Even young gamers remember the original Traveller character generations system — the one where your character could die before the game even started. I personally didn’t mind the death result, it gave character generation a real push-your-luck mechanic.
The new Mongoose system has softened this mechanic — the chance of pre-game death is gone, but your character can get seriously maimed.
We did character generation for the Traveller game I’m planning on running, and I’m almost overwhelmed with tidbits of character back story.
How Char Gen Works
For those who haven’t played the game, here’s how MGT chargen works:
- Roll 2d6 six times and assign these numbers to your six stats.
- Determine which career you want and attempt to qualify.
- Once you’re in a career you roll ever term (4 years) to gain skills, etc.
- You also roll every term for an “event.” These can provide you with allies, contacts, etc.
- While it’s still called a “survival roll,” you roll to see if you suffer a mishap and must leave that career. These mishaps can injure you, give you enemies, rivals, etc.
- Once your character reaches 34 years of age, you begin making aging roll, which will become an increasing deterrent to continue with character generation.
Events, Life Events and Mishaps
Probably my favorite mechanic is connections. Using your event, you choose another PC who shared that event with you. You determine what happened, how each of you contributed to it, and you each gain a skill from it.
It encourages players to make characters with intertwined back stories by rewarding them with extra skills.
Putting it all together
After our character generation system, I had a full letter-sized sheet of notes on the five player characters: contacts, enemies, allies, rivals, things they stole, things they discovered, things they found.
It’s a skeleton of a back story, ready to have names and places added.
I’m keeping the final mishap for each character to flesh out myself, as I’m going to use them to put the party together in the same place.
The rest of their back story items are their’s to flesh out as they like.
Once they’ve done that, I’ll start taking all those disparate factoids and start working on ways they could be weaved together.
Putting the cart before the horse
I intentionally kept game prep to a minimum, though I did come up with one initial adventure for them. I made that initial adventure as generic as I could, as I had no idea what the characters would be.
It turns out I didn’t need to use that adventure, as we ran out of time.
By the time chargen was finished, I ended up with the following: a duke on the lamb, a psionic drifter, a grave robber with a limp, a corporate agent and a transvestite able-bodied spacehand,
Luckily, we have enough information to figure out why all these folks would end up on the same ship — I hope.