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💯 {Staff Pick} Some Stuff about Classic Traveller

Asen_G

#3 Anti-Illusionism Squad
Validated User
And of course thanks to Mr. Snead we have the Traveller edition of Mindjammer. Not CT, but still counts.
I suspect JSnead is reading this thread. If so, I want you to know that your contribution is appreciated, Mr. Snead:cool:!
Without it, I'd have never touched Mindjammer;).

And thanks to Kevin Crawford for making the D&D version of Traveller, which has quite a bit of transhumanism.
Yes, SWN is great!
Except for the combat part of the system, I mean:p! But hey, it made me realize how much more fun it is to play an Adept/Expert!

When looking at world building in original Traveller I always assume explanations and justifications will be found in matters of culture rather digging too deep into the tech.

Classic Traveller always assumed the game was going from weird specific world to another weird specific world. It was never focused much on technology as a main concern in and of itself.
Why, has this changed in newer iterations? I'd say it describes a good part of my gaming, not only in Traveller!

I just realized last night - the way I think about skills in Traveller, inspired largely by CK!'s blog posts, is that it's kind of like RISUS cliches. Your career gives you certain abilities based on what it's useful for, and it's up to the referee to adjudicate rolls and DMs based on his opinion of those, with feedback from the player. So a Scout is good at, say, running a ship by themselves, surveying planets, keeping records, updating Library, and that kind of thing. Marines are good at boarding ships, swordplay, and kicking ass.
I'm referring to them as "Barbarians of Lemuria Careers", instead. But it's pretty much the same thing:D!

There is no universal -3 DM for lack of skills in CT.

In the example skill descriptions, sometimes unskilled characters gets a penalty, sometimes they don't, and sometimes a character won't be able to do a thing at all without a skill. A lot of this will come down to conversations at the table, as the Player describes what his PC is actually doing in a specific circumstance to figure out what is what.
See, I can remember my younger self, and I just realised something...
When I started playing, I'd have run away at mach 9 from such a game.
Today, I'd run at Mach 3 towards such a game. (I'm now slower, but still as determined to get the game I want).

In the latest iteration of RuneQuest the design diary states:



I would offer that many RPG designs have this (or a versions of this) as their default design assumption. And that the original Traveller rules (along with the original Dungeons & Dragons or B/X D&D rules) are about the most opposite of the RuneQuest Gorantha design philosophy one can imagine.
I remember reading that shortly after your blog about Traveller. I had to explain to people what I was laughing about:)!
But that was amusing, because Runequest/CoC/d100 systems in general are just as amenable as Traveller to the same gameplay style.
Mostly, it's a matter of group preference.

Everything that is in the gameplay is not in the rules, and it assume that the Players will not be looking to their character sheets for inspiration. After all, a character sheet in Classic Traveller will often have only two or three skills on the sheet. Is that all the character can do? Of course not. Even when one adds in prior service and characteristics (also on the character sheet) there are countless other things a PC can do. The skills can augment a given action if applicable (as can prior service or characteristics) but they do not define either problem-solving or options.

Either one wants the sort of gameplay this type of play offers, or one does not. But it works as written if one accepts the situational, ongoing, neutral-adjudicating-Referee style of play it offers.
I actually applied your recommendation in a CoC7 one-shot, soon after that...with a GM who was sticking to the rules. I didn't intend to break any rules, but was curious how the rules for situational modifiers - which he said have been updated - would work for your style.
It resulted in this blogpost where I admitted being kinda confused. (Still am, but since then, I've been running it by gut feeling, and it seems to work).
Skipping the first part of my post... minor spoilers for a published CoC adventure incoming!

Actual Play said:
What I know is this: tonight, I played Call of Chthulhu 7e, and the game actually worked just fine based on the situation.
The evil sorcerer went down when my dilettante (who had no special skill with guns) just went next to him, while the anthropologist in the group was distracting him with a rapier cane. The evil sorcerer and his zombie were attacking the poor anthropologist, of course, because until then, I wasn't even attacking.
Me: Tell me where I am at the beginning of next round (no battle mat).
Keeper: You're 4 meters from the sorcerer, and 9 meters from the anthropologist who's trying to free the sacrificial victim while the zombie is attacking him.
Me: I make a couple more steps, stop and shoot the psycho mesmerist in the face at almost point-blank.
The Keeper gave me two bonus dice (new mechanic in CoC7e), with which my skill was enough to pull up the shot. All because I didn't shoot from a distance, but waited to close in.
Then I killed the zombie by toppling a pile of crates on it, and while it was pinned down, I shot it behind the ear. Until it stopped moving, which wasn't on the first shot.

It worked just fine. Granted, that's due to me making sure to improve my odds...but basically, an untrained character who would have Skill-0 in Traveller, pulled off winning the fight quickly and decisively - by acting while the enemy was being distracted, and using the environment.
To me, it made sense things would work like that. And they did, which was nice.
Was that a good balance between skill and situation? I don't know enough about guns to tell, but it seemed to be.
So yeah, gut feeling worked.
What I didn't mention in this post was that before that, my character was doing...nothing like the things that a CoC Investigator should be doing, actually. Mostly, I negotiated business, I played the piano (pushing my luck - new mechanic - and I rolled a critical there), and actually gossiped.
Because it made total sense that a rich dilettante/industrialist would do that while on vacation.
And then I used that to get information from people and about people. Including about the missing - as it turned out - sacrificial victim. Which, I suspect, shortcutted a lot of investigation.
Thus, I can frankly say that your advice worked for me, even when the Keeper was sticking to the letter of the rules. And now I'm trying to incorporate it as I run a game. It works, once again...
So I'm about to just make "pay attention to the situation, not the character sheet" one of my rules for good Refereeing/Playing.

A lot of designers play games more freeform than the system they actually wrote. Miller, notably, doesn't even use skills, yet they're in the game. That can indicate any number of things.
I've played with a couple Bulgarian designers. Some of them keep to the rules, making it another playtest. Some play more loosely than the book suggests, yes.
And I can also tell you which ones have better sessions: The ones with more Refereeing experience, regardless of the approach;)!
So, I think it's mostly a matter of finding what works for you, and doing that. If looking at the character sheet works, do that. If looking at the situation works better, do that instead!
Also, people change, and you might find out you've changed as well. I know I did!
 

FoolishOwl

Registered User
Validated User
Book 3 (the 1977 edition and the 1981 edition) states that the tech level of a world represents the technology which local industry is capable of producing and maintaining, and only therefore what is common on the world.
Wow. Totally at odds with the explanation for TL adjustments in Hard Times, which gave detailed rules for downgrading tech levels, arguing that with the collapse of interstellar trade, worlds retrenched to only what tech could be produced with local industry.
 

jsnead

Social Justice Dragon
Validated User
I suspect JSnead is reading this thread. If so, I want you to know that your contribution is appreciated, Mr. Snead:cool:!
Without it, I'd have never touched Mindjammer;).
Thanks! I'm exceptionally proud of my work on that book, and I've been both reading and occasionally posting in this thread.

Why, has this changed in newer iterations? I'd say it describes a good part of my gaming, not only in Traveller!
Later versions of the Imperium assume a highly settled region of space with vast amounts of interstellar commerce. and so each world is different, but the "not long after the Long Night" feel of early CT is entirely gone, and has been replaced by the idea that worlds in the same subsector have lots of contact with one another.

That reminds me of one change that I really don't like from early CT to later versions. In addition to the fact that a 400 T Patrol Cruiser or an 800 T Mercenary Cruiser are meaningful military vessels in a setting where the largest ships are 5,000 tons, in later Traveller, with 50,000 and 100,000 ton ships, they are utterly irrelevant. Similarly (and more important to me, since I've never taken part in a military focused Traveller campaign and likely never will), a 200 ton far trader or a 400 ton subsidized merchant is at a serious disadvantage when compared to a 1,000 ton or 5,000 ton cargo or passenger ship (which fits perfectly with much of Traveller's source material), but its not entirely irrelevant. However, now we have 50,000 ton bulk cargo carriers, which means that instead of being smaller and poorer competition to large corporations, PC merchants are basically the equivalent of someone selling stuff on a blanket on the sidewalk, while the large corporations are equivalent to the large department store that person is sitting in front of.

In addition to updating tech along the lines of the article that I linked to (which makes Traveller modern space opera but not transhumanist space opera), I'd love to see an Imperium where the biggest starships are 5,000 tons, presumably because that's as large as anyone can make a ship capable of entering jumpspace. Obviously, there's no reason not to build far larger system defense boats, which makes large wealthy star systems essentially invulnerable to conquest (but not necessarily to fast, carefully planned raids), but most star systems won't be able to afford 50,000 ton SDBs, especially since they either need to be built in that system or carried in pieces from another star system. Combine that with an Imperium that's more like 200 years after the end of the Long Night, rather than 1100 years, and you've got a setting that I think would be a lot richer and more interesting.
 

Asen_G

#3 Anti-Illusionism Squad
Validated User
Thanks! I'm exceptionally proud of my work on that book, and I've been both reading and occasionally posting in this thread.
Yeah, I thought I remember you posting, but didn't want to scroll back.

Later versions of the Imperium assume a highly settled region of space with vast amounts of interstellar commerce. and so each world is different, but the "not long after the Long Night" feel of early CT is entirely gone, and has been replaced by the idea that worlds in the same subsector have lots of contact with one another.
I often don't use the Imperium with Traveller. Or when I do, Marc Miller would be unable to recognize it:cool:!
 

Sirharrok

Registered User
Validated User
Thanks! I'm exceptionally proud of my work on that book, and I've been both reading and occasionally posting in this thread.

Later versions of the Imperium assume a highly settled region of space with vast amounts of interstellar commerce. and so each world is different, but the "not long after the Long Night" feel of early CT is entirely gone, and has been replaced by the idea that worlds in the same subsector have lots of contact with one another.

That reminds me of one change that I really don't like from early CT to later versions. In addition to the fact that a 400 T Patrol Cruiser or an 800 T Mercenary Cruiser are meaningful military vessels in a setting where the largest ships are 5,000 tons, in later Traveller, with 50,000 and 100,000 ton ships, they are utterly irrelevant. Similarly (and more important to me, since I've never taken part in a military focused Traveller campaign and likely never will), a 200 ton far trader or a 400 ton subsidized merchant is at a serious disadvantage when compared to a 1,000 ton or 5,000 ton cargo or passenger ship (which fits perfectly with much of Traveller's source material), but its not entirely irrelevant. However, now we have 50,000 ton bulk cargo carriers, which means that instead of being smaller and poorer competition to large corporations, PC merchants are basically the equivalent of someone selling stuff on a blanket on the sidewalk, while the large corporations are equivalent to the large department store that person is sitting in front of.

In addition to updating tech along the lines of the article that I linked to (which makes Traveller modern space opera but not transhumanist space opera), I'd love to see an Imperium where the biggest starships are 5,000 tons, presumably because that's as large as anyone can make a ship capable of entering jumpspace. Obviously, there's no reason not to build far larger system defense boats, which makes large wealthy star systems essentially invulnerable to conquest (but not necessarily to fast, carefully planned raids), but most star systems won't be able to afford 50,000 ton SDBs, especially since they either need to be built in that system or carried in pieces from another star system. Combine that with an Imperium that's more like 200 years after the end of the Long Night, rather than 1100 years, and you've got a setting that I think would be a lot richer and more interesting.
Are there ship designs available for warships/merchant ships of this class please?

Because I too would like to use this setting; I've never liked having one set of rules for book 2 ships and a completely different set of rules for book 5 ships.
 

CK!

Creator of Things
Validated User
...you've got a setting that I think would be a lot richer and more interesting.
I started my blog post about Traveller with all the posts you've been making in mind.'i loved the implied setting found in Traveller Books 1-3. But the Third Imperium went in a different direction.

A few years ago I tired to talk about the actual rules of the game and the setting found within them -- only to fin most people a) assumed Traveller was the a Third Imperium; and b) kept assuming the CT were broken because they couldn't make the Third a Imperium -- rather than seeing them as well designed to make their own thing.

Are there ship designs available for warships/merchant ships of this class please?

Because I too would like to use this setting; I've never liked having one set of rules for book 2 ships and a completely different set of rules for book 5 ships.
I don't think any, if any, we're made at the 3000 to 5000 ton range. But the Book 2 ship design rules are fairly fast one you get the hang of them.
 

ffilz

Registered User
Validated User
I personally rarely to never play with ship's mortgages. If I were to take the idea and run with it though, you'd have to ultimately be able to get to the point where you've found something you can sell at your point of origin (where the ship's mortgage holder is) for enough to cover paying your bills. Then you gas back up and head back out and start over.
Since you have to pay the mortgage monthly, one must assume you can pay at any world, or any number of worlds at least, otherwise, one would not really be able to go very far (if you assume a 1 week jump, 1 week in system cycle, you could only go 1 jump away from the point of origin).
 

ffilz

Registered User
Validated User
I don't think any, if any, we're made at the 3000 to 5000 ton range. But the Book 2 ship design rules are fairly fast one you get the hang of them.
Some of the early FASA designs were Book 2, but none of them are complete enough to add up... The Fenris is 3000 tons, and looks like it's ok, but they don't tell you how many tons a Valkyrie fighter is, it's also not quite clear how many missile turrets the ship has. The Leander is a special Book 2 design, but they don't give the details for the fuel and shuttle barge so I couldn't make numbers add up right, it would be up to a 4000 ton ship.

Book 5 came out relatively quickly that I think people quickly shifted to Book 5 designs.

Frank
 

seanairt

Registered User
Validated User
Since you have to pay the mortgage monthly, one must assume you can pay at any world, or any number of worlds at least, otherwise, one would not really be able to go very far (if you assume a 1 week jump, 1 week in system cycle, you could only go 1 jump away from the point of origin).
Meh. Past due payments are a thing. Dodging repo-men is a thing. I think the only reason I'd ever entertain the ship's mortgage angle is to do the whole Han Solo / Jabba the Hut relationship. Way more exciting than paying the mortgage on time. I can do that lame shit at home ;)
 

Sirharrok

Registered User
Validated User
Meh. Past due payments are a thing. Dodging repo-men is a thing. I think the only reason I'd ever entertain the ship's mortgage angle is to do the whole Han Solo / Jabba the Hut relationship. Way more exciting than paying the mortgage on time. I can do that lame shit at home ;)
Well, yes. If the PCs manage to find a way to pay the mortgage on their ship, maintain it adequately, pay wages and make a reasonable profit it's time to change the economic model...
 
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