Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

A Look at T4: Marc Miller’s Traveller

I’ve had a copy of T4 sitting in the attic for some time, and after hearing some positive comments about from people like Martin J Dougherty, I decided to take a closer look.

Character creation looks like a slightly simplified Mega-Traveller approach.  You’ll find the schooling tables and the quick home-world generation to be largely the same.  While several careers such as Piracy, Belting, and Barbarian are missing, it appears that a Psionicist class is tucked away in a later chapter.  There’s a nifty background skills system that appears to be new and fairly expressive.  Also, the “special duty” roll appears to have disappeared, replaced by a simple flat rule of one new skill per year in service.  This last change is of course propelled by Marc’s newer concept for a task system, and not suitable for previous versions of Traveller.

One thing the rules note is that some players will want a completely random generation, some will want as much choice as possible so they can play what they want, and some will want something in between.  This appears to address the numerous house rules and die roll “fudges” that occurred with previous editions in an unobtrusive manner: no particular method is singled out as being the “right way.”

For attributes I rolled, 8, 7, 11, 4, 3, and 7.  I went with the old-school approach and assigned them to my stats in order.  I get a tough but uneducated bruiser.  For home-world I rolled up Starport B, Size small, Atmosphere standard, Wet world, Population 10,000+, Law Level 8, Tech Level E.  That’d be a small advanced world with a lot of traffic.  The only problem with this method of world generation is that now I want the full UWP for it instead of this unweildy gloss. 

For background skills I rolled Business, Language, Gun Combat, and First Aid.  I chose the Rogue profession and easily got in– picking up one level in the Clandestine Cascade and Short Blade-1.  My first term I picked up Streetwise, Camouflage, more Gun Combat, and Jack of all Trades.  My second term I got injured!  Note that even in first edition Traveller this didn’t necessarily kill you.  In T4, you muster out early.  I roll and find that my injury occurred after my 3rd year into the term.  My skills for the abbreviated tour came up as 2 levels in Clandestine and one more level in Gun Combat.  Note, I picked the table I thought fit the character concept and then rolled randomly for the skills in each case– that just seemed to be the fun way to do it.

Mustering out I got one roll… and got the strange result of +1 to Soc!  I started to throw it out and re-roll, but then realized that explaining it would be more fun.

Here’s the final character:

UPP 87B438  Age 25

Terms 1.75 Cr 0

Computer, Trader-1, Language(Vilani)-1, Shotgun-3, Intimidation-1, Short Blade-1, First Aid-1, Streetwise-3, Camoflage-1, Jack of all Trades-1

While a teenager, our hero acquired the bad habit of selling and trading illicit items in the seedy star-town of his home-world.  He opted to make a career out of it, and began working as a “tough” for a major crime boss of the subsector.  Things went well for a time, but one job became a total disaster.  After getting wounded and identified, his boss did what he could to get him sent as far away as possible.  After a long ride in cold sleep, “Eneri” is now on an unstable frontier under a new identity, seeking to make a new start.

I love how two odd results become the lynch-pin of the character’s story….  You end up with things you’d never come up with on your own.  Very nice.

Note that, because of the T4 task system, I focused on skills that were END based and avoided INT and EDU based skilled.  If I’d been aware of Kenneth Bearden’s alternate system, I might have chosen my skills a bit differently.  Also, with the special rules from Dragon #55, I could attempt to take this character through a new career if I wanted to try to pick up new skills.  Note that T4 did allow for such an option, but the Dragon rules are much more textured.

Note that, there’s no reason this character can’t be tweaked a bit to show up in a Car Wars campaign.  All we need is a few careers defined for cyclists, MONDO’s, and duellists!  Also note that Kenneth Bearden’s task system would work perfectly well for role playing with Car Wars characters…. 

I notice that, for myself, I lack the creative drive to sit down and craft a cast of GURPS Autoduel characters to the standard 100 pt. standard.  I know that most GM’s just throw together what they need without regard to balance, but there’s still the colorful variation part.  The Traveller rules give the uninspired referee a lot of things to spark his imagination… and rolling up a character is actually even fun even by itself.

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