Religious Career in Traveller


Even in an high-tech setting like the one proposed by the Traveller game, religion will probably have a certain degree of influence on people choices and general outlook on life. Here I propose my ideas for a "cleric" career in Traveller and some guidelines for detailing and introducing new religions, cults and similar organizations.

The Clerical career is presented in a format compatible with the current edition of Traveller (T4), and based on some similar work which originally appeared on the Dragon magazine (see bibliography for details).


Clerics are members of some religious group or organization. More specifically, they have decided not only to follow the precepts of the group, but to become both agents for their faith and a living example of the virtues and standards required by their religion.
Routine Tasks: Spreading the faith, comforting and helping their fellow believers, administering the rites in accordance with the canon, guiding and counselling the community they live in.

Enlistment: 6- (Int 9+: +1, Edu 8+: +2)

Survival: 10- (Int 9+: +2)

Promotion 5- (Soc 8+: +1)

Position: n/a

Reenlistment 9-

1.Physical            4.Social
 1.+1 STR              1.Leadership
 2.+1 END              2.Diplomacy
 3.+1 DEX              3.Philosophy
 4.Ground Craft        4._Charisma_
 5.Intimidation        5.Psychology
 6.+1 END              6.Law
2.Mental              5.Career
 1.Language            1.Instruction
 2.Art                 2.Admin
 3.Writing             3._Cluster_
 4.Perception          4._Cluster_
 5.Administration      5._Academic_
 6.Instruction         6._Bureaucracy_

3.Educational         6.Background
 1._Sciences_          1.Streetwise
 2._Cluster_           2.Fast Talk
 3.History             3.Language
 4.Medical             4._Technical_
 5._Research_          5.First Aid
 6.Computer            6.Vacc Suit
Benefits: (DM:+1 for Rank 5+)
   Material    Cash

1  Low Psg.    1000
2  Low Psg.    1000
3  Middle Ps.  5000
4  +1 Soc.     5000
5  +1 Edu     10000
6  High Ps.   10000
7  TAS        10000

Rank & Service Skills:
For each term served gain Religion-1 (see below for details). Rank 2,4,6: +1 _cluster_ skill.


Survival rolls are quite easy. This is based on the assumption that most religions will be already well-integrated in the social scene, and that no violent opposition exists against the religion chosen by your character. See the "Detailing Religions" part for more on this.

Reenlistment and mustering out are different from the ones for the other careers. You usually don't "muster out" from a religion, and generally you are not entitled to retirement pay or pensions when you leave it. The player and the referee should decide what happens when a PC fails the reenlistment roll. He may have left the clergy for personal reasons (for example, he breaks a vow, like celibacy or pacifism). If this happens, he will deduct 1d3 points from his Social Status, and will not be able to use his rank or any other benefit associated to membership in the clergy [unless he somehow fakes his credentials].
Optionally "mustering out" my be considered like a sort of "extended sabbatical" from the church, and the character will remain a full member of the clergy. He must still obey to any order from his church and respect the rites, vows and any other restriction required by his faith.

Religion Skill. It represents the knowledge of rites, laws, traditions, canon and doctrines of the particular religion you belong to. It may be used as a positive reaction modifier when dealing with members of the same faith [or a negative one when confronting enemies of your faith]. Edu is usually the base for this skill, but sometimes Int may be used to deal with unfamiliar situations like debating your beliefs with members of other sects, or performing rites in emergency situations.

Ranks. Other have proposed names taken mainly from the Catholic tradition. Even if many messages were excellent (In particular Pat Connaughton {} posted a very thorough treatment of ranks in the Catholic church). I think that basing the rank table on an existing religion is not a very good idea. For example, the "Exorcist" rank has sense only for a church which professes the existence of evil spirits or demons. "Father" or "Brother" make little sense for matriarchal orders and so on.

You should work out the name and number of ranks by carefully considering two different points. The first is how widespread the religion is. If you religion is limited to a couple of systems, its organizational structure will be different from an interstellar church which covers half the Empire.
The other point is the main focus of the religion. If its main concern is excellence in some worldly pursue (as a proof of divine favor) its rank will probably reflect this (Initiate, Master, Grand Master, Teacher and so on), while a religion which portrays itself like a large family will use terms which recall a similar structure (New-born, Sister, Mother, Life-bringer).

Some guidelines on religions.
The "Priest" career I described here is based on the assumption that the church has existed long enough to obtain some kind of recognition inside the Imperium. In order to do so, it must be based on fairly benign concepts: a cult who routinely sacrifices non-members in gruesome rituals would be surely outlawed and stomped out by the Imperial government. Given this, you may be free to create as many religions and cults you like, and could even encourage players to submit their own.
Religions should have some fundamental precept as its major focus, and will tend to encourage its clergy to gain skills in related areas. When designing a religion, you should detail a cluster of skills which are related to the religion main concept. Whenever you get a _cluster_ result during character generation you must chose a specific skill among these skills, either by dice roll or player's choice. As you can see, this career does not give combat skills.
You may add weapon skills in the cluster, (brawling, melee, blade and fencing are the best choices, and could represent the martial arts traditionally taught in some sects). If for some reason you decide to allow extremely war-oriented religions, I'd suggest to use one of the existing military careers (for example the Army) for the character generation, and then add the Religion skill at the end of the process.

Describing a Religion
We don't really need an URP, but a brief outline of a religion will prove useful. You may follow this simple outline:

  • Name: The name of the religious movement.
  • Main Focus: A concise listing of the main ideas and themes of this belief system.
  • Brief History: Describes how long it existed, and a rough estimate of the number of followers.
  • Reason for Continued existence: A couple of sentences on why the religion remains popular.
  • Non-humans status: Covers the general outlook toward non humans or, in some cases, toward other human races (i.e. Solomani, Zhodani, etc.)
  • Vows: Restrictions and codes to which followers must adhere.
  • Allies/Enemies: Groups which would help or hinder a known member of this religion.
  • Skill Cluster: [see before]
  • Rank Names:(Optional) Names of the ranks.

A couple of examples from the original article by Michael Brown (see bibliography).

Name:The Vekkur.
Main Focus:Preserve life and health in all sentient beings.
Brief History:The religion takes its name from the vekkur, a mythical Vlandian creature which spittle (allegedly) cured any disease. Members of the sect believe that a supreme being exists, and that any sentient being in the universe has the right to life and well-being. Quite widespread in the core subsectors, but less frequent in the frontier regions of the empire.
Non-humans status:Anyone can join this religion.
Reason for Continued existence:Very popular among doctors. It often sponsors wide-range health programs on low TL planets. The religion is quite tolerant of other beliefs, a follower can often be a member of another cult, provided that this does not clash with the main focus of Vekkur doctrine.
Vows:Members are true pacifists, and will not take a life under any circumstance. They always wear some sort of white garment.
Allies/Enemies:No known enemy, but the Army and the Navy sometimes show some suspicion against members of this group and they are closely monitored during wars. Occasionally, members of the PanGalactic Friends of Life have protested against the order for not caring enough for non-sentient life forms. Sporadic (but recurring) tensions between the church and pharmaceutical corporations have been recorded in the past.
Skill Cluster:Biology, Chemistry, First Aid, Medical, Psychology.

Name:Children Transcendent
Main Focus:Upholding the use of Psionic
Brief History:Many older religions described saints and avatars as being capable of impossible feats. This common tradition is the proof that Psionic talent is a step toward an higher plane of existence. Depending on the historical period, this religion may be officially outlawed in the Imperium, and members could be forced to hide.
Non-humans status:Usually good. Zhodani are especially popular.
Reason for Continued existence:Members are required to test out and try to achieve maximum PSI potential as early as possible. Testing and training are free, and are administered during the first and subsequent terms (i.e., even if the first test fails, the character can take another test later, with the usual DMs. Note that even non-PSI can still be part of the clergy).
Vows:Strong ethical rules regulate use of the psi-powers. Members should avoid using them to gain an unfair advantage on "normals".
Allies/Enemies:Depending on the historical period, the Imperium may be considered an enemy: in these cases you should apply a -1 DM on the Injury roll. Psionical Institutes are usually on very good terms with members of the church. The same usually holds for Zhodani agents.
Skill Cluster:Chemistry, Psionicology, Psi-Level, Perception, Medical, Physics

The Stellar Diocese - The clergy in the TRAVELLER universe
by Michael Brown, Dragon #101 [The original article]

Children of Earth
by Harold Hale, Traveller's Chronicles #10 & #11 [Complete treatment of a new Earth-based religion in TNE]

Cosmic Crusades
by Pierre Savoie, Shadis #34 [how-to article on creating religions in SF settings]

GURPS Religion
SJG [A sourcebook devoted to Religions]

101 Religions
CORE [A "Classic-Traveller" booklet describing 101 religions along with adventure seeds for each cult]

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