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Classic Traveller Target Number for rolls

jaz0nj4ckal

Villager
Folks:

I just got a digital copy of Classic Traveller from RPG Drivethu, since i heard good things about the system. Being into retro systems and games I thought I would take a look at it, which I missed the first time around during the 80s.



However, I have a question that the Traveller players out there could help me with. I understand 8+ is the standard roll; however, what are target numbers for generic default difficulties? For example: if something is hard would I assign a target roll of 11+? Just trying to understand how a GM would set difficulties. Another example: a roll of x+ is needed to pick a good quality electronic lock.

Thanks!!!
 

halfjack

Villager
There are none in CT. The ref was expected to make up difficulty modifiers on the fly. So any given check was 8+ but the ref might assign a difficulty of -3 or whatever she felt was appropriate.
 

sjmiller

Villager
In order to make something harder, you add modifiers. If someone does not have the proper tools, give the standard roll (8+) a modifier of +2, making it a 10+ to succeed. Most everything is up to the Referee, but general guidelines are to add a minor modifier +2 for harder tasks, an additional +2 if it is very hard, and keep adding more +2s to make it harder and harder. Remember, most skills do not have more than a 2 or 3 rating, sometimes as high as a 4, so anything more than a +4 modifier will make the roll very difficult indeed.
 

jaz0nj4ckal

Villager
I played the heck out of AD&E 1E/2E, which used a flat %, which made it easy to say oh...a -2=10%; however, I noticed that is not the case with CT, yet I was hoping for some generic Target Number.

Due to the latter, and what Sjmiller posted - it looks like multipules of 2s are used.
 

Ed_Laprade

Adventurer
I played the heck out of AD&E 1E/2E, which used a flat %, which made it easy to say oh...a -2=10%; however, I noticed that is not the case with CT, yet I was hoping for some generic Target Number.

Due to the latter, and what Sjmiller posted - it looks like multipules of 2s are used.
Pretty much, but be carefull. As was pointed out, it doesn't take many +2s to make the target number impossible to roll. (Can't remember off hand what 8+ on 2D6 is percentage wise, but its way higher than 50% already.)
 

Treebore

Villager
You can actually make it easier too, such as making it as low as 3, and only if failing the roll would have game significance. Otherwise, as in any game, just assume success. Plus it does not have to be in increments of 2, and it can go + or -. You make the modifier what you feel it needs to be. Your just basing everything around 8. So if you think it is something easier than 8, and failing the roll will have meaningful impact on the game, give them modifiers to allow them succeed with a roll of 3 or better. If its really hard, modify it to where they need a total of 14, 16, whatever.
 

jaz0nj4ckal

Villager
You can actually make it easier too, such as making it as low as 3, and only if failing the roll would have game significance. Otherwise, as in any game, just assume success. Plus it does not have to be in increments of 2, and it can go + or -. You make the modifier what you feel it needs to be. Your just basing everything around 8. So if you think it is something easier than 8, and failing the roll will have meaningful impact on the game, give them modifiers to allow them succeed with a roll of 3 or better. If its really hard, modify it to where they need a total of 14, 16, whatever.

Ok that makes sense, but when handing out target numbers for actions/skill checks do I account for the player’s ranks/levels or just base percentages off the default 8+?

For example:
8+ is roughly 41% chance for success

So if I add +2 penalty then it becomes 10+ (16%).

But I am having a hard time understanding if I assign +6 penalties, which becomes a 14+. Only way a default personal with no skills is 12+ (2.77%); however, the ranks/skill would play a large part in this.

I understand I need to break my AD&D 1/2E way of thinking, but it is hard after so many years of playing that one system. I never upgraded to D20, but it does sound exciting, but it lost the retro feel for me with all the colored drawings…I know I am stuck in the late 80s and early 90s.

Thanks for the help.
 

Ed_Laprade

Adventurer
Ok that makes sense, but when handing out target numbers for actions/skill checks do I account for the player’s ranks/levels or just base percentages off the default 8+?

For example:
8+ is roughly 41% chance for success

So if I add +2 penalty then it becomes 10+ (16%).

But I am having a hard time understanding if I assign +6 penalties, which becomes a 14+. Only way a default personal with no skills is 12+ (2.77%); however, the ranks/skill would play a large part in this.

I understand I need to break my AD&D 1/2E way of thinking, but it is hard after so many years of playing that one system. I never upgraded to D20, but it does sound exciting, but it lost the retro feel for me with all the colored drawings…I know I am stuck in the late 80s and early 90s.

Thanks for the help.
Yes, you should be basing everything around the roll of 8+. The difficulty of the task should (theoretically) not have anything to do with how good the characters are. Especially as they rarely get any better once they've mustered out. If something is slightly easier or harder you can give a +1/-1 modifier. Slightly moreso, and go to +/-2, etc. What you give modifiers for can vary greatly. I believe, although I no longer have my original books, that the tech level of equipment could give some mods. (But higher TL wasn't always better. Your super-duper electronic lockpicking gizmo wouldn't help worth beans against a simple physical key lock! ;))

Also of note, which I'm no longer sure was in the original, is the rule in the Mongoose version that someone with no skill can still try at a -3 penalty. That may not sound like much, but on a 2D6 roll it is. And be aware that a competently skilled person has a mod of 0. So small increments to mods, not used too often, is the way to go. A +/-4 modifier is actually pretty huge.
 
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Treebore

Villager
Yeah, just look at the action to be taken itself, and make your determinations based off that. The only reason I look at what ranks the characters have is to make sure I am giving them a chance, even if it is only if they roll double 6's. Unless it is truly impossible, then I set it at 18, so in order to even have a chance, they better have a skill rank of 4 and a attribute modifier of +2, and have to roll double 6's, or forget it, it simply cannot be done, just like so many things in real life.
 

jaz0nj4ckal

Villager
Yes, you should be basing everything around the roll of 8+. The difficulty of the task should (theoretically) not have anything to do with how good the characters are. Especially as they rarely get any better once they've mustered out. If something is slightly easier or harder you can give a +1/-1 modifier. Slightly moreso, and go to +/-2, etc. What you give modifiers for can vary greatly. I believe, although I no longer have my original books, that the tech level of equipment could give some mods. (But higher TL wasn't always better. Your super-duper electronic lockpicking gizmo wouldn't help worth beans against a simple physical key lock! ;))

Also of note, which I'm no longer sure was in the original, is the rule in the Mongoose version that someone with no skill can still try at a -3 penalty. That may not sound like much, but on a 2D6 roll it is. And be aware that a competently skilled person has a mod of 0. So small increments to mods, not used too often, is the way to go. A +/-4 modifier is actually pretty huge.
Thanks so much for clearing that up - I was very unsure if I based the modifiers on the default roll of 8+ or factor other items into the mix.
 

jaz0nj4ckal

Villager
Yeah, just look at the action to be taken itself, and make your determinations based off that. The only reason I look at what ranks the characters have is to make sure I am giving them a chance, even if it is only if they roll double 6's. Unless it is truly impossible, then I set it at 18, so in order to even have a chance, they better have a skill rank of 4 and a attribute modifier of +2, and have to roll double 6's, or forget it, it simply cannot be done, just like so many things in real life.
Now I see how it works. Your example and [MENTION=40172]Ed_Laprade[/MENTION] combined have really helped.

I was looking at it all wrong - I was trying to assign a percentage to the target number; however, everything can be based off the default 8+ and skill levels/attribute modifier, which could be calculated as a percentage, but it is just as easy to use your example.

Thank you and
 

Water Bob

Adventurer
[MENTION=82555]the[/MENTION] OP...

You might find this useful. It's something I wrote up a few years ago and is popular among the Classic Traveller internet community.



RULE 68A - A Ref's Guide to the Official Classic Traveller Task System

INTRODUCTION...

Many Traveller players believe that Classic Traveller does not have a task system of its own. I've made statements to this effect myself in days gone by. But, whether the claim came from me or from another Traveller fan, the declaration is incorrect. CT does have a task system. What the game doesn't have is a structured task system.

Unlike meticulous, confined task systems of many rpgs, the system put forth in Classic Traveller is one where the GM is left to his own devices. With the CT system, the referee is charged with using his own judgement to create appropriate throws as needed in his game. The best description of CT's system is written by Marc Miller, appearing on pages 28-29 of the Traveller Adventure.

The designers at DGP saw the lack of structure as detrimental to the game. Making up task throws on-the-fly during a game and hoping that those Ref judgements were both good and consistently fair was seen as a precarious endeavor. Thus, the popular Universal Task Profile was born--a structured task system originally designed for Classic Traveller, then used in MegaTraveller as that edition of the game was published.

I have studied task systems for many years. I've created several. (The Universal Game Mechanic, a structured task system designed specifically for Classic Traveller, can be viewed here by clicking on the link in my sig.) And, I'd wager I know more about task systems than several "game designers" writing for rpgs today (judging by the systems that I've seen in print).

For those of you who still see the charm of the Original Traveller Task System and crave the creativity involved in designing a "good throw" on-the-fly, I present to you...

RULE 68A.

What is 68A? It's not a task system, and it doesn't change the system presented in Classic Traveller by one iota. What it does do is aid the GM in creating Classic Traveller task throws. It's a guideline, a rule-of-thumb, that Ref's can use, easily, quickly, during the ruckus and heat of a game to create fair and consistent throws.

In other words, it's a method of adding structure to the structureless Classic Traveller Task System.







HOW DOES IT WORK?

Simple. Whenever a throw is called for during a game, the Ref decides on the throw difficulty. The three Difficulty Levels each have a base target number assigned to them.

Code:
Difficulty
---------------
Easy 6+
Average 8+
Difficult 10+
Note the name of the Rule. 68A. This is Traveller hexidecimal notation for 6-8-10. You'll never forget the three base difficulty numbers.

Once the base number is decided upon, the GM should fine tune the difficulty, up or down, by one point, if necessary.

And...we're done. See how simple that is? If the task is "Difficult", the target number is 10+. If the GM thinks the Difficult task is harder than usual, then the target number is set at 11+. If, on an Easy task, the task is particularly easy, then the task is set at one point lower than 6+ (so, it's a 5+ throw).

Two Things to Note:

First, most CT skill descriptions also include sample tasks. GMs are encouraged to use these sample tasks as guidelines when creating throws that involve that skill.

Second, about 75% of the throws presented in Classic Traveller materials do not reference the character's attributes. Most throws rely on skills (only) for DMs. For those throws that do require a characteristic component, Rule 68A can easily be used, in a slightly different way, by the GM when deciding on which level of stat is required before a bonus is used on the task.

When using characteristics this way, Refs should simply decide what level of the appropriate stat would be beneficial on an Average Task Throw. If it's likely the stat will Easily influence the task roll, then chose Stat-6. If the stat would influence the throw on Average, then pick Stat-8. If the stat is unlikely to influence the throw (it would be Difficult for the stat to influence the throw), then the choice is Stat-A.

As with difficulty numbers, the Ref should simply raise or lower the base stat number by one point should fine-tuning be necessary.







EXAMPLES...

Reviving passengers from low berth is typically a routine process for the experienced ship's medic. Easy Difficulty is 6+, but since this process is so common, the GM fine tunes this number down by one point. The throw to revive passengers from low berth is 5+ (see pg. 50 of the Traveller Book).



It's relatively difficult to maintain control on one's position and movement while floating around in zero gravity. This is a Difficult throw. 10+. (See pg. 48 of the Traveller Book).

By the same token, the 68A rule is used to determine what level of DEX will be beneficial to those trying to maintain control in zero G. The GM decides that both an average DEX and a high DEX would be beneficial. He tweaks each up one point due to the difficulty of swimming around in zero G. DEX-8 is fine tuned to DEX-9 for the first bonus. DEX-A is fine tune up one point to DEX-B for the second, bigger, bonus. (See pg. 48 of the Traveller Book).



Most people can spot forgeries fairly easily. The 68A rule says that Easy tasks require a throw of 6+. The Ref decides not to fine tune this number. (See pg. 23 of the Traveller Book).



The description of the ATV says that it is quite reliable. It's unlikely they'll break down. So, success on a Difficult task is needed if the ATV does break down. The Ref fine tunes this by one point. A throw of 11+ is needed for the ATV to break down. (See pg. 22 of the Traveller Book.)







THE EFFECT OF SKILLS...

Most tasks in Classic Traveller (about 3-in-4) are modified by a character's expertise (skill) only. And, about the same percentage of those tasks are modified at a DM of +1 per skill level.

Please note that there is still a large cross-section of tasks that gain more than one point DM per level of skill on task throws.

For example, the Forgery skill provides a -2 DM (to the throw being made to spot the forgery) per level of skill. Those characters skilled in Administration will sometimes gain a +2 DM per level of skill when making certain throws. Those characters with Vacc Suit expertise gain a +4 DM per level of skill when avoiding dangerous zero G situations.

Good Classic Traveller GMs will be familiar with the CT skill descriptions and be able to create task throws in the spirit of the rules-of-thumb described therein.







ANYTHING GOES!

Remember, Rule 68A is only a guideline! It's meant to help a GM come up with a throw, fast, during a game (and keep his throws consistent and fair). 68A is NOT meant to over-structure the CT task system and hem the GM into a corner.

There are several examples in CT of all sorts of rolls that can be created during a game. Not all are 2D +DMs for a Difficulty Number or better (most CT throws are of this nature).

If a GM thinks a particular throw is a better fit than what is indicated by Rule 68A, then he should implement it without hesitation.

Marc Miller, in his description of Classic Traveller Tasks on pages 28-29 of the Traveller Adventure, suggests all sorts of methods for using dice to determine uncertain outcomes during the game.

The throw needed for a character to throw a blade is: Roll 2D for 18+. DMs include + entire DEX level, + Blade Skill, - Evasion DM. (Page 43 of the Traveller Book).

When reviving low berth passengers, a character with Medic-2 or better is granted a +1 DM (and a +1 DM is all that can be gained from the Medic skill). (Page 50 of the Traveller Book.)

A throw of 7 exactly is required to indicate a fatal error is writting into a computer program. (Page 22 of the Traveller Book.)

Reaction numbers (the number thrown for NPC reaction on the Reaction table) can be used as the throw required for the NPC to help the PCs (see pg. 28 of the Traveller Adventure).

For quick, random difficulty numbers, simply throw 2D and use the result as the number needed for success on the next task roll (see pg. 29 of the Traveller Adventure).

Two characters, working together to force open a stuck hatch, may add their STR scores together, and throwing the total or less on 3D indicates the hatch is opened (I just made that one up).

One character tosses an autopistol to another character. The Ref rules that the character making the toss needs to throw DEX or less on 2D. Failure means there is no chance for the opposite character to catch the pistol. The character trying to catch the pistol will throw the result of the throwing character's 2D throw, or less, on 2D, in order to catch the weapon, but he also receives a -3 DM if his DEX is higher than that number. So, Fred tosses to Thomas. Fred's DEX is 10, and the result of the 2D throw is 5. Thomas' DEX is 8. So, in order to catch the pistol, Thomas must throw 2D -3 for 5-. Or, in other words, he's throwing 2D for 8- in order to catch the pistol. Thomas' ability to "catch" the pistol is based on the quality of Fred's throw. (I just made this one up too...to give an elaborate example.)



The good Classic Traveller Ref should never forget these types of occurances and never use Rule 68A exclusively.
 

jaz0nj4ckal

Villager
[MENTION=92305]Water Bob[/MENTION]
Thanks for such a detailed write up. I think I am going to include this in my game. Mongoose version is great; however, my group are older players, and we all felt that it lacked that "older rpg mood"; however, it could be just us old-farts and Classic.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
I always liked the MegaTraveller task system, which refined some of the ideas in Classic Traveller's tasks, into a more defined system. It would work pretty well for CT as well. Here's a brief excerpt to give you the idea...

MegaTraveller Players' Manual said:
The Universal Task Profile (UTP) provides you with a simple (but still comprehensive) method of codifying tasks. So how does the UTP system work?

A UTP answers these questions about a task:
  • How hard is the task?
  • What skills and characteristics are crucial to this task?
  • How long does this task typically take?
  • Does this task involve any special risks?

The UTP provides a list of answers to these questions. A task uses the predefined answers in response to questions.
The predefined answers are specified in real-world terms. Even if you don’t know the task system, you can quickly understand a task defined by a Universal Task Profile.

WHAT DOES A UTP LOOK LIKE?

The UTP always follows the same format. For example:

To locate the source of the strange hum:
Routine, Recon, Int, 1 min (hazardous, unskilled OK).
Refem: Any Major or Destroyed mishaps automatically become Minor mishaps.

The UTP is always separated from the surrounding text by a blank line both above and below.

HOW HARD IS THE TASK?

When setting the difficulty, select from four difficulty levels:

Simple: Success is highly likely. Roll 3+ on 2D to succeed.
Routine: Success is likely. Roll 7+ on 2D to succeed.
Difficult: Success is unlikely. Roll 11 + on 2D to succeed.
Formidable: Success is rare. Roll 15 + on 2D to succeed; success is only possible with DMs.

Note that the 2D roll for each level is easy to remember because it is 4 more than the prior level. If a 2 is rolled, a fumble occurs and the task attempt fails no matter what.

WHAT IS CRUCIAL TO THE SUCCESS?

When crucial skills and characteristics are chosen as task modifiers (DMs), a task uses related skills (like Pilot and Ship’s Boat), or one skill and one characteristic.
A skill level must be added directly as a DM on the task roll. Characteristics are always divided by 5 (drop fractions) when used in tasks. Never add characteristics directly.

HOW LONG DOES THIS TASK TAKE?

The time increment on a task profile is 10 percent of the typical task duration. A roll of 3 dice (whose average result is 10) determines how many increments the task takes. The increment is always one-tenth of the typical task duration.
If the duration of the task doesn’t matter, the task is Instant and that’s that. No time roll is made.
If the duration always takes the same time, the task is Absolute. No time roll is made.
The duration of an attempt equals the increment times 3D (after any DMs are applied). The minimum is 3 increments.


DOES THIS TASK INVOLVE ANY SPECIAL RISKS?

The standard task assumes a normal amount of risk. Other levels of risk are possible:

Safe: With safe tasks if a mishap occurs, it is never damaging.
Hazardous: With hazardous tasks, there is a high likelihood of a serious mishap if the task fails.
Fateful: With fateful tasks, a mishap is guaranteed if the task fails. Don’t confuse this with hazardous, which indicates the severity of mishap. “To avoid a mishap” situations are good examples of fateful tasks because if they fail, the mishap has not been avoided.
Uncertain: With uncertain tasks, the result of the attempt is largely opinion or cannot be confirmed. Those individuals associated with the task have some idea of how successful the task attempt was; however, they are not certain of the outcome.
Sensor readings, interchanges between characters (including any task which might require a reaction roll), psionics, computer programming, repairs, and research are all good candidates for uncertain tasks.
Unskilled OK: When a task states unskilled OK, the specified skills are useful, but not required. There is no penalty for not having the specified skills.
Confrontatlon: When two opposing sides are working at cross-purposes, the task becomes a confrontation.

HASTY OR CAUTIOUS TASKS

The standard task attempt assumes the character is taking a reasonable amount of care while performing the indicated task. The player can change this amount of care.
Hasty: When a player is in a hurry, he can specify that he would prefer a hasty task. The time required is shorter, but the task becomes harder. The task DMs are doubled before subtracting them from the time roll; the task difficulty increases one level.
Cautious: When it is more important to reduce danger than to finish quickly, a player can specify a cautious task.
A determination roll is required first. If successful, the task is cautious. If unsuccessful, the task is increased in difficulty one level.
In a cautious task, the time roll is doubled before subtracting DMs; the task difficulty decreases one level.


TASKS THAT FAIL

The details of handling failed tasks are the realm of the referee and thus are covered in the Referee’s Manual.
 

Water Bob

Adventurer
MegaTraveller's UTP was actually designed by DGP for Classic Traveller. GDW hired DGP to create the new Traveller edition, so when DGP designed MegaTraveller, they brought along the UTP that they had previously published in their Traveller magazine, making the task system a formal part of the game.

@jaz0nj4ckal I also designed a task sytem, different than the UTP, for Classic Traveller. It's called the Universal Game Mechanic. Some say that Mongoose "copied" my UGM as it was freely available on the net and is very close to what Mongoose uses in their Traveller game.

If you're interested in perusing the UGM, I could post it here for you.

Personally, though, when I play Traveller, I play Classic Traveller. That's my Traveller version of choice. And, when I play CT, I don't use the UGM or the UTP or some other hybrid. I use Rule 68A and the nifty GM defined throws that is the heart of Classic Traveller.
 

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