15 Jun 2015

Traveller to Firefly - A Retired Imperial Naval Officer

I'm back to playing around with MWP's Firefly RPG, seeing how much work is needed to use it for Traveller's Third Imperium.  So far, I've looked at converting a character, Maera, to Cortex+ and rebuilt the IMS TANSTAAFL for the system.  In both cases, the results felt about right.  I'm almost comfortable with the proof of concept.  The next step is to create a character that will fit into the Imperium without going through any of the previous Traveller character creation methods.

Most Traveller editions use careers as a starting point for character creation.  The exception, GURPS Traveller, uses a point build, but still has templates for the various possible careers.  The careers are a good starting point; both Traveller and Firefly assume established, competent characters*.  I just need to establish a few variables.  First is year.  The Third Imperium has over 1100 years of history (links to a .pdf), with its predecessors going back another 10 000 years and other key events going back millions of years prior.  The Imperium has been involved in a number of wars, including a civil war, since its creation.  While having an ongoing war does allow for a number of instant plots, I'm going with 1105, two years before the Fifth Frontier War and the start point for Mongoose Traveller.  The Imperium is in a good spot, with some Cold War-like maneuverings with both the Zhodani Consulate and the Solomani Confederation, with minor skirmishes occurring along border regions, not to forget Vargr pirates and Aslan expansion.  The technology allows for ships with high jump capability, allowing for greater mobility, though it still takes a couple of years to cross the Imperium.

Time set, now I need to work out what sort of character.  Fortunately, the Third Imperium provides for a range there.  One common character in Traveller games is the former member of the Imperial Navy.  Because the Imperium is so vast, it takes a large space navy to keep the travel lanes safe for merchant traffic.  The Navy is also considered the most prestigious military organization in the Imperium, with children of nobles serving to learn leadership** skills.  A former or retired Naval officer may be the way to go.  Sector Fleet goes into much further detail about the Imperial Navy, which will colour how the character creation goes.

One note before continuing - the Third Imperium has nothing in common with the Empire from Star Wars.  Emperor Strephon isn't the embodiment of evil and the Third Imperium exists to maintain trade between member worlds.  The Imperial Navy is no more an instrument of terror than the Royal Navy is today.  Members of the Navy, enlisted and officers both, have a variety of reasons for joining, from a sense of duty to wanting to see the stars to being drafted.  There is no representative of the Emperor sitting in a dreadnought choking admirals who fail in their duties.

Step 0: (Not mentioned in the book) Concept
The son of a noble family who has retired from the Imperial Navy as an officer after serving on board a number of vessels and bases.  Most nobles wind up on a command path after serving in other roles.  This one, though, remained in Engineering, eschewing leadership for being in the right place when needed.  Retirement came with the choice of "up or out", become a command line officer or leave the service.

Oh, right, a name***.  One of the worst parts of character creation, really.  But, "Hey, you!" won't work all the time.  Please meet Commander Baron Montgomery "Monty" Boothroyd, a nod to Montgomery Scott of Star Trek, played by James Doohan, and Major Boothroyd, aka Q, of the James Bond films, played by Desmond Llewellyn.

Step 1: Choose Attributes
I don't see any one attribute being greater than the others with the character.  Each attribute starts a d8.

Step 2: Choose Distinctions
Two that stand out right away are Gentry and Ship's Mechanic.  That covers Cmdr. Boothroyd's background nicely.  Other Distinctions that might work are Alliance Officer (to reflect his rank in the Navy) and Engineer (since he was).  A look at the other categories - Background and Personality - show nothing, so Engineer becomes the third.

Step 3: Choose Distinction Triggers
Time to choose two Distinction triggers.  The first comes from Engineer, Rush Job, allowing Boothroyd to add a beat in a timed action in exchange for a Complication.  The second is from Ship's Mechanic; Miracle Worker, allowing him to gain a Big Damn Hero die in exchange for temporarily reducing his Fix skill.

Step 4: Step Up Skills
Each Distinction skill gets stepped up.  The nine points I have to spend on skills after are used to increase Fix to d12, Operate to d8, Know to d8, Notice to d6, Shoot to d6, and Fly to d8.  He's focused on being a ship's engineer, but can get around in an air/raft if needed.  Just don't rely on him in a fight.

Step 5: Choose Specialties or Signature Assets
Every character with a Know skill of d6 or higher gets a free specialty there.  Boothroyd is no different; he grabs Imperial Navy as his.  With the five points he gets to spend, he takes Jump Drive as a specialty of Fix, Gauss Pistols as a specialty of Shoot, Cooking as a specialty of Craft, and his tool belt as a d8 Signature Asset.  I could have taken his service pistol as an asset, but engineering tends to not get involved in boarding actions unless its their ship being boarded.  Cooking personalizes Monty a bit more.

Step 6: Biographical Info
At this point, I should work out Monty's family, his homeworld, and the like.  A lot will depend on location.  The sheer size of the Imperium means I want a homeworld close to if not within the sector of play.  Thus, if the game were set in the Spinward Marches, I'd choose Glisten or Trin, or, if the game were near the Solomani Rim, Wulfe or Port Royal in the Alpha Crucis Sector.  Monty's last ship was a capital vessel, given his rank.  A smaller ship would mean he was in charge, something he didn't want.  The rest is to work out how he got with the rest of the Crew of the campaign.  That would need other players.

Character Sheet

Name: Baron Montgomery "Monty" Boothroyd, Commander (retired), Imperial Navy
Background: Retired Imperial Navy engineer.

Mental: d8        Physical: d8        Social: d8

 Craft        d6        Cooking
 Drive        d6
 Fight        d4
 Fix        d12        Jump Drive
 Fly        d8
 Focus        d6
 Influence    d4
 Know        d8        Imperial Navy
 Labour        d4
 Move        d4
 Notice        d6
 Operate    d8
 Perform    d4
 Shoot        d6        Gauss Pistols
 Sneak        d4
 Survive        d4
 Throw        d6
 Treat        d4
 Trick        d4

Engineer: d8
   Gain 1 Plot Point when you roll a d4 instead of a d8.
   Rush Job: During a Timed Action that requires repairs or construction, you may
      take or increase a Shoddy Workmanship Complication to add an extra beat.

Gentry: d8
   Gain 1 Plot Point when you roll a d4 instead of a d8

Ship's Mechanic: d8
   Gain 1 Plot Point when you roll a d4 instead of a d8
   Miracle Worker: If you replace your Fix skill with a d4 for your next roll, gain a
      Big Damn Hero Die equal to that skill's normal rating is the roll is successful.

Signature Assets:
   Tool Belt: d8
      It's the tool belt he was assigned when he graduated from the Academy, one
      that has stayed with him for every assignment.  He knows exactly where
      everything is.
Feedback is welcome.  If you wind up using Monty in some form, let me know!

* In working on the ReBoot hack of Firefly, I noticed there is no distinction applicable for kids, which adds a new complication for building Enzo.
** Much the same way the British Royal Family is involved in the military.  Prince Andrew served in the Royal Navy as a helicopter pilot during the Falkland Islands War.
*** I'm not allowed to name children, given the names I give to characters.

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