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).