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In My Traveller Universe Detail what parts of Traveller you do (or don't) use in your campaign.

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Old June 2nd, 2018, 08:27 PM
Diveguy Diveguy is offline
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Default A Different Approach for Marines

Over the years the "Marine" career path has come to represent a group of elite troops within various Traveller campaigns, with battledress suited figures serving as shock troops during planetary invasions or fierce shipboard battles. In particular, "traditional" Imperium-based settings view the Marines as being those forces most loyal to the Emperor, and often relegating "Army" troops to mercenary units or second-string planetary forces raised under local flags. Part of this stems from the interpretation of the British Royal Marines and the United States Marine Corps, with their varied traditions and roles on Earth in present day. Another part has come from using "Marines" as the equivalent to "Imperial Stormtroopers" in one way or another in many settings, or Heinlein's "Mobile Infantry" for those so inclined.

I'm certainly not faulting this use in game settings, and have taken advantage of it myself over the years as both ref and player for material. Neither am I trying to belittle the esprit de corps that such history brings to games, or that players may feel from their own experiences.

BUT... what if we looked at things differently? NOTE - as a conceit for this write up, I am ONLY referring to the rules as per the "original LBB" set, and not bringing in Book 4, or T5, or Cepheus Engine or whatever. Take it for what it's worth. I also do not in any way claim to be the only one who has thought of, or addressed this over time - plenty of other threads here have gone with their own interpretations.

After all, for many other nations here on Earth "marine" type units are no more elite than any other troops - they simply have a maritime/shipboard focus. And, the number of nations capable of fielding a force for amphibious invasions of another is actually quite small.▮

Comparably, let's see what LBB-1 says on the subject:
"Marines: Members of the armed fighting forces carried aboard starships. Marines deal with piracy and boarding actions in space, defend the starports and bases belonging to the navy, and supplement other ground forces such as the army."▮
Hmmm... not exactly the description of "the most feared force in the galaxy" by any stretch...

What about skills and character creation as per LBB-1? When comparing "Marine" and "Army" career paths, some interesting things stand out in my review. Such as:
  • Marines reward Intelligence and Education more than the Army (bonuses to Enlistment and Commission), and tend to be socially "higher" in standing (bonus to Promotion,▮+2 SOC vice▮+1 on benefit tables for high rank.)
  • Marines are more likely to remain in a starfaring lifestyle post-service (TAS Membership).
  • Marine skills emphasize close combat (Blade Combat multiple entries, plus default Blade and Revolver skills) and shipboard fighting (Zero G); but do NOT have a chance for Forward Observer. By implication this means that Marine troops are not routinely used with Ortillery support, or attached Artillery batteries.

So, where does this lead us? Actually with some great play potential, particularly if you like campaigns with the "Age of Sail" isolation motif - the whole LBB conceit caused by jump travel times and distances, and the implied independence this brings.

Rather than some massive interstellar force, capable of conquering worlds and subjecting populations to Imperial decree, the Marines are exactly what their description says: shipboard/port troops to support Navy operations and function as a supplement to other forces. In this, we can certainly hearken back to the Age of Sail, where the Marine detachment aboard a ship may be the only effective fighting force they have. In this milieu we can picture them more as a "heavily armed Coast Guard" type military organization, rather than shock troops. They are generally limited to the small arms carried aboard ship, or provided for port defense, rather than grav tanks and battle suits.▮

Additionally,▮think back to that sailing ship and history - and the role playing opportunity this could provide. In many locations that “Lieutenant of Marines” carried aboard some patrol vessel might be viewed as the ranking representative of whatever government he represents to a colony/subject world. Whether it’s entering into negotiations and initial treaties, conducting field courts-martial or trials under Imperial law, or keeping some trooper’s faux pas from starting a war, it all falls on one set of shoulders rather than some functionary weeks or months away. This would certainly match the implication of the INT/EDU/SOC numbers from character creation - Marine officers are EXPECTED to act independently of central authority, to make sound judgements, and would be looked upon as “better” as a result of that.

Personally, I find this potential a lot more interesting than the massive “Imperial Marines in troop carriers” motif which is more common. Now it's less, "How many vehicles does a Marine Lift Regiment have?" and more "If a destroyer has 26 troops, how many will the Captain let go galivanting off without feeling he's unprotected?" It lets us think about piracy, smuggling, and border skirmishes in a whole new way - one more in flavor with an isolated colonial area than an established core region. Maybe this will give someone else some similar thoughts.
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Sir Dominic Storm, Viscount Shershe, Captain Imperial Space Marines (Retired)

Shershe DAGU 2728 C540874-8
Ulaun ZARU 0405 C667153-A
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