New Year, New Character
Traveler: The New EraTraveler: The New Era (TNE). As a young gamer, I had heard of Traveler, of course. It was famous for its rock hard Sci-Fi setting, it's long history, and its notorious "you can die in character creation." Despite the hushed whispers and gossip, though, none of my friends actually had a copy of it, nor had ever actually played it.
I was at my very first convention, and talking to one of the vendors when, somehow, the topic of Traveler came up. He immediately pressed into my hands a copy TNE. Maybe he was a fan of the New Era, maybe it was just the "new" one at the time, but I had no idea I was getting something...different from the Traveler I had heard about.
TNE was a "reboot" of the setting, taking place centuries later than the "classic" era of the game, after the iconic Empire of the setting had fallen into chaos. In TNE, this time was marked by a brutal civil war in which one of the belligerents released a horrific computer virus that had devastated almost all advanced technology, plunging the galaxy into an era of isolation and barbarism. TNE takes place just as the society is preparing to rebuild, with much of what was settled and peaceful space turned into unknown and wild territory. I didn't realize at the time how radical or controversial these changes were. To me, this was just Traveler.
Later editions ignored these changes, undoing the civil war, and never mentioning the release of "Virus." I played and ran a couple of games in the "restored" setting, first using the GURPS rules and later with the Mongoose release, which more closely hewed to classic Traveler. And while the games were fun, there was something about TNE that kept drawing me back to it. It's been sitting on my shelf since the early '90's, untouched save for my occasional readings, dreaming about what kind of game I would want to run or play in this more harsh and dangerous future. But, I've never even made a character for this game, confused and, to be fair, a tad afraid of the system. This is something I'm going to fix now.
While certain decisions can be made, TNE is, at its heart, a random character creator. Not only will I need to roll dice for things such as attributes, but I will also be rolling to create the characters home world and all other facets. As far as I can tell, all of these are based on 2d6 rolls. I will note when there are differences from this standard. As for the basic mechanics, I'm not entirely sure I fully understand them. From what I can gather, you add the relevant Attribute + Skill together to create an Asset. That Asset is then modified based on how Difficult the task is, and the player rolls a D20. If the result is less than or equal to the Modified Asset, the character succeeds. So, for example, if a player was trying to figure out what's wrong with an engine, they would add together their Intelligence (say, 7) and their Engine Repair skill (say, 3), for 10. Assuming this task was "Difficult," it would be multiplied by 1, or 10. The player then rolls a d20 and hopes to roll under 10.
I think that's how it works.
Given its random nature, there's no need for me to have a concept in place before I begin. I do go ahead and flip a coin for my characters gender, and get male. For his name, I flip to the Everyone, Everywhere List and decide to do something a tad different. His first name will be from the "Eastern Africa" list, and his last will be from the "Iranian" list. Rolling, I get Kariuki Zahed. I also decide that Kariuki will be from a Pocket Empire, one of the tine statelets that either managed to survive the collapse, or has slowly rebuilt on their own. This "empire" will consist of maybe a dozen worlds at most, connected through the scant handful of ships they've managed to restore.
Due it the complexity of character creation, there is a specific "Character Creation Worksheet" for one to use in creating a character. Most examples posted will be from this. It has numbered sections, but I will be following the core rule book's section in cases where they conflict.
Step 1: Home World
there's a couple of different options for determining where your character comes from. The GM could assign one, you could pick from the sample planets found later in the book, or you can roll to determine. My rules for this series is to randomness when available, so I go with that route. Each home world has a number of values for its size, atmosphere, tech level, etc. I roll 2d6 for each and here's what I get:
Kariuki comes from a small, thinly settled world. Water is, fortunately, plentiful, and while they have their share of "law and order," the government isn't overly intrusive into the lives of the citizens. They haven't fallen too far behind compared to others, being of "Early Interstellar Age" and have a good "B-type" port facility.
Riffing off my naming choice for this character, I call the planet "Dodoma" after the capital of Tanzania.
Step 2: Attributes
I now need to roll 2d6-1 to determine Kariuki's attributes--Strength (STR), Agility (AGL), Constitution (CON), Intelligence (INT), Education (EDU), and Charisma (CHR). These will also be modified based on his home world. For example, due to Dodoma's Low Population rating, his Charisma will be 1 less, but due to its Tech Level, he will add 1 to his Education. If the end result is less than 36 added together, I may add points as I see fit to bring them up to 36.
The initial rolls were pretty disappointing, and the only total up to 32. I have four points to spend to improve them. His Agility, Constitution, and Education are all in need of improvement, but I feel like Education will be the most useful. I spend all four points to increase his EDU to 7. There's also a section for "modifications"--I know his home world will modify these attributes, but I'm not sure if anything else in character creation will as well. For now, I just note the base attributes and the modifiers, leaving the Final section blank. It's possible he could be psychic, but that requires an Examination of some sort. I simply not that his current Psionic Strength is 0 for now and move on to his Social Standing. This is rolled like attributes, 2d6-1, for 4. I'm not exactly sure what this means, as the book only really focuses on those with 11 or higher. I assume it means "working class" and move on accordingly.
I might be missing something, because it seems odd that this isn't modified by the rank he managed to achieve in his career, but I can't seem to find where this might be involved. So, 12k it is.