Traveller 1977: End Game

#1
This is a slightly revised version of a 2013 post from my previous blog, which I think fits nicely in this category…

The thing about character generation in the 1977 edition of Classic Traveller is this: It’s the end game.

Fresh out of character generation, the typical Player Character is in his late 30s or early 40s. He’s the same age as Conan was when he seized the throne of Aquilonia. He’s done the spacefaring equivalent of all that dungeon-crawling crap, served his time in the trenches, and now he is ready to concoct “daring schemes for the acquisition of wealth and power”, as Book 3 put it.

Comparing weapon skills statistically to the other game we all played at the time, Original D&D, we see that against an unarmoured target at optimum range, the hit probability for expertise level 1-2 (which covers most characters) is roughly equivalent to a D&D fighter of 4th to 6th level. Expertise level 3 is about the same as a 7th to 9th level fighter, level 4 to 10th-12th level, and level 5 to 13th-15th level.

9th level for an OD&D fighter (Traveller expertise level 3) is when he builds his castle and starts playing the Game of Thrones. In this regard, early Traveller is more like contemporary FATE-based games like Spirit of the Century or Diaspora, in which the PC begins the game as good as he will ever be as far as skills go, and improves in other ways – power, wealth, influence.

Examples


Conan is about 4th level (“he had already taken wounds which would have killed any three normal men”), so would have Sword-1. Given his Strength of 12 (at least), he’d get another +1. Against an unarmoured opponent at optimum range, he hits on a 2; that’s every single time. He’d hit a stock NPC with Sword-1 and Mesh (“the mailed chief of Akif”) on a 6, 72% of the time; untrained NPCs (-5 to hit and +3 to be hit) are as grass before his blade, he can carry on hitting them every time, indefinitely, even when he’s fatigued and they’re evading.

A character with Dexterity 8 and a telescopic sight already has +3 to hit at very long range (over 500 metres). He only needs to roll an 8 to hit an unarmoured target, so expertise level 3 or better guarantees a hit every time – there are no automatic failures in early Traveller. If the target is in Cloth armour, that drops to hitting on a 4+, or a mere 92% of the time. Note that with 3D damage and the first shot rule, if he hits the average NPC, they are incapacitated, no ifs, ands or buts. There’s your world class sniper, right there, and interestingly he corresponds to the 7th level D&D fighter I’d use as a template for Olympic-level archers in that game.

So, in the 1977 flavour of Classic Traveller, expertise-1 is Conan, and expertise-3 is more like Jason Bourne.

I wish I’d understood that at the time, and been able to convey it to my players through exciting descriptions. Oh well.

Continue reading...
 
Top