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

*Freelance Traveller

The Electronic Fan-Supported Traveller® Resource

An Alternative Traveller Task System (Version 2.0)

There's a lot of information here, but don't let that skew your opinion of KBv2.0. It is a very simple system. I've written a lot here in an effort to be complete. Give the whole system a read-through, and you'll see what I mean when I say that this system is as simple as the official T4 systems but it doesn't have the problems associated with those systems.

Here's what you have to do to start using KBv2.0

  1. Change the difficulty codes
  2. Change the way you calculate target numbers
  3. Incorporate changes to SS/SF, multiple actions, Default skill throws, and JOT skill throws.

It's as easy as that.

What will this task system do for you?

Here's ten promises that I will make:

  1. It will keep the flavour and general design philosophy of the official T4 task system (both of them--the original T4 system in Book 1 and Marc's new fix). In other words, KBv2.0 is designed mechanically like the T4 systems (simple and functional) but cures all the ills of both the T4 systems.
  2. It will allow you to only use whole dice. This means that the awkward D3s used in both Marc's and Book 1's T4 task systems are a thing of the past.
  3. It will place a greater emphasis on skills so that your Pilot-4, Dex-6 character will be able to capitalize on his greater skill level when pitted against the Pilot-1 but Dex-10 rookie. Both the Book 1 system and Marc's new variant do not have this capability.
  4. It will ensure that this greater emphasis that is put on skills will not overpower the effect that natural ability has on a task roll. This means that having a high stat is still a very, very good thing.
  5. It will deliver relevant probabilities of success based on a character's skills and attributes. What this means is that certain difficulty categories won't get out of hand like the Staggering and Impossible categories did in the Book 1 version of the T4 task system.
  6. Spectacular Success will be possible at every difficulty level. The chance of SS will be based on a character's skill, and characters with higher skill levels will have an increased chance of SS than characters with skill levels lower than theirs. Also the chance that SS will be obtained will decrease the harder a task becomes.
    Although the Book 1 T4 SS system also decreases the chance of SS with each increase in difficulty and provides for SS at every difficulty level, that system has no provision for higher skilled characters receiving a better chance of obtaining SS.
    Marc's T4 task fix only allows SS on Difficult and higher difficulty categories, and the percentage that SS is rolled actually goes up with higher task difficulties. That system also has no provision for increased SS percentage based on a character's skill level.
  7. Spectacular Failure will be rolled just like Marc Miller's system (which is a logical extension of the SF system used in Book 1), but SF in KBv2.0 can occur at any difficulty category except Easy.
    In Marc's system, SF can only occur in Formidable and higher categories--leaving no chance for SF in Average and Difficult throws.
  8. There will be no awkward math used that will slow down game play. Like the attribute + skill system used in both Marc's and Book 1's task systems, KBv2.0 will only require simple addition of two numbers to arrive at target numbers during game play. This allows for quick calculation after a character has been wounded and had his stat reduced.
  9. It will require little or no conversion for published T4 products, and it is fully compatible with all T4 rules, game mechanics, and design systems. This is a variant task system, but it replaces the two old task systems with a minimum of fuss--you won't have to spend hours on each adventure and supplement converting things to a new way of rolling tasks.
  10. It is the best Traveller task system available for T4.

And now, on to the task system. All official rules are included below.

Using KBv2.0 involves 7 easy steps.

STEP 1: Change the Difficulty Codes...

KBv2.0 uses these difficulty codes. Simply change these on page 50 of Book 1 and on your T4 GM Screen.

Task Difficulties
Rating Dice Code
Easy Auto/2D*
Average 3D
Difficult 4D
Formidable 5D
Staggering 6D
Impossible 7D

*It is suggested that Easy tasks are rolled, especially if the task roll includes use of a Default skill. At the GM's option, Easy task rolls can be considered automatic successes.

STEP 2: Change Target Number Calculation...

Both the T4 systems (Marc's and the original one in Book 1) add attribute + skill to arrive at a target number. What this does is make attributes much more important than skills in the game.

Take, for example, a character with Pilot-4 (an expert pilot) and a Dex-6 (a respectable stat--about average). His target number would be 10. Now compare this to another character with Pilot-1 (a definite beginner) and Dex-10 (some definite natural ability). This second character would have a target number of 11 affording him a better chance of success at piloting than the expert. What this type of target number calculation is saying is that the second character's natural ability is so great that, even though he just learned to fly, his natural instincts and ability make him a better pilot than the expert with only average natural ability.

The KBv2.0 system fixes this inequity by increasing the value of a character's skill with regard to the target number.

The first step in using KBv2.0 target numbers is to calculate a character's experience score. To do this, simply multiply the skill levels for each of a character's skills by 3.

Experience Score = Skill Level x 3

Record each experience score next to each of a character's skills on his sheet. It is suggested that this information be recorded in parentheses next to the skill's governing attribute.

In game play, you will add the character's experience score to his governing attribute to arrive at the target number for the task throw. Instead of just adding attribute + skill, like in the two official T4 systems, you add attribute + experience to find the character's target number.

Target Number = Attribute + Experience

A character's experience score will never change except when his skill level is improved. When this happens, simply record the new experience score for that skill.

On the other hand, a character's attribute may be adjusted due to combat wounds or some other factor during game play. This will alter the character's target number--just like in both the other T4 task systems.

Step 1 and 2 are the basis for KBv2.0. If you've read this far, then you already know the system. The following steps change some of the aspects and game mechanics associated with the T4 task system.

For general information, here is a list of all possible target numbers and their chance of success within each difficulty. These numbers have been rounded, so you may see 100% listed more than once. This chart is provided for GMs and players to aid in gauging task probability. Keep in mind that these numbers are not adjusted for either SF or SS. For instance, an 18 rolled on an Average throw would result in a SF, even though the table says it is a 100% chance of success, but 18 rolled on 3 dice can only occur with 3 sixes (which indicates a SF).

Chance of Success

TN Easy Avg Diff Form Stag Imp


-- -- -- -- -- --


2.78 -- -- -- -- --
3 8.33 0.46 -- -- -- --
4 16.67 1.85 0.08 -- -- --
5 27.78 4.63 0.39 0.01 -- --
6 41.67 9.26 1.16 0.08 0.00


7 58.33 16.20 2.70 0.27 0.02 0.00
8 72.22 25.93 5.40 0.72 0.06 0.00
9 83.33 37.50 9.72 1.62 0.18 0.01
10 91.67 50.00 15.90 3.24 0.45 0.04
11 97.22 62.50 23.92 5.88 0.99 0.12
12 100.00 74.07 33.57 9.80 1.97 0.28
13 83.80 44.37 15.20 3.59 0.61
14 90.74 55.63 22.15 6.08 1.20
15 95.37 66.44 30.52 9.65 2.20
16 98.15 76.08 39.97 14.46 3.79
17 99.54 84.10 50.00 20.59 6.12
18 100.00 90.28 60.03 27.94 9.39
19 94.60 69.48 36.31 13.72
20 97.30 77.86 45.36 19.17
21 98.84 84.80 54.64 25.72
22 99.61 90.20 63.69 33.22
23 99.92 94.12 72.01 41.42
24 100.00 96.76 79.42 50.00
25 98.38 85.54 58.58
26 99.28 90.35 66.78
27 99.73 93.92 74.28
28 99.92 96.41 80.83
29 99.99 98.03 86.28
30 100.00 99.01 90.61
31 99.55 93.88
32 99.82 96.21
33 99.94 97.79
34 99.99 98.79
35 100.00 99.39
36 99.72
37 99.88
38 99.96
39 99.99
40 100.00

STEP 3: Change the rule for Spectacular Failure...

Any time 3 sixes are rolled for a task, a spectacular failure has occurred. SF is not possible on Easy task rolls, but can occur on any of the other difficulty levels.

SF = Any time 3 sixes are rolled

For completeness, here's a table which lists the probability that SF will occur given the difficulty of the task.

Probability of Spectacular Failure
Difficulty SF%
Easy 0.00
Average 0.46
Difficult 1.54
Formidable 3.22
Staggering 5.36
Impossible 7.81

STEP 4: Change the rule for Spectacular Success...

Spectacular success is gauged by a character's skill in the appropriate area. A SS occurs if the SS target number, or less, is thrown.

SS Target Number = Skill Level + Difficulty Dice Code

SS can occur in any difficulty level or when Default skills are being used. Since Default skills have a level of 0, the SS target number for these throws is just the difficulty dice code (which is equivalent to rolling all ones on the task throw). The percentage of this happening is so low that it will almost never happen, but this does leave that one in a million chance that a character will blunder into a SS.

Here's a couple of tables to put SS into perspective. The first states the percentage chances that a SS will be rolled if a Default skill is being used. The second, since SS is dependent on a character's skill level, will state the chance an average character (defined as Skill-2, Stat-7) will have at achieving SS for each particular difficulty level.

Probability of Spectacular Success (with a default skill)
Difficulty SS%
Easy 2.78
Average 0.46
Difficult 0.08
Formidable 0.01
Staggering *0.00
Impossible *0.00

*The percentage chance is actually greater than 0, but due to rounding, the percentage could not be expressed in less than three digits.

Probability of Spectacular Success
(Average character: Skill-2, Stat-7)
Difficulty SS% SS TN
Easy 16.67 4
Average 4.63 5
Difficult 1.16 6
Formidable 0.27 7
Staggering 0.06 8
Impossible 0.01 9

Now that we know how to roll a task and gauge SS/SF, let's look at an example that explains each of the topics above.


Joe Average makes a Difficult throw--he throws 4 D6. He's got Skill-2 and Stat-7, so his target number is 13. If the result of the throw is 13 or below, Joe succeeds. If the roll is 14 or above, Joe fails. If 3 sixes are rolled on any of the 4 dice (or even 4 sixes), then Joe has just thrown a spectacular failure. Since Joe's SS target number is 6 (skill + dice code), he will achieve spectacular success if the result of the throw is 6 or less.

And that's it--one dice throw, four different outcomes.

STEP 5: Change the Multiple Action rule...

On page 58 of Book 1, there is a rule for multiple actions during the combat round that must be changed for KBv2.0. Actually, the Kbv2.0 rule is simpler than the original rule published in Book 1.

When a character attempts to conduct multiple actions in a round, calculate the target number normally, but divide the target number by the number of actions attempted during the round.

Multiple Action Rule = Divide TN by number of actions attempted

So, if a player wants his character to fire his weapon three times in a combat round, simply calculate the TN normally then divide it by 3 to arrive at the new TN used for all three shots.

If the character is attempting multiple actions that are not the same, then use the lowest TN from the actions being attempted, and divide from there. It is advised that the GM keep a handle on this to ensure that characters don't attempt multiple actions that would take them more than 6 seconds to accomplish.

Optional Rule/Recommendation--

The action point rules in CT's Snapshot or Azhanti High Lightning could be used to figure how many actions a character is physically able to attempt in a single combat round. This could be used to combat abuse of the multiple action rule.

STEP 6: Change the Default task throw rule...

On page 49 of Book 1 it states that the attribute must be halved before calculating the target number for a task throw using a Default skill. This is not necessary in KBv2.0. Simply use the full characteristic as the target number (the skill level, of course, is 0 and does not contribute to the target number in this instance).

STEP 7: Change the Jack of All Trades rule...

On page 44 of Book 1, it states that, when using JOT skill, the character must halve his attribute before calculating the target number. This is not necessary in KBv2.0.

To use JOT skill with KBv2.0, simply add the JOT skill level to the attribute, and use that as the target number.

JOT TN = JOT Skill + Attribute

Notice that JOT receives a penalty because the skill level is not multiplied by 3, yet the skill will provide a benefit over a Default skill.

And, that is it--the whole task system in 7 steps.

Should you stumble upon any problems with KBv2.0, or if you have any comments, then please e-mail me at kenneth@walkerjaneproductions.com.

Theremainder of this article will discuss skill aptitudes with the KBv2.0 task system. I also want to add that Eris has developed his own task system, and if you want a system that goes into even more detail about skill aptitude, you should contact him for a copy of his system.

I, personally, don't use (or even recommend) aptitudes in my game. I believe that a person's aptitude to do a certain task are adequately addressed with the skill and attribute components of the target number in the Traveller system as it stands (here, I'm talking about all three systems--Book 1's, Marc's fix, and KBv2.0).

But, the idea of aptitudes does intrigue me, so if any of you want to use it in your game, here's how aptitudes can easily be implemented using KBv2.0.

You can consider these rules/thoughts a variant to KBv2.0.

These rules (I should say rule-ideas because they are not finalized, and I encourage GMs to sculpt them into whatever system best suits their game) will add some complexity to KBv2.0, but not much.

What is an aptitude?

Aptitude refers to an individual's ability to do well at different tasks. Let's say a character has a high Dex. In the game, that high Dex will boost the character's ability to do many varied tasks BY THE SAME AMOUNT when the several tasks for which Dex is used as the base characteristic.


Let me try to clear that up. Dex is the base characteristic for several skills--three varied examples are Piloting, Gun Combat, and Dancing. Let's say that a character has been introduced to all three of these skills before and has an rudimentary knowledge of all three. In game terms, the character would have a skill-1 in all three areas. Given this, the character has the same chance of success with each of the three skills even though they are all quite different uses of Dex.

This is where aptitude steps in. In a nutshell, aptitude differentiates a character's ability among different tasks using the same base characteristic.

Well, some say that the character's skill level does a fine job of doing this. As a matter of fact, I'm one of the people who say that (which is why I don't use aptitude in my game). But some can see the logic in paring down a character's abilities a step further. It is for these types of players and GMs that aptitude is made for.

How to use Aptitude in KBv2.0.

Remember the target number calculation for KBv2.0:

TN = Attribute + Experience Score


Experience Score = Skill Level x 3

Basically, that "3" used to calculate the experience score is the character's default aptitude. If you want varied aptitude in your game, then just change this number.

To restate the experience score calculation given this, you get--

Experience Score = Skill Level x Aptitude*

*Note: It is suggested that a character's aptitude be greater than 0 and less than or equal to 3. Aptitude numbers outside this range will result in either some very high or very low chances of success given the KBv2.0 difficulty system.

Including aptitude in your game this way will cut down on the complexity that most aptitude systems bring with them and ensure the fast pace that the KBv2.0 task system provides.

If you use the aptitude system, you will have to alter the character's experience score when two things happen:

  1. The character goes up in level, or
  2. The character goes up in aptitude

Just like in the regular KBv2.0 system, you should figure the character's experience score and write it on the character's sheet next to his skill for easy reference during play.

Basically, the only difference in the KBv2.0 system and the same system used with aptitudes is that not all of a character's skills will be multiplied by 3. Some will be multiplied by lower numbers if the character's aptitude is not as strong in that area.


Here's two aptitude examples. Consider these suggested ways to integrate the aptitude concept into your game.

Basic Aptitude example:

In the basic example, there are only three possible aptitude scores.

Aptitude Description
1 Aptitude toward this skill is Low
2 Aptitude toward this skill is Medium
3 Aptitude toward this skill is High

Now, let's look at the example character from above. He's got an average Dex-7 and three skills used in this illustration (Pilot-1, Rifle-1, Dancing-1).

Let's say that our character grew up in an asteroid belt, and he's always been good at flying. He's so-so when it comes to firing his rifle, and he's lost many girlfriends because he can't dance even though he took a beginning class.

Under the usual (non-aptitude) T4 task systems, this character's chance to do any of these skills is the exact same, but when using aptitudes, we get a much different picture.

Using the equations I outlined above, we see that his target number and percentage chance to do each skill is greatly varied even though his Dex and skill levels stay the same.

Skill Aptitude Target Number
Pilot-1 3 10
Rifle-1 2 9
Dancing-1 1 8

To further illustrate this example, let's say that the character had a skill level of 2 with each of the three skills

Skill Aptitude Target Number
Pilot-2 3 13
Rifle-2 2 11
Dancing-2 1 9

Advanced Aptitude example:

You can, if you desire, use as many aptitude levels as you like. For even more varied results, try using these aptitude values.

Aptitude Description
0.5 Very Low Apt
1 Low Apt
1.5 Medium-Low Apt
2 Medium Apt
2.5 Medium-High Apt
3 High Apt

You can see, by plugging these numbers into the experience score calculation, your characters will become very individualistic with regard to their chances of success very fast.

Any set of numbers could be used as the aptitude range (as long as they are between 0 and 3).

Experience Points (XPs) and Aptitudes:

This whole article is designed to hint at the possibilities of an aptitude system used with KBv2.0.

Another thing to consider is character improvement. If you used aptitudes in your campaign, your players could also have another choice of what to spend their experience points on when it comes time to improve their characters.

You can use experience points to improve a character's stats, his skill levels, and now, his aptitude score.

The possibilties with this system are vast, and you are invited to tweak it anyway you see fit.

If you do incorporate aptitude into your campaign, then please drop me a line. Since I'm not running an aptitude system, I'd like to hear how it works for you.