Supplement 1: 1000001 Characters
- Supplement 1: 1000001 Characters (Jonathan Sherlock)
This article originally appeared in the November/December 2017 issue.
The Traveller universe is, of course, filled with billions of sophonts and we get to meet so few of them. One of the great delights of Traveller – particularly if you don’t have a group of players – is to roll up a PC or an NPC and see where the character generation takes you; but it takes a while to do so. Occasionally you need a lot of characters quickly, or you need some inspiration, or perhaps you just want to see ‘who’s out there’. This is where computers can come into their own and many are the Traveller fans who have had a go a writing their own program. Yes, even I’ve had a go at this in the dim and distant past with a Commodore 64. Though I seem to recall that a 7 term admiral would crash the software as it ran out of memory. My skills were not, well, they were not efficient.
No such problem from this website. Designed for Cepheus Engine rules – although I hear that a Mongoose 1st Edition version is in the works – this web site will produce a text file of pretty much any number of characters. It defaults to 1001 but can generate just a few or many, many more. From 7 terms down to 0 (the latter means one attempt at qualifying and the character will definitely exit after their first career attempt even if it’s a survival mishap exit). Although the author does warn that trying to create 1,000,001 will likely crash your browser. I’ve not had a crash when I’ve tried this, but nor has it succeeded. Although, as it happens, a file of the default 1001 people averages over quarter of a million words and easily a million characters! Still, full marks for claiming the top slot for ‘Traveller title with the biggest number of items in it’. It will generate a 1001 characters in the blink of an eye.
Originally the characters were all human but a more recent addition allows you to select Human, ESPer, Avians, Insectan, Merfolk and Reptilian. This review has only looked at humans.
Better than the near instant creation of characters, this is not just a random generation program although it fulfils that function admirably. There are also multiple sliders you can adjust to tweak the randomization in certain ways. So, for example, by default any Cepheus Engine career has equal chance of occurring but you can move a slider to get just scouts if you want. And, if you do, you’ll quickly see how limited a career or indeed lifespan they get. Or, as the author suggests, you can select several sliders to get a bunch of thugs armed with pistols and daggers and zero cash. Or perhaps you’d prefer to favour the ‘Advanced Education’ table over ‘Personal Development’. Or maybe you have a preference for what kind of weapon is received on mustering out.
The output comes in the form of a plain text notepad file with as many characters as you’ve selected and it will also be numbered unless you turned that option off. The characters are laid out in Cepheus Engine style with title, name, Universal Personality Profile string and age in one line; careers, terms and money in a second line; skills in a third followed by equipment in a fourth and then a term-by-term description of their lives which makes it easy to get a sense of how they’ve developed. Mustering out of course brings up the rear. Two examples may be found at the end of this article, a more extensive one and a rather more tragic one.
As you can see from the Wing Commander, all the details are there to insert her as an NPC with a known history or even play her as a PC. But even Miss Kanedsa inspires thoughts about why she failed to qualify? What is she going on to do next? And perhaps even, why is she booking passage on the ship? And she could easily become an ‘instant’ NPC if you used this generator on the fly.
For those who prefer commas between the skills, this is a feature which has now been added as a tick box.
And yes, the output even includes names. That’s a terrific addition which really brings the characters to life as soon as you start reading about them. Perhaps that’s why I immediately feel some paternal sentiment towards Himali – she’s only a couple of years younger than my daughters – I don’t think I’d feel the same way if it were just a genderless UPP string. Names also save that extra moment’s pause for thought to think of your own if you are using this on the fly. Although you might still want to have some spare names to hand if you wish to, for example, insert a Vargr or Aslan or don’t like the style of a particular name.
I will still love generating characters by hand, but for moments when you need several quickly or want to produce NPCs at the drop of a hat, this is very useful. And it’s fun to play around with in the meantime and meet just a few of those billions of sophonts that populate the worlds of our imagination.
272. Wing Commander Pajakea Chatterjee (Female Human) 475B76 Age 44 Maritime Defense(1), Aerospace Defense(5) Cr30000 Admin-0 Bludgeoning Weapons-1 Demolitions-1 Electronics-0 Energy Rifle-1 Grav Vehicle-1 Leader-1 Life Sciences-0 Mechanics-0 Motorboats-1 Piercing Weapons-0 Piloting-1 Rotor Aircraft-1 Screens-1 Slug Pistol-2 Spinal Mounts-1 Survival-3 Auto Pistol, High Passage, Annual Pension from the Aerospace Defense Service: Cr10000 Character Event Log: <-- Qualified for the Maritime Defense Service.--> - Gained all Service skills at level-0 for the Maritime Defense Service as this is the character's first career. > Skill gained as a result of reaching rank 0: Watercraft Term 1 in the Maritime Defense Service: - Commissioned. Rank is now 1 - Advanced to rank 2 - Lieutenant. > Skill roll on the Service Skills table: gained Gunnery > Skill roll on the Service Skills table: gained Survival > Skill roll on the Specialist Skills table: gained Demolitions Term 2 in the Maritime Defense Service: - Survival Mishap. > Honourable discharge from the Maritime Defense Service. Mustering Out Benefit: cash of Cr10000 <-- Career in the Maritime Defense Service ends. --> Failed to qualify for being a Scientist. <-- Drafted into the Aerospace Defense Service.--> > Skill gained as a result of reaching rank 0: Aircraft Term 1 in the Aerospace Defense Service: > Skill roll on the Service Skills table: gained Survival Term 2 in the Aerospace Defense Service: - Commissioned. Rank is now 1 - Advanced to rank 2 - Flight Lieutenant. > Skill roll on the Service Skills table: gained Gunnery > Skill roll on the Service Skills table: gained Melee Combat > Skill roll on the Service Skills table: gained Aircraft Term 3 in the Aerospace Defense Service: > Skill roll on the Personal Development table: gained +1 END At age 34, reduced STR by 1. Term 4 in the Aerospace Defense Service: - Advanced to rank 3 - Squadron Leader. > Skill gained as a result of reaching rank 3: Leader > Skill roll on the Service Skills table: gained Survival > Skill roll on the Personal Development table: gained +1 END At age 38 there was no effect from age. Term 5 in the Aerospace Defense Service: - Advanced to rank 4 - Wing Commander. > Skill roll on the Service Skills table: gained Gun Combat > Skill roll on the Specialist Skills table: gained Piloting At age 42 there was no effect from age. Mustering Out Benefit: received Auto Pistol Mustering Out Benefit: High Passage Mustering Out Benefit: took skill in Slug Pistol because Pajakea Chatterjee already had a Auto Pistol Mustering Out Benefit: +1 EDU Mustering Out Benefit: took skill in Slug Pistol because Pajakea Chatterjee already had a Auto Pistol Mustering Out Benefit: cash of Cr20000 Mustering Out Benefit: Annual Pension from the Aerospace Defense Service: Cr10000 <-- Career in the Aerospace Defense Service ends. --> +-----------------------------------------------------------------+ 798. Himali Kanedsa (Female Human) 3884A9 Age 18 Cr0 Admin-0 Electronics-0 Mechanics-0 Physical Sciences-0 Character Event Log: Failed to qualify for the Mercenaries.