Traveller RPG Blog


Mongoose Traveller Character Creation - background skills -title

Mongoose Traveller Character Creation: Background Skills

The background skills in Mongoose Traveller RPG can add depth and complexity to your character. Find out how to choose the right ones in this comprehensive blog post.

Mongoose Traveller is a tabletop role-playing game that takes you on a journey across the galaxy. In order to create a well-rounded character, it’s important to consider not only their career and skills but also their background. This is where background skills come into play.

In this article, Part 2 of The Ultimate Guide to Playing Mongoose Traveller RPG, we’ll dive into what background skills are, how they relate to your character concept, how many you get, examples of background skills, and what the best background skills are.

For a complete list of Background skills, refer to the Mongoose Traveller Rule Book

If you want to try before you buy, you can get a copy of the Traveller Explorer's Edition (a Traveller PDF) for just $1.

Background Skills in Mongoose Traveller

Background skills are skills that a character acquires before embarking on their career. These skills represent a character’s upbringing, education, and previous experiences. Unlike career skills, which are specific to a character’s chosen profession, background skills can be chosen from a list of general skills.

Once you have rolled up your Characteristics and assigned them values, it’s time to choose some background skills.  Before you consider background skills, take a moment to reflect on your character concept. 

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 develop better ideas as you go through the character-creation process.

It’s important to consider your character’s background when developing their concept. The background skills you choose can help to shape your character’s personality, interests, and abilities. For example, a character who grew up on a farm might have background skills in animal handling or survival, while a character who grew up on a space station might have background skills in engineering or comms.

There are a variety of background skills to choose from, each representing a different aspect of a character’s background.

Here are a few examples and how a character might have acquired them:

Admin: Learned through a previous job, such as working as an assistant or office manager.

Carouse: Learned through experience partying or drinking.

Language: Learned through studying or living in a foreign country.

Medic: Acquired through medical training or experience working in a healthcare setting.

The Background Skills

Now that you have a basic concept for your character, consider what skills they may have gained throughout their childhood and teenage years that allow them to function at a basic level in society.

Characters get some background skills equal to their EDU modifier +3.  That means characters with low EDU scores might get up to two fewer background skills, while characters with higher EDU scores might get up to two more.

The list of available background skills is extensive and includes a wide variety of options. Some examples include:

  • Admin: This skill represents your ability to manage and organize people and resources.
  • Animals: This skill allows you to handle and train animals.
  • Art: This skill represents your artistic abilities.
  • Athletics: This skill represents your physical fitness and ability to perform athletic feats.
  • Carouse: This skill represents your ability to enjoy yourself and have a good time.
  • Drive: This skill allows you to operate ground vehicles.
  • Electronics: This skill allows you to repair and operate electronic equipment.
  • Flyer: This skill allows you to operate aircraft.
  • Language: This skill allows you to speak and understand one or more languages.
  • Mechanic: This skill allows you to repair and maintain mechanical equipment.
  • Medic: This skill allows you to provide basic medical care.
  • Profession: This skill allows you to earn a living by performing a specific trade or profession.
  • Science: This skill represents your knowledge of scientific principles and methods.
  • Seafarer: This skill allows you to operate ships and boats.
  • Streetwise: This skill represents your knowledge of the streets and criminal underworld.
  • Survival: This skill allows you to survive in harsh environments.
  • Vacc Suit: This skill allows you to operate and maintain vacuum suits.

Consider these skills in the context of your character concept and background.

Background skills are received at level 0 which means the character has a basic familiarity with the topic.

What Are the Best Background Skills?

Some careers will give you skills that you already have at a basic level as a background skills, some skills can only be obtained as background skills.  If those topics interest you, check out this article on How to Choose Background Skills.

The best background skills to choose depend on your character concept and career choice. Some skills are more useful in certain situations than others. For example, if you’re planning on being a trader, having background skills in trade or broker might be helpful. If you’re planning on being a scout, survival or medic might be more useful. It’s important to choose background skills that fit with your character concept and career path.

Should I Get Skills Related or Unrelated to My Planned Career?

While it’s important to choose background skills that fit with your character concept and career path, it can also be beneficial to choose skills that your character wouldn’t normally have access to through their career. This can make your character more well-rounded and versatile in different situations. For example, a character who is a military officer might also have background skills in art or language, which could come in handy in diplomatic situations.

Now You Have A Background

Background skills are an important aspect of creating a strong and unique character in Mongoose Traveller. They allow you to shape your character’s personality, interests, and abilities based on their background experiences.

When choosing background skills, it’s important to consider your character concept and career path, as well as choose skills that can make your character more versatile in different situations. By carefully selecting your background skills, you can create a well-rounded and memorable character that will enhance your Mongoose Traveller experience.

At this point, you are 18 years old and ready to take on the universe!

Your next step is to decide whether you will attend university or embark on a career.

Where To Go Next

When you are done selecting Background Skills, you are ready to play. However, i would suggest spending at least one term in a career or university to give your character more skills, unless you want to play an unskilled character on purpose and then just learn skills your character ends up using during the course of the game.

Ready to choose a Career?  Check out this article:
Mongoose Traveller Character Creation: Careers

Your Turn.  What Do You Do?

What background skills would YOU choose?

Please share with us in the Comments section below.

Want More?

Enjoyed these insights on background 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!


E-mail Notification Opt-in

Do you want to be notified of future Traveller-related posts?

Sign up on my private mailing list.

YES! Please notify me of new Traveller RPG posts!

We won't spam you.Unsubscribe any time.Please check your spam filter if you don't immediately receive your Intro To Traveller.

You can also join me and my friends on the CyborgPrime Discord server.






Comments powered by CComment

Related Articles


Join Us On Discord:
CyborgPrime Games on Discord

Visit Our Facebook Group:
Traveller RPG Headquarters on Facebook

Help Support Us On Patreon:
CyborgPrime on Patreon

Contact Us
(505) 490-NERD


This website contains affiliate links. We may receive a commission when customers make a purchase. We only promote products or services we believe in and are not responsible for any issues that may arise. The commission is paid by the publisher.


Get notified of sales and events:
We won't spam you.
Unsubscribe any time.