The plan in this session of Traveller was to carry on after the initial exploration of the comet, but we had a last minute drop out due to health so the plan was to generate some of the characters for the command crew of the Deepnight Revelation. Then we had a second player no-show (possibly they saw the first cancellation and assumed it wasn’t on), so we were left with two players.
It was decided to go ahead with character generation anyway, since we had a reasonable idea of the characters that the other players wanted to play.
We already have a group of PCs who are the crew of the It’s A Sex Thing who will be joining the Deepnight mission, but they’re going to be relatively low down in the command hierarchy so wouldn’t have much reason to have a say in the overall mission planning. Since I didn’t want the campaign to turn into just me dictating what happened and ordering the PCs out on missions when it was necessary, it was decided that each player would have at least two characters – their original crew of the Sex Thing, plus members of the command staff. This would allow a more troupe style play similar to Ars Magica, which has been fun to do before (other options are given in the Deepnight campaign guide, but we settled on this one).
The players didn’t want to be either the Mission Commander or the Captain, so those two roles are still left to me to run, but there are multiple Divisions about the Deepnight, and it seemed sensible to aim for each PC being a chief of one of those divisions – Flight, Engineering, Operations and Mission (plus Command), with players trying to avoid roles which matched their other character’s speciality (so the player of the medical professor wouldn’t be part of Mission since then they’d have two science based characters).
What we actually ended up with was one player going to Chief Engineer, and the other going for the Executive Officer so they’d be part of the actual bridge command staff.
The next question was how to do this – character generation in Traveller tends to be rather random, so you don’t always get what you want. So we decided to give each player two “free passes”. If they failed a roll, or didn’t like the results, then they could use one of these to choose the result instead.
Since the XO failed the very first attempt to enter Naval Academy, the first pass was used immediately, and they went on to graduate with honours.
The chief engineer also failed, but decided it would be more interesting to keep the failure and went in to just join the navy directly, and not try to become an officer.
The career progression went very well, and though not everyone got skills that they expected or necessarily wanted, there wasn’t a single failed survival roll.
For the events, we decided to spice things up and take the option of using the events from D66 Comependium 2. So if a player rolled 5+3 for their event, they could either take “53” (Sensor Expert) from the Compendium, or “8” (Diplomatic Mission) from the standard events, depending on what seemed more interesting or suitable for the role that they were going for.
As is usual with Traveller, there was a lot of coming up with a back story to justify the rolls, and we ended up with two characters aged 42, one a Navy Captain with a very high SOC, along with fighter and command experience, and a low SOC engineer who was often at home in the ship’s waste disposal systems who had been given officer ranks at one point in order to shut her up about things that she had witnessed.
That’s two characters done, so we need to do a couple more once the other players are back. For that session, the players who have done their own characters already may get a chance to roll up the captain and mission commander NPCs so that they aren’t left twiddling their thumbs.
It looks like we might be having some player attendance issues over the coming weeks as well, due to real life interfering, but hopefully we might get back to the adventure next week.
Managing the Crew And Ship
In terms of my planning for running Deepnight, I’ve created a page in Roll20 to track all of the crew, cargo and resources that the ship has.
For the cargo and docking bays, I have a very rough floor plan, along with tokens for all the small craft and vehicles, which shows where they are currently stored, so that if one is destroyed or lost then the token for it can be removed. Also, if a docking bay is damaged, it’s easy to see what was in there at the time.
Keeping every small craft as its own token, also means tracking damage or other information on each one should be easier.
The other aspect of the ship that needs to be tracked is the crew, so I now have a token for every crew member. I haven’t fleshed out statistics for them – I just have a token with a label. Details (such as names and skills) can be fleshed out as and when they are needed, and as with small craft and vehicles, if there need to be casualties, then they can be marked as being injured or killed with relative ease.
Fortunately I have an API script that will turn 30 tokens labelled “Deck Hand” into “Deck Hand #1”, “Deck Hand #2″… etc, which made the process a lot easier.
For the tokens, I’ve used the paper miniatures from El’Cheapo Products, which are nice and cheap, making them really cost effective for getting a large number of tokens. The portrait packs are easier to convert into tokens for Roll20 use (a simple Linux script has pretty much automated the process for me).
The full crew is shown below, and there are an awful lot of them. I’ve used different coloured borders for each of the divisions – gold for command, blue for flight, green for mission, grey for engineering and red for operations. Since operations include security, it seemed important to give that division red uniforms.