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Decorations in Marc Miller's Traveller

This article was originally posted to the pre-magazine Freelance Traveller website in 1996, and reprinted in the March/April 2019 issue.

The young officer approached the reviewing stand with a bit of hesitation. Rewards processions were occurrences that were a part of every young officer in the Imperial fleet. But this one was different. Before, he was in the honor guard. Now… His name was called, and a CPO was waiving him to go up on stage. He came to attention and marched onto the stage.

Once on stage he approached the central podium, careful not to display his astonishment. The planet’s Marquis was there, no less. A bead of sweat started to form on his brow as he came to where the Marquis was. The Marquis smiled, then spoke, reading from an artificially weathered parchment.

“On this, the 281st day of the One Thousand One Hundred and Third year of the Imperium, and in the name of the Emperor, Strephon, First of that name, I award Lieutenant Commander James Stovall of His Majesty’s Imperial Navy with the Medal for Conspicuous Gallantry for his efforts at Eneri in defending his ship against overwhelming odds.”

The Marquis hung the medal around the young officer’s neck and shook his hand. The Marquis then spoke again. “I also hereby promote this young man to the rank of Commander in His Majesty’s Naval Forces on behalf of a grateful Imperium. Congratulations, Commander.”

Awards for meritorious conduct in the face of the enemy on behalf of a grateful nation have always been an important part of every nation’s heritage. Children are regaled with stories of how Grandpa won the Congressional Medal of Honor for saving that entire regiment in World War II, for example. Decorations serve multiple purposes, one of which is to give the country a new hero to help bolster morale and support. The Third Imperium is no exception in this regard.

In Book 4: Mercenary, players and referees were introduced to the concept of decorations in the Classic Traveller universe. A decoration served to represent the service of a character in a particular event. How one received a decoration depended on what type of mission he served and if that mission allowed the character to be eligible for the medal. There were five primary decorations mentioned in Mercenary, which were also later used in Book 5: High Guard and the MegaTraveller Player’s Manual:

Combat Ribbon:
This award was received by a character that participated in a mission that was considered hazardous to the character’s health. For Marine/Army characters, the missions that were considered were Battle, Counter Insurgency, and Raid. For Navy characters, they were Battle, Siege, and Strike. No roll was necessary, just participation in one of the above missions.
Purple Heart:
A character received a purple heart if he received an injury on a combat-oriented mission. In games terms, this translated to rolling the exact roll needed to survive the mission. (In some editions of Traveller, this was called “Wound Badge”.)
Meritorious Conduct Under Fire (MCUF):
This medal was received when a character displayed courage above and beyond the call of duty. Gamewise, the character would receive this when he rolls the number needed for receiving a decoration. For that year, the character receives a +1 for a promotion roll (if he hasn’t already received a promotion that term if he is an officer.).
Medal for Conspicuous Gallantry (MCG):
This medal was one step above the MCUF. Gamewise, the character received an MCG if he passed the roll for decoration by a total of three or more needed. For that year, the character receives a +2 for a promotion roll (if he hasn’t already received a promotion that term if he is an officer.).
Starburst for Extreme Heroism (SEH):
This medal was given for the providing the greatest service for the Imperium or local sector. Gamewise, the character could receive an SEH for passing the decoration roll needed by six or more. For that year, the character receives a +3 for a promotion roll (if he hasn’t already received a promotion that term if he is an officer.) as well as a +1 to social standing.

In the case of the MCUF, MCG, and SEH, the player could “buck” for a decoration. That is, the player could gain a bonus of +1 for the decoration roll if he accepted a –1 on the survival roll. For example, a Marine is required to roll a 6+ to survive a mission and 8+ to get a decoration. The player decides that he wants to add +2 to his chance to get a decoration. This changes the required roll for survival for that mission to 8+. This decision must be made before the survival roll is made.

When Marc Miller’s Traveller came out in 1996, there were several changes to the character system. One of them was the absence of a system to determine decorations for a character in the system. This article provides a proposed option for the implementation of awards/medals in the T4 character process. This article expands on the original idea, providing possible awards and decorations for all the careers presented in the T4 core rulebook, save the Psionicists (who are a group that does not advertise its existence) and the Rogues (who try to keep out of the public eye for obvious reasons.).

Army, Marines, and Navy

The Army, Marines, and Navy receive the same awards as presented in Mercenary, High Guard and the MegaTraveller Player’s Handbook. To bring these awards into line with the Marc Miller’s Traveller character generation system, consider the following:

Combat Ribbon:
Roll 6– on 2D6, no modifiers. This signifies the character participated in a combat situation. No real benefits for the term are derived. This roll should be made before the injury roll.
Wound Badge:
Roll exactly the number needed to avoid an injury. This signifies that the character received an injury, but it was not debilitating enough to remove him from service.
Make one roll of 6– on 2D6, no modifiers. The referee may as an option allow a player to “buck” for a decoration by giving the player a +1 bonus for every –1 the player voluntarily takes to make the injury roll. Note that the referee should make sure that the player should take this option before he makes his injury roll. The result of the roll gives the medal received:
  • On 6–, the character receives a MCUF, and a +1 for commission/promotion for that current term.
  • On 4–, the character receives a MCG, and a +2 for commission/promotion for that current term.
  • On 2–, the character receives a SEH, and a +3 for commission/promotion for that term. At the referee’s discretion, the character might also receive a +1 to social standing permanently.

The roll for decoration should be made before the roll for commission/promotion.


The rewards of a scholar should be quite different from those of a military-oriented career. A scholar would receive an honor for insightful work in a particular field of endeavor or discovery of a new idea/process. There are no combat ribbons or purple hearts in the scholarly fields.

For an honor, the scholar rolls a 4– on 2D6, no modifiers. This is in recognition that it is much more difficult in the scholarly field to gain recognition for work than in the military.

On 4–, the scholar has had his worked published in one of the major peer-reviewed scholarly journals of the day. The character receives a bonus of Cr500 for his work as a small stipend. This may be received multiple times.
Tenured Professor:
On 3–, the scholar receives a permanent teaching/research position at a major university in recognition. The scholar receives an additional Cr500/year upon retirement from the career. This may only be received once in a career; subsequent awards should be recorded as Publications. Optionally, the incremental Cr500 to retirement may be awarded multiple times.
Named Chair:
On 2–, the scholar's work has had so profound an impact on the nature of the field he is in that he will be recognized for as long as that university department remains in existence. The character receives a +1 to social standing, an additional Cr1000/year upon retirement, and a +1 to the material benefits table upon mustering out. This may only be received once in a career; subsequent awards should be recorded as Publications. Optionally, the incremental Cr1000 to retirement and the +1 SOC may be awarded multiple times.


Merchants do not receive decorations. Rather, a merchant receives a bonus for opening new trade territory, establishing major trade deals, etc. The type of bonus depends on the merchant’s rank within the corporate entity. Needless to say, the captain of a free trader would receive a higher bonus than the crew members. A bonus is received when a merchant rolls 4– on 2D6, no modifiers. This reflects the involvement of the company in the affairs of its employees. The employees are working to ensure that the company makes a profit, correct? The type of bonus depends on the roll made.

Speculative Success:
On 4–, the merchant has discovered a new way to breathe new life into a current trading enterprise. As a reward, the merchant rolls on the Cash Benefits (Mustering-out) table, then receives a percentage of the results based on rank. If of enlisted rank or O2–, receive 10% of the roll generated. If O3–O5, receive 15% of the roll generated. If O6+, receive 25% of the roll generated. This may be received multiple times.
Exploratory Success:
On 3–, the corporation has ordered the merchant and/or his vessel to a new world to check on the possibility of new markets for goods, and to “test the waters”. Roll once on the Cash Benefits table, then receive a benefit based on rank. If enlisted, no bonus is given; officers only would be involved in the negotiations. Rank O1–O3 receive 15% of the roll generated, O4+ receive 25%.
Route Opening:
On 2–, the merchant has opened a brand-spanking new trade route. Only an officer-in-command (rank O5+) can receive this; enlisted ranks receive a Speculative Success instead; ranks O1–O4 receive an Exploratory Success instead. Roll once on the Cash Benefits table and receive 50% of the roll generated (the corporation was very generous in this case. The merchant also receives +1 to social standing. This should be received only once in a character’s career; subsequent awards should be treated as Exploratory Successes.


The life of a scout is quite lonely, dangerous, and can sometimes be underappreciated. As such, the IISS has made an effort to develop a system to recognize outstanding members of their service. Recognition is given in lieu of rank in the IISS.

To be recognized, roll 4– on 2D6, no modifiers.

On 4–, the scout has made a Discovery, such as a new life form or Ancient site. The scout receives one additional roll on the skills table and a one-time cash award (roll once on the Cash Benefits table) in recognition.
Successful Recontact:
On 3–, the scout has reopened with a world that was once part of one of the Imperiums and has been rediscovered. The scout should receive one additional roll on the skills table, +1 social standing, and an increment of Cr500/year to retirement pay in recognition.
Successful First Contact:
If the player rolls 2–, the character has Discovered/Rediscovered a “Lost” World, or a previously-unknown Alien Sophont. This should be received only once in a scout’s career if that. The scout that achieves this recognition receives 2 additional skill rolls, +1 social standing, a Cr1000 increment to retirement pay, and should receive the option to name the system. If this choice is rolled after being received once, reroll; if the reroll is also a Successful First Contact, award a Successful Recontact, otherwise, award a Discovery.


Entertainers can receive additional recognition beyond the adulation/disdain of the masses in front of whom they perform. The result of this recognition is principally monetary.

To be recognize, roll 6– on 2D6, no modifiers.

Organizational Award:
On 6–, the entertainer has received an Award for Outstanding Performance. This performance can be akin to the Oscars, Emmys, Grammies, etc. The character receives Cr25,000 with the award, as well as at least subsector-wide recognition.
Society Induction:
On 4–, the entertainer Inducted into the Imperial Grand Society of the Arts (IGSA). The entertainer has received sector or possibly domain-level recognition. The inductee receives Cr50,000 and +1 to social standing. Note that this recognition should be received only once in an entertainer’s career; subsequent awards should be Noble Command Performances instead.
Noble Command Performance:
If the character has previously been Inducted into the IGSA, and rolls 4– for recognition, the entertainer has been summoned to a regional capital (cluster or client state, subsector, or sector) for a command performance before the ruling noble of the region. No additional increase to SOC is received, but the character receives Cr75,000.
Imperial Command Performance:
On 2–, the entertainer has been ordered to make an Imperial Command Performance on Capitol/Sylea. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and should be the crowning achievement of the entertainer’s career. The entertainer receives +2 to social standing (hey, it’s not every day you play for the Emperor) as well as Cr100,000. After this, the entertainer cannot go anywhere in the Third Imperium or its client states without being recognized and mobbed.


The agent is one of the unsung heroes of Imperial society. It is up to him to keep the wheels of Imperial society humming along. As such, when an agent achieves an honor, it is well known both in “official” and “unofficial” society.

To be honored, the agent should roll 6– on 2D6, no modifiers. Rolls should be made before commission/promotion rolls, with one per term possible.

Bronze Star:
On 6–, the agent has performed a service that goes beyond the call of duty, and should receive a +1 on the roll for commission/promotion for that term only.
Silver Star:
On 4–, the agent has performed an important act of gallantry that needs to be rewarded, and should receive +2 on the roll for commission/promotion for that term only.
Medal of Honor:
On 2–, the agent has performed a service that cannot go ignored by the members of the state. The agent should receive a +3 on the promotion/commission roll for that term only, as well as a +1 to social standing and an additional Cr1000/year retirement pay.


The noble is already highly visible in Imperial society. Additional recognitions are in acknowledgment to the service and expansion of the Third Imperium to achieve its ultimate goal as the inheritors of the First and Second Imperia. Recognition brings the eyes of the upper strata of Imperial society down upon the noble, eyes he might not want looking sometimes.

To be recognized, the noble should roll 4– on 2D6, no modifiers.

Domain Order: On 4–, the noble is Inducted into a Domain Order by the Archduke of the Domain. The noble receives a +3 on the promotion roll for that term only.

Imperial Order: On 3–, the noble is Inducted into an Imperial Order by order of the Emperor. The noble receives +1 to social standing, plus an additional noble title. This honor should be received only once in the character generation process.

Summons to the Presence: On 2–, the noble receives a Summons into the Imperial Presence. The noble has performed a duty that has gotten even the notice of the Emperor/Empress and wishes to reward the noble for this action. The character should receive +2 to social standing, as well as any other benefits the current Emperor/Empress might like to bestow upon the noble.

The individual gamemaster has the option to develop his own ideas on decorations/awards for the Traveller services, of course. Those above are provided as a possible starting point. As always, it is the Traveller gamemaster that has the ultimate as to what goes in his game or what doesn’t.


Chadwick, Frank. Book 4: Mercenary. Published by Games Designers' Workshop, 1979. Page 8.
Miller, Marc(?) Book 5: High Guard. Published by Games Designers' Workshop, 1981. Page 8. 
Miller, Marc(?) Book 7: Merchant Prince. Published by Games Designers' Workshop, 1985. Page 8.