The third act of Andy Slack's gaming blog

Early RPGs are actually quite straightforward to use as solitaire games, largely because they are focused on random events and sandbox play.

Campaign Turn Sequences

PCs Without a Ship

Rolls are on 1D unless otherwise stated.

Twice Daily: Random Animal Encounter (on 5+). In the Rules As Written, there is no reason why you can’t have animal encounters in urban areas, but personally I limited them to rural ones.

Daily: Legal Encounter (roll law level or less on 2D). Yes, I know the rules say law level or more, but that is such an obvious typo that I won’t try to defend it, even with my current obsessive focus on what the Rules As Written actually say.

Daily: Random Person Encounter (on 5+). Persons can be encountered anywhere, and about 11% of the time they start a fight – more often if the referee feels like it, as a reaction of 5 might trigger an attack if he thinks it’s a good idea. Note that 20-year military veterans are more popular, because they get a +1 on the reaction table and so are only attacked 8% of the time. One way or another, though, the adventurers can expect to get into a fight for no obvious reason about once per month.

Weekly: Random Patron Encounter (optional, on 5+). You don’t have to look for a patron, but it’s very good for your bank balance.

PCs With a Ship

Ships alternate between a week insystem, on or near the main world, and a week in jump. The last two weeks of each year are used for ship overhaul and crew leave.

Day 1: Jump insystem and land. Ship Encounter in flight.

Days 2-6:

  • Animal, Person and Patron Encounters as above. The Rules As Written imply that if you’re looking for a patron, you can’t do anything else, so the band might want to nominate one member to search while the others look after the ship.
  • Pay berthing fee, refuel, replenish life support, unload standard cargo, look for speculative cargo (optional) – these can be done in parallel.
  • Check for standard cargo, commit to next port of call, load standard cargo, look for passengers – these have to be done in that sequence. Subsidised merchants are committed to a specific route, but the rules are silent on whether they have to follow it in a particular sequence or how long each step takes.

Day 7: Travel to 100 diameter limit and jump. Ship Encounter in flight.

Days 8-14: In jump. The rules are silent on this, but I use this as a chance to interact with passengers, which I generally run as Person Encounters. Occasionally (5+) a passenger may turn out to be a Patron Encounter, as ship crews have less chance of meeting those normally.

Patron Encounters

Early editions of the game leave it to the referee to decide what commission a patron has to offer. Later versions have a random table of possible missions, but early on I would roll a d6 and use that to direct me to a random person (1-2), patron (3-4) or speculative cargo (5-6). A terrorist is interested in a cargo of ammunition? Sounds like a heist. An avenger is interested in a playboy? Sounds like kidnapping or murder. A tourist is interested in bandits? Perhaps they’re holding another tourist for ransom, or maybe the patron is a journalist who wants to interview them.

If in doubt, look at the adventurers. If they have a ship, the commission probably involves that in some way, so take the above and add a charter. If they are known on the planet, it’s probably something to do with their skills. A shipowner needs a band heavy on crew skills? I wonder what just happened to his original crew. A mercenary wants a group with lots of combat skills? Probably recruiting. You get the idea.

I did create my own random table of missions, but it offered no significant advantage over that simple check, so eventually I dropped it. Georges Polti’s 36 dramatic situations offer guidance on the situation and the characters involved, and that works quite well too.

Comments on: "Traveller 1977: Solitaire Turn Sequence" (1)

  1. Scarf…

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