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What was the 'failed promise' of early Traveller?

ffilz

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In his latest post, Andy Slack has an interesting use of the reaction roll. When handling ship encounters, if you have the same reaction roll for the same type of ship as you had before, you are encountering the same ship (or crew) as previously. That may not be perfectly workable since you meet your worst enemy or best friend one in 36 times, but meet the so-so reaction crew one in six times (you could break the reaction roll into a d66 roll, in which case each of 36 different crews would have equal probability of showing up).

Frank
 

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Grumpy Grognard
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It is, but its still a question of how many of them would be likely to be encountered repeatedly. If you're wandering all over a large map, still might seem odd.
 

Anfelas

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Are you travelling between worlds with trade lanes? So are other ships. Have you spotted a route that takes you from advantageous trade classification to advantageous trade classification? So have others.
Are you exploring far beyond the frontier following rumours of a planet of gold? So are others.
 

CK!

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Are you travelling between worlds with trade lanes? So are other ships. Have you spotted a route that takes you from advantageous trade classification to advantageous trade classification? So have others.
Are you exploring far beyond the frontier following rumours of a planet of gold? So are others.
These patterns also help build what we tend to think of as "story" -- but not pre-planned, but discovered and grown again. If the PC bump into the same ship again, there's an element of "Ah, these guys again!" The NPC crew takes on a meaning it would not otherwise have if only because, "Sure, space is big... but here we are meeting again. What's that about?" What is reason? How are their goals/fates intertwined? Both the players and Referee get to mull this.

I have found a great pleasure in letting "the story" emerge from randomly roll like this, where we, as we do, start mulling what could be the logic/reason/meaning underlying the rolls.

This is the same procedure found in the two page example of Jamison's character generation in Traveller Book 1 (2 pages out of 48 pages! Apparently Miller thought it mattered to take the time to show how to do this and it matters!), and in the procures for World Generation (which is described as a "prod to the imagination") as the Referee looks at the rolled results and conjures an odd or exotic world from them. That one will be doing the same thing with the randomly rolled Patrons, NPC encounters, Animal encounters is clear. Like Jamison's example, none of this is ever supposed to be simply flat numbers, but an exercise in imagination. And Mike's thinking above is but one execution of this.

And you do it 'cause it's fun. That's all. It's fun.
 

Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
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Are you travelling between worlds with trade lanes? So are other ships. Have you spotted a route that takes you from advantageous trade classification to advantageous trade classification? So have others.
Are you exploring far beyond the frontier following rumours of a planet of gold? So are others.
I was not assuming simple trade route cycles, because, honestly, that's about as interesting as watching paint dry unless the GM is constantly shovelling problems at them. I was assuming either chasing one-off trade opportunities (in which case, sure, so are others but there's no reason for it to be frequently the same others) and with exploration even less so because, well, space is big.
 

ffilz

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It is, but its still a question of how many of them would be likely to be encountered repeatedly. If you're wandering all over a large map, still might seem odd.
Consider that discussion like Andy Slack's and Christopher Kubasik's has been in the context of a one or two sub-sector "setting of play". At that size, you're talking 40-80 worlds.

Also, out of 36 possibilities, only a few of those will have shown up more than once in the course of a year's worth of game time (25 jumps, so 25 encounter rolls).

So I wouldn't develop the list of 36 up front, I'd develop them as they come, and focus more as duplicate encounters come up.
 

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Grumpy Grognard
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Consider that discussion like Andy Slack's and Christopher Kubasik's has been in the context of a one or two sub-sector "setting of play". At that size, you're talking 40-80 worlds.

Also, out of 36 possibilities, only a few of those will have shown up more than once in the course of a year's worth of game time (25 jumps, so 25 encounter rolls).

So I wouldn't develop the list of 36 up front, I'd develop them as they come, and focus more as duplicate encounters come up.
That's all fair. As long as the campaign stays in a relatively tight area, its reasonable.
 

CK!

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The 1977 edition of the rules stated "one or two sub-sectors should be quite enough for years of adventures." (Probably true!) The emphasis on building out 400+ worlds across a sector isnt' introduced until GDW publishes Supplement 3: The Spinward Marches two years later. (The word "sector" isn't even a thing in the original rules.)

I think the shift to worrying about endless star systems was a bit of a botch. It made people think the prep involved creating and thinking about hundreds of worlds the PCs will never travel to. I think the notion of building one or two subsectors that are so fucking compelling that the Players would want to explore and adventure in them rather than wander off makes much more sense.

Note that I'm not saying "Trap the PCs in that subsector."

I'm saying the Referee needs to ask, "What is happening in this subsector of 40 worlds that makes it worthy of RPG play?" If you do that, across a dozen of these 40 worlds, you'll have the Players will want to stick around in this subsector.

For some reason the game became about this Third Imperium Thing, with all sorts of politics that the PCs couldn't engage with and that was spread out across countless subsectors. The efforts of the PCs always seemed to pale in comparison of these bigger issues, and the patch of space the PCs wandered around in within the Spinward Marches seemed relatively dull and unimportant.

Now, I'm sure some Referees properly made the Spinward Marches compelling, by the way. But what I'm suggesting is that a Traveller Referee see his subsector be the most interesting place in space. Whatever is happening is where the action is. This is where the conflicts that matter are. (Even if they only matter locally, the stakes really matter). The "setting" may stretch in countless directions from this subsector -- but the Referee doesn't have to have this mapped out. What matters is the "setting of play" -- one or two subsectors that is that spot where the tv show or movie would be set.

As for the odds of bumping into other ships regularly: If I understand the math others have done correctly (I haven't done it myself) there is a 1:36 chance of encountering a ship you have already encountered. If a PC crew makes three jumps a session every week of play (a lot, but let's assume this) that means they will randomly bump into an already encountered ship only once every three months of actual game play. Hardly an amount to raise all eyebrows to Level: Incredulous.
 
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