Traveller5: First Impressions

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The new Traveller5 revised rules were made available for backers at the end of last week (via PDF download). While I have yet to finished reading them (I don’t believe that is feasible in one weekend, if one likes/needs sleep, or has a family/work/social life), I have read through the character creation, skill, and task sections, more than enough to begin rolling characters (always a favorite pasttime). I’ll post a detailed example of such in my next post. But here I’ll post some impressions I’ve gained so far.


The original, Classic Traveller (CT), did not have enough skills, whether skill choices, or gained/earned skills, in the game. Being the first ever successful sci fi rpg, it had its share of problems. But it was, and is, the grand daddy of sci fi rpgs, in the same manner that ALL RPG’s trace their roots to DnD, and Gary Gygax.
When newer systems came out, they expanded/changed/improved the skill systems – in general. Some systems appeared (to me) happhazzard in their application of skills and (notably) sub-skills. But overall these systems were an improvement. There was no real or realistic method of in-game skill improvement or experience, however. Many players developed various house rules to cover perceived shortcomings or deficiencies, with varying degrees of success.

In T5 skills have been revised in an interesting, believable, and most importantly usable system. Most skills are straightforward, and have a maximum attainable skill level of fifteen (15). Science skills and Knowledges (sub skills of certain skills) have a maximum level of six (6). After this level, further increases to such knowledges must be in specializations. For example, once Planetology reaches six, the scientist must specialize in a sub category with further skill levels, such as Gas Giants, Hell Worlds, or Terrestrial Planets. It’s a skill system which makes sense. It also works very well with the Task System (see below).

As to experience and skill increases, T5 rules assume the player has ‘interests’, hobbies, and goals. At a certain point in the game, the player and referee discuss the last game year, and reach an agreement on what skill increases for them. I.E., it is assumed a PC gains one skill level per game year, which I consider more than reasonable.


I really like this task system. Combine the controlling statistic with your skill, and other possible modifiers, then roll difficulty dice UNDER (or Equal To) this Target Number. With it a PC’s stats MATTER. Sure, you will have the occasional “force of nature” character, who’s high overall stats do much to make up for his lack of overall skill – at lower difficulty tasks, anyway. At higher difficulties high skill matters most, as you add 1D to your roll if your skill level (not your stat) doesn’t equal or exceed the task’s Difficulty level. Having to add an additional die to your roll can be problematic (at best) with higher difficulty rolls.

In most cases players will be rolling 2D, 3D, or maybe 4D for most tasks. A character with average stats (6-9), and decent skill levels (2-4), should have a reasonable chance to succeed at most tasks.


EDITED: My original comments about Flux have been deleted, after comments and corrections by another gamer on a separate forum.


I like the new character generation system. Your PC’s Statistics are, in general, the target numbers for your survival rolls (called Risk Roll now), as well as others. Each career has a slightly different path of rolls to be made, or different Stats to use. And the Rewards for succeeding vary. Whereas the military careers (Army, Marines, Navy) give Medals, the Scouts give Discoveries, Agents gain Commendations, Merchants gain Ship Shares, and the like.

And the career choices aren’t excessive. There are also two career choices (Functionary and Craftsman) which have minimum requirements to select. (Craftsmen must have high skills; Functionaries must have served in another career before applying.)

For my thinking, the secret, best career choice is the Rogue, especially if your PC has one really high stat. With the Rogue career, you have access to every skill you need to run a starship. But most importantly you have the chance to earn A LOT of credits. And I do mean a lot! A coworker and I rolled a Rogue who left the career with nearly 20 Million Credits – AND enough Ship Shares to gain a free trader. By himself. Admittedly, he was 46 years old, but still.


Well, that’s about it for this post. I’ll be back in a few days, after more reading and digesting of these updated rules.

These rules may not be for everyone, as many people don’t like detail heavy systems. But for me, they are great, as I love detailed games. More crunch is good, I say!

What are your impressions so far? Feel free to discuss!

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