In My Traveller Universe …

My relationship to Traveller is … complicated. Classic Traveller was the first tabletop RPG I bought, but I was never really comfortable with its rules. I skipped MegaTraveller and eventually got Traveller New Era. As with Classic Traveller I was extremely excited about it, but most people I knew at the time weren’t sharing that enthusiasm. I also had a hard time wrapping my head around some of the rules back then.

Eventually I met people online and in real life who shared my love for the Traveller roleplaying game. I even got to experience Traveller as a player for the first time a couple of years back. Unfortunately the GM at the time preferred using basically everything but the official Traveller rules.

During all these years I kept chasing a dream: I wanted to run a Traveller campaign either in an original universe or a modified Third Imperium setting using official Traveller rules. For a while Classic Traveller or Traveller: New Era were the most promising candidates when it came to mechanics. In the end the Cepheus Engine, or rather its more streamlined edition called Cepheus Light, got into my focus. It’s not really an “official” Traveller game, but I guess it’s close enough. So I’ve found some mechanics I could get behind.

But the bigger problem has always been the setting. I’ve had countless plans, conflicting ideas, and in the end I usually threw everything into the bin. Recently I watched a video (see below) from the latest GaryCon where Marc Miller talked about Traveller and especially his plans for a future setting. In his talk he mentioned the “Republic of Regina” which gave me an idea. What if I take the Spinward Marches, get rid of the Imperium, the Zhodani, and in its place establish a few pocket empires. I don’t even need to rework the whole Marches, a couple of jumps around Regina for example are a big enough playfield for any campaign.

Marc Miller talks about Traveller

And since I am throwing canon out of the window I can also get rid of basically all of Traveller history and aliens. In my Traveller universe, there are only humans, who originated from Earth and built many small empires in space. Because of the long distances and the lack of FTL communication large empires never were established.

Aliens existed in this setting only in the past (or outside of charted space). The Marches are littered with ruins and there might even be derelict space ships drifting in the void, but the sapient life is limited to humans and uplifted species like perhaps dolphins and chimpanzees.

Last but not least I need a good idea on how to get the players motivated to travel around and do stuff (aside from trying to make a buck by trading). I am not interested in running a tramp freighter campaign. I want action, excitement, mysteries, that kind of stuff! So I am stealing an idea from the Perry Rhodan series. In this German novel series existed a privately-funded and quite mysterious secret service focused on keeping peace and balance in the Milky Way Galaxy. This United Stars Organization is the perfect patron for the kind of campaign I’d love to run. It’s also not unreasonable that such an organization would recruit former military types or members of the Scout service.

At the moment this is just another idea, but I think, it’s at least an idea which compromises between my various conflicting goals. It retains some elements of the original Third Imperium setting, I don’t have to reinvent the whole Charted Space from the ground up, but it’s still different enough to be called my own. Hopefully I can keep myself motivated for just enough so that I can do some prep for an actual game session! At the moment the mere thought of running a game is still anxiety-inducing, but I really want to get back to GMing, so I have to jump that hurdle eventually. Wish me luck!

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

5 thoughts on “In My Traveller Universe …”

  1. You might want to take a look at Clement Sector from (currently; the name is changing) Gypsy Knights Games. It’s a sector separated from everywhere else – it was colonised by a wormhole that collapsed – and there are only humans living in it.

      1. Ha, yes, that is interesting.

        Clement Sector has a free OGL sampler that I picked up; GKG makes regular mailings as well with discounts for their stuff.

    1. Ehh.. now that I think of it, there probably isn’t much you can get from “Elevation” given that it is mostly about exploration. It’s definitely set in a “pre-imperial” sort of space.

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