Friday, October 23, 2009

A Wolf From The Stars

One of the beauty's of Traveller is its short succinct stat blocks for characters. I LOVE this. Truly. I know I've railed against big "stat blocks" here and elsewhere in the past, so it should come as no surprise, but its difficult to articulate enough how damn ELEGANT it is in practice with this particular game.

I'm not sure I've posted any particular characters of mine on this blog before, but here's one I'd like to share:


Homeworld: Fenris (poor, ice-capped)

UPN: C9D875

Age: 46

Profile: 2 terms with Imperial Marines (ground assault), until severely injured. Mustered out and re-joined barbarian tribe on home world rising to rank of Chieftain after waging 20 year war of unification. Current whereabouts: unknown, but off-world.

Skills: Animal 1, Athletics 0, Battle Dress 0, Carouse 0, Gun Combat (slug thrower) 2, Heavy Weapons 1, Jack of All Trades 2, Leadership 1, Melee (blade) 3, Melee (unarmed) 1, Stealth 1, Tactics 1, Vaac Suit 0

Known Holdings: Combat Armor, PGMP (TL 14), Ally, Ship Share (Corsair), 9000cr

That's actually a lot fancier than it needs to could delete the "homeworld" and "profile" sections and you'd still have a complete character ready to rock n' roll. I like to include that kind of thing for color.

"Wulf" is one of the first characters (maybe the only completed one) that I created when I got the Mongoose edition of the rules (I've only ever been exposed to Mongoose and Classic Traveller). He is largely inspired by the doomtrooper Sean Gallagher from the Mutant Chronicles RPG (shown here from his illustration on the board game Siege of the Citadel). In my head, though, I picture him with more beard.

Oh, yeah...and I think Fenris is the home world for the Space Wolves.

[heh...I should start a blog for my Death Guard...shoot!]

I was blogging the other day about the virtues of random character generation (well, not really except by way of contrast with the current vogue in RPG chargen systems), and Traveller is certainly random. In the Classic version one had to balance the number of terms of service/advancement versus the very real chance of character death mid-creation process. Beautiful, really...though potentially frustrating, of course. The Mongoose version does it one better by keeping in an "Iron Man" option (for the hardcore, Classic players) or simply allowing your character to suffer a career ending injury should he fail a "survival roll." I have to admit, I really appreciate the thoughtfulness of the updated version.

But again, the real beauty is in the end product. This example character was created across a full seven terms...28 years of "leveling" complete with Events, Mishaps, Skill selections and "Mustering Out" benefits. And it all boils down to one stat line, a handful of skills, and some starting equipment and cash. I had fun with the character creation process, I never got bogged down choosing "feats" or skills (skills are determined randomly by career path or from a slim selection of options depending on your homeworld) and there is nothing un-wieldy about the character sheet itself...totally practical.

I have Wulf saved in a Word doc on my zip drive and every time I look at that handful of writing I truly marvel. I could drop the extraneous, reduce the font, and easily fit eight to ten complete characters on one sheet of paper. What is not cool about that?

And it FITS with the game as written. Your character is one soul amongst billions on millions of worlds scattered across are a small part of a greater whole, what needs you an elaborate character sheet and write-up?

Wonderful, says I. A fun and fairly elaborate chargen system, that does not hesitate or stutter-step like other games and that distills down to the bare essentials. I couldn't ask for more out of a science fiction RPG.

And man...I'd love to take Wulf out for a spin some day in someone's Traveller 'verse!

1 comment:

  1. My first, and most favorite character, probably from 1980?, was Rory Akimasi. I don't know why I had a japanese sounding last name, he wasn't japanese. If I can find the old character sheet I will have to post him.

    I loved the character recording approach employed by classic Traveller!