• Welcome to the new COTI server. We've moved the Citizens to a new server. Please let us know in the COTI Website issue forum if you find any problems.

Marines Without Battledress

I'm an old CT player (and new to the Forums) who picked up T20, and is starting a game with some younger players. Being old-school, stats are 3d6, play 'em as they land; so far that's worked out well enough.

I'm a little rusty on the background (although it's starting to come back) and my players know more about d20 than I ever likely will, but everything seems to be going smoothly.

The crux of the matter is someone rolled up a Marine Force Commander who does not have Battledress training or experience. My first thought is to suggest the player rework it to take the Battledress Feat (to quote, "dude! A Marine's raison d'etre is Battledress!"), but I thought I might get a little help in being creative first!

He's a full-blood Vilani from a real jerkwater low TL, with an average CHA and SOC. Reasonably smart, very fast and tough he never attended university (TL was too low). Although steadily promoted every term after commissioned in term 2, he was never decorated in the one Police action and two Fleet Troops assignments post-training. His one real signature skill is Demolitions, but has a good grounding in piloting and ship's weapons.

So, my thinking is that the Imperial Marines do the majority of their recruiting on med-high TL worlds, so he's not cut from the typical cloth. He served a 1-term hitch in the Army, then joined the Marines to further his career. While the classic Marine is the Battledress wearing Fusion Gun armed Heavy Striker, the Imperial Marines provide their own battlefield transport and support. For every Marine of the Line, there are more in vital support and service roles.

Our hero did not have the all-important social connections or personal charisma to positively affect his advancement. He never saw action in a hot war, and never got the chance for glory that looks good in his duty jacket. His lack of Battledress indicates a he was not really a ground-pounder, but experienced as a pilot. His high skill in demolitions might indicate he was an instructor for a period of time. Having worked his way up through the ranks from Lance, he did not share too much in common in terms of background and attitude with his fellow officers.

Respected by his men but not really liked or admired by them or his peers, he found that he could advance only so far on hard work and determination. Force Commander in some training or transport command was likely the farthest he would advance as a Marine, and so he decided to muster out instead of staying in for a 5th Term and qualifying for retire benfits.

Sounds good? Rock-solid as a Marine, he's a little bitter that he was never really given the chance to show his stuff. But he has a fairly wide selection of skills and abilities to serve him in his post-service career.

I see the Imperial Marines as a kind of self contained Army... even back in Classic Traveller getting a Marine with Battledress skills was hard, If I remember right the Marines had several branches of service including Infantry and Cavalry in addition to Special Ops units. IMTU the bulk of the Corps is Battle Dress deficient, but still tough and well trained.

Thanks for the input! Looking at my old Book 4 was useful. Any help I can get in introducing new players is appreciated. The player in question I basically met at a Vampire LARP game, and his interest in Traveller was piqued by GURPs Traveller.

Back to his character. Everything hangs together pretty tight. I checked, and he learned his Demo primarily in his second term, a Police Action. A "Police Action" to me implies an active Imperial intervention (Internal Security would be more like counter-insurgency or counter-terrorism). So he could have had experience in anything from setting up minefields and clearing out bunker complexes to disarming booby traps and unexploded ordinance. His last terms, as a Fleet Troops Officer, was where he gained piloting/gunnery skills. He was never decorated for anything, so either nothing significant happened that he was recognised for, or he never got the opportunity to prove himself (and as the Imperium is frequently involved in various small and large conflicts both internally and externally there is always the opportunity). Those both could relate to his mediocre Soc and Cha; sometimes it really is who you know!

One puzzling thing about T20 Marines is the restriction that they come from worlds possessing some kind of space navy. Technically, all Imperial worlds could be considered to be eligible in this sense through the Imperial Navy (even if there is no homeworld navy per se) unless they have no offworld contact whatsoever. Ohn well, although his world has a vey low TL rolled for it, there just happened to be a special Imperial Marines recruiting drive visiting his backwater dump of a planet just when he wanted to enlist.

Going back to Book 4, it does end up saying a lot about how Imperial Marines are organised, in a roundabout way. Recruits can only join Marine Infantry or Support to start, then eventually can cross-train in the Cavalry and Artillery arms (Officers could transfer into these arms at will). Commando school had as much emphasis as cross-training in general. Marine Cavalrymen and Artillerymen have a bonus to reinlist, indicating they were probably both sought-after and have lower retention rates.

The Imperial Marines seem to have the greatest emphasis on Line troops and their non-combat support elements. Commando forces come next, and last but not least the Cavalry and Artillery arms. Therefore they are less like a traditionally "pure" Marine force like the Royal Marine Corps (or even Soviet/Russian Naval Infantry) and more of a "hybrid" force like the present-day USMC.

I think GURPS:T says that Marines commonly use Gauss Rifles and wear Combat Armour. Flack Jackets are usually onboard ship, although I don't quite see why this would be the case; if some kind of protection was necessary, at least Cbt Armour is vacc-sealed. Battle Dress and FGMP-14s are used when kicking some serious ass. I'd guess aerospace, vehicle crews and support would routinely wear Cbt. armour. About the only reason why you'd want to wear a flak vest as opposed to cbt. armour is it's much lighter, although not climate-controlled. It is much cheaper, but at least in the elite Imperial Marines I can't see that being much of an important factor.

One last note, relating to high-energy weapons (PGMP and FGMP) as written in Book 4: they would not be my choice for anthing but a section/platoon support weapon. They have a minimum range of medium! Damn embarassing, eh what, if the 'eathen hordes have to be beaten back in hand-to-hand because your FGMP-15 won't target them at point-blank range. (Not a problem for Cbt. Armour/Battledress-wearing troops, but still a little hard on the drycleaning!) Granted, this won't happen very often, unless your opponent knows this weakness and takes pains to exploit it.
The high demolitions skill could relate to the low charisma score, early in his training and in his police action terms he could have been roped into doing the lions share of demolitions work. By both skill and getting the most practice he developed a high affity for making things go boom.

The deveopment of pioliting and gunnery skills may be a result of him wishing to see more action other than demolitions work.

His tatics and command presence could easaly signify a instructor.

His good knowlage skills in alien races and star systems in addition to his tatical prowess, migh also mark him as a tactical advisor or consultant in military operations. As well and his technical skills would be a asset in there(as well as for demo instruction)

His low soc, cha, and edu scores probably are major factors in him never getting decorated, with his high demolitions score, and his deveoped tatical abilities, he much have seen some decent action, but never got recongized for it.

Another facor in his lack of decoration could be relating to his mid level gambling skill, he could have taken some risks that never worked out for his fvour.

The last two paragraphs also can relate to the lack of battledress, not having operatunity to use the equiptment other than the basic training that he would have had, he never had the operatunity to become proficiant in it.

After reading these posts, this is my more englighted view on the charecter. I was the one who rolled him up, thus how i know to mention the skills that Tony didnt mention.
Originally posted by Dynamo:
I see the Imperial Marines as a kind of self contained Army... even back in Classic Traveller getting a Marine with Battledress skills was hard,
It was possible to get a marine without Battledress skill with the generic character generation systems. However, one early article in JTAS specifically stated that all Imperial marines had battledress. The discrepancy, I think, lies in not distinguishing between a character generation system that is so generic that it can be used to make marines from every human state across Charted Space and a system for generating Imperial Marine marines.

I suggest that if it is important that he be an active IM marine, you give him Battledress-1. If it's enough that he is a former IM marine, you give him Battledress-0, and if he could be a marine from one of the duchy navies or a planetary navy, you just say that he belonged to a marine force that didn't put all its people in battledress. (This is how I explain the marine contingent on the Luuru (the Kinunir-class ship detailed in The Kinunir) -- I just say it is a Duchy of Regina Navy ship carrying Duchy of Regina Marine Corps marines).

Wonder if it was a game ballance issue that they didnt automaticaly give marines the battledress feat in t20 system.

Say, there's an idea. having Battldress as an automatic feat for Imperial Marines makes sense. At least in my game, the chance of getting functioing or even repairable Battledress while not on active duty is nil.

As a digression, I saw a picture caption in the T20 book that refers to the "Imperial Marine Corps". While this might be meant as direct or indirect hommage to the United States Marine Corps and Royal Marine Corps, the Imperial Marines comprise far more than merely a Corps in size and organisation, so the title does not make a lot of sense when referring to Marines as a whole. Although, planetary or subsector Navies might have "Colonial" Marine Corps units.
Originally posted by Tony Stroppa:
I saw a picture caption in the T20 book that refers to the "Imperial Marine Corps". While this might be meant as direct or indirect hommage to the United States Marine Corps and Royal Marine Corps, the Imperial Marines comprise far more than merely a Corps in size and organisation, so the title does not make a lot of sense when referring to Marines as a whole. Although, planetary or subsector Navies might have "Colonial" Marine Corps units.
Different meaning of the word. According to Merriam-Webster Online dictionary, definition 1a of 'Corps' is "an organized subdivision of the military establishment <Marine Corps> <Signal Corps>". This definition does not imply any specific size. "The Imperial Marine Corps" can have more men than the U.S. Army and still be a corps.

You appear to be thinking of definition 1b, which is "a tactical unit usually consisting of two or more divisions and auxiliary arms and services".


Good point. I was thinking of the specific military unit in between the division and the Army. Although, to be honest, when "Corps" refers to a group that is not specifically corps-sized, such as a signal corps or flying corps, it generally refers to a non-ground or non-combat force (that are smaller than an actual Corps-sized unit). When it does refer to a ground combat force, like a WWII Soviet Tank Corps, the unit is sometimes smaller than a corps, but not usually bigger! And I'm thinking that the Imperial Marines are bigger than what we'd consider a modern-day Army-sized force (2 or more Corps).

Of course, this could mean bupkis in Traveller! Maybe they are organised so that the Corps is the largest-sized unit (I lost my copy of 5th Frontier War, but I still have Invasion: Terra).

And then again, it's likely irrelevant, because what the heck else would you call them?
All Marines are trained in Combat Armor at least. That comes from the Armor Pro (Vac Suit) feat.

Battledress is a TL 13 device. So depending on what era you run you game in, battledress may or may not be common.

In the CT, FFW circa time frame, the TL15 Imperium would typically have fleet Marines in Battledress.

In the time of the Solomani Rim War, the Imperium max tech level is 14. I'd stil stay that front line combat Fleet Marines would be using Battledress.

At just shy of Cr100,000 for a suit battledress, there probably still are a lot of troops issued combat armor and CBE suits.
It was my impression that the US has a Marine Corps while the UK and Imperium have Royal/Imperial Marines (no 'Corps' added).
Or assume that the Imperial Marines aren't all necessarily High Tech -- some Marines, recruited and trained to say (CT) TL-8 or -9 -- with similar basic training, but with a very different technical training.

If you want a Marine detachment to help secure a lower tech world (say, TL-5 or -6), you probably can do more with a Brigade of TL-9 Marines that with a Company of TL-15 Marines -- just in matters of pure numbers.
THE "Imperial Marines" refer to the Marine Guards of the Emperor. They are the only unit allowed to have Imperial Red as a chameleon option, and they answer to only the throne. The unit is made up of battle hardened veterans, but has rarely been fielded in battle.

The title Imperial Marine applies to anyone serving in the Marines of the Third Imperium. There are many Marine Corps in the Imperium, but only one Imperial Marines. (Why we Solomani have, oops, had an outstanding Corps before the occupation by foreign invaders.)
The Marines are used primarily as ship's troops by the Navy. If it involves dirt the Navy doesn't do it. Battledress while being an outstanding piece of gear is a small part of what we do. It is only used when the fist of the empire needs to be shown. Primarily designed for orbital assaults and shock warfare, it has it's weak points. You can't effectively go house to house if you can't get in the door, and blowing a big hole in a "law abiding" citizen's home is frowned upon by the big cheeses. When we occupy an area, like say, a planet. A response team in BDA (Battledress Armor) is kept at the ready, but the bulk of us are in combat armor. The two elements of the Corps that you DO NOT want to meet on bad terms are the Orbital Assaults Group (OAG), and the Commando/Cavalry (AirCav). That being said, we have all the elements that a fully functional planetary military would have.
Why the Navy even gives us our own ships. They are called Orbital Assault Tenders (OATS), and can take over most backwater planets (TL10 and below) for 90 days self sustaining. They can carry 500 Marines plus equipment anywhere the big cheeses point.
Only a select few Marines get trained with special weapons, i.e. BDA, PGMP (plasma gun "man-portable"
), FGMP (fusion gun "man-portable"
), PIEs (Precision orbital Insertion Equipment), and many others (some classified).
I personally believe that those gentlemen,(I use the term loosely
) can keep their nifty suits. I will take ducking buckshot from some smuggler in a passageway, as opposed to screaming thru reentry at several hundred KPH :eek: , hoping my heat shield holds. Besides the bigger target you are the bigger bullets they shoot at you

The MegaTraveller Journal #1 has a very good feature titled "Dressed to Kill". It is all about BDA and it's many uses, and weaknesses. It lists: TL13 Basic BDA, TL13 Forward Observer BDA, TL13 Commando/Cavalry BDA, TL14 Assault BDA, TL15 Imperial Marine Assault BDA, TL13 Scout Walkabout Suit, TL11 Industrial Heavy Loader, and TL 10 Battlesuit as variants on the BDA theme.

By the way, being a US Marine, I like to detail up my parties encounters with my future brothers in arms.
Originally posted by Pockets:
[Lots of stuff.]
Is any of this canonical? If not, it would have been nice if you had snuck an 'IMTU' in somewhere. If it is, I'd love to know the references.

In reference to an earlier post, there are several present-day Marine Corps. The Royal Marine Corps is formally known as "3 Commando Brigade". The Royal Netherlands Marine Corps is another Brigade-sized Unit and one of the world's oldest military units, being formed in 1665.

IMTU, there are the Imperial Marine Corps (there is not just the one, but many many Corps of Imperial Marines). They are the "real deal": equipped to TL15. Most, but not all, will be trained with using Battledress and FGMP-14/15, but often equipped with Combat Armour and Gauss Rifles as circumsytances dictate. They have organic TRansport, Cavalry, Artillery and Support elements, although these are usually a lot lower in proportion than comparable-sized Imperial Army units (if not omitted altogether). They include deicated recce and special operations units, and the term for an individual company is a "Commando" (as in, "2 Commando"/"2 Cdo".).

In the Imperium, Colonial Naval Infantry (organised and equipped by individual world and subsector navies) are equipped, trained and organised more or less like Imperial Marines as much as possible. But they are almost alwys like pure infantry, and rarely incorporate organic transport, Cavalry or Artillery elements. Colonial Naval Infantry are mostly used as ship's troops, and while usually considered elite forces (at least by the systems or subsectors in question) are almost never operationally integrated with Imperial Marines directly or indirectly. The Marines always have been, and always will be, their own force.

Dang, this turned into a IMTU post! Maybe I should cross-post to that category?
I don't mean to be pedantic, but this thread seems to be headed that way. There is no Royal Marine Corps, they are simply the Royal Marines.

This is not synonomous with 3 Commando Brigade, BTW. There are several RM units that are not part of 3 Cdo Bde, such as the Fleet Protection Group (formerly the Commachio Group), the Mountain and Arctic Warfare Cadre, the Special Boat Service, and various training units. Also, there are a number of 3 Cdo Bde units that are not RM, including several Royal Artillery Commando batteries and a Royal Engineer Cdo squadron.

There are a bunch of units that are actually called "Marine Corps" (Argentina, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, et multiple cetera) but the RM isn't one of them.

No worries, I always appreciated being corrected if I'm wrong or full of shite! Which is most of the time. I find a good way to avoid being totally pedantic in posting is to, at some future point, "bring it home" and somehow relate your point to Traveller, no matter how vaguely, if not to the thread in question (Marines and Battledress).

About the Royal Marines, I stand corrected. 3 Commando Brigade is listed as their parent formation. Other non-marine units are listed as being part of 3 Cdo Bde, and supporting Marine units are part of the other services. In a sense, I also stand corrected in that while the British Royal Marines title since 1923 is the "Corps of Royal Marines", no-one actually ever calls them that. And yes, there are many other Corps of Marines throughout the world, including other Royal Marines (such as the Dutch Royal Marines).

Now, bringing this back to Traveller, IMTU, terminology-wise only Imperial Marines are called "Marines". Everyone else with a comparable job are either glorified ship's troops or Jump Troops (aka "Army Pukes"). Good way to start a fight in a Startown Bar is to call a Marine with a Naval Infantryman...

Also IMTU, the Imperial Marines are part of the larger Imperial Corps of Marines (which is made up of many many Corps-sized units). According to GDW source material, there is in fact a unit of Marines dedicated to protecting the Emperor, known as the "Imperial Marine Guard" (MT: Rebellion, p.6). It's unspecified how large a unit the Guards are, but as they dislodged the crack Illesh Guard Regiment after it was barricaded in the Imperial Residence on Capital, it's probably at least a division in size, and quite possibly actually Corps-sized itself. I don't know how much you consider Megatraveller to be canon, but there it is.

Getting back to battledress, IMTU Imperial Marines are susally in Battledress when in any potential combat situation, armed with Gauss Rifles (FGMPs as the section support weapons). Even as ship's troops, BD makes for fine vaccuum protection, and that plus GRs makes Marines insanely deadly in the CQB of a boarding action. BD usually carries 72 hours of (hydrogen?) fuel, fine for short actions, and boarding actions rarely happen so quickly that BD can not be donned ahead of time. Marine transport crews, Marine Aerospace crew, support crew, Marine Cav. and Arty. crew would all wear Combat Armour. I guess that Combat Armour would be worn while on Fleet sentry duty, Starport/Naval Base duty (Shore Duty?) and the like where the high-maintenance BD would be wasted.

Unofficial Royal Marines link:

Official Royal Marines link:
Point well made, my post was actually a mix of canon and IMTU. So I have removed the IMTU comments and left the canon with references in brackets.

They are the only unit allowed to have Imperial Red as a chameleon option [MegaTraveller Journal #1(MTJ #1)] [Also see pg208 2nd color page of the T20 rulebook]

(Why we Solomani have, oops, had [Still have actually, I assumed that with the defeat of the Solomani in 1002, that the Imperium would have disbanded the Solomani military. It was a negotiated victory, which left the Solomani heavily damaged but still intact.]an outstanding Corps before the occupation by foreign invaders.)[MegaTraveller Imperial Encyclopedia GDW]

The Marines are used primarily as ship's troops by the Navy [standard character description all Traveller versions].

(Battledress) Primarily designed for orbital assaults and shock warfare, it has its weak points [MTJ #1] Also states that cannot maneuver well in tight spaces, and produces LOTS of heat.

Why the Navy even gives us our own ships [pg208 T20 Rulebook 2nd color page] Also in this picture can be seen a G carrier, and two Trepida grav tanks, I assume these are Marine support vehicles.

Only a select few Marines get trained with special weapons [even in CT Book 4 Mercenary you had to roll a 7+ to get BDA skill as a Marine. You got a DM+1 if you were from a TL12+ world. That would limit the number of people getting this skill.]

BDA, PGMP (plasma gun "man-portable"), FGMP (fusion gun "man-portable") [All equipment listed in various Traveller sources]

PIEs (Precision orbital Insertion Equipment [actually called personnel orbital reentry kit MTJ #3 pg72][I changed the name IMTU for a better acronym])

The MegaTraveller Journal #1 has a very good feature titled "Dressed to Kill". It is all about BDA and its many uses, and weaknesses. It lists: TL13 Basic BDA, TL13 Forward Observer BDA, TL13 Commando/Cavalry BDA, TL14 Assault BDA, TL15 Imperial Marine Assault BDA, TL13 Scout Walkabout Suit, TL11 Industrial Heavy Loader, and TL 10 Battle suit as variants on the BDA theme.

Say, you're right; in Book 4: Mercenary, BDA (Battle Dress Armour?) is relatively rare even for Imperial Marines (be they Marine Infantry or Commandos). So, a Marine without BDA skill is not so rare after all. Obviously, mymmemory is failing in the old age, or we just fudged the die rolls to give us BDA skills a lot more back in the old days!

But to your nice list of canon Marine references I'd like to add the mention of the "Imperial Marine Guard" as part of the Emperor's own troops in the Imperial Palace on Capital/Core from MT:Rebellion pg.6.

There are quite a few more references in GURPS Traveller: Star Mercs, but this just seems less official to me. In GT: SM, they mention that the "Imperial Marines" are organised into Division-sized units at the largest (mostly during wartime). They field independant Reaction Forces from Company to Battalion size. Fleet Marine detatchments from section to company. The most elite are "Imperial Marine Commandos". Plus, the Imperial Marines were organised by Cleon I himself from Sylean Navy landing forces. BDA, GRs, FG/PG, Cbt. Armour, or even flack jackets. As this is GURPS, your mileage my vary.

I have a lot of respect for the USMC, having known and gamed with a few good ex-Marines. One gmae in particular was an old-school combat-intensive post-apocalypse RPG called The Morrow Project. I played a Team Leader, if I hadn't had a couple of former US Marines as fellow players to help me out (a lot), I can just imagine how badly the game would have gone.

That being said, I try to pay hommage to the USMC in Traveller whenever I can (without overdoing it).