Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Traveller - Foundation And Empire

So I described the Player Characters who participated in the first session of our new Traveller campaign. Now some details on the campaign itself...

 Flag of The Solomani Confederation

The Setting

The campaign, entitled Traveller - Operation: Paladin, focuses on the Spica Sector, a sector of Charted Space where the Solomani Confederation borders the Hive Federation.

In my version of the Traveller canon the Solomani Confederation, an interstellar government centered around and run by Humans from Sol (Earth/Terra), is a subsidiary government to the larger Third Galactic Imperium, which absorbed the Confederation a little less than 100 years ago following the Solomani Rim War. Previous attempts to absorb or squash the Solomani simply made them more eager to reassemble and rebel (we Earthers are independent and tenacious!) so this time the Imperium let the Confederation keep doing their thing, they just do it for the Imperium. That is to say, as long as the Imperium gets taxes, military support and trade opportunities from the Solomani, they can run their sphere of influence as way they damn well please.

Now, this attitude has worked pretty well for both parties, though Solomani pride is always smoldering just under the surface. One of my players said...

"The North beat the South in the Civil War. That was 150 years ago and people down there are still pissed. This is only a generation or so back."

Righto! See, our campaign begins in the Imperial Year of 1095 or 5613 AD on the old Earth calender. The Solomani Rim War ended in 1002. In 1045 there was a rebellion of sorts in which hidden caches of weapons were used in an attempt by Solomani guerrilla forces to liberate Earth, which had been captured by the Imperium during the war. That attempt, referred to as The Phoenix Project, failed.

Now things move along relatively smoothly, although undercurrents of unrest are bubbling up and may surface before long. In the meantime...

The Adventure (Or What The Players Did And Made Happen)

Our session began in the Flux Subsector, subsector J of Spica, on an orbiting space station Highport called Bussard Reach. Bussard Reach orbits Leighton (technically Leighton IV), a once temperate/terrestrial world that is now experiencing an ice age of sorts. While not as frozen as say, Hoth, it is largely covered by ice and snow and cold weather gear is needed to operate on the surface.

Enter Belarus Hosta, a 38 year old woman with a very important personal mission. She sets out almost immediately (after getting the lay of the station) to hire a group capable of taking her to a planet called Shallows. Shallows is a Solomani colony working on experiment aquatic farming techniques. After hiring the rest of the PCs, she reveals that she has a considerable investment in the colony and it went silent about three months ago. Since than there have been a number of changes to the situation.

First, the Imperium has declared the planet a Red Zone and is not letting any commerical or civillian traffic approach the world. Unfortunately, according to Hosta, the Imperium won't give her any additional details. She needs to see for herself what is going on so she can report back to her lawyers, financers, insurance people, etc.

Another change, and one that came as a surprise to even Hosta herself, was that the border between the Solomani Confederation and the Hive Federation moved. Originally she was told the planet Shallows was right on the border between the two powers surrounded by both unclaimed planets and a few Hiver Colonies. That was six months to a year ago when the colony was first set up. Now, three months after the colony's last contact, the Hivers have claimed those previously non-aligned and unclaimed worlds and pushed forward, placing Shallows deep in Hiver territory.

So, at the end of our first session, a Jump-2 Lab Ship containing Belarus Hosta, the ship's owner and pilot Dr. Emil Fujikawa, his assistant Maria, Navigator and Engineer JayZed Trisector, gun-for-hire Rex Kincaid, bar owner and entrepeneur 'Barkley'*, Thorellian pilgrim Berell ThirdTurnFromThe Sky and his friend, the mysterious Kael, are all heading into Hive Federation territory to find out why a fish farming world ceased all contact and was declared off limits.

Side Story Theatre!

While assembling a Grav Vehicle from spare parts purchased at a Salvage/Junk/Machine Parts store, JayZed discovers the Gyrocompass/GPS unit has one previous destination still logged into it. Other than that, the unit has been reset and it's memory erased. He is able to unlock the information and discovers it leads to a point west of the mines on the surface of Leighton.

The grav speeder parts, including the chasis obtained later, are almost certainly from a type of Police Patrol Speeder common on the Solomani Rim. This may be a civillian version, usually sold to local sheriffs after being stripped of weapons when a Police Force upgrades to a better model.

Hosta convinces her friend Barkley* to come along on the trip by getting him to take a vacation from the bar while at the same time hosting a promotional gimmick. Posters, flyers and the like announce that Barkley has disappeared to some fantastic adventure. When will be return? What stories will he have to tell? Stop by Barkley's Den Bar and Restaurant to get your ballot (free with purchase of any drink or entree) and guess (i.e. wager) when he'll return. Be here when he does for valuable prizes like discounts and t-shirts! If you guess correctly there will be a cash (ok Credit) prize!!!

Really she wants him around for his heightened sense of smell and hearing and his familiarity with the Hive Federation.


The Thorellian is on a religious/philosophical journey to 'Follow His Path'. He believes now that his path runs along Kael's. Indeed, the paths of all these characters now run parallel and he must follow them to the end and either great enlightenment or death.


Kael has a complex past and has asked Berell to help him see his own path, and the paths of others if possible, in order to gain some insight into his next course of action.


Kael, Fujikawa and others share a considerable dislike for the alien species known as the Ithklur. The Ithklur serve as military troops for the Hivers and Hive Federation. Several of the PCs have had run ins with the Ithklur as part of their backstories, some of which lead to the death of friends and loved ones. In Fujikawa's case, the Ithklur held him hostage and made him work for them operating, repairing and maintaining mining robots. An Ithklur encounter may be unavoidable as the team enters Hive Federation space.


I am sure there is more but I can't think of it all right now. So much happened!

OK, sleep now...WAIT! I almost forgot...

Happy Birthday to my good friend Dave!

Happy Chinese New Year! Wealth and prosperity in the Year of the Snake!

It's my Birthday today, February 12th. So, yeah.

Barking Alien

*Yes! Barkley shows up once more in a campaign of mine. Here he is a Vargr who has dyed his fur green and claims to be from a rare minor race variant of the Vargr who dwell on 'The Other Side of The Galaxy'. He tells tall tales and entertains the patrons at his Bar/Restaurant 'Barkley's Den', located in the center of the center level of Leighton Highport, aka Bussard Reach.

He is also the guy on the station who knows what's up and what's going down and trades information for information or occaisionally something else of value.


  1. Sounds like you are off to a great start. How many players will you end up having (since you said that there were some missing the first time).

  2. I think the confirmed number is now 8 or 9. Two possibles but not certains would make it 11.


  3. Are all these Asimov titles relevant to Traveller? Ionly have original Traveller so I don't know if they locensed the setting later or what.

  4. No, sorry Matt. It's just something I do. I often have blog entry titles that are a play on words or have a double meaning.

    Here, 'Foundation' refers to the beginning of our Traveller campaign. In the post 'Prelude to Foundation' I talk about the preparations before starting the game. In 'Foundation's Edge', I am referring to the fact that I am due to run it the day after the post but don't know if the storm will prevent people from coming. 'Foundation' describes the PCs, the true basis of any campaign. 'Foundation and Empire' is the loosest referrence I am afraid, alluding to the fact that from where we started there is no limit to where we can go.

    Of course these titles wouldn't hold their double meaning if they weren't the titles of Science Fiction classics, just as Traveller is.

    1. Your Foundation blog titles had one influence, they got me to re-read Foundation after 30 years. Awesome stuff and frighteningly relevant to today. Are there any other classics of science fiction that you would consider influential to your campaign or your view of Traveller in general?

    2. Very much so.

      To me, what makes Traveller work so well is that it's not trying to emulate one particular science fiction series but rather an era of literary science fiction that many consider SF's heyday.

      Traveller is not trying to be like Star Wars or Star Trek or Alien or Blade Runner. It is much more AND than OR.

      My Appendix N for Traveller would be:

      The Foundation series By Assimov
      Ringworld and the Known Space books of Larry Niven (Known Space = Charted Space, Puppeteers a like Hivers)
      A.E. van Vogt's Voyage of the Space Beagle
      Robert Heinlein's Have Space Suit Will Travel and Double Star
      Frank Herbert's Dune series.

      Now Dune is quite different from the others but I like to add a sense of is-it-simply-science-we-don't-understand-or-is-it-mysticism to my Traveller games sometimes. Depends on the players.