Most good stories have some kind of conflict in them. This can be quite subtle, such as having to negotiate a tortuous maze of bureaucratic red tape, but more commonly conflict is direct and rather dangerous.
The opposition faced by the characters should be tough enough to test them. The occasional surprisingly easy victory is no bad thing, but if there is no real threat then there is no sense of adventure or challenge. On the other hand, there might well be some obstacles that the characters simply cannot fight their way past. If they decide to blast their way out of the starport rather than go through customs, they will have to fight all the guards at the port. That might be doable, but they’ll have basically declared war on the planet and will have to fight the planetary army – they’ll be facing airstrikes, artillery and tanks before long!
If players are stupid enough to do something like this, they deserve what they get. It should be obvious to everyone that some opponents can’t be beaten by a group of adventurers. Tackling a Tyrannosaurus with a boot knife or trying to shoot it out with half the Imperial Marine Corps is obviously a bad idea. The players should not get the idea they are invincible; some obstacles have to be worked around.
Most of the conflicts faced by the characters will be survivable of course, providing they are clever. Charging head-first at everything is a good way to get killed; smart characters will use good tactics to give them an advantage, or cleverly slip past the opponents without fighting them. Traveller does not reward players for winning fights; all that matters is getting the job done. It does not matter whether the opposition are deceived, chased off, shot or avoided so long as the characters achieve their goals.
There are basically three types of problem that characters can face:
- A Hazard is a natural or man-made obstacle or danger that does not involve fighting. Hazards might include meteor showers, earthquakes, or roads blocked by a serious accident.
- An Animal is any creature that is not smart enough to use tools and be talked to. Animal encounters range from stepping in an ant’s nest to being attacked by a pack of alien carnivores.
- An Opponent is a person (or group of people) who challenge the characters in some way. It might be possible to bribe opponentns, trick them or even talk them into helping the characters. Often opponents will have to be fought, however. They will fight smart, use guns and body armour, and basically do their best not to get killed.
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