Monday, January 25, 2016
Re-Examining Classic Traveller Skills
Here's an excellent article from the Tales to Astound blog, written by a fellow Classic Traveller enthusiast. This was interesting reading for me because it cleared up some of my own (mis?)-conceptions about the way skills work in the system. In short, the author posits that we tend to judge older games by the standards of the games that came after them, rather than viewing them in the context of their time (when things weren't always clearly explained - that is, there was a certain assumption that the standards and practices of one game would serve another). This guy sees CT skills as working more like D&D saving throws. He also has some other insights that clicked with me. If you've got a few minutes, give it a read.
I'll throw in my two cents here and say that CT is still, for me, one of the most flexible systems out there in terms of "task resolution." I say flexible because, as Referee, I set a target number (a "throw") and any modifiers are based on the character's abilities as they apply to that particular situation. No, you don't always have a +3 because you have 18 Strength, as in D&D. You might have a +1 or +3 depending on your particular Strength score if it seems applicable. The drift away from this began a trend that ended in players knowing beforehand their base chances of success before they ever try something. For me, that takes the fun out of it. Now, you can play CT that way too, but I like to see players commit themselves to an action before they have any idea what the modifiers would be or what the result of a failure is. That's almost exactly opposite of the trend in most narrative-heavy games today. That's not a judgment, because I like me some Burning Wheel or whatever. It is, however, an observation that I find interesting.