Traveller5 (T5) adds a new statistic called Fame. Players gain Fame mainly through the career process (character generation). Fame is typically gained for medals (military), rank in the various services (military, scholar, etc), and other actions. Rogues, for example, gain Fame (Infamy, perhaps, or “Street Cred”, if you will) for completing Schemes – and gain more fame for failing at a Scheme (Notoriety).
The greatest Fame increases are gained by Nobles (as leaders, or potential leaders, in the Third Imperium setting, people Pay Attention to them), and Entertainers. Indeed, an Entertainer’s entire career is based around his or her Fame and perceived Talent. (Actual talent in the profession matters little; look to the Kardasian family as a modern day example…)
So how is Fame used in the game? And are there any discrepancies in the rules, or sections which need clarification? Let’s take a look at some instances.
From the T5.10 PDF file, p. 91: “Fame stacks. A character’s Fame is the sum of all Fame points received to 20; beyond 20, only the highest fame applies.”
The wording here is, in my opinion, a little vague. Are the Fame values received in the order listed on the Fame charts, and once Fame=20 only the highest applies? Can a player add all the smaller levels of Fame he receives, then apply the highest to put him over 20 (potentially)? Or are they received in Career order – meaning you apply Fame received in each career served, and only apply the highest after this point, once Fame=20? My guess and suggestion is this last option is the correct interpretation for most careers, as it makes the most sense. Entertainers determine Fame throughout their career, determining their base Fame. Any additional Fame gained is added to this total, with only the highest bonus being applied once Fame reaches 20 or greater.
HOW IS FAME USED?
From the T5.10 PDF file, p. 36: “Fame is notoriety, or reputation. Fame is the degree of recognition or respect which society (or subdivisions of society) holds for an individual. Fame is not a guarantee of recognition; it is the likelihood that a search of documents or databanks will return information about the individual, or that a discussion will include reference to the person.”
Outside of this statement, there are no rules written detailing how Fame is used within the three PDFs. The statement itself, however, gives clues to how a referee may utilize it.
USING FAME – ONE SUGGESTION
A PC or NPC’s Fame level indicates the area where he or she is most likely to be recognized; for instance, Retired Navy Captain Eneri Jansen is from Regina system, an important frontier Capital. Eneri has Fame=17; he is “well-known” in two systems. Most likely these systems are Regina and Jenghe (a neighboring world which is owned by Regina). Both are worlds with advanced technology; each has an accessible public databank. A search of these databanks would require a Task similar to this:
To search for public information on Eneri Jansen (Difficult, 3D), Edu + Computer. If search time matters, use a base of 10 minutes (10-60 minutes total).
Note that this search would only turn up publically-available data; other information may require access to non-public databanks (and possibly requiring addition rolls of much greater difficulty to access, then search). Also note that the Task difficulty level is set to “Difficult” (3D) by default; there are A LOT of people on an individual world (sometimes in the billions), and many names will be repeated quite a bit. Computer skill becomes important in any data query, representing knowledge and experience with asking the correct questions…
Such a search can be adapted to each situation, as local conditions – and player actions and background – dictate. For example, if Eneri was involved in a famous battle against pirates, the referee could reduce the difficulty down to 2D – or even 1D, if ‘everyone’ knows about the incident. Conversely, the difficulty could be increased by +1D or +2D if the incident was hushed up as an embarrassment. If this were the case, Spectacular Failure on the search roll may bring authorities (or worse) to investigate the enquery, attempted security breach, etc.
Searches conducted outside the player or NPC’s ‘Fame area’ would be increased in difficulty, say +1D in the rest of the Subsector, +2D in neighboring Subsectors, or +3D in further regions. Such searches and tasks are subject to referee interpretation in all cases, as the situation (or player actions) dictate.
THE FAME EFFECT – INFLUENCE
Or, “Don’t you know who I am?”
Invariably, PCs will attempt to use their Fame in some manner. Many times these efforts will involve bluffing their way past guards, gaining an audience with the local Magistrate, and so on. Invoking their perceived Fame, they hope to accomplish a goal they consider necessary to their success (or even survival). Each such case will vary with the current situation, with differing degrees of difficulty. As always, it remains the duty (onus?) of the referee to determine just how influential the PC’s Fame is. As an example, a famous Musician may have a fairly easy time convincing the bouncer to let her into the exclusive party (depending on her story), whereas a retired Marine General may easily gain access to an off-limits military facility. Each situation will vary greatly, as will the potential influence of the individual(s) involved.
GAINING FAME IN PLAY
It is difficult to determine how to go about awarding Fame increases during game play. Many factors will go into such a decision or award, the most influential factors being the actions of the players involved, as well as their visibility to the public. Many referees will not want to deal with this aspect in their campaign or setting, and that is perfectly acceptable. Use what you need, ignore the rest! Most campaigns which use (and, perhaps, award) Fame will be long-term, long running ones.
The Fame statistic as detailed in the Traveller rules is an interesting addition to an already excellent set of rules. Though more details need to be worked out/added in, the beginning pieces are in place. I hope someone out there finds my babblings on the topic of use, or at least interesting.
As always, I am interested in hearing comments on this, as well as other ideas on the subject.
Keep on Travelling!
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