Learn how to create a character in the Mongoose Traveller RPG by choosing a career path, attending university, and gaining skills.
(Part 3 of the 11-part series, "The Ultimate Guide to Playing Mongoose Traveller RPG")
Careers in Mongoose Traveller
For a complete list of Careers, 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.
Once you have chosen your Background Skills, it’s time to choose a Career.
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.
Attending University Or Military Academy
For the first three Terms of character creation, players can choose to send their characters to university or apply for enrollment in a Military Academy.
You can also take some time as “gap years” and instead choose a regular Career for the first two Terms then try for university or military academy on the third Term.
Some reasons to apply to university:
- Increase to two skills of your choice (from a list)
- Increase your EDU characteristic
- Graduating gives you a bonus to enlist in certain careers
- Graduation gives you a chance of commission in military careers
Some reasons to apply to the military academy:
- Gain six Service Skills from the chosen military branch at level 0 as if you received basic training cor that branch
- Increase three skills to level 1 if entering the same branch of the military that you attended an academy for
- Increase in EDU characteristic
- Possibility to increase SOC characteristic
- Automatic entry into the associated military branch
- Graduation gives you a chance of commission in military careers
Regardless of which pre-career education you choose, the Life Events are similar.
If you feel like your character doesn’t want to go to school then skip pre-career education and go straight to choosing a career.
Careers For Travellers
There are twelve main Career choices, each with three career variations, or specialties.
There are two additional Careers, Psionicist, and Prisoner, but these are special cases. Most people don’t start the campaign under either of these circumstances, though they could be sent here through the character generation process.
If you are coming from another RPG system like D&D, you can think of Careers as Classes and Specialities as Sub-classes. Using this analogy, Traveller characters can be single-class or multi-class. You could, for example, have an Agent/Scholar.
Qualifying For Careers
Each Career has a certain type of Characteristic qualification your character needs to compete for jobs in the chosen Career.
If you fail to qualify for the Career you are trying to enter, you can either submit to the Military Draft or spend a Term as a Drifter.
If you leave a career, you cannot return to it in the next Term. The exceptions to this are Drifter, which you can take multiple times, and Military Draft, which could draft you back into the Military Service you just left.
Careers with lower qualifications are easier to get into so if you have the choice of STR 6+ or STR 8+, you are more likely to qualify for the first one.
Try to go for careers where you have qualifying Characteristics with high Characteristic Mods.
Skills and Training
Each Term you spend in a Career gives you a roll of the die against any of the Career subtables you qualify for. Each time a Skill result comes up, increase the Skill on your character sheet.
How Much To Increase A Skill
If the Skill is listed without a number next to it, you increase that Skill by 1 level.
If you don’t already have the Skill, then you gain it at level 1.
If you already have the skill, then you increase its level by 1.
For instance: Investigate
There is no number listed so this means if you don’t have the Investigate skill, you get it at level 1, but if you already have it at level 0 it becomes 1, if you already have Investigate 1 then it becomes Investigate 2, and so forth.
If a skill is listed with a number next to it then you receive that Skill at the level of the number indicated. If you already have the Skill at the indicated level then you make no change. If your Skill is less than the number indicated then bring it up to the level indicated.
For instance: Recon 1
Since there is a number after the Skill name that means to bring my Recon Skill up to level one if I already have it or gain it at level 1 if I don’t already have it.
Don’t feel like you’ve wasted a skill level if you get a Skill if you already have it at a matching or higher level. Putting a number after the Skill is used to make sure characters in this Skill have proficiency with a certain Skill. If you are already that proficient then great! Consider it time spend showing off your abilities with that Skill but not learning anything new about it this Term.
Skill Level Maximum
During character creation, Skill levels cannot go over 4; anything over 4 is lost.
In addition, a Traveller can never have more total Skill levels than 3x(INT+EDU). For the average character, that means roughly 42 total Skill levels.
Career Basic Training
For your first Career only, you get the 6 Service Skills listed at level 0 as basic training.
For subsequent Careers, you can pick one Skill from the Service Skills list for that Career at level 0.
For example, if I choose Agent as my first Career I get the following Skills at level 0 as Basic Training:
- Gun Combat
If I then switch to the Entertainer career, I would only get to choose one skill from the Entertainer Service skills and get it at level 0.
The exceptions to this rule are Citizens and Drifters, who use their appropriate Assignment Skills for Basic Training.
Surviving a Career just means you made it through successfully without any mishaps that would drive you from the Career.
Failing to “survive” doesn’t mean your character is dead, it just means something happened that made it necessary for them to leave the Career at this time.
For military characters, this can mean an injury in combat has forced them out.
For civilian characters, it could mean a conflict of interest or a scandal has driven them from their Career before they wanted to leave on their own.
Characters who fail their Survival roll must leave this Career this Term and cannot try to return to it for at least one Term. They must also roll on the Mishaps table and lose their Benefit roll this Term.
Now that your character has survived, it’s time for a Career-related Event!
Events can be good or bad and some even offer roleplaying opportunities along the way. For instance, as a Law Enforcement Officer, you may be offered a bribe. You can choose to take the bribe and gain an Ally in the crime world, or you can choose to turn them in, collecting a bounty and gaining an Enemy in the crime world instead.
Events are a great addition to Traveller and provide a way for characters to be connected with a common history and add a rich and exciting background history for your character to start the game with.
You might sometimes be directed to the Life Events table. This handles events outside of your Career; things that could happen to anybody.
Events are a fun way to add depth to your character’s history and backstory.
Every Career has an associated Advancement roll.
Next, there is Advancement. This determines if your character is given a promotion in their chosen Career.
If your Advancement roll is equal to or less than the number of terms you spent in this career, you must choose a different career next term.
On the other hand, if you roll a natural 12 (two 6s on the dice) you MUST continue in this Career next term.
Advancement comes with an increase in Rank and an extra Benefits roll and sometimes gives the character additional Skills.
Military characters can try for a Commission which makes them a Rank 1 officer then they progress on the officer table after that.
Characters who gain a Commission don’t get to try for Advancement in the same term but they can try for Advancement if they fail to gain a Commission.
Mustering Out Benefits
Each Career has a selection of Cash or Benefits that your character can earn by serving Terms in the Career and advancing in Rank. Characters collect these Benefits when they Muster Out or leave their Career for any reason (except failing Survival). Some Careers give you more cash reserves, some give you ships or ship shares, and some give you personal development stat increases.
Be sure to keep the Mustering Out benefits in mind when choosing a career,
At the end of each Term, your character is considered to have aged four years. Add 4 years to your age and if you are now 34 or older you risk injuring yourself at work and might have to roll on the Injury table.
If you get injured during character creation, either by a Life Event, Career Event, or Aging, you might start the game with medical debt.
In Traveller you may have Connections with other players before adventuring. If two players agree then an Event rolled up for one might logically involve the other. If the players can come up with how they are linked through a common Event they can BOTH get an extra skill of their choice. Up to two additional skills can be gained from the Connections rule and each Connection has to be with a different player.
Choosing Whether To Continue
It’s up to the player to decide if they want their character to continue in their current Career, change Careers, or end character generation.
A few things to consider at this point:
- Are you happy with the selection and level of your Skills?
- Are you willing to risk injury due to Aging?
If the answer to #1 is no, then keep going! Either change Careers to broaden your Skill selection, or stay in the same Career to try to raise your existing Skills.
If the answer to #2 is yes, or doesn’t apply to you because your character is younger than 34 then consider staying in the current Career to raise existing Skills or try a new Career to broaden your character’s areas of expertise.
Getting Something Unexpected
Due to the randomness of character generation, you could end up with a character you didn't expect, or even one you don't want to play.
"I wanted a space marine, I got an entertainer"
We will address the lack of player agency in Traveller character creation in another post.
For now, if you hate the character you rolled, just roll up another.
As a Referee/GM, you could have a stack of misfit characters people didn't want for pickup games, or in cases where players rolled a crappy character and you just want to start gaming - let them choose from the stack of unwanted characters.
Traveller Career Summary
In conclusion, Traveller RPG Careers offer a wide range of options for players to explore and experience. From the rugged and adventurous life of a scout to the high-tech and cerebral path of a scientist, there is something for everyone.
Whether you're a seasoned veteran or new to the game, Traveller RPG careers offer endless possibilities for exploration and adventure.
With its rich and detailed setting, Traveller is a game that truly allows players to create their own stories and shape their destinies.
Your Turn. What Do You Do?
What Careers would YOU choose? Why?
Please share with us in the Comments section below.
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