Let's Read “Traveller: Core Rulebook - An Example of Character Creation”

Playing Through the Traveller Character Creation Mini-Game

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Let’s take a moment to play through the Traveller character creation.

Since picking up Traveller, I’ve rolled up 20 or so characters. There are a few nuances I missed in my first handful of characters. Make sure to closely read pages 16 through 18. Another great resource is Seth Skorkowsky’s Traveller Review Part 2: Character Creation video. It covers most everything in character creation.

One edge case that is particularly subtle is when you roll for promotion, and the dice result is equal to or less than the number of terms you’ve served. In that case, you must leave that career. I read that as though you’re character has lost interest. Or if you roll a 12 for advancement, you must continue with the career for your next term.

I’ve chosen to roll for everything, instead of making an example to highlight the various aspects of the system.

Pre-Career Traveller

I rolled 2d6 in order and got the following characteristics. I also chose 3 skills to represent Pat’s upbringing. I see a bit of a studious jock.

Characteristics
Str 9 (+1)
Dex 11 (+1)
End 8 (0)
Int 5 (-1)
Edu 7 (0)
Soc 6 (0)
Skills
Athletics 0
Flyer 0
Streetwise 0

Along the way, I’ll copy the above character block and then add to the copy. This way, you can see the aggregated character development.

Age 18 to 22

Pat, eager to pilot a starship, is going to first try to get into the Naval Academy. That requires an Int 9+ roll; I get a 3, so Pat’s not going to the academy.

Instead, they’ll try to join the Navy. To join, Pat needs to make an Int 6+ roll; I roll a 6, but with Pat’s Intellect of 5, they have a -1 penalty to Int rolls. So Pat fails to join the Navy.

At this point, Pat could either enter the draft or take the Drifter career. Each Traveller may only enter the draft once during character creation. It’s a long shot, but Pat wants to fly for the Navy. I roll a 2, and Pat’s drafted by the Army. Based on Pat’s characteristics, I’m going to place them in the Infantry. When drafted, you may choose your assignment. I just think that based on Pat’s Str , the Army would assign them to the Infantry.

Pat enters basic training, getting rank 0 in the six service skills of the Army: Drive, Athletics, Gun Combat, Recon, Melee, and Heavy Weapons. Pat already had rank 0 in Athletics, so advances to Rank 1. Athletics has sub-disciplines, so I pick one of those disciplines to increase.

I also see that as an enlisted Private, Pat gains Gun Combat 1.

For Pat’s training this term I roll on the Cavalry subtable and get Recon. For training you get a 1 in the skill or increase your existing rank by one.

Now, I need to see if Pat “survives” their term. I need to make a Str 6+. I roll a 7 and add one because of Pat’s Str . Pat survives, and rolls on the Army’s life event table. I get the following:

Surrounded and outnumbered by the enemy, you hold out until relief arrives. Gain DM+2 to your next Advancement check.

Cool, before we seek a promotion, let’s see if Pat can become an officer. Travellers can seek a commission in the Army, Marines, or Navy. Because of Pat’s mediocre Soc , they may only try once. I roll a 3, so Pat’s not going to be an officer.

Now, I roll for promotion. I need an Edu 6+. I roll a 6, and add the +2 for the above life event. Pat becomes a Lance Corporal, which gives them Recon 1. Alas, Pat already had a Recon 1, so they don’t get an increase. A bit of a bummer, and maybe this focused training is something that Pat holds a grudge about?

With the promotion, Pat rolls on a training table. I pick personal development, roll a 3, and increase Pat’s Endurance by 1. Now Pat has a +1 to all Endurance rolls. Hmm, frustrated, Pat hit the gym?

Careers
Army Lance Corporal (Rank 1)
Characteristics
Str 9 (+1)
Dex 11 (+1)
End 9 (+1)
Int 5 (-1)
Edu 7 (0)
Soc 6 (0)
Skills
Athletics (Strength) 1
Drive 0
Flyer 0
Gun Combat 1 (Slug Throwers)
Heavy Weapons 0
Melee 0
Recon 1
Streetwise 0
Events
Surrounded and outnumbered by the enemy, you hold out until relief arrives.

Age 22 to 26

Pat, never really wanting to be in the Army, tries to become a Scout. Pat could again try to join the Navy, but I think Pat’s frustrations, experience in the military hierarchy, and being trapped behind enemy lines, tells Pat to pursue different paths. Pat musters out of the Army, and rolls twice on the benefits table. They get 1 roll per completed term, and 1 roll per two ranks. So 2 rolls for benefits. And I roll a 3 and a 3. Which means Pat’s Education increases by 2. It looks like “studious jock” may be more appropriate than I thought.

To join the Scouts, Pat needs to roll a Int 5+. Pat has a -1 Intellect modifier and also takes a -1 DM for this being their second career. I roll a modified 7. Pat joins the Scouts as an Explorer.

For basic training in later careers, you get to pick one skill from the Service Skills. Pat chooses to get Pilot 0. I roll on the Explorer training table and get Pilot. Looks like Pat’s dream of piloting a spacecraft has come true!

Next up, the survival check. Pat needs an Endurance of 7+. I roll a 6, and add +1 for Pat’s 9 Endurance. Good thing he got that physical training in the Army. Otherwise, Pat would have suffered a career ending mishap. But if we think about it, this may be a close call.

I roll a 3 on the Scout events table:

Your ship is ambushed by enemy vessels. Either run, and roll Pilot 8+ to escape, or treat with them and roll Persuade 10+ to bargain with them. If you fail the check, then your ship is destroyed and you may not re-enlist in the Scouts at the end of this term. If you succeed, you survive and gain Electronics (sensors) 1. Either way, gain an Enemy."

Well, looks like Pat gets to put their piloting skills to the test. With the Rank 1 Pilot and +1 for Dexterity, I roll a modified 10. Pat’s piloting helps them evade the enemy.

Pat rolls a 2 for advancement. They don’t advance. While there’s nothing in the tables about why they don’t advance, lets remember the event and the failure to advance when we try to flesh out Pat’s back story. Maybe the Enemy is someone in the scouts? Maybe the piloting was reckless?

Titles
Army Lance Corporal (Rank 1)
Characteristics
Str 9 (+1)
Dex 11 (+1)
End 9 (+1)
Int 5 (-1)
Edu 9 (+1)
Soc 6 (0)
Skills
Athletics (Strength) 1
Drive 0
Flyer 0
Electronics (sensors) 1
Gun Combat 1 (Slug Throwers)
Heavy Weapons 0
Melee 0
Pilot (spacecraft) 1
Recon 1
Streetwise 0
Events
Surrounded and outnumbered by the enemy, you hold out until relief arrives.
Your ship is ambushed by enemy vessels. You managed to escape, but gain an Enemy.

Age 26 to 30

Though they didn’t get a promotion, Pat’s still all in as a Scout.

Looking at the experience, there are a few basic skills Pat needs. They roll on the Service Skills table, and get Survival. As this is not part of basic training, they get Survival rank 1.

Pat survives and has the following event:

You spend several years jumping from world to world in your scout ship. Gain one of Astrogation 1, Electronics 1, Navigation 1, Pilot (small craft) 1 or Mechanic 1.

Pat chooses to pick up Astrogation 1; After all someone that can Pilot a starship and work the sensors probably should have skills in Astrogation.

This time, Pat gets a promotion (having rolled an 11). Pat gains Vacc Suit 1 and the title Scout. Pat opts for some more personal training, and gets a +1 Intellect. That’s quite nice as it bumps Pat’s Intellect modifier from -1 to 0. It looks like the dangers and adventures have helped Pat think more quickly on their feet.

Titles
Army Lance Corporal (Rank 1)
Scout (Rank 1)
Characteristics
Str 9 (+1)
Dex 11 (+1)
End 9 (+1)
Int 6 (0)
Edu 9 (+1)
Soc 6 (0)
Skills
Athletics (Strength) 1
Astrogation 1
Drive 0
Flyer 0
Electronics (sensors) 1
Gun Combat 1 (Slug Throwers)
Heavy Weapons 0
Melee 0
Pilot (spacecraft) 1
Recon 1
Streetwise 0
Survival 1
Vacc Suit 1
Events
Surrounded and outnumbered by the enemy, you hold out until relief arrives.
Your ship is ambushed by enemy vessels. You managed to escape, but gain an Enemy.
You spend several years jumping from world to world in your scout.

Age 30 to 34

At this point, if Pat contines then at the end of their term they’d roll for the effects of aging.

Pat, hot off their promotion, chooses to remain in the Scouts, and picks up Seafarer 1.

They again survive their term, and have the following event:

You become involved in a romantic relationship. Gain an Ally.

Pat checks for a promotion, the dice come up as a 3 and I add 1 for Pat’s Education. According to page 17 of Traveller, “If your advancement roll is equal to or less than the number of terms you have spent in this career, then you cannot continue in this career after this term.” Based on my reading of the rules, the roll is a 4. So even though the Scouts passed over Pat for a promotion, Pat’s still interested in remaining a scout. Hmm, maybe there’s something in this romantic relationship?

Pat doesn’t get a promotion.

As Pat is now 34, I need to roll for aging (2d6 - 1 for each term served). I get an 8 and Pat avoids the ravages of aging.

Titles
Army Lance Corporal (Rank 1)
Scout (Rank 1)
Characteristics
Str 9 (+1)
Dex 11 (+1)
End 9 (+1)
Int 6 (0)
Edu 9 (+1)
Soc 6 (0)
Skills
Athletics (Strength) 1
Astrogation 1
Drive 0
Flyer 0
Electronics (sensors) 1
Gun Combat 1 (Slug Throwers)
Heavy Weapons 0
Melee 0
Pilot (spacecraft) 1
Recon 1
Seafarer 1
Streetwise 0
Survival 1
Vacc Suit 1
Events
Surrounded and outnumbered by the enemy, you hold out until relief arrives.
Your ship is ambushed by enemy vessels. You managed to escape, but gain an Enemy.
You spend several years jumping from world to world in your scout.
You become involved in a romantic relationship. Gain an Ally.

Ages 34 to 38

It’s looking like Pat’s going to settle into their career. Pat picks up Medic 1, and again barely survives this term. That’s two close calls for surviving during their term.

For their event, Pat rolls a 10:

You spend a great deal of time on the fringes of Charted Space. Roll Survival 8+ or Pilot 8+. If you succeed, gain a Contact in an alien race and one level in any skill of your choice. If you fail, roll on the Mishap Table but you are not ejected from this career.

This is an interesting option. As I’ve been building Pat, they’ve always wanted to be a Pilot. However, I want to use character creation as an oracle into Pat’s mindset. Both skills are rank 1, so let’s go with Survival. Pat succeeds, and I think a bit about this. And opt for Language 1.

The Scouts promote Pat to Rank 2. Pat picks up a rank in Engineer.

I roll for aging, and get a modified 2. Again, luck favors the young, and Pat doesn’t suffer from aging.

Titles
Army Lance Corporal (Rank 1)
Scout (Rank 2)
Characteristics
Str 9 (+1)
Dex 11 (+1)
End 9 (+1)
Int 6 (0)
Edu 9 (+1)
Soc 6 (0)
Skills
Athletics (Strength) 1
Astrogation 1
Drive 0
Flyer 0
Electronics (sensors) 1
Engineer 1
Gun Combat 1 (Slug Throwers)
Heavy Weapons 0
Language 1
Melee 0
Medic 1
Pilot (spacecraft) 1
Recon 1
Seafarer 1
Streetwise 0
Survival 1
Vacc Suit 1
Events
Surrounded and outnumbered by the enemy, you hold out until relief arrives.
Your ship is ambushed by enemy vessels. You managed to escape, but gain an Enemy.
You spend several years jumping from world to world in your scout.
You become involved in a romantic relationship. Gain an Ally.
You spend a great deal of time on the fringes of Charted Space. Gain an alien Contact

Ages 38 to 42

At this point, I’m considering if Pat would muster out of the Scouts and finish up their character creation. Thus far, life’s been rather fortunate and adventurous for Pat. As they’ve aged, the events seem to map to more comfortable experiences. So, let’s press Pat’s luck and see.

Pat picks up Science (Planetology) 1, and again just barely survives their term. Mental note, for three different terms, I’ve rolled the bare minimum for Pat’s survival. I think this is Pat’s last term. There’s only so much skin on a person’s teeth.

For Pat’s life event, I get:

When dealing with an alien race, you have an opportunity to gather extra intelligence about them. Roll either Electronics 8+ or Deception 8+. If you succeed, gain an Ally in the Imperium and DM+2 to your next Advancement roll. If you fail, roll on the Mishap Table, but you are not ejected from this career.

Without training, Pat’s Deception roll would be at a DM -3. Pat goes the Electronics route, and succeeds.

Checking for a promotion, Pat needs to make an Education 7+. The dice come up 5. I add 1 for Pat’s Education, and 2 for Pat’s life event. It looks like someone in the Imperium either pulled some strings or advocated for Pat’s promotion. Pat’s now Rank 3, a Senior Scout! Pat gets Pilot 1, which can’t be used to increase their Pilot (spacecraft). Instead, Pat picks up Pilot (small craft). As part of the promotion, I roll and Pat learns Navigation 1.

And again, Pat does not suffer any consequences for getting older.

Titles
Army Lance Corporal (Rank 1)
Senior Scout (Rank 3)
Characteristics
Str 9 (+1)
Dex 11 (+1)
End 9 (+1)
Int 6 (0)
Edu 9 (+1)
Soc 6 (0)
Skills
Athletics (Strength) 1
Astrogation 1
Drive 0
Flyer 0
Electronics (sensors) 1
Engineer 1
Gun Combat 1 (Slug Throwers)
Heavy Weapons 0
Language 1
Navigation 1
Melee (blade) 1
Medic 1
Pilot (spacecraft) 1
Pilot (small craft) 1
Recon 1
Science (Planetology) 1
Seafarer 1
Streetwise 0
Survival 1
Vacc Suit 1
Events
Surrounded and outnumbered by the enemy, you hold out until relief arrives.
Your ship is ambushed by enemy vessels. You managed to escape, but gain an Enemy.
You spend several years jumping from world to world in your scout.
You become involved in a romantic relationship. Gain an Ally.
You spend a great deal of time on the fringes of Charted Space. Gain an alien Contact
When dealing with an alien race, you have an opportunity to gather extra intelligence about them. Gain an Ally in the Imperium

At this point, I decide its time for Pat to muster out of the Scouts. They’ve spent 5 terms in the Scouts, and achieved Rank 3. They’ll get 7 benefit rolls.

I roll up their benefits and get: Weapon, Int +1, Weapon, Weapon, Edu +1, Cr30000, Cr50000. In rolling Weapon three times, I wonder about the unstated events of Pat’s career. Always ready to draw weapons, but no notable violence during their career.

Let’s grab a slug thrower and a blade, and convert that last weapon to a rank in Melee (blade). Pat can spend up to Cr1000 during character creation, but we’ll hold on using that Cr80000. The group may need that to purchase gear or cargo for its first adventure.

Rounding Out the Travellers

We talk amongst the group, and agree that we’ll play a Traveller style game. Between the four players, we need to divy up Pilot 1, Deception 1, Electronics 1, Gunner 1, Gun Combat 1, Persuade 1, Stealth 1, Medic 1.

Pat grabs Persuade 1 and Stealth 1.

We also go around the table and connect our Travellers together.

Pat and Quinn collaborated on gathering that intelligence, Pat picks up a rank in Admin learning about filing the proper forms.

Jean introduced Pat to their romantic relationship. Pat picks up Carouse 1.

Titles
Army Lance Corporal (Rank 1)
Senior Scout (Rank 3)
Characteristics
Str 9 (+1)
Dex 11 (+1)
End 9 (+1)
Int 6 (0)
Edu 9 (+1)
Soc 6 (0)
Skills
Admin 1
Athletics (Strength) 1
Astrogation 1
Carouse 1
Drive 0
Flyer 0
Electronics (sensors) 1
Engineer 1
Gun Combat 1 (Slug Throwers)
Heavy Weapons 0
Language 1
Navigation 1
Melee (blade) 1
Medic 1
Persuade 1
Pilot (spacecraft) 1
Pilot (small craft) 1
Recon 1
Science (Planetology) 1
Seafarer 1
Stealth 1
Streetwise 0
Survival 1
Vacc Suit 1
Events
Surrounded and outnumbered by the enemy, you hold out until relief arrives.
Your ship is ambushed by enemy vessels. You managed to escape, but gain an Enemy.
You spend several years jumping from world to world in your scout.
You become involved in a romantic relationship. Gain an Ally.
You spend a great deal of time on the fringes of Charted Space. Gain an alien Contact
When dealing with an alien race, you have an opportunity to gather extra intelligence about them. Gain an Ally in the Imperium
Benefits
Weapon ×3
Cr80,000

Pat’s player and the referee still need to flesh out the Allies, Contact, and Enemy. With an Ally in the Imperium, maybe that first mission is a lead from their Ally.

Conclusion

Traveller’s Character Creation is a fun mini-game that really helps you think about your character. Throughout each step, you have decisions to make but also unexpected turns to address. Slowly, as your character picks up skills, you begin to see them take shape.

During Pat’s fourth term, I started to see Pat’s motivations change. They fell in love with the sea (hence the Seafarer 1) and fell in love with someone. This unexpected turn softened Pat from the Lance Corporal into a rounded competent explorer, interested in more than the mission.

I had so much fun, I’m going to roll up another character.