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Old 11-17-2023, 02:04 PM   #1
thrash
 
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Default Unproductive careers

Before there was the Official Traveller Universe (tm), there was the setting implied by the rules as written. For the most part, this was a broadly drawn space opera of the imperial variety. But there were occasional quirky, idiosyncratic bits thrown in.

In addition to the five named career types, there is the catch-all, Other "service":
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Other: Characters who do not serve in one of the above areas instead follow unproductive careers with a variety of experiences. The Other service covers some trades, ne'er-do-wells, and the shady realm of the underworld. The exact nature of the career of any specific character in the Other field must be deduced from the skills and benefits received during character generation.
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Ranks, commissions, and promotions are non-existent in the scout and the other services.
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Retirement pay is not available to characters who have served in the scout or the other service.
It's hard to see why anyone would voluntarily choose this "service" (although with an enlistment roll of 3+ it would be easy to do so).
  • With no automatic skills, commissions, or promotions, an Other character receives roughly half as many skills as most careers provide.
  • The only skill uniquely available to Others is Forgery.
  • Others have the only negative characteristic alteration (a -1 to Social) outside of the aging rules.
  • The Benefits Table for Others includes a blank line, so it is possible to muster out with nothing -- not even a weapon or low passage.
  • Their survival roll (5+) is typical, but if the character has the Intelligence 9+ for a DM, they would be better off in the Merchants or Navy.

Supplement 1 essentially gives up on the career and its rules as written entirely:
Quote:
Other characters represent a broad range of individuals from the criminal through the ordinary to the extraordinary. Rather than use the procedures from Traveller Book 1, a modified procedure has been instituted which makes all available skills possible for a character. In addition, characters are allowed a random number of terms of service before being listed here. These characters may be assumed to be armed, regardless of their possession (or lack) of weaponry expertise.
As these individuals are encountered, the referee should pencil in the occupation the character has assumed, such as asteroid miner, computer forgery expert, petty thief, etc.
These characters are not recommended for use as player-characters.[emphasis added]
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Old 11-17-2023, 03:02 PM   #2
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Default Re: Unproductive careers

So, who are these people?

Unless their characteristics are appallingly substandard, a would-be tradesperson would likely be better off in the Army or as a Merchant.

Similarly, an aspiring criminal (unless dead-set on being a forger) would likely do well in the Merchants.

That leaves the ne'er-do-wells and those unfortunates who wash up in the career involuntarily (by failing an enlistment roll and being drafted) -- not an encouraging profile.

Arguably, Supplement 4 (apart from the two Army-related careers) is an extended answer to this question, however, with much better options and benefits. Note the "asteroid miner" (Belter) and "petty thief" (Rogue) examples from Supplement 1's description.
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Old 11-18-2023, 06:27 AM   #3
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Default Re: Unproductive careers

They are the taxi drivers, corner shop workers, security guards, factory workers, and the like of the setting.

Some people want to play a character from that sort of background.
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Old 11-18-2023, 07:59 AM   #4
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Default Re: Unproductive careers

Years ago I did a statistical analysis of outcomes for the six classic services. The Others were trivially easy to get into; they provided a high cash value per term served, only slightly less than the Scouts, and way ahead of the Merchants; they didn't provide a lot of skills, but a typical pattern was Brawling-1, Electronics-1, Forgery-1, Streetwise-1, and a level of one other skill. But I suppose a common character biography would start with failed enlistment in some other service followed by random "assignment" to the Other career.
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Old 11-18-2023, 09:36 AM   #5
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Default Re: Unproductive careers

Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
Years ago I did a statistical analysis of outcomes for the six classic services. The Others were trivially easy to get into; they provided a high cash value per term served, only slightly less than the Scouts, and way ahead of the Merchants; they didn't provide a lot of skills, but a typical pattern was Brawling-1, Electronics-1, Forgery-1, Streetwise-1, and a level of one other skill.
Interesting. Did your "cash value per term" take TAS membership and ship acquisition into account, or was it strictly rolls on the Cash Table?
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Old 11-18-2023, 10:02 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by thrash View Post
Interesting. Did your "cash value per term" take TAS membership and ship acquisition into account, or was it strictly rolls on the Cash Table?
Rolls on the cash table, plus the discounted present value of pensions (figured as annual amount divided by 0.06). I didn't figure in TA memberships; they would have raised the value of a Navy career substantially, and a Marines career somewhat less. I'm not sure if I checked for ship acquisition; I wrote this back in 1985 and I no longer have my files on the fifty randomly generated characters. But in any case I didn't figure it into earnings.
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Old 11-18-2023, 09:33 AM   #7
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Default Re: Unproductive careers

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Originally Posted by Mike Wightman View Post
Some people want to play a character from that sort of background.
While I don't believe it was the author's intent, I was thinking that deliberately playing an Other might be the equivalent of playing a console rpg on Hard mode -- a refreshing challenge for some players.
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