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Prior Career: Academia

This article originally appeared in the January 2013 issue.

Professor Moldova stormed out of the department meeting, fuming. Once again, the department chair had denied the funding for Moldova’s big research project. Twelve years, Moldova thought, twelve years I’ve taught at this school, never less than full classes and consistent commendations from students and teachers alike. That fat-headed bureaucrat should never have been made department chair, but he was more adept at playing office politics than actual teaching. I think it’s about time I got out of here, made some real money, and funded the research myself. He stopped mid-stride, and laughed aloud, a short barking laugh that caused several students to glance suspiciously his way. Why hadn’t he thought of it before? He’d taught hundreds of students the difference between a tritium injector and a thermal induction coil, and they were mostly out there working on actual starships, so why not him? Large merchant lines paid well for talented engineers, and offered shares as well. With the economics lessons he’d picked up from dating the Investment professor, he should be able to make enough to fund his research in a few years, and wouldn’t it be nice to not have to wear a tie and grade exams and sit in pointless meetings like the one he’d just left? The first thing to do would be look up that Marketing professor whose family owned half of the Windegar line.

A month later, Mr. Moldova was assistant engineer aboard the Windegar liner Prospero, outbound for a six month tour of the coreward regions. No more stuffy suits, no more administrative meetings, travel, seeing new places and finally getting to test the Moldova process for eliminating contaminant buildup on the injector assembly.

Six months after that, frustrated with the bureaucratic regulations that covered every aspect of his job, reminding him of his former job, he left and signed on with the subsidized liner Glorious Venture as chief engineer, with the promise that as long as the engines kept running, he could run things how he liked.

A month later, the pirates attacked . . .

The Academic career represents the pursuit of higher education, generally with the goal of entering a specific profession. Most people who follow this path do in fact enter the chosen profession, but sometimes, the person’s goals change, and they become a ‘perpetual student’ or an instructor, and every once in a while, a highly trained and educated individual chooses a life of adventure instead of the stability of a ‘normal’ career.

The Academic career was inspired by the College rules that first appeared in Book 5: High Guard from the original Traveller game. There, College (or the Naval Academy) was a single-term option. This treatment is intended to fill the role of a Classic Traveller basic (Book 1: Characters and Combat) career.

The Schools

The Academic career offers three different types of academic institutions: Trade Schools, Professional Schools, and Colleges or Universities. The three types of schools have different focusses, as follows:

Trade Schools emphasize practical knowledge and its use. The curriculum is aimed at quickly developing the ability to function in a role at more than minimal competency. Someone who has completed a course of study at a Trade School can use, and probably repair, the tools and mechanisms that they use, but would likely not be able to build any of them from components.

Professional Schools also emphasize practical knowledge, but at a level where more than basic understanding of the theory behind it is necessary. They often assume that one has the equivalent of a Trade School understanding of the actual use of the skills and knowledge. The graduate of a Professional School could use and repair tools and mechanisms, and could likely build one at need, given the components, but probably could not design a new mechanism for a job where a familiar one is inadequate.

Colleges and Universities focus on the acquisition of knowledge, and on theory. Practical use is a secondary consideration at best. The College or University graduate might not be as good at operating, repairing, or constructing established mechanisms as his counterpart from a Trade or Professional school, but would understand the theory behind those mechanisms well enough that a new one could be designed at need.

Managing the Academic Career

Entering Academia

As with any Classic Traveller basic career, one must enlist in the career. For Academia, this is called ‘admission’ or ‘enrollment’, and is successful if 9+ on 2D is rolled. Characters with EDU 9+ have DM+2 for the Admission roll. After a character is successfully admitted, a series of four-year terms must be resolved. Each of these is resolved with three rolls of 2D, for Survival (called Success in Academia), Honors (the equivalent of Decoration), and Retention (equivalent of Reenlistment).


Career: Academia
Career Resolution Sequence
Admission 9+
DM+2 if EDU 9+
Success 7+
DM+2 if INT 8+
Honors 9+
DM+1 if EDU 9+
Retention 6+
DM-1 if Each term after 2nd, cumulative
DM+1 if Each two receipts of Honors or each receipt of Publish

Resolving the Term

The player must declare whether the character is attending a Trade School, a Professional School, or a College or University before resolving the term. Once the school is chosen, roll 7+ on 2D for Success. Characters with INT 8+ have DM+2 on this roll. Characters that fail the Success roll end career resolution at this point. If the character succeeds, roll 9+ on 2D for Honors. Characters with EDU 9+ have DM+1 on this roll. A character that achieves Honors may optionally take DM+1 on the school skill table when rolling to receive skills.

Skills are awarded automatically. In the first term, the character receives three skill levels. One must be rolled on either the Personal Development or Social column of the table; the character receives +1 in this skill. The other must be rolled on the table for the school that the character attended, and the character receives +2 in this skill. If the character achieved Honors, the school skill may be awarded an additional level (+3 instead of +2), or another roll on the school table may be made, taking +1 in the skill rolled.

In subsequent terms, the character receives only two skills, one of which must be rolled on the Personal Development or Social column. The second skill may be taken by the player’s choice as +1 to any skill that s/he already has, or rolled on the school column. If a character has 3 levels of any school skill, +1 in Instruction may be taken instead. If the character achieved Honors in this term, an optional second +1 to an extant skill or DM+1 on the roll on the school column may be taken (and see the Notes on Skills concerning the ‘skills’ on line 7), or the character may take +2 in the skill rolled (with no DM).

Once skills are awarded, roll 6+ on 2D for Retention. Succeeding at this roll allows the character to continue study for an additional term. In the first and second term, there is no DM on this roll; in each subsequent term there is a cumulative DM-1 for each term (i.e., DM-1 in the third term, DM-2 in the fourth, DM-3 in the fifth, etc.). Additionally, at the referee’s discretion, DM+1 may be awarded for each two receipts of Honors, or each receipt of Publish.


1D Personal Development Social Development Trade School Professional School College/University
1 +1 EDU Forgery Mechanical Engineering Gravitics
2 J-o-T Carousing Trader Broker Science
3 Carousing Gambling Admin Liaison Legal
4 +1 INT Streetwise Electronics Computer Robotics
5 +1 END Vehicle Survey Navigation Science
6 Brawling +1 SOC Commo Pilot Medical
7     Cross-Reg Cross-Reg Publish
Note: Characters with skill-3 in any school skill may take Instruction +1 instead of school roll.

Mustering Out

No character is compelled to remain in Academia; if a character elects to leave, there is no need to roll Retention. If Retention is rolled, but fails, the character musters out and begins adventuring. Characters may receive material benefits or cash when mustering out. Roll once on the Mustering Out table for each term spent in the Academia career. A character may make no more than three rolls on the Cash table. A character with level 5 in any skill receives DM+1 on all mustering-out rolls; a character with any level of Gambling skill receives DM+1 on Cash rolls (not cumulative).


1D Material Benefits Cash
1 Low Passage 1000
2 Equipment 2000
3 +1 INT 2000
4 Credentials 3000
5 Credentials 4000
6 High Passage 5000
7 +1 SOC 5000
DM+1 on all rolls if any skill 5+, or on Cash if any Gambling skill

Notes on Skills

All skill listed that appear in Classic Traveller Books 1-8 are as described there. The additional skills are handled as follows:

Science is a cascade skill which the player can select. Any branch of science not covered by another held skill can be specified.

Publish represents a character in a College or University having an article over his/her byline published in a peer-reviewed journal in a field in which the character has a skill. For each two levels of the Publish ‘skill’ the character receives, SOC or any one skill from any school column (but not from the Personal or Social Development columns) may be raised by +1. If the skill option is chosen, the character need not already have the skill, instead taking Skill-1 in any chosen school skill.

Cross-Registration allows the character to take a course at a school other than the one enrolled in, to gain a skill that would not be available in the normal curriculum. If this skill is rolled, the player may choose a skill from any school column (not the Personal or Social Development columns) of the same line of the table as a skill he already has.

Notes on Benefits

Credentials represent formal recognition of the character by a relevant professional or trade organization. This includes formal degrees from an accredited institution and some recognized contribution to the field such as research or innovative practice. It has no cash value and cannot be transferred, but a Credentialed character can claim greater compensation from a patron and get a bonus (Referee's discretion) on reactions when operating within the character's chosen field.

Equipment means the character has been given at no cost a set of standard tools (or other logical equipment) relevant to the area of highest skill. For example, a character with Mechanical-3 would receive a standard Mechanical tool kit. If the highest skill does not have standard tools, and a logical set of equipment cannot be agreed on between the player and the referee, then the player may choose a set for another skill (player’s choice, but it’s recommended that tools for higher skills be preferred over those for lower skills). Receipt of this benefit multiple times represents an increase in the quality of the equipment received.