success varies according to the intensity of the search, compare the INT score of searcher and searched, apply the difference as a DM towards a successful concealment. The Referee will assign other modifiers based on object size and number of potential places to hide the item. If the searcher is experienced at searching (such as spaceport security checkpoints) the searcher may gain additional DMs favorable to finding the item.


Disguise allows an individual to change his outward appearance to conceal that person's identity. Use of a disguise kit is required. The disguise kit is significantly different from a regular make-up kit; it costs CR 1500 and is illegal on planets with law levels of 10 or higher.
To make ones self unrecognizable to visual inspection: 6+
DM +1 if Int 8+, DM +1 if EDU 8+
To impersonate another person to that person's acquaintences: 11+ DM +1 if INT 10+, DM +1 if EDU 10+


The ability to spring locks with simple tools. Each character who attempts this must have a base TL of familiarity, equal to the TL of their home world. Locks with a higher TL than the base apply a DM of -1 per TL of difference. With a lock-pick set, an individual with this skill can open simple locks of their base TL or less on a roll of 7+, with a DM +l for a Dexterity of 9+. More complex locks should be shown as negative DMs in addition to the TL difference. Locks of 2+ TL higher than the character's base TL cannot be picked.
This ability also covers the disarming or bypassing of physical security measures (traps, alarms) DM +1 if Int 9+, if Dex 8+; plus TL difference DMs. At TL 8-, apply Mechanical skill, if any as a +DM. At TL 8+, apply Electronics skill, if any, as a +DM.

Area Knowledge

Use the agent's Education or Social Standing stat (whichever is higher) any time an agent needs to know some in-character bit of knowledge such as historical information, the names of leading social or political figures, government or corporate data. Roll stat or less on 2d for common knowledge, or on 3d for restricted information. Success means the agent recalled the needed information, failure indicates the agent's information was wrong.


A successful bluff will be determined by a characteristic roll of [SOC+INT]/2 (for social bluffing) or [SOC+EDU]/2 (for technical bluffing). Social bluffing can get you into a private party, convince someone you are someone that you're not, or get you in to see the CEO without an appointment. Technical bluffing can convince someone you know more about a subject than you do.

Other Spy Activities
Demolitions – see Book 4, Mercenary
Interrogation – see Book 4, Mercenary
Lying/Detect Lying – INT
Intelligence Analysis – EDU
Tailing/pursuit/shadowing – Streetwise or SOC
Knowledge of criminal behavior – Streetwise
Political Knowledge – EDU or SOC

A Social Reward: Mention in Dispatches

When the PCs perform a service "for the good of the Imperium" (or whatever their government is called) they may be rewarded with a Mention in Dispatches. These are short reports provided by planetary officials to the Imperial government at the subsector/sector level. The Mention confers no cash or other direct benefit, but characters whose names appear a few times will be noticed by the powerful and connected. This can translate into an improved SOC score, or new and more important Patrons seeking out the PCs to hire them.

Retrofitting a Skill: Ship Tactics
     Ship Tactics appears as a skill in Book 5: High Guard. It is an abstracted skill, used only for determining initiative in High Guard combat. It can be retrofitted into basic chargen and Book 2 combat with a few simple tweaks.  Either replace the Navy Captain 'Rank and Service Skill' (+1 Soc) with Ship Tactics, or replace a skill in the Navy skill tables if you want the skill more widely available. The referee can substitute Ship Tactics for a particular skill slot, or allow the player to request a substitution. 
     Book 2 starship combat does not have an initiative mechanic, so Ship Tactics can be applied to other combat mechanics. Allow a character in a command position with ship tactics skill to add a +1 per level of skill to the effect of the ship's computer programs: Predict, Maneuver/Evade, Select, Multi-Target or ECM can be improved in the PC ship's favor. Referee can dictate that only one function can be so improved, or allow the PC to spread the bonus around. Referee will also determine whether ship tactics can provide a bonus in the absence of the necessary program.  
     The character with Ship Tactics skill has to be on the bridge of the ship to utilize the skill, and if the character is filling another standard position, such as Pilot or Navigator, the rule (TTB,p.61) about filling two positions applies.

Retirement Pay
     It has been noted in a Murphy's Rules comic panel that Traveller's basic character generation rules about retirement pay are very democratic. A non-commissioned character who serves 5 terms gets the same pay as a rank-6 officer with 5 terms. To make higher rank a little better recompensed, use this change:
Multiply the final rank number by 2,000 Cr and add that to the annual retirement pay figure given in the chart. e.g. an army Major (rank 3) with 6 terms of service gets Cr 12,000 per year (6,000 base plus 3 x 2,000).

The Church at the Starport
In my Traveller universe, Christian chapels are a common sight at most class A & B  starports. Priests, monks and nuns serve at these chapels to minister to the spiritual needs of travellers, and to serve as conduits of communication between the planetary diocese and the parent jurisdiction. The referee must determine based on government code and cultural factors how much autonomy the Church has on a world.

Startport  Chapel Present (2d)
A          3+
B          4+
C          7+
D          8+
E          9+

If world is on the 'positive' side of the Religion index, DM+1
if world is passively to mildly anti-religious, DM -2
if world is actively anti-religious, DM-3
if world is militantly anti-religious, DM-5

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