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Day 6: Book 4: Mercenary

Today, we’ll continue with classic Traveller. I’ll admit, this was not my original plan, but I remembered two things as I got out the old Traveller books. First, just how much fun character generation is. Second, the many forms character generation takes between GDW official versions and various variants.

Today we’ll go with GDW’s first expansion, Traveller Book 4: Mercenary. This book provided very detailed rules for generating Army and Marine characters. I remember at the time being surprised that ground pounders and boarding parties took precedence over Space Navy characters. I think this, as well as the general martial focus in character generation, reflects GDW’s origins are a hard-core hex-and-chit wargaming company. They were the purveyors of the original monster game, Drang Nach Osten!

In his recent review of a late GDW RPG, Space: 1889, Mr. Welch makes a similar point when discussing why every possible Victorian canon is included in the weapons tables.

UPP is generated normally. The enlistment roll is the same as well. Rolling six times, we get AA9546. I get a +3 for the Army enlistment of 5+, so we’ll enlist in the Army.

At this point, we switch over to Book 4: Mercenary. Each term is now divided into one-year assignments resolved individually instead of the four-year term as a whole. Before resolving anything, we must select a combat arm from Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery, and Support. Our prior army character had a kind of scout/cavalry path, so this time we’ll be a ground pounder.

We get a single gun skill in basic training and a roll on the MOS Table for advanced training. I’ll take Combat Rifleman-1 for the gun skill. A roll of three on the MOS table gives us Heavy Weapons-1.

Now we move to our second assignment of the term (Basic and Advanced Training are assignment one). Each assignment is resolved similarly to a term in Book 1 and Supplement 4. We roll for assignment, survival, decorations, promotion, and skills in that order.

My first assignment after training is staff which means a unit assignment for enlisted men. Rolling on unit assignments, I get internal security. Survival is a 4+, which is easily beaten with an 11. Decoration is a 12+, which I barely miss with an 11. Promotion requires a 6+ and I rolled an 11, so I’m now an E-2 or Lance Corporal. Finally, there is no skill roll for internal security. Thus ends our second assignment.

The third assignment is roll is a 6, meaning a roll on the special assignment, not the unit assignment table. A roll of 6 with a +1 for ED7+ is a 7 which is OCS. I roll one command skill, one staff skill, and one MOS skill. Special assignments do not have survival, decoration, promotion, or skill rolls. I get a 6 for command skills which yields Tactics-1. A 3 for staff skills gives me Computer-1. Finally, the MOS roll is 2 for Gun Combat. This is a tough choice as a MOS skill of 2 or better gives a +1 for survival, but officers usually have a sidearm, not a long arm. I’m going with Combat Rifleman-2 to get that survival bonus next term. I’ll chalk it up to superior marksmanship being what made me stand out for OCS.

The final assignment of the term is staff again. This time a roll of 10 for unit assignment sends me on a police action. Survival is 5+, and despite my +1 from Combat Rifleman-2 I fail with a roll of 2.

And here, on January 6, I have died in character creation. A Traveller Classic.

One thing I would like to note is in our first term, despite dying in the last assignment, I had gained 5 skills, despite failing one skill roll and dying on the last assignment. The most a character in the classic rules can gain is 4 and then only on his first term.

Tomorrow we’ll continue with Traveller, using a different expanded book.

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