28 Jul 2013

NaNo Prep 2013/Fun With Traveller - Connections

I have my cast, at least as character sheets, though personalities are starting to solidify.  The ship has someone in each position; some have multiple people, which is not a bad thing for a vessel heading out to places unknown.  Now, how do Philomena, Spencer, Miryim, and Cuddy know each other?  Why would Spencer, a detatched Scout, bring along an administrator, a cashiered major, and an alien drifter with him?  He'd be better off alone, unless he knew his travelling buddies.  Fortunately, Mongoose's Traveller has a neat optional rule called "Connections".

The idea is that each player character knows two others, making a ship crew less a "Hey, you look like a trustworthy fellow," and more a group venture with trusted friends.  The benefit to the players is that their characters get a bonus skill for each connection, up to two.  The PCs become closer knit, the players get extra skills in a system where skills define a PC's role, and the GM gets information to use and abuse.  In the Traveller story, I can use the the Connections rule to get my cast together.  I just have to figure out when and where they met.

As a reminder, the characters' events from oldest to most recent:
20 years ago:
Cuddy: Enlisted in Imperial Army, Infantry Branch.  Assigned to an urbanized planet torn by war
Philomena: Still in secondary school.
Spencer: Enlisted in Scout Service, Survey Branch.  Served as the courier for an important message from the Imperium; promoted
Miryim: Enlisted in Confederation Navy, Bridge Branch.  On secondment to the Imperium, fought in brutal space battle; promoted
16 years ago:
Cuddy: Given advanced training in a specialist skill; commissioned
Philomena: Enlisted, Imperial Navy, Crew Branch.  Mishap: during battle, achieved victory at the guns; honourably discharged
Spencer: Spent time jumping world to world in his ship.
Miryim: Enlisted in Merchant Marine.  Befriend an ally in one sphere; promoted
12 years ago:
Cuddy: Surrounded and outnumbered, held out until relief arrived; promoted
Philomena: Became a Noble as Adminstrator.  Time as ruler gives me wide range of experience; promoted
Spencer: Spent great deal of time on fringes; met alien contact; promoted.
Miryim: Mishap - superior takes a dislike to me.
8 years ago:
Cuddy: Switched to Cavalry.  Given advanced training in a specialist skill; promoted
Philomena: Reign acclaimed by all as fair and wise except for one unhappy person
Spencer: transferred to Courier Branch.  Life Event: Made a new contact.
Miryim: Became Drifter.  Life Event - Severely injured; promoted.
4 years ago:
Cuddy: Mishap: Unit slaughtered in a disastrous battle, blamed on commander
Philomena: Mishap: Political maneuverings usurps my position
Spencer: Transferred to Exploration Branch.  Spent great deal of time on fringes; met alien contact; unable to continue service.
Miryim: Picked up useful skills here and there; promoted.
First up, an obvious connection is Spencer and Miryim.  In Spencer's fifth term (labelled "4 years ago", above), he met an alien that became a contact for him.  Darrians, despite being a species of Humaniti*, do count as aliens.  Miryim, meanwhile, is drifting around, being curious.  The two hit it off one day at a Darrian starport.  Miryim hitches a ride with Spencer, and the two just talk, finding out more about where the other came from.  For Spencer, he made a friend who understood his need to wander.  This allows me to get Miryim into Imperial space without months of travel and shows Spencer how handy it is to have a partner or three with him.

Meanwhile, Philomena and Cuddy met in his fourth term and her third (labelled "8 years ago").  Cuddy had just transferred to the Cavalry branch and was sent for training.  Philomena was doing well, other than getting on the wrong side of a real estate speculator.  There's nothing in the events that really tie the two together, except the specialist school could have been on Philomena's world.  This led me to the idea that Philomena and Cuddy dated.  They broke up by the time Cuddy returned to active duty, but were still on speaking terms, enough that if Philomena ran into troubles, he would be there for her to lean on.  The past romance also will allow me to tease shippers - will they or won't they get back together?

With the two groupings worked out, I have to bridge them, ideally through Spencer.  It is his ship, after all.  Connecting Spencer with Cuddy means Philomena is a tag-along, an idea that doesn't sit well with me.  First, Philomena was the first character created.  Turning her into the appendix is a waste of her.  Second, having a woman brought along by a man three thousand years** into the future strikes me has backwards.  I need Philomena and Spencer connected.  I don't want to take away any more of Spencer's contacts, so it looks like either sixteen years ago or twelve years ago, they met.  I'll go with sixteen years ago - Spencer's second and Philomena's first - for the meeting; Philomena was off getting shot up and earning a medal while Spencer world-hopped.  There are a few worlds that have both an Imperial Naval base and a Scout base; the two may have crossed paths several times, with Philomena having someone she can trust outside the Naval hierarchy to talk to about her experience after her discharge.  The two did remain in touch through mail*** and the occasional face-to-face meeting; Spencer knew where Philomena lived and had a ship.

Finally, Cuddy and Miryim have indeed met.  It was during their respective fourth terms ("8 years ago").  Cuddy was on the scene when Miryim crashed her grav bike.  He remembers her because a Darrian crashing a grav vehicle was relatively rare.  Miryim remembers the Imperial Army major who dashed to her aid.  So why does Philomena not have a connection?  She wasn't at the scene of the accident at the time, for one.  For another, Cuddy may have mentioned the accident to her afterwards.  "Class was a little slow, covering stuff I already knew.  Oh, there was a collision downtown.  A Darrian wrapped her grav bike around a lamppost.  I helped where I could.  She shattered her leg, but the hospital has her on Medicinal Slow**** to speed recovery."

For skills, Miryim picks up Langauge: Anglic 1 from spending time with Spencer and Flyer: Grav 1 from the crash.  Cuddy picks up Carouse 1 from trying to keep up with Philomena and Medic 1 from performing first aid on Miryim.  Spencer picks up Language: Te-zlodh, the Darrian main language, at 1 and increases Pilot: Spacecraft to 2, as he was at the battle, trying not to get shot up as Philomena's cruiser took on pirates.  Philomena decides on Comms at 1, learning how the communication systems on Spencer's ship works, and raises Persuade to 2 after dating Cuddy.

To wrap up character generation, the last thing to do is pick a group skill package and assign skills in it to the characters.  I'll go in order of character creation.  Philomena picks up Pilot: Spacecraft 1 and Gunner: Turret 1; to reflect her time in the Navy.  Spencer gains Gun Combat: Slug Pistol 1 and Medic 1 as part of his Scout Service training.  Miryim gets Persuade 1 and Comms 1, in part from time in the Merchant Marines and in part from her wandering.  Cuddy chooses Stealth 1 and Sensors 1, from his service in the Imperial Army.

The characters are mostly set for whatever plot I toss at them.  They need equipment, a starting place, and proper introductions.  At some point, I will write up some vignettes to get in their heads a bit.  For now, this wraps up the character creation for the Traveller project.

* Humaniti is Traveller's way of spelling humanity, to fit in with the various human species names, like the Solomani and Zhodani.
** Give or take.  The Third Imperium setting before the Fifth Frontier War is in Earth's fifty-seventh century.
*** The Imperium does have a mail system, the Express Boat (aka, the X-boat) system.  Spencer's time in the Courier branch involved getting mail from X-boat way stations to planets not on the route.
**** Medicinal Slow speeds up recovery times by accelerating the patient's metabolism.  The patient sees the world going by slower than normal.

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