Traveller. What do you think?

Chris Gunter

First Post
I've seen some hard sci-fi shows and enjoyed them quite a bit. I want to know what you guys think of Traveller. It has been around a while but I've never played it. Are there others that might do a better job? If so, give me some names. :)
 
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Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
There's a lot of versions of Traveller, some better than others. I haven't played them all; Mongoose Publishing just released a beta rulebook of the latest version of its Traveller.

Also,a re you copy/pasting your posts from somewhere else? It's in a weird font, and is dark text on a black background, making it very hard to read. More info on that here:

http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?348563-Dark-Text-on-a-Dark-Background-Tutorial
 

Chris Gunter

First Post
There's a lot of versions of Traveller, some better than others. I haven't played them all; Mongoose Publishing just released a beta rulebook of the latest version of its Traveller.

Also,a re you copy/pasting your posts from somewhere else? It's in a weird font, and is dark text on a black background, making it very hard to read. More info on that here:

http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?348563-Dark-Text-on-a-Dark-Background-Tutorial

I was copying and pasting from a question I had asked on another forum. Thank you Morrus for bringing that to my attention. I'll be sure to sanitize the text next time.
 

I've seen some hard sci-fi shows and enjoyed them quite a bit. I want to know what you guys think of Traveller. It has been around a while but I've never played it. Are there others that might do a better job? If so, give me some names. :)
It's not a generic science fiction RPG. It models 1970s interstellar sci-fi pretty well, but if you're trying to replicate Star Trek or Star Wars, you're better off with one of the games designed around that. It does do a Firefly-style game very well, to the point that Firefly looks an awful lot like a Traveller TV show.

Even the Mongoose version shows its age -- the original game's age, that is -- but it does the job. The only issue I've run into is that there's no leveling up mechanism for players, and for some players (like most of mine) that's a deal breaker. (The game's assumptions on what kind of stuff can be found circling a star is also wildly out of date; I'm torn on whether that's a bug or a feature.)
 

Chris Gunter

First Post
It's not a generic science fiction RPG. It models 1970s interstellar sci-fi pretty well, but if you're trying to replicate Star Trek or Star Wars, you're better off with one of the games designed around that. It does do a Firefly-style game very well, to the point that Firefly looks an awful lot like a Traveller TV show.

Even the Mongoose version shows its age -- the original game's age, that is -- but it does the job. The only issue I've run into is that there's no leveling up mechanism for players, and for some players (like most of mine) that's a deal breaker. (The game's assumptions on what kind of stuff can be found circling a star is also wildly out of date; I'm torn on whether that's a bug or a feature.)

I'm looking for a Earth 2 kind of feel. Intersteller even.
 

There are about a million things named Earth 2, but none of them is remotely like Firefly, so I'd say you'd be better off looking elsewhere than Traveller. Stars Without Number is popular, but I've never played it, so I can't comment on what its assumptions are like.
 

Jhaelen

First Post
It's not a generic science fiction RPG. It models 1970s interstellar sci-fi pretty well, but if you're trying to replicate Star Trek or Star Wars, you're better off with one of the games designed around that.
This. Personally, I've never been a fan of Traveller, probably because in an SF RPG I enjoy very different things than what Traveller seems to focus on.
I'm looking for a Earth 2 kind of feel. Intersteller even.
Are you talking about the old TV show 'Earth 2?' If so, I wouldn't look for a sci-fi RPG, I'd look for a Fantasy RPG or _maybe_ something like Fading Suns or FFG's Force and Destiny, i.e. the opposite of hard sci-fi.
 




I've seen some hard sci-fi shows and enjoyed them quite a bit. I want to know what you guys think of Traveller. It has been around a while but I've never played it. Are there others that might do a better job? If so, give me some names. :)

There haven't been any hard sci-fi shows on TV. "Hard" sci-fi puts an emphasis on being as realistic with technology and science as possible. The vast majority of sci-fi TV shows fall more under the banner of "space opera."

Having said that, a lot of sci-fi rpgs either focus on "space opera" or transhumanism, as opposed to general hard science fiction of the Traveller kind.
 

Chris Gunter

First Post
There haven't been any hard sci-fi shows on TV. "Hard" sci-fi puts an emphasis on being as realistic with technology and science as possible. The vast majority of sci-fi TV shows fall more under the banner of "space opera."

Having said that, a lot of sci-fi rpgs either focus on "space opera" or transhumanism, as opposed to general hard science fiction of the Traveller kind.

Thank you for the input. You are incorrect though. There was one. Earth 2.
 

Thank you for the input. You are incorrect though. There was one. Earth 2.

Earth 2 wasn't hard science fiction. Telepathy, psychic powers, two humanoid alien species (one of whom is necessary for the planet to survive), magic saliva that cures all diseases across species, etc. do not work with "hard" science fiction. You need to look up the definition of that term.
 


Mishihari Lord

First Post
Traveller is the perfect system for emulating Andre Norton's sf adventure books. More of a 1950's-1960's sf vibe then 70's. This is great for me because that's my favorite SF. While it's not quite generic SF, it's closer than anything else I can think of, in the same way that LotR is generic fantasy.
 

TreChriron

Explorer
Supporter
May I suggest you poke around the GURPS world? :) You can customize the system to emulate the setting you want.

You can download the free lite rules from the SJGames website.

I recently picked up a great setting for Traveller I want to use for a game someday. It's called Twilight Sector (Space Opera 10) and it's a wonderfully designed setting. Reminds me of Star*Drive without the aliens. Transhuman elements but not a singularity event. Alien tech was discovered early on giving us gravity control and FTL. Well thought out with lots of great little details. I see HUGE opportunity for great adventures of all kinds in this setting.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Traveller is good for Alien/s, or Firefly, or Dune, or Heinlein, or Niven, or Asimov, or Poul Anderson: it can do a lot, and the math is elegant.

Love, love, love character creation, and that there isn't really any advancement in a gamey sense.
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
TBH, that's exactly what I dislike about the system. YMMV, obviously!


For sure; I like the game within a game of character creation, and that having your PC set allows a different sort of focus than "leveling up." That just about every game since has followed more of a D&D path might suggest that I am in the minority, though.
 

aramis erak

Legend
I've seen some hard sci-fi shows and enjoyed them quite a bit. I want to know what you guys think of Traveller. It has been around a while but I've never played it. Are there others that might do a better job? If so, give me some names. :)

I've played most, and have a copy of all the official ones; my name appears in 3 editions... (T20, MGT 1E, and MGT 2E)... and I run the official BBS.

Each edition needs some caveats.

First thing: Traveller isn't truly generic. No matter what Matthew Sprague thinks. Lots of the setting is coded into the rules mechanics he is not allowed to change - world generation especially, but also the way Jump drives operate.

Even if you strip away the 3I, if you don't change the mechanics of jump and the mechanics of world gen, you get something that looks and feels much the same. It's actually a wide space of setting feel, but it's not truly generic.

The major themes of Traveller tend to be military action, tramp freighters, and rogues on the loose... the published adventures show these three themes. Most PC's ex-military.

The major Sci-Fi breakpoints and tech paradigm: Big computers, reactionless thrusters, the jump drive, no true AI, slugthrowers-in-space, no zapguns.

Second thing: Lots of editions.
  • CT: no unified mechanic. Combat is 2d6 for 8+. Non-combat skills each specify their usual resolutions, many of which are 2d6+ some stack of modifiers. 1-5 skills per term, average about 1.4.
  • MegaTraveller (MT): unified Task system. 2d6 driven. convert-on-the-fly level compatibility with CT characters and Bk5 ships (tho' many didn't notice this feature). 1-8 skills per term, average about 1.8.
  • Traveller:The New Era (TNE): switched to GDW's house engine (Dark Conspiracy, T2K2.2, Cadillacs & Dinosaurs). does NOT have the reactionless drives. Does have an AI computer virus that defies common sense. 1-10 skills per term, average about 2.8 or so.
  • Marc Miller's Traveller (T4): unified mechanic multiple dice by difficulty vs Stat+Skill. 4-6 skills per term, average about 5.
  • T20 Traveller's Handbook (T20): d20 system game, average PC's start between 2nd and 5th level, with occasionaly more. Average is around 5000 XP per term, with a potential for 0 (failed survival - short term and see how badly mangled you are), or 4000-19000 in a term. 19K would be 4K term, plus 2K commission and 1K promotion, plus an SEH at 8K, and a max XP bonus of 4K. It was actually playtested at 2K, 1K, 1K, 4K, and 2K... and IMO, plays MUCH better at the lower levels.)
  • GURPS Traveller (GT): Standard GURPS 3E worldbook, except that it tweaks TL 11 and 12 to match traveller materials and drives a bit.
  • GURPS Traveller Interstellar Wars (GTIW): Standard GURPS 4E worldbook. Same tweaks as GT.
  • Traveller For Hero (HT): Hero System sourcebook. Includes setting information for four major eras (M0, Classic, Rebellion, New Era)
  • Mongoose Traveller 1E (MGT, MGT1E): unified 2d6 task system; doesn't match MT's... Skill levels run 1-6 per term, average about 1.8 or so. Several alternate setting books released by mongoose, but not generally well received (B5, Hammer's Slammers, Strontium Dog, Judge Dredd) - Judge Dredd Judges average 5 skill levels per term, and start taking terms early. Close enough to CT or MT to convert adventures on the fly, and to use CT Bk2 ship designs by adding the hits.
  • Mongoose Traveller 2nd Ed (MGT2): 2d6 task system, not quite true compatibility with MGT1E, similar skill receipts, but on a shorter skill list. In beta.
  • Traveller 5 (T5): multi-die task system, 4-8 skills per term, roll under. No equipment lists, instead, systems for generating equipment. VERY much "Advanced Traveller"...
Traveller also has multiple ship design systems:
  • CT Bk 2 - letter drives. Damage by performance reduction. 1E and 2E work the same, but the scale is different, and 2E has more restrictions.
  • CT Bk 5 High Guard - the first USP system. SHips reduced to a coded line. Damage by critical hits
  • MT High Guard - the same ratings as CT Bk5, but a different (unified) craft design that runs from motorcycles to million ton battleships.
  • FF&S 1 & 2: FF&S1 was for TNE, FF&S2 is for T4, but the design sequences are the same; t4 adds a few other nifties, but they can be backported to TNE without any issues at all, except that the formatting got messed up on FF&S2. Any FF&S design can be rated for either TNE or T4 without issue.
  • T20: Variant of CT Bk 5 designs, different combat mechanics. CT Bk 5 and MT designs can be used simply by adding the T20 Structure Points...
  • MGT 1E: close to CT Bk 2, but not identical. More options. Big Ships expand from this in MGT Bk 2 HG.
  • MGT 2E: unique design system, moves slightly towards T5
  • GT: uses standard GURPS Vehicles rules, but presents a shortcut method that is 100% G:V compatible.
  • GTIW: I'm not certain. It looks to be standard for G4e, but I don't have any other G4 expansions...
  • T5: Unique design system derived from (distantly) CT Bk 5.
  • Traveller: Liftoff: failed beta of a "Traveller Light" boxed set. still up for download from 13Mann.
  • Mongoose Traveller 1E Beta: somewhat different ruleset from MGT 1E, still available on Mongoose's website... if you do a web search for it, at least.

And there are multiple setting eras:
  • Classic: Year of the Third Imperium 1100-1115. Also Called Milieux 1100. CT, MGT1. Also Striker, Mayday, AHL, and 5FW boardgames
  • Milieux 1000: Almost identical to Classic. Used in T20 and in the Invasion Earth board game.
  • Rebellion aka Milieux 1116. Used in MT. Set in Yot3I 1116 to 1135, with 1125 to 1135 called "The Hard Times"
  • Milieux 1200 aka The New Era. Used in TNE, the Striker II minis game, the Brilliant Lances and Battle Rider board games.
  • Millieux 0: Year of the 3I 0 to 100. Used in T4, and the At Close Quarters board game.
  • Interstellar Wars: set in about 2270 AD... 2200 years before the 3I. Covered in GTIW, and used in the Imperium and Dark Nebula board games.
  • Lorenverse: Loren Wiseman's alternate timeline 1116-1135. The rebellion doesn't happen. Essentially, it's a continuation of CT. Only in GT and HT (and that's only as a throwaway reference).
  • Galaxiad: Tentatively M1900.... as in, Yot3I 1900. higher tech, additional (much faster) drives. Not yet published, being done for T5.
  • 2300AD: Not part of the Official Traveller Universe, despite the 1st and 4rd editions being labeled "Traveller 2300"...
    Traveller 2300- Standalone game with supplements
    2300 AD - same game as T2300, 100% compatible, minor rules changes/clarifications, new title
    2320AD - 2300 setting in T20 rules. Advanced the timeline 20 years
    Traveller 2300AD - 2300 setting in MGT 1E rules. Same author as 2320, the excellent Colin Dunn.

Several third party settings have been published under the MGT open license. Some commercial, some free.

Each edition and each setting has its fans... and often, fans of one ruleset use it for a different setting chunk. I run CT era, using MegaTraveller. I ran my Elestrial Concordat setting using MGT with a variant ship design system I wrote; it's up on my website.

I recommend any of CT2E, MT, HT, MGT1E or its beta, GT, or T5 depending upon one's preferences. GURPS Fan? Get GT or GTIW. Hero Fan, HT (which is soon to be out on CD). Rules-light OSR type - CT. Want to integrate military action and PC's - Megatraveller. Want to build everything? T5.
Jury is still out on MGT 2E...
If you want a free taste, the liftoff beta is decent.
 

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