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Traveller RPG (Looking for Opinions)

payn

Hero
Yeah you can really bork your stat rolls, but honestly having 1 strong physical stat (Str, Agi, End) and 1 strong mental attribute (Int, Edu, Soc) is enough to make a decent character in Traveller. Paying very close attention to skill tables and skill choices when you get to make them is important. Every career has chances to improve ability attributes!

I do have a house rule for chargen that I give my players two mulligans for the entirety of generation. They can use it on attribute rolls, qualification rolls, benefit rolls, etc.

The party I have right now for my Pirates of Drinax campaign looks like this;
Merchant Marine with skills in piloting and trading.
Ex-Navy comms officer with strong skills in sensors and leadership tactics
Ex-Marine grunt with skills in heavy weapons and leadership tactics
An Aslan doctor with strong skills in xenobiology
An of course, a nearly useless debutante that has loads of credits and connections everywhere.

A pretty diverse team that can solve just about any problem one way or another. I certainly enjoy the players knack for avoiding combat when possible. Seems they are always looking for clever solutions. A very refreshing break from traditional kill everything and ask questions later gaming.
 

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Derren

Hero
It's true, the core rule book does a poor job of differentiating species. I do really enjoy the Third Imperium setting, though most of the species are just, lion people, dog people, bug people, etc.

Another push for the Pirates of Drinax campaign product is that they really flesh out the Aslan species. I dont like everything they did, (Aslan males can do this, Aslan females can do that), but the culture and new careers makes a new species finally feel like it.
The problem with Aslan is the special way they roll SOC . Even when you roll completely average you end up with the minimum value of 3. To go higher you need to roll well several times in a row with no bad roll in between.
And as SOC also gets halved when interacting with other races you will nearly always end up with the lowest of the low.
That might be a feature showing that the Aslan society is very one sided, but it means that certain professions are pretty much closed to Aslan.

Also, depending on the edition their looks change a lot. In Classic they were hairy humans, Mongoose 1E made them full furry lions and in Mongoose 2E they are back to hairy humans I think.
 

While I try to adapt the campaign to best suit the characters, typically I pitch 2-3 campaign ideas to my group, they select which one they prefer, and then they make characters suited for that campaign. This might be a fun little exercise on how to run a more sandbox game for me though.
Note that Mongoose Traveller (MgT) has a non-random option for char gen. Using it robs some of the feel of Traveller, but it's an option. MgT also has an option for adding key skills to characters after random gen. I don't much like either of those, but YMMV.
 

amethal

Adventurer
Note that Mongoose Traveller (MgT) has a non-random option for char gen. Using it robs some of the feel of Traveller, but it's an option. MgT also has an option for adding key skills to characters after random gen. I don't much like either of those, but YMMV.
I don't like them much either, but I can see why they did it. (Although I thought adding the key skills afterwards was part of the character generation process, rather than being an option.)

If you're running a traditional free-form game then I agree it detracts from the distinct feel of Traveller. However, if you've decided to play Pirates of Drinax (say) then you need characters who can at least "get by" as pirates, and the dice alone might not give you that.
 

payn

Hero
The problem with Aslan is the special way they roll SOC . Even when you roll completely average you end up with the minimum value of 3. To go higher you need to roll well several times in a row with no bad roll in between.
And as SOC also gets halved when interacting with other races you will nearly always end up with the lowest of the low.
That might be a feature showing that the Aslan society is very one sided, but it means that certain professions are pretty much closed to Aslan.

Also, depending on the edition their looks change a lot. In Classic they were hairy humans, Mongoose 1E made them full furry lions and in Mongoose 2E they are back to hairy humans I think.
Are you pulling your Aslan info from a supplement book? Based on the thorough description in Pirates of Drinax supplement, Aslan dont seem to operate the way you imply on Soc skill. They also created a long list of career options just for Aslan. To be fair, they basically just give you the same skill packages as the core rulebook, but the career and life events and are different, which gives alien flavor to the chargen process.

Also, for Mongoose T2 Aslan are back to being lion like, although, some art makes them look like upright lions and others makes them look like human-lion hybrids. Confusing on Mongooses' part.
 

Derren

Hero
Are you pulling your Aslan info from a supplement book? Based on the thorough description in Pirates of Drinax supplement, Aslan dont seem to operate the way you imply on Soc skill. They also created a long list of career options just for Aslan. To be fair, they basically just give you the same skill packages as the core rulebook, but the career and life events and are different, which gives alien flavor to the chargen process.

Also, for Mongoose T2 Aslan are back to being lion like, although, some art makes them look like upright lions and others makes them look like human-lion hybrids. Confusing on Mongooses' part.
I am basing it on the Mongoose Alien 1: Aslan book, although the stat generation seems to be the same in classic.

SOC is equal to your territory which starts as 0. You have 3 rolls which represent your ancestors success or failure to aquire territory with a roll of 7 being no change, higher you gain territory, lower you lose it and 2 means you lose everything.
 

Are you pulling your Aslan info from a supplement book? Based on the thorough description in Pirates of Drinax supplement, Aslan dont seem to operate the way you imply on Soc skill. They also created a long list of career options just for Aslan. To be fair, they basically just give you the same skill packages as the core rulebook, but the career and life events and are different, which gives alien flavor to the chargen process.

Also, for Mongoose T2 Aslan are back to being lion like, although, some art makes them look like upright lions and others makes them look like human-lion hybrids. Confusing on Mongooses' part.
‹soapbox›
Mongoose mangled the aliens in ALL of their presentations; Aslan for T5 are NOT lion-men, are digitigrade, sexist in a quirky extreme...
Vargr are wolf-like, not dog-like in all non-Mongoose editions.
Droyne are the closest, but having had much communication with Don while he was writing it, he was unhappy with changes forced by Mongoose. (he bounced some pre-submission drafts off a few of us at COTI.)
Essentially, if you're going OTU, don't trust mongoose sources.
Heck, if doing the OTU, don't use mongoose sources; they're all wrong to some degree.

As a genre-engine, it's fine. As an OTU engine? Not good. T20 is much better...
‹/soapbox›
 

practicalm

Explorer
I'm in a GURPS Traveller game right now and while our crew has been making a pretty good amount it requires the following.
Someone with really good Merchant skills - Speculative trades are where it's at. The problem is this needs a pretty good amount of seed capital.
For hired freight and passengers you have to stay off the main trade lanes as if the WTN is too good it's been picked up by larger companies.

The best approach is reach out to different groups and organizations and look for contract gigs. Stay at a planet for a bit and explore around looking for side jobs. Use the Scout and Military contacts you have as a player and look for things only a small group can do.
 

payn

Hero
‹soapbox›
Mongoose mangled the aliens in ALL of their presentations; Aslan for T5 are NOT lion-men, are digitigrade, sexist in a quirky extreme...
Vargr are wolf-like, not dog-like in all non-Mongoose editions.
Droyne are the closest, but having had much communication with Don while he was writing it, he was unhappy with changes forced by Mongoose. (he bounced some pre-submission drafts off a few of us at COTI.)
Essentially, if you're going OTU, don't trust mongoose sources.
Heck, if doing the OTU, don't use mongoose sources; they're all wrong to some degree.

As a genre-engine, it's fine. As an OTU engine? Not good. T20 is much better...
‹/soapbox›
I dont have a ton of pre-Mongoose Traveller experience, so I appreciate the comments.

@OP I'd agree that the genre engine is good for Mongoose Traveller, but the aliens are a weak point, particularly with the OTU setting. Our games are 90% human so it hasnt been an issue.
 

MGibster

Legend
@OP I'd agree that the genre engine is good for Mongoose Traveller, but the aliens are a weak point, particularly with the OTU setting. Our games are 90% human so it hasnt been an issue.

I just got the Traveller Starter Set in the mail today. After a cursory glance, I'm going to limit the PCs to human. The alien section seems particularly weak. I plan on having aliens in the game but I'm not going to allow PCs to start as one.
 

Derren

Hero
‹soapbox›
Mongoose mangled the aliens in ALL of their presentations; Aslan for T5 are NOT lion-men, are digitigrade, sexist in a quirky extreme...
Vargr are wolf-like, not dog-like in all non-Mongoose editions.
Droyne are the closest, but having had much communication with Don while he was writing it, he was unhappy with changes forced by Mongoose. (he bounced some pre-submission drafts off a few of us at COTI.)
Essentially, if you're going OTU, don't trust mongoose sources.
Heck, if doing the OTU, don't use mongoose sources; they're all wrong to some degree.

As a genre-engine, it's fine. As an OTU engine? Not good. T20 is much better...
‹/soapbox›
As I said the presentation of Aslan is very unsteady. I think in the Mongoose 2E core book they are back to being hairy humanoids with a small claw, but from the comments it sound like other MTr 2E books has them back to being lion men with swordarms. They certainly were in MTr 1E.

But thats only the looks, the problem I spoke of was the SOC generation. Was that different in OTU? I did not get the impression that Mongoose changed that from its source material.
 

payn

Hero
I just got the Traveller Starter Set in the mail today. After a cursory glance, I'm going to limit the PCs to human. The alien section seems particularly weak. I plan on having aliens in the game but I'm not going to allow PCs to start as one.
This is exactly how I jumped into Traveller with my group. Like all Traveller material, I use what I like, make up what isnt there, and change what I dont like. The rule system has enough to be interesting, but is not so complex for a group to leap into.
 

payn

Hero
As I said the presentation of Aslan is very unsteady. I think in the Mongoose 2E core book they are back to being hairy humanoids with a small claw, but from the comments it sound like other MTr 2E books has them back to being lion men with swordarms. They certainly were in MTr 1E.

But thats only the looks, the problem I spoke of was the SOC generation. Was that different in OTU? I did not get the impression that Mongoose changed that from its source material.
I believe the issue with SOC goes well beyond just Aslan. If all species in Traveller were human, but distinctly different cultures, there might be enough shared ideology to make SOC workable across them. Though, if each species has its own cultural inclinations and morality system, than SOC is not going to work as a transferable attribute for all characters.

The Aslan territory score seems to be a sub-system of SOC. The idea is that Aslan have this natural instinct to claim territory, gain respect, and defend it. Thats fine, though I think a mechanical sub-system is a level of complication unnecessary in a game that seems to be firmly in the medium to light side of rules complexity. I can dig it, I can also role play it without the need of mechanical assistance. YMMV

To further complicate the mechanics, there is an additional Aslan sub-system named tolerance. This is a roll an Aslan makes to not attack and/or kill some other species for failing to respect Aslan natural instinct towards territory and hierarchy. Again, this is an interesting role play position to give some flavor to your Traveller game, but the mechanics make it feel forced and overly complicated. Also, it takes some agency away from players of Aslan characters.

For the first time, in my Traveller games, I have a non-human PC. I have gone over the Aslan rules from the PoD primer with the player. We worked out what we are going to adhere to, and what we are going to let hang loose. So far, the role play has been a ton of fun, and leads me to believe it was a good choice to relax some of these complicated features.

I would love to hear from seasoned Travellers how things have worked in their groups!
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
To further complicate the mechanics, there is an additional Aslan sub-system named tolerance. This is a roll an Aslan makes to not attack and/or kill some other species for failing to respect Aslan natural instinct towards territory and hierarchy. Again, this is an interesting role play position to give some flavor to your Traveller game, but the mechanics make it feel forced and overly complicated. Also, it takes some agency away from players of Aslan characters.

It wasn't necessarily about not attacking someone for crossing Aslan etiquette and honor. Aslan don't have to be quite so thin-skinned. But it is about letting potential provocations slide by tolerating/forgiving ignorance. Tolerance skill levels would also be used to offset cross-species penalties in reaction rolls and so on back in Classic.
 

MGibster

Legend
I made a test character and ended up having a bizarre set of luck. I sent him to university and during the life event I rolled a 2. Bam! He's visited by people doing psychic research and now has the option of taking the psion career after he's done with school. She he graduates and I figure why not? I ended up rolling box cars for his PSI stat, and, so far as I understand it, I took the all the service skills for the Psion at level 0 because it was his first career and I end up choosing the Telepathy talent. I run two more terms as an adept before getting booted out of the career and end up with Clairvoyance at level 1 but I don't have any clairvoyance talents. A bit frustrating.

Any ideas if I did that right? Because as I read it, I got the various psion skills but I only started out with one talent. It just seems odd to get an extra skill in Clairvoyance without actually having any talents for it.
 

pemerton

Legend
i'm not familiar with the Mongoose versions of Traveller.

I'm a big fan of Classic Traveller and have a number of actual play posts on these boards: here's the most recent one - we've had one session since then but I didn't write it up. And here's a link to the write-up of our first session.

I don't like MegaTraveller - I think it's uniform task resolution flattens out a lot of what is interesting in the mechanics of Traveller play. The Classic version has a number - but a manageable number - of distinct subsystems which I think of as working a little bit like PbtA games: if you do it, you do it and the appropriate mechanical system is invoked. In our campaign this has worked for combat with people and aliens, for dealing with officials, for meeting with patrons, for social resolution more generally, for a trial, for using vacc-suits, for interstellar travel and trade, and for evading fire from an orbiting starship. The system logic has been easy to extrapolate to things not expressly covered, like grappling and pinning, pushing aliens away, and intercepting and/or jamming enemy transmissions.

Where it has been weak is (i) on-world exploration - this ends up turning pretty heavily on GM fiat, because while there are checks-per-day (eg for vehicle failure) it is up to the GM to decide how many days are required; and (ii) starship combat is not as exciting as eg in Star Wars or even Star Trek fiction. And when a ship takes damage it is ridiculously expensive to repair it.

Nevertheless I would recommend it as a RPG system.

(EDITed to fix link.)
 
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As I said the presentation of Aslan is very unsteady. I think in the Mongoose 2E core book they are back to being hairy humanoids with a small claw, but from the comments it sound like other MTr 2E books has them back to being lion men with swordarms. They certainly were in MTr 1E.

But thats only the looks, the problem I spoke of was the SOC generation. Was that different in OTU? I did not get the impression that Mongoose changed that from its source material.
FYI, the reason MgT is the standard shorthand for Mongoose is because MT was already the established shorthand for MegaTraveller...

In the Canonical OTU, Aslan Soc is 2d6.
The OTU Aslan are more like Samurai Culture blended with lion prides, and a touch of Kzin and Hani.

The MgT tables are not a good translation of the CT nor MT versions. The text of the MgT AM doesn't do them justice, either...
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
The OTU Aslan are more like Samurai Culture blended with lion prides ...


They were cool with all the FASA designed spacecraft, except even then a sort of one trick pony of things to shoot at. Now they are just awful, I find it nearly impossible to GM or play a game with Aslan; last time someone brought one in as a player, another player commented on how that one was a "wookie" and the game collapsed, just sucked the life out of it.

I don't use psionics, by group agreement in my current game; in the past, rolling psions, I found them to be very much 90% totally weak, or way over powered. One player argued that their psion character should be able to kill with their mind instantly due to telekinesis, and being able to "tweak" the opponents brain. This brought out comments of scanners, the rpg. Teleporting Zhodani Commandos are sort of the "nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition" python-esque silliness.

I always wanted a more mature setting like a mix of Alien and Outland, which one could do with the OTU if one put it through a filter, though usually it was just easiest to roll your own setting using the tools provided in the books.
 

pemerton

Legend
@dragoner, interesting post.

I have never used the official Traveller aliens in play. In our current game all the PCs are human, which was a stipulated parameter at the start of the game. There has always been a premise that there may be aliens "out there", ruins of ancient civilisations, etc, but they are not widely known about and certainly are not integrated into a galactic civilisation in official Traveller or Star wars/Star Trek way.

The PCs (and their players) first got evidence of the existence of aliens at the end of the fourth session, when a DNA scan of the residents of the bioweapon virus planet revealed that they did not have fully human DNA. Since then there have been hints of alien technology (eg teleporters) on another world, and the current Annic Nova situation involves a genuine alien vessel with alien inhabitants. How that fits into the bigger picture of the universe and its timeline etc hasn't come out, though I have some thoughts about it.

In our campaign there is psionics, and a few sessions ago (which is over a year ago, as this is only one of several active campaigns for my group) the PCs found a branch of the Psionics Institute and a number of them underwent training. This is linked into the "ancient technologies"/"aliens" theme, which has been reinforced by my version of Annic Nova, but again the details haven't yet emerged.

I've never used a psion "class"/career path and don't know the details of the Zhodani (just the general idea that they're psionically-oriented humans with mechanical options for starting with psionics). Your objection to teleporting squads of commandos seems sensible to me!
 

I've never used a psion "class"/career path and don't know the details of the Zhodani (just the general idea that they're psionically-oriented humans with mechanical options for starting with psionics). Your objection to teleporting squads of commandos seems sensible to me!

Zhodani are human. They have an interstellar state just starting to develop TL15 as of IY1100...
Their society is a noble dominated meritocratic state.
3 castes: Nobles, Intendants, Proles, and an implied 4th: the insane.
Nobles and intendents are always trained in psionics.
Proles are never trained per se, but children who test particularly strong are moved to the intendent caste and fostered. This is the only caste movement for proles.
Intendants can be rewarded with noble titles.
Their society is based upon honesty and (when needed) psychic surgery to permanently alter one away from criminal tendencies. Voluntary adjustment is allowed, for example if one has a habitual pattern of forgetting something needed for work, one can voluntarily go to the Thought Police and ask for a tweak.
Career training is often chosen with assistance of mind reading in order to maximize ability to benefit society while being happy and successful.
Noble dwellings and workplaces use psionic only switches; military officers of the intendant class often have their secure systems rigged for psionic activation.
Proles are raised to expect the Thought Police to show up when they're in emotional distress. Anyone who is emotional crisis is expected to seek out the TP, as well... almost all go willingly. The TP can command a wide variety of solutions, from helping one to enjoy one's extant job through assigning one to retrain in another job.
The economy is essentially eurosocialist. Proles own and run most businesses.

All Zho characters generate the 6 basic atts and Psi.
Soc 2-9 are proles. Anything which would result in Soc 1 is also likely to be considered insanity...
Soc 10 are intendants.
Soc 11-15 are nobles.
If soc is 10+ &/or PSR is 9+, character is trained in psionics.
Even if they have no other abilities, those trained can use flicking to trigger psionic switches.
The Thought Police are all intendant or noble. All of them have telepathy.
The Zhodani Marines have an intendant/noble arm of Teleport Marines. All of whom are Soc 10+, and have teleport. Every platoon will have a telepath and a telepereceptionist... the lucky ones have a guy with all three...
 

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