Monday, November 14, 2011

Blues Traveller

Great minds?

For the better part of the day I've been thinking about posting about Traveller. Low and behold, I come home to find I am
not the only one with 'Science Fiction Adventure in the Far Future' on the brain. Even the subject of the post is similar. I am surely in good company.


I have been feeling at odds with myself over what to game.

I want/need to get back to my Champions game, I am running my Empowered/M&M 3E game Fridays nights* and I am supposed to be running a Smurfs campaign at my FLGS 'The Compleat Strategist' but an erratic weekend schedule has prevented me from running anything after the first adventure.

I feel the desire to run fewer games and therefore have more time to dedicate to the ones I am running. In addition, I haven't run Science Fiction or Fantasy for a while and those two genres have been
at war in my heart and head quite a bit recently.

Now for Fantasy I would like to return to my D&D-But-Not system and setting which, to be quite honest, is more like a medieval Superheroes RPG. I do love that world and the rather unusual nature of adventuring there and it is comic book-like enough to also support my continued fascination with Supers.

For Science Fiction, as much as I loves me some Star Trek (and I do loves me some Star Trek), I would be really excited to get back to Traveller.

Traveller and I have a rocky relationship. I love it but didn't always. I would venture to say that even though it is a favorite of mine now, I probably don't run it 'right'. As I have grown up and Science and Science Fiction have evolved, so too has my view of the Traveller RPG and it's universe. Combine this with my love of Anime and video game imagery and you get a Traveller that may not appeal to a lot of the classic and traditionalist fans of the game.

Nowadays, when I think Traveller, I mostly think of Mass Effect...

While I don't see the two as identical to each other, I see Mass Effect in my mind when I am describing a lot of things in my Traveller games. When playing Mass Effect and/or its sequel, I also start thinking about running Traveller.

While not my favorite starship design ever, the Normandy is definitely what I think of when I think of a Traveller ship. The aliens, while not exactly Traveller aliens, are still somehow Traveller-like to me. Same thing with the weapons and equipment. Many of these things are not in the classic Traveller RPG but I feel like they belong. They should be there. They are there in many of my games.So if I take inspiration from the overall look and feel of Mass Effect, combine it with images by the legendary futurist Syd Mead, drop in some of the politics and pathos of Dune mixed with Babylon Five (before it went down hill) and added a dash or two of A. E. Van Vogt's Voyage of the Space Beagle, I think I'd have the Sci-Fi, space adventure, hard-space opera game I am looking for.

That's Traveller to me.

Crazy huh?

Barking Alien

*I'll discuss the details on that continuing experiment another time.


  1. "Crazy huh?"

    No, not really, what you describe is Traveller, straight out of the LBBs - where the story and the setting was whatever grab-bag of images the Gamesmaster had in his/her head and the rules where just a set of mechanics for laying down some stats and giving you some pegs to hang your imagination on.

    The 3I setting is just that, a setting for the game, like Greyhawk or Dragonlance world, or whatever - the house setting of the game designers. When Gamesmasters get lazy and start going for the can of spam, rather than cooking with the ingredients sprouting in their own imagination then they loose the right to complain that a game is getting 'stale' or 'old'. What you get out of a game is directly proportional to what you put into the game.

    "Official" settings are useful in that they establish a base level of knowledge for any and all players - a shorthand that avoids the 15min lecture on the last 3000 years of game history at the start of the game. They can soon become both a straight jacket for creativity, and a rod which the players can use to beat the GM with.

    My Traveller campaign exists in the same universe as the 3I, and is linked to it in a vague way, but it has, I hope, its own style and way of doing things.

    If you're interested, I blog about it here, not as frequently as I would like ;)

  2. sidequestion: When did B5 start to go downhill for you?

  3. Sometime after the Shadow War and then really heavily toward the end of it's run. I always got the feeling of...

    Epic Climax-Aftermath/Epilogue-The End. "What's that? Another season or so?? don't know. Just throw some stuff in."

  4. I used to have an association between Alternity and Mass Effect, but I ended up running Traveller because the rules seemed a lot more intuitive, so now I have a proxy association between Traveller and ME.

  5. Epic Climax-Aftermath/Epilogue-The End. "What's that? Another season or so?? don't know. Just throw some stuff in."

    True, but in fairness it was because they wrapped up everything in the fourth series with the idea that it would be their last. Then they got renewed for a fifth and had to scrabble around for more material.