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Traveller (Mongoose)» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Free Terran Confederation (Mongoose 2e) Session 1 - character gen rss

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Danny Stevens
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Danny's big session index


Paul and I are Original Traveller players from way back who are learning the ropes with this new edition. The others are learning Traveller from scratch. The aim for this session was just to make characters in a very rough setting I have prepared (non-Imperium). The session took 2 hours and involved lots of searching in the pdf and interpretations which slowed us down. However the process produced not only interesting characters but a great back story and a richer dimension to my campaign. After this experience I can't emphasise enough how cool it is to have home worlds set up for the players and some background for their various career and life events to weave into and how great it is having the characters develop in parallel and connect.

Polling the Players
I asked everyone a bit about general play preference. I got unanimous feedback that they wanted to play an action game with lots of blowing things up and infiltrating enemy positions. No problem, full steam ahead.

Setting
2320ce on the coreward edge of the Free Terrain Confederation (imagine China having become more American but following a socialist path). The confederation has only had Jump-2 for about 5 years.

The player star system, Tratos (G2 star), was colonised 50 years ago. The player home world is XianZhu, an Earth like world with 3 small moons, 4 space elevators and 6 high orbit star ship and system ship docks. The system has two gas giants with orbital fuel refineries and in system delivery ships. The asteroid belt boasts a thinly spread collection of mining groups and a large, mine services space station built into a hollowed out asteroid. 3 marginal worlds and 4 bare rocks are mined via robotic mining facilities with few humans in attendance. 3 space habitats of several hundred families each orbit the sun inside the orbit of XianZhu. Orbiting the innermost gas giant is a system ship and star ship construction facility. 20 military system defence stations hold various orbit positions around the sun, gas giants and XianZhu.

The system is a tax receive and distribute hub for the confederation and manages several police agencies that maintain law and order in this system and several neighbouring star systems ( all within jump 1).

There is a vague idea about the nature of the other space nations, particularly the Earth Space nation which is a decadent corporate hierarchy that centralises wealth in the core worlds around Sol.

The Penta Occupancy are the only sapient aliens met by humans so far. They are large five branched, slow moving creatures resembling rather thick limbed star fish. They use a lot of cybernetics and power suits and attachments. They were first encountered by humans in 2311ce and there has been some friction with them, as they do not seem to understand human hierarchy structures. The Pentas have achieved jump 3 technology and through a number of cultural and science exchanges the Earth Space has gained the knowledge for jump 3 themselves.

Players and Character Names
Paul – Zhao Li
Rhys – Casper Percival Herab
Zoe – Daja Shao
Steven – Potato
Pam – Cordia L.
Phaedra – Zitsu

Characteristics and Background Skills
This took a while as it included explaining the skill system and the idea of skill rank 0 vs no skill. Of note nobody rolled a characteristic over 10 and Zoe's Daja Shao entered creation with a strength of 2, but a high endurance. A few of the characters were from the lower social standings. The characters all gained the background skill set and we discussed about a half dozen of the skills to ensure everyone understood how they worked and the specialities that they included. It was suggested a skill to characteristic chart would be useful, showing what characteristics tend to be most useful with any skill as a quick beginner reference.

Years 18 to 21 (2320 to 2323ce)
Potato, Cordia L. And Zitsu apply for and enter XianZhu University. C.P.Harab also applied but was rejected. Instead he was able to get into a career as a Scholar with a science assignment (the event that came up later explained the uni failure to science career retrospectively rather well). Daja Shao also failed university entrance but qualified for the marines with a ground assault assignment. Zhao Li tried for the scouts but didn't get in, and then was drafted into the scouts anyway.

The university students gained their uni skills and everyone else got basic training in their career choices. Everyone in careers passed their survival rolls. Then we did the event rolls one at a time.

Firstly Zitsu became romantically involved with Potato for a few years at the uni. This set up a connection rewarding the characters and giving some interesting role play set up. Potato seems to have been more focussed on the idea of law enforcement than romance in the end, but they have stayed friends ever since.

Daja was given an assignment on the jungle planet of Zan Xax. She had to work alone and developed an appreciation for anti-personal weapons and dealing with insect bites. I back filled the planet name and circumstances later.

Cordia L. Was approached about psionics. Now I had intended not to include the psionics stuff in the game as I consider it more sci fantasy than sci fi. But it came up and I figured what the hell. Cordia discovered that she had a weak psionic capability (strength 5) but decided to hold going to any psionic career path or training until some time in the future.

Zhao Li was assigned to the federation scout TFCSS53 and did a tour of eight of the nearby worlds, picking up a little knowledge on the way.

Casper Percival Harab, it turns out, was approached to use some of his personal insights, revealed on his blog, to help with a clandestine federation science institute project to breed modified humans with a preference for and natural ability in law enforcement (big thank you to Peter Hamilton for the Commonwealth Saga inspiration on this one). He found the ethics concerning but decided it was an excellent project to work with and maybe direct at some point. In doing this he made some enemies, a professor who argued vigorously against the project on ethical grounds but that Casper felt was merely outraged at not getting the position, a conspiracy theorist and a laboratory bully who Casper is hoping to get even with one day.

Years 22 to 25 (2324 to 2327ce)

All the uni students graduated but none achieved honours.

Zitsu entered the Army as an infantry woman and spent some time involved in street fighting on the planet New Shanghai.

Potato joins the Xian Zhu system bureau of law enforcement and investigation (The XzBlei). He works strenuously in the XzBlei's digital information synthesis department, writes some papers on "Detecting Criminal Activity Patterns from Large Scale Analysis of Shipping Manifests in Small Interstellar Clusters" and gets an agency commission.

Cordia L. Becomes a navy engineer and is assigned for several tours on the TFCSS53 scout ship. She gets to know Zhao Li fairly well and complains that his piloting is a bit hard on the ship drives and power plant. The ship is part of a diplomatic mission to New Shanghai to call back the Federation Infantry division and force a conciliation between the New Shanghai authorities and the militants.

Daja Shao, now something of a veteran weapons and security expert, switches assignments to star marine and does a tour guarding the "Super Cop" project ship, and personally guarding Casper Percival Harab who has now become the project physician.

Casper has become very attached to his project subjects. He also begins accumulating ship share options so he can maintain the project as an owner.

Years 26 to 29 (2328 to 2331ce)
Agent Potato (Tate to his acquaintances, Spud to his closer friends) is assigned as security analyst to the "Super Cop" project and sets up on the project lab ship which moves to an orbit closer to Tratos, along side one of the orbital system defence bases, in 2330. Daja Shao discovers her C.O. Has left one of the marine station communication security channels unfiltered, allowing some sensitive comms to be intercepted by pirates during the orbit shift. She very effectively corrects the problem and covers it up for which the C.O. is very grateful, becoming a firm ally.

Scout ship TFCSS53 was contacted surreptitiously by Daja and Zhao Li identified a pirate spy ship leaving Tratos system and guesses its heading to the Yuan system. As Zhao Li prepares to make the jump Lieutenant Cordia L. Captures a syndicate spy planting a bug in the ships drive system. Captain Zitsu, who was returning on the scout to Xian Zhu for some R&R is on hand to arrest the spy. The TFCSS53 jumps to Tratos only an hour behind the spy ship and is able to alert the Federation fleet who disable the ship and capture the occupants. The head of the syndicate identifies Zhao Li as the ship pilot and vows revenge for the loss of her two most capable spies.

Captain Zitsu returns to duty with the army and as a result of the spy capture becomes leader of a peace mission on New Shanghai, bringing humanitarian relief to survivors of the infrastructure collapse on that planet.

Year 30 (2332ce)
All the characters leave their careers and consolidate about their connections. Zhao Li gets the TFCSS53 as a mustering out benefit, and is secretly still attached to the Super Cop project. The session ended here although when I left the younger players were still enthusiastically going shopping for weapons, armour and other such adventuring necessities. Agent Potato went for a number of max damage concealable small arms and I think Lance Sgt. Daja was preparing to supply a small army with super weapons that go boom.

Emergent Items

These are things that emerged from character creation and which I am adding back fill detail to here.

Jungle planet Zan Xax in the Yuan star system is home to an illegal mind effect nano bot syndicate and arms dealers with several hidden facilities (The Akira). Daja assignment (2321ce) was recon mission and some small harassing raids. Zhao Li's, term 1 tour on TFCSS53 included a fly through of this system with some passive scanning of the planets to aid in the marine operation there.

Also in the Yuan system is the older, heavily urbanised world New Shanghai. However the syndicate has worked at destabilising governance there to take pressure off their holdings on Zan Xax and to give them a power base with better interstellar access. This lead to civil unrest in 2323 that escalated to street warfare between a draconian police state that had become heavily corrupted and militants seeking to remove the government. A third force of religious fanatics (the Xers) who believe in "the greys", the secret alien overlords of mankind took advantage in 2324 and things became a political mess. Zitsu's 2nd term assignment had her engaged in an infantry operation against the Xers which had only limited impact. The Journalist Matsuo Mazda covered some of the "invasion" condemning it as federation overreach in a local dispute and painting the planetary government as the true bad guy in everything. Federation fleet operation occur against syndicate ships and Xer adhoc fighter fleets during the diplomatic mission of 2324. Hostilities largely reduced but nothing fully decided.

The "Super Cop" project and the children in it who are now about 16 years old. The children now live on an isolated lab ship that Casper has six ship shares in. How are they turning out? Officer Potato has been hired to help with their education. Is Potato himself an early, illicit experiment along these lines? During the hostilities on New Shanghai what were the pressures placed on the project for/against the police state there?

Enemies and allies that need more fleshing out and connections of their own:

* Professor Emily Wang – strongly antagonistic to Casper for daring to accept the "Super Cop" project work.
* Journalist Matsuo Mazda – a conspiracy theorist cum journalist who believes the "Super Cop" project is run by hitherto unexposed alien overlords of mankind (leans toward the religious group The Xers).
* Nursery Manager Kyle Banster, a person who likes to dominate and control and who wishes to get rid of Casper from "his" project because Casper stands up to him too visibly.
* Daja Shao's marine C.O. Who, through a slack moment, nearly destroyed the "Super Cop" project and is now Daja's ally. He may be a marginal drunk trying to clean up?
* The head of The Akira, who hates Zhao Li for the loss of her best spies in 2330. Also The Akira syndicate and their mind effect nano bots and arms deal network.

Next Session : A Journey to Spectos
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Whew, it took longer to arrange a time than any of us expected. We are playing on Saturday 2nd of April. As with my D&D campaign I am going to include GM prep sessions and view points for the Traveller adventures. I have some initial prep that I'll write up after we have played. Here is some initial notes I have sent to the players so they can have an idea of what they want to do when we start playing:

Quote:

1) Note and write down the operating cost for running a Type S scout ship. General monthly cost for stateroom and low births. Fuel costs for jumping. Additional monthly maintenance costs. Look at page 145 to start.

2) Your character has been approached by Brian Li Yuan, an entrepreneur at the planet XianZhu who made a fortune making adventure vees (interactive movies with an AI “game master”). He will pay your costs plus 10,000 credits if you survey the star systems Yu Penquan and Spectos. He will provide a survey beacon and will pay a bonus 50,000 if you discover and claim any garden worlds (breathable mix, 40 to 80% hydrosphere, .7 to 1.2 surface gravity).

3) About a 1,000 migrants a month arrive in the Yuan system on colony liners, usually having travelled for about a month from the inner systems of the Federation. The troubles on New Shanghai have escelated just recently with the Xers bombing various facilities to “defeat the grey overlords”. This has resulted in a growth in refugees looking to relocate to XianZhu. The bulk are wealthier people. As a result you can charge a 30% premium for fares from Yuan to Tratos. On the other hand you will probably need to discount fares by about 10% going the other way.

4) There is no xpress ship line between Yuan and Tratos so there is a reasonable trade in ecomms and cargo in both directions.

5) One of the super cop children Cha Lieu X has approached “uncle Potatoe” to talk about an investigation he has carried out. (his information comes from an illicit vee channel that it seems Professor Emily Wang authorised). Cha has noted that the mind effect nano bots that the Akira have been supplying in Yuan, Tratos, Cheng and Dicken's Star are of a fairly advanced technical sophistication. It seems odd that a pirate arms group should be able to manufacture such things at all, never mind on a low tech jungle world like Zan Zax. This needs investigating and Cha says its “obvious” he should go. He has also worked out that a scientific expedition for the Ames Institute (an anthropological and antiquities institute) is stuck on New Shanghai, trying to get to Zan Zax unsuccessfully for the last two months. They would probably pay “really well” for passage to their destination and act as cover for the scout teams presence there.
 
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DanDare2050 wrote:
Note and write down the operating cost for running a Type S scout ship. General monthly cost for stateroom and low births. Fuel costs for jumping. Additional monthly maintenance costs. Look at page 145 to start.


For the record:

4 Staterooms Cr1000 each
Life support Cr1000 per person
Power plant fuel Cr500 refined, Cr100 unrefined.
uses 1 ton / month and has a three month supply.
Monthly maintenance Cr3064

Refined jump fuel Cr5000 jump-1, Cr10000 jump-2
Unrefined jump fuel Cr1000 jump-1, Cr 2000 jump-2

Scout ships have no low berths.

Scout ships have integral fuel scoops and processors capable of processing 40 tons of fuel per day.


edit: Fixed double occupancy stateroom cost as per post below.
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paulidale wrote:


4 Staterooms Cr1000 each or Cr3000 for double occupancy

As discussed there is something wonky about the cost per person increasing for double occupancy instead of decreasing.

I suspect an error on page 145 of my version of the rules.

In the chart it says
Quote:
Cr1000 per stateroom, Cr3000
for double occupancy, Cr100 per
low berth, Cr1000 per person


In the text below that however it says
Quote:
Life Support and Supplies: Each stateroom on a ship costs
Cr1000 per month. This cost covers supplies for the
life support system as well as food and water, although
meals at this level will be rather Spartan.
Each person on board a ship who is not in a low berth
will cost an additional Cr1000 in life support costs.
Each occupied low berth costs Cr100 per month.


Hmmm.... for now lets lose the 3,000cr double occupancy thing.

[edit]Aha! Room cost is 1,000cr. Each person costs an extra 1,000cr. So a double occupancy is room (1k) + 2 people (2k) giving a total 3k cost. So 2 people with a room each : 2,000cr per person. Sharing a room: 1,500cr each.[/edit]
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