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Martial Artist: A Career for Mongoose Traveller 1st Edition

This article originally appeared in the January/Feburary 2017 issue.

You’ve dedicated your life to developing your skill in a method of hand-to-hand combat, whether as a sport, self-defense or a means of self-cultivation. Along the way, you may inspire others or help pass on your enthusiasm and love of the fighting arts to them.


Choose one of the following:

You are a competitor, and fight in tournaments, matches, and duels.
You share your knowledge of martial arts and self-defense with others.
CQC (Close Quarter Combat) Trainer:
You train others for the reality of close quarter combat, combining techniques of melee fighting and close range shooting.


-1 DM for every previous career. Skills listed are mandatory, except where separated by or.

any two of Str 7+, Dex 7+, End 7+; Athletics or Melee (specialty) 0
Int 6+ or Edu 6+; Melee (specialty) 1+
CQC Trainer:
at least one prior term in relevant Law Enforcement or Military career; this career is typically only found in Military services and Law Enforcement agencies; Gun Combat (any) 1, Melee (any relevant such as knife or unarmed) 0; Int 6+ or Edu 6+

Career Progress

  Survival Advancement
Competitor End 7+ Dex 5+
Instructor Dex 6+ Soc 6+
CQC Trainer End 6+ Int 6+

Mustering Out Benefits

  Cash Other Benefits (see note)
1 500 Contact
2 1,000 Ally
3 2,000 +1 Str or +1 Dex
4 5,000 +1 End/Weapon
5 10,000 Middle Passage
6 20,000 + 1 Soc/Armor
7 30,000 TAS Membership

Other Benefits Notes

The options for weapon (#4) and armor (#6) are intended for CQC instructors who presumably are either currently serving or have previously served in a military or law enforcement capacity. If the character is a weapons-based martial artist, such as a kendoka (one who practices kendo, fighting with the samurai sword), the Referee could allow them the opportunity to choose a high-quality weapon of that type if the number is rolled.

Ranks and Benefits

Rank Competitor Skill or Benefit Instructor Skill or Benefit CQC Trainer Skill or Benefit
0 Rookie   Assistant   Trainer  
1   Melee 1   Instruction 1   Instruction 1
2     Instructor   Instructor  
3 Veteran Discipline 1   Leadership 1   Leadership 1
4     Master      
5 Champion Broker 1   Social Science 1 Chief Instructor Admin 1
6     Grand Master      

Explanation of Ranks and Benefits

Rank 1:
Melee 1 reflects the PC gaining fighting proficiency (if they don’t already have it) after many rounds of sparring, grappling, or “ring time”.
Rank 3:
Discipline 1 reflects the learned ability to keep focus despite pain, again, something gained from experience fighting.
Rank 5:
Broker 1 represents basic knowledge of contract negotiation. A character that achieves this rank is likely something of a sensation and might have been approached to fight professionally.
Rank 1:
Instructor 1 reflects the PC’s polished ability to pass on information to those less skilled.
Rank 3:
Leadership 1 represents the ability to move beyond rote instruction, providing inspiration to students. Additionally, the instructor with Leadership can act in the role of coach or mentor, preparing students for sparring matches or fights, and analyzing the results afterward. (Optionally, allow a character serving as a coach to use this skill to increase the initiative of a fighter as per the Traveller Core Rulebook, p.56).
Rank 5:
Social Sciences 1 reflects the instructor’s deepening appreciation of their martial art and its philosophical, historical, and cultural background (for specializations like history, philosophy, etc.). Alternately, it may reflect the Instructor’s deepening understanding of the human person and how to motivate (for specializations like psychology or sociology, etc.).
CQC Trainer
Rank 1:
Instructor 1 reflects the character’s polished ability to pass on information to those less skilled. Because of the dynamics of close quarters combat (simulated or real), chaos is the norm.
Rank 3:
Leadership 1 allows the Trainer to organize and rally the trainees, to get them to work together (since CQC requires the ability to work as a team, not only as an individual).
Rank 5:
Admin 1 represents the expanded roles that experienced CQC Trainers take on, such as running a training program at a military base (or something similar); this requires the ability to keep records of training, navigate through the hurdles of military or government bureaucracy, etc.

Skills and Training

  Personal Development Service Skills Advanced Education
(Minimum Edu 8)
Competitor Instructor CQC Trainer
1 Strength +1 Athletics (Any) Admin Athletics (Any) Athletics (Any) Athletics (Any)
2 Dexterity +1 Deception Advocate Discipline Discipline Gun Combat (Any)
3 Endurance +1 Diplomat Art (Any) Melee (Specialty) Instruction Instruction
4 Medic Discipline Medic Melee (Specialty) Melee (Any) Melee (Any)
5 Carouse Melee (Any) Social Science (Any) Stealth Leadership Recon
6 Gambler Trade (Any) Craftsman (Weapon) Streetwise Persuasion Stealth

Explanation of Skill Choices

Personal Development

Strength +1, Dexterity +1, and Endurance +1 represent the general increase in physical condition that any physical training represents.

Medic represents a character’s ability to handle injuries, especially those that come from training, physical exertion or as a result of fighting. This is basic competency, representing first aid, and should not be taken from this table more than once.

Carouse and Gambling are common ways of socializing.

Service Skills

Athletics represents the increased knowledge of the capabilities and limitations of the human body, and the ability to get increased performance within those limits.

Deception means the character can recognize and perhaps use the various kinds of deception present in the world of martial arts – this might include various means of cheating in a match, setting up cheap shots, etc. as well as faking various techniques.

Diplomat represents the character’s ability to tactfully navigate through the various cultures, governing bodies and/or regulatory commissions surrounding their martial art without giving undue offense to others, bruising egos or committing cultural faux-pas, etc.

Discipline here (borrowed from High Guard, p.39) represents the character’s ability to stay on task in the face of distraction and discomfort, in this case, from the pain and shock of jarring physical blows.

Trade (Any) represents the fact that few martial artists can actually make a living in martial arts, and most hold down a second job (or a ’day job’). This skill can be replaced by any other skill which would allow a character to make a living (such as Computers) while training in martial arts; a skill from a prior profession or career path might fit in well here.

Advanced Education

Advanced Education represents intellectual and artistic skills that may be taken in the exploration of the martial arts, or skills that may of necessity be acquired during a martial artist career.

Art represents artistic endeavors associated with certain martial arts, such as calligraphy or playing certain musical instruments. In certain forms of martial arts, the focus may be on meditation and movement, rather than fighting; in those, Art (Dancing) may be an appropriate skill.

Social Science represents the study of various contexts of martial arts, such as philosophical and historical.

Admin represents the business skills for e.g., running a dojo or negotiating a contract to be an instructor at one.

Advocate represents knowledge of laws relevant to martial arts, such as those regarding use of force or fighting, etc., how to avoid law suits, etc.)

Medic represents a knowledge of first aid and sports medicine, especially the types of injuries that can be incurred in martial arts competitions or fights where martial arts are used.

Craftsman (Weapon) represents knowledge of weapons, both care and creation, used in the martial artist’s specific style. This generally represents blades or cudgels, but is not necessarily so limited, and represents a martial artist’s interest in crafting the kind and quality of weapon they themselves would want to use.

Specialty: Competitor Skills

Athletics, Discipline, and Melee have all been previously explained.

There are arguable similarities between the Martial Arts Competitor and the general Athlete as conceived in Career Book 2 (Spica Publishing). Based on those similarities, Stealth and Streetwise are adopted from the latter: Stealth represents the superior physical self-control of the martial artist, which can include, when necessary, being light of foot. It might also be useful for the competitor to sneak back to their room after a night of carousing without alerting the coach. Streetwise represents their ability to see and head off trouble outside the ring since a wise fighter does not want exert their energy before a fight unnecessarily and would want to avoid injuries that could negatively affect their abilities. (Of course, PCs being PCs, these might not be the case!)

Specialty: Instructor Skills

Athletics, Discipline, and Melee, described earlier, represent the Instructor’s continuing to gain skill in their specialty, or in other martial disciplines. This may give them new insight into body positioning, mechanics, etc.; also, increased skill in a specialty allows them to instruct students at a higher level.

Instruction represents the ability to pass on one’s knowledge to those who are less skilled, and willing to learn.

Leadership represents the Instructor’s ability to inspire the student(s), and see the Instructor as a mentor and model, and as a coach rather than just a trainer in competition.

Persuade represents the instructor’s ability to motivate students to push themselves beyond their limits and carry on with training even when they’ve hit a plateau.

Specialty: CQC Trainer Skills

Instruction, described earlier, represents the CQC Trainer’s ability to pass on his knowledge.

Gun Combat covers marksmanship techniques optimized for shooting at extreme close quarters.

Melee (Any) represents a character’s trained ability to utilize different melee weapons, including hands, feet, elbows and knees or knife, blunt objects, etc., when a firearm is not accessible or desirable.

Stealth allows a character to move quietly to gain surprise on an opponent, making most use of angles of approach (such as “cutting the pie”) and cover.

Recon is the opposite side of the coin and represents a character’s situational awareness, in this case, to reduce the opponent’s ability to approach without warning.

Athletics because close quarters combat is physically very demanding and may involve movement around, over or through obstacles (walls, windows, furniture, etc.) in a dynamic manner.

Mishaps and Events

For some mishaps or events, you are instructed to roll on a table that is not included with this career. In such cases, the source of the table will be indicated as shown:

Traveller Core Rule Book (Mongoose Publishing)
Career Book 1 (Spica Publishing)
Career Book 2 (Spica Publishing)
Career Book 3 (Spica Publishing)


2d6 Mishap
2 You were severely injured in a fight or training accident – roll twice on the Injury Table (TCR, p.37 or CB2, p.5) and take the lower result.
3 You are distracted from your training by a lover or friend and your performance begins to suffer. Gain a Rival.
4 A competitor or rival instructor attempts to destroy your reputation and your career. Gain an Enemy.
5 You get into a brawl with a drunk local. Roll Melee (any) 8+ or End 8+. If you fail, roll on the Injury Table. (TCR, p.37 or CB2, p.5)
6 You develop a rivalry with another competitor or trainer. Gain a Rival.
7 A rival uses dirty tricks to get you out of the fight. Roll End 8+. If you fail, roll on the Injury Table. (TCR, p.37 or CB2, p.5)
8 You can’t make a living like this! Enter the Drifter career next term (unless you are serving in the Military or Agent careers, in which case you are reassigned to specialty in those professions.)
9 You are accused of using underhanded means to defeat an opponent or defame a rival. Guilty or not, take –1 Soc.
10 You engage in a drunken brawl with a local. Roll Melee (any) 8+ or End 8+. If you succeed, gain an Enemy. If you fail, roll on the Injury Table. (TCR, p.37 or CB2, p.5) Gain a reputation as a thug and take -1 Soc.
11 A side business or other duty begins to consume so much time that your performance drops off. Take a -1 to your benefit roll for this term.
12 You are constantly on the move, going from tournament to tournament, teaching on the seminar circuit or temporary duty assignments and have no chance to set down roots or form attachments. Gain 1 contact.


D66 Event
11 Disaster! Roll on the Mishap Table, but you are not ejected from this career.
12 You engage in grueling training in a wilderness environment. Gain +1 Survival.
13 A fellow competitor or sparring partner takes a disliking to you. Gain a Rival.
14 Over-training takes a toll on your body. Roll End 8+. If you fail, roll twice on the Injury Table (TCR, p.37 or CB2, p.5) and take the lower result.
15 One of your matches is especially well remembered, making you a minor celebrity among martial arts aficionados. Gain a +1 DM to any single Benefit roll.
16 You gain something of a following in martial arts (or self-defense, combatives or military, etc.) circles. You do not gain fortune or increased Social Standing, but a +2 DM to any personal interaction with your supporters.
21 You are sued by someone (perhaps a former student or someone you encountered in a fight outside the ring) claiming physical damages and medical expenses. Guilty or not, roll Advocate 8+ or Soc 8+ or lose a Benefit roll.
22 Due to your skill, you attract a group of admirers. Gain 1D3 contacts.
23 You are approached by organized crime to fix a match. If you accept, throw Deception 8+ or Int 8+. If you succeed, gain +1 DM to a Benefit roll. If you fail, take -1 Soc. If you refuse them, gain an Enemy.
24 A factor from a rival dojo, school or fighting league approaches you to fight or teach for their school. If you accept their offer, gain a +2 DM bonus to any one benefit roll. If you refuse, gain a +2 DM bonus to your Advancement check and gain a Rival, the school or organization which tried to recruit you.
25 As someone who competes or teaches on the seminar circuit, you travel frequently and have many opportunities to take in new and unusual experiences. Gain +1 in any skill.
26 You are embroiled in a scandal at your school, dojo or fight promotion. Throw Int 8+ to avoid losing 1 Rank. Gain +1 Advocate or +1 Deception.
31-36 Have a Life Event! – Roll on a Life Event Table (TCR, p.34, or CB1, pp.12-13)
41 You are approached by unsavory characters who would like you to use your talents to help them collect on some debts. If you agree, gain +2 to your next Benefits roll, but take -1 Soc as word gets out that you use your skills for questionable purposes. Optionally you may freely transfer to the Rogue (Enforcer) profession any time after this utilizing your new connections. If you turn them down, gain a Rival (organized crime family). If you turn them into the police, gain an Enemy (organized crime family).
42 Your side business struggles and begins to flounder. Throw Int 8+, or an appropriate skill used for business, such as Advocate, Computer, Trade, etc.) 8+. If you fail, lose 1 Benefit roll. Regardless, gain +1 Admin.
43 You are pressured to fight in a particularly prestigious tournament. Roll Melee (specialty) 8+. If you succeed, gain +1 Soc and a bonus of 10,000 credits. If you fail, roll on the Injury Table. (TCR, p.37 or CB2, p.5)
44 From your extensive travels in the seminar or tournament circuit, you make useful connections. Gain 1D3 contacts in appropriate fields (martial arts, law enforcement, military, etc.)
45 You are asked to train an up-and-coming fighter. Gain +1 Instruction or +1 Leadership.
46 You have the opportunity to make money betting on yourself in fights through intermediaries. If you choose to do so, gain a +1 DM bonus to any one Benefit roll, +1 Gambling and gain an Enemy in the underworld. If you choose not to bet, you emerge none the richer, but perhaps a little wiser.
51 You are caught up in politics between competing organizations or fight promotions. Gain +1 Advocate, +1 Carouse, or +1 Diplomacy, but also gain an Enemy.
52 Something really weird happened. Roll on the “Unusual Event” table. (TCR, p.34 or CB1, p.12)
53 You are approached to act as a stunt double or to choreograph a fight scene for a holo-movie. Gain +1 Art (Acting), +1 Athletics (Any) or +1 Deception.
54 You cross train in another martial discipline. Gain +1 Melee (Any) or +1 Gun Combat (Any) outside of your specialty.
55 You establish a thriving side business to supplement your meager income. Gain +1 Trade (Any) or +1 Admin.
56 You are hired to act as a bodyguard. Roll Int 8+ or Dex 8+. If you succeed, your quick thinking or quick reactions saves your client’s life. Gain an Ally.
61 You spend time studying the cultural or philosophical side of your art. Gain +1 Social Science (any) or +1 Edu.
62 Your discipline and skill have impressed a Noble. Gain an Ally and a +2 DM to your next advancement roll.
63 You manage to capitalize on your fame as a martial artist to gain media exposure. Gain +1 Carouse, +1 Deception, +1 Persuade, or a +2 DM to a single Benefit roll. Your media exposure also gains you a Rival.
64 You are assigned to teach new students or recruits. Gain +1 Instruction, +1 Leadership, or +1 Deception.
65 A well-known martial artist takes you under his wing. Gain +4 DM on your next Advancement roll and gain a Contact.
66 Your accomplishments in the martial arts have gained widespread attention and approval. Gain an automatic advancement.

Notes on the tables

The Mishap and Events tables are inspired primarily by those from Career Book 1 (Spica Publishing) and Career Book 2 (Spica Publishing). Some ideas were taken from Entertainer profession Life Events table (p.19, TCR) and the Duelist Life Events table (Signs and Portents #76, p.53)

For characters who are still serving in the military or law enforcement, at the Referee’s option, the player can roll on the appropriate table for their branch of service as it might be the case that their current assignment is only a collateral (part-time) duty, which means they do it in addition to regular duties (as an infantryman, detective, etc.)

In order to make the Events table as applicable to all as possible, I think I did not put as many in that applied specifically to CQC Instructors. Many of the events can be altered easily enough to apply to them. Of course, Referees can alter the events to suit their own needs!

Sources of Inspiration

Career Book 2 (Spica Publishing, 2009)
Athlete (Player/Trainer/Manager), pp.14-15
Signs and Portents, #76 (Mongoose Publishing, 2010)
Duelist (Fencer/Pistoleer/Champion), “Duelist” by James Desborough, pp.52-3 http://mongoosepublishing.com/pdf/sp76.pdf
Blog (Mongoose Publishing, 2011-Oct-13)
“Martial Arts in Traveller” http://blog.mongoosepublishing.co.uk/?p=71
Traveller: The New Era (GDW, 1993)
“Martial Artist” career, p.48