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  #1  
Old June 3rd, 2016, 05:21 PM
Adam Dray Adam Dray is offline
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Default Making Navy characters with High Guard (MGT 1e)

I'm making Navy pre-gen characters for a convention scenario. I'll run this at DEXcon (Morristown, NJ, June 30) and TravellerCon USA (Lancaster, PA, October 2016).

I'd like to chat about strategies for making characters when you want them conform to certain end conditions. All ideas are welcome, even though the bulk of this prep for DEXcon is complete now.

In this case, I needed all the characters to finish their last term in the Navy. From there, they get forcibly discharged right before play starts. (Turns out that their entire capital-ship crew was so incompetent that a very high ranked officer canned all of them in a fit of fury. The PCs can swear that it wasn't their fault, if they want.)

I was shooting for 4-term characters with sufficient skills for play. I'm using High Guard for the additional Navy careers.

Most characters tried to go to Naval College, but only four were accepted, and three of those failed out (three Drifter first-terms). Only one, a Pilot, graduated (and with Honors!).

Some characters started in non-Navy professions if they weren't accepted to Naval College. One or two were in other divisions of the military (one Army, one Marine, one Merchant, no Scouts).

Characters who didn't start in the Navy had to end up there eventually. Most joined by the third term; I think one joined in the fourth term.

Once in the Navy, they stayed there until their fourth term, even if a survival roll forced them to muster out. In that case, I'd deny them a benefit for that term and perhaps make them switch to another, less desirable arm of the Navy.

I deviated from the standard book chargen rules in a few ways.
  1. I rolled 3d6 in order for characteristics. No manual assignment.
  2. I used the skill system where you roll d6 first, then take the best choice off all applicable skill charts.
  3. I awarded one benefit immediately at the end of each successful term. A characteristic bonus could help in later terms.
  4. Because they were dishonorably discharged, they didn't get their extra benefits for rank. They did receive extra benefits granted by events, effective immediately.
  5. I got characters into the Navy, and kept them there, as explained above.

One character was weak on skills by the end of term 4 due to some bad rolls. I was about to give her a fifth term and make her a bit older than the rest, but then I realized she had missed a benefit roll in an earlier term. I rolled it, and got a characteristic bonus that retroactively meant she'd have succeeded at one of her survival rolls. That in turn led to a promotion and commission and a few more skills. I let her stop at four terms like everyone else.
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Old June 3rd, 2016, 05:45 PM
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Hmm.

One change I made was to compact the enlisted grade scale. The check every four years system is not sensitive enough to grade to have a nine enlisted grades. That only came out from HG's expanded character generation where you rolled every year for advancement. My modifications I have here if you want to look.

What ranks were they at ending?
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Old June 3rd, 2016, 07:28 PM
Adam Dray Adam Dray is offline
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Yeah, I was using the HG expanded chargen rules.

Hrm. Where does it say to check every year rather than every four?

Most of the characters ended up O2 (9/12 of them). One O3, one O4, and one sad E1 who only served his last term in the Navy.
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Old June 3rd, 2016, 08:09 PM
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Contract Based Generation

You pick either Final Rank or number of terms. Until that point, you completely ignore reenlistment. The term you attain that final contracted status, that's your last term.

Fudge-it dice

Allow players a number of dice which may be spent to "fudge" die rolls.
Say you fail Survival - you spend a fudge-it die, roll 1d, and use it to replace your choice of the two. You don't like the skill roll you made? Spend a fudge-it to roll again, and take the one you like better.
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Old June 4th, 2016, 12:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Dray View Post
Yeah, I was using the HG expanded chargen rules.

Hrm. Where does it say to check every year rather than every four?
That's a reference to the old Classic Traveller HG, sorry.

I wasn't happy with how long it would take to make rate in many cases to use stock MgT HG. But that's IMTU.
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Old June 4th, 2016, 12:27 AM
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In general, I'm not happy with four year terms for character generation. I'm tempted to say that each career defines how long its terms are, or how often you check survival and advancement.
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Old June 4th, 2016, 04:54 AM
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I'm in favour for three year terms for the Solomani Navy and Army, and even three year university and military academy.
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Old June 4th, 2016, 02:26 PM
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Why did you bother rolling at all? You need PCs with specific skill sets for the con sessions you're running, why didn't you just "fit" by hand? Why waste the time?

You wrote about how you had to finagle this and that within chargen to get what you wanted. If you're going to keep your thumb on the "replay" button until you get what you want, why not just build them the way you want from the first?

I'm sure everyone is sick of hearing about my Active Duty IISS campaign, but I created something like 25 or 30 pre-gens for the players to choose from for that campaign. They were going to be the crew aboard a scout/courier and I believed that required them to have certain skills. Hence my use of pre-gens.

Because my players were going to be playing pre-gens, I decided a needed to give them many more than the eight or so usually presented in the CT adventures. I was going to need a couple dozen pre-gens at the very least and rolling them all up would be time consuming.

So I didn't waste time rolling up all those PCs with LBB:6, I didn't even bother rolling up the PCs' stats.

I figured the crew would consist of pilot, navigator, engineer, gunner, and (sometimes) medic. That fit nicely with our group, four of which who'd show up 99% of the time, another who could make it ~75% of the time, and a few kibbutzers.

Accordingly, I "hand fit" 5 or so PCs with a Pilot emphasis, 5 or so with a Nav emphasis, and so forth. Thanks to the cross-training inherent in LBB:6's tables, the Pilot wouldn't be the only with pilot skill nor Engineer the only with engineering skill. The Pilot, who may not have the highest pilot skill, would be the one filling the pilot billet however.

Opening S:4 to a random page, I copied down 25 or 30 stat blocks and divided them up into 5 groups.

I next figured the PCs' ages as being somewhere between 2 and 5 terms. Not whole terms, mind you. Because they were on active duty, these PCs wouldn't be at the end of their four year term blocks. Instead, they'd have finished a certain number of terms and a certain number of yearly assignments. The gunner PC which was selected was 2 terms and 1 year old which meant he'd had 9 yearly assignments and, IIRC, the engineer PC was 4 terms and 2 years old.

I didn't bother with college, honors, and all that because those options would have placed the PCs in IISS Bureaucracy instead of the Field. Seeing as I wanted a medic rather than a doctor, medical school and all that wasn't needed either.

Using a PCs number of yearly terms let me determine how many potential skills they had. Because all the pre-gens were either in the Survey or Communications banches, IIRC I figured on a 66%/two-thirds chance of a skill each term. That meant the gunner with 9 yearly assignments would have 3 skills.

I also decided each pre-gen had attended one school, either Ship, Technical, or, in the case of the few medics, Specialist. The gunner above with 3 skills would also have 1 or 2 more from whichever school they attended.

Once all that was done I simply picked skills off the various tables and I was done with the PCs. My players, however, got a number of points they could spend on a new skill, skill level, or stat. I think each PC got a point per full term, so the gunner ended up with 3 skills for their yearly assignments, 1 or 2 skills from the single school they attended, and 2 points the player could use as they see fit.

Voila, a couple dozen shake & bake PCs and not a single die rolled.
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Old June 4th, 2016, 07:48 PM
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You're making a lot of assumptions about stuff you don't understand, with a hint of judgment that doesn't sit well with me. Back off, please.

While I am running this adventure at a convention, I'm also looking to publish it as a mini-campaign, and it will need some guidelines for creating suitable characters. I'm trying to understand the actual rules as written first, discovered the advanced Navy options in High Guard, and gave it a spin.

I'm not actually creating characters with my thumb on the "replay" button, as you put it. I created 12 characters that I'll let the people at the table pick from. I might even make some more, but I feel like I got what I needed out of the chargen exercise.

For the Nova Roma games I run at conventions, those characters are just handcrafted to fit the purpose.

However, I find a lot of value in using the character generation rules. The randomness offers me twists and turns I might not have thought of, while the constraints force me to be creative with explaining how things might have come about. Even using the rules as written, there's a ton of room for creativity (especially since I'm using the "roll then pick" method not in the text).
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Old June 4th, 2016, 08:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Whipsnade View Post
I'm sure everyone is sick of hearing about my Active Duty IISS campaign, but I created something like 25 or 30 pre-gens for the players to choose from for that campaign. They were going to be the crew aboard a scout/courier and I believed that required them to have certain skills. Hence my use of pre-gens.
I'm not sick of hearing about the campaign. In fact, I don't think I've seen that much about it yet.

Don't the skill package rules make up for any deficiencies in character generation?


Quote:
Because my players were going to be playing pre-gens, I decided a needed to give them many more than the eight or so usually presented in the CT adventures. I was going to need a couple dozen pre-gens at the very least and rolling them all up would be time consuming.
Let me turn your suggestion back on you. Couldn't you just let the players craft their characters to fit your campaign perfectly? The point-buy method would have solved this. Just give them a list of roles they should cover.

Quote:
I didn't bother with college, honors, and all that because those options would have placed the PCs in IISS Bureaucracy instead of the Field. Seeing as I wanted a medic rather than a doctor, medical school and all that wasn't needed either.
Maybe the rules are different for Scouts than Navy. I haven't dug into Book 3. Do college Scouts have to go into the bureaucracy?

Naval College just replaces the first 18-22 term, gives them access to a naval speciality career for their basic training skills, commissions them, then drops them into the Navy Crew career. Honors just lets the player choose the service skill to take at level 1, rather than rolling it.


Quote:
Voila, a couple dozen shake & bake PCs and not a single die rolled.
I didn't technically roll any dice, either. I have an Excel spreadsheet that provides full sets of 6 x 3d6 with characteristic labels at the click of a button. It takes seconds to do that part. Rolling on tables isn't hard at all. And it was fun.

I'm wondering if you have the right number of skills for characters, though.

The typical four-term character I created had 5-8 skills at level 0, 6-7 at level 1, and 1-2 at level 2. One character had a skill at 3, but was severely deficient in other skills.
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