I’ve been excited about Traveller 5 since before the Kickstarter. It’s been slow going getting errata and clarification for the game out, and there’s not much being written about it. So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to follow the advice from the old Book 0 and get to know the territory. I plan on sharing this in the form of fictional conversations between two players, followed by a commentary post.
A: Lets play Traveller5!
B: Okay, I’ve heard that it doesn’t work yet.
A: That’s never stopped us before.
B: True. How do we start?
A: Best way to start is to make a character and work up. Only a jackass would create the universe and drill down. Grab some d6’s.
There are 6 attributes, Strength, Dexterity, Endurance, Intelligence, Education and Social Status. Roll 2d6 for each.
B: 4,7,9,9,7,6. So what’s that, I’m weak, but smart. Now what?
A: You need a homeworld.
B: Can’t I pick? Is there a default?
A: You can pick, but you don’t know anything about them. Also, it’d suck to accidentally pick Venus. So let’s roll for now. Roll d66.
A: Sorry, roll 2 six-sided dice, first one goes in the tens, second in the ones column.
B: Oh. 11. Is that good?
A: Let’s see — Alell 1706 Spin B56789C-A Ph Pa Ri
B: What’s that mean? Is Alell my home planet? What does the rest mean?
A: Yes, you were born on Alell. The rest is information about Alell, where it’s located, and some things about it. Right now, what we care about is that ‘Ph Pa Ri’. It’s the Trade Code for your planet. It’ll help use figure you starting skills (what you know at 18)
Here’s what we know, Alell has a Pre-High Population, Pre-Agricultural, and Rich trade codes.The first two are tough to describe, because they’re in reference to another trade code. You get Trader, and an Art Skill. Pick between Actor, Artist, Author, Chef, Dancer, and Musician.
B: I guess I’ll be an Author. Is that like my class? I kinda wanted to be a space pilot, but whatever.
A: No, that’s not it. This is just what you knew when you began your training. Like what you learned by virtue of living on Alell. And just what you’re good at (there are other skills that you’re familiar with). Do you want to pursue higher education?
B: Like college? Nah, I’m bored already. How do I become a pilot?
A: Planes or Spaceships?
A: The best way is to go to college, and get into flight school. Otherwise, you’ve got to take your chances.
B: I’ll take my chances. The Space Service for me!
A: You need to be smart to get in the Navy. Roll 2d6, to see if you get in.
B: 6 – did I want to roll low or high?
A: Low, you wanted to roll equal or under your Intelligence. The navy has a place for you. Roll a Soc check (2d6 <= Soc) to see if you can pick your branch.
B: 4 – that’s a success right?
A: Yes. It means you get to pick what branch of the Navy you’re assigned to. Crew, Engineer, Gunnery, Technical, or Medical.
B: Where do pilots go?
A: They don’t, only Officers fly, you’re Enlisted. Hopefully you can earn a Commission. First, let’s see what you did for your first 4 years in the navy Spacehand! Good news is you get to pick a combat skill from (Battle Dress, Beams, Blades, Exotics, Slug Throwers, Sprays and Unarmed)
B: I’ll be crew I guess. What’s a battle dress?Sounds fancy.
A: Powered Armor.
B: Shiny. I’ll take that.
A: Okay. Let’s see what you were assignments were. Roll 4 six sided dice.
B: 1,6,6,6 What’s that mean?
A: It means that you were in a Battle, and then sent to ANM School 3 times for training.
B: They sent me to college? Okay I guess.
A: First, let’s see how that battle worked out. Do you want to try to push your luck and go for glory (and take a penalty to your risk roll)?
B: Sure. -1, I rolled a 7. Is that good?
A: Hold on there – You need to select your controlling characteristic for this term from Strength, Dexterity or Intelligence. You’ll have to go through all of them before reusing one. Most people start with their highest. Intelligence of 9 in your case. Have a mod -4, meaning you needed a 5 or less.
B: If I’d known that I needed to roll a 5 or less, I probably wouldn’t have added to my risk.
A: Yeah, but you’d still have failed it, besides, you’re fictional.
A: could you roll a d6?
B: What for?
A: Just do it please.
A: Ouch. Again?
B: 5. Is that bad?
A: Could be worse, you just rolled what’s called Flux (d6-d6) and got a 1. In this case, low is good, because the 1 and the 2 you missed your roll by means your injury only does 3 points of damage to your controlling characteristic.
A: You were injured in the battle. Not some brain damage. Your UPP is now 479676.
B: Yeah you know… UPP?
A: Sorry – Universal Personality Profile, it’s shorthand for your stats.
Let’s see about the reward. Roll 2d6. (Now that mod 4 will help you)
A: Ouch, here’s some ambiguity in the book, so I’m going to make a call. That was a check against Intelligence (which is now 6). Meaning you needed to roll under 10 to make it. That seems less fun than letting you use your Int 9 one last time. Meaning you made it. The rules are vague here, but I’m going for the less shitty universe. You received a campaign medal. A Starburst for Extreme Heroism. Guess it was worth the massive head trauma. Also, you’ll get a bonus for promotion later on.
You need to roll 2d6 to get your commission. If so, you’ll become an Officer. Bad news, it’s against your Dex, which is 7.
B: That’s okay, I’m feeling lucky… a 5!
A: Good show Ensign. You do get Astrogator-1 as a skill. You also get to pick your branch
A: Sure thing. You got 3 assignments to Navy School, which is only one year each, here is the list of Knowledges you can pick up: Grav Vehicles, Tracked Vehicles, Wheeled Vehicles, Battle Dress, Slug Thrower, Jump Drives, Life Support, Maneuver Drives, Power Systems, Robotics, Aeronautics, Grav Flyers, Winged Flyers, Bay Weapons, Ortillary, Screens, Spines, Turrets, Pilot Adventure Class Ships, Pilot Battle Class Ships, Animal Trainer, Grav Boats, and WMDs
B: WMDs? Really?
B: Maybe, I get 3, right?
A: Yes, but you have to roll for each year.
B: Okay, I’m going to start with pilot training. What’s the difference between Adventure and Battle class ships?
A: The Millennium Falcon vs an Imperial Star Destroyer
B: Got it. I want Adventure Class Ships. What do I do?
A: Make a Dexterity or Endurance check.
B: I’ll go for Endurance. 10. Damn. That means I failed?
A: Yeah. However, it is a school, so you can get
A: No, a waiver. Make a Social Status Check.
B: 7 not high enough.
A: Good thing they sent you again. Year 2. Want to go for the same course?
B: Sure. 4 makes it right?
A: Yes, you’ve got Pilot:ACS-2 now, and one more course to try.
B: Will WMDs come up in our game?
A: Probably not.
B: Then I’ll take Grav Flyers. 2d6? 6
A: Okay, you’ve got Grav Flyers-2 now. You’re a pilot! Now for the rest of the terms skills. You get one roll for each year, plus one for your commission. The charts you can use are battle and personal. (personal is working out and stuff, giving stat increases). D6 for each
B: I’ll go for 3 on personal (call it physical therapy) and 2 on Battle. 3,4,3 and 4 & 2
A: That’s +2 to endurance and +1 to intelligence. Additionally Fleet Tactics and a Starship Skill (Astrogator, Medic, Gunner, Engineer, Pilot, Sensors, and Steward). I should point out, since you have more than 2 levels in Pilot, you can spend it in a general ‘pilot’ skill, which applies to all.
B: I’ll do that.
A: Okay to recap, we have
Ensign John Doe, age 22, 47B776 SEH, Wound Badge-1
Trader-1, Author-1, Battle Dress-1, Astrogator-1, Pilot-1, ACS-Pilot-2, Grav Flyer-2, Fleet Tactics-1
Do you have a name?
B: Not really. Are we done?
A: Maybe. Do you want to keep going?
B: I need a break.
A: One last thing before we forget — roll 2d6.
B: ?? 6. What was that for?
A: To see if they let you leave or stay. You’re good.
B: So I made the check, that means I can pick? I think I’ll do one more term in the navy, see if I can make Lieutenant. We’ll pick this up later.