Monday, January 18, 2016

You're Afraid That You Will Never Be As Strong As Darth Vader

The Force has been calling to me, drawing me back to blogging about my Star Wars Traveller project. Unfortunately, The Force doesn't pay my bills, nor does it stop me from getting a bit of a Winter bug.

I suppose I haven't truly mastered it yet.

Almost man. Not quite.

Keep at it.

One of the things I noticed about my previous entry on The Force for Star Wars Traveller is that while it wasn't my conscious intention going in, the post detailed how Skills work in my 'house' version of Traveller. In other words, my post about how The Force would work in my game also became a post about how the Skill mechanics work.

Nice. It's like killing two mynocks with one blaster bolt.

With that in mind, I've decided that since learning, and increasing Force related Skills must go hand-in-hand with explaining my Experience system, here is the my system for Character Improvement, and Advancement in Star Wars Traveller first. We'll come back to The Force in a follow up post.


Experience, and Character Improvement, and Advancement in Traveller (specifically classic, original Traveller), or the lack thereof, was always one of its weaker elements. MegaTraveller had a far more definitive system, but it was complex, and didn't feel exactly right. Over the years I developed my own, and it has been used successfully in my campaigns for well over twenty-five years. Your mileage may vary, but here's how it works...

Experience Points come in two forms - Active Training  Points (AT), and Passive Training Points (PT).

Your PC gains ATs when it actively does something involving a given Skill.

When your PC is in a firefight, you might get one in Handgun that session. If your PC drove a Grav-Car during the adventure, she will likely get an AT to Grav Vehicle.

You don't get a point every time you use the skill, so shooting a handgun five times during a battle doesn't automatically net you five ATs. Rather, you get one AT for that firefight. If you did something particularly memorable, the GM might award you two for that one combat sequence.

At the end of each session, the Gamemaster goes around to each player, and recalls the cool things their PC did that session, awarding them 1, 2, or (rarely) even 3 points for exceptionally creative use of a Skill. The Player, and his/her fellow player participants at the table, are encouraged to bring up moments of awesome the player's PC performed during the session.

Not only is this an effective means of Character Improvement (not too fast, not too slow), but to me it has a number of other benefits.

First, it makes sense in an organic, reasonable way. You get better at the things you practice, or do more often. If you haven't swung at sword, driven a vehicle, or tried to convince someone of something in a session or two, why would those things improve just because you got enough 'Experience Points'?

Second, it generates this great feeling of camaraderie among the players. What one person did doesn't take points away from you. Rather, each player's PC is awarded on it's own merits. Players stand up for each others PCs, if only so that they'll get that same treatment in return when their own PC comes up for AT assessment.

For example, Ray may remind the GM about that really great thing that Andy did when he used Recon, and then Forward Observer to find a safe way out of the battle the group was trapped in. Andy may then remember, "Yes! But I couldn't really have done it if you (Ray) hadn't hacked the computer system and deactivated the magnetic locks on the doors." The GM nods, and says, "Very good point Andy. OK, 1 AT on Recon, and 1 AT on Forward Observer for Andy, 1 AT on Computers for Ray."

As an aside, a sort of Reason 2.b of why this is awesome, is that having the players recall the session at the end makes it easier for them to remember what happened for the next session. It also shows the GM who was paying attention, and who wasn't.

[Actually, I've now adopted a similar Experience Point reward system in nearly every RPG I run. It's it not only great for the reasons I mentioned, but players seem to really enjoy it. It lets them relive their best moments, and the best moments of their cohorts. Win-win!]

It takes five (5) ATs to increase a Skill. You put little marks next to the Skill, and when you have 5 you increase the Skill by one, and go back to zero ATs.

So what's Passive Training (PT)?

When a character has the time, available materials, or an instructor, a character may train to improve a Skill like we all do in real life. Basically, practice makes perfect, and even if you are not being shot at, or chased down the highway, you can still go to the range and practice shooting, or drive a simulator to increase your abilities.

In one standard week's time (7 days of game time, 168 hours, 10,080 minutes - you get the idea), a character can gain five (5) PTs toward a Skill if training conditions are available. This means in two weeks they'd have 10 PTs, which is enough to raise a Skill by one Skill Level/Rating.

Five (5) ATs - Active Training Points - Raise a Skill one Level.
Ten (10) PTs - Passive Training Points - Raise a Skill one Level.

Note that these points are not cross-compatible. They are earned separately, and recorded separately. One does not convert, or transfer to the other.

To raise a Stat one must obtain 20 points, but more about that another time, as that situation is handled a little differently.

For now, here goes the Training System in practice:

Dalon Norbro, former First Order Special Forces TIE Fighter Pilot turned Resistance Hero, is currently locked in a heated dogfight between his unit, the Resistance's Sunburst Squadron, and a swarm of TIE Fighters launched from the First Order Star Destroyer 'Terminal'.

During the battle, Norbro takes out three standard TIEs, assists a fellow PC with a Special Forces TIE (like the one he himself pilots), and does a crazy, spinning, cork-screw maneuver to distract the enemy from firing on a NPC Freighter that needs to get vital supplies to a Resistance base in another star system.

All in all, with the exception of some damage to his beloved repainted TIE/sf, Dalon has had a pretty good session. At the end of the adventure for that day, the GM awards Dalon's player (Me I guess) 1 AT for Gunnery, and 1 for Pilot. I note that the distraction plan was pretty bold, and made me a target. Another player notes my assistance in taking out the Special Forces TIE that was on her tail. The GM thinks about it, and says I can either be awarded 1 point to Ship Tactics, or 1 point to Leader. I feel it was more tactical thinking than leadership this session, and gladly take the 1 to Ship Tactics.

Now, here is where things get really interesting, set up my next post, and further my discussion of how The Force is used in Star Wars Traveller.

Let's say you're Finn, and you find yourself acting as Gunner a lot lately. First when escaping from the First Order in a TIE/sf, and later operating the Quad-Laser Turret of none other than the Millennium Falcon! Now let's don't have the Skill of Gunnery.

Ah oh.

Each time you wanted to use a spacecraft's weapon systems you would roll just like you would any task, as mentioned in my post on skills. The formula remains that same, with just two minor adjustments.

You don't add a skill (since you don't have it), and the Difficulty modifier goes up by five.

 Appropriate Stat + Skill + 2D6 Die Roll +/- Condition/Situation Modifiers = ?


Appropriate Stat + 2D6 Die Roll +/- Condition/Situation Modifiers = ?  vs. Difficulty Level +5

Now, if you try this, successfully, or not, a number of times, the GM may say, "Finn, I am going to award you 2 points towards Gunnery today. You really tried today, and even got in a couple of great shots."

Finn's player looks at his Character Sheet. He doesn't have Gunnery, but now writes it down with 2 ATs next to it. If he can get 5 ATs, he gains Gunnery-0 (zero). Gunnery-0 (or any skill at zero) in Star Wars Traveller eliminates the added Difficulty Level of +5. A task becomes as hard as a task would be, not harder because you don't know what you're doing. You sort of do. You're no pro, but you get the basics.

Gain 5 more ATs, and you now have that Skill at 1.

Anyone see where this is going?

No one starts out with Jedi Mind Trick, but a Force Sensitive individual could try it. Keep trying, and you might get the appropriate Force Skill at zero (0). Keep practicing, get training, and you might be able to tell Daniel Craig to drop his weapon.

Stay on target! A lot more to come...

Barking Alien

Just a quick reminder to viewers:
This is a fan work, not an official product of any kind.
Star Wars Traveller, an attempt to model a Star Wars RPG using the rules of classic, and Mega-Traveller, is the creation of Adam Dickstein. It is not a product of, nor is it affiliated with the creators of Star Wars, nor the creators of Traveller.
This is just for fun, and free to everybody.
May The Force Be With You
Happy Birthday to the late, great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The dream is still alive, though it fights to be heard, to be seen, to be fully realized. Be one who fights with it, not against it. Be The Resistance.

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