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Old July 27th, 2008, 09:26 PM
Agemegos Agemegos is offline
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Default Setting implications of the Prior Service Table


The Prior Service Table on p. 14 of Book One Characters and Combat seems to encode some assumptions about the setting of a Traveller game, and I wonder whether anyone has analysed them the way that so much else about Traveller has been analysed. I'd be very interested in an event tree analysis or a Monte Carlo analysis of the Book One character generation system (or of the later ones, though they are much more complicated). Does anyone know where I can find such results?

For example, the Navy recruits geeks and especially swots, and loves geeky swots. But it doesn't make them officers. It commissions toffs. Although social connections will get you into the officer corps, it is education that gets you promoted. Also, the Navy is the noble-factory par excellence. It's the only service with + Soc in its Acquired skill table and the only service with +Soc among its automatic skills (there are rarely achieved, but other services give none), and it gives as much +2 as any and more than most in its mustering-out benefits. Obviously the Navy is the outfit most connected with the ruling class. The power of influence is limited, though. It'll get you commissioned early, and therefore give you the best chance of getting to high rank. But the recruitment boards and the promotion boards are not subject to influence. Naval life tends to kill the stupid.

The Marines recruit geeks and especially weightlifters and football linesmen. It adores brainy linesmen, who have nearly 2.6 times the chance to get into the Marines that average volunteers have. Then, it gives commissions to the guys who are were at least average at schoolwork, with no especial preference to the people who were exceptionally good. Then it promotes the officers from an upper-middle class backround or higher, with no special favour shown to the nobility. That sounds more like upper-middle-class snobbery than the action of influence. Life in the Marines is less intellectual even than the Army, and they give out better brain pills than education pills as mustering-out benefits. Life int eh Marines tends to kill the sickly and unfit.

The Army recruits almost everyone who volunteers: it rejects a few of the sickly and poorly-co-ordinated, but most even of them get in. It also commissions nearly everyone, though people who fail a physical may have their commission delayed. It then promotes people pretty steadily (and trains them in a lot of skills &c as it does), favouring people with at least average education (but no special favour to really good educations). And then it has a strong tendency to cut careers short early. The Army seems to be a strange institution, undiscriminating in its intake, it accepts everyone, commissions and promotes rapidly, trains intensely, and then sacks young. I can't tell whether it tends to produce higher-ranked and more skillful veterans, because there is a tendency each way. Army careers are much less prestigious than Navy careers, but slightly more conducive to continuing education. Army life tends to kill people who didn't finish high school (I guess they end up in the infantry).

The Scouts aren't as fussy about recruits as the Navy and Marines, though they have a preference for weightlifters and football linesmen, and a slight dislike for the actually stupid. They teach a lot of skills, and encourage continuing education and intellectual development, and they are almost always let people re-enlist until retirement age. But life in the Scouts is startlingly dangerous, killing those who are not exceedingly physically tough, and many even of the tough. All scouts are pilots, so before I read Book Six Scouts and [i]GURPS Traveller: First In" I would have guessed that Scouts were like locaters in Vance's Oikumene: free-lance explorers wandering alone or in pairs in ships sponsored by university and real estate developers. Surviving a career in the Scouts can be lucrative, but it is not prestigious.

The Merchants recruit pretty indiscriminately, though they have a slight bias against those of less-than average strength and a stronger but still not profound bias against the stupid. The Merchants rapid commission anyone who is not stupid (and most of the stupid), but they promote only slowly, favouring only officers of considerable brainpower. Life in the merchant service promotes strength training to a degree greater than any other service, and despite the advantages of intelligence it is the least conducive to continuing education and intellectual development. I guess that merchants are more steadily busy at routine work than anyone else. Re-enlistment is almost routine, which means that long careers may counteract slow promotion and training. Life as a merchant officer is not as lucrative as the Navy, and not as prestigious even as the Army. And it tends to kill the stupid.

Other. Accepts almost anyone. Socially ruinous. Less conducive to continuing education and intellectual development than any service except the merchants. The least financially rewarding career, and far the worst for developing skills. Its Acquired Skills Table, and the fact that you have to be very bright to survive for long makes it look like a life of crime.

The big thing we deduce about the setting is that the ruling classes are associated with the Navy, a relationship in which the Navy is probably dominant (ie. the Navy is more likely to advance you in the ruling class than the ruling class is to advance you in the Navy). Any other deductions? Has anyone examined the advanced careers in books 4 to 7 in this way, and if so where can I see the results?
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