Monday, September 9, 2013

Reinventing Traveller

I began reading some old school articles about Traveller. When I say Traveller, I refer to the bare bones 3 LBB set, better known as Classic Traveller or CT (here in New York CT has a much less flattering bit of slang associated with it so it's always going to be just Traveller.)

I used to love this game. I must have run a half dozen campaigns in it before immature schmuck that I was I decided I didn't like the armor affects hit chances mechanics and a few other trivial rules and got into FASA's Star Trek. Traveller kept bringing me back in, especially when they fooled with the combat system.

Now I'm older and (hopefully) wiser and have far too little time to read a 400+ page book to learn a new game and I broke out my LBBs, bought some new pdfs and started reading old articles.

One of the things I'd tweak if I get a chance to run another game is the travel system. As it stands you have to travel weeks and weeks to get beyond explored space wherever you are. Most campaigns won't last the three years it takes to cross say the Third Imperium. If you're dealing with Aslan, then they're pretty much going to be a fixture, period. Want to make a run into K'kree or Hiver space? Get ready to travel.

Yes I know that is the point in the game but long stretches of jumping and refueling will get tedious and eventually the players will get impatient and not want to check out all the interesting stuff you're setting up. They'll want to get the hell to the destination. Plus there's plenty of really wild stretches of space: nebulae, clusters etc that are very far away.

You could just up the range of the jump drive but that's way to easy for me. Instead I'd opt for the venerable space warp. Maybe there are a bunch of them strung across the galaxy. So each warp could cover an arbitrarily large distance. Outside the warp ships move according to classic j-drive rules (or stutter warp if you must.) So one session you're in a sector located in the halo stars. the next you're in a cluster with a dozen stars in each hex.

I'd add one more flavor of weird to this. Some space warps lead to closed clusters. Not only do the warps only work one way (with intermittent exit warps opening randomly) the subsector wraps around itself (at least in terms of jump space.) Jump off the edge and you'd find yourself entering the same subsector on the side. These clusters can develop all manner of weird cultures due to their isolation. Finding an exit can be an adventure in itself. Finally some space warps just appear out of nowhere leading to all sorts of possibilities.