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Referee's Lounge Discussion of how to (and not to) Referee Traveller and Cepheus Engine games. No edition warring allowed.

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  #11  
Old January 19th, 2018, 04:22 PM
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they're still stuck in the D&D/Pathfinder "I see it I shoot it" mentality. I've tried to tell them that getting shot in Traveller is considered a Very Bad Thing, but I'm looking for advice on how to demonstrate this to them
demonstrate to them that the enemy shoots back. warning - they may not like it. in d&d characters typically tower over their poor pathetic weakling opponents and players/characters stride the earth like gods, so your players may not be used to real actual equal opponents that must be defeated by superior thought and hard work.

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On a somewhat tangential note, they're also struggling with Travellers lack of character progression ala D&D.
it's not tangential, it's core. character advancement is almost addictive. you'll have to give them lots of action and lots of game story to substitute for it, and even if you do the players still may not be able to make the transistion to a non-advancement game.

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I've houseruled that instead of simply not learning anything after 8 weeks if they fail their check, they just have to try again next week. Does this sound reasonable?
wrong question. the right question is, do THE PLAYERS think it's acceptable?

for another's experience, read here.
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Old January 19th, 2018, 04:25 PM
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I would suggest using more of the game's built in components to drive home the lesson that this isn't a "see-it, shoot-it" sort of game.

A good way to do that is simply drop them into a scenario in a fairly high pop, high tech world with a fairly high law level (9+).

You can start by letting the players discover toting "artillery" and wearing massive amounts of combat armor is going to get you anything from denied entry to the world from the startport to outright arrested immediately.

That would teach that you have to find non-violent solutions to many problems you face.

If they do manage to get weapons in this sort of situation, sic the local police on them. Maybe the police will use less than lethal munitions (at first) in response. Then they have to decide if they're going to go to war with the local government as criminals or do something else. I'd give them fair warning that's going to be the likely outcome.

Law level and government type in the UPP are good ways to limit player's being armed and wanting to blast everything in sight. Of course, the NPC's and such they run into are no better armed than they are in virtually every case so it remains balanced.

Once they get the idea that you have to use means other than violence to accomplish goals, they should settle into a better game experience.
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Old January 19th, 2018, 06:58 PM
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Again, thanks everyone for the immense amounts of feedback. When we started, all of us were complete newbies to traveller, so I made a few probably critical mistakes. I think majorly, their characters are (mostly) too young. None of us, even I (who tried to do as much research as possible) really considered the fact that a young character is, by their very nature, inexperienced. What I'm thinking is running with a "you earned it" method for "leveling up". Because the characters are largely inexperienced, it makes sense that they will learn and improve while "on the job" so to say. Over time, it will become harder and harder to improve, and they will only ever improve in areas that are integral to who the character is. We'll see how that turns out, and I will confer with my players about it. My plan so far is to have a bigger tougher NPC than my players are get shwacked in one or two hits, right in front of them. They are playing a sort of smuggler/merchant crew, so I'm going to make sure there is (almost) always a way to talk/sneak their way out of situations. If they still get themselves killed, hopefully they'll learn, and we can have a better campaign next time.
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  #14  
Old January 19th, 2018, 09:52 PM
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As others have written, Traveller advancement is not about levels/skills/hit points, rather it is about money/power/position in society. That written, rather than cutting over cold turkey, especially if your PCs are under-powered, TNE had experience rules you could use to bridge the gap.

In TNE, the Ref gives 1 XP to each PC that survives an adventure session. Also, at Ref discretion, you can award bonus XP for:
a skill used repeatedly or
a skill used in a dangerous situation, or
for particularly good role-play, or
for heroism.

Then players can spend XPs to increase skills, with the number of XP needed to increase a level equal to the level number (ie. to move from Skill-2 to -3 costs 3 XP, from Skill-2 to -4 costs 7 XP (3+4)).

Word of warning: skill levels are way more powerful in CT or MgT than TNE so you probably want to change the exchange rate of XP for skills and otherwise massage those rules into a house rule for your inexperienced PCs.

And in another approach, remember you can be liberal with 0-level skills with your under-powered team. Even if they don't have positive DMs on checks, avoiding big negative DMs will get the party moving
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Old January 19th, 2018, 10:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vegas View Post
As others have written, Traveller advancement is not about levels/skills/hit points, rather it is about money/power/position in society. That written, rather than cutting over cold turkey, especially if your PCs are under-powered, TNE had experience rules you could use to bridge the gap.

In TNE, the Ref gives 1 XP to each PC that survives an adventure session. Also, at Ref discretion, you can award bonus XP for:
a skill used repeatedly or
a skill used in a dangerous situation, or
for particularly good role-play, or
for heroism.

Then players can spend XPs to increase skills, with the number of XP needed to increase a level equal to the level number (ie. to move from Skill-2 to -3 costs 3 XP, from Skill-2 to -4 costs 7 XP (3+4)).

Word of warning: skill levels are way more powerful in CT or MgT than TNE so you probably want to change the exchange rate of XP for skills and otherwise massage those rules into a house rule for your inexperienced PCs.

And in another approach, remember you can be liberal with 0-level skills with your under-powered team. Even if they don't have positive DMs on checks, avoiding big negative DMs will get the party moving
I have used a similar system, using the summation of the levels. So the example given above of skill 2 to skill 3 would take 1+2+3=6 xp and level 4 would take 10 xp.
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  #16  
Old January 20th, 2018, 04:19 AM
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The experience rules in Classic Traveller were designed so that in general a character out adventuring could improve in skills or characteristics at the same rate they gain skills during prior-history.
On average this is one skill or characteristic point per two years.

There are a couple of ways suggested to improve at a faster rate - all of which require referee and player input. Seek out a high TL world that can implant the memories of new skills - make sure you have lots of cash. Similarly bio-engineering and or cybernetic enhancement could raise characteristics or grant unique abilities - but again, have lots and lots of cash and be prepared to not set foot outside of the starport on some worlds.
A final method would be to join a mercenary unit to receive military training.

Rather than just awarding experience points tell your players that these options are there and let them decide what they want to go for. They will need lots of cash, they will have to find worlds with the technology available, they will need a bit of downtime for the procedures to take place (TL dependent).

Isn't that a better XP system than racking up points - having to actually do stuff in game to improve?

One final thought - your Cr count effectively becomes your XP tally since nearly every improvement method is going to cost. Do you hoard your cash to pay for the bio-engineering you want done or do you spend it on a TL14 vac suit with all the options? Do you stuff Cr chips under your pillow until you can afford the skill implant, or do you splash the cash on a TL15 AI expert electronic sight that you can attach to any weapon and it grants you a bonus to hit, thermal imaging and the occasional 'Are you sure you want to do that Dave?'
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  #17  
Old January 20th, 2018, 10:01 AM
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Instead of improving characters with XP, try rewards in terms of items like access to higher tech weapons or armor. Emphasize the ability to improve the ship, etc.
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Old January 20th, 2018, 02:51 PM
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Instead of improving characters with XP, try rewards in terms of items like access to higher tech weapons or armor.
or higher social standing.
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  #19  
Old January 20th, 2018, 03:38 PM
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Whereas, I see the game as being largely scenario driven. That is, the players and referee are running through a somewhat planned out to detailed scenario with a specific end objective in mind. How open ended that is, is usually up to the referee.

The reward(s) come at the end of the scenario based on what the players did during the game. They players can then either make new characters for the next scenario, or they can continue using their current one(s).

Oh, if you really want to mess with their minds, run a scenario driven game where the players are all given different but somewhat interconnected tasks and goals that in some cases are at odds with what the other players are trying to accomplish.
Not having a unified party with a single goal among them really messes up long term RPG players because they've never really experienced something like that.
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Old January 20th, 2018, 07:47 PM
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First of all, congratulations on getting a Traveller game up and running with some new players!
Here's my opinion on this issue. Of course it's based on my experience with D&D players I've interacted with, and it's not meant to state that everyone is like this:



Part 1 - The Problem

D&D teaches a lot of bad habits, and it's difficult for people accustomed to them to overcome them, especially if they don't see anything wrong with them.

These habits include:

* Addiction to the drip-drip-drip of incremental level rewards and the nonsensical powerups they bring.

* D&D's game mechanics make the fastest way to get those incremental rewards is to kill as many people and animals as possible. It encourages players to treat the game setting and everyone in it as objects for them to destroy to get their next experience point fix and loot drop.






In Traveller, this way of thinking creates big problems when you have NPCs respond reasonably to trouble the player characters are causing. The players beat down a bar full of patrons, then shoot the local cops who respond to the disturbance, then shoot the local tactical team (if there is one), and then they hop back across the extrality line chortling as they go. When starport security attempts to arrest them in response to a local extradition request, the PCs try to blast their way out of Mos Eisley. If they die, they get upset. If they get away, they're outlaws who have to stay one jump ahead of the authorities, but that doesn't last long. Then they die, and get upset. When you ask them what they expected to happen when they acted the way they did, it comes back to the string of easy consequence-free victories they're used to from playing D&D. And the cruelest cut of all is that they didn't even get any experience points.




* The game mechanics encourage the players to treat the game setting as disposable, since it's only there for them to have a plausible narrative and some nice scenery while they get on with the serious business of killing people and leveling up. This means they're accustomed to treating your worlds, plots, and NPCs are disposable stage props that only exist to gratify them. Often they have trouble taking anything seriously, and it's all a big joke to them. Example: I convinced some people to play a Traveller session and the planet the players were on had an unbreathable atmosphere and daytime was extremely hot. The population lived in massive ziggurat arcologies. Now, all the players had to do was figure out how to get hardened vacc suits (like rent them) and watch the time when they went outside to deal with an organized crime faction. Simplicity at its best, right? Wrong. They got upset, and said dealing with the environment was too much of a hassle when they just wanted to go outside in shorts and t-shirts, kill everybody, and then leave.


* D&D's game mechanics discourage logically thinking things through. Players expect things to work the same way in other games and don't want to make the effort to think through situations. It seems like extra work for no reason to a lot of them. Examples: A fireball explodes in a 4'x4' prison cell. A character makes his saving throw and mysteriously, inexplicably "takes half damage", no logic allowed. A character gets bitten by a rattlesnake. He makes his saving throw, so he's fine. No pain, no being bedridden screaming in agony. No logic there either. When players bring this attitude to Traveller, there's a big mismatch between their expectations and how Traveller works. It doesn't matter what big tough guys their characters are, a landmine will still rip their legs off, and then they get upset because in D&D they could take crossbow bolts to the naked eye and just shrug it off.


* D&D's game mechanics encourage rules-lawyering to get the best min/max build in order to kill as efficiently as possible. Stacking abilities, feats, items, etc. to make the biggest Monty Haul murdertwink imaginable is almost a game in itself that a lot of D&D players really enjoy. One player brought all his books in on a handcart so he could prove that every one of his feats and items was legit. This is completely untranslatable to Traveller, but the impulse manifests as players trying to get the deadliest weapons, ships and gear they can without even a threadbare reason why. When you say no, they get upset.
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