Explore Far Distant Worlds in the Traveller Core Rulebook

A band of rugged spacefarers gather from far flung backgrounds, some with careers ending in retirement and others with a lifetime’s work ending in disaster. Together they explore unknown planets and brave the vacuum and mysteries of space traveling together into a new life of adventure in Traveller. Traveller has a decades long history as an RPG. This review covers just the Traveller Core Rulebook second edition by Mongoose Publishing.

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The Traveller Core Rulebook (PDF) is a 240 page full color hardcover containing the rules to make player characters and run adventures. Sample equipment, vehicles, and spacecraft are included but not rules for designing new gear. The Third Imperium is offered as a default setting. The system is 2d6 roll over an 8 and faster than light travel is via jumps measured in hexes jumped. Humans are mostly like us (not specifically trans-humanism or cyberpunk) and a couple of alien species (Aslan and Vargr) are an option but use human character creation with a couple of tweaks. Aslan are an expansionist species of feuding clans and predatory warriors. The Vargr are uplifted wolves known as pirates and scavengers but with a deeply rooted pack mentality and a diverse culture built on companionship, charisma, and loyalty.

Combat is dangerous, with wounds reducing characteristics (ability scores) further impairing future actions. A map and minis can be used but aren’t required. Space combat involves multiple PCs with options for a pilot, captain, engineer, sensor operator, gunner, and marine. Range bands are used so a simple map and markers for ships help keep space combat straight.

Basically, a player character will be a mostly normal human or humanoid alien who goes through a series of careers based on die rolls. PCs cannot die in this version, but they may not get the career they want, the skills they desire, or even finish character creation without getting hurt or suffering other mishaps. An extremely handy flowchart details creating a traveller.

What stumbles out of the other end of character creation is a fleshed out PC with history, skills, scars, and memories and a need to move on. PCs may even meet each other during character creation and share some background. For whatever reason, be it disgrace or wanderlust or something else, the PC moves on from a set career path to wander the stars as a traveller without home or a regular job. However, when they meet up with their fellow travellers, the PCs can choose a chosen campaign which provides a list of skills to pick from to improve what they learned on their own.

Referees are provided fourteen pages of encounters and dangers as well as thirty-six pages of rules for small-scale interstellar trade including smuggling, world and universe creation, and a sample subsector. The material is designed so a referee can take a hex map, roll up a subsector of planets, plan a few encounters and NPCs, and set the PCs loose. While a plethora of campaign settings and adventures are available for Traveller, a referee can get started with just this book and add in new sourcebooks and rules as needed.

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The art in the book provides a look into the world of Traveller from full page images of starships to depictions of aliens to travellers in action. Ads for in universe corporations peddle everything from computers to weapons to subdermal armor. Weapons and gear are depicted in the art as are all the starships and the ships also get detailed internal deck plans. The sample subsector includes a hex map filled in with worlds. The attack on the Free Trader Beowulf depicted on the cover is reversed on the cover for the Traveller Starter Set which depicts the two fighters attacking the free trader.

The Traveller Core Rulebook (PDF) provides a referee with everything need to get started with a sandbox campaign of exploration, trade, and starfaring adventure. If time is at a premium the sample subsector can be used in place of something the referee comes up with herself. Each world has a suggested patron, an NPC with an agenda that the PCs can get tangled up in. Whatever world the PCs head to, the referee will have an adventure seed handy and just needed fleshed out. Exciting adventures driven by the players themselves will follow and can be built into an entire campaign. Traveller provides everything need to get started exploring space and traveling between alien worlds.
 
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Charles Dunwoody

Comments

TrippyHippy

Adventurer
Good review, for what is still the best sci-fi game on the market for my money.

As an extra point, there is a massive amount of supplemental support for this game. If you like deep space exploration, then The Great Rift box set is exactly that. If you want to command vast starships, then you have the Elemental Cruiser set. If you like spacefaring pirates, the Pirates of Drinax campaign is suitably epic. It also includes expanded rules and an entirely expanded character generation system for Aslan, as they are important for that campaign. There also a bunch of weird alien types to play in the Beyond the Claw sourcebook too.

If you want something more trans-humanist, rather than classic sci-fi, then there is a Traveller version of the Mindjammer setting.
 

Barantor

Explorer
Traveller as a whole is criminally underrated in the RPG community.
So if they are anything like me it's all about the confusing editions like a lot of games I've heard are good but have gone through multiple companies. Like I know enough from casual encounters to know that there is original Traveller, then it went to Mongoose, then somewhere else?

When you have a confusing edition scheme it doesn't help.
 

eyeheartawk

Works 60% of the time, every time
So if they are anything like me it's all about the confusing editions like a lot of games I've heard are good but have gone through multiple companies. Like I know enough from casual encounters to know that there is original Traveller, then it went to Mongoose, then somewhere else?

When you have a confusing edition scheme it doesn't help.
It's very confusing.

You got the LBBs (Little Black Books) originals, followed on by MegaTraveller and then The New Era. That was basically the end of sort of the original incarnation as shepherded by Game Designers Workshop. After that it's T4 by Marc Miller himself. GURPS Traveller for, well, GURPS, and then Traveller20 for 3.0. There's also a Hero version I think!

Now, to the present. There are two Mongoose editions, we are currently on the second. In between those two editions Marc Miller put out T5.

There is also an SRD version of the original game (LBBs) called Cepheus Engine. There's lots of support material for that as well. Though, be prepared alot of 3rd party material for Cepheus has hideous CG Poser art.

If you want a recommendation I'd go with Mongoose 2 or Cepheus. T5 is an unplayable mess of a college physics textbook.
 

Phenomen

Explorer
Like I know enough from casual encounters to know that there is original Traveller, then it went to Mongoose, then somewhere else?
Mongoose Traveller 2e is the latest edition and they still release new stuff for it. Everything else is either ancient (T20) or totally unplayable (T5)
 

Malkinban

The Torn
So if they are anything like me it's all about the confusing editions like a lot of games I've heard are good but have gone through multiple companies. Like I know enough from casual encounters to know that there is original Traveller, then it went to Mongoose, then somewhere else?

When you have a confusing edition scheme it doesn't help.
As others have said there are currently two direct versions of Traveller. Mongoose's Traveller Second Edition and Marc Miller's (the creator of Traveller) Traveller 5 which is goes quite in depth, some might say too in depth. I don't think it is really that confusing if people do a modicum of research on the matter, just like researching any other newly discovered RPG.
 

univoxs

Explorer
My table has already gone one round with Traveller and we are going back for more with the epic Pirates of Drinax.

One thing I have always wanted to play is Zozer's Orbital setting for low TL, which included things like rotational gravity aboard ships and a system for simulating orbital mechanics. Has anyone played Zozer's Orbital or Hostile settings?

 
Compared to other editions of Traveller, how do you think the Mongoose version holds up?
I have played Mongoose 1e and 2e and read original Traveller. I like Mongoose 2E the best. A few skills are consolidated, ranged combat is better, and the math has been playtested more for building things.

Plus all the support. So much support. Merchant, exploration, and navy so far with more exploration, merchant, and war to follow. And eventually Traveller2300 AD released as a boxed set. Hopefully some day.
 
My table has already gone one round with Traveller and we are going back for more with the epic Pirates of Drinax.

One thing I have always wanted to play is Zozer's Orbital setting for low TL, which included things like rotational gravity aboard ships and a system for simulating orbital mechanics. Has anyone played Zozer's Orbital or Hostile settings?

I have Hostile but have not played it. I like it quite a bit. Very blue collar with occasional screaming and lots of bleeding thrown in. The writer of Hostile wrote some of Free League's Alien RPG. He knows his stuff.
 
So if they are anything like me it's all about the confusing editions like a lot of games I've heard are good but have gone through multiple companies. Like I know enough from casual encounters to know that there is original Traveller, then it went to Mongoose, then somewhere else?

When you have a confusing edition scheme it doesn't help.
It can be a lot. I do like the Mongoose Traveller 2E starter box to get going: Start Your Travels In The Far Future With The Traveller Starter Set

You don't really need anything beyond the box set. But you can always go to Mongoose to look for more options if the game is something you like.
 

TrippyHippy

Adventurer
Traveller as a whole is criminally underrated in the RPG community.
I think that Traveller has always been something of a sleeper hit, right from 1977 onwards.

It has a pretty big, long standing fanbase, but they tend to keep themselves quiet in the larger RPG community and there is a sense that some tend to play the game exclusively. Mongoose Traveller taps into this slightly insular community of ‘grognards’, with a game that is fundamentally based on Classic Traveller, but it also makes the game highly accessible to new audiences too (which is not something that T5 does, for example).

The other thing that 2nd edition does differently to Mongoose’s 1st edition, is that it concentrates a lot more on developing the core Third Imperium setting. 1st edition attempted to make itself much more of an open, generic system - which is basically what Cepheus now does. However, the Third Imperium is now being showcased much more, and allowing people to really explore what is a vast and open setting in its own right.
 

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