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MegaTraveller UTP
for Referees

Referee's Guide to Tasks

Most actions that characters in Traveller will try to undertake can be reduced to a series of simple tasks. These tasks, expressed in terms of their difficulty and the skills and characteristics that will affect their outcome, provide the players with a consistent, readily understood statement of what is expected of them and they provide the referee with simple yet challenging situations.

The Universal Task Profile (UTP) provides players and referees with a simple (but still comprehensive) method of codifying tasks. To set up a UTP for a task, simply answer these questions:

The task profile provides a list of ready-made answers to all of these questions. To define a UTP for the tak, select one of the predefined answers for each question. The predefined answers are specified in real-world tems. Even a player who doesn't know the UTP system can quickly understand a task defined by the Universal Task Profile.

What Does A UTP Look Like?

The UTP always follows the same format. When it is presented in an adventure, it always looks like this:

  To locate the source of the strange hum:
Routine, [Recon, Int], 1 minute, (hazardous, Unskilled OK).
Referee: Any Major or Destroyed mishaps automatically become Minor mishaps.

The UTP is always separated from the surrounding text by a blank line both above and below. Note how it stands out from the surrounding text. This is done deliberately. Nothing is more frustrating during play than trying to find a specific task that is buried in a solid page of text. Follow the format religiously; inconsistencies are confusing. To summareze, the format is:

  1. A single blank line. This signals the beginning of the task profile.
  2. An indented one-line statement specifying what the task is. This statement always begins with the word "To."
  3. An indented line containing the task profile. Elements of the profile are separated by commas and listed in this order:
    1. Difficulty.
    2. Die roll modifiers.
    3. Time increment.
      (If the time increment is omitted, the task is automatically Instant.)
    4. Risk qualifiers, contained in parenthesis.
  4. An optional Referee paragraph. If it exists, the Referee paragraph always begins with the word "Referee" and is indented. Do not embed any blank lines in the Referee paragaphs.
  5. A single blank line. This signals the end of the task profile.

How Hard Is The Task?

When setting the difficulty, select from four difficulty levels:

Success is highly likely. Roll 3+ on 2D to succeed.
Success is likely. Roll 7+ on 2D to succeed.
Success is unlikely. Roll 11+ on 2D to succeed.
Success is rare likely. Roll 15+ on 2D to succeed; success is only possible with Die Modifiers (DMs).
Success is cannot be achieved. Roll 19+ on 2D to succeed; success is only possible with Die Modifiers (DMs). More reasonably, success is possible only if some situation or information changes the difficulty level from Impossible to Formidable or less.

Note that the 2D roll for each level is easy to remember because it is four more than the prior level.

What Is Crucial To Success?

When selecting the crucial skills and characteristics as task modifiers (DMs), try to select two related skills (such as Pilot and Ship's Boat), or select one skill and one characteristic. If you are tempted to more than two skills or charactersitics, alter the difficulty level rather than increase the number of DMs. Long lists of DMs are cubmersome and slow down play.

If it seem that two DMs are not sufficient, try defining two separate tasks for the situation instead of one.

Skill levels usually range from zero (0) six (6) and are always added directly as a DM on the task roll.
Characteristics usually range from one (1) to fifteen (15) and are divided by five (5), dropping fractions when used as DMs to a task. Never add characteristics directly to a task roll.
Exceptional Success:
If the player's task roll (including DMs) exceeds what is needed for success by two or more (2+) the character has achievd exceptional success.

For example, a player is rolling on a Difficult task and has a total DM of +3. The player needs total of 11+ for the character to succeed on a Difficult task; if they manage to roll 13+ (a base roll of 10+, with a +3 DM) the character achieves an exceptional success. Some tasks (such as combat) may apply additional benefits when an exceptional success occurs.

Exceptional Failure:
If the player's task roll fails and is two or more less than what was needed for success, then an exceptional failure has occurred.

For example, a player is rolling on a Difficult task and has a total DM of +3. If the player's final roll was 9- (a base roll of 6-, with a +3 DM) an exceptional failure has occurred.

If a two is rolled, the task attempt fails and a fumble occurs, regardless of DMs.

How Long Does The Task Take?

Estimate how long the task typically takes using whatever time increment is most convenitne. Approximations are fine.

Divide the time estimate by ten (10) for use in the UTP. A roll of 3D is used to determie how many time increments the task actually takes. Remember the UTP time increment is always one-tenth of the total estimated average task duration.

If the duration of the task doesn't matter, specify that the task is Instant and that's that. No time roll is made.

If the duration always takes the same time, the task is Absolute. The task always takes the stated amount of time; no time roll is made.

The actual duration of a task attempt equals the time increment multiplied by 3D (after any DMs are applied). Any DMs that were added to the success roll are subtracted from the time increment roll. The skills and characteristics that make success more likely also serve to reduce the amount of time the task takes. The minimum is three increments.

Does The Task Involve Any Special Risks?

The basic task assumes that the specified skills are required to avoid an increase in difficulty, the task outcome is certain and obvious, and the task involves a mild risk of mishap. Other tasks may specify other types and levels of risk:

Specify a safe task when any mishap that occurs will be of minimal severity. Mishaps that occur from a safe task are automatically Superficial and no roll on the Mishap Table is required. If a mishap occurs with a safe task, the mishap is never damaging.
Specify a hazardous task when a task is extremely dangerous and there is a high likelihood of a serious mishap if the task fails. If an exceptional failure is rolled on a hazardous task a mishap has occured. Roll 2D on the Mishap Table to determine severity. If a fumble occurs on a hazadous task, roll 3D on the Mishap Table.
Specify a fateful task when a mishap is guaranteed if the task fails. Do not confuse fateful tasks with hazardous tasks; fateful indicates the frequency of mishaps and hazardous indicates the severity of the mishap.
If a fateful task fails and is safe, a Superficial mishap occurs.
If a fateful task fails and has no other modifiers, roll 2D on the Mishap Table.
If a fateful task fails and and is hazardous, roll 3D on the Mishap Table.

Tasks "To avoid a mishap" are a good example of fateful tasks. If they fail, the mishap has not been avoided.

The result of the attempt is largely opinion or cannot be confirmed. Individuals associated with the task have some idea of how successful the task attempts was; however, they are uncertain of the outcome.

Sensor readings, interchanges between characters (including any task which might require a reaction roll), psionics, computer programming, repairs and research are all good candidates for uncertain tasks.

Unskilled OK
The specified skills are useful, but not required to attempt the task. There is no penalty for not having the specified skills.
When two opposing sides are working at cross-purposes, the task becomes a confrontation.


Player Decisions: Hasty Or Cautious

The standard task attempt assumes the character is taking a reasonable amount of care while performing the indicated task. The player can change this amount of care.

When it is more important to finish quickly than to reduce the chance of a mishap, a player can specify a hasty task. The time required is shorter, but the task becomes harder. The task DMs are doubled before subtracting them from the time roll; the task difficulty increases by one level (four points).
When it is more important to reduce the chance of a mishap than to finish quickly, a player can specify a cautious task.

A determination task must be attempted first. If successful, the task is cautious. If unsuccessful, the task is increased in difficulty one level (four points).

Regardless of the outcome of the determination task, the time roll is doubled before subtracting DMs and the task difficulty decreases one level. If the character failed the determination task, the increase in difficulty effectively negates the normal decrease provided by a cautious task.

Tasks That Fail

The details of handling failed tasks are the realm of the referee and are covered more fully in the Referee's Manual.

Copyright © 1998 Bob Simpson. All Rights Reserved.
Last updated: 1998-Sep-23 00:23:30

Last modified: 2002-Jun-19 21:56:39

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