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💯 {Staff Pick} Some Stuff about Classic Traveller

Marc17

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That might have been a attempt to eliminate psi from the setting...
I'd consider that very doubtful. The ancients and Grandfather were a thing and very Psionic. The main reason given for the Imperium being so against it was the Zhodani who are very psionic and very involved in Spinward Marches politics. There were various sample characters in books that were revealed to be characters from Star Wars (IIRC Darth Vader was FFFFFF, Blade Combat - 5, Psi Talent)
 

avram

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I have never heard this before. ISTR Miller saying he wrote Traveller with D&D sitting on the desk in front of him, and that they had been playing D&D a lot. It wouldn't be surprising that Traveller's psi is a direct result of D&D's magic. In the 80's and 90's, psi was a hard sell to serious sci-fi fans because of people like Uri Geller and spoon bending, it was just easier to drop from the game.
It wouldn't be surprising. But psionics was also a well-established part of science fiction. The word was coined by John W Campbell Jr, editor of Astounding/Analog magazine from 1937-71, who believed in all sorts of weird fringe science, and was hugely influential on mid-20th-century science fiction.

Miller lists among his influences the Known Space stories of Larry Niven, which have psionics in them.
 

Rupert

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A lot of people miss the fact that most of the setting material was established through unreliable narrators.

Miller has stated bluntly the whole argument about Major Races is a bunch of bigots sitting around discussing how to make other races less than them.
Yep. The Vilani called one human sub-species 'minor' because they used generation ships, not jump ships to make a nice little multi-world polity. They called another lot 'minor' because they'd reverse engineered the jump drive. Later on the Aslan are considered 'major' because by the time anyone suspected that they'd reverse engineered the jump drive from Solomani samples they were in control of a vast amount of space. Of the three human 'major' races, two (the Zhodani and the Vilani) had extensive ancient sites, which makes claims to have truly discovered the jump drive all on their own suspect if you're that way inclined.

'Major Race' is really just a term that means "Either the Vilani of the 1st Imperium, or the 3rd Imperium think you're worthy of some respect.".
 

Rupert

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Written by a Third Imperium author...
read the actual text and you reach a very different conclusion.

GDW wrote Traveller supplements from an Imperial viewpoint, reading between the lines is what brings their setting to life. I think it was intentional since you had a lot of very clever game designers writing this stuff.

Sadly a lot of fanon took it at face value :(

The Imperium is a lot more authoritarian and fascist than the Solomani Confederation.
On the other hand, there are many worlds in the Solomani Confederation where you really, really don't want to be genetically non-Solomani. Sure, there are some worlds in the Imperium that are that way (or where being a member of the non-Vilani minority is bad), and the Genonee are certainly second-class citizens in places, but overall the Confederation is far more racist than the Imperium. It's more free in other ways, though, especially in terms of how worlds treat with other member worlds.
 

Rupert

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Absolutely.

But the thing that a lot of people who approached the game in the 80s and 90s forget is that Traveller was written in 1976-1977.

While including psionics (It's fun, why not!) as the "magic" from D&D is sort of a no brainier, it was already in the SF fiction Miller drew from.

Tubb's Dumaret series, Bester's "Stars My Destination," Vance's Planet of Adventure series, Herbert's "Dune" and countless others all contain character or institutions with Psionics abilities.

Post-Traveller publication SF with psionics includes, of course, Star Wars and Firefly.
The first 8-9 of Bradley's 'Darkover' stories had been published by the time Traveller was written as well, and those were pretty popular at the time. Of course Poul Anderson's SF often included some minor psi talents, or things that might or might not be psi, and Niven wrote a lot of stories where psi featured to a greater or lesser degree. Psionics was all through SF of the 50s to 70s. Pick up an anthology of short stories from the period and the odds would be against there being no story with psi in it in there. So, I agree with you - it would've been odd if there hadn't been rules for psionics in a game intended as a toolbox for making your very own SF universe and campaign.
 

seanairt

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In my own games, the very largest interstellar empires begin to buckle under their own staggering weight at roughly three star systems, and are in full decline by the time they absorb a fourth, if they don't collapse completely before then.

In these settings, conflict from other interstellar societies pushing at the borders generates a ton of conflict. The "draft" is employed in these "hot zones" much the same way the Israeli conscription is, complete with its exemptions, loopholes and opportunities for corruption. People nearer to the "core" of these governments at any stage are going to be more in "more stable" zones and therefore are less prone to conscription.
 

solarpunk

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But the thing that a lot of people who approached the game in the 80s and 90s forget is that Traveller was written in 1976-1977.
That definitely could be true here. In the soviet union, and later buying the books used in Germany, psi didn't seem "serious". Note that Uri Geller is also from the 70's, so is Van Danikan, and a bunch of others that the soviet authorities thought were con-men, and that westerners were fools for believing in. My self I had no real opinion, I don't remember believing in any of that, but I had other issues to deal with, such as an alcoholic abusive father. My favorite sci-fi from that time is Roadside Picnic by the Strugatsky brothers.
 

FoolishOwl

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It was the fan base that interprets the Solomani as fascists - if you read the actual source material then you reach a different conclusion.
I mostly remember the Solomani Confederation and Solomani Party as portrayed in DGP's Solomani & Aslan, in the MegaTraveller era. It made a valiant effort to try to link two wildly incompatible thematic descriptions of the Solomani Confederation, describing them as dialectically opposed tendencies: the centripetal force of the authoritarian Solomani Party and the centrifugal force of Solomani culture's emphasis on individualism and innovation. But it felt pretty forced, and anyway it choked on the basic incoherence of the setting, where individual worlds diverge so wildly that the thematic character of interstellar states is basically irrelevant.

Basically, you could plunk down a high-tech fascist nightmare world anywhere in Known Space, and it would make just as much sense.
 
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Rupert

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I mostly remember the Solomani Confederation and Solomani Party as portrayed in DGP's Solomani & Aslan, in the MegaTraveller era. It made a valiant effort to try to link two wildly incompatible thematic descriptions of the Solomani Confederation, describing them as dialectically opposed tendencies: the centripetal force of the authoritarian Solomani Party and the centrifugal force of Solomani culture's emphasis on individualism and innovation. But it felt pretty forced, and anyway it choked on the basic incoherence of the setting, where individual worlds diverge so wildly that the thematic character of interstellar states is basically irrelevant.

Basically, you could plunk down a high-tech fascist nightmare world anywhere in Known Space, and it would make just as much sense.
It wouldn't make sense in the Zhodani Consulate - they actually care about local governments and require that they follow the same system as all the rest. The Imperium, OTOH, doesn't care how fascist your little world is, be it high or low-tech, high or low in population, as long as you pay your taxes, comply with their calendar rules, don't try to impose discriminatory tariffs on trade, and only invade your neighbours with a damned good excuse and cover story, and a huge payoff to the local Imperial nobles. You can have your fascist hell-hole, and welcome to it.
 
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