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Characters did not enter the campaign young and untrained; rather, they had careers during which character development occurred. This was generally perceived as giving the game a more "three-dimensional" feel. While there were some assumptions about the campaign world, an interstellar setting called "the Spinward Marches", little actual information was initially provided, leaving the campaign world to the Referee's fertile imagination.
The system wasn't static, though; the release of supplements and of subsequent editions of the system brought more detailed character generation, task systems, rules for skill improvement, and additional skills and rules for them. Traveller eventually came to describe an interstellar community of sorts, focused on a "Third Imperium", of which the original Spinward Marches was merely a small frontier area.
Published and well-regarded science fiction was a major source of inspiration for aliens and their societies, and for various aspects of technology. A broad history was mapped out, and cultural differences were developed and illustrated. This led to a background in many ways richer than that of previous role-playing settings, yet without significantly limiting the referee. Again, the setting wasn't static; every release of Traveller or Traveller supplements brought new information to light.
But Traveller isn't a role-playing setting , though, because you can play Traveller in a setting that is unrecognizable in comparison to what's in published material. As with any RPG, Traveller can be an opportunity to develop characters, their likes, dislikes, habits, idiosyncrasies, motivations, and so on.
The events of any particular session can be part of a grand story arc throughout the campaign, or not, if the players and referee choose not to play that way. The Traveller Supplements, over time, described a very-large-stroke history of the "Third Imperium", but the real story was in the gameplay and gamemaster's hands. There have been many editions, most of which are available in. Community Showcase More. Follow TV Tropes. You need to login to do this. Get Known if you don't have an account.
This is Free Trader Beowulf, calling anyone Mayday, Mayday Main drive is gone Please help This is Free Trader Beowulf The cover of the original Traveller box set. Classic Traveller : The original. Then just called Traveller but it has since acquired the "Classic" qualifier to distinguish it from the later editions. It has also been called the "Little Black Books" because of the printing format and minimalist covers used.
Each of these licensees was given their own "land grant" of a sector or two four in the case of Judges Guild to develop in their own products how they saw fit. MegaTraveller : An update to the original rule system, complete with a controversial metaplot shift involving the assassination of the Emperor and collapse of the Imperium into civil war, called "The Rebellion".
Incompatible production methods between the two companies produced a lot of typos in this version. Despite the production problems and the controversial Rebellion it was successful. Digest Group's own supplements to the line, produced under license, are still quite renowned among Traveller fans for their quality, though rights issues when Digest Group folded in the mid '90s mean they have never been reprinted by Far Future Enterprises and they aren't likely to be.
Gameplay was somewhat simplified due to the limitations of the computers of the era, but they were an early "Open Sandbox" style with plenty of subquests and areas to explore outside of the main plot. Some of the features in the manuals didn't show up in the actual games, and they got mixed reviews. Character generation was so close to the tabletop version that the second game allowed you to print out characters generated by its character generation system for use in the tabletop version as fully legal characters.
Traveller: The New Era : A post-apocalyptic take on the original setting, with options for almost-original flavour and an entirely new system. Some retcons were present as well, mostly dealing with how tech worked in the Third Imperium. Although it certainly has its fans, the final destruction of the Third Imperium in this version's Meta Plot was what broke the base.
Set in "Milieu 0" - the beginning of the Third Imperium. Miller has admitted it was something of a "rushed" product, and it was not successful. Pocket Empires , however, is still quite highly regarded by players interested in the economics of the setting, which as trading is often a major part of the game isn't as esoteric a concern as it may seem. The financing deal Miller struck to produce T4 left him in debt, and he turned to licensing Traveller to other game companies.
It was set in an alternate timeline in which the Rebellion didn't happen in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to unbreak the base. It is suggested this was not an accident. This was a well-produced version, with several of the same people who worked on the original Traveller , and was quite popular in its time.
The last book produced for the line, Interstellar Wars , used the 4th edition of the GURPS rules and presented the conflict between the Terrans and Vilani Imperium, long a part of the Third Imperium's backstory, as a campaign setting. Traveller 20 : The inevitable d20System version, note Using the 3.
The setting was in the Domain of Gateway in year , approximately years before Classic Traveller was set. The license was terminated when Mongoose Traveller was released. Produced under license by Comstar Games using the 5th edition of the Hero system. It shared the Classic Traveller setting. As with T20 , the Comstar license terminated when Mongoose Traveller was released. A revision of the original ruleset followed next. All of the licensed variant rule versions of Traveller had their licenses pulled and ceased production to make room for: Mongoose Traveller : An updated version of Classic Traveller rules incorporating some of the later innovations of the line, published by, well, Mongoose Publishing.
Mongoose made the basic system available on an "open-license" basis, and also adapted several of their licensed properties to use the Traveller rule set. A Traveller version of Babylon 5 was released in to mixed reviews, along with Judge Dredd in the same year. Mongoose Traveller is not the official name: it's sold simply as Traveller. This was a very successful version, with lots of Splatbooks eventually leading to the release of a 2nd edition in see below.
Cepheus Engine Present : Because Mongoose Traveller included an "open-license" format, several small game publishers produced supplements or adventures for it. Because it's all based on open-game content any small publisher can produce a Cepheus Engine product, and they are all reasonably compatible with the Mongoose Traveller system. Miller himself continued to work on the game, however, and finally released: Traveller 5 present : By Far Future Enterprises, Miller's holding company for Traveller properties.
Released in after a lengthy development process, this version consists of a massive pages core rulebook that resembles a large toolbox with lots of systems for building characters, vehicles, ships, planets, etc. Something of a throwback to the original version then. The system uses a further development of the Traveller 4 game mechanics but is considerably more complex. It has been modestly received, with many fans describing it as a "good sourcebook for use with Mongoose Traveller.
There were a few revisions and tweaks of the rules as well. The print version comes as three hardcovers in a slipcase. It's still well over pages all together. To this point the core rule book is all that has been produced for this version.
Mongoose Traveller 2nd Edition present : An updated version of the first Mongoose Traveller , featuring a full-color layout with some changes to the 1st edition system, with the most significant changes in the starship rules. It shares the same Classic Traveller Third Imperium setting as the original game. Where the 1st edition of Mongoose Traveller did a lot of splatbooks, this version focuses more on adventures and campaign settings.
Several boxed campaign sets have been funded through Kickstarter. A minor revision of the core rulebook was also published in This version of the game is produced under license by Studio 2 Publishing, which did some of the later books for the first Mongoose Traveller. The first licensed CCG set in the "Traveller" universe. Each player is captain of a single ship and recruits a small crew to undertake odd jobs to try to earn enough victory points before they go bankrupt.
Piracy against other players is an option. It ties in to other versions of the game pretty well, with recognizable ships, aliens, and missions that match typical plots from the RPG. Some fans suggest that this is because the maps are jumpspace maps.
Certain weapons with automatic fire capacity e. If they exceed that limit, each additional burst fired increases the chance that the weapon will overheat and jam. If this happens, the jam has to be cleared before the weapon can fire again. Aborted Arc : Because no versions of the game set after The New Era have been made, there are no "official" answers to the questions it's Meta Plot raised, like "what was behind the Black Curtain?
Absolute Xenophobe : the K'kree, toward any creature anywhere that can be classified as a carnivore. In the Downbelow beneath Star City, the sewer tunnels are up to 4 meters high and wide. Abusive Alien Parents : Hivers abandon their newborn larvae into the wild and treat them as vermin, even fumigating their ships for them periodically. But when they reach a certain point in development they're allowed to join society. Classic supplement Port Xanatath.
The spaceport has a tavern called the Shimmering Worm. The limitations of the jump drive mean that the Imperium is very hands-off, leaving plenty of room for odd societies to interact with, local wars to fight, lost civilizations to explore, pirates, and just about anything else the Referee can think of.
Agri World : In Traveller Classic, planets with specific characteristics could have large portions of their economies devoted to agriculture. Virus isn't A. The crapshoot aspect is that it was designed to self-destruct a short time after being introduced into an enemy computer network and going on its rampage, but some strains of Virus after it was released mutated and lost the "suicide" drive while keeping the homicidal behavior.
Alien Arts Are Appreciated : K'kree perfumers just to start with. Aslan epics and stylized weapons seem to go over well too. Some of the minor races have their own artistic traditions which are liked by humans. Aliens Speaking English : An evolved form of English is a popular language. Justified by the wide spreading of Solomani culture.
All Planets Are Earthlike : Strongly averted. Most of the inhabited planets in the Imperium are actually quite a bit less hospitable than Earth. Allowed Internal War : The Third Imperium allows planetary wars so long as they don't spill off-world or use nukes, and the Trade Wars listed below.
Alternate Character Interpretation : Nearly everything in Traveller can have an alternate interpretation - by design. Even in the same interpretation, a world's treatment is entirely based on the whims and competence of the local lords, meaning to one world the Imperium is an oppressive force that terrorizes their population in order to ensure access to local phlebotinum , while to another they're just the guys who maintain the starport and provide all kinds of goodies for just another percentage of taxes.
The Zhodani are also especially open to this. The Imperium plays up their Fantastic Caste System , Brainwashing for the Greater Good , and the repeated wars they've fought with them. The Consulate itself plays up their efficient government, universal health care mental as well as physical , and military strength. And of course, they're often considered a promised land by individuals who develop Psychic Powers , since they're the only nation in charted space where psionics are not anathema.
Alternative Number System : The various alien species use different bases. Most of the various Human Aliens, as well as the Vargr, use Base Anachronic Order : Later editions of the game are all set earlier than The New Era , and most of them are set earlier than MegaTraveller. Some of them much, much earlier. All sorts of sources of Ancient Artifacts are available. The Darrians have a whole fleet of starships that had been discovered at a hidden cache.
The result was the destruction of their society and the death of nearly everyone on their homeworld. And Your Reward Is Clothes : One of the potential mustering out benefits in several versions of the game is "Armor", which lets your character choose a nice set of armor to use in play. Earlier editions allowed characters to obtain Battledress this way. Later editions usually restrict the benefit to much less powerful, but still nice, armor.
Two alien monsters are used against the PCs , an amphibious killer and a small but poisonous animal. Animal Wrongs Group : The K'kree are a Planet of Hats of these, prepared to wage wars of extermination on people for eating meat. The Hivers used this belief and their skills in manipulation to win their war, and to keep the peace between the two ever since. Apocalypse How : Both the Long Night and the Rebellion resulted in light Class X-3s, with the fall of interstellar civilization in each case.
The Ancients also apparently had a Class X-3, warring themselves into extinction hundreds of thousands of years before any other race had the jump drive. The Darrians caused their own Class 3 on Darrian. The last few entries are frantic warnings to disconnect all computers from the network, with the entries getting increasingly garbled and finally deteriorating to gibberish computer characters as the TNS servers are taken over by Virus.
Apparently Human Merfolk : The Nexines, an offshoot of humanity that were genetically engineered for underwater mining. There was no reason given for this. When the Darrians were first brought to their new planet, they lived inside large hollowed out trees. Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age : The Imperial Marines have a thing for cutlasses, as they don't ricochet in cramped spaceship corridors and hit sensitive equipment like bullets.
Arc Number : 6 turns up quite a lot in Traveller - jump drives go up to 6, maneuver drives go up to 6, there are 6 major races, and let's not even get started on the Droyne. It might have something to do with most versions of the game using only six-sided dice. Artificial Gravity : Ubiquitous throughout the setting. Artificial Limbs : A failed survival roll during character creation in the later editions of the game might give you one of these instead of outright killing you.
During a military campaign between the herbivorous K'Kree and the Ithklur, the fighting became so bitter that each side started performing atrocities on the other, including the K'Kree eating dead Ithklur bodies. During the Hiver-K'kree war the Hivers manipulated a few K'kree colonies into this to bring an end to the conflict the K'kree navy sterilized the worlds in question.
Ascended Fanon : Traveller has, through its multi-decade run , collected a wide variety of officially published interesting places to visit, distributed over a span of space that takes years to cross even with the fastest ships in the setting. Travellermap started as an unofficial compilation of all these places. As of Mongoose Publishing's second edition, specifically the Great Rift books, this is not only canon, but a thing that actually exists in-universe: a "widely distributed" "astronavigational database" written for travellers read: for Player Characters by the Travellers' Aid Society.
The less canonical edges of the map are still being explored, so naturally they are updated over time. All discrepancies are explained: scientific anomalies especially in areas with no habitable planets are left off because that is not the target audience for the map, military secrets are not available to the mappers, conflicts with prior published charts are things the mappers are no longer sure were there in the first place, and so on.
Asskicking Equals Authority : The essence of Vargr political philosophy. Asteroid Miners : The typical example is the classic grubby back-of-beyond Asteroid Thicket. Glisten however is an urbane and civilized place. Asteroid Thicket Adventure 1: The Kinunir.
While a ship is in the Shionthy asteroid belt, there is a 1 in 36 chance per hour that it will contact a speck of antimatter. The resulting explosion will severely damage the ship. Beltstrike boxed set. The asteroid Jarlsson's Doom is closely surrounded by a swarm of smaller asteroids. This will cause the ship to be either damaged or if it takes a critical hit destroyed.
One of the special pieces of equipment available to the PCs is a Return Mirror. Normally used in laser surveying, in an emergency it can be used to reflect an incoming laser beam back at its source, possibly destroying it. It can perform first aid, minor operations and dental work, diagnose diseases, and inject drugs and antitoxins as needed. Digest Group Publications supplement Robots The Battle Medibot can inject medications into and bandage and suture the wounds of its patient.
The Ambulance Attendant Medibot can perform almost any emergency medical procedure, including reviving heart attack victims, assisting at a birth and treating traumatic wounds. The LSP Medibooth Automatic Medical Booth Robot can diagnose diseases, perform physical exams, conduct medical tests, dispense medications and treat minor injuries.
Space Gamer 67 adventure "Interdiction Station". The sickbay of the title space station has an autodoc that can be programmed to perform surgical operations. In the Mongoose version, Autodocs are one of the basic classes of robot and often installed on ships. The New Era main rules has the Automed. It can monitor the patient's vital signs, inject needed medication and try to rescuscitate a patient with low vital signs.
Classic Adventure "Disappearance on Aramat". The old Vilani base on Aramat has "food synthesizing units" that can create nutritious and edible food for human visitors. Awesome Backpack The grav belt had its Artificial Gravity equipment and power supply in a backpack.
The New Era sourcebook Vampire Fleets. The Fer de lance anti-Virus system and its battery power source are stored in a backpack. Awesome, but Impractical : Battle dress in any non-military campaign. It's invulnerable to small arms, it gives you Super Strength , and some models have a built-in BFG , but it's also illegal to even possess on most worlds and is extremely conspicuous. It's also very expensive both to purchase and repair.
Laser Weapons are some of the most effective in the game, can be used in zero-g environments without worrying about recoil, and carry a lot of ammo that is easily recharged. However they are also illegal on many worlds, meaning they'll often have to be left on the ship to avoid trouble with local law enforcement. The Black Globe generator completely blocks all damage to a starship it is installed on, but it has some serious drawbacks.
The biggest problem is that it is a two-way barrier - you can't fire your own weapons out or maneuver your ship, or even see outside the field while it's on. Most globes are set to "flicker" to get around this, but this also reduces the protection it provides.
The other big problem is that it will overload and explode if it absorbs too much energy from enemy weapons fire. It is also amazingly rare and expensive, being experimental technology. Most Ancient artifacts fall into this category as well. They are all far more powerful than anything else in the setting, but they are illegal to possess and an obvious target for theft by everyone else. Most Referees will make sure they don't stay in the player's possession for long.
Back from the Dead : In the MegaTraveller setting Emperor Strephon tried to prove that he really hadn't been assassinated, but by the time he produced any credible evidence nobody cared anymore. Back Story : Most sourcebooks are for developing this.
They can make very good reading on their own without actually playing for those who actually like devouring data, fictional or otherwise. The Back Story provides very "realistic" detail. Backup Twin : Before the Rebellion Lucan was this to his twin brother Varian, at least as far as the Imperial succession was concerned.
Badass Army : Several, most notably the Imperial Marines. Badass Bookworm : The IISS is not only known for its success in exploration, spycraft, and daring-do and sometimes daring don't , but for being at the pinnacle of scientific achievement. Furthermore many scouts take package courses offered as a job perk along boring voyages to educate themselves and graduate as great poets or scholars after their studies. Badass Bureaucrat : The Bwaps' Hat. Barbarian Tribe : The Aslan are a partial example.
They have the social and political structure of a tribal society but are technologically advanced. The Battlestar : Several examples, most notably the Tigress battleship which can only be described as a mini- Death Star. The Azhanti High Lightning is the other iconic example. Beam Spam : The larger capital ships tend to mount hundreds and hundreds of laser turrets that let them do this, though they are mostly intended to shoot down enemy missiles.
The Player Characters 's orecrawler vehicle will be disabled or destroyed during the adventure, forcing them to travel through the desert to return to civilization. The referee gamemaster is ordered to have the PCs meet the title duneraiders desert dwellers so they can be rescued. The idea was that there would be less volatility if everything was slowed down. Beware the Nice Ones : The Darrians are a genuinely peaceful race that makes heroes of its artists and scientists.
They also claim to be able to create solar flares on demand, which they use as a deterrent against their more warlike neighbors the Sword Worlds. It includes a gravitic compensator so you could theoretically carry and fire it unarmored. If you can survive the radiation it releases all over the place when fired, that is. Bizarre Alien Reproduction : The Hivers are all hermaphrodites, and transfer reproductive material with an act called "shaking hands" that only takes a few moments.
Hiver culture and genetic uniformity is maintained by "embassies" which travel throughout Federation space and breed with the locals. Hivers are near-constantly dropping new larval Hivers wherever they go, and larval Hivers are considered minor pests until they have grown a few years. If there are no local predators on a Hiver planet that can eat larval Hivers, they import them, and they regularly fumigate their ships to kill the larva if they are going to land on non-Hiver worlds. First, they can detect radio waves and use triangulation to determine their point of origin.
Second, they have a limited ability to detect life, which they use to search for food. Hivers have infrared "eyes" on their "head" tentacle. Bizarre Alien Sexes : The Droyne have three sexes: Male, female, and enabler, the enablers being required to give off scent during a mating session. Droyne also are casted in the manner of social insects and each caste has only one sex.
Droyne language focuses more on caste then on sex as that is more important in their psychological framework. It infects victims with "spores" that are really individual cells of the creature that slowly eat the victim from within, starting with their nervous system. The victim at first just feels strong compulsions to do things like infect other people, but eventually degenerates into a mostly mindless "shambler" searching for food for the creature until they themselves become food for the central cluster.
Meanwhile the Entity gets smarter with every victim it absorbes, and eventually develops psionic powers. Boxed Crook : Several of the adventure seeds in the Classic Supplement 6 76 Patrons involve PCs who are arrested and imprisoned by the local authorities and offered their freedom if they'll do a job for the government. Brainwashed : There is some question whether the Zhodani proles are this, or whether they are genuinely happy.
Breaking the Fourth Wall : Sometimes the sourcebooks talk to the reader as if he was a person inside the Traveller Verse reading a database while at other times they sound like they are talking to the reader as if he was a twenty-first century RPG geek. Cadre of Foreign Bodyguards : One of the mercenary tickets scenarios in Mercenary is to act as bodyguards to the leaders of the planet Jokotre while they make a pilgrimage to the shrines in the holy lands.
A year after his ascension the Moot had him assassinated. He murdered the Empress Nicholle and kept the Moot at bay with threats of violence and blackmail until they finally had him assassinated by his successor - after 80 years of rule. During the Rebellion Lucan became this after Strephon's assassination put him on the throne. TNS news reports show a number of temper-tantrums and even have him killing one of his noble critics personally.
Eventually his faction used scorched earth warfare and tried to develop super-weapons, which lead to the creation of Virus and the final destruction of the Imperium. Nail Beowulf before he leaves the gravity well and jumps Good shot! Prepare boarding party. Tell them to watch out for any heroes Matching velocity and rotation. This is going to be a good payday Commence boarding Early Game Hell : Traveller's system of generating experienced characters helped to avoid this, but character generation itself could be hard to live through.
Average characters in most careers have around terms of service. Earth Is the Center of the Universe : Averted. Earth is in fact on the extreme rimward edge of the Imperium. It is the center of the Solomani sphere, however. But by the time of the Third Imperium, while Earth still has cultural significance to the Solomani it is largely unimportant outside of its own sector.
It is also occupied by Imperial military forces and has a military government that has been in place since the last war with the Solomani a few decades ago. They can destroy systems with large mass driver based Colony Drops. An inherent power of the Ancients as well. Some alien races come close to this as well. Energy Absorption : The Black Globe. The Epic : The sample campaign parsecs which is about The Migration of a band of Sword Worlders to the far reaches of space. Also the original journey of exiled soldiers through Aslan territory to found the Sword Worlds.
Recent T5 material is teasing something called The Galaxiad , a galaxy-spanning epic with the fate of the entire Universe at stake, set several centuries after the 'classic' Traveller era. Equipment-Based Progression : In Classic Traveller most character improvement came in the form of better gear or starship upgrades, since there wasn't much in the way of character skill improvement. This is true for later editions as well, though they improved the rules for skill improvement.
Expanded Universe : There has been suprisingly little of Traveller produced in other media: Two MegaTraveller video games were released in the early '90s. To date these remain the only official Traveller video games, though some other games have obviously taken inspiration from Traveller , such as the classic Elite. There are a few unofficial Traveller novel series, such as Gregory P. Lee's The Laughing Lip and Jefferson Swycraft's Concordant series, both of which acknowledged their inspiration in Traveller but don't officially take place within the universe of the Third Imperium.
The first licensed Traveller novels were published during The New Era edition in the mid-'90s. Due to the shutdown and a lost manuscript there are two entirely different versions of the third book written by two different authors now available, both called The Backward Mask and sharing characters from the first two books, but with entirely different plots.
Mongoose Publishing has published some official Traveller short fiction along with its second edition of the game. Some of the stories are backstory for the "Pirates of Drinax" campaign, while others are stand-alone short-stories. Designer Marc Miller published his first novel, Agent of the Imperium in It is the only officially licensed full-length Traveller novel published since The Death of Wisdom trilogy in the '90s mentioned above. It has received a few expansions. Experience Points : Traveller is notable in not having these in most versions of the rules.
Characters usually earned cash, gear, or other less-tangible rewards like knighthoods rather than directly improving their skills. In Classic Traveller you could improve your skills - by studying and paying for training over several years - not through points. Expert in Underwater Basket Weaving : Because most versions of Traveller use random tables of skills during character generation it's entirely possible for characters to get high levels in skills like "Accounting" while failing to get something more obviously useful in an adventure like "Pilot" or combat skills.
Later versions usually have rules that ensure basic competency in more adventure-oriented skills. The Extremist Was Right : Emperor Cleon created the Imperium by a labyrinthine arrangement of evil and manipulative schemes. And it produced peace, civilization, and prosperity for thousands of years.
He read the Evil Overlord List no doubt. That explains it. In the adventure "Inselberg", the March Harrier sets down on the planet Lewis to pick up the PCs after they complete their mission. If the PCs are late arriving the March Harrier's crew must give an excuse for the ship to stay longer, such as a breakdown of the ship's engines. In effect rather than being an ethnic empire I. Not only that, a state the size of the Imperium could not possibly find high command by merit alone as everyone would die before getting to high enough position, hence there has to be a caste system.
The Zhodani are more grotesque. It is a caste of psionics which means that among the rights of the ruling caste is access into the minds of the commoners. The rulers of course are allowed privacy; after all, one must have limits. As for the aliens, Droyne have several physically different castes and the K'kree divide themselves into servants, merchants, and nobles. Fantastic Naming Convention : The game goes into this with several cultures, as described in the appropriate sourcebook.
Fantastic Racism : Between humans and aliens, different human subspecies, and in some cases natives of different planets. Heck, sometimes natives within different planets too. The K'kree are the worst in this regard. They think all carnivore races are a plague to be extinguished or at least brutally reeducated into veganism. A cynic might say both are right.
Some Vilani and Solomani still hate each other thousands of years after the Intersteller Wars. This is not universal however. Every race that claims to have invented jump drive separately is a major race. The rest are minor races. There is a curious dispute over that with regard to Aslan whom some Solomani claimed to have "stolen" whatever that means jump drive from them. They're right - the Aslan reverse-engineered their drive from a crashed Solomani ship, but the Aslan aren't about to be labeled a minor race.
Fantastic Rank System : The Vilani have one. See the trope page for details. Fantastic Recruitment Drive : The Zhodani Consulate extensively uses psionic abilities in its government and military. They test children for psionic aptitude and train those with a significant level of power.
Fantasy World Map : Worlds have maps, of course, but the scale of the setting can only be appreciated by viewing the online Traveller Galactic Map, or "Travellermap" see Ascended Fanon entry. Check out the Zhodani Core Expedition sectors; they've gotten all the way to the edge of the uninhabitable regions of the Core! The Federation : The Third Imperium, despite its name and feudal structure , is as written closer to this than to The Empire.
Some of its successor states, such as the Regency and the Reformation Coalition in the New Era, also fit here. Others don't. The Terran Confederation from the volume Interstellar Wars would probably be The Federation too, despite its expansionist tendencies. Feudal Future : In the setting, FTL communication is only by ships using Jump Drive, which takes a week to reach a destination ranging from one to six parsecs away. With the Imperium being hundreds of parsecs across, it would literally take months or even up to a year or more for information to travel from one end to another, or from the capitol to the fringes.
This necessitates a decentralized government, with a large amount of autonomy granted to the local powers. A feudal system is what you would end up with no matter what you chose to call the Imperium's lords. As a side note, the Aslan are a Tribal Future. Soldiers and police "guard the hearthfires" and goodwifes "tend the hearthfires". First Contact : The Imperial Interstellar Scout Service has done this so many times that it has standard procedures for it.
There are also several notable incidents in the backstory: First contact for humans from Earth revealed that most of the galaxy near Earth was already occupied by an ancient Human Alien empire that had simply considered anyone outside their borders insignificant. The news that space was already colonized - by other humans - did not go over well on Earth, and the Interstellar Wars were the result. First contact for the herbivorous K'Kree occurred when they invented telescopes and found that their moon was inhabited by intelligent carnivores.
They quickly invented space travel and began a war of extermination, which they've tried to carry on against any meat eaters anywhere in the galaxy they can reach since. The official story of first contact for the Aslan is that it happened when their first few ships encountered human traders not far from their homeworld.
In reality, the Aslan were on the verge of a nuclear war when a human spacecraft crashed on their world. The land-obsessed Aslan quickly resolved their differences, reverse-engineered the human's FTL drive, and began their expansion into the galaxy while keeping their pre-spaceflight tribal culture intact. And they kept the whole affair a secret, claiming they had resolved their differences and invented the jump drive all on their own. Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon : most starship weapons did incremental damage and could wear down an opponent over time.
Spinal mount weapons either a particle accelerator or a meson gun ran the length of the ship and could blow opposing ships to atoms with a single shot. Flamethrower Backfire : Classic Traveller : The Dragon magazine article "Aim and Burn" has several types of flamethrowers, each with their fuel supply in backpack tanks.
On any penetrating hit from behind the tanks could explode, which would not only kill the user but cover a large area with burning fuel. The armor has a built-in flamer flamethrower with a fuel tank on the back of the suit. Flanderization : The Aslan. In early depictions, the writers took great pains to emphasize that they were only vaguely leonine in appearance.
Unfortunately, the idea of them being lion people was a bit too enduring for its own good, so by the time Mongoose Traveller rolled around, most depictions tended toward the simple "bipedal lion" look. Mongoose seem to be dialing this back as of The Glorious Empire , where most Aslan art depicted them as much less lion-like, though it remains to be seen if it's averting this trope or falling into Depending on the Artist. Floating Continent : The Imperial Palace.
For Science! Lucky dice rolls can give players a retired general or admiral as a character, too. Framing Device : the Backstory to Traveller acts as this. Traveller can easily be used as Fan-fic as well as RPGs and manages remarkable development while retaining flexibility. The Hard Times supplement for MegaTraveller relesed late in the line included rules for reducing the population and technology ratings of worlds in the war zones of the Rebellion.
The planet Enaaka's ecosystem includes tall, tree-like mushrooms. The population of the Imperium is mostly a mixture of two human races that are now essentially the same race, but other human races maintain their own empires on its borders. There are also small Solomani ethnic splinter cultures like the Sword Worlders, who are very Icelandic. Futuristic Pyramid : Double Adventure 1 "Shadows". The PCs must investigate a pyramid to free their spaceship from a death trap.
The PCs are trapped inside an underwater alien pyramid that's actually an ancient spacecraft. He is the closest example of the classic model. Albadawi is this in the sense that he is in fact conquering. He is however doing that as a servant of the Terran Confederation rather than on his own, and it is just a function of his being a Four-Star Badass.
Generation Ships : The Jump Drive makes these unnecessary, but races that have not discovered the Jump Drive have used them, and there are several adventures where one is encountered. Generational Saga : One of the sample campaigns in the volume Interstellar Wars is a generational saga called Legacy of War. The characters are not given and creating them is left to the GM and players. Generican Empire : The Third Imperium.
Generic Federation, Named Empire : The Third Imperium identifies all the surrounding interstellar polities by their dominant species, or ethnic group in the case of the Solomani Confederation and Zhodani Consulate. The major exception is the K'kree empire, commonly known by its more proper name of "The Two-Thousand Worlds" in the Imperium, To be fair, "Solomani Confederation" and "Zhodani Consulate" are fair translations of what they call themselves. Ghost Ship : The Annic Nova , among others.
This ended in MegaTraveller after the Empire collapsed. TNE, set after the fall of the Empire, explicitly claims that the Imperial Credit is still the principle currency. The explanation: well, there sure are a lot of 'em lying about. Averted as well as played straight. The Imperium is strong enough to justify having a large influence on currency. But other worlds often mint their own. Naturally there are other Glory Seekers but these have a religion centered on seeking glory.
Good-Guy Bar : Brubeck's, a high prestige bar that advertises itself as a nostalgic throwback to the Cheers -style bar. There are also the Altikrigarnir soldier's clubs where veterans of both the Sword Worlds and of Aslan clans in Darrian service visit in between wars , presumably to congratulate each other about what brave warriors they both are.
Good Is Not Nice : The Imperium is generally viewed favorably, but this is a government that grew largely through conquest and isn't afraid to put down rebellions hard. It is an exploration and intelligence arm of the Third Imperium. Other analogies can be thought of. Grey-and-Grey Morality : A major theme of the game is that there are very few clear-cut "good guys" and "bad guys", just people who may do good and bad things. Gunboat Diplomacy : One of the ways the Imperium expanded.
Half-Human Hybrid : Averted, but many of the different sub-species of humans can interbreed, with the inhabitants of the Third Imperium being largely a mixture of Vilani humans from Vland and Solomani humans from Earth. Most of the Darrians are actually a mixture of the original Darrian race and Solomani humans as well.
As the following adventures and supplements showed interstellar society continuing to break down and conditions getting worse and worse, many fans began to wonder which faction would win the war and if their characters would see the Imperium restored. The answer revealed by the next edition: Nobody could win such a war, and the Imperium wouldn't be restored for at least hundreds of years.
Hegemonic Empire The Third Imperium is more a straightforward Empire albeit a semi-benevolent one , but still has elements of this including taking time to flatter substates for ideological and policy reasons. Heroic Dolphins : In one sourcebook, a story is told of some uplifted sapient dolphins who helped bring to light a scandal involving the secret enslavement of an intelligent species by a megacorporation.
Hidden Depths : Traveller itself. This is easily underestimated because RPGs are a pop-art. However the detail of this setting is even more than that of Dune and the flexibility is greater. Hired Guns : This is a popular background for games.
There are a large number of Private Military Contractors available for hire. Hive City : The Hivers were so named by human explorers who compared their cities to insect hives. It was suggested that they had a Hive Mind , but this was later retconned. In the Back Story , the alien population of a planet was close to being wiped out by a Super-Persistent Predator species called the Chamax.
They decided their only chance was to build a fleet of Sleeper Starships to carry all of the remaining aliens to other star systems. The Horde : Vargr. Horn Attack : A possible attack form for alien animals. In the Darthanon Queen adventure the randomly created Dyson monster could have it.
Weather on the planet Mithril is determined randomly. It includes both mild and severe storms on a regular basis, with the temperature almost always below freezing. Supplement 2 Animal Encounters. Depending on the type of planet they are on, PCs can encounter tornadoes, sandstorms, monsoons severe winds and violent rain , and blizzards. Possible weather on the planet Victoria includes high winds, rain squalls high wind, rain, thunder and lightning , violent rainstorms and electrical storms high winds and lightning.
Hover Bot : Robots with artificial gravity didn't need any legs, and could be designed with all of their components inside a single chassis and without appendages. Humans Advance Swiftly : Both averted and played straight. In the backstory, the Vilani were first in many technological developments especially the jump drive , but advanced extremely slowly compared to the Solomani, who were ahead of them in some areas when first contact occurred and within years had outpaced them in everything.
It's a cultural thing, though, as both races are biologically humans. A few thousand years later the Third Imperium, a mixture of the Vilani and Solomani, is more technologically advanced than all of its neighbors except possibly the Hivers. That includes two neighbors, the Solomani and Zhodani, who are both biologically human. So Imperial humans have in fact advanced more swiftly than the other races.
Human Aliens : When humans from Earth finally made it to the stars in the late 21st century they found most of space near them occupied by the ancient interstellar empire of humans from a planet called Vland. It took several centuries to determine that all of the human aliens in charted space some of which had diverged from the human norm enough to look like different species were actually transplanted from Earth hundreds of thousands of years ago by the Ancients , not separate species.
Humans Are Bastards : One item of jewelry called Denuli gems is exceedingly rare and harvesting them is banned in the Imperium. The reason? It turns out that they are the eggs of low-tech sophant aliens. Humans Are Cthulhu : Vargr view humans this way especially Zhodani which are regarded that way by other humans. Humans can build large abstract societies which attract Undying Loyalty from their members, whereas Vargr have trouble giving loyalty to anything but a Magnetic Hero.
As a result humans sometimes appear to Vargr the way a Hive Mind appears to humans. Humans Are Divided : Humans are the only species to rule multiple empires, not counting the Vargr's chronic inability to hold a government together. Humans Are Special : Most of the known 'verse is dominated by the three major races of humans Solomani, Vilani, and Zhodani.
The Ancients apparently felt that Humans Are Special too, as they transplanted them throughout known space. Humans Are Warriors : The Solomani have long had a far greater martial reputation than the other two major human races and the Third Imperium's military traditions are largely Solomani. The Solomani are really the top predators of the Traveller universe.
The Vilani and Zho are less warlike and their collectivism is crippling. Vargr are on the other extreme too chaotic, and Aslan too clannish. Vargr make good pirates but bad soldiers and while Aslan have a lot of individually skilled warriors they are limited in their capacity to systemitize warfare. This is speaking of Solomani military tradition rather than the Solomani as a race. The Solomani and Vilani are by the time of the Third Imperium so interbred that the difference is more of identity rather than race.
Neither of these marry Zhodani very often as the Psi thing leaves them out on their own, effectively alien and more alien to other humans than Aslan or Vargr. All that said, non-Terran humans usually are no wusses themselves, even if not at the Terran level; and a number are Proud Warrior Races. In Traveller you really do not want to get on Humaniti's bad side.
Human Popsicle : Low berths: a low-cost way to see the galaxy, but not without danger. The crews and passengers of passenger ships sometimes play "the low lottery" - a Cr 10 bet on how many low berth passengers will survive the trip. If the winner doesn't survive the Captain of the ship gets the money. An anti-alien bigot captures a group of Aslan and organizes a hunt, with the Aslan as the quarry.
Hyperspace Is a Scary Place : Usually jump travel is pretty safe. But rarely, ships can go into jumpspace and not come out. Or come out at a random destination; or hundreds of years later, with only a week passing aboard ship, or vice versa. Naturally enough, spacers have all kinds of superstitions regarding jumpspace. Hyperspace Lanes : Jump routes are limited mainly by the presence of fuel stops. As most ships can only jump one parsec at a time that means that most traffic follows places where the stars are one parsec apart.
A ship equipped for the purpose can obtain fuel at a gas giant without landing in port. It is still necessary to be in-system. Instant A. Classic edition. In Adventure 13 Signal GK , the PCs will encounter a naturally occurring silicon computer chip that has become intelligent. The New Era had some sort of vaguely explained Virus that could turn ANY sufficiently advanced computer into an AI, usually a homicidally deranged one.
It turns out Virus was developed from the Chips in Signal GK , so these are actually two different versions of the same life form. Intrepid Merchant : Free Traders. Who are constantly in a desperate struggle to survive by their wits, on the frontier. A Free Trader centered game is one of the most popular because of its flexibility and the ease with which a small number of characters can fit in.
It can have recognizable similarities to Firefly in some ways, but it is set in an even more complex universe. While the Space Trucker variety described above is a favorite possibility, there are several types of Intrepid Merchants that can be imagined. It Makes Sense in Context : The Vilani prejudice against technical advance was the result of a deliberate decision made long ago. When one realizes that they already had an Empire of thousands of worlds and enough technology to give men the power of Olympians , one can understand.
After all, they had plenty of wealth and power, there might actually be some things that Man Was Not Meant To Know and their biggest threat was instability as they had already eliminated all outside threats. This actually worked for awhile. Jabba Table Manners : The Hivers eat rather messily, and they tend to enjoy what humans would regard as extremely fragrant food.
Two members of the base staff were previously in positions that influence how they handle emergency situations. One was previously in the regular police. If he wakes up and realizes that there's a problem, he will pick up his pistol, leave his cabin and try to arrest any intruders.
Another one was once in the Attitude Police secret police. If he is awakened and notices the PCs' intrusion, he will try to track them down and notify the bridge of their position, trailing them thereafter. The random encounter description says "If they are sought out, they are determined to be a natural phenomenon, produced by a large grove of hollow trees.
More recent editions, understandably, make it optional Mongoose Traveller calls it "Iron Man" rules. It is pointed out that a supersonic lead slug kills you just as dead at tech level 15 as at tech level 7. Space combat is the exception, as conventional projectiles are trivially easy to dodge at the distances and speeds involved.
Klingon Promotion : The little-used "Right of Assassination", established after the disastrous reign of Cleon III allows a high noble to personally slay the emperor and claim the Iridium Throne, with Moot approval. Equipment emphasizes wilderness exploration, hazardous environments, and combat.
As a result, equipment lists are heavy on vehicles, sensor equipment, communicators, rations, personal armor , and weapons. Low-technology: Since primitive worlds exist near technological worlds, primitive weapons such as swords, shields, pikes, and bows are included. Characters often have some sort of blade skill for close combat. High-technology: Cybernetics and non-sentient robots also show up in equipment lists, as do artifacts from ancient civilizations.
Hard Sci-fi Flavor: Along with energy weapons, there is also a strong presence of slug-throwing weapons such as rifles and pistols. The prevailing theory is that usually the most efficient way to stop someone is with kinetic energy e. Starships range from small one-person scouts, to giant planetoid colony ships. Design rules balance power, life support, and defenses for consistent ships.
It is complex enough to be able to generically represent most starships used in role-playing games and flexible enough to support custom add-ons to the system. Computer programs have been created to model and predict starship combat using Traveller rules. The most famous case involved Douglas Lenat applying his Eurisko heuristic learning program to the scenario in the Traveller adventure Trillion Credit Squadron , which contains rules for resolving large space battles statistically.
Eurisko exploited corner-case features and built unusual fleets that won the and championships. The sponsor stated that if Lenat entered and won the next year they would stop the sponsorship, so Lenat stopped attending. Worlds range from barren planetoid moons to large gas giant worlds, from uncolonized territories to planets with billions of people. The world generation rules produce a random mix of worlds. The original booklets contain generic rules for running science fiction role-playing games with no official setting.
In this setting, the human-dominated Third Imperium is the largest interstellar empire in charted space, a feudalistic union of worlds, where local nobility operate largely free from oversight and restricted by convention and feudal obligations. The setting features descendants of humanity who are collectively called Humaniti.
These include the Solomani , humans emigrated from Earth within the last few thousand years, the Vilani , humans transplanted from Earth tens of thousands of years ago by the Ancients see below who founded the First Imperium, and the Zhodani , psychic humans ruled by psionically-gifted nobles.
Despite the thematic dominance of the human race, with most adventures taking place in human space, the Traveller universe is cosmopolitan and contains many technologically advanced species known as sophonts , a term borrowed from earlier science fiction material.
In addition to Humaniti, the standard list of major races includes the honor-bound catlike Aslan , the winged lizard-like Droyne , the sixfold-symmetric and manipulative Hivers , the centaur-like militant vegetarian K'kree , and the wolf-hybrid Vargr.
Additional minor races are numerous. An early publication from GDW notes that "The minor races, of which there are hundreds within the area of known space, will be largely left up to individual referees. Wiseman, sketched out about one race per quarter, starting with the Aslan in Issue 7. Taken together with aliens casually mentioned or introduced in separate scenarios or adventures—often arbitrarily—there is therefore no indication that the number of minor races is limited in any sense.
The Ancients were a major race in the distant past; their ruins dot planets throughout charted space and their artifacts are more technically advanced than those of any existing civilization. For unknown reasons, they transplanted humans from Earth to dozens of worlds, uplifted Terran wolves to create the Vargr and transplanted them to another world,  and undertook many megascale engineering projects before destroying their civilization in a catastrophic civil war.
The original gamebooks were black and digest-sized known as the "little black books" produced by Game Designers' Workshop GDW. The main rules were detailed in three such booklets, sold as a boxed set while the same format was used for early support material, such as the adventures, supplements and further books.
Later supplements and updated versions of the main game system introduced full sized booklets, complete re-writes of the game system and significant changes to the Third Imperium. Both rely on six-sided dice and both draw from the original Traveller rules. The original version was designed and published by GDW in The core rules originally came as a box set of three black digest-sized books, and were later compiled into a single volume rulebook.
Supplemental booklets included advanced character generation, capital ship design, robots, and more. This edition is also sometimes called by the retronym Classic Traveller. Supplements and magazines produced during this era detailed the progression of the rebellion from the initial assassination of the Emperor in to the collapse of large-scale interstellar trade in roughly the beginning of the supplement Hard Times.
Set in the former territory of the Third Imperium after interstellar government and society had largely collapsed. TNE introduced Virus , a silicon-chip life form that infected and took over computers. The game used a more realism-centered approach to science fiction, doing away with reactionless thrusters, shortening laser ranges to a reasonable distance, etc.
Published by Imperium Games in , T4 is set in the early days of the Third Imperium Milieu 0 , with the small, newly formed empire surrounded by regressed or barbaric worlds. Designed by Loren K. Steve Jackson Games produced numerous supplements for the line, including details for all of the major races, many of the minor races, interstellar trade, expanded world generation, the military forces of the Third Imperium, and starships.
Published by QuickLink Interactive QLI in , this version uses the d20 System as its base and is set at the time of the Solomani Rim War around Imperial year , about a century before the era depicted in the original game. The preferred setting is the Gateway Domain region of the Imperium. After the company's license to the Traveller brand and setting lapsed, the purely mechanical elements of this game were republished as the generic SciFi20 system.
The timeline was rolled back to , which is several millennia earlier than the usual Traveller setting, to the early days of Earth's presence in space at the time when Earth first started to send out interstellar ships to include the period just after the Third Interstellar War between the Terran Confederation Earth and the gigantic Ziru Sirka Empire Vland.
A port of the Traveller setting to the Hero System , produced under license by Comstar Games in Mongoose Publishing published this version both in a traditional format and as an open gaming SRD around which other games may be built. It is based heavily on the original Traveller , with updated careers and technology. The core rule book was released in April , with a regular series of supplements following. In , Far Future Enterprises published a new set of rules by re-working and integrating concepts from earlier rulesets.
The Traveller 5 Core Rules book is a rules mechanics reference, pulled from Traveller adventures and toolbox material from supplements. Its update, v5. A second edition of Mongoose's Traveller was published in , and updated in It uses a full color production style while resembling the original Traveller rules in scope.
This edition is not licensed under the Open Game License. The second edition core rules include pre-career university and military academy education options. Skills specialization have been reorganized to reduce skill bloat. Some equipment descriptions have been altered and spacecraft operations and combat now have a different approach. Additional supplements flesh out rules further, including a revision to High Guard to handle all starship design.
In the April—May edition of White Dwarf Issue 6 , Don Turnbull gave a strong recommendation for the new game, saying, "Altogether, what is here is very satisfactory and much of it is stimulating. The presentation is exemplary, the detail impressive, the treatment exacting and the inventiveness inspired. In the September edition of Dragon Issue 18 , Tony Watson complimented the game on the high production value of its components, saying, "Physically, Traveller is first class, a tradition with Game Designer's Workshop.
The box lid and covers of the three booklets are done in a simple but highly effective combination of red and white lettering on a black background. The interior layout and printing is also of the best quality; the printing is an entirely professional job. Too often, this chase becomes more important than actual play itself! It offers a colorful but consistent future for players to adventure in.
In the inaugural edition of Ares March , David Ritchie was enthusiastic about Traveller , giving it an above average rating of 8 out of 9 and commenting, "This game starts off where Dungeons and Dragons left off, but, if there is any justice, will end up being more popular than that venerable relic. For one thing, the Traveller rules are fairly consistent moreso than is usual for such games. In the November edition of Ares Issue 5 , Eric Goldberg called Traveller "a most impressive achievement from a design standpoint This mark of distinction is the main reason why I consider Traveller the finest commercially available role-playing game.
Although he liked the "sophisticated and elegant" character generation system, he felt that "All too often, a player will have to spend an entire afternoon rolling dice before he gains a reasonable character. Slack thought this edition was better laid out, and "typos have been rectified.
In the inaugural edition of Games International October , Jake Thornton gave MegaTraveller an above-average rating of 4 out of 5, saying, "Although there are some typos and omissions, overall, MegaTraveller is a success. If you like your SF on a grand, starspanning scale [ Chris W. I hope it always will be. In the August edition of Dragon Issue , Rick Swan reviewed the fourth edition of Traveller , and called it "a masterful effort But he concluded that the fourth edition of Traveller was close to perfect, giving it a top rating of 6 out of 6 and saying, "Time-tested and buffed to a sheen, Traveller will endure as long there's enough plastic to manufacture six-sided dice.
In a reader poll by Arcane magazine to determine the 50 most popular roleplaying games of all time, Traveller as either Traveller , MegaTraveller , or Traveller: The New Era was ranked 3rd. The magazine's editor Paul Pettengale commented: "Although originally intended as a generic science fiction system, Traveller quickly became linked with the Imperium campaign background developed by GDW This background offers a great degree of freedom for individual referees to run campaigns of their own devising, while providing enough basic groundwork to build from, and has proved to be immensely successful.
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Traveller is a tabletop role-playing game. Characters journey between star systems, engaging in exploration, ground and space battles, and interstellar trading. Traveller contains everything needed to play any science-fiction campaign, from desperate battles across the stars against evil empires, through free traders. Traveller is a science fiction role-playing game first published in by Game Designers' Workshop. Marc Miller designed Traveller with help from Frank Chadwick, John Harshman, and Loren Wiseman. Editions were published for GURPS, d20, and other.