Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Traveller Product Ideas

The following products are ones I’d love to see for Mongoose Traveller. (Yes, I know my tastes are probably weird and off-base, but I like what I like and want what I want. At least I’m not suggesting any products that involve Boom Guns with plasma bayonets, or a planet full of intelligent, cybernetics-enhanced T-Rexes, right? As a Rifts player, that’s a miracle in and of itself):

Uncommon Valor: Sacrifice In Space

This product takes the ideas of trading survival (and thereby success) for a nasty injury from such Flying Mice titles as In Harm’s Way. The airlock malfunctioned, endangering the whole crew. Does Petty Officer Smith improbably get it closed in time before you Jump? Yes, but at what cost?

The idea is that you either auto-succeed or get a magnificent bonus to your death-defying risk, but that in the best tradition of Admiral Nelson or Winfield Scott Hancock, that victory comes with a very personal price. I see d66 charts you roll on for your injury for Army, Navy, Marines, and Scouts. Perhaps you come away with a slight limp (-1 DEX). Or perhaps your extended recovery leaves you weak (-1 STR). Maybe you’ll need a prosthetic hand, but what’s that to a Hero of the Fleet? Besides, that facial scar makes you look dashing.

Mongoose Traveller already has an optional “death or glory” type rule for their Event tables during character generation, but this would be for more in-play.

Theoretical Size/Price: 16 pages, $1-2. This would be a pretty small pdf.

Imperial Navy Handbook

We already saw something like this with Martin J. Dougherty’s Grand Fleet (only more complex), but I’m imagining a cheap, easy-to-follow 32-page pdf here, along with some uniform ideas, rank illustrations, basic fleet structure, and so on. If you were a new recruit to the Imperial Navy, this would have everything you need. I’m thinking like a 32-page pdf here, directed towards novices and those who want easily-digestible bits about one of the services. A player decides to play a Naval character, simply hand them this. It would be cool to have the same thing for the Scouts, Marines, etc., at some point down the road.

Theoretical Size/Price: 32 pages, $3.50. Just because I like saying “three fiddy”.

Ship’s Locker

Another grab n’ go title, this book would list common equipment (with relevant values and stats, where applicable) for some of the most commonly-used ship variants. Want to know what your Free Trader will likely have in its ship’s locker—how many weapons, vacc suits, what sort of other supplies? What about a mercenary cruiser, safari ship, or lab vessel? Don’t spend hours in Central Supply Catalog outfitting your ships while forgetting the basics—simply find your ship’s type, pick whether it’s Resources Level is Poor, Moderate, or High—and record what’s onboard.

Theoretical Size/Price: 32-48 pages, maybe a bit less depending on how extensive the descriptions are and how many different types of ships are represented. $2-3 or so?

Scout Survey Series

Basically, each entry in this series details a world, gives you the world basics, complete with world hexmap, trade, government, and population information, a brief Who’s Who and planet history, and a solid collection of adventure hooks. The idea is they can be dropped right in to a game or campaign and give your characters plenty to do. There have books done like this in the past (such as the Planetary Survey line with SJ Games), and I thought they were really interesting and useful.

Theoretical Size/Price: 16 pages each, let’s say for a buck each.

Of course, if I could write worth a toss, I’d do it myself. But for now, I’ll hope someone more talented comes along with the same ideas and intentions as I have.


Bonemaster said...

I really like the idea of the Ship's Locker supplement. I know in the past, I could have really used something like it.

jonbrazer said...

Two things: 1) Thank you. It is always good to get suggestions like this. and 2) I once wrote up something like the Scout Survey series a long while ago (before I started my own company). Two of them were published by Mongoose in Signs and Portents. #64 and #68. http://www.mongoosepublishing.com/home/series.php?qsSeries=13

philmophlegm said...

I'd like to see a good juicy campaign, something along the lines of the old Traveller Adventure, that GMs could pick up and run without a huge amount of extra prep. To be honest, with the new licensing arrangements, I'm tempted to write and self-publish this myself...

Mark Poles (MarkPoles on twitter, philmophlegm on LiveJournal)

Zachary The First said...

@bonemaster: Agreed! One thing about ship-based Traveller is you don't have to suffer through personal equipment porn ("ok--can my Belter have a flamethrower and thermal detonators and reflec armor?" The ship hands out rifles, blasters, vacc suits, as needed for the mission. If you're on an Imperial Battleship, they'll likely have good toys for you. If you're on a Noble's yacht, he might have some special stuff. If you're on a run-down Far Trader, you may have to make do between three people with a laser pistol, knife, and small-caliber rifle.

@jb: You're very welcome! I'll have to check out those articles!

Zachary The First said...

@phil: Hey, that's a good point. With the licensing the way it is now, the door's definitely more open than it used to be.

philmophlegm said...


Definitely. I always loved the illustration on the cover of the Traveller Book (and I use it as my Twitter background) because of the contrast between adventurers getting out of a starship and adventurers with pretty ordinary-looking low-tech guns (I think Traveller would refer to them as 'carbines'). That to me feels like classic Traveller. Battle dress and FGMPs should definitely exist in the setting, but not as things that typical free trader crews (i.e. typical adventurers) usually have access to.

Swordgleam said...

I'm a little curious how you came up with your hypothetical pricing for these, since it doesn't seem to directly relate to page numbers. Pricing pdfs is tricky, so I'm always interested to get more viewpoints on it.

Zachary The First said...

@Swrodgleam: Thinking, really, of how much work would go into each.

Honestly, it's a gut feeling. I've only priced one pdf ever, so I'm definitely going by how much I "feel" on this. I really included them for fun as much as anything.

clash bowley said...

All of these are awesome idea, Zach! One of the things I meant to put into In Harm's Way: StarCluster was the "Take permanent damage to get a bonus" rule of the original IHW, but it got lost in the shuffle. I'll have to release that as a free bonus pdf.


Zachary The First said...

@clash: That's true, I didn't see that in there. It would be a very cool free add-on.

clash bowley said...

I started work on it last night! :D