This profile was originally posted to the pre-magazine Freelance Traveller website in 2006, and reprinted in the May/June 2018 issue.
Jan Haakon Mattiason 678CC8 Age 38 Cr: A lot
(5 terms, ex-Sword Worlds diplomat)
Interrogation-3, Trader-3, Handgun-2, Liaison-2, Linguistics-2 (Ganglic, Daryene, Sagmaal as native), Admin-1, Blade-1, Computer-1, Electronics-1, Streetwise-1, Vacc suit-0, Wheeled Vehicle-0
Born in 1072 on Sacnoth to an upper middle class family, Mattiason’s early life was typical of its time and place on that balkanized world. His above-average intelligence was noted early and he was quickly slotted into his nation’s advanced academics program. Mattiason attended university at the planet’s prestigious multi-national campus near the main Sacnotian downport. He read both economics and statistics there and participated in Sacnoth’s combined naval officer training program.
Mattiason’s post-university naval career was short. He only served the four years for which he was legally obligated and reached the rank of lieutenant. During this period, he received intelligence training and worked for a short time in the Navy’s investigatory office. While still in the Sacnotian Navy, Mattiason was recruited by the Confederation’s foreign service. He resigned his commission as soon as allowed and immediately joined the diplomatic corps.
During the next twelve years, Mattiason was posted to several embassies and consulates in District 268. There he specialized in gathering and analysing economic data. The manner in which some of this data was collected meant that Mattiason was considered a borderline ‘spook’ (intelligence officer) by many District governments, including the Third Imperium. Although economic data is usually not thought of as being as important as military and political information, it is just as necessary for strategic planning. Mattiason’s work was well-recieved by his superiors and he was promoted regularly.
The latter half of Mattiason’s diplomatic career was colored by war and the preparations for war. To most thoughtful observers (and Mattiason was one), signs of the looming war were easily evident by 1105. The types of analysis his superiors began requesting was one such sign. Mattiason’s views on the utility or desirability of the war at that time can only guessed at, but there were hints from other neutral diplomats that his ideas on the war were not those of the Sword Worlds’ leadership.
Whatever his views on the war, Mattiason’s efforts during the war were as excellent as his prewar work. He began the war on Forine and ended it on Trexalon. There are periods for which his whereabouts are still unknown. What is known is his work to purchase critical supplies and strategic resources for the Sword Worlds’ war effort. Mattiason continually arranged for shipments in the face of the Imperium’s increasingly effective economic warfare campaign in the District. As the Imperium slowly pressured shippers and independent worlds to apply end-user certificates, Mattiason’s successes became fewer. Another of his efforts involved the resupply and repair of Confederation commerce raiders. There, too, his successes slowly dwindled as the war went on.
At war’s end, Mattiason was part of the Sword Worlds’ diplomatic community on Trexalon, a vaguely anti-Imperial independent world in the District’s rimward reaches. It was there he learned about the Imperium’s destruction of the Sacnotian fleet and subsequent occupation of the trailing half of the Confederation. In the months that followed, the Sword Worlds diplomats lived an almost monastic existence in an overcrowded embassy, putting off creditors, and waiting for any concrete news. When the news finally arrived, it was the end of Mattiason’s diplomatic career.
The new, smaller Confederation was to have a new, smaller foreign service. The axe fell on as many as three quarters of the personnel scattered across District 268 and Mattiason was one of them. Most of those let go returned to the Sword Worlds, with many hoping to join the newly formed Border Worlds’ diplomatic service. A few took their severance packages and began building new lives. Mattiason was one of those few. He arrived on Grote; that long time destination for refugees and remittance men alike, in mid-1111.
Mattiason did well on Grote from the very beginning. First, came a series of increasingly more important and more lucrative consulting positions for single clients. The end of the war brought a resurgence of trade in District 268 and Mattiason put the detailed knowledge of the region he had gained over 12 years to very good use. Next, he founded Mattiason Associates, a firm dealing in economic forecast and analysis for a variety of clients. Again, Mattiason’s knowledge and analysis was in demand and was now sold more widely. Finally, he began building an information gathering system for his firm. Although he’d arrived on Grote with a detailed economic picture of District 268, he also knew how rapidly that picture would grow out of date.
The data gathering by Mattiason Associates is the most shadowy and most controversial part of that business. Some claim that Jan Haakon Mattiason is nothing more than a spy hiding in plain sight, although no one agrees just which government he is spying for. Others admit that, while Mattiason is spying, he’s spying for anyone who has money to buy his reports. Both the firm and the man refuse to comment on any of this and reiterate that Mattiason Associates is simply an economics consulting company.
While originally focused on District 268, Mattiason Associates now also consults and reports on economic issues in the Sword Worlds, Lunion, and Glisten subsectors. The company has formal, if small, offices at the starports on most important worlds in that region and cover nearly all the rest with information from a series of independent firms and factors. For instance, while worlds like Collace, Narsil, and Ffudn have Mattiason Associates offices, the Walston cluster is covered by a group of local brokers and Harvosette by a local news agency.
One of Mattiason Associates’ regular information gathering techniques does betray Jan Haakon Mattiason’s earlier career as a ‘spook’; the debriefing of recently arrived merchant ship crews. All of the firm’s offices have standing offers to all ship crews to visit and talk about where they’ve been and what they’ve seen and heard. The firm prefers to debrief free traders, then subbies, then corporate crews, in that order.
Because they often must live on what they can make from each and every jump, free traders are seen to be more interested in collecting and sharing the odd bits of information they come across. Mattiason Associates makes these debriefings worth the crews’ time and even hands out occasional bonuses for reasons known only to the firm. A crewman can earn a hundred credits or so for an hour or so of chatting with a pleasant person in a comfortable room. Mattiason himself regularly debriefs crews, both to keep himself sharp and to train firm employees.
The firm is interested in items like which ships were seen in port, where they were from, where they are going, what cargos they bought and sold, and the like, plus any purely planetary gossip a crew may have picked up. Crews usually approach a Mattiason office and make an appointment for an interview. The firm has been known to approach crews first, however. Observers point out that this relationship between Mattiason Associates and free traders gives the firm thousands of ‘operatives’ at little expense.
Now in his forties, Jan Haakon Mattiason is a fairly nondescript man, average height, average weight, and average clothes, the sort of fellow who never stands out and can blend into any crowd. His detractors naturally take this as more evidence of his active espionage status. He’s a well known workaholic who keeps long hours at either the firm’s CorOne headquarters or its starport offices. He has a large suite in a residence hotel near the Travellers’ Aid Society facility along the Common’s Rimwalk. He entertains rarely, but can often be seen at the theatre and symphony with a mistress he keeps in New Town.
Mattiason normally travels once a year to Glisten, Strouden, and Collace, staying about a standard week in each system. Two years ago he spent nearly four months travelling and working in the Glisten subsector. Last year, he did the same for just over three months in District 268 and this year his plans seem to be for Lunion. He hasn’t been back in either the Sword or Border Worlds since before the war.
I’ve been messing around with MegaTraveller chargen lately, thanks to the freebie offered at DriveThruRPG last year. I’ve also been exploring the idea of ‘split’ or ‘mixed’ prior careers. JHM was the result.
I rolled the usual six 2D6s, arranged them into a likely UPP, and then put JHM through MegaTraveller’s advanced Navy chargen. I planned on seeing what skills he came up with in a single term and then shifting him into a likely ‘civilian’ career. JHM easily went to college, rolled for success and NOTC, and earned honors. I aimed ‘low’ with his naval career opting for the easier to enter system navy career. He served in the Line, went on 2 patrols and attended Intelligence School all in four years.
MegaTraveller has a lot of cascade skill results on its skills tables. As part of JHM’s initial naval training, he got an Interpersonal result. I chose Liaison, one of my favorite skills. That, plus the later roll for Intel School, determined which career I’d try first for JHM’s post-naval chargen, Diplomat.
JHM entered the Diplomats with a 12(!); I planned on Bureaucrat or Scientist if he failed. He lasted three terms with position, two promotions, and two special duty rolls before failing his reenlistment roll with a 2(!). Five of the nine skill rolls he earned led to choices from skill cascades. I chose to give him fluency in two languages beyond his native Sagmaal (Galanglic and Daryene, because he was a diplomat) and used the other three cascade choices which were all in Economics to give him a strong Trader-3.
Other skills JHM received were the level-0 homeworld skills, another level-0 from the navy career, and Liaison-1 from the diplomat career. (I’d rolled up JHM’s homeworld along MegaTraveller’s nifty broad stat catagories; only 4 hydro descriptions, 4 size descriptions, etc., at the start.) One level-0 homeworld skill, Computer-0, became Computer-1 from a skill roll.
I put him through the Mustering Out tables after each career. He got two handguns, a +1 bump to INT, 40KCr, and a low passage. Whoopee…
At the end, I had a 38 year old ex-diplomat who had spent a single term in the navy after taking NOTC in college. Pretty normal sounding huh? Coming up with JHM’s backstory was fun. His rolled MegaTraveller ‘homeworld’ stats fit Sacnoth/Sword Worlds like a glove, as did his service in a ‘system’ navy. The short diplomat career (I’d wanted to retire him after 5 terms as a diplomat or 7 total for MegaTraveller’s retirement pay) was easy to fiddle; JHM lost his job when the Sword Worlds lost the war.
With Trader-3 and Handgun-2 joining his Interrogation-3 and Liaison-2, JHM was an odd diplomat. Real espionage types, not the munchkin IRIS/James Bond combat monsters, have always been hard to stat out in Traveller, but I felt I had a good one in JHM. He was obviously an intel analyst complete with an area of expertise (Trader-3), the skills to gather data (Interrogation-3), and the ability to be a case officer (Liaison-2 and Handgun-2). So I wrote JHM up as an econ spook which also gave me a great idea for his post-5th-Frontier-War life.
Mattiason Associates can be one of those continual bits of background chrome in your campaign. They won’t be shipping cargos or running ships. They won’t be hiring the players to find Mrs. Teasdale’s purloined Pekinese, either. They will pay for certain information and they may send the players out to find certain information too. Nothing Imperium-shaking, no governments toppled, either, but stuff that some folks wouldn’t want bruited about. Is someone trying to corner the rubber neck sleeve market on Dallia? Why is Forine dumping polymers at below market prices on Tarkine? What’s behind the 9mm ammo shortage on Tarsus?
Other than the home office on Grote, I’d put a Mattiason office on every X-boat link world, every hi-pop world, and every world with a class A starport in the Sword Worlds, Lunion, Glisten, and District 268 subsectors. There could easily be offices on other worlds that don’t meet those requirements but that are important economically. Each office will consist of a dozen or so researchers, interviewers, and data collectors with maybe a more hard edged, shadowy type or two. Mattiason subcontractors on worlds without a Mattiason office will be businesses or businessmen in their own right; brokers, trading companies, news agencies and the like.
Of course, whether JHM is still a spook and whether Mattiason Associates is just part cover and part network is entirely up to you.