Monday, December 26, 2011


Every good character has a history.

Traveller is famous for its character generation system, which basically provides a character with a backstory in the form of a mini game that you play everytime you make a character...

5150 New Beginnings can use something like that (its actually occurred to me many times that Fringe Space + New Beginnings could arguably be called a different version of Traveller without the setting attached... it just feels very Traveller in the way it plays).

So, here's some of my ideas. I'm looking for any concepts I've missed... career paths, upbringings, that kinda thing.

A few notes on my interpretation of the New Beginnings rules: I view Professions as almost like a group of skills... if I have the pilot profession, then I have some of the pilot skills... this gives me a stat boost when performing certain actions (like piloting a ship). The specialization just allows more granularity... I may be a pilot, but if I'm specialized toward piloting Hull 5 ships (frigates and free traders, for the most part) then I'm better at flying one of those than a Fighter or Battleship. For this reason, characters going through the generation process below will end up looking fairly different from regular New Beginnings characters... though there is nothing in NB stopping you from acquiring many professions, it seems most people stick to one or two. So just keep that in mind.

Note that these are all somewhat biased towards the 5150 universe (for example, the different career paths of the Star Army are based on units in, well, Star Army) but 5150 is pretty generic anyway, so these could easily be translated to any setting.

All characters start as "Rank" 3 (this is the same as Rep in 5150 NB character generation, so you get two 3's, one 2, one 1, and one 0 for your stats... its just that Rep isn't privileged: you can have Rep be 2 or even the 1, in theory... not the 0, though).

All characters start with one RANDOM attribute and no professions. Characters are 18 years old. They may be Drop Outs or LWC at the beginning, though this may change at some points in the character creation process.

Characters choose one upbringing (before doing any of the above stuff):

Good Schooling: +1 Sci
Well Rounded: Get a second starting attribute. You may choose which table to roll on (though you still roll on said table).
Spacer: Grew up on ships. Starts out with profession: Pilot (any Hull specialty) or Spaceship Crew (engineer).
Street Kid: +1 Fit
Legacy: Starts with 1 level in Fame or Notoriety (your choice). Note that Fame and Notoriety will be a big help in getting good careers both in the character generation minigame and in the actual game, in addition to being a bonus to certain social situations (not that different from Paragon and Renegade in Mass Effect, if you're familiar).
Old Friends: Starts with 1d3 contacts or crew members (your choice). (Rank determined: 1=3, 2-5=4, 1=5)
Colonist: +1 Sav
Socialite: +1 Pep

It should be noted that Rep isn't particularly important for most 18 year olds... you'll gain Rep through your career more than your upbringing.

Alright, so now you know how things started out for your character... Time to get into adulthood!
Now, I could try to include every career known to man, but the fact is that players are going to be of a certain type... they're either gonna be soldiers, engineers, pilots, officers, merchants, criminals, or the medics that patch them up... (or of course a combination of these). I'll make sure to have room for some of the slightly more obscure but possibly still useful/interesting professions... courtesans, missionaries, that kinda thing.

Character's backstories are payed out by year.

In any career one can be promoted, as well, but this is not listed as a 'branch.'

Military Professions (often gives you Merc QRS)

Star Army (Branches out to Tanker, Rangers, and ISS (Brances out to ISS Special Ops)).
Planetary Defense Forces (also covers any normal planet's military, Planetary Militias, etc... pretty much regular troops vs. the Star Army's more Marine-ish status. Branches out into PDF Commandoes and PDF Armor)
Star Navy (Branches out to Engineers, Security/Marines, Pilots, and general Ship's Crew).
Gaea Prime Scout Service (no branching out, but this is a highly variable job that is generally focused on exploration and some transportation/communications.... private messages are often sent by ships, to avoid being picked up by enemies).
Department of Home Security (Branches out into COG)
Mercenary (no branching out- generally is a bit more random and balanced in provided skills).

It should be noted that of the various military professions, Star Army is pretty much 'in between' navy and planetary skill sets, PDF is entirely ground focused, and Marines provide a much heavier focus on skills useful on a ship... stuff like using targeting computers and fighting in zero G (you get negative modifiers otherwise).

Other Professions (various QRS)
Free Trader (working on a ship independently.... provides a wide range of space, combat, technical, and other possible abilities).
Merchant (focuses on trading of various sorts).
Criminal (sets you up for any of the criminal careers in NB)
School (people can go to college, essentially, and can basically choose where to advance a bit more and with less danger than other careers, but it also tends to be slower... often sets you up for other jobs).
Blue Service (just got to have this.... doesn't give you much,  maybe some Pep and ability to cook a good meal).
Diplomat (also covers religious leaders, courtesans, that kinda thing. Mostly Pep focused)
Law Enforcement (planetbound, more or less... interplanetary police work is covered by the Star Navy, DHS, Mercs, and the Scouts to one extant or another).
Entertainer (similar to diplomat but slightly different set of abilities).
Government (mostly gives Fame, but also can give power and contacts... doesn't provide much actual skill).
Labor (can provide you with some mechanical skills and such).
Technical (Branches out into Medical and Mechanical... basically Sci vs. Sav, but not always.)
White Service (can provide,  mostly, the professions in under this label in NB.... could be a bit useful in certain situations... like translators have a higher chance of knowing another language, for example).
Drop Out: Just hang around, pretty much. Maybe travel a bit. Most random and variable job out there. Dangerous, usually not very rewarding. Its the only job you're guaranteed to get, though.

The sort of things you can get from professions (just examples):
- Rep/Skill advancement rolls
- Pilot (Hull: #)
- Ship's Crew (Engineer)
- Doctor (Surgery)
- Additional advancement rolls to any profession skill (this gives even larger bonuses for that profession).
- Soldier (NCO)--- allows use of "leader die" and allows you a better chance to avoid ambushes and such. Also gives you  +1 Rep for shooting (a translation of the Targetting attribute)
- Marine (Ship's Gunner)-- provides bonuses when using ship's guns (in addition the the regular marine bonuses to this and fighting in zero g and similar weird circumstances).
- Fame or Notoriety Points
- Smuggler (Captain)-- provides advantages to finding good deals, keeping a crew together, etc.
- Ship's Crew (Navigator)-- provides advantages to finding the best route to a destination (conserves fuel and/or speeds up trip).
- Attributes (some random, some chosen, some mandatory)
- Contacts and Crewmates
- Items
- Ships (or at least Items to get a ship).
- New QRS's to choose from (you never NEED to take a new QRS).

It should be noted that it probably sounds like you'll end up with a million attributes, too many Rep advancements, and a million professions.... don't worry!
I haven't totally worked out the system yet, but I'm aiming for probably only 1-4 professions, tops (and generally the more you have the less in depth any of them are... so you don't get any "Pilot - 2").
Attributes will generally be kept to only a few... no more than 4 to a character, and thats a rare circumstance.
Rep Advancement will be just enough to make characters usually end up in the Rep: 5 range in about their late 20's- mid 30's....

And all of those will be offset by the times that you are forced to lose some of these things (failed advancement leads to not gaining the profession, failed years lead to rep LOSSES, not advancements, and attributes are often given the option to be replaced, not supplemented).

So, thoughts? Worries? Suggestions?


  1. Looking good. You might be able to bundle some of the professions further, to reduce the initial choices, but branch them at the next layer down. EG Government, Diplomat and Entertainer might all go into White Service and then branch out, sharing some attributes/skills with Lawyers and bankers. Or Entertainer might branch out from Blue Service and Labour.

    If yearly progression is giving too many skills, too soon, then try four year terms so the character starts play older, and with fewer skills/attributes.

  2. So I ran through my initial version of the generator with a character... He started in the Navy, went into the Scouts, and then became a part of a Free Trader crew before setting off on his own (the campaign)....I didn't find that the current system gave too many skills or skill advances, but it was too easy to be promoted... the dude ended up as follows:
    Samuel Fresco Age 34 Mercenary Fame Level: 5 (the result of many promotions)
    Rep 4 Fit 3 Pep 4 Sav 4 Sci 2
    No Attribute (Thats because he started with Drunkard and he kicked the habit during his time in the Scouts instead of getting a new Attribute... Given that Attribute comes up pretty infrequently, I think most people will have 0-2 attributes).
    Pilot (Hull 5), Pilot (Hull 3), Ship's Crew (Sensor), Ship's Crew (Navigation), Ship's Crew (Engineer), Marine (Gunnery).
    Mustered Out: 15 Items, 5 Contacts/Crew, Hull 5 ship (still needs to make payments and any extra costs, like weapons, he still needs to pay for).

    As I wrote the generator I had doubts that the Profession (Specialty) system would work well for "Skills" but now I think it works great... the end result is that if you serve in the Navy, you WILL know how to handle yourself on a ship, how to make basic repairs, etc, because you'll have at least some type of "Ship's Crew." However, the actual skill is usually the specialty.... so while the overall "Profession" basically allows you to do certain things (like Soldier or Marine can give you the Merc QRS and lets you use most weapons without penalty) its the specialty that is most important (Like having "Recon" helps you be stealthy and understand how to be a Forward Observer).

    Another way of looking at the above character: He's generically Sav 4 when, say, fixing a car. Then he goes to pilot his Hull 5 ship. He doesn't have any negative modifiers because he has the Pilot profession, but he also has a +1 because of his Hull 5 specialty. This gives him a Fly of 5.

    He's Rep: 4, but in ship to ship combat he can shoot with a score of 5 as a result of his Gunnery skill.
    Because of his time as an Officer on a ship, his Rep may also be used for the ship's Activation and Fight tests at a +1.

    As for too many promotions: He ended up as a Rank 6 (thats a ship's Captain) in the Navy at the age of 23. So thats too easy, me thinks (though he did get lucky- he only got one or two promotions in all his other careers for the next 11 years). However, without the promotions development is much harder... I'm thinking the way to fix things is to change the Promotion test into a sort of preliminary test, success in which means you've served well enough to be considered for promotion. After that there is only a 50% chance (or maybe even less) of being promoted.

  3. This sounds excellent - not too over powered in comparison to a straight-out-of-the-box 5150:NB character, yet having that LBB Traveller flavour.

    At the risk of adding more rolls to chargen, would promotion work better as a Test Roll - a major success = promotion, a minor success = +1d6 on next promotion roll, minor failure = a "black mark on your career", a major failure = court martial and -1d6 on next promotion roll. Or something similar.

  4. Thats similar to how it works: I changed it so that Promotions now work as follows:
    2d6 against a given stat (sometimes modified based on career)
    Pass 2: Promotion on 1-3, always get a roll on the Development Table.
    Pass 1: No promotion.
    Pass 0: No promotion.

    This is in addition to the "Event" test which basically just gives you a chance to get an additional roll on the Development table OR Failure table, depending on how you roll.

    Here are a few more (note that items were cut in half, as these will be part of Samuel Fresco's crew... ships were ignored, not sure how i want to handle that):

    Ex Star Army Alexander Dempson Age 28 Mercenary Fame: 3 Attributes: Rage, Nerves of Steel, Born Leader
    Rep 5 Fit 4 Pep 2 Sav 1 Sci 0
    Marine (Enlisted)-2 (this is basically the basic marine skill with no additions... but as its level 2 he can use Targeting, a +1 on to hit rolls.. this guy is a marksman, basically), Mechanic (Electronics), Soldier (NCO), Mechanic (Mechanical), Soldier (Vehicle), Soldier (Recon).
    HBA, Assault Rifle. 10 Items. 1 Contact

    Ex Scout (went to college, too) Sarah Resnik Age 26 Mercenary Fame: 1 Attributes: Steely Eyes, Attractive
    Rep 3 Fit 3 Pep 3 Sav 3 Sci 3
    Mechanic (Computers), Ship's Crew (Engineer)-2, Ship's Crew (Sensor)
    5 Items, Laser Pistol, 6 contacts

    Free Trader Yosi Par Age 35 Merc Notoriety: 3 Attributes: Slow, Cruel
    Rep: 4 Fit: 3 Pep: 4 Sav: 2 Sci: 0
    Marine (Enlisted), Free Trader (Smuggler), Criminal (Bribery), Mechanic (Electronics), Ship's Crew (Engineer), Pilot (Hull 2)
    Assault Rifle, BAP, 5 Items. 2 Contacts. (jointly owns the ship).

    Doctor Brian Sera Age 27 LWC Fame: 2 Attributes: Logical, Poser
    Rep 2 Fit 3 Pep 2 Sav 2 Sci 4
    Ship's Crew (Navigation)-2, Scholar (Medical)-2, Pilot (Hull 2), Scholar (Culture)
    This is his first job, so he's got nothing past that... he just got out with his PhD and now is ready to work as the science guy on the ship.

    I think I'm gonna run a game with these guys.... Some of them are dripping with character (Yosi the cruel manipulator and bribery expert?)

    I think I'm going to need to back away from the professions in NB, though... the organization of professions makes sense for NB, but for Fringe Space I think that a different organization is needed... Note "Scholar (Medical)" would really be "Doctor (whatever)" in NB.