Classic Traveller session report


This is more actual play reportage on my group's ongoing Traveller campaign.

Our session yesterday started with some more PC gen, as we had picked up a couple of extra players. That gave us two naval characters - the one-term Imperial Navy enlistee Buzz Lightbender (name at birth: George Samington), who had hoped to become a fighter pilot (Gunnery-1, Ship's Boat-1) but instead was mustered out with nothing but his dress cutlass to remember his service by; and the three term Naval Lieutenant Blaster McMillan - a cousin, it was decided, of the existing PC Maximillian McMillan (known to friends and enemies alike as Max Attack).

Blaster was an interesting case study in Traveller PC generation, because it was one of those cases where process reveals the story of the character. With INT 2 but decent education (ending up at EDU 10 by the end of the process), you could see Blaster's unhappy service history unfolding - early skills in Computer, Mechanical and Vacc-Suit, plus commissioning as an Ensign and then promotion to Lieutenant, tell a story of an eager pupil, ready to learn all the procedures and to take on dangerous duties (eg extravehicular repair activity) but ultimately demonstrating his limitations, and so being transferred (as the skill rolls revealed) from the engineering department to bridge duties, where he picked up another rank of Computer plus Navigation and Communication at 1 rank each, but where his intellectual inadequacies also revealed themselves, leading to a denial of re-enlistment.

We ret-conned a bit into the previous session, with these two likelies being offered a job (for C5 5,000 each) while hanging out post-mustering out in the Shelley Naval Base, and being flown into Byron to join the PCs with the delivery of the turret for the PCs' starship.

The other two PCs were a rogue who failed survival by one in the first term, and so received no mustering out rolls but - with Streetwise-1, Interrogation-1 and Air/Raft-2 - seemed to have had a falling out with the gang in which he was the get away driver; and a two term army captain with Commo, Recon and ATV at 1 rank each, Forward Observer-2 (so he can find his way in the field and then call in directed fire), and also 3 ranks in sub-machine gun (for shooting!). These two were named Bobby "the robber" and Captain Johnny Mannerdy. We decided they were from Hallucida (the homeworld of the PC ship owning baron) and had ended up in the Byron spaceport where said PC hired them (at Cr 5,000 each) as extra drivers and muscle for the job on Olyx.

The PCs then headed off on their mission. To get to Olyx required two jumps, first to Enlil and then on to Olyx. When they arrived at Enlil - which is a TL 3 (ie pre-industrial) world, with its starport an orbital facility maintained by the Imperium - a debate ensued. In the previous session the NPC Zeno Doxa, who had done DNA sampling on Enlil natives as part of the secret bioweapons research, had informed the PC Roland (the only medic in the party) that he had discovered the Enlilians had non-human strands in their DNA. This was of paticular to interest to Roland because his whole raison d'etre is to travel the universe looking for signs and relics of ancient and/or alien civilisations. Hence Roland wanted to make landfall on Enlil and look around to see what signs of alien origins he could find.

Vincenzo, on the other hand, wanted to keep going, because very day sees him rack up another Cr 7,500 repayment obligation on his ship, and he didn't see a great opportunity to make that much money out of a day in orbit above Enlil.

After a bit of debate (among the PCs, and with RP at the table) it was agreed that those who wanted to make landfall could, but they would have to pay Cr 8,000 a day to Vincenzo. Eight PCs agreed to go down - the two new naval recruits and Bobby, as well as Roland, Xander (the ex-pirate), Max Attack, Alissa (looking for the Psionics Institute) and Sir Glaxon. After getting some information about likely locations from the starport authorities, buying filter masks to protect themselves from the diseased atmosphere (though half of them were also innocualted against the Enlil virus in an earlier session) and making a successful Admin check to avoid close inspection of their vessel (which had unlawful firearms stowed on it - Enlil is a religious dictatorship with very strict laws about the possession of weapons) they landed their ship's boat on a plain outside of town and then flew their air/raft to the edge of town, and wandered in to check out the local market.

Roland, with his EDU of 14 (reflecting his doctoral-level study in Xeno-Archaeology) was doing most of the talking, and got on well with the Enlilian locals. Of the trinkets that were brought out for sale, he noticed one with interesting metallurgical features (he thought it must either have been machine tooled, or cast in a furnace hotter then Enlil technology would permit) and inquired as to its origin. The vendor informed him it had been sold some time ago by the local bishopric to raise funds. A successful reaction roll earned the PCs an audience with the local bishop, who explained that the item had been sold by his predecssor, and had been one of a number of items gifted to the bishopric by the bishop of Ashar.

Inquiries about Ashar led to the answer that it is "in the heavens" - a successful Educatin check was then made for Roland and he recalled that Ashar was the name of a world not too many jumps from Shelley. Which, apparently, has adherents of the same religion as predominates on Enlil.

(Ashar was a world I had rolled up a while ago as part of my prep, and hadn't done anything with. But the dice had revealed it to have elements of religious government, and so this connection to Enlil had always been a possibility.)

At Alissa's urging, Roland tried to ask whether adherents of the Enlilian religin have "special abilities" (= psionics, an obsession with Alissa's playe), This upset the bishop (a poor reaction roll, despite a +1 DM for the good relations so far), who thought it revealed the PCs to be just more offworlders looking to treat the people of Enlil as curios and objects for study. Roland assured him that this was not the case, but despite mollifying the bishop somewhat they still were shown the door. The bishop did send one of his underlings with them, however, to take them to see the local grand temple, where they learned the "origins" of the virus - in the distant past, apparently, the Enlilians had opened an ark/box that they were not meant to, and a curse had resulted which has been with them since - but also led to some conflict. At some point (I can't remember the precise sequence) they also learned that the servants of the gods who visit the faithful do have such abilities as seeing distant places, speaking without moving their lips, etc - all of which got Alissa increasingly excited about the possibility of finding psionic training there.

Normally the check to find a branch of the Psionics Institute (assuming it is present, which is determined in a separate roll by the referee and which - as I told the player - I had already made) is 9+ (ie 10 in 36) and requires a week. Alissa only had a day, so I set the chance at 11+ (ie 3 in 36), although allowed the standard DM for Roland helping to smooth her interactions with the clergy (DM +1 for Admin-1). The check was a failure and so, if a branch is present, they didn't find it.

The PCs then returned to their ship's boat, but found that it had been surrounded by a group of 10 bandits armed with swords and crossbows (and a blunderbuss in the hands of the leader). This was the result of a random encounter roll.

The PCs achieved surprise (now that they have Leader, Tactics and Recon in the party they have a good surprise mod) and so opted to avoid, waiting until night time to try and get into their ship. They came up with a plan that they then put into effect: Max and Alissa (both of whom have good DEX, which I said would allow a DM to allow them to start the encounter at closer range) were to come in stealthily from one side, while the rest of the party would fly the air/raft in from the other side, dazzling the bandits with headlights and then throwing a grenade into the middle of them to soften them up. (Earlier on Max had given Blaster one of his grenades, and Blaster had accidentally-on-purpose brought it onto Enlil in violation of local law.)

The grenade attack did take down nearly half the bandits, and the morale of the rest failed, so they fled in the general direction of Max and Alissa, who had achieved surprise. Some mediocre rolling from that player then followed, but the other PCs were able to join them (speeding along in their air/raft) and take down some more NPCs before their morale failed again and they fled this second battle. Unfortunately, that was not before two PCs got dropped unconscious by vicious sword strokes, which required the players to make a morale check for their PCs which also failed! - so it was bedlam all around as everyone fell back and took cover.

Roland, meanwhile, had entered the ship's boat to equip himself with his laser carbine, and he then set off in the air/raft (with Bobby at the wheel) to try and take down the fleeing bandits - he didn't want word getting back of these offworlders using unlawful weaponry, as it would jeopardise any future attempt to return to the planet. But some spectacularly bad rolling on his laser carbine attacks meant that, despite his ruthlessness, one of the four fleeing bandits was able to escape. (I had set an arbitrary cap on the number of rounds that would be required for the bandits to get to some sort of safety.)

So they took off in their ship's boat and returned to their orbiting vessel, and got ready to make the jump to Olyx. They did discover that an Enlilian animal (a small - approx 6 kg - "reptilian" insectivore) had hidden aboard their Ship's Boat - the result of an animal encounter roll on the Enlil plains animal encounter table I had written up a while ago now as part of my prep.

Alissa decided to keep the animal as her pet; and the NPC Zeno took blood samples and studied their DNA to compare them to the Enlil alien DNA strands - the result (following a successful computer check for analysis, and itself a piece of backstory specified by me as referee in response to that successful checkl) was that the reptile does not have DNA in common with Enlilians, implying that there are three sources of life on Enlil: the local fauna; humans; and the aliens that have also contributed to the Enlilians DNA. I suspect further investigations on Ashar will ensue in due course!

The PCs then decided it was time to jump to Olyx. In accordance with game procedures, we rolled for a random starship encounter upon leaving the system. (The roll for leaving Byron produced an uninteresting Free Trader result, coming in from Lyto-7; the roll for arriving at Enlil produced no result.) The result this time was interesting - a Type T starship, ie a 400 ton patrol cruiser with 4 triple turrets, but piratical, not official (although the players didn't know this last thing).

Curious about the arrival of such a ship at Enlil, the PCs decided to try and intercept the communications between the vessel and the starport. I set a rquired throw and the player who had the idea made the roll (with Methwit actually making the attempt) - and failed by 1. But then the player lobbied for help from Blaster, who has Commo-1 and Computer-2 and (with EDU 10) a good and recent knowledge of naval codes. So I set another required throw (maybe 7+ to grant a +1 DM for overall success) which succeeded, and so the PCs were able to intercept the patrol cruiser's transmissions.

This revealed that the ship had jumped to Enlil from Olyx, and had 17 crew onboard: 2 bridge crew, 3 engineers (as required for drives of its size), 4 gunners, 2 medics (one more than normally would be required) and 6 troopers. The ship announced that its (four) low berths were empty - leading the PCs to conclude that the ship was there to pick up more experimental subjects from Enlil for bioweapons research purposes.

This then led to some discussion - should the PCs take the opportunity to jump to Olyx while (what they could only hope was) its flagship was absent? Or should they boldly try some sort of subterfuge strategy to take the ship! (Eg by boarding it with their forged Planetary Rescue Systems Inspectrate passes, using Zeno's Computer-4 to try and trap the troopers in their quarters, etc.)

This was the end of the session and so no decision was reached. I'm thinking of starting a separate poll thread to get ENworld opinion on the matter.

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