During character creation, you may attempt to join a service (or get drafted if you fail), see if you survive, get commissioned or promoted, gain skills and training, and then optionally reenlist. Each term of enlistment is four years. At the end of all your terms you muster out, still as a 0-level character, unless some extraordinary event happened. The benefit of having a career is the additional training that you get, which allows you to claim more areas where you can roll a d20 skill check instead of an untrained d10, and whatever perks, money, and equipment you gain when you muster out. Mustering out and gaining additional background will be covered later.
Roll greater than or equal to the listed DC on 1d20 to succeed, 1’s are fumbles, 20’s are criticals. Add the bonus from the listed attribute; if there are two attributes listed that could grant a bonus use whichever is better. You may spend Luck on any of the rolls, but you don’t regain Luck spent during your career even if you eventually end up in a class that has the ability to regenerate it.
If you fail the Enlist roll, roll 1d6 to see what service you are drafted into (services without a draft number don’t draft). If you fumble the Enlist roll, you won’t be drafted into that service: automatically enroll in Other if that happens.
If you fail the survival roll, you are discharged. If the failure was a fumble, you are automatically dead. Otherwise roll a DC 10 save against each of Fortitude, Reflexes, and Will. If you fail all three rolls, you died while in service. If you fail two rolls, you are discharged due to long-term injury that still plagues you (roll on critical hit chart to see what). If you fail on only one roll, you were injured enough to be invalidated but recover completely. Finally, if you succeed on all your rolls, you were RIF-ed (Reduction In Force) and you may attempt to Enlist again in that service; if you succeed in enlisting, you are back in service, but reduced by one rank. Exception: Criminals who are “RIFfed” serve a jail term; they age 1d8 years but may attempt to “re-enlist” in the Criminal career at the end of that sentence; if they attempt to re-enlist but fail the jail term is extended another 1d8 years and they may try again.
If you critical on any of your Survival, Commission, or Promotion rolls, you get a medal; getting multiple criticals in a single term of service grants you higher honors instead of multiple honors.
If you succeed at your Commission roll you become Rank 1 on the Officer Table. Once you are Commissioned you don’t have to roll Commission again. If you’re promoted from the highest NCO rank, you become the lowest officer rank. If you fumble your Commission roll, you get a -1 to your Reenlistment roll for this term only. Crime, Science, and Other have no “non-commissioned” ranks, so either you don’t roll for Promotion until you succeed at a Commission roll. Backgrounds 19+ don’t have to roll for commission, they begin as commissioned officers after a stint in a service academy.
If you succeed on your Promotion roll, you are promoted one rank. If you haven’t been commissioned yet, you advance in non-commissioned rank; if you have been commissioned you advance in officer rank. If you reach the top of the non-commissioned ranks, the next promotion takes you to the start of the officer ranks. If you fumble your Promotion roll, you are busted back one rank. If you’re at the lowest officer rank, you’re busted back to the highest NCO rank.
For Reenlistment, even if you don’t want to reenlist, roll and on a 19 or 20 there’s an emergency and you have to serve another term, after which you can again try to muster out. If you fumble your Reenlist roll then you were dishonorably discharged, and you don’t receive normal mustering out benefits. Exception: you may choose to be guilty of peculation/black-marketeering, and roll a Criminal survival roll; if you succeed then muster out as a Criminal. Failure has the usual consequences.