I now understand how fascinating character creation in Traveller is! It’s really a mini-game all by itself, especially with the chance of death! I never got how that could be a good thing, but it makes character creation so much more interesting!
Having the characters come into the game with a random history makes for a great springboard to develop your character’s personality. That promising young commissioned officer, who is then passed over for promotion time after time, or the gifted engineer who rockets through the ranks, the army grunt that becomes a baron, or even a duke! Each of these suggests quite a lot about the type of person each of these characters might be.
I rolled up 4 characters to see the flexibility and diversity of the system.
My first character Eugene Riviera was drafted into the merchant fleet with an above average strength, endurance, and intelligence. He served 4 successful terms, becoming a commissioned officer, and being promoted twice. He became one of the hottest navigators (4 ranks!) in the fleet, until a jump went horribly wrong, sending all hands to their deaths because of an unexpected nova.
My second character, Miranda Clayton was physically weak, but had a highly developed intellect, which was further enhanced by expensive schooling, made affordable because of her high social status. Enlisting in the Navy she served 6 terms attaining the rank of Captain. During her service she performed some exceptional missions, and became very proficient with a wide variety of technologies (Engineering 5, Pilot 3, Computer 2, Jack of all Trades) before retiring. At her retirement she was given a 75k bonus, a Navy Cutlass and training in it’s use, a High Passage, +2 to Education and to Social (Duchess!) and membership into the Traveller’s Aid Society!
Joe McGrunt wanted nothing more than to be a soldier in the army. He got his wish, and was quickly singled out as officer material. After basic he was taken out of the field, commissioned and then spent the next 4 years behind a desk. He did a great job and was promoted almost immediately. Joe unfortunately was something of a hothead, and on the day before he was to reenlist he punched a superior officer, and was tossed out.
The last character I rolled up was Sir. Eric Huston, a young man out to make his fortune. Enlisting in the Merchant Fleet, he was immediately commissioned as 4th officer, and spent his time in the service in the operations department, fixing things. He served 6 terms, and received only one promotion the entire time. While he always felt himself above his fellow fixers, he couldn’t help but pick up a few of their skills and contacts. His last term found him serving on a ship that was repeatedly attacked by pirates, and gained some skill with automatic rifles. On his retirement he was given a cash bonus of 41k, and free enrollment at the local imperial university (I rolled +1 education 4 times!!)
Some thoughts on what I’ve read – It’s interesting to see the difference in abilities, and how age impacts them. I’m looking forward to seeing how the abilities impact the game.
150,000 credits a month just to maintain your ship?!? Yowza, that’s a lot of credits. Especially when the best mustering out bonus would only cover 2 weeks, and the monthly retirement pay would barely touch it. I’m really wondering how any character could afford to keep a ship without a really successful merchant business.
I found this Classic Traveller Character Generator which does a pretty good job of replicating the process shown in the Starter Traveller, but you do lose the thrill of getting through all the stages alive!