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 A group of futuristic space adventurers, armed with various weapons, prepare for battle in a sci-fi setting. The diverse team communicates and strategizes to effectively engage in combat in the dangerous universe of the Mongoose Traveller RPG.

Mastering the Art of Combat: A Guide to Traveller RPG Fighting Skills

Don't let danger stand in the way of your travels, equip yourself with the skills and knowledge from my Traveller Combat Guide. Master the art of combat and increase your chances of survival.

(Part 6 of the 11-part series, "The Ultimate Guide to Playing Mongoose Traveller RPG")

Mongoose Traveller is a popular science fiction role-playing game set in the far future.  In Traveller, players take on the roles of space-faring adventurers who explore the galaxy and experience exciting journeys across the cosmos. 

Traveller is known for its deadly combat system, which plays an important part in the success of a player’s adventures.  Even if you play a combat-light setting, conflict and fighting are bound to come up at some point.  This guide will provide a comprehensive overview of Mongoose Traveller’s combat system, including important information on how Characteristics, Skills, and Combat Types combine to increase your character’s chance of success.


Combat skills are very important in Traveller.  Players will encounter a wide range of enemies and conflicts throughout their adventures.  Having well-developed combat skills is crucial for survival and success in a hostile universe.

The Mongoose Traveller RPG combat system is deadly and challenging but also provides players with a wide range of options and strategies to use in battle situations.  The purpose of this guide is to provide players with a more in-depth understanding of the combat system and offers tips and strategies for mastering the art of combat.

Understanding Characteristics and Skills

In Mongoose Traveller RPG combat, characteristics and skills play a critical role in determining how good a character is at fighting. 

Characteristics are attributes that are used to determine the player’s base combat abilities, such as strength (STR), dexterity (DEX), and endurance (END). 

Skills are specific aptitudes the character can develop and improve on over time.  With regards to combat, skills such as Gun Combat, Melee, Recon, and Tactics are particularly important.

In the  Traveller RPG, characters are rolled up randomly and you don’t have a chance to select specific skills.  However, you can choose Careers that are more likely to give you combat skills, such as a military branch or law enforcement.

When deciding on your combat maneuver, look at which combat skills give you the most positive bonus.  This is the sum of your skill and a matching characteristic modifier.  Use DEX for attack accuracy, but for melee weapons, add your STR modifier to the weapon damage.

If your DEX Modifier plus your Blade skill is bigger than your DEX Modifier plus your Gun Combat skill then use blades as your preferred form of attack, otherwise use guns.

Types of Combat

In Mongoose Traveller combat, there are three main types of combat:

  1. Hand-to-hand (melee) combat
  2. Ranged combat
  3. Tactical combat

Hand-to-Hand combat- also known as melee combat, involves close-quarters fighting using weapons like knives, clubs, improvised weapons, and even bare hands.

Ranged combat-  involves the use of firearms and other ranged weapons, like bows, slingshots, and rocket launchers to attack enemies at a distance.

Tactical combat- involves the use of teamwork, planning, and strategy to defeat enemies.

The type of combat you use depends on the situation at hand and will often vary even over the same instance of a fight.

Strategies for Effective Combat

Successful combat in Mongoose Traveller requires more than just having good combat skills and Characteristic Modifiers.  It also requires thoughtful strategies, including positioning and movement, cover and concealment, the use of terrain and surroundings, and effective communication and coordination with other members of the party.

Arm Yourself

Combat in Mongoose Traveller can be very deadly.  You will need to arm yourself and find some good armor.

One thing to think about is that at TL 12 tailored vacc suits can look like normal clothing and provide 10 points of Armor protection and 90 points of Radiation protection.

For weapons, consider TL 12 stunners for non-lethal damage, or pistols and lasers of TL 11 or higher for more harmful damage.

Don’t forget the Traveller’s trusty body pistol; a gun made out of polymers and cultured bone.  It is hard to detect and packs a punch.

Take The High Ground

Movement and position are crucial to success in combat, as they can give a character an advantage over their adversaries. Gaining the high ground can often translate to combat advantage.  One way of taking the high ground is to use drones for aerial surveillance.

Take Cover

Cover and concealment are important for avoiding enemy attacks and can provide a safe place for a character to recover from injuries.  Using terrain and surroundings to your advantage can also provide a character with a strategic advantage during combat.


If damage is coming your way, don’t forget to try jumping out of the way, or dodging the incoming attack.  Dodging is based on your DEX score, so try to beef that up when you have opportunities to do so.

Successful dodging can be a great way to convey dramatic close calls.

Take Aim

In Mongoose Traveller, characters can spend a minor action to take an aiming action.  A character can get 3 minor actions per turn, giving them a +3 for every turn they spend aiming, up to a +6 for two complete turns spent doing nothing other than aiming.

Aiming works well for canceling out the untrained skill penalty every other turn for characters with no gun combat skills.

Make A Plan

If you know in advance that you are going to be in a fight, then you have an opportunity to plan how you want it to go down.  You can at least go into the situation with a plan the party is all in agreement with.

For times when you are surprised or didn’t have time to plan for the combat encounter, then it helps if you generally have a combat plan worked out in advance with other party members.  Maybe make a default “marching order” where the characters with high endurance and armor levels lead the way while the folks with less armor and fewer hit points could fight from the back.


Finally, effective communication and coordination with party members can help characters work together to achieve goals and overcome conflict.  Be sure to have communications equipment that can allow 2-way encrypted communications between party members so they can have private conversations in public and can communicate over a decent distance without having to rely on 3rd-party repeaters, communication networks, or transmitters.  In Traveller, you could even purchase a communication satellite of your own and deploy it in orbit for private use, unless a local law restricts that application.  Keep in mind that you’d only be able to communicate freely with communication satellites in orbit when they are directly overhead and have an unobscured “view” of the surface below.

Dealing with Injuries and Recovery

In the Mongoose Traveller RPG, injuries from combat are bound to happen sooner or later.

Understanding the injury mechanics of the game is important for players to effectively manage and recover from injuries.  Avoiding and managing injuries are crucial for ensuring a character’s survival and success in the game. 

Healing and recovery options include medical treatments and rest, as well as the use of drugs and other medical aids, like medkits.

When in combat, you don’t have much time for medical aid other than first aid, medkits, and drugs like stimulants or healing factors.

Sometimes characters will be gravely injured, so make sure you have a plan for the party about what you will do under these circumstances.  Do you have a low berth you can put somebody in until you can get them to better medical facilities that can save what’s left of their life, or at certain Tech Levels to even bring them back to life?  Does everybody have a medkit on their belt or in their backpack, or on their vacc suit?  Do you have access to a Medic?  What happens if the medic is incapacitated?  Do you have access to an Autodoc?

Training and Advancement of Combat Skills

One exciting aspect of the Traveller RPG is the opportunity for characters to grow and develop new skills during their careers.  Players who want to master the art of combat in the Mongoose Traveller RPG should focus on two areas: in-game training and skill development through independent study, and advancement through Careers and specializations.

Advancement Opportunities Through Career And Specializations

During your career terms, you can choose specializations that are more likely to give you the types of combat skills you want.  Check out the Rank Table for your chosen career to see if you will gain any combat skills by promotion.  For instance, a character with a military career background can earn promotions that provide access to advanced training and equipment, as well as opportunities to hone their skills on the battlefield.

In-game Training And Skill Development

Be sure to include your combat skills during play, even when not in combat.  Make sure to mention you are maintaining your weapons, armor, and sensors during the downtime in the course of your adventures.  Your Referee may give you an extra skill point now and then for roleplaying the skill and integrating it into your character well.

Another way you can increase skills is through independent study and training.  Many characters use their downtime during their trips through Jumpspace as opportunities for banking hours towards training the next level of an important skill.

Consider maxing out specializations in certain weapons or melee weapons to become a sniper or martial arts master.

If you end up reaching the maximum skill level allowed by your Referee, you still can learn additional skills.  Consider learning skills that are complementary or synergistic with your existing combat skills. 

Think about adding skills like:

  • Athletics
  • Deception
  • Diplomat
  • Investigate
  • Leadership
  • Medic
  • Persuade
  • Recon
  • Stealth
  • Survival
  • Tactics

By pairing your combat skills with complementary skills, you can make your character even more effective in combat.

Improving Tactics and Strategy through Practice and Experience

Ultimately, figuring out what works and what doesn’t work is the key to success in Mongoose Traveller RPG combat.  This will come through practice and experience.  Players should use their in-game training and advancement opportunities to develop a deep understanding of their character’s combat skills.  Players should use this insight to employ effective tactics and strategies during battles.  This can involve paying close attention to the terrain and surroundings, coordinating and communicating with other members of the party, having each other’s back, taking the time to aim and dodge, and making use of cover and concealment.

Players who take time to master these strategies and techniques are likely to find that their characters are much more effective in combat and can succeed against even the toughest opponents, or at least go down fighting.

The Student Becomes The Master

Mastering the art of combat in the Mongoose Traveller RPG requires a combination of understanding of the game mechanics, careful character development, and experience in the field.  Players who focus on developing their character’s combat skills and abilities, both through in-game training and career advancement, will find that they are better equipped to face the challenges of the Traveller universe and succeed in their adventures. 

By following the tips and guidelines outlined in this guide, players can take their combat experience to the next level and become true masters of the art of combat in the Mongoose Traveller RPG.

Your Turn.  What Do You Do?

What are your favorite combat tactics?  What are your best tips for effective Traveller combat?

Please share with us in the Comments section below.

Want More?

Enjoyed these insights on combat skills? Discover more advanced techniques and in-depth advice in our booklet 'Beyond the Horizon: The Ultimate Guide to Playing Mongoose Traveller'.

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


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