“In the far future, the [human group] fights a pitched battle against the mighty [alien name] Empire, but deep in the mysterious [region of space], among the ruins of the past, a darker threat looms.” – TV Tropes, Standard Sci-Fi Setting
Time for some space opera! Let’s try The Last Parsec, shall we?
The Zhodani Base recommends four things for an interesting Traveller subsector; at least two nearby interstellar states, backwater worlds, obvious adventures and a place that feels like home. Since those don’t depend on specific rules or a map, they are equally useful here, and they are easy to do in TLP: The United Confederation and the Tazanian Empire are the main states; backwater worlds can be easily inserted into the mapless setting as needed; there are obvious adventures driven by the conflict between the two states, abductions by Rigellian slavers, the machinations of JumpCorp and those who hire it, and the predations of the obligatory space pirates; but we need a place to feel like home.
I could make the PCs’ homeworld a member of a third state – since we already have a Federation and an Empire, this would be the Kingdom – but since the defining feature of a Confederation is that there is no strong central government, that’s an unnecessary complication; the homeworld can be part of the UC.
Alternatively, I could make the PCs’ home their starship, but that means they start off travelling, and I can minimise world-building effort by starting with a single world and limiting the PCs to it. To paraphrase Tolstoy, that means most adventures will be “a stranger comes to town” rather than the more usual “go on a quest”. The reasons I want to do this are first, to minimise the risk of clashing with future releases in the TLP line, especially the promised setting book, and second, I’m still not entirely comfortable with how hyperspace travel works in this setting.
To feel like home, the base world should be familiar; it should be reasonably Earthlike, and have a cultural and political background that the players can relate to, so something vaguely like the present-day Western democracies – this isn’t about whether those are the best or most likely form of society, it’s about how much I have to explain to players before we get down to the adventure.
However, to expose the players to TLP canon, the base world should have a starport where strangers of many races gather, suggesting a trade hub. Since that implies a lot of traffic, the world is likely rich and desirable; therefore it should be populous and technically advanced enough to defend itself against the Rigellians and the Tazanian Empire, who would otherwise enslave or conquer it while the UC was debating whether or not to act. That immediately makes me think of Istanbul, Byzantium, or whatever you want to call it; for much of history, a military superpower and a major commercial port. Those names are too obvious though, so I shall use one of its earlier monikers: Lygos.
It will enhance the not-Kansas factor if the starport is in orbit, and I shall dub it Halfway Station, because there is always a space station called that in my SF games, whether or not the PCs ever find it. I’m enamoured of the original von Braun-style hub-and-spoke stations, and those are appropriate for TLP because antigravity is Ultra-Tech, beyond the reach of most worlds – which leaves you simulating gravity by rotation. To save time, I shall use the stock space station from p. 50 of the Sci-Fi Companion, which has a population of about 25,000 – a small city, which immediately suggests the right spaceport size is Large; that’s also appropriate as it is the smallest type which can repair critical hits, and players will need that eventually.
A base world needs a number of NPCs to bond the players to it, and the easy way to do that is to have one of each type of Wild Card from the Travelers and Xenos chapter of the Sci-Fi Companion; that also gives me a starting list of NPCs for use with the Mythic Game Master Emulator, which initially includes a Master Assassin, a Pirate Officer, a Pirate Captain, a Psi-Knight (wait, what?), a Psionicist, a Starship Captain, a Chief Engineer, a Chief Medical Officer (those three probably run the starport), a Tazanian Officer (probably an envoy of some kind), and on the non-sentient side a Hunter Queen and a Space Leviathan.
Planetary Gravity: Normal. Dominant Terrain: Temperate forests (it’s a “Vancouver planet“). Atmosphere: Normal. Average Temperature: 60 F (15-16 C). Population Density: Average. Dominant Government: Republic. Dominant Law: Average. Customs: Hmm, let’s leave that one for a bit and see what inspiration strikes in play. Technology Level: Average. Spaceport: Large.
Lygos is a major trade hub and member of the United Confederation; aboard the orbiting spaceport are a Tazanian delegation and a number of characters of dubious morality, as well as a UC command crew. We’ll figure the rest out in play.