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Jetrock
Jul 26, 2005

This is the tower of murder... it's where I hang out!

Traveller was one of the first science fiction roleplaying games, first released in 1977 by Game Designers’ Workshop, designed by Marc W. Miller. At the time, it was considered highly innovative as the first roleplaying game based on character skills rather than attributes, providing an open-ended set of rules for science fiction adventure. There were no character classes or levels, instead you pursued a career, or more than one career, to develop skills. Character advancement was mostly in the form of wealth and gadgets (weapons and starships mostly.) Instead of starting out as an eager young kid, most Traveller characters were grizzled veterans, starting the game in their thirties or forties, because the longer your character’s pre-game career, the more skills, starting cash, and other perks you got, assuming that you didn’t die during character creation.


That’s right, you can die during character generation, a concept that became one of the game’s most enduring concepts and most commonly lampooned ideas. Every four-year term starts with a “survival roll” to see if your character gets killed before you even start playing. Along with losing character attributes due to aging, the survival roll encouraged players to balance a short career (with fewer skills) with increased risk of having to start over again from zero. In practice, a lot of players developed house rules that reduced the severity of failing the survival roll, like mandating leaving the career or physical injury to the character (I rolled a d6 to see which limb or eye the character lost due to injury). Careers in the basic game were mostly military: Army, Marines, Navy, Merchant, Scouts, and Other. “Navy” meant space navy; Scouts was a paramilitary force of explorers, scientists, and space mailmen; Marines were Space Marines equipped with powered battledress and trained to use cutlasses in combat; “Other” was a catch-all for civilians but mostly used to generate criminals and underworld types.


During each term, you roll for survival and then promotion (which adds skills and benefits) and then rolls for those all-important skills, some general like Mechanic or Carousing, some career-specific like Pilot, Engineer and Navigation for spacers, Gun Combat and Heavy Weapons for soldiers. Often characters only pursued one career, but it was possible to switch careers for a wider range of skills, or if you got kicked out of the service by a bad die roll (but didn’t die.) Subsequent supplements like Mercenary, High Guard, Merchant Prince and Scouts added more careers, or developed particular careers in greater detail (with more skill benefits, and more ways for your character to die during character generation.) All the rules, including characters, combat, starships, and worlds, were found in three digest-sized booklets with minimalist design, sans serif fonts and almost no illustrations, known as the Little Black Books, or LBBs. Later LBBs included new rules specific to their career/subject matter: Mercenary (Army and Marine characters) introduced lots of new weapons and armor types, including Marine powered battledress, gauss rifles, and those beloved game balance destroyers, personal plasma and fusion guns. High Guard (Navy characters) also introduced a new, far more complex starship design system, capable of designing massive battleships up to a million displacement tons. In addition to the core rulebooks (which expanded from 3 to 8), Supplements added more game mechanics and world-building fluff.


Most game actions are based on a roll of 2d6, whether it’s piloting a spaceship or hitting a target with your laser carbine. Attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Endurance, Intelligence, Education, Social Class) are also rolled on 2d6. Like most early roleplaying games, rules were kinda minimal and subject to improvisation, and whether you had to roll over or under a target number tended to vary widely (in the case of combat, it was over.) The rules make a lot of use of hexadecimal notation (10=A, 11=B, 12=C and so on), used in strings called Universal Personality/Starship/World/(fillintheblank) Profiles for characters, starships, planets, etc., which can jam a lot of information into an incomprehensible string of numbers. Characters end up looking sort of like this:


Army Major B7B8C7 Age 30 3 Terms Cr 0
Medic-4, Electronics-1, Rifle-1, SMG-1

The character here is pretty strong and tough, smart but not brilliant, but with a great education and from a middle-class background, a highly trained doctor or surgeon who can operate high-tech equipment and also shoot some guns, but with a Dexterity of 7 they’re not nimble enough to be a surgeon (which requires a minimum Dex of 8). They’re also broke for some reason. Some of the supplements gave characters more skills than this, but the Traveller character sheet is fairly minimal on detail; the player fills in the rest of the story. Often, dice rolls during character creation can be interpreted to develop a vaguely coherent backstory.


So you’ve made up a character who didn’t die, and ready to play. Where do you play? Traveller was originally designed without a setting; it was generally intended for science fiction fans who grew up reading the “space opera” hard science fiction of the 1950s and 1960s: Isaac Asimov, Keith Laumer, Jerry Pournelle, Larry Niven, E.C. Tubb, Poul Anderson, Andre Norton, or Alfred Bester. While many of these SF worlds were set in the far future, in galaxy-spanning empires, they were generally human-focused and based on the idea that humanity probably wouldn’t change too much after taking to the stars. The game also focuses on more “hard science fiction”: while there are fantastic physics-defying elements like antigravity and faster-than-light travel, there isn’t a profusion of super ultra tech gadgets that do reality-defying things. The initial list of weapons didn’t even include a laser pistol (just a rifle and carbine): no phasers, no blasters, no variable-swords. And no lightsabers either: being published right before “Star Wars” came out had a very positive effect on sales, but Traveller really wasn’t intended for that sort of swashbuckling space fantasy. Unfortunately for GDW, most of the people who started playing Traveller used Star Wars (or Star Trek) as their baseline for science fiction, and demanded more swashbuckling space fantasy. Despite its 1950s influences, Traveller’s aesthetic tone was influenced by the grittier look of 1970s sci-fi, not the older pointy, finned tail-sitter rocketships or flying saucers: while there were no lightsabers or blasters, Traveller ships were often dingy, worn, and covered in greeblies a la “Star Wars.” Other 1970s SF that kind of fit Traveller’s tone were “Space: 1999” or “Silent Running,” and most of all, “Alien,” whose older, non-heroic cast of not-so-young working stiffs became a template of sorts for Traveller adventurers—especially in a merchant campaign, a Traveller game was kind of like having a vaguely lovely, paperwork-heavy job in space, livened up occasionally by extreme violence. They’re just doing a drat job and worried about their percentage, then something starts killing everyone and dammit, bust out the flame units.


The setting for Traveller came from an earlier GDW science fiction strategy game, Imperium, a strategic interstellar wargame based on a conflict between a decaying, hidebound vast interstellar empire and the plucky and energetic (but new to space travel) people of Earth. This developed into a setting based in roughly the 57th Century, or roughly 1100 years since the founding of the Third Imperium, the best known Traveller setting. The vast interstellar empire, the First Imperium, was created by humans who, for reasons explained later, had been scattered around the cosmos around 300,000 years ago by a mysterious ancient race for reasons unknown (Science experiments? Soldiers? Slaves? Sex toys?) along with some wolves uplifted to intelligence (the Vargr) who then wiped themselves out, leaving dozens of human species on widespread planets (and occasional ultra-tech enigmas and bits of technology that shows up in the game sometimes). The Vilani, one of those groups of humans, developed space travel about the same time that the Pyramids of Egypt were being built, and founded the Ziru Sirka, Grand Empire of the Stars, later known as the First Imperium. Now, while the Vilani started out as a bunch of plucky, adventurous adventurers, thousands of years of imperial rule made them stodgy, conservative, and with an enormous love for bureaucracy and protocol. Their secret was the jump drive, which allowed a spaceship to pop out of our universe for a week and reappear a couple of parsecs away without travelling through the intervening space. When Earth developed its first jump drive, they were surprised as heck to discover an advanced civilization two parsecs away—of human beings! The Vilani had been there for thousands of years, but hadn’t bothered to expand their empire and had no instructions to explore further. They had encountered dozens of human species on different worlds, and assumed that the visitors from Earth were no different—another lost colony, but this one had developed jump drive independently.


Conflict soon followed, and against all odds, Earth won, declaring themselves the new rulers of a reborn Second Imperium. Unfortunately, while Earthers of this era were great warriors and scientists, they made lousy middle managers, and their empire collapsed, resulting in a thousand-year Long Night, with many worlds reverting to primitive technology or dying outright as they were dependent on interstellar trade for survival, which mostly ended. The Third Imperium represented (according to its marketing department) a return from a millennium of barbarism and chaos to the long-lost principles of the First Imperium. Due to the difficulty of managing a huge star empire when the only way to communicate is via jump-ship (no FTL communications exist), the empire is so loose that it often seems nonexistent, with member planets basically able to have their own governments and settle their own affairs as long as they pay taxes (relatively light), don’t use nukes, and don’t mess with the Xboats (a system of starships run by the Scout Service that deliver interstellar mail and news.) Some early adventures tried to paint the Imperium as a harsh, intruding government, but it didn’t really come through that way in the game setting. Through a combination of political acumen, delegation of authority, and not micromanaging, the Third Imperium developed into a huge interstellar empire in a chunk of the galaxy where humanity was just one of many factions.


Oh yeah, aliens! Some Traveller aliens were humans, like the Zhodani, another human colony who discovered space travel before Earth, and also developed psychic powers and an aristocracy based on psychic ability. They started out as Traveller’s generic “bad guys” and in some ways approached a racist trope, as most Zhodani had dark skin, wore turbans and sinister “Spock in ‘Mirror, Mirror’” goatees, but later developments portrayed the Zhodani as just another sort of human but with a very different sort of society. The two most popular alien species, especially among furries, were the Vargr and Aslan. Vargr, the aforementioned uplifted dogs, basically had space ADHD and tend to follow the most charismatic leader around, managing to form a bunch of squabbling and constantly reforming star empires. The Aslan, whom the game designers claim aren’t actually lion-like but they’re totally lion-like, are the token “warrior culture,” similar to Larry Niven’s Kzinti. Female Aslan pretty much run everything, and male Aslan do the killing and dying in large numbers and think they run everything. The other major species are the Hivers, K’Kree and Droyne. The Hivers look like six-legged space starfish, legendary for their curiosity, who prefer manipulating others in the background to direct combat. The K’Kree are six-limbed herbivores with a pathological hatred of any species that eats meat, and a genocidal will to rid the universe of them, but not quite the organizational skill to expand much beyond their current borders. The Droyne don’t really have an empire, they look kinda insect-lizardy with bat wings and hang out on their home planets building handcrafted starships and doing obtuse stuff. There are plenty of other fun alien species and human types, whether they’re variants of “humaniti” like the Darrians (kinda elf-looking humans who developed technology more advanced than the Imperium during the Long Night, but accidentally blew up their solar system and destroyed most of their tech for parsecs around) or descendants of colonists like the Sword Worlds (who are kinda space Vikings/space Germans who hang around with the Darrians for some reason) and dozens of other “minor races” like the Newts (bureaucratic lizards) or the Githiasko (intelligent squids)—also, humans did their own “uplifting” of dolphins, who are sometimes found on water worlds.


The Traveller universe was developed over the course of decades, with a whole lot of third-party help. Probably the most influential were William and J. Andrew Keith, whose work on Traveller, both for GDW and independent, set a lot of the tone for Traveller, including adventures, rules, equipment, and artwork. They also founded FASA, later better known for Battletech and Shadowrun, but their Traveller supplements became some of the classics of SF roleplaying, like the Sky Raiders Trilogy (a search for a long-lost culture with lethal diversions), Ordeal by Eshaar (the characters must win the trust of enigmatic aliens by surviving a journey that would be deadly enough even if the planet’s atmosphere didn’t eat through your vacc suit in a matter of hours), or Uragyad’n of the Seven Pillars (basically Lawrence of Arabia meets Dune on a tidally locked desert world.)


GDW’s adventure offerings (the “Adventure” and “Double Adventure” LBBs) were also enormously varied; exploration of unknown alien worlds (including hints to the identity of the Ancients) Unlike “old school” D&D adventures, Traveller adventures revolved around interaction in alien environments, whether the adventure was based on exploration and alien contact, commerce, military action, murder mysteries, or the ever-popular “get hired by a guy in a bar to do some crimes.” While “Space Murderhobo” was a popular campaign type, Traveller adventures could vary a lot in style, scope, and substance.


GDW was eager to license their game to third-party creators, like Paranoia Press, who produced some fun supplements that were similar to GDW’s home style in tone, but with more illustrations.


Judges Guild, who got their start writing D&D adventures, also jumped on Traveller’s bandwagon. Instead of the slick, minimalist Little Black Book look, JG adventures were printed on cheap, rough newsprint with art that ranged from the imaginative to the hilariously incompetent, and adventures that were generally difficult or impossible to run as-is, due to poor organization and often missing major details (such as crash-landing on an alien planet and having to find a way off, but including no stats or more than bare-bones information about this alien race, despite detailed maps of their ten largest cities and where the best bars are in each.) They were imaginative though, and had a certain sense of fun about them, with an aesthetic closer to pointy-spaceship space opera than GDW’s more down-to-Terra grit. But after a few years apparently JG adventures got too weird, because GDW withdrew the license and declared their adventures and subsectors non-canon.


Speaking of games that have Imperial Space Marines decked in powered armor in them, Games Workshop also produced Traveller material, and early issues of White Dwarf included plenty of Traveller articles, including a regular comic, “The Travellers.”



GDW also had its own Traveller magazine, the Journal of the Traveller’s Aid Society, which helped develop the game and the universe of the Imperium in its early years. Many of the articles later became part of subsequent LBBs, adventures, and supplements, plus its regular “news” updates introduced readers to what was happening in the Third Imperium, including a major interstellar war that raged in the Spinward Marches, one of the most popular settings in the game, located on the edge of Imperial space near the Zhodani, Vargr, Darrians and Sword Worlders, but separated from most of the Imperium, nominally an even more freewheeling place than the rest of the loosely-run Imperium. JTAS later morphed into Challenge, a new house organ that covered all of GDW’s games, and also some non-GDW games.


GDW produced a number of games set in the Traveller universe (similar to the original Imperium game, which was retconned into the Traveller universe) like Mayday! (vector based starship combat), Snapshot (simulation of small arms combat on board starships) Azhanti High Lightning (also small arms combat simulation, on board a huge cruiser whose deck plans made up most of the game’s bulk), Invasion: Earth (set in the Imperium’s history when Earth tried to separate from the Third Imperium) and Fifth Frontier War (whose release was timed with announcement of the new interstellar war announced in JTAS.)



They also released the 15mm miniatures wargame Striker, modeled as a sci-fi version of 15mm historicals/ancients miniatures combat (Traveller already used 15mm miniatures produced by Martian Metals and other companies. Striker was technically set in the Traveller universe, and its most exciting feature for many was an enormously complex vehicle design system that allowed users to design anything from a World War I armored car to a 57th century flying tank. This system became a popular way to design Traveller vehicles of all sorts, and later formed the core of subsequent Traveller vehicle design systems.

In addition to actually separate games, Traveller included a lot of meta-games; for the GM, designing starships and vehicles (using Striker) and robots (using Book 8), for the players, trade and commerce involved a separate game in itself, especially because starships were extremely expensive and one of the few legal way to pay for one is by shipping freight, jumping from world to world, and occasionally making a few bucks doing odd (often illegal) jobs to pay the bank, the crew, and the fuel/maintenance/life support bills. Wheeling and dealing (and occasional stealing) is necessary for a ship’s finances to stay in the black, which may remind some readers of “Firefly,” and supposedly Joss Whedon’s idea for the TV series began with a Traveller campaign. Others more interested in heroic space adventure (aka: shooting people for money) may be less interested in balance sheets, but for many it was just another grindy part of the Having A Job In Space game, and even a mercenary company (another common campaign was based on mercenary units for hire, influenced by David Drake’s “Hammer’s Slammers”) had to balance its books.



Starships in Traveller fell into two camps: small (under 1000 tons displacement) ships that the player-characters typically interacted with, and large (1000 to 1 million) military ships involved in fleet actions (another meta-game was Trillion Credit Squadron, a space-war campaign with a budget of, you guessed it, a trillion credits, enough for about a million tons of starships.) The most common ships were the ubiquitous 100-ton Scout Ship, small and fast but limited cargo, often converted to a mining or private courier vessel, and the 200-ton Free Trader, slow and ungainly but with a big cargo hold and room for passengers. Larger small ships tended to fall into “fast, heavily armed but no room for cargo” (Patrol Cruiser, Mercenary Cruiser, Close Escort), “slow, with room for passengers and cargo” (Subsidized Liner, Subsidized Merchant, Laboratory Ship) and “Rich Guy’s Toy” (Safari Ship, Yacht.) Military ships mostly started at 1000 tons, with battleships in the 200,000-500,000 ton range—which meant when the Imperial Navy showed up, they can invariably blast the PCs’ little ships to smithereens. But the Navy usually doesn’t show up.

Usually.


My introduction to Traveller was The Traveller Book, a hardcover collection of the basic rules, plus bits of several LBB supplements, including short adventures from JTAS and one of the Double Adventures, and more illustrations than the original booklets. Keith Brothers’ art was all over the book, along with some particularly scratchy and wacky artwork by an artist named Donna Barr, with an idiosyncratic style. The book was self-contained but provided an excellent introduction to the game and its universe.

Traveller’s combination of gritty play style, hard SF setting and intricate detail sold me immediately, and while I still played plenty of D&D after discovering Traveller, those little black books took front and center in my gaming world. I didn’t do much professionally when it came to Traveller (a few fanzine articles) but I sure played a lot. I’ve been meaning to write this effortpost for a few years now, after noticing a relative lack of Traveller on SA, aside from a couple of “WTF, Traveller?” articles on the main page (which will introduce you to some of that lovely Judges Guild art.)

This brief introduction to Traveller is only the beginning—in the late 1980s they rebooted their game line with the new-and-improved “MegaTraveller,” followed by “Traveller: The New Era”…and then GDW went bankrupt. Several other publishers, including Marc Miller with different companies, produced later versions of Traveller, some still in production, but there are plenty of old grognards who still just cling to the old stuff because we’re more conservative than a Vilani bureaucrat and more foul-tempered than a Sworld Worlder after a seven-day jumpspace bender--the edition wars are more civil than, say, AD&D, but there are often Opinions about one ruleset over another, or game-world directions taken by the game designers, or what exactly jump space looks like. I’ll try to pepper this thread with more about the Third Imperium, different Traveller cultural institutions, game variants, and dumbass player-character stories in the coming weeks, but hopefully there are other Traveller fans here who can chime in.

Some links of note:
WTF, Traveller Art?
https://www.somethingawful.com/dungeons-and-dragons/traveller-artwork-steve/1/
The Traveller Map, a huge interactive map of the Traveller game universe
https://travellermap.com/?p=-0.433!0.5!2&options=41983
The Traveller Wiki
https://wiki.travellerrpg.com/Main_Page
“The Travellers” comic by Mark Harrison (reprinted from White Dwarf)
http://www.2000ad.org/markus/travellers/

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Payndz
Sep 22, 2006

I'm Peter Graves, and I was wondering if you could direct me to the natatorium, as I'm attending a Scuderia Ferrari team-building exercise. Thank you. I'm Peter Graves.


I played Traveller from the Black Box edition circa 1982/3, and reading the OP was a real nostalgia flashback; thanks! It's really interesting to see the setting backstory and alien races described in detail, because IIRC, in the original LBBs, they just... weren't. There are references to the Imperium and mention of the Zhodani and the other races, but there's no D&D-style setting book - you're left to infer an awful lot, so one GM's Imperium is probably very different from another's.

The relative lack of sci-fi weapons and gadgets probably led to my not playing it that much (compared to reading the adventures and ship plans); I was into Stars War and Trek, and wanted ray guns and rapid warping to strange new worlds, not weeks on end cooped up in tiny cabins. No phasers? No blasters? Just regular bullet-firing guns? Boring! Of course, this was just a few years before Aliens...

Payndz fucked around with this message at 08:06 on Jun 12, 2021

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

I saw the bit about your character dying during creation and immediately thought 'Traveller!'

I started with the black box set and got so much fun out of it. You'd roll up characters, generate planetary systems, design starships ... it was the wild west of roleplaying days, before everyone was trying to lock you in with massive plot arcs and a coherent universe. Everyone stuffed extra things into their Traveller games, bit of world building, light sabers, some extra skills you found in a stray magazine. It was very freeform.

Really good introduction, OP. One of the few points you didn't touch on, was how the game system shifted over editions. Early stuff was very 'roll under this, do 3D damage'. Then later there was a task system of sorts, and an attempt to unify bonuses and success. And even later did they go to d100s or was that Traveller:2300?

Panzeh
Nov 27, 2006

This is why we have orders, general.

I'm actually in a game of traveller right now in the mongoose 2e rules and supplements and i can answer questions if you need. It's definitely more modern (and no, you can't die in character creation in the modern editions, though you can hurt yourself and begin the game with crippling medical debt).

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

What sorry of system does Mongoose use?

(There were those wild years when Mongoose owned every old game license and was issuing product for all of them.)

Jetrock
Jul 26, 2005

This is the tower of murder... it's where I hang out!

nonathlon posted:

What sorry of system does Mongoose use?

(There were those wild years when Mongoose owned every old game license and was issuing product for all of them.)

Mongoose's Traveller is a derivative of the original Traveller system, with the same stat blocks and career-driven character generation, but with a whole bunch of twists to add more background details, and as mentioned, you don't die automatically when you fail a survival roll, instead there's a table for what messed up thing happens to the character (injury, dishonor, prison sentence etc.) I recently picked up a lot of Mongoose Traveller 2nd Edition books, and while it's definitely a shift towards simplifying the game (you can play using a non-scientific calculator) it captures a lot of the original flavor, with room for GMs who want a different game than the Third Imperium setting to try different things (plus they have lightsabers.) I flipped through 1st Edition Mongoose and it seemed like kind of a trainwreck, plus I didn't want to basically re-buy the same game, but by the time 2nd Edition came out I was ready to check it out (despite 2nd Edition also being kind of a trainwreck, largely due to poor game-book organization, but it is awful pretty and profusely illustrated.)

My only other experience with recent gaming mechanics is 5th edition AD&D, which I'd compare with Mongoose Traveller 2 (or MgT2 as I've seen it shorthanded), except it' still pretty easy to die in Traveller. And even though the character generation process is more complex, it's mostly just about creating backstory for interesting characters, and I can still just roll up NPCs (or PCs) with LBB or MegaTraveller rules and they will work just fine in MgT2, which I like--no need to translate any of the old adventures into new game terms (unless it's a Judges Guild adventure.)

Another thing I like about the MgT2 character generation scheme is that it tends to produce more complex character backstories--rolling up a lot of pre-gens produces characters with weird dysfunctions, failures, painful memories, enemies and rivals (along with friends and allies) that keep the sort of wild & wooly randomness of LBB Traveller character generation feel. Part of the fun of Traveller character generation is that you don't really know what a character is going to be when you first roll them up, vs. a point-based system where you start with a character concept and optimize it. You could sit down deciding "hey, I'll roll up a Marine combat maven" and then end up creating a bookish noble who spent their youth as a pilot/navigator for the Scout Service, got cashiered after a diplomatic incident, joined a free trader crew and discovered they had a knack for trade and commerce, who mustered out with a worn-out Far Trader and 30 years of exorbitant payments.

I'll definitely add more info about different Traveller editions in subsequent posts, but most of my experience is with MegaTraveller, GURPS Traveller and more recently MgT2. Traveller:TNE used their d10 based "house system" cobbled together from Traveller:2300, but I didn't like how they blew up the entire game setting by releasing an intelligent computer virus that hated lifeforms and turned every starship and technological item into the evil trucks from "Maximum Overdrive", killing trillions and wrecking the entire game setting to make it grimdark . I got mostly out of gaming in the mid 1990s-early 2000s and didn't play Marc Miller's rebooted Traveller set in the beginning of the Third Imperium, or the d20 variant, but I liked how GURPS retconned the MegaTraveller "Rebellion" period and brought back the traditional Third Imperium game setting, plus I already played GURPS and liked the point-based system (no more dying during character creation!). Like a lot of older gamers I kept buying books to read, but seldom ran or played games. Despite some good-faith attempts to set up a game with my old cronies, my ongoing "Papers & Paychecks" LARP campaign (aka: non-gaming life) took up too much of my time. But lately, a combination of nostalgia, isolation, and eBay purchases got me back into Traveller mode, so I'm getting up to speed on a lot of what I missed, and where affordable, buying up a lot of the nifty stuff I wanted to buy back when I was a kid but couldn't afford it, or stuff I bought but sold to pay for rent/food/beer when I was broke in my twenties.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk



Mongoose traveller is excellent, and was written by the incredible Gareth (eyes of the stone thief) Hanrahan.

He also wrote Pirates of Drinax which is a phenomenally good Traveller campaign where you get given a fancy spaceship and a letter of marque by Brian Blessed as King Vultan from Flash Gordon and have to reboot an ancient space empire.

It's a series of ten adventures, including one where you have to heist an Imperial treasure ship, which is one of my favourite Gm experiences.

neaden
Nov 4, 2012


There is actually a sale of Mongoose Traveller on Bundle of Holding right now: https://bundleofholding.com/presents/MongTrav2E and a seperate one for the adventure Pirates of Drinax, which I haven't played but have heard good things about : https://bundleofholding.com/presents/Drinax. They are also selling the black books as a bundle which is not time limited if you are interested: https://bundleofholding.com/store/TravellerLBBs

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk



neaden posted:

There is actually a sale of Mongoose Traveller on Bundle of Holding right now: https://bundleofholding.com/presents/MongTrav2E and a seperate one for the adventure Pirates of Drinax, which I haven't played but have heard good things about : https://bundleofholding.com/presents/Drinax. They are also selling the black books as a bundle which is not time limited if you are interested: https://bundleofholding.com/store/TravellerLBBs

that's a good deal. The Drinax adventures are linked, but you could pull some of them out as standalones easily enough.

i think the MG2E bundle also has The Fall of Tinath which is a solid introductory campaign.

super sweet best pal
Nov 18, 2009



I like how the Megatraveller computer games let you export character sheets made in them if you wanted to use them for the tabletop game.

PinheadSlim
Apr 2, 2015

FRIENDS for EVER

GDW also made the post apocalyptic WW3 rpg Twilight 2000 versions 1 and 2. Character creation is similar in that the more background experience your character has the more skills and equipment they start with, and starting in version 2 you could die in character generation if you pushed it. I remember posting about how much I loved that and being surprised that a lot of people actually hated it lol.

xiw
Sep 25, 2011

i wake up at night
night action madness nightmares
maybe i am scum

Cpig Haiku contest 2020 winner


sebmojo posted:

Mongoose traveller is excellent, and was written by the incredible Gareth (eyes of the stone thief) Hanrahan.

He also wrote Pirates of Drinax which is a phenomenally good Traveller campaign where you get given a fancy spaceship and a letter of marque by Brian Blessed as King Vultan from Flash Gordon and have to reboot an ancient space empire.

It's a series of ten adventures, including one where you have to heist an Imperial treasure ship, which is one of my favourite Gm experiences.

Holy poo poo I didn't know this existed and I was looking to start a Traveller campaign to follow on from Eyes. Sold.

Jetrock
Jul 26, 2005

This is the tower of murder... it's where I hang out!

PinheadSlim posted:

GDW also made the post apocalyptic WW3 rpg Twilight 2000 versions 1 and 2. Character creation is similar in that the more background experience your character has the more skills and equipment they start with, and starting in version 2 you could die in character generation if you pushed it. I remember posting about how much I loved that and being surprised that a lot of people actually hated it lol.

And of course Twilight:2000's future history became the basis for Traveller:2300, later renamed 2300 AD because people refused to believe it wasn't a new Traveller setting. In turn, the 2300 AD rules became the basis for GDW's "house rules" for other game settings like Dark Conspiracy, the second edition of Twilight 2000, and Traveller:TNE. I'll get a little more into the mechanics and repercussions of that after I squeeze out another effortpost about MegaTraveller in a few days.

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

Jetrock posted:

And of course Twilight:2000's future history became the basis for Traveller:2300, later renamed 2300 AD because people refused to believe it wasn't a new Traveller setting. In turn, the 2300 AD rules became the basis for GDW's "house rules" for other game settings like Dark Conspiracy, the second edition of Twilight 2000, and Traveller:TNE. I'll get a little more into the mechanics and repercussions of that after I squeeze out another effortpost about MegaTraveller in a few days.

I played a lot of Twilight 2000. We had a great time. I can't say the system was good, more functional, but we liked the setting - a bunch of tooled veterans, running low on supplies, food everything, rolling around a devastated Poland as everything falls apart.

I liked the idea of 2300, but never got it to the table. Dark Conspiracy was ... odd. Like it was vaguely futuristic, there's a half sketched world out there, but also monsters of the week. I never really gelled with the intent.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk



xiw posted:

Holy poo poo I didn't know this existed and I was looking to start a Traveller campaign to follow on from Eyes. Sold.

That's s great deal. Post about your impressions!

Notahippie
Feb 4, 2003

Kids, it's not cool to have Shane MacGowan teeth

Traveller is also great for solo roleplaying - it's old-school enough even in the Mongoose version that a lot of activities come down to "roll on these X tables to see what comes up" and it adapts pretty easily to a solo setting. Solo (https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/207164/Solo) is a whole solo game based on Traveller that can also be used as a sourcebook to run solo Traveller campaigns.

Naturally, you miss out on the big planned narrative arcs but you can get a lot of the same experience generated procedurally - if a mission generator says that a Navy captain gives you a mission at time 1, then a later one says that your enemy is a Navy captain, then you can connect the dots and have the twist that a DM might have planned.

SkyeAuroline
Nov 12, 2020



It's definitely on the list of things I want to give a solo shot at some point. Zozer SOLO looked a little too... procedural for me, though. Less of playing the game than the average GM emulation.

Of course I'd also love to just play it normally (especially Drinax), but that's group dependent and my group is... not the Traveller type.

Notahippie
Feb 4, 2003

Kids, it's not cool to have Shane MacGowan teeth

SkyeAuroline posted:

It's definitely on the list of things I want to give a solo shot at some point. Zozer SOLO looked a little too... procedural for me, though. Less of playing the game than the average GM emulation.

Of course I'd also love to just play it normally (especially Drinax), but that's group dependent and my group is... not the Traveller type.

Oh yeah, it's real procedural. When I'm running a solo game I tend to adjust how much to use the structured system versus something like an oracle die scene-by-scene depending on how I'm feeling or how clear the narrative arc is about what should probably happen next.

Jetrock
Jul 26, 2005

This is the tower of murder... it's where I hang out!

Notahippie posted:

Traveller is also great for solo roleplaying - it's old-school enough even in the Mongoose version that a lot of activities come down to "roll on these X tables to see what comes up" and it adapts pretty easily to a solo setting. Solo (https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/207164/Solo) is a whole solo game based on Traveller that can also be used as a sourcebook to run solo Traveller campaigns.

Naturally, you miss out on the big planned narrative arcs but you can get a lot of the same experience generated procedurally - if a mission generator says that a Navy captain gives you a mission at time 1, then a later one says that your enemy is a Navy captain, then you can connect the dots and have the twist that a DM might have planned.

I just ordered the Solo book. I used to play and run a lot of CT and MT in high school and college, and a short GURPS Traveller campaign after college. I have been filling in my collection of old Traveller adventures and rereading my old collection over the past year or so (plenty of time to do so). I'm kind of thinking of using the Solo system in conjunction with some Traveller-adventure "patron" encounters: they're general enough to provide an improv setting that might work with the Solo procedural engine, and often the patron encounter has multiple possible resolutions with a table to roll for them, maintaining an element of surprise/the unknown even as a solo game. Between old JTAS issues and supplements like "Wanted: Adventurers" by the Keith brothers, one could run a slightly formulaic but potentially fun campaign with the patron encounters as background and the solo engine helping connect the storyline's dots.

Again, not quite the same as a tabletop group, but I sometimes prefer solo gaming. This year I spent a lot of time rolling up characters and designing ships for a campaign I'll probably never run, set during the Long Night and located in a now non-canon Judges Guild sector, but it was good practice for basic Traveller skills and remembering how to flesh out a campaign from the years when I was a GM.

MadDogMike
Apr 9, 2008

Can I come out and play?

Did an original old school black book Traveller campaign once not long ago; GM had a sector he'd created way back in the 80s that we ran through, basically a bunch of inscrutable robots of mysterious origins had kicked the Imperium's butt when it tried to expand into that sector militarily, so my merchant captain and our hapless band of crew were offered a golden opportunity to take a Jump-3 freighter with rather out of date map data about the various human systems that were there and do some exploring in a nice obviously non-military threat vessel that wouldn't trigger the robots (while hopefully finding something that would help the Imperium crush said robots). So, we wandered through these systems doing surprisingly well at trading since very few local systems were able to trade long range (there were several gaps along the route we took that only a Jump-3 could cross while staying safely in inhabited systems) and getting into various misadventures, particularly our poor valet who had very few rolled skills (and was actually a youngster compared to the rest of us traditional competent middle-aged Traveller PCs) and had the worst luck with things like getting taken hostage by would-be hijackers and the like.

Campaign wound up ending when our investment in asteroid survey and mining equipment (to ensure we never jumped out with an empty hold, gotta get those trade bucks!) lead to us finding a thousands of years old ship with ancient versions of the robots, signs of experimentation on prehistoric humans (pre-homo sapiens), and various other strange and mysterious things. We grabbed a few samples and went back to Imperial space, where they were intrigued with our find (particularly of these "globes" that were apparently known to be some sort of super deflector shields) and sent us back with two investigators/minders to salvage whatever we could. Bad news was, during our little excursion the robots found us and this time our "we're just innocent traders" spiel would not cover us salvaging something filled with previous versions of them plus lots of supertech. Additional bad news though, before they popped up we had accidently awakened the last surviving occupant of the ship, a Protector cheerfully stolen from Larry Niven's Known Space books. To those unfamiliar with the books, they're basically the super-genius stage of life (created by eating a root called tree-of-life while a nonsentient breeding phase) of a race that had a failed colony on Earth. Humanity had evolved from the remaining nonsentient ones so we were also able to transform into said super geniuses should we suddenly stumble onto tree-of-life (which we'd feel a compulsion to eat; fortunately the ship had zero life support so we were all suited and I hadn't dragged any organic salvage aboard specifically for fear of some doom plague or something, so nobody in the crew smelled any of the things despite the GM's not-so-secret hopes when we were inspecting some of them in vacuum). I presume this one had been created by the robots or whoever was directing them thousands of years ago from some pre-homo sapiens stock via the experimental stuff we saw, only for them to find out a super genius makes a very poor slave indeed and no doubt why the ship was lost. Cue mayhem as the Protector ran over our crew and the robots with ease; it grabbed our two minders (I think to stuff at least one of them full of tree-of-life) but when we pointed out the rest of us couldn't possibly be of any real value and the robots had a better ship anyway, it pragmatically decided we had a point and just left in their ship with what it wanted. Fortunately this did not include the shield globes our patrons had been asking for, so we were able to grab those and quietly run like hell back to Imperial space. Campaign did end with the Imperium rewarding us for our "patriotism and valor" by showing them using the shields we got (along with apparently some stuff some of the other campaigns the GM had run had grabbed) to stage a suicide attack that destroyed the advanced robots and their world so the sector was open to glorious Imperial conquest. Being as how I had decided my merchant captain was of the "where's my money?" level of moral fortitude, he decided rather than worry about how he felt about being party to a genocide he would simply grab the ridiculously large stacks of cash the Imperium gave us for this service and quietly retire someplace far away from that sector and its scary super-intelligent aliens that were running around there, a policy the rest of the party adopted as well. So that's how we won the campaign by gloriously helping the Imperium to victory over a superior tech enemy by unleashing an even more deadly enemy to plague them later. All's well that ends paid well!

Panzeh
Nov 27, 2006

This is why we have orders, general.

Has anybody here ever played a campaign with PC psionics? Is there anything I should look out for. I know most of the editions are pretty discouraging to it but i'm pondering a campaign based on them.

I also think(at least in Mongoose 2e) that the benefit tables are a bit off to me(too many ships, not enough cash) and i'm pondering redoing all of them.

Notahippie
Feb 4, 2003

Kids, it's not cool to have Shane MacGowan teeth

Panzeh posted:

I also think(at least in Mongoose 2e) that the benefit tables are a bit off to me(too many ships, not enough cash) and i'm pondering redoing all of them.

The benefit tables are heavily skewed towards creating the "classic" Traveller story of a crew of almost-broke working class folks with a ship trying to stay one step ahead of creditors. I think tweaking them to fit the story your table wants is probably a good idea.

Panzeh
Nov 27, 2006

This is why we have orders, general.

Notahippie posted:

The benefit tables are heavily skewed towards creating the "classic" Traveller story of a crew of almost-broke working class folks with a ship trying to stay one step ahead of creditors. I think tweaking them to fit the story your table wants is probably a good idea.

Yeah, after some games with it, the out of the box way character creation does things is very much designed to get a few 38-42 year old burnouts at least a rickety ship and a lot of debt ready for some hijinks in a way that's fool-proof. It's probably why they're so afraid to give PCs cash- if the DM was careful about how money could be spent, a character with 4 million coming out of character creation would not be that big a problem(that's about a down payment on a ship), but it's an easy thing to miss, things like legality, so instead of risking a DM letting a player begin with combat power armor, they just hand out very little money and give out the things they want.

As I usually prefer now to go 1-on-1 with whoever i'm creating characters with, DM to player, it's easier to work things out and I think i'd be okay giving out less ships and random trinkets and more cash.

(The original method does tend to result in more than one ship being generated for a party which is usually awkward, they have rules to do away with multiple ships in a party but it just turns it into a pension.)

Jetrock
Jul 26, 2005

This is the tower of murder... it's where I hang out!

There is a bit of a cash difference between a game based around operating a ship vs. a group that doesn't have a ship--giving more cash and fewer ships makes it easier for starting characters to load up on battledress and plasma guns (or start arguments with the GM about why they can't muster out with battledress & plasma guns.) I do like the Mongoose convention of ship shares, which both lowers the otherwise crushing overhead of that 40 year mortgage and creates good excuses for an adventuring group (Mongo doesn't know the first thing about starships, but he's handy in a bar fight and his dad left him a 15% share in our Far Trader!)

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

The mustering out with ship was always a bit of a convenience, a way so the players could actually get a ship. I recall the original trading rules were pretty brutal, like you could easily run out of money, misjump, or have an encounter with a pirate or someone hostile who was much better armed than you.

I'm thinking back about great adventures and there was "Marooned!" (I think), which was a solo adventure where you end up ditching on the far side of a planet and have to trek your way to the only settlement (i.e. resource manage so you don't starve / die of thirst / get eaten by animals).

Panzeh
Nov 27, 2006

This is why we have orders, general.

Currently playing a traveller game, this session made us turn into Alex Jones once we realized we had a Zhodani passenger on the same passenger ship as us. Telepaths can do that in a campaign where you're supposed to be a group of Third Imperium intelligence agents. It's funny as poo poo when our expert on Zhodani and psionics in particular mentioned how worthless both IIS and conventional wisdom was about trying to 'blank' at your thoughts are against a true telepath.

Jetrock posted:

There is a bit of a cash difference between a game based around operating a ship vs. a group that doesn't have a ship--giving more cash and fewer ships makes it easier for starting characters to load up on battledress and plasma guns (or start arguments with the GM about why they can't muster out with battledress & plasma guns.) I do like the Mongoose convention of ship shares, which both lowers the otherwise crushing overhead of that 40 year mortgage and creates good excuses for an adventuring group (Mongo doesn't know the first thing about starships, but he's handy in a bar fight and his dad left him a 15% share in our Far Trader!)

While the game is pretty restrictive in RAW about what you can do with money you muster out with, yeah, i figure i'd have to be up front about what, precisely, can be bought with mustering cash. It's kind of annoying that a lot of weapon and armor costs are based on mustering out with very little money and fitting into the generic gun/weapon/armor benefit rewards. I'd also probably have to look into things players can spend a lot of money on legally. This would be a lot more work than I first thought.

nonathlon posted:

The mustering out with ship was always a bit of a convenience, a way so the players could actually get a ship. I recall the original trading rules were pretty brutal, like you could easily run out of money, misjump, or have an encounter with a pirate or someone hostile who was much better armed than you.

Oh, definitely, I think it's easier to just kinda hand out a ship with a particular set of conditions than give players some money to make a down payment on a ship and have to work that out pre-game as a group. And yeah, trading can be really brutal, though MgT2 is generally ok if you've got someone with good broker. It's kinda meant to make trying to run a far trader an adventure in and of itself, even if the DM doesn't do a whole lot of direct input. I don't think i'd want to play a random tramp trader campaign with a group of random people, but it's definitely the path of least resistance in the core book.

Panzeh fucked around with this message at 00:58 on Jun 28, 2021

SkyeAuroline
Nov 12, 2020



Send help, Hardspace Shipbreaker has me eyeing working-class scifi again, including Traveller. Not in a state to run anything currently, unfortunately, so I'll have to live it vicariously through you guys. How did your groups get their start on the journey to riches (or failure while trying)? Official module, something homebrew?

Galaga Galaxian
Apr 23, 2009

What a childish tactic!
Don't you think you should put more thought into your battleplan?!


drat you, I've also been playing Shipbreaker lately and now you've got me imagining breaking old Type-S Suleimans and Type A/A2 Far/Fat Traders.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk



the fall of tinath is a brisk, solid starter campaign.

pirates of drinax is all kinds of brilliant, i've raved about it constantly since playing it.

if you haven't read the chanur books they are extremely Traveller, basically about an Aslan space trader getting caught up in politics.

SkyeAuroline
Nov 12, 2020



Galaga Galaxian posted:

drat you, I've also been playing Shipbreaker lately and now you've got me imagining breaking old Type-S Suleimans and Type A/A2 Far/Fat Traders.
It's just good! It's the kind of feel I want from my scifi nowadays and too little is willing to really engage beyond set dressing. Traveller is one of a few I'd trust to do it (and the only one that involves worker-accessible/owned spaceships). Across the Bright Face where the players actually worked with the rebels, maybe... Ah well.

sebmojo posted:

the fall of tinath is a brisk, solid starter campaign.

pirates of drinax is all kinds of brilliant, i've raved about it constantly since playing it.

if you haven't read the chanur books they are extremely Traveller, basically about an Aslan space trader getting caught up in politics.
If/when I do ever run Traveller, Drinax is likely it. I haven't read the Chanur books but keep meaning to, which... is pretty much how fiction has been going for me in general recently.

Panzeh
Nov 27, 2006

This is why we have orders, general.

sebmojo posted:

the fall of tinath is a brisk, solid starter campaign.

pirates of drinax is all kinds of brilliant, i've raved about it constantly since playing it.

Yeah if i want to run a campaign without having to do too much jimmying with character creation or systems, Pirates is a really solid way to go, and it need not necessarily involve piracy if the players don't want to do it. You still have to deal with benefit rolls giving people fleets but it's not too difficult to convert those to ship shares.

In my intelligence campaign the GM converted ship shares to shares of the company we're using as a cover(though we do have a ship).

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

SkyeAuroline posted:

Send help, Hardspace Shipbreaker has me eyeing working-class scifi again, including Traveller. Not in a state to run anything currently, unfortunately, so I'll have to live it vicariously through you guys. How did your groups get their start on the journey to riches (or failure while trying)? Official module, something homebrew?

Working class sci-fi is a great phrase and what I liked about Traveller. There could still be a murder hobo element but it was a big universe of scary things and often you just had to pay the bills.

Bliss Authority
Jul 6, 2011

I'm not saying it was witches

but it was witches



It's well worth mentioning that the first edition of Traveller wasn't wedded to the Imperium at all - it was an entirely different experience, one that I prefer to games set in the Imperium. There's a really great blog on first-ed play out of the box, linked below.

https://talestoastound.wordpress.com/tag/traveller-out-of-the-box/

Panzeh
Nov 27, 2006

This is why we have orders, general.

Bliss Authority posted:

It's well worth mentioning that the first edition of Traveller wasn't wedded to the Imperium at all - it was an entirely different experience, one that I prefer to games set in the Imperium. There's a really great blog on first-ed play out of the box, linked below.

https://talestoastound.wordpress.com/tag/traveller-out-of-the-box/

I don't mind it either way. I think there's plenty of room for whatever you want in the kind of broad defined setting of the game but as long as you're willing to play a sci-fi universe where the hex borders are a pretty good barrier for communication, the sector/subsector/system generation tools work great and will give you something to that effect.

Jetrock
Jul 26, 2005

This is the tower of murder... it's where I hang out!

nonathlon posted:

Working class sci-fi is a great phrase and what I liked about Traveller. There could still be a murder hobo element but it was a big universe of scary things and often you just had to pay the bills.

I'm just starting up a solo campaign using the CT "Beltstrike!" box set (in conjunction with the Solo rules for Cepheus Engine) and it's surprisingly well suited for solo play, as much of the game's process is based around scanning for and investigating asteroids, repeated skill rolls to determine if there's actually something valuable in the asteroid once you reach it, and then random events/encounters. The party's leader received a detached duty scout as a mustering out benefit, but it included no armament. A pulse laser is required to actually cut up an asteroid and mine its minerals (other than just getting samples). There are rules for putting discovered asteroids up for bid, the local megacorp will inspect the rock and if they verify the strike they pay the belter for locating/surveying the rock and send their own mining platform to do the work. So, the crew's initial plan was to find rocks with the scout ship's high quality sensors, assess their potential with handheld laser drills, and put them out to bid, until they had enough cash to pay for their own pulse laser.

My crew, brand new to the belt mining game but eager to try their luck, found three likely candidates and found a rich crystal-bearing asteroid (and two with smaller but less valuable deposits) during a two-week survey of the outer belt. So I assumed the players planted a signal beacon on each, put the rocks up for bid, and hit the nearby asteroid base (Koenig's Rock) to celebrate their good fortune and wait for the survey results to be verified. I ended the session just after they received their first pay warrant for an asteroid but were still waiting on the other rocks, so they took that to go shopping for some new gear (the captain was injured while harvesting an ice asteroid for fuel, which had holed her vacc suit.)

As it turns out, I re-read the bid rules after that play session and realized that the types of asteroids my crew had identified were not eligible for putting out to bid. So I decided that the pay warrant was bogus, sent to them as a joke by the megacorp, which they didn't realize until they went to cash it. Now, they're the laughingstock of the entire station (it's a remote, zero law level asteroid base, and they're easily amused.) So, shamed by the experience, they decide to find a way to do the mining. Fortunately, prior to discovering their mistake while the captain was recovering, they met another Belter crew who were friendly enough after a free round of drinks (hey, we thought we had struck it rich!) who had a pulse laser equipped seeker ship and hadn't had much luck finding any strikes; my crew offered theirs 75% share of whatever they mined in our rock if they provided the pulse laser. For my next session, they'll go revisit the asteroid with the seeker ship, lending them our mechanic to inspect the ship and see if he can nurse their systems along (they're overdue for an annual overhaul, due to their lousy recent luck) and try to stay off Koenig's Rock long enough for people to stop snickering about their newly earned "clueless noob" status.

I'm sure at some point the campaign will involve some pew pew, but it's already having its ups and downs just floating around among the rocks. In addition to the rules for asteroid mining and random pre-programmed encounters and incidents, there are four folio adventures; I'll have to see where the dice rolls take the crew at the next session.

SkyeAuroline
Nov 12, 2020



Interesting - I might have to give it a look myself for solo play. Any reason for using the CT version over Mongoose's, or are they effectively the same?

Jetrock
Jul 26, 2005

This is the tower of murder... it's where I hang out!

SkyeAuroline posted:

Interesting - I might have to give it a look myself for solo play. Any reason for using the CT version over Mongoose's, or are they effectively the same?
I didn't realize Mongoose did a port of Beltstrike!, but I already had the CT version in my collection. The CT edition is a fairly extensive box set.

Jetrock fucked around with this message at 04:14 on Jun 29, 2021

SkyeAuroline
Nov 12, 2020



Jetrock posted:

I didn't realize Mongoose did a port of Beltstrike!, but I already had the CT version in my collection. The CT edition is a fairly extensive box set.

Fair enough reasoning for me. Surface level comparison looks like CT went more in depth, yeah. Having a hard time figuring out an approach for solo, personally, but maybe that's just the rules overhead talking. I did jokingly propose play-by-post to my regular group though.

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

It's striking how many of the auxiliary Traveller games were so solid. Striker was an excellent set of miniatures rules. Trillion Credit Squadron was its own hobby for a while. Mayday was a good, simple spaceship game. Was Imperium before Traveller? (And I think there was a successor game.) I had a weak spot for Azhanti High Lightning which was in an awkward-size box with huge maps, and was more of a toychest than a singular game.

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Jetrock
Jul 26, 2005

This is the tower of murder... it's where I hang out!

nonathlon posted:

It's striking how many of the auxiliary Traveller games were so solid. Striker was an excellent set of miniatures rules. Trillion Credit Squadron was its own hobby for a while. Mayday was a good, simple spaceship game. Was Imperium before Traveller? (And I think there was a successor game.) I had a weak spot for Azhanti High Lightning which was in an awkward-size box with huge maps, and was more of a toychest than a singular game.

Yep, apparently Imperium, which was released before Traveller, became the default Traveller game universe after it became apparent that the no-universe sandbox approach wasn't popular. And yes, GDW auxiliary games were great; Striker was a nice set of miniatures rules but in the days prior to MegaTraveller they were the ideal toolkit for building Traveller vehicles (and many Striker items were easy to graft onto the MT design sequences.) I have an Azhanti High Lightning box set but never really played; the impression I get is that it's basically a further development of Snapshot rules (as is Striker, in a way)?

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