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Has anyone managed to find or make a faster way to do character creation in Traveller? (original ed)

I'd like to start a campaign but I don't want to spend most of a session just rolling up a character. A dozen rolls to create a character is too many for the group I'm playing with. I'd rather have a point-buy system or character templates – anything to get the game off and running early in the first session. (I know of at least three different ways to home-rule the "death" roll, so that isn't an issue.)

This is for a one-off adventure between campaigns. I don't expect a lot of commitment from the players.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Rolling a dozen dice is still 1000% faster than point buy. Is it really time that's the issue? \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Nov 26, 2012 at 19:27

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I agree with the comment that using pre-generated characters is your best bet. I've used them successfully on one-shot campaigns, and players enjoy trying to find the character that they can most easily identify with. If you do go with pre-gens, it might be worth writing up a quick paragraph to describe the character's capabilities if you're playing with players who are not familiar with UPPs and what skills mean. In my game, I gave them the adventure backgrounder, let them choose characters and then had them shop for themselves. In my case though, I was able to email the characters, background and equipment list so the players were ready before hand. That may not work for you.

You can also have them roll UPP stats, then give them a set number of skill levels to buy skills with. You can decide if you want older, more experienced characters or relatively unskilled ones, then give them 2 skill points per 4 years of age (which I'll call "terms" to keep things simple), which is about how things average out. To keep things balanced, you could cap skill levels at the number of terms, but that may not be necessary.

Have each player choose a profession and then just buy skills off of the generation tables as they see fit, respecting the EDU limits for advanced education.

At the end of this process, give them a list of relevant skills for the adventure, and let them each choose one. This will make sure that they have certain critical skills that your adventure is assuming they will have.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ i'm probably going to create the characters myself based on the players' personalities. \$\endgroup\$
    – SteveED
    Nov 27, 2012 at 1:36
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Method 1: point-based from Mongoose Traveller

There is a point-based Character Generation in Mongoose's edition. It's not in the current SRD, but is in the core rulebook. (If it were in the SRD, I'd simply quote it for you.)

Method 2: GM Generation

Give the players an overview of character types at the end of the session prior. Ask them which type of character they want.

Generate them on your own time, and hand them out at session.

You might consider generating 2-3 PCs matching the career chosen, and give the player the choice of which.


Other methods that still involve rolling dice (which the OP has already rejected):

Method 3: Automation

There are several levels of automation available, and literally dozens of programs.

Searching the web for Traveller Character Generation software will find plenty, for a variety of OS's, from Apple II to Mac and Windows current versions.

Method 4: Rolling in sets

Roll for survival, commission/position, promotion, and reenlistment in one swoop... using 4 pairs of different colored dice. My preference is red, white, blue, green (in that order), or blue, red, yellow, black (in that order).

Roll them all at once, then note received skill rolls. Pick tables, roll all rolls on the skill tables at once (use colors by which skill table).

Likewise, for benefits and cash, roll them all at once.

This can save a few minutes.

Method 5: Trust them

Let the players generate their characters on their own, and trust them to bring them to session complete, with shoppy-store already done.

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The first question you need to ask yourself is: if your players aren't prepared to spend five or ten minutes setting up their characters, how committed are they going to be later on in the campaign? Original Traveller is the simplest character-generation I have ever seen, and has all the virtues and vices that would imply; point-buy systems take much longer to set up, precisely because the player has to think about what to spend the points on.

But if you do want to go ahead, somebody is going to have to do the work. As part of your GMs preparation, allocate half an hour beforehand to rolling up some characters. Even with deaths and unplayable characters, you will probably get eight or ten possibilities. Write each on a sheet, and let the players pick their favourites when you start. The remainder will be a useful pool of NPCs later on.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a one off adventure, which i will add to the description, so I don't expect a lot of commitment. In 35 years of gaming I've never seen a Traveller character created in less than 30-45 minutes. Multiply that by 6 people with only one set of books (I suppose i could pirate them into PDFs to make copies) and it will take a couple of hours. \$\endgroup\$
    – SteveED
    Nov 25, 2012 at 18:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SteveED Or use a photocopier. That doesn't involve any activity that's legally piratical (because it's personal, non-commercial use that does not reduce sales, and unlike PDF piracy there is no distribution or receiving of goods), if that is your sticking point. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 25, 2012 at 20:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 for pregenerated characters. They're perfect for one-shots. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Nov 26, 2012 at 4:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie it’s also fairly explicitly allowed by FFE’s fair use policy. farfuture.net/FFEFairUsePolicy2008.pdf Arguably unnecessary, but the reaffirmation is nice. \$\endgroup\$
    – fectin
    Mar 8 at 20:43
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Yes, Much

I have created a Classic Traveller character generation tool at http://traveller.fectin.com/ which significantly increases character generation speed.

Right now, it uses B01 Characters & Combat and S04 Citizens of the Imperium. It strictly adheres to the book processes, but does not include any of the alternate career path methods (e.g. it does not include B04 Mercenary).

It's fast and fun to play with. Have fun!

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  • \$\begingroup\$ First Character: Han McLaren (UPP 26C788—that's 2 Strength & 12 Endurance on a 2–12 scale) became a Scientist, overcame a crisis in his first term ("The caf's out of cheeseburgers! Nooo!"), then failed to survive his second term (very sad). \$\endgroup\$ Mar 7 at 16:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ thank you very much!! \$\endgroup\$
    – SteveED
    Mar 7 at 20:03
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Super-Quick Character Generation:

  1. Referee prepares a dozen "worlds", each with perhaps four skills listed.

  2. Each player picks perhaps three of those worlds as places where his character spent time on. He incorporates those worlds' skill packs into a character, adding a level when a skill is duplicated. The players may select the same worlds or different worlds: each choice is independent of the others.

Referee adjusts as needed.

  1. Character age is 30 years (three worlds at 4 years per world -- don't worry about it unless you want to).

Referee adjusts as needed.

  1. All characters start with UPP 777777. (Allow characteristic improvement at a slow rate during character down-time)

Referee adjusts as needed.

  1. Done.
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