I'm determined that at some stage I'm going to get my head round Traveller, and I'm going to run it, damn it! It seems like an excellent system for running a sandbox campaign as it actually does lack the level of crunch you can encounter in some other games systems. There is plenty of heavy lifting for a GM to do behind the scenes, but that seems to be more an issue of creativity. The important thing is that at the table it is no more complex than Basic Roleplaying, as far as I can see at first glance.
To this end I'm going to cook up a sandbox campaign on the fly, in the odd spare moment, with a view to dipping into it now and again, when the opportunity arises.
To begin with, then, I'm going to generate a couple of PCs for my kids to use. I'm informing my choices by their style of play and general preference for characters. I'm using the Mongoose version of Traveller.
Attributes (adjusted for accident - see below): Strength 8, Dexterity 8, Endurance 5 (-1), Intelligence 9, Education 11 (+1), Social Status 5 (-1).
Background skills: Art (Dance) 0, Seafarer 0, Streetwise 0, Social Science 0
At age 18 Vala Kontiri begins as a Rank 0 Entertainer, going with the Performer specialisation. Because it is her first career, she picks up all the service package skills, namely Art (Dance) which I think now goes to +1, Art (Holography) 0, Carouse 0, Deception 0, Persuade 0 and Steward 0. She also picks up Athletics - Coordination 1, but she fails her survival roll, and gets booted out of Entertainer at 22 due to a scandal (undetermined at this stage).
I decided to take a shot at the Citizen career for Vala, and she makes it in! She goes with the Colonist specialisation in an effort to get away from whatever scandal ruined her dance career. She picks up Melee (Unarmed Combat) 0, and Recon 1. But she fails her survival roll AGAIN, and is harassed by a gang. Her life is ruined and she picks up the gang as an enemy. One for the sandbox.
Back on the street, Vala has a shot at the Agent career, but fails to get in. Her average Intelligence continues to punish her. She now has a choice - Drifter or the draft. I went with the draft, and rolled Navy. Vala ends up as Line Crew. She gets Vacc Suit 0, Comms 1 and fails her survival roll once again. She is invalided out of the service following a near-fatal accident.
At 30 she is still penniless, having failed to come away with any mustering out benefits to date. She goes for Rogue, but at -3 DM for her previous careers, she fails (modified 7), and opts for Drifter. She gets Streetwise 1, and goes with the Scavenger specialty and receives Astrogation 1. She makes her survival roll, finally, and can muster out of Drifter at 34 years old. She gets a Ship Share (1%) on mustering out. At this point I decide to give up and make her a Traveller.
Vala finishes off with four skills from the Traveller background package, namely Mechanic 1, Sensors 1, Medic 1, and Engineer (Electronics) 1. I see her as a failed entertainer/dancer, ex-Navy line crew, now looking for work in a space port somewhere, aged around 34-35. She has a grudge against a gang that she ran afoul of as a colonist and a stake in a ship. We've got plenty of meat to work with here.