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how to play mongoose traveller

Join the Crew: A Guide to Playing Mongoose Traveller

Want to learn how to play the Mongoose Traveller RPG? Embark on a sci-fi journey through the stars with our guide on how to play Mongoose Traveller RPG.

Welcome Aboard- Adventure Awaits!

Welcome to Mongoose Traveller; a science fiction role-playing game where you explore the galaxy, meet new alien species, and create spacefaring adventures of your own. Newcomers to the game can find it a bit overwhelming to get started. But don't worry, this guide will give you a general overview of everything you need to know to play Traveller like a pro. 

If you are interested in trying Traveller but don't want to spend a lot on the Traveller Rule Book you can get a copy of the Traveller Explorer's Edition (a Traveller PDF) for just $1.

Character Creation

Let’s begin with Traveller character creation.  Traveller has a unique character creation system that generates an entire character history and backstory.  Players can start with an 18-year-old character with very few skills, or they can opt to push their luck through multiple terms in various careers and come up with an older character with more skills and experience.

Players use their characters as virtual avatars, with a set of skills, characteristics, and equipment to help them through upcoming adventures.


Players begin character creation by rolling two normal six-sided dice and adding them together for each of the six Characteristics (notated as 2d6).  This results in values from 2-12 with 7 being the average.  The higher the number, the better the character is concerning the associated characteristic.  Values can be driven above 12 through character creation and above 15 through the use of augmentation, such as cybernetic, mechanical, or chemical means.

The Characteristics are Strength, Dexterity, Endurance, Intellect, Education, and Social Standing.  These attributes determine how well a character can perform certain tasks or skills.  For example, a character with a high Strength characteristic would be better at tasks that involve strength like lifting heavy objects or forcing open a door, while a character with a high Intellect characteristic would be better at solving puzzles or coming up with original ideas.

After rolling 2d6 six times, you assign each roll to one of the characteristics in any order.  This defines how your character will start the game.  Characteristics can go up or down during character generation, so you may not end up with a character exactly like the one you started with. 

Character Concept

Coming up with a basic character concept at this point might help with some character creation decisions going forward.  You might consider the following:

  • Where was your character born?
  • What is their homeworld like?
  • Do they come from a rich planet or a poor planet?
  • Do they come from a high-tech world or a low-tech world?
  • What was their family life like?
  • What is their motivation to leave their home and seek adventure among the stars?

Jot these ideas down and use them as a guide to making decisions as you go through the character creation process.  Don't be afraid to edit these notes if you come up with better ideas as you go through the character creation process.

Background Skills

Next, players choose their background skills.  These are a few skills with a low level that the character might have acquired through school, a job as a teenager, or just from living life in general on their homeworld.  Once players have settled on background skills for their character, it’s time to seek a career.


At this point, you can stop character creation and opt to begin adventuring as a young adult with just their background skills.  Most players choose to spend at least one 4-year term doing some kind of career to start with a bigger selection of starting skills.

If a player wants to seek a career, there are many to choose from.  The rules contain twelve major careers, such as merchant, soldier, and scientist, each with three sub-career variations to choose from.

Once the career is chosen, players roll on various tables to gain new skills or increase existing ones.  Characters also experience Life Events, which are major turning points in their career.  Perhaps they were tempted to cheat on an important test while attending university, or maybe they were offered a bribe while working as a law enforcement officer.  Depending on how players choose to interact with these life events, and the luck of the dice, characters will gain a rich life history along the way.  Sometimes the results of Life Events are good, sometimes bad.

Players continue to serve 4-year terms in their chosen careers, or they can choose to change careers along the way.  Be careful, though; each term ages your character by 4 years.  Once you get past a certain age, you risk injury by continuing in dangerous careers.  The player must choose how many years they want their characters to have under their belt when they start playing.  Are they an old doctor or pilot with a lot of experience and an old shoulder injury and a pension?  Maybe they are just out of university and looking to test themselves.  Maybe they were drafted into the military but were discharged at 32 after receiving a major injury in the line of duty.


In Mongoose Traveller, players can form a connection between their characters and other players’ characters during character creation.  This can be a cool way to form bonds between characters and avoids starting the game with the “you all meet in a space tavern” situation.

Weapons, Armor, And Equipment

Finally, players choose equipment for their characters.  Some equipment and starting cash will be granted according to benefits you may have received during your character’s career.  The Traveller Rule Book has a decent selection of starting gear, or you can choose items out of supplements, like the Central Supply Catalog.  Weapons, armor, survival gear, and other equipment available should be appropriate to the game setting.  Characters can start with weapons, armor, or even a ship without having to spend much money.

Playing Traveller

Now that you are done with character creation, it’s time to start playing.  The game is run by a Game Master (GM), known in Traveller as the “Referee”.  This player is the host of the adventure and is responsible for creating a story, controlling all the non-player characters, and adjudicating the rules.  The Referee will present players with a certain situation and the players will use their character’s skills, characteristics, and backstory to help accomplish the various missions and adventures they encounter along the way.

Traveller is a type of collective storytelling game, where each of the players contributes to the ongoing story.  During the game, players roll dice and consult their lists of skills and characteristics to help determine the result of tasks with unsure outcomes.  For instance, players would not need to roll dice for things anybody could easily do, but they should roll dice when the results of their actions are unsure or could have story-changing results.

During the game, combat might come up.  Combat is resolved the same way other skill checks are; with characters attacking and defending using different types of weapons, armor, and environmental cover.  Weapon damage is reduced by the armor value of the target and any spillover damage is applied to reducing the target’s health characteristics (Strength, Dexterity, and Endurance).  When a character has two characteristics reduced to 0 they are considered unconscious and must skip their turn.  When a character has three characteristics reduced to 0 they are considered dead or dying and must receive immediate medical attention or die.

Starships in Traveller

One cool thing about Traveller is the use of starships to get from one planet or planetary system to another.  Players can purchase a ship or even acquire one during character creation.  Perhaps they can even salvage a derelict ship for free. 

Each ship has its own set of attributes, such as how fast it can go, how far it can jump, its cargo capacity, armaments, and defenses.  The Traveller Rule Book has many example ships to choose from, or you can check out the High Guard book which details many new ships and includes instructions for building your own.

So where do you go on your ship?  Well, Traveller supplies many random tables, most using the d66 format which is a dice-rolling technique that gives you 36 possibilities from two regular 2-sided dice.  There are many random tables for a Referee to choose from which makes creating adventures on the fly much easier to do.

What You Need To Play

To play the Traveller RPG, you will need a few things.  Pencil, paper, the Traveller Rule Book, and two 6-sided dice at a minimum.  You will also need a group of players, one of which should be willing to be the Referee.  There are optional solo rules out there, but you will normally need at least 2 players; one to be the Referee and the other to be the character in the story.  Usually, 4-6 players are the ideal size.  It helps if all the players are fans of science fiction!

What if you need some help finding players or interpreting rules or situations in your game?  No need to worry – Traveller has been around since the late 70s and has a huge community and support system.  There are many other players and Referees out there who are excited to share their own experiences and help you to become a better Traveller player.  You can join forums, Facebook groups, Reddit groups, and Discord servers to connect with other Traveller players and enthusiasts. 

If you can’t find anybody locally to play with, you can even play by remote with a virtual tabletop (VTT) on your computer.  For more information check this article on How to Play Traveller Online.

Traveller Social Resources

Mongoose Traveller Forum

Citizens of the Imperium Forum

Traveller RPG Headquarters Facebook Group

Traveller Reddit

Mongoose Discord

Traveller RPG Discord

CyborgPrime Games Discord

Article: How to Find Traveller Players

As you gain experience playing Traveller, don’t be afraid of trying out different characters with different career options.  The beauty of Traveller is that there is no one "right" way to play. You can create a character that is a ruthless mercenary, a brilliant scientist, or a savvy merchant. The possibilities are endless.

In conclusion, Mongoose Traveller RPG is a fascinating and enjoyable science fiction game that has staying power.  Characters are rich and complex, the settings are imaginative, the adventures are exciting, and the community is friendly helpful, and knowledgeable.  With the information you gained in this article, you are now well on your way to starting your adventures exploring the galaxy in ways you never thought possible.

With a little bit of practice and a lot of imagination, you'll be able to create epic stories and unforgettable memories in no time. Happy Travelling, and above all have fun!

Where To Go From Here

For more info on ways to get started in Traveller along with tips and tricks for character creation and more, check out The Ultimate Guide to Playing Mongoose Traveller RPG.

Your Turn.  What Do You Do?

What kinds of adventures are you looking forward to in your Traveller game?

Please share with us in the Comments section below.

If you found this article helpful, please give it a good rating at the top, thanks!


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