Sunday, November 9, 2014

T5 The Elephant in the Room

I recently acquired Traveller 5 and am determined to read through it as quickly as work allows (and maybe a little quicker). I never review, the internet is quite full of reviews but Traveller is near to my heart. So here goes.

I've heard T5 described as 'a toolkit in need of a little love.' I have to agree with that description. I'm about a quarter of the way through now (in Book 1 territory in CT terms). T5 started out with a description of common measurements, range, money, volume and such. This goes on for enough time to dash any hope of a quick start. Regardless of the clarity or need of this information it's in the wrong place. We don't get to rolling stats till the early fifties. We also get a little information on how fatigue modifies rolls for tasks before we really learn how to roll for tasks as well as many many charts assessing the chance of successful rolls based on many dice pools. Again the information is interesting but it should be with the task system, which we get into 50 pages later.

The sense I get so far is a lot of care and thought went into these sections and almost no consideration into how to present them. In truth all the sections before chargen might reasonable be tucked into a couple of appendices. Instead they're packed before the material you need to begin play.

As for character generation itself, it's very different from Classic Traveller. RPGs in general have experienced a steady increase in number and level of skills since CT was first released and T5 has as well. I can understand this is in part due to the task resolution system: roll under characteristic + skill on a variable number of dice from 1-9! It's still a little jarring for me to read Scouts get 8 skills per term. This also makes converting characters from CT to T5 difficult, which is a bad move in a game regarded as an upgrade of Classic Traveller.

The venerable (to some sacred) concept of survival rolls is kept in a modified form. Failing to succeed can now result in permanent injury (stat reduction) or eventual death. I like the idea as a bridge between the iron man style of chargen and those allowing mustering out on a failed survival roll.

In summary, I'm finding many interesting ideas here. The presentation of the ideas is a problem.