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Classic Traveller Discussion on the granddaddy of them all, Classic Traveller!

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Old October 25th, 2015, 11:08 AM
san*klass san*klass is offline
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Default 50% chance of survival

Recently repurchasing and rereading "The Traveller Book" I am surprised as to how high the Survival rolls are in Character creation. Ignoring the bonus DM's, the Survival roll is around a 5,6,7 etc depending on career. Since you are rolling just 2D6, and so 12 is the highest possible roll that means you only have a (roughly) 50/50 chance of surviving a 4 year term!

Now although I appreciate that Imperial service is dangerous, 50/50 sounds a little steep? I also appreciate that instead of death, it could represent an discharge due to injury, which makes some sense. However, it still seems a bit high.

So, I assume that the Survival roll, as written, as well as serious injury, can also represent a major error which affects progress in your career. And, so, using 7 as an example, a modified total of 2-4 is discharge due to injury and a modified total of 5-7 is a career limiting error etc.

For this career limiting error option I suggest. Either -1 DM to Re-enlistment at the end of the current term(Others and Scouts) or a -1 to Promotion (or Commision if not yet an officer) this term (Navy, Marines, Army and Merchants).

I think it makes the Survival roll a bit less impactful, and (hopefully) more logical?
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Old October 25th, 2015, 11:19 AM
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Old October 25th, 2015, 11:36 AM
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Hi. For a few reasons, I suggest to not over think the.survival rules:

Character creation, as written, is a fun game in and of itself. The risk of death vs attaining skills and benefits is exhilarating. Usually, new players want to keep rolling up new characters during session 0.

Risk (death) vs gain (skills, benefits, age, etc) during character creation is vital for keeping game balance.

Keep characters who died during creation for NPCs.

It is possible for a character to gain skills after creation, although lengthy, if a character is a little short on skills.

A powerful psion is young = fewer skills = balance

Really, if a character dies during creation, just start again. It's fun.
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Old October 25th, 2015, 01:07 PM
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Four of the careers are 5+ survival, that's an 83% chance of survival.
Stick to those careers, better yet have the survival bonus stat and you will be ok.
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Old October 25th, 2015, 01:20 PM
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What Axe said.

And also this:

Don't ignore the Survival DMs!

Within the fictional world it is assumed recruits will be chosen who have the qualities of the best chance of survival.

But, more importantly, as Axe says, it is a game within a game. The Player character generation system as it stands angles the Player toward wanting that service. After all, with the survival DMs included the odds of survival jump to 97%, 92%, and 83% respectively, with the bulk of the services at 97%. That an amazing carrot to encourage players one way or another.

On the other hand, the player might make the choice, boldly, to go to a riskier service without the Survival DM for a certain chance of a certain gain that service. Without those lower base odds of survival those risks aren't stark. (And, as Mike points out, four of the services start at a base chance of survival of 83% without DMs, so the risks might be worth it.)

For me, the character generation system is a training ground for the game itself once play begins: looking for situational DMs to increase odds of survival and success; coming to grips with the game's lethal nature; understanding that one will have to choose one's battles carefully, weighing what one wants against the risk entailed to acquire it.

I think it's a brilliant sub-system as is, and works perfectly in the game as a whole for the reasons described above.

That said (and as noted in the first post), in the 1981 edition of the game the rules were changed from the original rule to this:
Quote:
Optional Rule: If the referee or player so indicates prior to character generation, then a failure of the survival roll can be converted to injury. The character is not dead, but instead is injured, and leaves the service (after recovery) having served only two years of the four year term.
I've never understood the appeal of this rule. It guts the live risk of both choosing one service or another, and serving another term for more benefits at the risk of losing the character completely.

I think those two choices are best made when the risk is stark and dangerously clear, because, again, it echoes the nature of the game. But that's me.
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Old October 26th, 2015, 03:08 PM
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Default Death before dishonor.

I like the horrible survival rates.

Paying attention to the enlistment and survival DMs are the way to go. That being said when rolling up characters for fun (which besides painting miniatures is all I've done with CT for a couple of decades) one of the rules of thumb that I use is that a Soc of A+ "requires" Navy service.

The Navy is the prestige service for "nobles" and near noble social climbers, grants commissions to the nobles and gentry, and allows adds to Soc on table one/ High Rank/Mustering Out.

Many's the time I have "watched" a 34436C dumb, scrawny, inbred scion of some minor Barony shuffled off to the Navy to be irradiated/ blown out into the cold vacuum of space/ eaten by his space-wrecked shipmates/ etc. all because "The NAVY is what one joins when one is of a CERTAIN station, comme il faut, noblesse oblige, stiff-upper lip and all that, what?"

So unless overridden by IMTU and personal prejudices I always stick to the idea that a character would pick the job they're the most suited for. And... then fail to make the enlistment roll and get drafted into the Scouts (gulp.)
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Old October 27th, 2015, 10:19 AM
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It's a valid game mechanic, like in Pass The Pigs, you make a choice to go for another term and get more skills but risk losing the character and starting all over again, as you progress the other element of ageing kicks in as well.

If you use the Experience rules (Book 2 Page 42-43), and, to a lesser extent the Instruction skill (Mercenary), combined with long periods of travelling (1 week per jump, plus 1 week in system) where self-improvement and training can be performed, it is very easy over a simple campaign to accumulate several years of game time and several additional skills, at some point the advantages of youth emerge by avoiding ageing whilst the disadvantage of inexperience diminishes through improvement, this is how the game could or should work.

Even single adventures can often take several months of game time with long journeys, the one that springs to mind is Safari Ship which takes you across District 268 and back, and if you do take characters from one adventure to another they will easily accumulate time which can become experience.

Of course, this is assuming a campaign style game is used, for one shot games you probably would not use Survival rolls anyway, either to expedite character generation or because ready-made characters are used or preferred.
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Old October 27th, 2015, 11:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by creativehum View Post
That said (and as noted in the first post), in the 1981 edition of the game the rules were changed from the original rule to this:
Quote:
Optional Rule: If the referee or player so indicates prior to character generation, then a failure of the survival roll can be converted to injury. The character is not dead, but instead is injured, and leaves the service (after recovery) having served only two years of the four year term.
I've never understood the appeal of this rule. It guts the live risk of both choosing one service or another, and serving another term for more benefits at the risk of losing the character completely.

I think those two choices are best made when the risk is stark and dangerously clear, because, again, it echoes the nature of the game. But that's me.
I find myself drawn to both the injury and the death rules.

On one hand, the risk of death adds a certain excitement to that decision "Do I stop at Term 2 or try for a third term?". It certainly is more interesting than just ignoring survival all together and rolling until they kick your 7 term character out with mandatory retirement. As a purely practical matter, those survival bonuses are not that hard to get and can bring the survival roll to 3+ which is practically the same as guaranteed survival anyway ... and rolling a 2 term basic chargen character really isn't THAT time consuming that having one or two or three die in chargen will cost you all that much time. For advanced Chargen (LBB4+), the time invested per character is higher so "injury, not death" begins to make more sense.

On the other hand, why can't a character start a game as a retired Marine with a mechanical leg ... a souvenir of his last deployment and the 'golden wound' that sent him home with a 100 Credit per month stipend. It is that sort of color that would hardly unbalance a game, but would add a little special interest to the character. Currently, there is no game mechanism for determining this except referee fiat. The "injury, not death" option creates a mechanism for awarding a consolation prize for a hard ending to a career. Not everyone retires with a party and a gold watch.

Strictly IMTU:
I like both possibilities and the basic idea behind Rule 68A. So for my preference, I say why not make the survival roll or higher be safe, two less than survival be "wounded" and more than 2 less than survival be death ... with snake eyes always being death so nobody is completely safe no matter what their ability bonuses.
So for the Navy, Army, Merchant and Other, Survival = 5+, Wounded = 3+ and dead = 2.
For the Marines, Survival = 6+, Wounded = 4+ and dead = 3 or less.
For the Scouts, Survival = 7+, Wounded = 5+ and dead = 4 or less.
... but like I said, strictly IMTU stuff because I like using rolls to create background color ... the more possibilities, the better.
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Old October 27th, 2015, 12:28 PM
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With DM the risk is fairly low. Even if rated high, it is (like aging) an antidote to the 70 yo "super character". Unchecked greed must not be the best councellor IMTU.

have fun

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Old October 27th, 2015, 08:38 PM
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IN DEFENSE OF THE SURVIVAL THROW.


One must remember, when playing Classic Traveller and generating characters that the Survival throw is part of the mini-game. It's there by design.

A player has no control over his starting stats. It's a brutal 2D throw, and snake eyes does happen.

This isn't a game where a player can build his PC using some point system. The only way to improve the character is through the experience charts.

So, if a player just doesn't like the character he rolled up, his only recourse is to get the character killed--by trying to fail the survival throw.

But, even that's not guaranteed.

LBB1 works so that a player rolls stats and gets to attempt entry into one of the six careers. If enlistment is failed, then the character is randomly put into one of those six careers using the draft.

Once a character has a couple of terms under his belt, the player may begin to "get into" the character. I've seen it happen. Many times, a character that a player intends to kill via the Survival throw ends up becoming an unexpected character that the player really likes, through the charm of the Classic Traveller chargen system.

Or, the player may indeed intend to kill the PC through the Survival Throw and never actually do that. The Survival throws are made, and on a term, no re-enlistment is allowed. Boom. The character is put into play.

Most of the time, though, the player is able to kill the character with the Survival Throw if that is what is intended. Smart Refs then scoop up the character to put into the "random NPC" bin, and the player is allowed to try a new character.

A player can attempt as many characters as he likes, and keep killing them as long as he wants to, as long as the dice cooperate. That's the player's input on the character. (And, as I just said, the time spent on "dead" characters isn't wasted--those are NPCs for the Ref to use later).

And, again, the dice do not always cooperate. Brick a re-enlistment roll, and the character is mustered out and put into play despite the player's efforts to kill the character off.

Many times, these become extremely fun and enjoyable characters--surprising the player who didn't originally want the character.

I've run CT chargen like this, as written in the rules, for many years, and I'd say it's my favorite character creation system. It's not really a tool to create desired characters the fulfill some concept the player may have. It's actually a tool to create individuals--real people--and it's a process for the player to discover the character he'll play.

I find it extremely fun.
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