Learning Traveller


I recently managed to get ahold of PDFs of the Classic Traveller core books and supplements. After having heard so much about them around the internet, I was extremely excited when I first looked at them. I should point out that I am not what I would call a Sci-fi geek (not that I don’t want to be, I just haven’t gotten around to it). My experience with Sci-fi can be summed up quite briefly:

Firefly (all episodes at least twice- we had a borrowed DVD collection for a relatively long while), Serenity, Star Wars (my dad used to show us the original trilogy a lot), Tron, The Last Starfighter (my great-uncle rented it from Blockbuster- else I never would have thought to watch it), Poul Anderson’s Hoka stories, The Hitchhiker’s Guide series, two of the short stories from I, Robot, ‘I, Robot’ (the Will Smith flick), MiB 1 and 2, some of the Vorkosigan saga, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, The Rolling Stones, Podkayne of Mars, Star Beast, Glory Road, and Red Planet, Heavy Metal, Llana of Gathol and John Carter of Mars, Schlock Mercernary, Dresden Codak, Batman Beyond, Dexter’s Lab, Samurai Jack, Thundercats (the original). Does Gremlins count? What about The Matrix?

I’m not sure how that list measures up to the Sum Total Of All Science Fiction, but as far as I’m concerned, I am much more involved in fantasy. I don’t actively seek out Sci-fi. But Traveller, I think, might help with that a bit.

At first, I read diligently, but ultimately just skimmed. Rules are boring, and they’re much harder to read when you all you have is a .PDF rather than an easy-on-the-eyes hardcopy. I am now actually taking the time to test out the character creation rules, and it comes to life for me. Originally, I had planned to fill every line of a page with character- as I  write this, I have decided, this task finished, that I should add a second column. Character creation is actually that fun. Every time I roll up stats (UPP) I mentally evaluate which service this character would be best for as the stats come up. I’ve even started to convert the numbers rolled to hexadecimal like it ain’t no thing, and come up with a mnemonic for UPP order (Some Dumb Everyman In Exotic Space). Character creation is that fun.

I’m sure this system would work great for a Firefly-inspired campaign, and I’m seeing lots of stuff around the web to support that, but my personal evaluation is “Bujold Novel RPG”. Case in point: 4 in 6 characters are in the military, swords and polearms are still in frequent use, and Social Standing as a stat. Make of that what you will.

Comparing this system to Firefly works, I guess- the ideal firearm for many of my characters is the shotgun. Also, cloth armor- which according to the wiki is inappropriate for formal occasions unless specifically tailored, but not culturally odd to wear publicly. I’m picturing Malcolm Reynold’s coat. But the ships in Traveller RAW work differently, and if I wanted to play a campaign based on Firefly, it would be the episode with the fancy dress party and the sword duel.

It’s neat that the game works entirely using d6- I usually have 5-7 of those in my pocket at any time. I do like rolling all the wierd dice, though- I’m sure I can find some way to work them in.

Creating the characters, I was so astounded at the amounts of money they were getting as ‘Mustering Out’ benefits relative to the cost of equipment that I stopped listing equipment that wasn’t gotten free as another benefit after the first character. Now I’m looking at the Starships rules and I’m astounded that anybody manages to get the ship equivalent of a beat-up Toyota without becoming a wanted man in the process. I can see this game is well able to keep people on their toes.

I hope that I can resist at least until the Beetledome is complete.

In other news- I have only five experience points to go before reaching level 15. That’s just 370 until level 16!

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