Character Generation for Adolescents
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2023 issue, and represents a ‘genericization’ of the process used to finish the pregenerated characters at the TravellerCON/USA 2022 presentation of “Stranger Things”, reprinted in the same issue (as “The Pendente School for Exceptionally Talented Juveniles”).
By default, Traveller characters are generated at age 18, and presumably legally independent. (Some careers or and some aliens may be generated at age 14, but the effective independence is still assumed.) However, popular culture has an entire meta-genre of fiction involving adolescents as the central character and having adventures or solving puzzles, such as the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Tom Swift, “Encyclopedia” Brown, The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, the stories written by Madeline L’Engle starting with A Wrinkle in Time, and others. Some of these might provide inspiration for adventures, especially if the referee is looking to introduce teens to role-playing—part of the hobby is ‘living vicariously’ through one’s characters, and starting with a character who is in more-or-less the same place in life as the player is a good way to do this.
The rules presented here represent an adaptation of the Traveller character generation rules to generating adolescent characters, rather than adults.
Generating the UPP
As with standard character generation, the first step is to generate the UPP. Use the following procedure:
- Roll 1D6 and note this value. This is the ‘base’ value for your character.
- Add 11 to the ‘base’. This is the character’s age. It will range from 12 to 17.
- Roll 2D6 six times, and keep the lower of the two dice each time.
- Add the ‘base’ to each of the retained dice. These will be the values in the UPP.
- The lowest value from the results in #4 should be assigned to SOC.
- The remaining values can be assigned to any of the other characteristics of the UPP; the referee may establish additional guidance toward assigning characteristics to accommodate any special needs of the adventure (for example, in “The Pendente School for Exceptionally Talented Juveniles”, the two highest values are supposed to be assigned to INT and EDU).
Select one or two ‘background’ skills and assign them at level 0 or 1 (as appropriate). Normally, these skills should not be skills that are assumed to require adult judgement (e.g., most vehicle skills). If the character comes from a world with specialized survival skills, those skills should be assigned in addition to the generated skills (e.g., Vacc Suit and Damage Control if the character comes from a Belt world or a vacuum world, or Athletics (Swim) or Watercraft if from a water world). Ideally, one skill should represent something learned from education, and one from life experience. Optionally, one more skill, representing a special interest or a hobby, may be selected.
Normally, because of the cost and the assumed social opprobrium associated with psionics, adolescents won’t have been tested for psionic ability. However, if the adventure/campaign requires that adolescent characters have psionic abilities, the referee can and should come up with an explanation of why, and any reasonable process for determining what talents a character has can be used.
Greg is rolling up a character for use in the Pendente School adventure.
In step 1, he rolls 1D6 for 5. This character’s ‘base’ is 5.
In step 2, add 11 to the ‘base’. Greg’s character is 16 years old.
In step 3, Greg rolls (1,6), (2,5), (3,4), (4,3), (5,2) and (6,1). Keeping the lower of each pair gives 1,1,2,2,3,3.
In step 4, add the base to each number retained in step 3, giving UPP values of 6,6,7,7,8,8.
In step 5, the lowest value available is 6, so SOC is 6.
Since this is a school-based scenario, the referee has ruled that the two highest values—both 8, in this case—are to be assigned to INT and EDU (in either order, if they had differed). That leaves a 6 and both 7s for Greg to assign in step 6; he chooses to assign the 7s to STR and DEX, and END 6. Greg’s character has UPP 776886, which doesn’t seem unreasonable for a 16-year-old.
For skills, the referee has decided to have the characters roll on Table 1, once in each column:
|Table 1: Skills for the Pendente School Adventure|
Greg rolls 4 for his Education skill and 3 for his Life skill, giving Electronics-1 and Athletics-1. The referee rules that all students at the Pendente School will also have earned Science-1 and Athletics-1 (cumulative), so Greg’s character has skills Athletics-2, Electronics-1, and Science-1.
The Pendente School adventure requires that the characters have psionic abilities, so Greg follows the procedure set out in the article, and rolls 5 for Awareness and 4 for Telekinesis.
Adolescents can be viable characters in a Traveller campaign; they won’t have the skills that a multi-term adult character does, but they still have potentially useful roles, and an adventure tailored for them can be just as satisfying to run or to play in as any of the ‘standard’ types of adventures for adult characters.