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John Law: Character Generation for Classic Traveller/MegaTraveller

This article was originally posted to the pre-magazine Freelance Traveller website in 2002, and was lightly edited to appear in this form in the June/July 2014 issue.

Introduction

MegaTraveller introduced the Law Enforcer career, but provided only the brief Classic Traveller Book 1 style of character generation. This article provides an expanded, High Guard/Mercenary style character generation system for the Law Enforcer career.

Character Generation

Enlistment

After rolling the personal characteristics for your character, roll 2D for enlistment with DMs as shown below. If enlistment fails, select an alternate service as usual, either by draft or by attempting to enlist in other services. Enlistment is for a term of four years. After each term, the character may either leave the service voluntarily or roll 2D for Reenlistment. Failing the reenlistment roll results in discharge.
 

Enlistment Roll 8+
  DM +1 if: STR 8+
  DM +2 if: INT 8+
Re-Enlistment Roll 5+

At the referee’s discretion, a character discharged from one service may attempt to enlist in another, with a DM of -1 applied to the enlistment roll for each full four years of age over age 18.

Automatic Skills

Certain skills are gained automatically by police characters, representing initial training. Once enlisted in the Police, the character gains the following skills: Streetwise-1, Gun Combat-1 (usually with a pistol), and Vehicle-0. Police gain Leader-1 upon attaining rank 2 (Sergeant) and Liaison-1 upon reaching rank 3 (Lieutenant).

Automatic skills are never cumulative. For example, if a Police Officer with Leader-2 reaches Sergeant, he or she does not gain Leader-3.

Assignment

Once enlisted in the Police, the character rolls 2D and consults the following table to determine duty assignment. Once assigned to a particular duty, the character remains in that duty until he or she opts to change in a given year and makes the Change Assignment roll associated with the duty, or until the Change Assignment roll is 10+ whether the character wishes to change or not. The following year, roll again for assignment. Assignment is retained from year to year and across a term reenlistment unless the change roll is made.
 

Assignment Table
2 Disciplinary Action   8 Beat Cop
3 Detective   9 Elite Force
4 Detective   10 Elite Force
5 Desk Job   11 High-Tech Investigation*
6 Beat Cop   12 Internal Affairs
7 Beat Cop      

* Not available if local TL is TL7-. Treat as “Elite Force” in such cases.

Assignment Resolution

First, make a 2D roll for Survival; failure of this roll results in a severe injury sufficient to discharge the character from service. The referee determines the injury and its results; the character should be rendered “interesting” rather than “unplayable” as a result. If both Intelligence and Endurance are 8 or over, there is a +1 to the survival roll.

Next, roll 2D for Skill; if the roll is made, the character gain a skill from one of the available tables. The Police Life table is always available; the Advanced Education table is available to characters with EDU 8+, and the Assignment Skill table corresponding to the current Assignment is available. The character is not eligible for a skill roll in any year in which they obtain an automatic skill, including their first year of enlistment.

Cascade skills allow the player their choice of the listed skills; Gun Combat, Blade Combat, and Vehicle are the standard cascades for the game system in use. Vice is a cascade of Bribery, Forgery, Carousing, Gambling, or Intrusion. Hacking skill is a selective combination of Intrusion and Computer, and covers both illicit access to electronic systems and detection thereof.

Third, roll 2D for a Special event; if the roll is made, consult the Specials table.

Next, roll 2D for promotion. Police characters start at rank of Rank 1 (Officer/Detective) and advance one rank every time the promotion roll is made. Promotion from Rank 3 to Rank 4, or Rank 4 to Rank 5 carries a DM of -1; promotion from Rank 5 to Rank 6 carries a DM of -2.Only one promotion is possible per four-year term. Police gain automatic skills of Leader-1 at rank 2 and Liaison-1 at rank 3.

Finally, roll 2D for Change of Assignment. If the roll is 10+, the character’s assignment changes the following year, like it or not. If the indicated number or above is thrown, the character may change assignment if desired.

Assignment Descriptions

Disciplinary Action: The character has been accused of misconduct. This results in a Beat Cop type of assignment, but the character is on probation, and must keep squeaky-clean. Resolve as normal for Beat Cop, but do not roll for promotion, and apply the following changes:

This character henceforth has a permanent DM-1 for promotion. This DM is cumulative.

Detective: The character is assigned to investigate major crimes: murders, grand thefts, grevious assaults, and so on.

Desk Job: The character is assigned to administrative tasks, and does little if any field work.

Beat Cop: The character patrols the streets, doing a significant amount of deterrence as well as criminal investigation.

Elite Force: This assignment includes special units such as the Vice Squad (or Public Morals Division), Anti-Terrorist/Hostage Rescue teams, and task forces targeted at specific “popular” crimes.

High Tech Investigation: The character is assigned to combat High Tech Crime. If the world’s tech level is 7 or below, treat this result as “Elite Force”.

Internal Affairs: The character investigates the activities of other police. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

 

Assignment Resolution Table
Assignment Detective Desk Job Beat Cop Elite Force High Tech Internal Affairs
Survival* 6+ 3+ 5+ 6+ 3+ 4+
Skill 7+ 8+ 8+ 7+ 7+ 6+
Special 7+ 9+ 8+ 7+ 7+ 5+
Promotion* 8+ 10+ 10+ 8+ 9+ 9+
Change 6+ 7+ 8+ 6+ 5+ 6+

* Survival DM +1 if INT 8+ and END 8+
* Promotion DM -1 if Rank 3 or Rank 4; DM -2 if Rank 5

 

Skill Tables
  Police Life Adv Edu(2) Detective Desk Job Beat Cop Elite Force High Tech(3) Internal Affairs
1 +1 STR +1 EDU Streetwise Admin Streetwise Medical Computer Liaison
2 +1 DEX +1 INT Forensics Admin Brawling Demolitions Liaison Interrogation
3 Svc Weap Cbt(1) Computer(3) Interrogation Forgery Vehicle Spcl Weap Cbt(4) Streetwise Admin
4 Vehicle Leader Computer(3) Computer(3) Carousing Vice(2) Hacking Computer(3)
5 Brawling Interrogation Svc Weap Cbt(1) Legal Jack-o-T Vehicle Electronic Leader
6 Streetwise Legal Brawling Instruction Interrogation Interrogation +1 Education Legal

(1) Standard service issue weapon.
(2) Advanced Education available for characters with EDU 8+ only
(3) Not available below TL8. See Low-Tech Alternatives
(4) “Special weapon” refers to a weapon, other than the standard issue service weapon, which may be used in exceptional situations (e.g., hostage situations). At referee’s discretion, Tactics may be substituted

 

Special Events Table
1 Corruption
2 On Trial
3 Vendetta
4 Hero
5 Journey
6 Patron

 

Table of Ranks
1 Constable or Officer or Detective*
2 Sergeant
3 Lieutenant
4 Captain
5 Inspector
6 Chief or Commissioner

* Detective is used if the character has ever held a Detective assignment.

Special Event Resolution

When a special event is indicated, roll 1D on the special events table. Consult the following descriptions for the special events.

On Trial: The character is arrested on suspicion of a serious crime. The character may or may not actually be guilty. The character may allocate legal fees if he or she has any money (from reward money, corruption takings, previous careers and the like) in increments of Cr5000. 2D are rolled. The character’s current SOC and (legal fees/Cr5000) are added to the roll. The number of previous trials the character has faced are subtracted from the roll, and if the character has spent any time in the Rogue career, the number of terms so spent is also subtracted. If the law level of the world involved is known, (5-law level) is added. With all modifiers totalled up, consult the following table. If a sentence is indicated, go to Prison Time, below. Add or subtract the indicated modifier to the character’s SOC. SOC below 2 should be retained for posterity and amusement; the minimum SOC is 0. For the most extreme sentences, the referee should either simply write off the character or explain how the character gets out of jail. The player should have the option to write off a character and start over if the sentence would make the character too old for the player’s taste. If a Police character is tried, and does not end up either Jailed or Acquitted, his or her next assignment is automatically Disciplinary Action.

 

Trial Resolution
Result Sentence SOC Mod
0 or less Cruel and Unusual Punishment* -10
1 Death Sentence or Life Sentence* -8
2 Prison Time: 10D Years -6
3 Prison Time: 5D Years -5
4 Prison Time: 2D Years -4
5 Prison Time: 1D Years -3
6 Prison Time: 1D Years -2
7 Prison Time: 1D/2 Years (round up) -2
8 Prison Time: 1D/2 Years (round up) -1
9 Prison Time: 1 Year -1
10 Prison Time: 6 Months; no jail skill roll -1
11 Prison Time: 90 Days; no jail skill roll. -1
12 Guilty of Misdemeanor; fined 1DCr1000. 0
13 Guilty of Misdemeanor; fined 1DCr500. 0
14 Acquitted. 0
15 Acquitted. 0
16 or more Acquitted with publicity +1

* Referee’s discretion to explain survival/escape, or write off character.

Prison Time: If the character is sentenced to prison for any length of time, they are automatically discharged from Police service. At the referee’s discretion, the character may muster out normally, or the referee can determine what effects a criminal record has on other enlistment opportunities. After the first year of jail, and every 4 years in jail thereafter, roll 1D on the Jail Skills Table to see what skill is gained while in jail. In the first year, the skill must be taken from the Convict Life table; later rolls may be taken on the Trustee table at the player’s discretion if the character has EDU 9+. No Jail Skill roll is made if the character is sentenced to less than one year. If the character is only fined, and does not serve jail time, the next five years of assignments are all automatically Disciplinary Action, and the character has an automatic cumulative DM –3 for future promotion.

 

Jail Skills Table
  Convict Life Trustee
1 Brawling Legal (Max level 2)
2 Brawling Gambling
3 Streetwise Vice
4 +1 STR Admin (Max level 2)
5 +1 END +1 EDU
6 +1 END Steward

Patron: Someone with money or power, possibly a political or underworld figure, owes the character a favor, or considers him or her trustworthy enough to consider for a future job. This special may be “traded in” and lost to cancel Prison Time received later in the career process. The referee determines any other effects of the Patron.

Vendetta: The character has made an enemy. The referee determines future encounters with the enemy.

Hero: The character did something brave and hazardous, and had his or her fifteen minutes of fame as a result. +1 SOC plus the result of 1D rolled on the following table:

 

Hero Reward
1 +1 SOC (total +2)
2 1DCr500 reward money
3 High Passage
4 Medal, Plaque, etc., worth 1DCr10
5 Busy Year: Resolve the next year twice, applying all results. The character ages only one year.
6 Traveller’s Aid Society Membership

Journey: The character’s career takes him or her to several other star systems, possibly as an exchange program. The character gains +1 EDU and a skill rolled on the following table.

 

Journey Skills
1 Gunnery or Commo (Referee’s discretion)
2 Liaison
3 Vehicle or Ship’s Boat (Referee’s discretion)
4 Vacc Suit
5 Carousing
6 Zero-G Combat

Corruption: The character becomes aware of corruption on the force. The player has a choice; he or she can either Blow The Whistle or Join The Party. If an enemy is made from Blowing The Whistle, or if money is gained from Joining The Party, roll 1D; on 4+, the character’s next assignment will be Disciplinary Action.

 

Blow the Whistle
1 The character is discharged at the end of the current year.
2 The character is falsely imprisoned; resolve a Prison Term as above.
3 The character makes an enemy; resolve a Vendetta as above.
4 The character makes an enemy; resolve a Vendetta as above.
5 The character becomes a Hero as above.
6 The character becomes a Hero as above.
Join the Party
1 The character is caught and jailed; resolve a Prison Term as above.
2 The character is caught and jailed; resolve a Prison Term as above.
3 The character pockets Cr1000.
4 The character skims Cr5000.
5 The character scores Cr10000.
6 The character heists Cr20000.

Mustering Out

When leaving a service, the character makes rolls for mustering out benefits. One roll is allowed per four year term served or portion thereof; Police of rank 3 or 4 gain an extra roll; Police of rank 5 or 6 gain another extra roll. Rolls on the cash table gain a +1 if the character has Gambling skill; rolls on the material benefits table for Police of rank 5 or 6 gain +1. No more than three rolls may be made on the cash table in any event.

 

Mustering-Out Benefits
  Material Benefits Cash Benefits
1 Low Passage 2000
2 Middle Passage 5000
3 Gun 10000
4 Watch 10000
5 Forensics Kit (if char has Forensics skill, else +1 EDU) 20000
6 High Passage 30000
7 Traveller’s Aid Society 40000

Customizing the Career

Different cultures have different needs for policing. For color, consider some of the following customizations:

Service Issue Weapons

For many cultures, this will be a gun skill, most likely Pistol or Revolver. However, there are places where the police might not routinely carry guns, in which case you might want to have the issue weapon be a sword (which uses Blade, Sword, or Cutlass skill, depending on type), a knife/dagger (uses Dagger skill), or a nightstick/baton (which uses Club skill). Alternatively, in a really tough environment, heavier armament may be standard, such as a shotgun, submachinegun, or carbine (use appropriate skill). Whichever you choose, substitute it for “Service Weapon Combat” in the skill tables.

Low Tech Alternatives

High Tech Investigation capability is unlikely to be available on worlds below TL8. Instead, treat this assignment as though it were “Elite Force”. Also, where “Computer” skill is awarded, choose an alternative appropriate to the tech level - in most cases, Admin will do nicely, although a detective might have the opportunity to gain Forgery or Intrusion skill instead.

Similarly, “Vehicle” may be changed to “Animal Handling” if the TL is low enough (TL 5-).

Rank

Feel free to adjust the rank titles as you see fit. Some suggestions might be “Subaltern” for “Lieutenant”, “Marshal” for “Chief”, “Major”, “Commandant”, or “Colonel” for “Inspector”, or just translate the terms into another language. Also, the extended character generation sequences in the original Traveller introduced a more detailed rank system, with up to 10 enlisted ranks plus up to 10 commissioned ranks. If you wish to use such an extended rank system, either add a roll for Commission to the Assignment Resolution Procedure (recommended: target number is promotion +1), or assume that a character must progress through all the ranks, going from E10 to O1 as a normal promotion. If you chose the latter, remove the one-per-term limit on promotions, and allow a promotion every year.

Depending on local culture, the table may look like that for one of the military arms, or it might be completely different. A sample rank table, based on the New York City rank structure, might be:

 

Ext. Rank Title Equiv. Basic Rank   Ext. Rank Title Equiv. Basic Rank
E1 Recruit 1   O1 Lieutenant 3
E2 Officer 1   O2 Captain 4
E3 Corporal 2   O3 Deputy Inspector 4
E4 Sergeant 2   O4 Inspector 5
        O5 Deputy Chief 5
        O6 Assistant Chief 5
        O7 Bureau Chief 6
        O8 Chief 6
        O9 Commissioner 6

Note that for the purposes of DMs affected by rank, the Equivalent Basic Rank is used.

Journey Alternatives

A journey might be an exchange program with a police department elsewhere. At the referee’s discretion, instead of the simple +1 EDU, the character may be awarded a skill level in a skill that might not be available on the homeworld—for example, if the exchange is to a lower TL, where the police ride horses instead of using air-rafts, the character might get Animal Handling.