This team enters the Traveller universe for the first time. But first, the game has a rather detailed and unique character creation process. Here our journey begins.
With time to kill whilst in Lockdown, we opted to try something new.
Traveller for those of you that do not know, is a science fiction space RPG. It is to the genre as D&D is to Fantasy. The first version was published in 1977 and there have since been a further 9 or 10 releases or reworkings of the core, as well as a couple of Amiga period games (which I must now track down), a bunch of a novels, an album and if stories are to be believed is where the idea for Firefly first came to Joss Whedon. Over the coming weeks we will be playing through the latest edition of the game Mongoose Traveller 2nd Edition (MT2e) but first, we must create the characters.
This is an element of Traveller which is presented in the core rules as a mini-game of its own. Traveller suggests character creation is done together as a group, rather than the typical create at home and bring to the session of other RPGs. The reasons for this appears to be that with Traveller, character generation creates rich and complex back stories and by creating as a group offers players the opportunity to link their characters histories. Not only does this save all the “the unlikely group of strangers all meet at the tavern, summoned by a mysterious letter” starters of some RPGs but it is also great fun seeing how a character can go from having it all to having nothing before the game even begins! As with all RPGs you have some semblance of basic character in mind. You could be the stereotypical strong brawler or the hide at the back intelligent type, that doesn’t mean to say that by the time you get to “game start” that the characters will match these descriptions as we will find out.
So yesterday evening was our designated character generation session and whilst it was quite a long winded process due to the inexperience of myself as GM (or in Traveller terms, Referee) and also of the players, it was an enjoyable time. This is because of the Traveller life path mechanic which breaks down a characters life into 4 year terms of service which a character must live through before starting the next term. Each term in a job earns the character skills and benefits, adds some story events to their life and then ends with a promotion maybe, or getting fired, or suffering a wound meaning you cant continue that career. (In earlier versions death was also possible and meant the character creation process started all over again, though this has been changed by MT2e) During these terms, events that happen can be used to create links as mentioned above. An example of this was two of our characters following the agent paths both suffered relationship breakdowns in the same term, and now the story goes that they ended up in some cop bar drinking their sorrows away together.
I opted to do the basic character creation simultaneously, allowing players to set their characteristics and sort their basic skills but then worked through each characters career one by one from terms 1 to 8. In hindsight next time I may do it so that we work through all Term 1s together, then term 2 together etc but as this was our first time, it helped us to figure out the processes a bit easier. I allowed each player to chose when to stop running terms and we ended up with a well decorated long term agent and an earlier drop out, meaning the characters also have different ages too. The whole process was good fun for all involved, including relative newcomers to tabletop scene, all of whom were equally engaged and contributed to each others character history and back stories adding little details here and there.
Having played a number of RPGs over the years, I have to say that personally, this was the most entertaining character creation I have been involved in and I now looking forward to playing the game itself and the other “minigames” included within. We will introduce you more formally to our characters during the next session.