[ Freelance Traveller Home Page | Search Freelance Traveller | Site Index ]

*Freelance Traveller

The Electronic Fan-Supported Traveller® Resource

Scientists: An Elaborated Career for Classic Traveller

This article originally appeared in the April 2010 issue of the downloadable PDF magazine, and was reprinted in this form in the January/February 2020 issue.

The scientist career, as described here, is a “cluster career” with three distinct paths: Technicians, basically following the “scientist” career in Classic Traveller Supplement 4: Citizens of the Imperium; Academics (teaching-oriented scholars), and Researchers. You will need the Classic Traveller core rules for character generation. Additional books that might be of interest would be Book 6: Scouts for the discussion of College, and Supplement 4: Citizens of the Imperium, for the Scientist career discussed there.

Types of Scientists

are the “practical” scientists. They apply their knowledge to real-world situations, with well-defined, concrete goals. They convert theories and lab-scale processes into industrial processes, or into “engineering”.
are scholars who keep up with accepted knowledge in their field, and focus their careers on teaching that accepted knowledge to others. They may participate in original research, but are not the primary source of advances in their fields.
are scholars whose interest is in expanding the frontiers of knowledge in their fields. They are the scientists that focus on developing and testing new theories, and exploring the limits of existing theories. They may teach as well, but this is a secondary activity for them.


Scientists almost universally have advanced education. The standard “College” term, if the character is successful, awards a baccalaureate degree (or equivalent). Most scientists will go on to higher degrees; this is represented in these rules by a “Graduate School” term, which awards a doctoral degree or equivalent. Graduate School is only available to College graduates.


Once a society’s general scientific knowledge reaches a certain level, it becomes impractical or impossible for an individual to be a “generalist” who knows a useful amount about everything. Instead, individuals tend to specialize in one or two areas, becoming “expert” in those areas, while maintaining only basic knowledge in other fields. For the purposes of this article, we assume that this occurs at TL6, but that individuals may choose to specialize when a society is at a lower TL.

All Scientist characters should choose a primary area of specialization. Academics and Researchers must choose both a primary and secondary specialization; Technicians may do so, but it is not required. The primary specialization represents the area that the Scientist actually works in; the secondary specialization represents an additional field of interest.

Specializations are generally chosen during College, though some Scientists know what they want to specialize in much earlier; in game terms, the character may choose specializations at any time before entering Graduate School.

A character’s choice of specialization should be made from the skills available in the campaign. They should be heavily biased toward those skills that use INT or EDU as a beneficial DM in task rolls.

Scientist characters should be taken through the Advanced Education process following before beginning the Scientist career. Remember that success at College or Graduate School each add four years to the character’s age.

Advanced Education
  College   Graduate School
(College grads only)
  Roll DM if   Roll DM if
Admission 9+ +2 EDU 9+   7+ +2 EDU 10+
Success 7+ +2 INT 8+   8+ +1 END 8+
Education 1D-2 +1 INT 9+   1D-3 +1 INT 10+
Honors 10+ +1 EDU 10+   11+ +1 EDU 11+
          If the character received Honors in College:
Admission is automatic
Receive an additional DM +1 to Honors roll

Embarking on the Scientific Career

Once the character has completed the Advanced Education sequence, the actual career can begin. A character who has not succeeded at Graduate School must be a Technician; other characters may choose any of the Scientist types.

Initial Training

The first year of the character’s first term represents “getting up to speed” in the role. Characters should not resolve an assignment; instead, award the following skills:

After awarding these skills, resolve a short, 3-year term as described under “Administering a Term”.

Administering a Term

A term as a Scientist consists of four one-year assignments. Each year, determine and resolve the assignment as follows:

General Assignment

Roll 1D6 for the general assignment (Table 1), using the column corresponding to the type of Scientist. This is required only for the second year of the first term (the first year of the first term is Initial Training); after that, it is optional (and if declined, the character continues in the same assignment).

Table 1: Assignments
Roll 1D Technician Academic Researcher
1 Commercial Educational Commercial
2 Commercial Educational Commercial
3 Commercial Educational Governmental
4 Governmental Educational Governmental
5 Educational Educational Educational
6 Private Private Private
Commercial assignments
imply that the Scientist is working for a company, contributing to the “bottom line” in some way—a Technician might be an industrial chemist, devising procedures to produce needed chemicals in bulk, or a Researcher might be a research chemist looking for more effective drugs.
Governmental assignments
imply that the Scientist is working for a government, focused on a particular goal, and may be politically motivated.
Educational assignments
imply that the Scientist works for an institution of higher learning, either teaching or aimed at discovering new knowledge, or refining existing knowledge.
Private assignments
may have the character of any of the other assignments, but are at the behest of e.g., a noble patron, or a nonprofit organization. There will usually be some sort of direction to the work, but this is not necessarily going to be the case.

Specific Assignment

Roll 2D6 for specific duty, using the column for the indicated assignment. See the notes after the table for Special or Transfer. Specific Duty is rolled every year except the first year of Term 1, or if a previous Special Duty granted the choice of duty for this year.

Table 2: Specific Duty
Roll 2D Commercial Educational Governmental Private
2 Instruction Authorship Authorship Authorship
3 Authorship Technical Authorship Technical
4 Technical Admin Instruction Technical
5 Research Instruction Research Research
6 Admin Research Instruction Admin
7 Research Research Instruction Research
8 Research Admin Research Instruction
9 Admin Admin Admin Instruction
10 Research Research Instruction Admin
11 Admin Special Admin Special
12 Special Special Special Special
13 Transfer Transfer Transfer Transfer
DM +1 if SOC 9+. DM -1 if either chosen specialization skill is at 4+
The Scientist’s principal activity is to communicate what he knows to others, in an organized fashion, so that those others may become better Scientists themselves.
The Scientist’s principal activity is the preparation of material for publication, generally in peer-reviewed journals in the Scientist’s field of specialization.
The Scientist’s principal activity is the running of experiments and collection of data
The Scientist’s principal activity is exploratory—he will be devising hypotheses and experiments to test them. Study of data collected during Technical activities is also a major activity.
Admin (Administration):
The Scientist’s principal activity is the maintenance of his position, generally through paperwork (e.g., grant applications).
is to another assignment (e.g., from Governmental to Private), and may be declined. If Transfer is accepted, roll on the Assignment table. A result of the same assignment as current indicates a change of organization (e.g., from one government agency to another, or from one non-profit organization to another). Roll on the Specific Duty table in the column for the new assignment (or reroll in present column if transfer is declined), and ignore further Transfer results.
Special Duty
is an exceptional assignment, outside the normal routine of the scientist. Roll on the Special Duty table for the nature of the special duty, then follow the instructions given for the duty, then roll the regular assignment resolution process except as described in the duty instructions.
Hazardous Duty:
Roll 5+ on 2D6 to acquire 1 level of each of Vacc Suit, Survival, Vehicle, Engineering, Ship's Boat, Gun Combat, Brawling. (7 Rolls; do not roll for Skills when resolving term)
Remote Assignment:
Do not roll for position, promotion, or skills. The character may choose the next duty assignment (but not Special Duty).
Task Force:
Roll 3D6; if under INT+skill level of primary specialization (or highest tech skill if technician), task is successful; roll once on research skill table and +1 Soc; if failure, no position/promotion/college allowed next term.
Professional Society:
+1 Liaison. When next eligible to roll position or promotion, position/promotion roll succeeds on lesser of indicated roll or 8+; do not apply any DMs.
Roll once on Research or Personal Development skill table (player choice). Do not roll for Skill when resolving term.
+1 SOC. The character may choose the next duty assignment (but not Special Duty).

Resolving the Assignment

Roll 2D6 for each of Survival, Position/Promotion, Education, Skills, Prize, and Bonus as appropriate. Note that a character may achieve Position or receive Promotion only once in any four-year term. Do not roll these in the first year of the first term (Initial Training, above).

If this was the last year of a term, roll for Continuation. A roll of 12 exactly, without DMs, requires the character to continue in the career for another term. Otherwise, a success allows the character to continue in the career, but does not require it.

In the Assignment Resolution table, “Technical” indicates any of Mechanical, Electronics, Computer, or Engineering; “Primary” indicates the skill chosen in College/Grad School as the primary area of specialization; “Secondary” indicates the skill chosen in College/Grad School as the secondary area of specialization. If a roll or DM is marked e.g., “5+ (A:4+)”, the parenthesized roll/DM applies to (A:) Academics, (T:) Technicians, or (R:) Researchers.

Assignment Resolution
  Research Administration Authorship Instruction Technical
Survival 4+ (A:3+) Auto 3+ Auto 5+
DM+1 if
DM+2 if
Any Technical skill 2+
DEX 9+
  Any Technical skill 2+
DEX 9+
  Any Technical skill 2+
DEX 9+
Position1 8+ 7+ None 8+ 7+
DM+1 if
DM+2 if
EDU 11+
SOC 9+
EDU 11+
SOC 9+
  EDU 11+
SOC 9+
EDU 11+
SOC 9+
Promotion1,2,3 9+ 8+ None 9+ 8+
DM+1 if
DM+2 if
EDU 11+
SOC 9+
EDU 11+
SOC 9+
  EDU 11+
SOC 9+
EDU 11+
SOC 9+
Skill 9+ 9+ None 9+ 9+
Education4 11+ 11+ 11+ 11+ 11+
Prize4 13+ None 12+ None None
DM+1 if
DM+2 if
Primary 5+
INT 12+
  Primary 5+
INT 12+
Bonus5 13+ (A:11+) 9+ (T:11+) Auto 12+ 11+
DM+1 if
DM+2 if
Primary 3+ (T:Technical 4+)
INT 10+
Primary 3+ (T:Technical 4+)
INT 10+
  Primary 3+ (T:Technical 4+)
INT 10+
Primary 3+ (T:Technical 4+)
INT 10+
Continuation 5+ (A4+) 5+ (A:4+) 5+ (A:4+) 5+ (A4+) 5+ (A4+)
  1. Position or Promotion may be received only once in each four-year term.
    Technicians only roll for Position or Promotion if they have completed Grad School, and do not receive DMs.
  2. Do not roll promotion if a position roll has not succeeded.
  3. Do not roll for promotion in the same term as position is achieved.
  4. Only Technicians who have not completed Grad School roll for Education; other scientists do not roll Education.
    Technicians do not roll for Prize.
    A successful Education roll means that the Technician’s next term will be College or Grad School (whichever is not completed), with automatic admission.
  5. On Success in Bonus roll, roll 1D on Mustering Out Cash table, and take half the amount shown


On a successful Skills roll, the character should select a column to roll on from the skill table, and roll 1D6. Any character may roll on the Personal Development or Life Skills columns; the other columns require an appropriate duty assignment.

Scientist Skills
Roll 1D Personal Development Life Skills Technical Administration Research Instruction
1 Carousing Forgery Computer* Admin Primary +1 INT
2 Brawling Bribery Mechanical Leader Secondary +1 EDU
3 +1 DEX Vehicle Electronics** Liaison +1 DEX Instruction
4 Gambling Interrogation Engineering*** Legal +1 INT Instruction
5 +1 EDU Liaison Medical Recruiting Primary Primary
6 +1 END JoT JoT Admin +1 EDU Admin
* Substitute Electronics if TL7- world, or Mechanical if TL4- world.
** Substitute Mechanical if TL4- world.
*** Reroll if TL4- world.

A skill of Primary indicates the skill chosen in College/Grad School as the primary area of specialization; a skill of Secondary indicates the skill chosen in College/Grad School as the secondary area of specialization.

If a Technician who has completed neither College nor Grad School rolls either Primary or Secondary on this table, treat the roll as Computer if the world is TL8+, Electronics if the world is TL5-TL7, or Mechanical if the world is TL4-.

Mustering Out

When a character chooses to retire (or fails a Continuation roll), the character musters out, and is ready to begin adventuring. When a character musters out, roll on the Mustering Out table as follows:

Suggested Rank Titles

Scientists’ titles are generally an indication of their role or status within the organization, rather than a title that they are addressed as. A scientist who has completed Grad School may always correctly be called ‘Doctor’ or the equivalent. Those who have current teaching duties are often called ‘Professor’, even if they have not yet been formally granted that title in academia.