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Skill Advancement

This article originally appeared in Issue #000 of the downloadable PDF magazine.

In Classic Traveller, the assumption was that characters would not change substantially during play, thus character advancement was a very slow process, and rather sketchy. Here’s some rules to make character advancement a little nicer.

This article describes the use of points, called TICs (To Improve Character), to measure the incremental improvement in a skill until the improvement is sufficient to consider the skill level to be increased (e.g., from Computer-1 to Computer-2). There is a chart at the end of the article providing specific TIC values for skill or characteristic improvements. "Points" and "TICs" are used interchangeably.

There are three ways to improve one's skills during play: by using the skill (learning by doing), by practicing the skill (learning through practice), and by studying the skill (learning through study).

Learning by Doing

If you use a skill during a session to particularly good effect, then you should remember this; at the end of the situation. You would receive a TIC for that skill. Typically only one skill will get the TIC per situation, (player’s choice if multiple skills were used). If you don’t have a skill, you can be tutored by someone into an immediate zero level for that skill. This requires a determination task on your part, and a tutor to show you “how to use that vacuum suit”. Once the immediate situation passes, you lose the zero level; however, if you used the skill successfully, then you can gain an experience TIC for the skill. This does not apply to Jack-of-all-Trades skill.

Learning Through Practice

You can elect to practice a skill to improve it. You must back this up during role playing, by devoting time each game week to practice; this practice can be in any size increments from one hour up, and must total at least eight hours per week. At the end of a game month, you can have one TIC to assign to a skill that you’re practicing, if you pass a Determination task

Learning Through Study

You can elect to study a skill to improve it. As with practice, you must back this up during role playing, and your allocations must again be in one-hour or greater increments to a minimum of eight hours per week. If you have an instructor to guide you, then you can earn one TIC per week. If you don’t, then you can earn one TIC per game month for a studied skill, if you pass a Determination task. You may not apply practice or study to the Jack Of All Trades skill.

Intensive Practice or Study

If a character puts in at least sixteen hours per week for practice or study, and passes a Difficult task of Endurance, an additional TIC may be earned in any month. Each month that an additional TIC is attempted adds an unfavorable DM of 1 to a similar Endurance roll for the next month, if intensive practice or study is undertaken during that next month. Failing the Endurance roll in any month forces the character to take the following week off (and thus not get a TIC for that month); extreme failure forces the character to give up attempting to better that skill entirely.

The Improvement Check

At any time you have TICs in a skill, but no more than once per session, you can elect to make an improvement check. An improvement check is of Formidable difficulty, and you can use your DM for one appropriate characteristic on the roll (which is most appropriate depends on the skill you’re trying to improve); you also get to add the TICs you’ve accumulated for the skill as a positive DM to the check. If you have the number of TICs shown in the table below, gaining the skill will be essentially automatic.

If you make your check, your skill increases in level by one, and you then have zero TICs for that skill.

If you fail your check, then you lose half your TICs (round in your favor, so if you started with three you end up with two TICs) for that skill, and you get no increase.


Skill TICs needed to achieve each level up to level...
1 2 3 4 5
Brawling, Cargo Handling, Carousing, Combat Engineering, Communications, Gunnery (Field Artillery), Forward Observer, Gunnery (Ship's Weapons), Hunting, Reconnaissance, Ship's Maintenance, Steward, Wildnerness Survival 10
Administration, Battle Dress, Blade Combat, Demolition, Disguise, Electronics, Engineering, Escape/Evasion, Gravitics, Gun Combat, Heavy Weapons, Leader, Mechanincal, Medical, Navigation, Pilot, Ship's Boat, Tactics, Vacc Suit, Zero-G Combat 10 15
Broker, Bribery, Computer, Forgery, Gambling, Instructor, Legal, Streetwise 10 15
Assassination, Trader, Unarmed Combat, Jack-of-all-Trades* 15 20

* Jack-of-all-Trades skill may not be practiced or studied.