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The Science of Adventure: An Introduction to Science and Technical Skills in Traveller RPG

The Science of Adventure: An Introduction to Science and Technical Skills in Traveller RPG

In the Mongoose Traveller RPG, science and technical skills can play a crucial role in the success of missions and adventures, adding depth and excitement to gameplay through unique talents and knowledge.

(The Final entry in the 11-part series The Ultimate Guide to Playing Mongoose Traveller RPG)

The Mongoose Traveller RPG is a game of exploration, discovery, and adventure in the far reaches of space.  To survive in this universe, characters rely on a variety of skills, including scientific and technical expertise.  In this article, we’ll talk about how science skills are acquired and how they could come into play during a typical Traveller campaign.


Science skills are a useful part of any Traveller character’s skillset.  Science skills can be obtained in various ways, such as through gameplay or independent study.  Science experience can also come from the character’s background, their university education, and their specific career paths, like Citizen, Entertainer, Noble, and Scout.  However, the easiest way to learn science and technical skills is through the Scholar career path.

The scholar is an ideal career for characters who want to specialize in academic pursuits, such as research and study.  It provides a comprehensive education in a range of scientific skills, making it a natural choice for players who want to play characters that are scientists, researchers, or explorers.  During their scholarly career, characters gain expertise across a breadth of topics such as astronomy, cybernetics, planetology, psionicology, robotics, xenology, and more.

Doing Things… With SCIENCE!

Science skills are often overlooked, but characters who use their scientific knowledge to help them overcome obstacles and achieve goals within the game can gain an edge.  Use Science skills to add depth and nuance to your game.  Don’t forget the SCIENCE in “science fiction”!

For example, in exploring a mysterious and long-forgotten civilization, the characters must navigate ancient ruins in search of clues and artifacts, while also delving into the unknown to establish meaningful contact with a strange new species. Their knowledge of archaeology and xenology will prove invaluable in unlocking the secrets of this world and communicating with its alien inhabitants.

Other examples of when Science specializations might come into play:

  • A character with expertise in Xenology could study and catalog the various alien life forms they encounter, potentially discovering new species or gaining valuable insights into their behaviors and abilities. They could also identify weaknesses or vulnerabilities of alien creatures to better prepare for combat or negotiation.
  • A Geneticist could help identify a strange alien disease or mutation and help figure out the cure.  They could also design custom lifeforms in the lab.
  • A linguistics specialist could be vital in communicating with alien or unfamiliar cultures, avoiding cultural misunderstandings and potentially saving the team from dangerous situations.
  • A character with a specialization in Planetology could create detailed maps and reports on the planets they visit, including information on the terrain, weather patterns, and indigenous life forms. They could also analyze soil and mineral samples to identify valuable resources.
  • A Physicist could assist the team in understanding and navigating through unusual or difficult environments, such as traversing through a spatial rift or traveling through a wormhole.
  • A character with a background in Robotics could create a custom robot companion or security drone to assist them on their travels. They could also repair damaged or malfunctioning robots they come across, or hack into them to reprogram their functions.
  • A character with knowledge of Chemistry could create custom chemicals or drugs, such as a potent explosive or a powerful healing serum. They could also analyze substances they come across to determine their properties and potential uses.

These are just a few examples, and the possibilities for using science skills in RPG adventures are endless. The key is to use the unique talents and knowledge of each character to add depth and excitement to the gameplay, creating a truly immersive and engaging experience.

Making Things… With SCIENCE!

Characters can use their science skills to develop new technologies or modify existing ones.  For example, a character with expertise in robotics might be able to modify a robot to perform a specific task that it is not programmed for, or they could repair a malfunctioning or damaged robot.

  • Archaeologists could use their skills to uncover lost artifacts or ancient technology, such as a powerful weapon or an advanced starship design.
  • Astronomers could discover new systems, planets, or anomalies that could be exploited for resources or scientific study.
  • Biologists could develop new medicines or genetically modify organisms for various purposes, such as improving crop yields or creating new food sources.
  • Cosmologists could explore the origins of the universe or discover new phenomena, such as wormholes or dark matter.
  • Economists could analyze market trends and predict the future of various industries or invest in profitable ventures.
  • Geneticists could create custom organisms or even modify humans for specific traits or abilities.
  • Linguists could translate ancient texts or communicate with alien species.
  • Physicists could invent new energy sources or develop advanced weaponry.
  • Planetologists could discover new resources or terraform planets for habitation.
  • Psionicologists could study and harness the power of psionic abilities for various purposes.
  • Psychologists could develop new therapies or study the effects of long-term space travel on human psychology.
  • Roboticists could design and build new robots or upgrade existing ones for various tasks, such as exploration, construction, or combat.
  • Sophontologists could study the behavior and culture of intelligent species or develop methods of communication with them.
  • Xenologists could study the biology and behavior of alien life forms or even develop new ways to communicate with them.

With the right skills and resources, the possibilities are endless. The future of the universe is in the hands of those with scientific knowledge and expertise.

In short, in a world where science is king, those with scientific knowledge and skills are highly valued and have the potential to shape the future. So if you have a passion for science, let your imagination run wild and see what kind of innovative technologies and solutions you can create!

Calling All Scientists!

Science skills are not just practical, but they also add depth and complexity to any character. For example, a character with a background in linguistics may be able to communicate effectively with various cultures, making them an asset in encounters with aliens. Alternatively, a character with knowledge of philosophy could provide a unique perspective on the universe, offering valuable insights into cultures, beliefs, and characters they encounter on their adventures.

Science skills are essential for any Traveller character, and they can be acquired through various means such as character background, university education, or career choices, especially within the Scholar career.

In the Traveller universe, science skills are crucial for solving problems, overcoming obstacles, discovering new things, and creating innovative solutions. Whether your character is an explorer, a scientist, or any other profession, science skills will be an invaluable asset on their journey through the universe.


Your Turn.  What Do You Do?

What are some of your favorite Science and Technical skills?

Please share with us in the Comments section below.

Want More?

Enjoyed these insights on science and technical 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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