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Traveller help for newbie

slynch00

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I recently have been picking up some of the Traveller materials. I have never played before, and my experience with tabletop RPGs is very limited, having only played a little with friends over 25 years ago. However, I am an avid gamer in other forms. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any experienced Traveller players in my local game stores. I am trying to learn the primary mechanics and perhaps after some practice, enticing a small group to try it out in my area.

To start with, I am simply trying to learn the steps involved with a simple merchant transport/transaction. My plan is to initially just practice the steps of loading cargo, transport, and delivery. Then calculate the profit after all expenses and move on to the next one. Then start to figure out additional details such as fuel and distance the implications of refueling for longer trips. Finally, layering in additional character mechanics such as locating cargo and negotiating prices. Once I get comfortable with that level of mechanics, I will start to add in random events during the trip. I have been able to follow the base steps for creating characters. I just have not been able to get to the next step.

I have been reading as much as possible (blogs and books) and watching youtube videos, but I still can't seem to get it. My problem is I am not able to figure out the basic repeatable steps. Everything I am reading only provides the high level "what" steps, but not the "how" steps I need to start. The amount of information in the books is a little overwhelming as a beginner so far. Is there a step by step section in one of the books I can use to follow my simple plan? I am happy to pick up the resource I need. Or is there a source of information somewhere else (Internet) I can leverage? I am trying to reduce it down to something like this to begin with:

1. Dock ship [roll 2d6 + INT; success = > 6]
2. Locate cargo [roll ...]
a. sub-steps for determining if cargo fits?
b. additional room for transporting mail or people? locate them, negotiate, ...
3. Determine distance, days in transport [have no idea how to do this]
4. Negotiate cargo [roll? ...]
5. Travel [arrival on time or late?] Add random events or encounters in future at this step
6. Dock ship in new location [roll ]
7. Unload, get paid, pay expenses, calculate profit
8. Finding the next cargo load...

Overall, I think it is pretty basic. As I layer in more and more detail and randomness, I hope to gain the experience through practice I am looking for. The materials I have available to me are:

GDW Traveller Starter Edition
Supplement 1: 1001 Characters
I have The Traveller Book (1982) arriving this week

Everything else I have been using online resources. Any help/advice to jump start me would be much appreciated.
 

RSDean

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This is from page 55 in the Traveller Book, so you will have access to it soon.

Does Starter have the Regina subsector, or did you roll your own?

TYPICAL ACTIVITIES

I. Arrive in star system.
A. Scan area for potential danger, problems, and other data.
B. Set course insystem.
C . Possible ship encounter.
II. Local gas giant.
A. Achieve orbit.
B. Refuel.
C. Set course to major world or outsystem.
III. Local major world.
A. Achieve orbit.
B. Proceed to orbital starport (unstreamlined ships) or surface star- port (streamlined ships).
C . Arrival onplanet.
1. Unload high passengers.
2. Unload mail.
3. Unload middle passengers.
4. Unload cargo.
5. Unload low passengers.
6. Conclude low lottery.
D. Refit and maintenance.
1. Refuel from starport.
2. Renew ship life support.
E. Commodity activity.
1. Sell speculative cargo.
2. Buy speculative cargo.
F. Ship business.
1. Pay berthing costs.
2. Pay bank payment.
3. Pay maintenance fund.
4. Pay crew salaries.
G. Miscellaneous activity.
1. Patron encounters.
2. Planetary exploration.
3. Local areas of interest.
4. Hire new crew members.
H. Prepare for departure.
1. Load cargo.
2. Load low passengers.
3. Load middle passengers.
4. Load high passengers.
5. Load mail.
6. Collect income for all aspects of current trip.
IV. Departure.
A. Lift-off.
B. Achieve orbit.
C . Set course outsystem.
D. Possible ship encounter.
E. Jump.

If that doesn’t help, PM me; perhaps I can talk you through it.
 
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slynch00

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Thank you, this is great. This outline will be perfect to follow over and over just changing variables as I go to get a better understanding. I am glad the book I have coming will help fill in some gaps. I tried to PM, but I am unable to until I have 10 posts. Since this was my first post, I do not have the permissions to do that.

Will the book give me the actions required for each of these that I will need to know? For example, the various loading steps in the 'prepare for departure' section. Do I need to do anything other than acknowledge the step? Or will there be actions I need to do to complete the step. Like perhaps calculate the time it takes to load, or any success/fail checks or anything like that. And if there are actions I need to take, will I find those in the book as well?

I welcome any other advice for someone new to Traveller trying to figure this out on my own. Suggestions/recommendations for places to start, other ways to solo to get some experience with it or even essential materials would be greatly appreciated.
 

slynch00

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Does Starter have the Regina subsector, or did you roll your own?
I don't think it does. It appears it uses a subsection called Mithril. Your post has helped me quite a bit. The starter has two booklets. One is a Rules Booklet and the other is a Charts and Tables. I think what was confusing me was trying to make sense of all of the charts and tables. When I think it will be more useful reading the Rules Booklet more. Perhaps that coupled with the book coming this week I can cobble it together.
 

joetheok

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I am in about the same boat the original poster is in--I have the old Mega Traveller books though, but I am trying to puzzle through the economics of it. Looking at that I think some of the things on the original poster's list can be described as "Game master dependent." If the original poster, as game master, wants to have a bit of drama about the docking procedure or run a bit of time off of the clock in game time for some reason of story, he can. Otherwise, the docking is reduced to a success roll or simply declared to be a success.

I have concluded also the cargoes available and their location is also 'game master dependent' to some extent. There is, in my edition, a chart saying that a planet of a given size will have so many large, so many medium and so many small cargoes. Each of these is expressed as a dice range (example 2d6-1d6 might be a typical entry.) And, each individual cargo is expressed as a random range of tons as well. Now, that is all in the rules on the chart. If the objective of the session is to simply grab the cargo and go, on to something more interesting, then my inclination would be to roll up the available cargoes (ahead of the session), and say that there is Cargo A, consisting of so many tons of widgets, Cargo B, of so many tons of thingies, and so on. We know the total tonnage of the cargo, and we know the cargo capacity of the ship, and the players can figure out the loading.

To do that, the Game master creates an institution (not found in the rules, perhaps) which matches shippers with haulers--perhaps call it the Merchant Exchange of Planet Whatsit. The player character goes, collects the list and writes the shipping contracts right there.

If on the other hand, the game session consists of adventures on the planet for a while, then the player characters have to go and interact and find the last little bit of cargo. In that case, the Merchant Exchange has enough cargo but is ten or twenty tons short of a full load, but the clerk says, "OH I just remembered Dingbat NPC has to get 10 tons of unobtanium to the next system over...talk to him."

I have found the Freelance Traveller site has a lot of good articles, I am still going through it, but I suspect there will be more on economics there. http://www.freelancetraveller.com/ This especially looked interesting: https://www.freelancetraveller.com/features/rules/finprofile.html
 
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slynch00

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Thank you joetheok. Good suggestions. You are a bit farther along than I am it sounds like. In an effort to just sort of move forward, I am working on stripping away as much as I can and start with some bare bones actions. I think I am closer than I thought, but it hasn't come together for me yet. For example, I am going to skip anything to do with combat, encounters, or even failures initially. My intent is to get sufficient level of detail for transporting goods from point A to point B and knowing when to roll for success and when not to. I am still not clear what DMs to use for what actions, but perhaps I have not got that far yet. Since I am learning on my own, I am playing the role of the GM as well. There are certainly no surprises coming at me with that structure, but my objective being to figure out and practice the steps makes that ok I think.

Appreciate the reply. If you have any other suggestions for beginners getting started on their own like this, don't hesitate to post them up.
 

RSDean

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I dug out my hardcopy of Starter Traveller, so let’s go through this a bit.

In the rule book (RB), page 27, under “Interstellar Travel” there’s a note that a typical commercial ship makes two jumps a month; one week in Jump followed by a week of landing, doing ground stuff, and taking off again.

So, assuming, for sake of argument that we are looking at a standard type A free trader (RB p 35), step one would be to decide where we are ariving, because a few rules depend on knowing something about the system. Let’s assume we can find fuel at the starport we’re going to because it’s a type B. So we’ll skip the section about what to do at the gas giant. The way the jump drive works, you would ordinarily arrive at the 100-diameter limit for jump. The 1G drive of the Type A will allow you to transit that distance in a time read from the chart on p8 of Charts and Tables (CAT). For a size 8 world that would be 372 minutes, or just over 6 hours.

I notice, by the way, that the flow chart I cited earlier is on p9 of CAT...

The next step is to roll for an encounter. That chart is on p13 of CAT. What happens if you encounter something is up to the referee, except that you assume that if it’s a pirate it will try to attack you if it can.

You would decide on whether a roll for landing was necessary. Ordinarily it isn’t a problem unless you want it to be, in which case it is an exercise of Pilot skill (RB, p15).

If you are following the usual plan of two jumps a month, you’ve got about a week to unload and find more cargo. (RB, p30). The rule book says that you check for cargos going to all poissible destintions, but you can save some time by only rolling for the world you’re going to, if you already know. Based on the world population and the destination world population, the Cargo chart on p9 of CAT gives you a number of shipments waiting. These individual shipments can’t be split up (RB, p30). Your Type A has 82 tons available in the hold. Technically, it doesn’t matter what those shipments consist of, unless the referee decides that it does. Players who accept containers without checking the manifest for special handling requirements or knowing whether the contents are legal on the destination world could be in trouble, but that’s basically a refereee call.

If that doesn’t appeal, and you want to buy some trade goods on your own behalf, the rules are on RB p52. Check once per week. By the rules, you roll a d66 against the chart on p22 of CAT. By the book, that’s the best deal you can get this week, and it’s quite possibler yhat you will be offered something that is expensive here but cheap where you are going. Accepting deals like that is a good way to go broke. Sometimes you get lucky, and find that you are on a mining world and are offered minerals which you can sell at a good price on the industrial world you’re heading to, or whatever. Let’s say we roll 13, Liquor (Happy New Year!) and we find that we can buy it at 50% of the base rate because we are on an Agricultural world with a -4 modifer to the price. 1dx5 tons are available. The rules state that you pay a 1% handling fee if you don’t take the whole lot. Decide whether any of this seems like a good idea depending on where you are going and how much money you have.

Back to CAT page 9 for passengers. Assuming you are using the nominal crew, your ship has 6 staterooms and 20 low berths available. Once you know how many people want to go where you are going, you can assume that you fill the ship with the high passengers before the middle. Low passengers get loaded, after deciding whether to worry about the Low Lottery rules on RB p 28. If you are taking the role of the captain, you could theoretically end up with the money, but personally, I wouldn’t worry about it except for roleplaying color.

Patron encounters are a tool for the referee to advance the action of the game. If you don’t have any specific ideas, the rules are on p51 of the RB. (Roll d6 5+ Once oer week to generate a patron.) Referee discretion is needed to determine whether to roll on Patron List 1 or Patron List 2 on CAT p20. What the patron wants will depend on what they are. If you are short of ideas, the 76 Patrons book (Supplement 6, as I recall) might be of use, as there is at least one idea for each of the categories contained in it. Usually, crews who are desperate for whatever reason are open to more outrageous proposals from patrons...

That covers most of the chart. Any trouble figuring out whether fuel is available or how much your berthing fee should be?
 

RSDean

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I am in about the same boat the original poster is in--I have the old Mega Traveller books though, but I am trying to puzzle through the economics of it.
...

I have concluded also the cargoes available and their location is also 'game master dependent' to some extent. There is, in my edition, a chart saying that a planet of a given size will have so many large, so many medium and so many small cargoes. Each of these is expressed as a dice range (example 2d6-1d6 might be a typical entry.) And, each individual cargo is expressed as a random range of tons as well.
In MegaTraveller, the cargo and trade goods system was rewritten from Starter, and is on pp50ff. One look at that and I can remember that I didn’t use it much. It’s derived from a variant system in Book 7, Merchant Prince. I see that I have pencilled in a lot of errata as well, so if you don’t have the MegaTrav errata, you need to go find it. :(. One of the difference is that there is more speculative trade goods available (officially called “Cargo” rather than “Freight”, which is the shipping for hire.). The other peculiarity is that p52 has a series of charts that will tell you what the safety precautions for any shipment are, but the price per ton doesn’t vary with what the cargo is, unlike Starter. I think that derived from some article in the Traveller’s Digest at some point, but I’m afraid that I sold my TD collection some years ago.
 

RSDean

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I welcome any other advice for someone new to Traveller trying to figure this out on my own. Suggestions/recommendations for places to start, other ways to solo to get some experience with it or even essential materials would be greatly appreciated.
So, to carry on, Traveller was designed to be extremely modular. Every system found in Starter Traveller was expandable by replaced it with a more elaborate system from Books 4-8, Supplements, Games, or articles in the Journal of the Traveller’s Aid Society. As CK! Has been writing for the past couple of years in the thread I linked, all of that is optional. Personally, I like to use the additional careers from Supplement 4 (Citizens of the Imperium), and I keep a copy of 76 Patrons in my go-folder. If you expect to spend a lot of time on a ship, Supplement 7, Traders and Gunboats, is a compilation of ship deck plans for the most common ships adventurers will be crewing. I avoid the expanded character generation systems these days, and the characters given by them are much more skilled than the basic system characters, so don’t mix the two. If you want a lot more detail on the star systems, Book 6 can generate them. If you want a different, more granular, system for ship design, Book 5 has it. If you want to spend some serious time working through robot design, Book 8. I don’t like much about Book 7, and Book 4 is only really useful if you are interested in the idea of star mercenaries (say, being a Miles Vorkosigan fan...)

As you can probably tell, I’m a serious Traveller geek, having bought the first printing of the first edition of the rules back in 1977. However, I will also note that I have a tattered copy of Starter Traveller like you’re working from, that has accompanied me for much of the time since I got it in 1990 in a fit of retro-nostalgia during the MegaTraveller era. I’ve probably spent more actually time with Starter than any of the other versions. You’ll find that The Traveller Book is very similar to Starter, with the only rules section I’ve ever gone looking for in it that isn’t in Starter being the section on drugs.
 
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