Posts Tagged With: Traveller

What is different about My Traveller Universe (aka MTU)

As I start tooling and gearing things up for my resurrected Imperium game using a modified Cephesus Engine, I’ve also had to start to codify some of what makes my setting different from the canon “Official Traveller Universe” (aka the OTU).

MTU and OTU are relatively common terms in the Traveller Grognard community btw.

First, my Imperium is way, way smaller than the canon Third Imperium despite using many or most of the same elements. It’s more like four-ish sectors in size, rather than the… sixteen-ish (???) of canon. I don’t feel like counting, but my size is based on a six-month travel time to the frontier (for Jump-4) and the actually spot my campaign is set is past that, in the equivalent of Honk Kong or Singapore or Macau. Basically on the bleeding edge of the Imperium, it’s six months by fast courier (Jump-6).

Sylea, the capitol of the Imperium, sits on the natural bridge that separates the Greater and Lesser Rifts, controlling a highly strategic location both militarily and economically.

The Ziru Sirkaa (the Restored Grand Empire of Stars) exists, having reconstituted itself during the Long Night after the collapse of the Terran Rule of Man. It is a trade partner and ally of the Imperium, though rivalries certainly exist.

The Imperium is not the most technologically advanced polity. They are simply the most widely and thoroughly developed overall. The Imperium is structured more on Napoleonic England than Classical Rome in many ways

The Solomani Confederation doesn’t exist. Terra and it’s environs is more akin to Middle East, in that is a resource-rich but heavily factionalized and conflict-ridden area with an often lower general technological base.

There is no Zhodani Consulate, instead the Zhodani Transhumans were the last great Imperial geeneering experiment during the Civil War. They fled the Imperium during the Psionic Suppressions and are one of the biggest of Imperial “boogiemen” but continue to fund underground psionic institutes and terrorist organizations inside the Imperium. Their current location is unknown.

Subsectors are 10×10 parsecs, a quadrant is a block of four subsectors, while a sector is four quadrants. Star systems are often somewhat farther apart than in the canon OTU, unlike the “mains” of most maps, though there are often clusters of systems together. Any given subsector might have two clusters of 5-6 systems, with a scatter of another 10-12 systems.

My setting primarily uses Collectors for powering Jump Drives, through for fast travel L-Hyd bladders are commonly used and easy to purchase at A & B starports that have a highport. Military-grade Collectors have the capacity for a “High Intensity” charge that takes only ~24 hours rather than the standard ~168, but carries some risk of damage. There are also a couple of techniques for similar speedy recharges that have related risks.

At least one race (the Sred*Ni) uses a biologically based technology for interstellar travel and Jumps from Gas Giant to Gas Giant. Some highly advanced races have developed much faster hyperspace drives, but the ship size seems to be much more limited. Rumors persist of races that have developed wormhole technology that allows then to essentially “fold space” and allow for instantaneous transport, but these are unproven.

The earliest Jump Drives (at Tech Level 9) are actually slower, rather than a parsec a week, the rate of travel is a parsec a month. This almost automatically involves low berths and cold sleep rather than awake and active crew, and an AI running things. These drives are still quite commonly used because they are cheap and are useful for non-time sensitive materials hauled by bulk freighter.

It’s a definitively “small ship” universe, as Tech Level increases, the ability to create Jump Drives that move larger and larger ships increases – though the Jump speed of ships is limited to the power of the computer installed indexed against the size of the ship. This is a shout-out to Book Two ship construction rules as opposed to Book Five ship construction. The maximum ship size at TL15 is 36,000 dtons, though these are limited to Jump-1.

Ship combat is based on Full Thrust rather than Traveller.

Navies and commercial ships are limited in number, not so much by ship construction requirements but by the psychological and physiological requirements of crewing ships. Simply put, the vast, vast majority of sophonts are not cut out for living in a tin can in space (another reason why travel is uncommon as well), not to mention for the penetration into and translation through Jumpspace. Theories abound regarding biotic fields or “the Traveller gene” but most people need some sort of drugs (or cold sleep) to cope with either or both for extended period of time. This simple fact is what keeps empires from fielding fleets that number in the hundreds or thousands, they simply can’t crew them.

At Tech Level 13, personal shields begin to be developed as an adjunct to contragravity. Useful, though expensive though problematic, they make piloting contragrav vehicles more difficult when active, and problem that is not solved until TL16. They also less efficient against energy rather than kinetic weapons. They are also limited in size due to power ratios, etc, not being able to protect a creature much more mass than a K’Kree.

Artificial Intelligence appears much earlier, starting at around Tech Level 9. The breakthrough at Tech Level 16 is that AI becomes able to Replicate itself with help (and despite hindrance), becoming able to self-propagate through the Datanet.

Cybernetics and augments are much more common than in the OTU, but not anywhere near as common as you would find in a setting like Cyberpunk 2020.

Laser Rifles and Carbines normally use capacitor packs rather than battery backpacks.

Parts of Known Space draw heavily from now decanonized Paranoia Press and Judges Guild source material.

Psionics, while still illegal in the Imperium, are more powerful than in the standard OTU.



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LOL, a blast from the past…

So, I’ve pretty much decided that I want to run my Imperium or “Traveller 2200” or “CyberTraveller” game again at some point. This is a non-canon Traveller setting, increasingly more Proto-Traveller in function, that I ran using the CP2020 engine rather than any of the various Traveller rules. I have a particular campaign that I’ve run multiple times explicitly exploring multiple different timelines of the same start at a fixed point in time.

Why is it fixed, no idea, maybe that’s something to explore this time around..?

In any case, due to my computer crash a couple of years ago I lost all of the files that I used to keep for this campaign. What I do have is a flat document box that I have now filled with old paper notes and records from the previous campaigns (the stack sits like 2-3 inches high). It’s definitely been a journey down memory lane with these, and most amusingly I came across my original, CP2020 character/NPC from the very first CP2020 games that I ran.

That brings back some real memories!

But for the new Imperium game, I have to decide what rule engine to use. Previously I’ve used CP2020 because I can run that game in my sleep. For a long period of time that was my primary game/system, and it’s only been in the last few years that I returned to D&D. That said, I like Mongoose Traveller, but I refuse to buy a whole new second edition of it (and it doesn’t really need it) and Traveller 5E, while having some great elements, is basically unplayable as it stands at the moment.

So I am either going to run it using CP2020 or the Cephesus Engine. The Cephesus Engine (CE) is a based on the Traveller ORD, and is mix of Mongoose Traveller (itself a very simplified version of Traveller 5E) and Classic Traveller – stripped of any reference to the Traveller canon and suitable for use with pretty any scifi setting. The nice thing about CE is that I can include things from pretty much any edition of Traveller (save New Era) nd it ports into it pretty much seamlessly. I was also able to legally purchase it in the form of an editable Word document (because it’s an ORD) and can then customize it however I like for my own setting, etc.

Fundamentally, CP2020 is pretty easy and fun, but CE is also pretty easy and fun as well. It would be nice to run a Traveller game actually using a set of Traveller rules again. And the rules reflect a game that it is pretty easy to create whatever sort of character you want – much like CP2020.

Heck, maybe I just want to a play a game that only uses d6..




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Games I Want to Play in 2017

The title says it all, what games do I want to play this year?

Dnd 5E is a simple choice, we’re still running with the Age of Worms adventure path, along with having to add in the odd adventure here and there. We’re all enjoying it, and I’m still having lots of fun figuring out the details of my campaign world in 5E terms.

Call of Cthulhu 7E – Everyone seemed to enjoy the short intro adventure(s). KT is really interested in playing one of the longer, classic campaigns and with the Pulp Rules that even seems possible without having to have a seemingly exhaustless supply of new characters. The big issue is that I have one player that has no interest in playing it and sits out those games.

Traveller – I love this RPG, and you can see some of my meanderings about the setting here on the blog. For the life of me I can’t decide if I wanted to use the Classic Traveller or the Mongoose Traveller rules-set. But they aren’t particularly incompatible, I’m just increasingly drawn to simpler vs. complicated. Both are pretty simple, and the complications are different in each edition.

Cyberpunk 2020 – Another game that I simply love, combined with a setting I enjoy (especially when I combine it with Traveller). I have to say that CP2020 is a slightly more adult game in the way it explicitly handles some subject matters (cybernetic sexual implants anyone?)- but I like how it is relatively fast-paced and the mechanics are pretty simple for everyone to grasp.

Kult: Divinity Lost – Ok, this may be a pipe dream simply because if Call of Cthulhu is too much horror (body horror, occult horror, etc), and CP2020 is too much sexuality (at least potentially), then Kult is the very grown up mix of the two and is intended to be played that way – think Hellraiser + Martyrs + American Psycho + Se7enMulholland Drive. I Kickstarted this, and have the alpha version of the Quick Start rules that were released around Yule. I’m not entirely certain about the Powered By The Apocalypse engine but would be willing to give it a try. It seems to be trying to be too clever for it’s own good in some ways… But finding players that want to play Kult? That might be the issue…

Lastly, I love to play Runequest – I Kickstarted the reprint of 2E, but what I’m really looking forward to is the new edition. For those who aren’t familiar, it is adventuring in it’s own, highly detailed setting, using Bronze Age technology and tropes. It’s always been a very different kind of game and I haven’t played it in years.  I kind of hope that it gets out this year but I’m actually thinking that it will get Kickstarted and then released in 2018… *sigh*

As an Honorable Mention, I’d also love to pick up the Chicago Unseen campaign that my husband and I co-ran back in the day. It was originally run using Mage: The Ascension, but we just find White Wolf as a system/engine pretty badly broken. I looked at a number of games as a replacement, and finally settled on Witchcraft and Armageddon as a bit of a mashup. The truth is, unless my husband gets excited about it, I can’t imagine that I’d get excited about running it. That may be a game/setting that has finally moved into the pasture, to be mined for ideas and remembered fondly.



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Call of Cthulhu 7e has arrived!

So, this past Monday I was happy to find on my doorstep the box containing my long awaited Call of Cthulhu 7e rules – and I have to say that I find browsing and reading the rules much easier in physical form than on the PDF’s I’ve had for awhile. It also means that I’ll have to update a couple of my previous posts to be more in-line with 7e rules. (EDIT: Done and Done)

I’ve also been looking at the fact that I’ve been running my current 5e campaign for about a year-and-a-half now – and as the Age of Worms continues to threaten it would easily continue to run for many more years. That isn’t exactly a problem, but historically I’ve tend to run games/campaigns for between 1-2 years and then flipped to another game/genre to help rejuvenate myself creatively – and I’m certainly hitting that point now.

So I think that I have one solid chapter in me for the 5e campaign. The party has successfully plundered the Whispering Cairn, discovering treasures and lore of the Wind Dukes that have been long-hidden and is now preparing to investigate one of the local mines – suspecting the owner of being part of the Cult of the Ebion Triad and working towards bringing about the Age of Worms. The party can complete that and I’ll have an excellent place to leave things and even give the party some significant downtime before we pick up the campaign again.

That begs the question of what I could run next. I have a strong vote from at least one player for Call of Cthulhu though to be truthful I’d rather wait until I had Pulp Cthulhu on hand to use. I’m interested enough in what they’ve done with 7e that I think that Pulp Cthulhu might be a good substitute for my own pulp rules – or at least mesh with them well enough that they added significantly to the game (or add a better framework to manipulate).

My other two “stand-bys” are also possible – Cyberpunk 2020 and Traveller. Now I’ve run many games with a mash-up of the two, but I have been somewhat fond of the Mongoose 1e version of Traveller and have the entire SRD saved to hand out to players if need be. It is a simple game that hearkens back to Classic Traveller in many ways, and I’ve been tinkering with a non-OTU setting for a couple of years now (much of it, thankfully, not lost when my hard drive crashed). I’ve been really pondering the concept of Proto-Traveller a great deal, and somewhat consciously rejecting the OTU – while at the same time amused and amazed at how different the OTU seems to be from what everyone assumed after reading Agent of the Imperium by Mark Miller.

Cyberpunk 2020 is a very rich setting with a very easy engine. It’s theoretically hampered by the conceptual twitching provoked by the idea that it is actually set in the year 2020 – and that could be hard to sell a great many people. I think that it might work better as a “Cyberpunk 2200” set a couple of hundred years in the future, that changes the canon timeline but much of the flavor text of the game can remain the same. Perhaps a future where the solar system has been explored and settled but where there is no FTL travel so we remain stuck in orbit around Sol for all intents and purposes – though I suppose a bit of Bladerunner-inspired flavor means that the Tannhauser Gate could be a thing…




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Ship Computers, Generate Programs, and Jump Cassettes

So, I had a thought because there has been an ongoing discussion on the COTI Forum (“Citizens of the Imperium” – the official Traveller forum) regarding a bit of Classic Traveller electronics, the Jump Cassette. It part of the ongoing discussion regarding ProtoTraveller and RAW Traveller, all of which is has been informing my own internal thoughts regarding what I want my Traveller universe to look like next time around.

Building off of the other discussion, it is worth noting that “engine-wise” you could build a ship that does Jump-6 the moment you discover Jump Drive. The limit comes in to two ways – you can build ships of a limited size, and you can only build a computer of limited power.

  1. So as ship size increases, it gets “slower” with the same size drive. Rather than “slower” it is “limited to the jumpspace it can penetrate” – and the jumpspace determines how far the ship travels in the week spent there. So, an A-Drive can move a 100dton ship Jump-2, and a 200dton ship Jump-1, while a D-Drive can move a 100dton ship Jump-6 and an 800dton ship Jump-1 – at the other end of the scale, a few hundred years of development later, is the Z-Drive which can move an 800dton ship Jump-6 and a 5000dton ship Jump-2. With the “extrapolation” I talked about earlier, I moved that size up to 10,000dtons for Jump-1 with a z-Drive.
  2. At the same time as Jump Drive is invented, computers reach small size and enough power that you can fit into a ship that can use (and potentially calculate) Jump Coordinates. The limit here is that the best that they can do is Jump-2. So while you can build a 800dton hull, the biggest ship you can build that can do is 400dtons – all despite the fact that if you were able to buy and install a more powerful computer later, you could install that D-Drive on a 100dton ship and get deep enough to travel Jump-6.

Now, “computers” are one of those parts of Traveller that have been horribly and justifiably ridiculed over the years. Their sizes and capabilities are, well, based on 1970’s mainframes – the cutting edge of technology when the game was first written. Over time, “ship computer” has been retconned into including sensors and a certain amount of C3 (Command, Control, Communications) but it can still be hard to swallow some of the numbers used. They also date from the time when, yes, oh younger readers, people used cassettes to record and save data, and when computers often weren’t able to do very many things at a one time…

So a ship’s computer could be equipped with a “Generate” program, which is what allowed a Navigator (or Astrogator is you prefer) uses to calculate and “generate” the plot of the Jump route. However, especially with those “early computers” that might be the only thing the computer was able to run, no Gunnery, no Maneuver, heck maybe not even Jump itself.

Plus, the players might not even be able to afford the Generate program to start off with! The computers and programs were talking about are “enterprise-level” technology, not a laptop hooking up to a network (more like mainframes). So, what they were able to do was a buy a one-shot “Jump Cassette” that gave them one-way plotted coordinates to a single system. I haven’t checked, but I think these somewhat disappeared in MegaTraveller and Traveller: The New Era, and Mongoose Traveller, but in T5 they were back – with the ability to use them multiple times (just making the Jump more difficult each time until on the 6th use it was an automatic misjump).

I like this because it dovetails with the idea of the “Jump Rutter” – perhaps there is some way to model very, very slow calculations that don’t use the Generate program but instead involve laborious calculations with the normal computational power of the ship’s computer but sans the specific algorithms and database that the Generate program contains. It also suggests the existence of a psychic talent that allows instantaneous Jump Calculations ala the Pilgrims from Wing Commander.

Given the default anti-psionic attitudes inherent in the RAW, this creates a couple of interesting potential plot points immediately…

So, using a Generate program, creating a Jump Plot normally takes 10-60 minutes, we could simply say that going by hand, using a Jump Rutter, takes two time increments of time slower, or that it takes 6-24 hours (hmmm… I that table might mean 6-36 hours instead….) instead and is a Formidable task (an additional -6 to the roll). So, you can pay for a Jump Cassette, or pray that the Astrogator is as good as he promised when you hired him…






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Jumping, Jump Masking, and Jump Shadowing

So, as I delve into ProtoTraveller I am confronted by the issue of Jumping – and will ignore (for the moment) Mongoose Traveller’s introduction of Warp Travel and Hyperspace.

Jumping is the Traveller term for Interstellar travel. Ships use Jumpspace to travel faster-than-light, with certain strictures.

  1. All Jumps last roughly one week in length (with variance measured in hours, rather than days). Anything else is a sign of a Misjump.
    • Okay, one quick diversion to Warp Travel and Hyperdrive from Mongoose Traveller. These both, as per the MgT RAW, speed up travel to be measured in days rather than weeks.
  2. Jumps are limited in distance, with the distance being determined by the tech level of the ship.
    • The original game and all editions up to T5 limited travel to Jump-6, this meant that in one week, the ship will travel six parsecs. Jump-1, the ships travels one parsec in one week. This was probably ignored in house rules as much as it was rigorously enforced – gamers being gamers.
    • In T5 (the much maligned Traveller 5th Edition, though not nearly as maligned as Traveller: The New Era) Jump goes up to 9, and Hop and Skip are introduced which scale up by factors of 10x and 100x respectively. These both, as well as the post-6 Jump numbers, occur only at much higher technological levels.
    • Misjumps can be up to Jump-36 in distance (or even longer with Referee fiat), rolled 1d6x1d6 when it is determined that a Misjump has occurred.
    • This suggested different levels or dimensions of Jumpspace, mostly by making sense of the Small Ship Universe ship construction system as compared to the Big Ship Universe.
  3. Entering or leaving Jumpspace is impacted by gravity wells -often causing Misjumps or a violent exit from Jumpspace.
    • In the game this meant that you had to travel “100 Diameters” from a planets surface before you could safely Jump. Technically you could Jump 10 Diameters out from the surface, but it was more difficult and dangerous.
    • Technically speaking, as people have extrapolated across the years (and editions) this also means that gravity wells of ships and stars. For ships, the distances are generally too miniscule to worry about (but the question is inevitably raised when someone wants to Jump a ship that is in larger ship’s hold, usually because they are captured by pirates). While stars… well that just tends to get ignored – unless you (like me) tend towards the OCD.
      • A professor of mine in grad school said that in order to be successful in grad school you had to at least a touch OCD. The key, as he put it, was to keep in on the Obsessive side instead of the Compulsive.
    • Some argument has existed as to if Jumps needed to start and end in a star system (essentially that ships used the gravity well of a system to “catch themselves” out of Jumpspace). This came from the old Imperium boardgame where this was the case, and is evidently a canon bit of history. But technology evidently allows this to change – with scattered references to deep space refueling stations or other forms of calibration points.
  4. Starships must be at least 100 dtons in size.
    • An issue raised by the now utterly non-canon, but once (and still) questionable existence of “Jump Torps” – something that I love, but that seriously conflict with the canon OTU despite being listed in the old (and much loved) Adventure 4: Leviathan.
    • As an additional note, in standard Traveller Jump Fuel requires 10% of the ships volume per Jump Number – as a one-time expenditure. So Jump-6, that’s 60% of the ship allocated to a one-way trip.

That gets us to Jump Shadowing and Jump Masking, which were only explicitly described in Traveller: The New Era (in their search for gritty realism). Later, in the GURPS: Traveller Far Trader supplement is the first (and only to my recollection) rules for actually incorporating them into play.

Jump Masking is when significant interstellar body intersects the path of a ship in Jumpspace. Jump Shadowing is when the destination point of a Jump-travelling ship lies within a gravity well of an interstellar body.

It doesn’t seem to me to be that hard to do an idiot simple tweak to the Jump rules to handle both Jump Masking and Jump Shadowing – as well as incorporate a old idea into what also feels like a very ProtoTraveller setting.

In Mongoose Traveller, using the Astrogation skill to plot a Jump is normally an Easy (+4) Education check, modified by the Jump distance (so, -1 to -6). It effect this means that unless the attempt is rushed along it is probably always going to succeed. In ProtoTraveller the idea is that travel is somewhat dangerous. Think more like world travel before the advent of flight – maybe not as dangerous as the Middle Ages, but more in the nature of the 18th or 19th century.

So, let’s say that those rules (mostly) apply to well-mapped trade routes (we’ll get to that in a moment). It still doesn’t cover Masking and Shadowing – and here is the simple fix. For Jump Shadowing add a -1 Modifier for every star in the system while for Jump Masking, when plotting the Jump simply add a -1 modifier for every system that the route intersects.

Normally, Jump takes 148+6d6 hours. In the event of Jump Shadowing, if the navigator doesn’t wish to take the Difficulty penalty then instead add +6d6 hours of travel for every modifier for the Jump Shadowing that they wish to avoid. This represents them targeting a point further and further out to avoid the Jump Shadow – though at the expense of longer and longer in-system transit time.

Now we can also say that plotting a Jump to a Backwater system (off the Trade Routes)in the Core Worlds is a Routine Education check the same as Frontier systems on Trade Routes. Backwater systems in the Frontier are a Difficult Education check while truly unknown systems are Very Difficult Education checks to plot a course to.

This also has the effect of channeling travel around “dangerous systems” and towards “safer systems” – essentially “rocks, shoals, and reefs” for the Traveller system. That’s before we add in other potential effects for nebula, black holes, etc. It also means that you can really create “hidden bases” or “protected systems” because certain systems are just a huge pain in the ass to get to.

Now, in the “real world” navigators had “rutters” which were their private (and secret) notes and charts for navigational hazards. Anyone who has read or watched Shogun should be able to recall the discussion around the existence and the secrecy of these things. When we add in these sort of navigational hazards and complications the use and desirability of a “jump rutter” become apparent.

So, we could simply suggest that ship navigators keep and maintain “jump rutters” which they create (and pass on to apprentices, or family members in the case of Free Traders). Through experience in Jumping to various systems navigators can essentially create their Trade Routes, even their own “Core Worlds” with enough time and enough Jumps.

This also explains why (or how) the small Free Traders and Tramp Freighters maintain a viable economic presence. They are the only ones that know the safe routes to the Backwater and Frontier worlds. Similarly, it also explains how pirates manage to exist and remain viable – they haunt the long spaces where ships avoiding Jump Shadow travel, and have found “secret asteroid or nebula bases” where they can hide in safety.






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The Small Ship Universe…

One of the great debates (among many debates, both great and not-so-great…) in the Traveller RPG universe is the Small Ship vs Big Ship universe.

The original Traveller rules (and a selection of “basic rules” since then) have a methodology for ship construction that caps ship sizes at around 5000 “displacement tons” (the volume of 1000kg of liquid hydrogen, or 14 cubic meters). That’s about, either, twice the size of a WW2 “Liberty” ship, or about half the size of the Titanic, roughly the size of the USS Arizona, or about 10 Los Angeles-class submarines, or about 500 tractor-trailers.

This is also known as the “Adventure Class Ships” in some quarters. It is based on roughly fixed (but easy to extrapolate) hull sizes, and fixed size engines and power plants, that become available at various tech levels, in conjunction with computers. Smaller ships can go faster, but this is also limited by computers – which provide the real limitation on interstellar speed. The drives can move ships faster than the computers can calculate at lower technological levels.

When then Book 5: High Guard came, it gave a radically new design and construction paradigm. Most notably, ships could be up to a million tons in displacement. Plus, engines and power plants are a percentage of space depending upon the performance desired, and interstellar speed is directly linked to tech level, not computer performance per se.

As can imagine, these are largely incompatible. The canon Traveller universe clearly converted over to a “Big Ship Universe” while keeping “Adventure Class Ships” around for the PC’s. There are reasons – the BSU model is far more thorough, and covers vastly more options for construction and wargaming. It also more closely parallels “real world” naval construction in that ships became bigger and bigger as materials science and propulsion technology has allowed.

One of the quirks of the SSU is that while larger sizes of ships became available with increased technological development, and faster interstellar travel, but faster came with a decrease in hull displacement – e.g. the ships get smaller when you want them to travel faster, with significant differences. This actually suggests some differences in a SSU version of Traveller from the BSU version.

The big one, in my mind, is that ship size is limited because by some other factor of the interstellar medium. Additionally, that this limiting factor is not merely a function or characteristic of interstellar travel (“Jump Space”) because the same size limitations apply to boats (non-starships) as well. Either that there is some life-sustaining quality of terrestrial existence that is lacking, or there is some additional threat that has not yet appeared in our (real-world) explorations of space. I tend to run with the idea that the starships in Traveller also maintain some sort of magnetic or biotic field that protects the inhabitants from prolonged exposure to dark matter (along with perhaps acting as a deflector for space dust and micrometeors).

Now, many of us that prefer a SSU would also prefer ships a bit bigger than 5000 dtons (that’s “displacement tons”) in size. Luckily there are some interesting extrapolations of the SSU ship construction rules that suggest that ships could get up to a 10,000 dtons. There is also a methodology in the Mongoose Traveller High Guard supplement that creates ships with up to six “sections” (for better damage tracking). I like using these both in conjunction with an additional idea that was meant to create faster “big ships” (on a SSU scale) but that I instead tweaked to allow these larger, multisectional ships that merely operate like the original SSU ships. The end result is ships IMTU (“In My Traveller Universe” as opposed to the “OTU” or “Official Traveller Universe”) up to 60,000 dtons in size (though they are, slow, slow, slow…).

But this lets me build ships big enough to transport an entire battalion of troops at a single time (important for campaign-related, flavor text reasons), as well as warships that are both impressive in size and utterly overpowering without being utterly ridiculous when compared to whatever ship the player group is likely to be travelling around in. Player-character types ships tend to be in the 100 dton to 400 dton (perhaps a bit larger if they are lucky), and this puts Corvettes in at around 300 dtons, Frigates around 700 dtons, Destroyers around 1000 dtons, and Cruisers in the 2000 to 3000 dton range.

Yeah, ok, I know… I know… get around to catching up on game logs…

Plus, rules for Shades for 5E.

Plus, I promised my players some guidelines about multiclassing.





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“We dug coal together…”

Yeah, well damn…

Last episode of Justified

That was a great episode to end a great show. I was listening to NPR today and they made the observation that it was a show about driven, intelligent, Southern, blue-collar cops up against driven, intelligent, Southern, blue-collar criminals (who were just as often fighting amongst themselves). The commentator was right, as was his observation that this is a demographic that is often portrayed as stupid and lazy – and has been since the death of the Western as a popular genre (though he didn’t quite phrase it that way).

I think it is worth noting how much the genre of cyberpunk owes to the western – not just because of “console cowboys” but because the cyberpunks are the high-tech equivalent of the blue-collar “high plains drifter.” But beyond that, I’m also noting that I’m one of the last generation of American men who grew up watching and reading westerns, even so much as the last major westerns made in my teenage years and early adulthood.

Now the closest that most younger gamers and geeks have gotten to a Western is Firefly – which certainly isn’t a bad version of a Western. It even more certainly speaks to how closely the Traveller RPG hews to Western tropes given how many parallels gamers have seen between the game and the TV show.

In any case, it has me wondering somewhat amused given how much two out of my four favorite games owe to Westerns. Heck my main NPC in Traveller is named “Quint” in conscious imitation of Louis L’Amour’s Flint (as well as, truth to be told, James Coburn’s Our Man Flint and his character Britt from The Magnificent Seven – another Western!). This is probably worth some conscious thought and re-reading/watching some westerns when I run either Traveller or Cyberpunk 2020 next.


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Which Imperium is Lost?

I’ve been spending a fair amount of time thinking about ProtoTraveller, as well as my idea of the “Lost Imperium” setting actually being a Traveler game rather than a Dark Heresy game. Another interesting spin that combines that idea with the canon Traveller universe would be a similar  “trip over a Ancient’s trapdoor” during either the Civil War or the Psionic Suppressions.

It doesn’t quite answer the question though – an full-sized WH40K Expeditionary Fleet of the Great Crusade had enough people to found a empire. Whatever it is that meant to escaped from the Traveller universe wouldn’t be nearly so big (ok, I suppose I could posit some other weird Jump Space effect hat simply captures a bunch of ships all at one time or something).

Just something I ponder while I wait for the D&D 5e game to come about!


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Wow! On an entirely different note…

I had the insight that my “Lost Imperium” idea for an alternate Dark Heresy game would also make a fantastic Traveller campaign – especially with the Mongoose rules that have all sorts of pointers towards the WH40K setting. I’m kind of amazed that I never seriously considered it. I spent so much time wrestling with the question of how to “fix” the Imperium to get an ATU that I could live with I never realized that all of the elements I was looking for are pretty much already present:

Imperial Nobility, Interstellar Trade, Stellar Empires, Alien Races, Psionics, High Tech, Low Tech, Lost Tech, “Ancients”, Cybertech, Lost Colonies, New Colonies, Interstellar Wars, Powered Armor, Imperial Agents, etc. etc. etc.

Really, it’s all a pretty nifty fit in a good many ways – the only clear boggle I can see is the basic (and somewhat fundamental) lack of Adventurer-class ships – unless of course I posited a change in the tech (and I could do that if I wanted I suppose).

I mean, yes, it’s a radical re-envisioning of a Traveller setting, but not as radical as someone who prefers a Proto-Traveller setting instead of the fully-fledged OTU from the height of the GDW era. I was never a huge fan of the Rebellion, enjoyed the old Paranoia Press and Judges Guild versions of the (then) ATU, even the last bits of the Classic Traveller OTU were pretty enjoyable – but the Rebellion was kind of “meh”… I actually enjoyed Hard Times more than the Rebellion and that is pretty darn sad when you think about it.

(Yes, I thought TNE was an abomination just like everyone else. Bad system, worse setting…)

Now, I’m enjoying the heck out of 5e right now and no desire to switch games any time soon, but this is kind of nice to have in my hip pocket. I always run better games when I can let my brain gnaw at an entirely different setting and system.



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