Mid-Course Corrections

Posted: 26 May 2011 in Reflections

Most of my regular gaming slots are being usurped by family and work for other things at the moment; so I need to refocus on what I can play while travelling, or during my lunch break.

The things that work well for this are generating background, Classic Traveller, and dungeon crawls, so you can expect to see more of those. CT is particularly good because of the lined-paper battlemat for combat.

Which brings me to another musing; at what point have I changed enough of CT that it isn’t CT any more? Currently I’ve replaced Book 1 with Savage Worlds, and I’m in the process of replacing much of Books 2 and 3 with Stars Without Number. I don’t use the Official Traveller Universe any more; haven’t done that for years. The only things that look likely to survive at this point are some of the background feel, and the random encounter tables.

It’s like William’s Axe, which I saw on display in a museum in Normandy; the handle and the head have both been replaced many times, so in what way is it still his axe?

What are the defining aspects of CT for you?

  1. David Billinghurst says:

    I think what defines Traveller is that Jumps take one week, no matter if you Jump one parsec or six, and there is no faster-than-light communication. I think every thing else is up for grabs and has been played around with at least once over the various versions.

    The thing about communication-limited-to-the-speed-of-jump is that it gives a vaguely Age of Exploration background vibe to the game where the characters essentially ride their own information wavefront.

  2. Erin says:

    Character generation is what makes CT for me (and the risk of being dead before you start playing). Not saying that’s good or bad, just that it’s a defining characteristic.

  3. thetailrace says:

    The point at which the Arionad has left CT altogether comes when Captain Arion beams up to the USS Dolphin and orders the helmsman to ‘Set a course to Corinth- Warp 5’ :. The defining aspects of CT for me are a) Star travel- for many settings, such as the Star Trek setting as an example, a 19 parsec journey barely merits a scene change. Whereas in Traveller 19 parsecs in a Jump-2 ship is going to take several weeks, with issues such as refuelling, maintenance and life support even if you can avoid dealing with the locals. Star travel is an adventure in itself :). b)uwp -and by extension starmapping, with a string of numbers and letters plus some symbols on a 8 by 10 hex grid you can infer the dynamics of a section of interstellar society. Add in the fact that the data the players is working on may be out of date or deliberately inaccurate gives even more scope. c) Economics, again looking at a traveller starmap you know how much it’s going to cost to travel from one system to another, with various options concerning price and perhaps certain perils..Low Passage anyone?

    Basically to equate CT with Williams Axe…if it look like his axe and handles like his axe…then it’s Williams Axe. 😀

  4. andyslack says:

    Thanks fellas, good stuff… The thought was prompted by the fact that even when I was running a campaign set on Ringworld using 2300AD rules, the players continued to refer to it as “Andy’s Traveller game”. 🙂

    For me personally, the things that make it Traveller are…

    1. News travels no faster than the fastest ship; worlds are about a week apart in jumpspace, and ships are inviolate and out of contact during jump.

    2. The Scout Service, and the traditional scouts – irascible, insubordinate loners.

    3. Ship crew sizes. The crew should be about the same number of people as a party of players.

    4. World generation. This was unchanged for most editions, GT being the exception that stands out for me.

  5. andyslack says:

    So for Heart of the Scorpion, you’ll see…

    Jumps take a week, and no FTL comms: Check.
    CT character generation: Nope, sorry, not my cup of tea any more.
    Star Trek: Absolutely not.
    Scout service: Check.
    Ship crew sizes: Check.
    World generation: Umm, sort of.

    That’s 4.5 out of 6, so I guess even with this level of surgery, it’s still Traveller. 🙂

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