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Traveller RPG (Looking for Opinions)

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
@dragoner, interesting post.

I have never used the official Traveller aliens in play. In our current game all the PCs are human, which was a stipulated parameter at the start of the game. There has always been a premise that there may be aliens "out there", ruins of ancient civilisations, etc, but they are not widely known about and certainly are not integrated into a galactic civilisation in official Traveller or Star wars/Star Trek way.

The PCs (and their players) first got evidence of the existence of aliens at the end of the fourth session, when a DNA scan of the residents of the bioweapon virus planet revealed that they did not have fully human DNA. Since then there have been hints of alien technology (eg teleporters) on another world, and the current Annic Nova situation involves a genuine alien vessel with alien inhabitants. How that fits into the bigger picture of the universe and its timeline etc hasn't come out, though I have some thoughts about it.

In our campaign there is psionics, and a few sessions ago (which is over a year ago, as this is only one of several active campaigns for my group) the PCs found a branch of the Psionics Institute and a number of them underwent training. This is linked into the "ancient technologies"/"aliens" theme, which has been reinforced by my version of Annic Nova, but again the details haven't yet emerged.

I've never used a psion "class"/career path and don't know the details of the Zhodani (just the general idea that they're psionically-oriented humans with mechanical options for starting with psionics). Your objection to teleporting squads of commandos seems sensible to me!

I think my thing is that if we are going to do furries, do furries, it is just not my thing. Though I did see a furry artist, T5 person doing some trippy stuff with the Vargr on the discord. I've done weird stuff, like importing drow over 10 years ago, since the Darrians are just space elves so lets have the weird ones as well to use all the cool art there is for them, probably not my best idea, and I have moved on. Psions too are fine, it is just when all this gets added to the official materials, it lessens their utility to a non-official homebrew setting.

Your setting looks fun, and that is the best thing about Traveller is the ability to use the system to create an individual setting. Also it keeps grognards who know everything about the OTU from arguing edge cases, or criticizing the GM for not being faithful to the original material.
 

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pemerton

Legend
Your setting looks fun
Thanks.

the best thing about Traveller is the ability to use the system to create an individual setting. Also it keeps grognards who know everything about the OTU from arguing edge cases, or criticizing the GM for not being faithful to the original material.
In general I'm not a big fan of pre-packaged setting, especially when it's GM-driven or used by the GM to control how the fiction devlops.

The only exception to that in my recent play (as in the past 10 or so years!) has been Marvel Heroic RP, and in that case it was very much an open, everyone gets to contributed and make setting decisions approach (which MHRP supports very well) rather than GM-controlled and mediated.

What I do like to do is build on the implied setting of a system, which in the case of Classic Traveller is an imperium with its nobles, and its interstellar navy, marines and scouts. So that was all put on the table in our first session.

From that starting point, setting emerges as play demands it. Book 3 flags that approach as an option for a non-refereed game, but I've found it works perfectly well for a refereed game too. I've applied this at a "local" as well as "global" level too: eg when the PCs assaulted an enemy base, I didn't start with floorplans but used the encounter distance roll to help set details about the starting situation, and then we sketched out a rough maps as we went along.

For me, the fact that the system supports this really easily is part of what makes me compare it to PbtA, even though it predates AW by more than 30 years and so in some way reflects much earlier design sensibilities.
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
Thanks.

In general I'm not a big fan of pre-packaged setting, especially when it's GM-driven or used by the GM to control how the fiction devlops.

The only exception to that in my recent play (as in the past 10 or so years!) has been Marvel Heroic RP, and in that case it was very much an open, everyone gets to contributed and make setting decisions approach (which MHRP supports very well) rather than GM-controlled and mediated.

What I do like to do is build on the implied setting of a system, which in the case of Classic Traveller is an imperium with its nobles, and its interstellar navy, marines and scouts. So that was all put on the table in our first session.

From that starting point, setting emerges as play demands it. Book 3 flags that approach as an option for a non-refereed game, but I've found it works perfectly well for a refereed game too. I've applied this at a "local" as well as "global" level too: eg when the PCs assaulted an enemy base, I didn't start with floorplans but used the encounter distance roll to help set details about the starting situation, and then we sketched out a rough maps as we went along.

For me, the fact that the system supports this really easily is part of what makes me compare it to PbtA, even though it predates AW by more than 30 years and so in some way reflects much earlier design sensibilities.
It is a good observation that it resembles PbtA, or other indie game sensibilities, and I agree very much. About the only thing I have run into is that some players want 8+ to be everything, a sort of later rules set issue. It's funny too in that usually the old way classic does it is better for them, as it's often +2 on the dice per skill point. I had someone complain that it was too much page flipping to look at the skill descriptions, except my mongoose core rules fell apart due to having to flip back to the skill descriptions to constantly check on what characteristic went with each skill, and time frame.

I bought The Traveller Book print on demand from dtrpg, and it has been a big help, I even used the included adventure "Exit Visa" in my "The Great Monorail Job" side adventure I whipped up, I hid that I using that, until one player found out and said "oh god no" except I did a pretty good job at hiding that. heh

Traveller is good for having just enough rules to get into trouble, then just wing the rest. About the only thing I would change is that the Gauss Rifle from book 4 is pretty much a death ray, and the players have a hold of them to the point they are calling themselves "The Gauss Gang". Then again the did get spanked by a light mortar and a platoon in flak vest and assault rifles using some very old tactics (Napoleon at Ulm), it's not ever that bad, just that they have a tendency to try to solve every problem by hosing it down with gunfire.
 

pemerton

Legend
About the only thing I have run into is that some players want 8+ to be everything, a sort of later rules set issue. It's funny too in that usually the old way classic does it is better for them, as it's often +2 on the dice per skill point.
I much prefer the original framework to the 8+ approach. When you look at Admin or Streetwise, for instance, the original framework makes 1 rank very significant, which works with the character gen's system's tendency to give low skill numbers. And the vacc suit system has the first check, at +4 per rank, to avoid trouble then the second check to get out of trouble if it happens, which uses a different bonus structure that makes having one rank of skill super-important and then is +2 for each additional rank.

My solution to page flippage has been to write up my own version of all the sub-systems, bringing together all the bits and pieces from skill descriptions, equipment descriptions, etc (eg some of the vacc suit rules are found in Book 2 in the discussion of decompression and escape). I've also included other bits-and-pieces from some of the modules I've got, from Andy Slack's early White Dwarf articles, etc.

I also wrote up my own career tables so as to bring some of the later skills into the original professions, but without using the MegaTraveller tables (which I don't like - too ad hoc and too many skills) or the extended generation system (too tedious). I did adapt one idea from MegaTraveller, though, which is having a Special Duty line on my tables which allows for a bit more skill gain.

About the only thing I would change is that the Gauss Rifle from book 4 is pretty much a death ray, and the players have a hold of them to the point they are calling themselves "The Gauss Gang".
I have the gauss rifle on my weapon charts but it hasn't turned up yet. We do have a PC with battle dress and an integrated plasma gun, but he doesn't have Battle Dress skill and so has to make a roll to avoid injury when he uses it. So he's only used it once so far!

they have a tendency to try to solve every problem by hosing it down with gunfire.
That hasn't been an issue in our game so far. The expedition to the Annic Nova probably saw more rounds discharged (against aliens) than the rest of the campaign put together.
 

MGibster

Legend
So let's talk about jump drives. If I have a ship with a Jump of 2 it means it takes that ship one week to go two parsecs. How much fuel does that consume? The Free Trader has a Jump of 1, carries 21 tons of fuel, and under the description says it has 4 weeks of operations with its fuel tanks. Am I to take that to mean the fuel trader can jump four times before needing to refuel? i.e. In the case of the Free Trader, it takes 5 tons of a fuel to travel 1 parsec by jumping?
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
So let's talk about jump drives. If I have a ship with a Jump of 2 it means it takes that ship one week to go two parsecs. How much fuel does that consume? The Free Trader has a Jump of 1, carries 21 tons of fuel, and under the description says it has 4 weeks of operations with its fuel tanks. Am I to take that to mean the fuel trader can jump four times before needing to refuel? i.e. In the case of the Free Trader, it takes 5 tons of a fuel to travel 1 parsec by jumping?

Traditionally it has one jump and four weeks of maneuver, that is the average fuel load. Jump, unless changed in the new edition, is 10% of the tonnage multiplied by the jump number, so a jump 1 200 ton free trader would require 20 tons of fuel per jump.

The expedition to the Annic Nova probably saw more rounds discharged (against aliens) than the rest of the campaign put together.

The problem of shooting everything isn't only restricted to Traveller, sort of endemic to RPG's.

It would be interesting, in the vein where you have collated skills, and added them to the chargen tables, to have seen a complete classic Traveller book that put everything together.
 

MGibster

Legend
Traditionally it has one jump and four weeks of maneuver, that is the average fuel load. Jump, unless changed in the new edition, is 10% of the tonnage multiplied by the jump number, so a jump 1 200 ton free trader would require 20 tons of fuel per jump.

Where do you find that? I have the starter set and I can't find it in Book 2: Spacecraft & Worlds. And a follow up question, on many maps there is more than 1 parsec between populated plants in the sub sector. How does any ship get from one place to another if they run out of fuel before they can reach the next planet?
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
Where do you find that? I have the starter set and I can't find it in Book 2: Spacecraft & Worlds. And a follow up question, on many maps there is more than 1 parsec between populated plants in the sub sector. How does any ship get from one place to another if they run out of fuel before they can reach the next planet?

You mean the mongoose starter set? I don't have that. They could have changed or omitted that info, it would not be the first time. I did buy just about everything for 1e, there are gaps in the rules. To get to planets that are more distant, you need to have a higher numbered jump drive, or be able to make consecutive jumps, such as carrying extra fuel in tanks in the cargo hold.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
Where do you find that? I have the starter set and I can't find it in Book 2: Spacecraft & Worlds. And a follow up question, on many maps there is more than 1 parsec between populated plants in the sub sector. How does any ship get from one place to another if they run out of fuel before they can reach the next planet?

Those jumps are for ships with a jump drive rated high enough to get there. If you don't have a powerful enough jump drive, you either can't get there or you somehow have to carry enough fuel to jump twice and that's kind of rare.
 

MGibster

Legend
Those jumps are for ships with a jump drive rated high enough to get there. If you don't have a powerful enough jump drive, you either can't get there or you somehow have to carry enough fuel to jump twice and that's kind of rare.

Wow. Looking at some of the sub-sectors, a Jump 1 seems excessively limiting. I know space is big, but it seems like there ought to be a way for PCs to reasonably get around a sub-sector in your basic Far Trader ship.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Wow. Looking at some of the sub-sectors, a Jump 1 seems excessively limiting. I know space is big, but it seems like there ought to be a way for PCs to reasonably get around a sub-sector in your basic Far Trader ship.

The idea is to simulate the extreme difficulty of travel as in the age of sail. Makes exploration downright dangerous.
 

pemerton

Legend
@MGibster

Like @dragoner I don't know Mongoose, only Classic

Jump drive fuel, as dragoner has said, is 10% of hull size (= 20 for a 200=ton free trader) multiplied by jump number - that's 20 tons for a free trader to jump 1.

In Classic a M-drive doesn't need its own fuel - it runs off the power plant, and P-plant fuel is 10 times the plant number from the drive chart - so that is 10 tons for a free trader. Therefore, in Classic, the free trader has 30 tons of fuel, which allows a jump-1 plus P-plant/M-drive operation for 4 weeks, before refuelling.

In the 1981 version of Classic the Type Y yacht is respecified as having 50 tons of fuel, which allows for 2 jump-1s plus P-plant/M-drive operation. This helped the group in my game when they had to cover a 2 jump distance without refuelling.
 

MGibster

Legend
Like @dragoner I don't know Mongoose, only Classic

In the 2nd edition Mongoose Starter Set, for some reason they don't list fuel expenditures for jumps with the ship descriptions. But from what I've seen on some Youtube videos, descriptions of the ships in some other products have those costs. In this version, a Yacht as a Jump 1 and carries 22 tons of fuel.

I get that they're going for an age of sail type thing going here. But there are some sub-sectors where PCs with a reasonable ship, a Far Trader or even a Scout, are limited to a very tiny chain of planets. Are they supposed to just go to a empty parsec and hope there's a gas giant or something? Or are parsecs with nothing in them on the map truly empty?
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
In the 2nd edition Mongoose Starter Set, for some reason they don't list fuel expenditures for jumps with the ship descriptions. But from what I've seen on some Youtube videos, descriptions of the ships in some other products have those costs. In this version, a Yacht as a Jump 1 and carries 22 tons of fuel.

I get that they're going for an age of sail type thing going here. But there are some sub-sectors where PCs with a reasonable ship, a Far Trader or even a Scout, are limited to a very tiny chain of planets. Are they supposed to just go to a empty parsec and hope there's a gas giant or something? Or are parsecs with nothing in them on the map truly empty?

Assume the empty hexes are truly empty... unless there’s a hidden naval refueling base or something. But those would be strategically placed.
And yes, jump challenges are part of the game and why a good main string of systems accessible to jump-1 vessels are core to cultural areas in the official Traveller universe.

But even if PCs can’t get their own ship to some systems, there are liners they may be able to book passage on for certain adventure hooks.
 

pemerton

Legend
In the 2nd edition Mongoose Starter Set, for some reason they don't list fuel expenditures for jumps with the ship descriptions. But from what I've seen on some Youtube videos, descriptions of the ships in some other products have those costs. In this version, a Yacht as a Jump 1 and carries 22 tons of fuel.
That sounds like it is the same fuel per jump as Classic (so enough fuel for one jump-1 by a 200 ton vessel) but a different rule for P-plant fuel (I'm guessing 1% of hull size times P-plant drive number, which would be 2 tons for a 200 ton P-1 vessel).

there are some sub-sectors where PCs with a reasonable ship, a Far Trader or even a Scout, are limited to a very tiny chain of planets. Are they supposed to just go to a empty parsec and hope there's a gas giant or something? Or are parsecs with nothing in them on the map truly empty?
As far as I know, empty hexes are empty.

If you're planning on running a game with a pre-drawn starmap, I'd suggest choosing a subsector with a good collection of systems.

Our first eleven sessions involved the PCs visiting six worlds, none more than Jump-1 from at least one other. PC backstories referenced two more worlds, one of which is also within Jump-1 on the map, the other within Jump-2. I built up the starmap over the course of those sessions, and in its current version it has 13 systems plus an outstation, all within Jump-1 of at least one other system except for that one which is a Jump-2 distance from the others.

The twelfth session involved a mis-jump which sent the characters to a different world, and so far this new starmap only has two worlds sketched out. (We've played fourteen sessions in total.)
 

MGibster

Legend
That sounds like it is the same fuel per jump as Classic (so enough fuel for one jump-1 by a 200 ton vessel) but a different rule for P-plant fuel (I'm guessing 1% of hull size times P-plant drive number, which would be 2 tons for a 200 ton P-1 vessel).

Fair enough. I really appreciate the time you, billd91, Parmandur, Darren, Dragoner and others have patiently answered my various questions and offered suggestions.

As far as I know, empty hexes are empty.

I've been overthinking this I think. A ship with a fuel scoop ought to be able to collect hydrogen from non-planetary sources like dust clouds and then there's comets and perhaps other sources they can tap that I'm not thinking of. Relying on those is certainly riskier than using using an established route but I suppose it's possible.

If you're planning on running a game with a pre-drawn starmap, I'd suggest choosing a subsector with a good collection of systems.

I'm considering something in the Third Imperium near the border with Solamani Confederation with tensions between the two about to become hairy.
 


dragoner

Dying in Chargen
Regina has a lot written about it: Regina (world) - Traveller

It sits toward the top of the Spinward Main: Spinward Main - Traveller

spinward main.png
 

pemerton

Legend
I want to make a plug for random world generation and random patron generation. I think this is one of the strengths of Traveller!

Why does a shopkeeper on this low-population desert world want to hire a motley crew to do something-or-other? Let's play and find out!

(I recognise this isn't the only way, and that there's a lot of pre-generated material out there. But it's something I really like about Traveller.)
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
I use my own setting, mostly, just with real star maps I made. Though I would recommend one of the standard settings just to lessen the work of learning a new system, and creating a setting, at least at first.
 

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