Sunday, September 21, 2014

First In and the Last Ones Standing

Scouts. We've all had a character with such lousy stats we just decided to throw them in the Scouts and pray they died quick and clean. I remember one guy who didn't roll above a six in anything. He lasted seven terms in the Scouts and wound up getting nothing much besides air/raft. When I rolled '12' for re-enlistment I informed the ref I was standing under the engines of a ship about to take off. Then I found out about the reactionless drives. My colleagues grabbed me and gave a me quiet discharge for my service time. I didn't get a ship on mustering out.

Why the heck do Scouts have such a fantastic casualty rate? Rolling a six or less kills you which means 42% of starting Scouts don't live past their first term. that means about 2% survive seven terms. I'm assuming that they re-enlist automatically. With casualty rates like this you aren't throwing a guy out for any medical problem they don't have a telethon for or for most felonies.

How do they get people to join the Scouts with numbers like this? Okay, if your character has Endurance +9 or better you only have to roll a five to survive. That means the Scouts are a viable career for 27% of the population. The survival roll is only worse in the Marines, the guys who board hostile ships armed with cutlasses.

I sometimes wonder just how much continuous action Marines must see in a term. Their survival roll is the only one close to the Scout chance. the Scouts are the guys who get exposed to new diseases, get chased by pirates after identifying their secret bases, have their mail ships jumped by pirates, discover new and hungry life forms, and finally get to test new theories in jump drive designs from the inside.

In retrospect a Scout is: someone with no better prospects taking a desperate gamble he will fit in and perhaps prosper, a very fit individual who has a good chance of living, and people assigned by the draft. So the agency tasked with exploration, communications, and alien contact is full of misfits, malcontents and a sizable minority of well adjusted leaders and teachers trying to impart some knowledge on the new people and hoping they'll live long enough to be some use.

In other words: player characters.