Traveller (role-playing Game) - Task Systems

Task Systems

The various incarnations of Traveller each have a task system which was used whenever a character encountered a task that required a random resolution to determine success or failure.

Classic Traveller, MegaTraveller, and Mongoose Traveller

In these systems, two six-sided dice (2d6) are rolled against a target number set by the referee — and usually the roll must be equal to or higher than the target number in order to succeed. Dice Modifiers (DMs) either provide a bonus or penalty to a roll (the + and – sign precede the number in such cases (+2 means add 2 to the roll, -4 means subtract 4 from the roll). Target numbers and DMs are determined by situation and vary per skill and attribute score.

In Classic Traveller, a roll of 8+ is typically seen as a success, but there is no standardized table of DMs. Instead, the referee may declare ad-hoc bonuses to task checks under certain situations; for instance a character might get a +2 bonus on an Acrobatic skill check if their Dexterity characteristic was 10 or better. Classic Traveller later formalized a Universal Task Profile (UTP) — a standard set of target numbers with Difficulty Levels, such as Routine (7+), Difficult (11+), and Formidable (15+).

MegaTraveller (MT) expands upon the UTP, and allows the referee to codify tasks into a shorthand formula for how hard the task was, what skill and characteristic is crucial to the task, how long the task takes to perform, and what the risks of failure are. Characteristic levels are divided by 5 (dropping fractions) and the result added as a DM.

Mongoose Traveller (MGT), (so-named for Mongoose Publishing), standardizes the DMs provided by characteristics being used for the task. The relevant skill level is also counted directly as a DM. A roll of 8+ is typically a success.

Both Classic and MegaTraveller also included occasional "roll low" tasks. For example, to avoid being harassed by local law enforcement, the group would have to roll the world's Law Level or lower on 2d6.

Traveller: The New Era

Traveller: The New Era (TNE) used a modified version of the Twilight 2000 rules. The six abilities are Strength, Agility, Constitution, Intelligence, Education, Charisma, and are generated with 2d6-1. Social Standing is relegated to a secondary ability only. Target Numbers were determined by adding Ability level + Skill level and multiplying or dividing that number by a factor determined by the task's difficulty; if the task is Easy multiply Target Number result by 4, Average multiply by 2, Difficult use the number as normal, Formidable halves the number (drop fractions), and Impossible quarters the number (drop fractions). The player then rolled a twenty-sided die (d20) (or ten-sided die (d10) and a d6 to simulate a d20 roll) to equal to or less than the target number to succeed.

Traveller4 and Traveller5

In both these versions, the number of dice rolled represents task difficulty ("Average" is 2D, "Difficult" is 3D, etc.), and the target number to roll under is Characteristic + Skill + situational modifiers. A roll of all 1's results in a Spectacular Success, while a roll of at least two 6's results in a Spectacular Failure.

Traveller, version 4 (T4), published by Imperium Games, also has intermediate levels of difficulty which call for "half-dice" to be used; for example "Difficult" is 2.5 dice and one die result (rolled as a different color die from the rest) must be halved when counted. Traveller, version 5 (T5) does not use a half-die.

Using number of dice to set a task difficulty approximates fixed target numbers without needing to recall those numbers, thus streamlining actions requiring fast play (combat). An interesting feature of using multiple dice for task rolls is that the probability curve starts to look somewhat linear, in the center ranges, when rolling more than 4 dice.

GURPS Traveller and Traveller HERO

GURPS Traveller (GT) uses the GURPS character creation and task resolution system developed by Steve Jackson Games, and Traveller HERO (TH) uses the HERO System developed by HERO Games for character creation and task resolution. Both use three six-sided dice (3d6) which are rolled equal to, or below a target number. The target numbers are usually set by the character's relevant skill they are using, plus any situational modifiers.


Traveller20 (or T20) is the d20 System-version of Traveller, developed by Quicklink Interactive. In T20, characters are built using a class and level system (like most other d20 games). The established classes are based on popular career paths in other versions of Traveller. Characteristics (called Abilities) are the usual six from most other d20 games; Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma, plus Education and Social Standing are added as extra attributes. Education is used for Knowledge-based skill checks (instead of Intelligence), and Social Standing simply indicates a character's place in society. A twenty-sided die (d20) is rolled and the result is added to any modifiers for task checks against a standard difficulty target number (referred to in d20 games as a "Difficulty Class" or DC).

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