Learning Traveller 5: Scouts

I’ve just had a very pleasant morning rolling up a Scout character using Scouts: Traveller Book 6. Just as with the previous posts in this series, I’ve continued to progress through trying the expanded character generation rules found with Traveller Books 4 to 7.

Read from the beginning: Learning Traveller 1

It was during this episode of solo play that I discovered my initial assumption that the Book 4 rules on Gun Combat replaced the rules in Book 1 were wrong: Scouts gain Gun Combat skills using the individual weapon choices in Traveller Book 1. I am very glad that the penny dropped on this point.

Secondly, I noticed that Traveller Book 6 is the first time I noticed the “Optional Survival Rule” entering the game:

If desired, the optional survival rule may be used: the character leaves the Service immediately and does not count the current term of service toward mustering out benefits.

Scouts: Traveller Book 6 (1983), page 11

Is this the point at which we see a softening of the Classic Traveller game? It might simply be an acknowledgement of the fact that many Referees had already added a similar rule to their games.

This optional rule is a welcome option, I feel, when using the expanded character generation rules: instead of the character generation game coming to a grinding halt after several Terms of Service, you can simply take the hit and muster out. It’s a rule I aim to adopt across all games after the first Term of Service because, oddly, I like the idea of losing a character early in the process – an acceptable risk? Maybe.

Abraham Maxwell Goes A-Scouting

Meet Abraham Maxwell: 75A376. Abraham failed to get into College (a necessity if you want a Scout in the Bureacracy) which, frankly, made life easier for me as a player: I wanted a Field Scout.

Term 1

Scout Maxwell was admitted to the Imperial Interstellar Scout Service (IISS) and assigned to the Field. After some paperwork and assessments, Abraham Maxwell was further given a role in the Communications Office. Basic training involved learning to be a Pilot for one of the IISS Courier ships.

After the initial year of training, Abraham was sent on a Mission. This resulted in him developing further expertise as a Pilot. In the third year, our new Scout was put onto some Routine duties which, for Abraham, meant a lot of time spent Carousing in the Scout bars on a variety of worlds. This Routine assignment continued until the end of the first Term of Service and he was accepted for re-enlistment.

Term 2

At the start of this term, Scout Maxwell was re-assigned to the Survey Office. Presumably, he had shown some promise and the offer was gladly accepted – if only to spare his liver from the seemingly endless rounds of drinks in bars.

An initial year spent on Routine survey missions, validating Imperial Library Data, netted nothing particularly new in terms of learning for Abraham. It did, it seems, open a door in year two when he was granted a Special Mission.

The Special Mission was one which Abraham has vowed never to discuss. All went well but the odd combination of being forced to learn to ride Equestrian beasts and practice his Vacc Suit drills proved stressful.

Year 3 saw Abraham posted on a more steady Field Mission during which he picked up some further Education while interacting with members of an obscure alien university. Year 4 saw an extension of this Mission and an opportunity to apply for re-assignment once again.

Term 3

Abraham Maxwell was re-assigned to the Exploration Office in his third Term of Service, much to his delight. After some initial Training in year one, during which he learned to fly Grav Vehicles, our Scout was then sent on a Mission in year two.

If he was being honest at this point, Abraham would have said that he was beginning to worry that the Exploration Office was turning out to be quite dull. The third year put him straight: he was assigned another Special Mission and learned Forgery. He also picked up a new Gun Combat skill and (I couldn’t resist the idea) learned to fire Shotguns.

This Special Mission was extended into year four and Abraham learned Bribery. On top of this, given the nature of the mission, he was able to pick up further skill with being a starship Navigator. As the term came to a close, Abraham was wondering if he wanted to stay on.

Term 4

Abraham was accepted for another term and, despite being 30 years old and a little worried about losing out on some time roaming the galaxy, applied for assignment. He was offered a role in the Communications Office but declined, remaining in the Exploration Office.

Initially, Abraham was given Routine duties but in the second year he once again was trusted with a Special Mission. This was to an urban environment (again) in which Scout Maxwell found himself undercover. He learned to be Streetwise and, some say, became a Jack-Of-All-Trades.

Following the undercover (not a spy mission, honest) foray, Abraham was recalled for Training at a Specialist School focused on Mechanical skills. To round out the Term, he was then posted to an IISS Base for a year before he decided to Muster Out.

Mustering Out

Abraham Maxwell had earned four Terms of Service and the consequent Mustering Out rolls. His first die roll was on the Cash Table, earning him Cr30,000. The remaining rolls were all taken on the Material Benefits table and netted +4 Intelligence and +2 Education. He had no problems due to aging.

Abraham Maxwell, Ex-Scout 75A7A6; Pilot-2, Carousing-1, Equestrian-1, Vacc Suit-1, Grav Vehicle-1, Forgery-1, Shotgun-1, Bribery-1, Navigator-1, Streetwise-1, JoT-1, Mechanical-1; Cr30000; Age 34.

Loved it! Yes, Classic Traveller has me hooked on those expanded character generation procedures.

Read Learning Traveller 6: Merchant Prince

Game on!


  1. Traveller probably has the most fun character generation of any game I’ve played, especially with the expanded rules in books 4-7. And the way I play (at least solo) it’s probably for the best, as it vies with Call of Cthulhu in terms of PC mortality.

    The optional survival rule appeared prior to Scouts. It is definitely in the 1981 printing of the LBBs; I can’t remember if it’s in the Traveller Book or not.


    • Thanks for the comment. Note that I was specific about this being ‘the first time I noticed the, “Optional Survival Rule” entering the system’; because I am using the 1977 rules, not the 1981 rules, I hadn’t ‘noticed’ it before. But, yeah, I am very much enjoying the character generation from Books 4-7.


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