Many Traveller players believe that Classic Traveller does not have a task system of its own. I've made statements to this effect myself in days gone by. But, whether the claim came from me or from another Traveller fan, the declaration is incorrect. CT does
have a task system. What the game doesn't have is a structured
Unlike meticulous, confined task systems of many rpgs, the system put forth in Classic Traveller is one where the GM is left to his own devices. With the CT system, the referee is charged with using his own judgement to create appropriate throws as needed in his game. The best description of CT's system is written by Marc Miller, appearing on pages 28-29 of the Traveller Adventure
The designers at DGP saw the lack of structure as detrimental to the game. Making up task throws on-the-fly during a game and hoping that those Ref judgements were both good
and consistently fair
was seen as a precarious endeavor. Thus, the popular Universal Task Profile
was born--a structured
task system originally designed for Classic Traveller, then used in MegaTraveller as that edition of the game was published.
I have studied task systems for many years. I've created several. (The Universal Game Mechanic
, a structured task system designed specifically for Classic Traveller, can be viewed here by clicking on the link in my sig.) And, I'd wager I know more about task systems than several "game designers" writing for rpgs today (judging by the systems that I've seen in print).
For those of you who still see the charm
of the Original Traveller Task System
and crave the creativity involved in designing a "good throw" on-the-fly, I present to you...
What is 68A
? It's not a task system, and it doesn't change the system presented in Classic Traveller by one iota. What it does
do is aid the GM in creating Classic Traveller task throws. It's a guideline
, a rule-of-thumb, that Ref's can use, easily, quickly, during the ruckus and heat of a game to create fair and consistent throws.
In other words, it's a method of adding structure
to the structureless Classic Traveller Task System.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Simple. Whenever a throw is called for during a game, the Ref decides on the throw difficulty. The three Difficulty Levels each have a base target number assigned to them.
Note the name of the Rule. 68A
. This is Traveller hexidecimal notation for 6-8-10. You'll never forget the three base difficulty numbers.
Once the base number is decided upon, the GM should fine tune the difficulty, up or down, by one point, if necessary.
And...we're done. See how simple that is? If the task is "Difficult", the target number is 10+. If the GM thinks the Difficult task is harder than usual, then the target number is set at 11+. If, on an Easy task, the task is particularly easy, then the task is set at one point lower than 6+ (so, it's a 5+ throw).
Two Things to Note:
First, most CT skill descriptions also include sample tasks. GMs are encouraged to use these sample tasks as guidelines when creating throws that involve that skill.
Second, about 75% of the throws presented in Classic Traveller materials do not
reference the character's attributes. Most throws rely on skills (only) for DMs. For those throws that do require a characteristic component, Rule 68A
can easily be used, in a slightly different way, by the GM when deciding on which level of stat is required before a bonus is used on the task.
When using characteristics this way, Refs should simply decide what level of the appropriate stat would be beneficial on an Average Task Throw. If it's likely the stat will Easily
influence the task roll, then chose Stat-6. If the stat would influence the throw on Average
, then pick Stat-8. If the stat is unlikely to influence the throw (it would be Difficult
for the stat to influence the throw), then the choice is Stat-A.
As with difficulty numbers, the Ref should simply raise or lower the base stat number by one point should fine-tuning be necessary.
Reviving passengers from low berth is typically a routine process for the experienced ship's medic. Easy Difficulty is 6+, but since this process is so common, the GM fine tunes this number down by one point. The throw to revive passengers from low berth is 5+ (see pg. 50 of the Traveller Book).
It's relatively difficult to maintain control on one's position and movement while floating around in zero gravity. This is a Difficult throw. 10+. (See pg. 48 of the Traveller Book).
By the same token, the 68A
rule is used to determine what level of DEX will be beneficial to those trying to maintain control in zero G. The GM decides that both an average DEX and a high DEX would be beneficial. He tweaks each up one point due to the difficulty of swimming around in zero G. DEX-8 is fine tuned to DEX-9 for the first bonus. DEX-A is fine tune up one point to DEX-B for the second, bigger, bonus. (See pg. 48 of the Traveller Book).
Most people can spot forgeries fairly easily. The 68A
rule says that Easy tasks require a throw of 6+. The Ref decides not to fine tune this number. (See pg. 23 of the Traveller Book).
The description of the ATV says that it is quite reliable. It's unlikely they'll break down. So, success on a Difficult task is needed if the ATV does break down. The Ref fine tunes this by one point. A throw of 11+ is needed for the ATV to break down. (See pg. 22 of the Traveller Book.)
THE EFFECT OF SKILLS...
Most tasks in Classic Traveller (about 3-in-4) are modified by a character's expertise (skill) only. And, about the same percentage of those tasks are modified at a DM of +1 per skill level.
Please note that there is still a large cross-section of tasks that gain more
than one point DM per level of skill
on task throws.
For example, the Forgery skill provides a -2 DM (to the throw being made to spot the forgery) per level of skill. Those characters skilled in Administration will sometimes gain a +2 DM per level of skill
when making certain throws. Those characters with Vacc Suit expertise gain a +4 DM per level of skill
when avoiding dangerous zero G situations.
Good Classic Traveller GMs will be familiar with the CT skill descriptions and be able to create task throws in the spirit of the rules-of-thumb described therein.
Remember, Rule 68A
is only a guideline! It's meant to help a GM come up with a throw, fast, during a game (and keep his throws consistent and fair). 68A
is NOT meant to over-structure the CT task system and hem the GM into a corner.
There are several examples in CT of all sorts of rolls that can be created during a game. Not all are 2D +DMs for a Difficulty Number or better (most CT throws are of this nature).
If a GM thinks a particular throw is a better fit than what is indicated by Rule 68A
, then he should implement it without hesitation.
Marc Miller, in his description of Classic Traveller Tasks on pages 28-29 of the Traveller Adventure
, suggests all sorts of methods for using dice to determine uncertain outcomes during the game.
The throw needed for a character to throw a blade is: Roll 2D for 18+. DMs include + entire DEX level, + Blade Skill, - Evasion DM. (Page 43 of the Traveller Book).
When reviving low berth passengers, a character with Medic-2 or better
is granted a +1 DM (and a +1 DM is all that can be gained from the Medic skill). (Page 50 of the Traveller Book.)
A throw of 7 exactly
is required to indicate a fatal error is writting into a computer program. (Page 22 of the Traveller Book.)
Reaction numbers (the number thrown for NPC reaction on the Reaction table) can be used as the throw required for the NPC to help the PCs (see pg. 28 of the Traveller Adventure).
For quick, random difficulty numbers, simply throw 2D and use the result as the number needed for success on the next task roll (see pg. 29 of the Traveller Adventure).
Two characters, working together to force open a stuck hatch, may add their STR scores together, and throwing the total or less on 3D indicates the hatch is opened (I just made that one up).
One character tosses an autopistol to another character. The Ref rules that the character making the toss needs to throw DEX or less on 2D. Failure means there is no chance for the opposite character to catch the pistol. The character trying to catch the pistol will throw the result of the throwing character's 2D throw
, or less, on 2D, in order to catch the weapon, but he also receives a -3 DM if his DEX is higher than that number. So, Fred tosses to Thomas. Fred's DEX is 10, and the result of the 2D throw is 5. Thomas' DEX is 8. So, in order to catch the pistol, Thomas must throw 2D -3 for 5-. Or, in other words, he's throwing 2D for 8- in order to catch the pistol. Thomas' ability to "catch" the pistol is based on the quality of Fred's throw. (I just made this one up too...to give an elaborate example.)
The good Classic Traveller Ref should never forget these types of occurances and never use Rule 68A