"This is Free Trader Beowulf
calling anyone . . .
Mayday, Mayday . . . we are under attack . . .
main drive is gone . . .
turret number one not responding
Mayday . . . losing cabin pressure fast
calling anyone . . . please help . . .
This is Free Trader Beowulf . . .
Mayday . . ."
As I have talked a bit about the system over on the Discord, and as my Krevborna game is running slower than I expected, I am considering to run Traveller
on the side.
My edition of choice would be Mongoose Traveller 1st edition core-only - although I reserve the right to use sub-systems, random tables and other material from older editions.The Setting
Traveller is a sci-fi RPG rooted in classic 1950s sci-fi such as Isaac Asimov (especially the Foundation series), Robert Heinlein (especially Starman Jones and Starship Troopers) and most importantly Poul Anderson (especially the Nicholas van Rijn
novels).There is already an extensive explanation of what the Traveller setting is about by Marc Miller himself
, so I will just summarize the most important things in a few bullet points:
- There is the Third Imperium nominally governing the main stellar empire of humans, but in practice it has a very hands-off night watchman state approach limiting itself to running the starports, external defense against other empires, ensuring free trade between the ports of different planets and only setting few prohibitions such as against inter-planetary warfare, use of nukes on or near inhabited planets or the use of psionics.
- FTL travel is driven by jump drives, where ships jump into jump space and spend at least one week in there. There is no FTL communication - communication between planets gets instead carried physically by ships, whether through the X-Boat network of the Imperial Scout Service or enterprising freetraders acting as a mail stagecoach as a side hustle.
- As it would take at least one year to deliver communication from the edges of the Imperium to its center and back, planetary governance is highly localized, and both planetary rulers and PCs are on their own not being able to rely on the cavalry arriving in time. This also leads to a dizzying variety of planetary political and economical orders, from 20th century earth-style more-or-less democratic more-or-less capitalist garden worlds, to tiny anarcho-communist communes on vacuum worlds that might change their model of governance over a heated debate at dinner, to outright dictatorships, or even to war-torn patchwork worlds. (The Imperium generally doesn't meddle in intraplanetary war - the kids gloves only come off if it spreads to other worlds or the local starport and thus endangers free trade.)
- The default core story is about indebted freetraders trying to make a buck moving goods and passengers from A to B and taking odd jobs from patrons, all while their creditors breath down their neck and are always ready to seize their ship if mortgage payments don't come in in time.
However, Traveller also supports a lot of other campaign modes, such as mercenary companies, asteroid miners, the Imperial military or planetary rulers.[/list]The Mechanics
Traveller is at its core a pretty simple and straightforward 2d6 overroll system.
The true joy lies in character creation, as you go through a random lifepath entering careers, gaining random skills, promotions and mustering-out benefits, and sometimes also failing at a career and needing to take a lateral career move. (In Classic Trav you could also die during character creation
, although to do the same in Rikitiki Trav you would need extremely bad rolls starting already with bad physical stats and/or ageing your character to Methusalem levels.)
You might come out as an admiral with a noble title and vast tracts of land, or as a crippled and neurotic veteran ("Mobile Infantry made me the man I am today!")
, or anything inbetween. And even if you are middling successful, you are likely to not get exactly what you want, and some stuff you didn't envision your character to have.
When life hands you lemons, you need to make lemonade - which is an attitude you need to have to be a success in Traveller, as persistent world-building and events rely heavily on random tables, not unlike modern CRPG rogue-likes.