About Mike Looney

A long time role player who rants quite a lot. I'm an aging, white, right of center, geeky, male, dyslexic, veteran, bipolar, sociopath with Asperger syndrome and a touch of PTSD that mutters. Most of my meds are to keep me from being a real sociopath.

I’ve stepped off the curb and am not looking at traffic.

Not really.   But here is the thing.  Mongoose has released Mongoose Traveller 2.0  I’m meh about it.  Some things I like, some things I don’t.  However Mongoose Traveller 1.x was released under the OGL so the basic rules are out their to play with, to include ship, system and animal design.  Granted there are a lot of things missing from the SRD to make it playable game, but I can deal with that.

And Wizards of the Coast has released goodly parts of D&D 5 as OGL.

I think you can see where I’m going.

I’m going to take the best parts of both systems and make the game I’ve wanted to play for a while.

Crunch-wise D&D style combat (or at least based on it), classes trimmed down to basically Fighter, Rogues and “casters”.  The D&D 5 backgrounds, which is where you get your skills from, will be done via the Traveller style career path.  Skills will be a mix of the Traveller SRD and the SRD5, with a little more emphasis on skills than in D&D 5.

Space combat will be vector based.

As far as fluff goes this is what my current though is:
Game is set in about 2020 or so. The NASA EM Drive actually works better than expected, so you can get multiple G of acceleration out of it. While messing about with it NASA found that once you get more than 100 diameters away from a large object (like, say the earth) you can force a jump, that lets you go about a parsec (3.2 light years or so) in about a week. You need to make a bubble of charged hydrogen gas around your ship to prevent it from being crushed in the jump.

Problem is two things.
1) We aren’t alone. Some time in the far past (say 250,000 BC) some elder race dropped by and scarfed up some Homo sapiens, Homo neanderthalensis and some Homo sapiens Denisova. They scattered them about the galaxy for their own reasons. The Elder Race, or Elders, about 200,000 BC or so had their final war, leaving the various types of humans to their own devices. Several branches didn’t fall back a far in to savagery as other and managed to keep a technological society, and was able to claw their way back to the stars, founding a stellar empire. Which leads us to the second problem

2) Multiple uses of Jump space attracted the attention of, well, Lovecraft’s worse nightmare. They awoke, and sent a wave of, well something, out from the places that were space/time was weakened by jump drives. As this wave of cosmic energy washed over planets, things changed. Magic started to work. Monsters aroused.

The Imperium has had 10,000 years or so to get used to this. It’s a natural part of their view of the universe now.

Earth, on the other hand, not so much with getting used to it.

Players will have the option of playing an Earth human, dealing with the fact that some of your friends now look like Legolas, Gimli or Frodo and that there seems to be, well, things, in the sewers. And dragons in most mountain ranges. Think “Blade runner” meets “Lord of the Rings“, with a side order of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer“.

Or they can play citizens of the Imperium out doing their thing, you know, trade, exploration, a war here and there and killing vampires.

The fact that the leaked energy from Cthulhu back yard is come from jumps isn’t known, not even to the Imperium.

Ships in Mongoose Traveller 2nd Ed Part I

The biggest single change in between Mongoose Traveller 1st Ed and Mongoose Traveller 2nd Ed is in starship design. There are a lot of changes, for starters most things are percentage based, not discrete chunks of metal based. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not. Leaning towards a good thing.

So, taking the idea from my T5 Cheapest possible ship I am going to try this in Mongoose Traveller 2nd Ed (Nov 13th release)

What we are looking for here is the cheapest possible Jump capable ship, that can self land on a planet with an atmosphere.

Key things to make a cheap ship.

  • Spherical hulls are semi streamlined and cost 80% of normal
  • “Budget”  Same tech level, cost 50% as much, has one disadvantage.

Design Checklist

  1. Create a Hull
    1. 100 dTons  (5,000,000 Cr.  20 hull points)
  2. Choose Hull Configuration
    1. Budget (-50%)
    2. Spherical (-20%)
    3. Disadvantage:Decreased Durability
    4. Adjusted Cost 2,000,000 CR
    5. Adjusted Hull 18 hull points.
  3. Install Drives
    1. M-Drive
      1. 2.2 dTons (min size) (Thrust 2)
      2. Budget:Increased Size (+10% size)
      3. Adjusted cost 2.2 MCr
    2. J-Drive
      1. 10 dTons (min size) (Jump 2)
      2. Budget:Late Jump – Need to go to 110 times planetary diameters to jump
      3. Adjusted Cost: 7.5 MCr
  4. Install Power Plant
    1. Basic Systems 20 pts
    2. Maneuver  20 pts
    3. Jump 20 pts.
    4. Install 30 pts (needs jump dimming and M-Drive off to jump)
      1. Fusion (TL8) 3.3 dTons
      2. Budget:Increased Size (+10% size)
      3. Adjusted Cost 0.825 Mcr
  5. Install Fuel Tanks
    1. Power plant 1 dton (2 months)
    2. Jump 20 dTons
  6. Install Bridge
    1. 10 dTons 0.5 MCr
  7. Install Computer
    1. Computer 5/bis 0.045 MCr
    2. Jump Control 2 0.2 MCr
  8. Install Staterooms
    1. 3 Double occupancy states rooms (12 dTons 1.5 MCr)
  9. Allocate Cargo Space
    1. 41.5 dTons

Cheap Trader

Tons Cost (MCr)
Hull 100 tons
Budget 18 Hull points
Armour None 0
M-Drive Thrust 2
Budget, Extra Size
2.2 2.2
J-Drive Jump-2
Budget, Delayed Jump
10 7.5
Power Plant Fusion (TL8) 30 Pts
Budget, Increased Size
3.3 0.825
Fuel Tanks 4 weeks operation, J-2 21
Bridge 10 0.5
Computer Computer 5/bis 0.045
Sensors Basic 0
Weapons  None
Systems  None
Staterooms Standard x 3 12 1.5
Cargo 41.5
  Total 14.57

Mongoose Traveller 2nd Ed – “Traveller Creation” Part 2.1

OK, diving right into the careers.

In the following list the term “unique skill” means that the skill listed can only be found in that assignment skill table, not in the Personal Development, Service Skills, Advanced Education, or Officer skill tables.  It does not mean that that the skill can not be found in other careers.

  “Law enforcement agencies, corporate operatives, spies, and other who work in the shadows.
  • Law Enforcement: You are a police officer or a detective – Streetwise 1 at rank 1.
  • Intelligence: You work as a spy or saboteur – Deception 1 at rank 1.
  • Corporate: You work for a corporation, spying on rivals – Deception 1 at rank 1.

Good selection of ground based adventuring skills, with all combat skills other than heavy weapons being available.  Advanced Education requires a EDU of 8+.  Average of 14,357 CR per cash roll.  Average mix of benefits.  DEX, END and INT may be raised via development.  4 of the mishaps will injure you, and 1 will send you to the prisoner career.  Jack of All Trades can be gained via an event.

Intelligence Recon, Deception, Electronics (Comms), and Persuade as unique skills.

Corporate has a lock on Electronics (Computers) and Deception as unique skills.


It is highly likely that the “Gunner” skill for event 10 should be “Heavy Weapons (Vehicle)

Members of the planetary armed fighting forces. Soldiers deal with planetary surface actions, battles and campaigns. Such individuals may also be mercenaries for hire.
  • Support: You are an engineer, cook or in some other role behind the front lines.
  • Infantry: You are one of the Poor Bloody Infantry on the ground.
  • Cavalry: You are one of the crew of a gunship or tank.

Very good set of ground combat skills, as to be expected.  Advanced Education table requires EDU 8.   Has “Officer” skill table.  STR, DEX and END can be raised via development.   Enlisted Rank 0 gain Gun Combat 1, Officer Rank 1 gains Leadership 1.  12428 CR average cash.  Benefits weapon, armor or implant.  2 of the mishaps can injure you.

The Enlisted/NCO rank table is

  1. Private
  2. Lance Corporal
  3. Corporal
  4. Lance Sergeant
  5. Sergeant
  6. Gunnery Sergeant
  7. Sergeant Major

This is unlike any real rank table that I know of.  Not that this a bad thing, mind you.  The officer rank table is the same as the US Army officer ranks, with the exception of only one kind of Lieutenant and only one kind of “General”.

Cavalry has Mechanic, Flyer and Electronic(Sensors) as unique skills

Infantry has Stealth as a unique skill.

Support has Mechanic, “Profession” and Electronic (Comms) as unique skills


  • The Career Progress chart is the Agent chart.  The correct Career Progress chart is on page 19, in the over all list.
  • Cavalry has “Gunner” as a skill, when it should be Heavy Weapons (Vehicles)
  • There is no commission roll listed

Individuals serving in a corporation, bureaucracy or industry, or who a making a new life on an untamed planet.

Corporate: You are an executive or manager in a large corporation.
Worker: You are a blue collar worker on an industrial world.
Colonist: You are building a new life on a recently settled world that still needs taming.

Good set of all around skills, however only combat skill is Melee.  Advanced Education requires EDU 10.  EDU and INT can be improved via development.   All assignments have their first bonus skill at rank 2.  Jack of All trades available.  26714 CR average for cash.  Benefits are strange, in that the only “hardware” benefit is “Gun”, which is only available as a skill to a rank 6 Colonist.   Ship shares and TAS available as benefits.  Two mishaps can injure you.

Corporate has Admin, Broker, and Leadership as unique skills

All of the Worker skills other than Drive are unique to it.

Colonist has Animals, Athletics, Survival and Recon as unique skills.


  • One of the benefits is “Gun”.  Gun combat is only available as a skill if you make rank 6 as a Colonist.
  • In MgT1 Citizens got their basic training from their assignment table, not the service skills table.  This is not given in MgT2.

Wanderers, hitchhikers and travellers, drifters are those who roam the stars without obvious purpose or direction.
  • Barbarian: You live on a primitive world without the benefits of technology.  Survival 1 as rank 1 skill
  • Wanderer: You are a space bum, living hand-to-mouth in slums and spaceports across the galaxy.  Streetwise 1 as rank 1 skill
  • Scavenger: You work as a belter (asteroid miner) or on a salvage crew.  Vacc suit as rank 1 skill.

Drifter is the “you can always take this career” option.   STR, END, and DEX can be improved via development.  Jack 0f all Trades available.  There is no advanced education table. 2571 CR average cash with 2 rolls being 0. Benefits include weapons and ship shares.

Barbarian has Animals, Carouse, Melee (Blade) and Seafarer as unique skills

Wander has Drive and  Deception as unique skills

All Scavenger skills are unique to it.

This is actually a quite strong career path as most “adventure/tactical” skills can be found in it.  A very useful all around Traveller can be made by bouncing back and forth between Wanderer and Scavenger.  Major holes in the skill lists are Pilot (Starship), Flyer, Engineer, and the more “intellectual/white collar” skills.


In MgT1 Drifters did basic training on their assignment tables, not the service skill tables.   This is not given in MgT2.

Individuals who are involved with the media, whether as reporters, artists or celebrities.
  • Artist: You are a writer, holographer or other creative. Art 1 as rank 1 skill
  • Journalist: You report on local or galactic events for a news feed, the TAS or other organisation. Electronics (Comms) 1 as rank 1 skill
  • Performer: You are an actor, dancer, acrobat, professional athlete or other public performer.  DEX +1 at rank 1

DEX, INT, and SOC can be increased via development.  Jack of All Trades available. 25,714 average cash, however 2 of the rolls are 0.  Benefits have no “hardware” options, but does have ship shares.  Advanced education table requires EDU 10+.  No combat skills and no space ship skills.  One mishap can injure you.  Event 11 leads directly to the “Unusual” event in the life event table.

Artists has Electronics (computers), Gambler, and Profession as unique skills.

Journalist have Electronics (any), Investigate, and Recon as unique skills.

Performer has Athletics and Stealth as unique skills.

Members of the armed fighting forces carried aboard starships, marines deal with piracy and boarding actions in space, defend the starports and bases belonging to the navy and supplement ground forces such as the army.
  • Support: You are a quartermaster, engineer or battlefield medic in the marines.
  • Star Marine: You are trained to fight boarding actions and capture enemy vessels.
  • Ground Assault: You are kicked out of a spacecraft in high orbit and told to ‘capture that planet’.

As to be expected very good in combat skills.  Space skills include Engineer, Pilot and Gunner, only Astrogation missing.    Very good career for Travellers that don’t “fineness” problem solving. Enlisted Rank 0 gains Gun Combat (any) 1 or Melee(blade) 1.  Officer rank 1 gains Leadership 1.  STR, DEX and END can be improved via development.   Advanced Education table requires EDU 8+.  Officer skills table includes both Admin and Advocate.  16,000 CR average cash.  Benefits include armor, weapons and TAS.  Rank 5 Officers have SOC of at least 10.  3 mishaps can injure you.

The rank tables are the same as the Army versions with 3 changes.

  1. Private is Marine
  2. Major is Force Commander
  3. General is Brigadier


Support has Mechanic and  (Drive or Flyer) [one option, players choice] as unique skills

Star Marine has Gunner as a unique skill

Ground Assault has Recon as a unique skill.


There is no Commission roll number listed.

Mongoose Traveller 2nd Ed – “Traveller Creation” Part 1

Unlike Mongoose Traveller 1st ed (hereafter MgT1) they only give the rules for group creation and are some what emphatic that doing it any other way than term at at time round robin is “the Wrong Thing” (capitalization theirs).  I’m OK with that, group character creation as the first part of a campaign is my preferred way.

Characteristics are bog standard Classic Traveller/MegaTraveller/Mongoose Traveller/Traveller5
2d6, Strength, Dexterity , Endurance,Intellect,Education, Social Standing;  rolled in order.  They touch on high Social Standing listing the 11 to 15 values of possible titles, but do mention that just because you have a high social standing doesn’t mean you are a noble, name checking Paris Hilton and Miley Cyrus as examples.  The modifiers are the same as MgT1 (and the same as Edge of Imperial Space)

Background skill are flat based on Education DM+3, which means 1 to 5 0 level skills (not 0 to 6 as they say because you can’t start out with less than a 2 or more than a 12 EDU score).  They have removed the skills based on your home world as a mechanic, but do mention that you should think about it in the selection of your background skills.

Then, suddenly bad art flow charts. 

There is a 2 page black, yellow and purple flow chart of creating a character, which isn’t as good as it could be.  Not using “classic” flow chart symbols is a OCD issue with me and some of it isn’t as clear as it could be because of it.

That being said, career flow is the same as in MgT1, with the possibility of going to University or a Military Academy first (or, with lesser chances of being allowed in, for your first 3 terms)  Going to Uni will, assuming you pass, give you 1 level 1 skill and one level 2 skill. (these are one level less if you don’t pass).  Graduation also allows you to take a commission roll before joining one of the military services, with a +2 DM if you are an honor grad.  Going to an Academy will give you the equal of “basic training” in the service you are using (i.e. 6 level 0 skills) and, if you graduate, you get level 1 in 3 of those.  Graduation from an academy means any auto qualify for it’s service and it also means you get a commission roll, with a +2 DM and an auto pass if you are an honor grad.  There is one event table for Uni and the Academies, and while they don’t say so, based on some options in it, you need to roll on it after you are accepted, but before you roll for graduation, which would treat the schools more or less like a normal career, with graduation acting as advancement.   The reason why you need to do it in the order I’m giving here is that 3 of the events will prevent you from graduating.

Going on to careers, we have a page explaining how to do a career, which, if mixed with the bad-art-flow-chart a few pages back, should get some one that isn’t a long term Traveller player through the process with minimal issues.

Unlike MgT1, however, a “Skill Limit” rule has been added.  You can’t have a skill over 4 during creation and you have a total skill limit of 3 times your INT plus EDU.   For the record, that’s 3 time what Classic Traveller had.  That rule was also one of the most ignored on in CT, for what it’s worth.  Level 0 skills count as 0, so you can load up on those later via training.  (rant to come on that).

One thing that is new is that the Commission roll, to become an officer can only happen in your first term in a service, unless you have a SOC of 9 or better.  I approve of this change.  Makes NCO career paths much more likely.

A change from the MgT1 version of the connection rule is that when you have an event that you use to make a connection with another “Traveller” (aka PC) you and the other Traveller just get another roll, not you get to choose any skill you feel like.  I also approve of this rule.   That being said, there is some confusion in how that rule is worded, that I will be taking to the Mongoose Forum on 2nd to find out what they mean.

Another change is they have made it explicit that changing your specialty withing a career requires a re-roll for qualifications for the career.  In the case of Army, Marine, Navy, Nobility, Rogue, Scholar or Scout, missing the roll just means you keep your current assignment.  In the Agent, Citizen, Drifter Entertainer and Merchant careers, you have to muster out of your current career, then re-qualify for the careers, starting over at rank 0.  If you fail on this qualification roll, you have to either be drafted or take the Drifter career.   That’s sort of harsh, but again, I approve.

Next up:  Point by point on the 12 careers.

Mongoose Traveller 2nd Ed – Intro

The PDF version of Mongoose Traveller 2nd edition can be had on RPGNow.   It’s a “Beta” product now, with a play test lasting until Christmas or so.    The release of this makes my “Nit Picker’s Guide to Mongoose Traveller” a project that needs a change, so I’m going to make it about this version.

There are 14 chapters, and I’m going to try to put them out as quickly as possible, with each chapter getting one (at least) post.  With any luck I’ll be able to keep up with the revisions and other releases in this product.

Yes, other releases.  In the “Playtest Procedure” document, we find this helpful bit of text

Throughout the playtest period, we will be adding new files to the playtest pack. Expect at least two revisions of the Core Rulebook PDF, but also Word documents of the draft rules for several other books, including High Guard, Central Supply Catalogue and Vehicle Handbook. These won’t be as pretty as the Core Rulebook PDF (!) but your input on these will be as equally valued.

So, what do you get now? You get 2 PDF versions of the Core Rulebook, one that is “printer Friendly” (read black and white and limiting graphics.) and one that looks pretty good on-screen, the “Playtest Procedure” word doc file and a PDF of deck plans in “2d” style vs the Isometric forms that they are in the full color book.

So, “Introduction”. This is your basic “what is a role-playing game and what is Traveller” chapter. Importantly it name checks “Rule Zero” (i.e. “The referee is always right”) and expands it to include that in Traveller the referee can override the tables used in generating things. It also explains the difference between a Scenario and a Campaign. Going on about campaign types, it lists several,

  • Trader Campaign, which name checks Firefly.
  • Military Campaign, which name checks Honor Harrington, Aliens and all three versions of Starship Troopers.
  • Explorer Campaign, which name checks Star Trek:TOS.
  • Traveller Campaign, which is all of the above.

Next is a listing of “Further Reading” which has “The Traveller Companion“, “High Guard“, “Tour of the Imperium“, “Central Supply Catalog” and “The Vehicle Handbook“.  Several of these are to be included in updates to this product, or at least draft copies.

Game Conventions are listed, which is slightly important, given that Traveller only uses 6 sided dice, so you have 2D not 2D6, plus the D66, which is like percentile dice, but only using 6 sided dice, giving you a flat 36 possible options. D66 is, while not totally restricted to Traveller, most common in it.

The chapter ends with a brief listing of tech levels, list levels 0 to 15, with the note that there isn’t an upper end for tech levels, but the default campaign, “The Third Imperium” stops at 15.

Jumping ahead, I’ve worked out that with these rules, the max with out referee fiat is 22

Just a bad thought about high tech terrorists

AV, or autonomous vehicles, are something that is becoming a real thing. I’m pretty sure that by TL-10 they can be assumed. Assuming you have terrorists still, this is a bad thing.

First, whether they are owned by an individual or by a fleet, AVs are the greatest force multiplier to emerge in decades for criminals and terrorists. Whether you’re a school shooter or a religious extremist, the biggest barrier to carrying out your plan is the risk of getting caught or killed by law enforcement. Only the most extreme mental illness, depraved hatred, or religious fervor can motivate someone to take on those risks as part of a plan to harm other people.

Autonomous vehicles neutralize those risks, and they open the door for new types of crime not possible today. A future Timothy McVeigh will not need to drive a truck full of fertilizer to the place he intends to detonate it. A burner email account, a prepaid debit card purchased with cash, and an account, tied to that burner email, with an AV car service will get him a long way to being able to place explosives near crowds, without ever being there himself. How will law enforcement solve physical, violent crimes committed by people who were never at the scene of the crime?

Taken from A Roadmap for a World Without Drivers