Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Introducing Traveller

The Traveller RPG can be a confusing animal, can’t it? There are multiple versions available, multiple milieus in which to set a campaign, and for every option, there is a healthy dose of partisans and implacable foes, ready to shout down or up any choices you might make.

I wish I could help, but Traveller Grognard (Junior Ranking) I am, I bounce between Traveller editions myself. I really enjoy Classic Traveller and Mongoose Traveller at the moment, but MegaTraveller, T20, and Traveller: The New Era have their charms as well.

I’m kicking around doing a Traveller game this fall (I’ve been promising this gaming group forever I’d get around to one), and my biggest consideration is going to be learning curve. For that, I think Classic Traveller or Mongoose Traveller would be best. Mongoose Traveller has the edge of being clearly inspired by the original and pretty close to it in a lot of places with a more modern layout. Right now, Mongoose Traveller is the front-runner, but things can change. T20 would be easy for a group that’s played a lot of d20, but I don’t entirely like how combat works in that game, and I fear there’d be some “unlearning” to do. No, best to start fresh, I think.

Besides, I admitted how wrong I was about Riki-Tiki-Traveller. I think I sort of owe it to them, especially since Mongoose has been doing a very un-Mongoosian solid editing job on the line (for the most part). Some of our group also has the Free RPG Day Introduction to Traveller from Mongoose, which should be a nice introduction indeed.

Ready my H. Beam Piper. We're gonna make this happen.


(By the way, do you guys ever visit/read The Zhodani Base? You should, if you dig Traveller).

18 comments:

Stargazer said...

So you would recommend Mongoose Traveller for Traveller newbies? I own the classic Traveller from the 70s, The New Era and the Mongoose one and I am thinking about running my Ad Astra campaign with Traveller. I have started it using PDQ, but I have the feeling I need something more crunchy. And is the Introduction to Traveller available as PDF or am I out of luck when I couldn't get one on free game day?

Chgowiz said...

Your post - so tempting.

Free RPG Day Introduction to Traveller from Mongoose

Is this available as a download somewhere?

Vincent said...

The fountains are dusty in the graveyard of dreams

Nice shout out to H Beam Piper - I just finished re-reading Junkyard Planet. I wanted to run a campaign this winter set in and around the System States War period of Piper's Terro-Human Future History. Overall the Traveller technology and economics are a great match; one would just need to rework interstellar travel.

At any rate, the edition of the book that I have is POD, but anyone who hasn't had the pleasure of this classic SF story can snag it from Project Gutenberg under its alternate title.

Zachary The First said...

Actually, I’m at work, so I can’t check DriveThruRPG or Mongoose’s site to see if the have Book 0 as a free download or if they want you to pay for it. Perhaps some kind soul?....

@Stargazer: Yes, it serves as good an intro as anything. I wish it had a good chargen example, but it isn’t difficult…

Zachary The First said...

@Vincent: H. Beam Piper is one of the core elements of the Traveller experience, in my opinion. His stories and the base assumptions of Traveller seem to line up very well indeed.

That’s right—a lot of his work is available through sites like Project Gutenberg, since the copyright’s lapsed.

Another game that’s very much in the Realm of Piper is the excellent Thousand Suns RPG. They even have a supplement called “Transmissions From Piper”. Good stuff.

Andreas Davour said...

Can you get a trader campaign going, and then figure out a way to make it fun without turning it into accountants in space, then you need to tell us how.

I love the idea of Traveller, but in reality if have always felt like work, or something. I think of filing tax returns when people mention Traveller.

Zachary The First said...

@Andreas: I don’t always strictly run trader campaigns, but I think the secret is to not turn it into a back-and-forth H&R Block session. One of the things I do is abstract things a little. For this month, the ship and crew need, say, 8 Points to maintain their ship and living, never mind anything extra. A deal or cargo run might net them anywhere between 1-4 Points. Ship damage, loss of supplies, might cost them 1-2 Points. A bonus for a job or discovering some saleable artifact might be worth another Point. If they end up positive for the period, they can upgrade equipment or give bonuses. If they end up negative, people start going hungry, you can’t pay for ship upkeep, and those paychecks may stop coming. My next campaign will likely be the crew running a small independent spaceport along the same lines.

Some people want the economics and math of hauling precise cargo. I’ve always been of the opinion that the *feel* of those things is lots more fun than the minutiae. Naturally, there are plenty of Traveller fans who disagree with me, but the beauty of Traveller is there are many different types of games you can run—a dirtside combat romp, an Imperial Naval intrigue, scouts exploring the Wilds—that can have zilch to do with trading.

Dale said...

Go Mongoose Traveller. ;) But no matter which version you choose, I hope you and your players enjoy the game.
From Dale McCoy, Jr.
Jon Brazer Enterprises, President

Andreas Davour said...

Maybe that's the way to do it, but it feels a little lite a cop out. Maybe that's what needed, otoh.

Zachary The First said...

Might be, might be. Otoh, there are plenty of Traveller grognards out there who can barely be restrained from telling you how they work their trade system. :)

Norman Harman said...

That abstract system is great. For some reason I never seem to "house rule" things simpler, only more complicated.

Zachary The First said...

Well, two of my earlier games were Rolemaster and various Palladium games. Simplify, simplify, simplify some more. :)

Andreas Davour said...

Yeah, I know Zach. That's what got me trying. But, it's so boring it puts me to sleep.

Zachary The First said...

Andreas, I gotta Referee for you sometime, man. We gotta get this going for you.:)

Norman Harman said...

My Pocket Edition Mongoose Traveller just arrived! Which I

I'm really liking pocket edition sized games. So, portable and "light". I got pocket editions of M&M, C&C, Savage Worlds, and now Traveller. I see them, read them and want to play. Many larger book rpgs I've not even cracked open, just seem overwhelming. All psycological but still.

I've been intrigued by recent discussion somewhere bout doing traveller chargen for fantasy.

Zachary The First said...

I'm really digging digest and smaller-sized games right now as well. Traveller Pocket, Thousand Suns, even Robotech--just a handy little format. Easier to carry around and read on the go. Not perfect for every game, but I think you're right--there's something friendly about that size.

JB said...

I haven’t had a chance to play Traveller since my friend ran me through the Classic version…what, 25+ years ago? A long f’ing time.

I picked up Mongoose’s latest after thumbing through it and seeing what looked to me like something very similar to the Classic of my memory. I’ve been carrying it around in my backpack for the last 4 months or so (before I even discovered this Old School game movement).

Right now I’m just getting back into the gaming hobby, and I’m starting with B/X D&D, but Traveller (the Mongoose version) is what I’m leaning towards for a spacer campaign. Even though it seems more high-tech than I remember (“Battle Dress?” What the f?), it still seems like the game of choice for low-tech sci-fi…Cowboy Beebop, Firefly, etc..

Love it.

Andreas Davour said...

Andreas, I gotta Referee for you sometime, man. We gotta get this going for you.:)

I'm game!

BTW a nice little game in carry around format, is the 7th ed T&T.