2022 #TTRPG CharGen Challenge – Hard traveling the stars with Traveller: 2300 1st Ed. (Game Designers’ Workshop, 1986) #RPGThursday

By the time 1986 rolled around, I had been a Traveller RPG player for seven years. Surprisingly, while the Traveller rules had moved on from (Classic) Traveller in the Little Black Books to The Traveller Book and MegaTraveller, I had not kept up. As a high school student who was into both roleplaying games and wargames, my budget couldn’t support constantly “buying up” into new rules systems (more honestly, I was big into the science fiction wargame Star Fleet Battles and spent the majority of my money there). However, when GDW released a “new” Traveller game called Traveller: 2300 I eagerly bought the base set and the boxed ship combat game, Star Cruiser.

…and I was confused.

Traveller: 2300 took place around the year 2300AD but the game was, well, very un-Traveller. The setting was based on the events started in Twilight: 2000 and were totally unrelated to the Third Imperium history found in Classic Traveller. This created much confusion for me and anger among others as many loyal Traveller-player accused GDW of deceit. Later, GDW would “clarify” this confusion by renaming this setting/rules set as simply 2300AD.

Traveller: 2300 billed itself right on the box cover as, “Playable Realism in Science Fiction Role-Playing.” Whereas Classic Traveller was (classic) space opera, Traveller: 2300 attempted to hue to a more realistic, or hard sci-fi, gaming experience. The result was a setting that tried to be more realistic, like the inclusion of a Near Stars map that was based on reality, and not a randomized die-driven star map generation system like that found in Traveller.

Fortunately, though Traveller: 2300 grew from the Twilight: 2000 setting, the former did not use the character generation or task resolution mechanisms of the later. At this time, GDW was moving towards a “house” rules system and eventually the rules for MegaTraveller, Traveller: The New Era, Twilight: 2000 2nd Ed., and 2300AD would share commonalities. For now, though, Traveller: 2300 led the change with a return to a relatively simple character generation system that again emphasized career paths.

[The Task Resolution System in Traveller: 2300 uses 1d10 against a difficulty: Simple 3+, Routine 7+, Difficult 11+, Formidable 15+, and Impossible 19+. Crucial Characteristics (Attribute/5) and Crucial Skills serve as positive die modifiers. For instance, to drive a vehicle evasively is Routine, Driver, Absolute (1 action in combat round) where the die roll required is 7+ and the relevant driver skill serves as a positive DM. I remember being really confused about Tasks as the Referee was encouraged to build a notecard set as different tasks were created. Are you telling me the game didn’t come with any tasks? It took me a bit but I eventually figured out how a Referee colud make a task on the fly—pick a difficulty, determine which skills or characteristics were assets, and chose a time interval.]

Unlike Twilight: 2000 with its extensive Character Generation Worksheet, Traveler: 2300 returned to a relatively simple process and a character sheet that could be on a 3×5 notecard if needed. The rules for Character Generation were found in the Player Manual and for the most part was reduced to a one-page checklist. In my box I found a home-made “player’s handbook” which included the checklist page and the two pages of the Skills List stapled together and folded in half—easy to stash in a notebook. The process is so well laid out for this character generation challenge I started by simply going down the checklist. Amazingly, I had to refer to the Player Manual only a few times, and if I was a regular player of Traveller: 2300 the few check-ups would probably be done once and not needed again.

Building Storm

I’m going to walk yo through the process of generating Leonard ‘Leo’ Storm, an American hailing from the normal-gravity frontier colony Ellis (Pick Nationality, Frontier/Core?, Homeworld, Homeworld Gravity). His basic body type is “Endomorph;” short and stocky they suffer less from the effects of extreme gravity and acceleration and often make good pilots.

Physical Attributes

[Usually 4d6-4 for a range of 0-20; Characteristic divided by 5 often used as an asset (+DM) to task resolution.]

Size – 12 / Strength – 12 (Normal G, 11 in High-G, 10 in Low or Zero-G) / Dexterity – 13 (Normal G, 14 in High-G, 12 in Low G, and 11 in Zero-G) / Endurance – 14

Psychological Attributes

[Usually 4d6-4]

Determination – 13 / Intelligence – 11 / Eloquence – 11 / Education – 10

Background and Career

Characters gain a number of Background Skills equal to Education/2. There is a separate list of Frontier and Core background skills to chose from. Of note, skills are usually purchased at a rate of Skill Level/2 (round up).

Leo decides to enter the Scouts which is an Exploratory Career. This gives him a set of Initial Training Skills. Leo faces his first “Turning Point” at five years.

[Unlike Classic Traveller’s set four-year terms, Traveller: 2000 uses the concept of a Turning Point to determine “term” length. A Turning Point comes a number of years based on a d10 die roll. In the case of Leo, his first Turning Point was five years. When a Turning Point is reached, characters gain skill points equal to the number of years that can be used to purchase new skills. Each career defines Primary and Related Skills; Primary Skills are purchased at 1/2 point per skill level, Related Skills at double-cost, and purchasing an unrelated skill will cost triple. At every Turning Point an Easy, Determination Task Roll must also be passed to continue on. In the case of Leo, he must roll 3+ on 1d6 with a +2DM based on his Determination attribute. Leo’s first Turning Point was after five years and he continued on to a second Turning Point after another 8 years. At this point I could roll to continue on but decided to stop and finalize the character.]

Skills

[Rated on a scale of 0-10; crucial skills often used as a +DM on Task Resolution]

Aircraft Pilot-2 / Astronomy / Combat Rifleman-1 / Electronic-2 / Ground Vehicle-1 / Mechanical-2 / Melee-2 / Pilot-2 / Sidearm-2 / Survival-2 / Trader-1 / Vacc Suit-2

Character Finalization

Eyesight – Average / Hearing – Excellent / Appearance – Attractive

Consciousness – 2 / Life Level – 4 (see the Errata sheet correcting a major error in the Player Manual!)

Mass – 126 kg / Encumbrance – 48 kg / Throw Range – 96 m / Coolness Under Fire – 5

Native Language – English (no secondary language)

Money: Lv13,000

Leonard ‘Leo’ Storm was always itching to get off the frontier world of Ellis. He always thought there was much more out there in the Black. After being a Scout for 13 years, Leo isn’t so sure about his dreams. Life in the Scouts devolved into boredom as they just pushed the end of the American Arm and kept coming up empty. Leo has decided to leave the Scouts and go free-lance for the large Corporations. Last time out near the end of the Arm he heard rumors of “beasts from beyond” but laughed it off as soon as the next round of beers arrived. Funny thing is, he keeps hearing that rumor over and over again…

Storming Out

Even having not picked up Traveller: 2300 in many years, the process for character generation was fast, as in I made this character in around 20 minutes even with a few references to the Player and Referee Manuals. After the last few games, like James Bond 007, FASA Star Trek, and Twilight: 2000 that all seemed to be trending toward more complicated character generation processes, Traveller: 2300 was (relatively) a return to simplicity.


Feature image Beagle Class Scout – by Laurent Esmiol 

RockyMountainNavy.com © 2007-2022 by Ian B is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

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