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T20 - Traveller for the D20 System Open discussion on the D20 version of Traveller!

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  #1  
Old May 2nd, 2006, 08:17 PM
stofsk stofsk is offline
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I've taken a look at the Barbarian class for purposes of a possible PC option for one of my players.

None of his skills are EDU-based. This makes a degree of sense, after all being from a low-tech planet it's not likely he'd be exposed to TL devices like grav bikes, lasers, computers... so why would he learn about such things in school?

But then, even low-TL civilisations had some form of education. I'm just wondering if it's applicable in a Traveller campaign. As such, would it be appropriate to put an ability limit to Barbarian PCs? After all, if you want to play a Noble you have to have a SOC of 16, at the very least. To play a Barbarian perhaps you cannot exceed an EDU of 10? Which is fairly generous since that would mean he's at least High School level in terms of education. Of course he may be a Man-Friday, someone from a low-TL society that was adopted by a passing Far Trader crew at a young age. The crew 'educate' him... but then I keep thinking, wouldn't it be more appropriate to then have a high Wisdom?

The other concern is Social Status. Since he's a Barbarian... well, I'm thinking he wouldn't have a very high SOC, but then I started this thread for discussion.

As a member of a low-TL society, maybe or maybe not a part of the Imperium (or whatever the interstellar polity is in YTU), can you justify a high SOC score? Unless the guy in question was like the Clan leader, Tribe Chief, whatever... because the SOC score doesn't just refer to nobility but also standard of living. Question: if so, then wouldn't living on a high-tech spacecraft constitute a leap in the standard of living a typical barbarian would normally experience?

Thoughts?
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Old May 2nd, 2006, 10:44 PM
tjoneslo tjoneslo is offline
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Social Status is kind of a weird beast in relation to barbarians. Or rather, it becomes difficult to resolve if you have two different societies. Your question about barbarians makes me think you are supposing the Low TL world has little or no contact with the Imperium.

There are two ways of resolving this. The simple way is declare SOC to be ranking within the Imperium only. How high (or low) rank your barbarian is within their own society is not tracked by SOC. The Barabrian is given a "social standing" when they travel beyond their own world based upon their existing appearance, relative rank and any honors given to them.

The more complex way is to assign two SOC scores, one for each society. There would be a relative mapping between the two. Probably based upon the relative economic (or TL) scales of the two socities. So a SOC 10/TL1 barbarian would start as SOC 3/TL15. The difficult part comes when the barbarian does something to raise their SOC in the Imperium (like make a lot of money) may or may not affect their SOC in their own society.

As you can see the second option is much more complex. But if it's important, rules could be written.

Education has a similar kind of split personality. It would be high in the barbarian society, but low or non-existant in the Imperium. And again, you could keep a split EDU score or keep track of only the Imperium Education.

I wouldn't limit either score just based upon the choice of Barbarian background.
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Old May 3rd, 2006, 05:24 AM
veltyen veltyen is offline
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A barbarian king would be somewhat upset by being told they have a low social class. Beheading level upset. Sure, displaced from their home environment they will appear to have a lower social class, but that is true of all people, do you think a modern CEO is going to have much effect in a 12th Century high chinese imperial court?. SOC as a general stat indicates hierarchy in the greater society, but at some point it breaks down to who is in charge of a planet, a continent, a country, a province, a city or a local tribe. That is still going to be true of a barbarian, Mr Genghis Khan is Soc 18+ (absolute ruler of a significant proportion of a planet) - If you don't recognise this there is a good chance to find out what your own entrails taste like.

If you look at it as a prejudiced view from a central empire, then anyone who looks funny has a lower social class. That isn't a tech level distinction though, just a rating of how bigoted the central society is.

Take me to your leader has the same meaning regardless of where you are.

Low tech does not equal stupid. There are a great deal of feilds that don't require modern technology to be able to interpret them correctly. Philosophy, psychology, sociology, linguistics, history don't require fire. The restriction on available skills is probably enough to curtail this.

<personal gripe> I don't like the barbarian class. Considering most of the profesions should be available from TL0+ I don't see the point of it. A deliberate noble savage archetype just strikes me as cutesy.</personal gripe>.

Perhaps a better way would be to have TL differentiated initial class skills (merchants get "Ride" at TL 0-4, "Drive" at TL 5-8 and "Vac Suit" at TL9+ for example).
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Old May 3rd, 2006, 11:01 AM
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The barbarian class was included for two reasons. First, there was a barbarian career in the "Citizens of the Imperium" book in CT. So to keep with the plan of "everything in CT goes into T20" of the authors, this was included. Second, as a nod to the D20 crowd, a real figher class was included.

The problem here is the Barbarian is supposed to represent a person from a world that has little contact with the the wider universe. This is very difficult to justify in the Imperium. But is a classic SF trope included in the early days of CT (before the Imperium background got fleshed out).

The real problem with SOC is it implies a strongly stratified society, where all people recongize and respect (mostly) the social differences. But the modern world has largely moved away from that, so the easiest way to express it is through money. (i.e. the more money you have or spend, the higher your Social Standing).
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Old May 3rd, 2006, 01:33 PM
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tjoneslo wrote:

Quote:
The problem here is the Barbarian is supposed to represent a person from a world that has little contact with the the wider universe. This is very difficult to justify in the Imperium. But is a classic SF trope included in the early days of CT (before the Imperium background got fleshed out).
That's what interdicted worlds are for! I always assumed that the barbarian's homeworld was either Red Zoned or off the beaten track (say 7 parsecs from the nearest world; hardly anyone *can* go there, much less does).
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Old May 3rd, 2006, 05:54 PM
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On social score, keep in mind that early on in european contact with native americans, several tribal chieftains were actually brought to visit the King of England and were in fact treated like visiting royalty. This also happened with a couple of different polynesian leaders. It didn't last long, but it happened.

So I guess the relevance of a Barbarians' social score would be dependant on who was dealing with them.

As for EDU, I already have a way of dealing with this-- I have ALL pcs put the TL of their homeworled next to their EDU score. Or, if they went to (Imperial) university, they automatically gain a base TL of at least 12. When dealing with TL gear higher than what they're used to, they have to make various checks to avoid penalties. I know this is very similiar to the Barbarian Technophobia feature, but Technophobia is a lot more severe.

As such, there's no reason a Barbaian couldn't have an EDU of 17, but it would apply only to low-tech stuff. They'd know about pholosophy, low-tech scientific theory, low-tech medicine, etc. but be easily baffled by anything high tech.
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Old May 3rd, 2006, 06:22 PM
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I think I have to disagree with the esteemed Archhealer.

Keep in mind that a low TL already comes with a negative TL modifier, and a high TL comes with a positive one. If you're from TL 14, you get +2 to your starting Edu score. If you're from TL 2, you get a -4.

If you rolled an 18 Edu and you come from a TL2 world [now a 14 Edu], then you're obviously an unusual case - maybe educated by passing spacers or by the ancient god buried in the taboo ruins [the buried First Imperium computer that somehow still works].

IMHO, from a game mechanics standpoint, a 14 Edu should be a 14 Edu, except for some specific cases stated in the rules, such as the Medical rules. The TL7 guy with 10 ranks of Medical and the Surgery feat isn't going to be able to make much sense of the TL15 operating theatre. Just what are those nanites used for anyhow?

Likewise, the TL15 guy with 10 ranks of Medical and the Surgery feat is going to be horrified by the TL7 operating theatre. Scalpels? Retractors? Hemostats? Grab him! I think he's going to faint....
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Old May 3rd, 2006, 08:01 PM
stofsk stofsk is offline
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In my setting there is no 'nobility' as such, and no Imperium either (it's called the Commonwealth, and the Noble class is still in it but I treat it as an archetype for leader), which is why I was thinking of treating SOC as how much personal resources (ie money) your character is used to throwing around.

How would that relate to Barbarians or even Rogues? Belters? Scouts?

I suppose you should really point out to your players: SOC can be high for everyone, but you should think really hard if you want to put that 18 into your Barbarian class, when you could put it into his STR and turn him into a mighty warrior.
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Old May 3rd, 2006, 09:50 PM
veltyen veltyen is offline
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Tjoneslo,

I understand why it exists. Partially it is a personal feel thing, I would have preferred a framework for the interaction of technology with culture and the ability to be any component of a low tech society, rather then a stereotypical noble savage as the only concession to this pillar of science fiction storytelling.

In other words, I understand why its there, I can understand why it was done that way, and on independant evaluation it isn't a bad way of handling the issue. Something doesn't feel right about the class to me that's all.
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Old May 3rd, 2006, 10:09 PM
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^ EDU doesn't have to be university based; even if you insiste it does, a PhD in Hiver mold cultivation surely doesn't know what a PhD in J-Space physics does. You could treat a barbarian with a high EDU as one who carries the complete knowledge of his homeland and oral traditions of his entire people. In this case, a PhD anthropologist at good ole Imperial U. might just treat him like a respected colleague!

And SOC is easily made relavent; there's another thread out there about how SOC is in the eye of the beholder. Tony Soprano isn't going to be impressed by some deposed Euro-royal but a don from Palermo would give him pause. Your barbarian might just be the son of the chieftain and heir to the tribal lands (and the veins of lanthanum lying just beneath the surface).

It's really all what you and the GM make of it.
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