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Traveller Character Creation: Best Background Skills

Traveller Character Creation: Best Background Skills

You are rolling up a new Traveller character and you aren't sure which Background Skills to choose. In this article, I will show you the best background skills for your Traveller character.

The Best Background Skills
For Traveller Characters

Which are best is a subjective thing; some skills are going to make more sense than others, considering the character's background or homeworld choice.

However, I have analyzed the skill charts for all the careers and I can tell you which Background Skills are best for each of the Traveller Careers.

Below is a list of careers listing Background Skills that will be canceled out with Basic Training, and a table showing Background SKills that can be gained randomly, along with how many times the skill appears on a Skill Table for that Career.

 


Agent

Background Skills To Avoid: 

  • Drive
  • Flyer
  • Streetwise

Background Skills Likely To Advance:

Rank Skill Entries
 1 Electronics 3
 2 Athletics, Carouse, Language, Medic, Vacc Suit 1

 


Army

Background Skills To Avoid: 

  • Athletics
  • Drive
  • Vacc Suit

Background Skills Likely To Advance:

Rank Skill Entries
1 Electronics 4
2 Flyer, Mechanic, Medic 2
3 Admin, Profession, Survival 1

 


Citizen

Background Skills To Avoid: 

  • Drive
  • Flyer
  • Profession
  • Streetwise

Background Skills Likely To Advance:

 Rank Skill Entries
 1 Electronics 3
 2 Admin, Animals, Art, Athletics, Carouse,
Language, Mechanic, Medic, Science, Survival
1

 


Drifter

Background Skills To Avoid: 

  • Athletics
  • Streetwise
  • Survival

Background Skills Likely To Advance:

Rank Skill Entries
1 Profession 2
2 Animals, Carouse, Drive, Language,
Mechanic, Seafarer, Vacc Suit
1

 


Entertainer

Background Skills To Avoid: 

  • Art
  • Carouse
  • Drive

Background Skills Likely To Advance:

Rank Skill Entries
1 Streetwise 3
2 Electronics 2
3 Athletics, Language, Profession, Science 1

 


Marine

Background Skills To Avoid: 

  • Athletics
  • Vacc Suit

Background Skills Likely To Advance:

Rank Skill Entries
 1 Electronics 3
 2 Medic 2
 3 Admin, Drive, Flyer, Mechanic, Survival 1

 


Merchant

Background Skills To Avoid: 

  • Drive
  • Electronics
  • Vacc Suit

Background Skills Likely To Advance:

Rank Skill Entries
1 Streetwise 3
2 Admin, Mechanic 2
3 Athletics, Language 1

 


Navy

Background Skills To Avoid: 

  • Athletics
  • Mechanic
  • Vacc Suit

Background Skills Likely To Advance:

Rank Skill Entries
1 Electronics 5
2 Flyer 3
3 Admin 2
4 Drive 1

 


Noble

Background Skills To Avoid: 

  • Admin
  • Electronics

Background Skills Likely To Advance:

Rank Skill Entries
1 Carouse 2
2 Art, Flyer, Language, Streetwise 1

 


Rogue

Background Skills To Avoid: 

  • Athletics
  • Streetwise

 

Background Skills Likely To Advance:

Rank Skill Entries
1 Electronics 2
2 Carouse, Drive, Medic, Vacc Suit 1

 


Scholar

Background Skills To Avoid: 

  • Drive
  • Electronics
  • Medic
  • Science

Background Skills Likely To Advance:

Rank Skill Entries
1 Language 2
2 Admin, Art, Survival, Vacc Suit 1

 


Scout

Background Skills To Avoid: 

  • Mechanic
  • Survival
  • Vacc Suit

Background Skills Likely To Advance:

Rank Skill Entries
1 Electronics 3
2 Science 2
3 Athletics, flyer, Medic, Seafarer, Streetwise 1

 



What are Background Skills?

In Traveller, your character gets a number of Background Skills that represent skills they may have picked up during their life previous to taking up a life of traveling.

In this article, I will be using the Mongoose Publishing Traveller 2nd Edition Rules as reference material.

Think of background skills as life experience your character acquired during their entire lives prior to their 18th birthday.

While you don't have to have a specific homeworld in mind at this point during character development, but thinking about where your character comes from can help inform your decision on Background SKills.

You can decide on your homeworld later; it could be a planet from the Traveller universe or it could be a vague far-away place that you don't go to anymore.  It's up to you to decide and your GM to approve.

Did your character grow up on a low tech farming planet, where they likely raised animals and had to fix things themselves?

Maybe your character is a part of a high-tech space-faring metropolitan civilization where nobody has to work and everybody is free to pursue personal interests?

Or maybe your character comes from a bonze-age water world with very little landmass and spent their childhood sailing and fishing?

One of the beauties of Traveller is that there is no limit to the possibilities, other than your imagination.

Take a moment to reflect on what type of character you want to play, where they come from, and where they might be going.

The nature of the Traveller career system is that your plans don't always work out the way you wanted and life throws you curves you may not be prepared for.

Even with the random paths that can sometimes take place, a character backstory that develops during Traveller character generation.

Coming up with vague character history, or at least a visual image of the character's homeworld can be extremely helpful. 

Your character will be more lifelike if they have goals, hopes, and dreams that guide their future path, and will have even more depth if they have life experience prior to adventuring that they can draw from.

Did your character ever have a summer job?  Did they have hobbies or maybe they were trained in the family business?

Did they have pets growing up?  Did they learn to drive? Maybe they played sports?

Now is a good time to plant the seed that will develop into a full-fledges Traveller adventurer!

There are 17 Background Skills to consider:

  • Admin
  • Animals
  • Art
  • Athletics
  • Carouse
  • Drive
  • Electronics
  • Flyer
  • Language
  • Mechanic
  • Medic
  • Profession
  • Science
  • Seafarer
  • Streetwise
  • Survival
  • Vacc Suit

Take a look at each entry, and consider how it may relate to your character's homeworld or personal background.

Some Background Skills are more relevant to certain homeworld types than others.

 

How Do You Get Background Skills?

 In Traveller you get Background SKills based on your education level (EDU).

Characters with more education have been trained to do more things; they have a broader life experience.

Think of it this way: children that received formal training in whatever they were interested in (or life forced on them) would be better at certain things because they received training either directly/formally or indirectly/casually.

For instance, if you work at the family business, you may have picked up the skills informally, just by being around the sho your whole life.

Likewise, if you were obsessed with sports as a kid, you may have picked up some skills around athletics, like knowing about different kinds of sports and even competing in them to a certain degree.

Or, maybe your life of hardship or privilege has given you specific skills as a child.

These are all different ways to think about where Background Skills can come from.  We all have them in real life and our characters should have them too.

 

How Many Background Skills Do You Get?

According to the Core Rules, you get 3+ your EDU modifier.

Depending on what race you are playing, you could end up with 0-6 free Background skills.

During Traveller character creation you roll 2D6, giving you a result of 2-12.

If you are playing a normal human character you would get 1-5 free Background Skills before your character even left home.

 

3 Background Skills To Avoid

Service Skills are important because you get them for free when you qualify for your first Career.

You may want to avoid taking any of these Background Skills because you will receive them for free at the same level (level 0) for free when you qualify for certain Careers.

The 3 Most Common Background Skills From Basic Training

The three Background SKills that appear most as Basic Training are:

  • Drive (6 Careers: Agent, Army, Citizen, Entertainer, Merchant, Scholar)
  • Athletics (5 Careers: Army, Drifter, Marine, Navy, Rogue)
  • Vacc Suit (5 Careers: Army, Navy, Scout, Merchant, Marine)

 

Background Skills To Avoid By Career

This is a list of the Background Skills to avoid, depending upon which Career you intend to enter as your first career.

 

Career Skills To Avoid
Agent Drive, Flyer, Streetwise
Army Athletics, Drive, Vacc Suit
Citizen Drive, Flyer, Profession, Streetwise
Drifter Athletics, Streetwise, Survival
Entertainer Art, Carouse, Drive
Marine Athletics, Vacc Suit
Merchant Drive, Electronics, Vacc Suit
Navy Athletics, Mechanic, Vacc Suit
Noble Admin, Electronics
Rogue Athletics, Streetwise
Scholar Drive, Electronics, Medic, Science
Scout Survival, Mechanic, Vacc Suit

 

Basically, if you plan to pursue any of the above Careers, you should avoid the associated background skill since you'll be getting it for free anyhow.

 

The Hardest Background Skills To Get

There are 3 background skills that are not on any Career Service Skill list.

That means these skills can only be obtained during the Background SKill phase of character generation, or through rolling on skill charts for the various careers.

The benefit to this is that if you take one of these Background Skills that you can't get as basic training then roll them up at any time during character creation, the skill is going to increase by 1 and you will avoid doubling-up on zero-level skills.

The three Background Skills that can only be acquired during the Background Skill phase or randomly through Career skills:

  • Animals
  • Language
  • Seafarer

 

The Most Common Background Skill

By far the Background Skill with the most entries on tables across all Careers is Electronics.

That makes total sense in a sci-fi genre game, especially since Electronics governs controlling and using computers.

 

What's Your Favorite Background Skill?

Is there a go-to skill that you make sure you have on all your characters?  Which one and why?

Let me know in the Comments area below.

 

 


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+2 # Jeremy Rector 2020-07-27 21:30
One of my favorite go-to background skills is language. Nothing like being able to communicate with other species. You might get nuances that you won't have with a translator, and the possibility that your knowledge of the language might also translate into some small knowledge of the culture as well. Common languages, or rarer ones, I've never been sorry to take it.
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