Saturday, January 2, 2016

Are We Really Doing This?

My latest project (as I mentioned at the end of my last post), and my first of the new year, maybe just the thing I've been searching for over the last few years to recapture that ol' Barking Alien magic.

I'm imagining a RPG with a familiar though flexible and expansive setting, just enough crunch to interest my somewhat more mechanically minded players (more so than me), but with a simple, direct focus on character, plot and action. From the 'It's so obvious! Why didn't I think of this before' category comes...

That's right, Star Wars Traveller!

Simple conversion right? I mean, classic Traveller is basically Star Wars to start with isn't it?

Well, after running it for the last three years, I can safely say...No. It isn't. It can be, but that's not really it's default nature. Traveller has fiddly bits a Star Wars game would not normally have, or need. Likewise there are Star Wars elements, such as Jedi and The Force, that Traveller's psionics system doesn't quite model properly.

I've modified numerous game systems over the years in order to tweak them 'just so' for the play style of my various groups, and of course my self. The classic Traveller I have been running for the last 20 years, or so isn't the 'true' version to begin with. It's a melding of elements from classic Traveller, MegaTraveller, different gaming magazine articles, and then simplified to taste. I tend to like to distill a game down to its essence. I've noted before my feeling that about 90% of the RPGs ever published are over-designed.

I want to look at, and understand the game mechanics you've written, so I can figure out which game mechanics I actually need, and will use (I'm looking at you D&D Encumbrance).

Then there are some basic things I know need to be in there, but aren't. A few careers will need to be added. I'm not sure I'm removing any careers yet, but Smuggler, Bounty Hunter, Star Pilot, and a couple others are going in.

The economic sub-systems of Traveller, which are a major factor when playing Firefly like campaigns, is pretty much unimportant in Star Wars.

I know, I know, Star Wars has money. It isn't Star Trek. At the same time, it's really only a plot device. We hardly ever actually see money. Han Solo is a Smuggler, and we know he gets paid, but it's more dialog than number crunching. The Empire, and indeed The First Order, seems to have practically limitless funding for their military forces. No one worries how much the Galactic Civil War costs in dollars, and cents.

I plan to have money, and an economy, but de-emphasize it in favor of fighting the good fight against an oppressive regime. That's what Star Wars focuses on, not penny pinching after you loot the bodies.

Over the course of this month I will be posting some of my adjustments, add-ons, and ideas regarding Star Wars Traveller. I welcome any suggestions you want to throw my way. My goal is to run a 'Pilot One-Shot' sometime soon, and see if it takes off. If it does, my Barking Alien Gaming Group may make this our new campaign instead of our originally planned 'Traveller BEYOND'.

Am I ready for this? Hell no.

Going to go for it anyway. Lock S-Foils into attack position. Let's start our run...

Barking Alien


  1. The two Star Wars Marvel Annuals this year, Star Wars Annual #1 and Darth Vader Annual #1 both deal with the economy of the Empire and how they get the money and resources for building those, presumably, very expensive Death Stars. The Darth Vader story has Lord Vader himself being tasked to inquire why an ore producing planet is behind on their quotas and, of course, to show them why it's a bad idea to be in arrears with the Empire. The Star Wars Annual tells the story of a rebel spy posing as a tax collector on Coruscant where he is seen twisting the arms of regular folk who are behind on their very high Imperial taxes. Both stories show how economics could be used to generate Star Wars type stories.

    BTW If you haven't read any of the new Marvel Star Wars comics, you should check them out. They are quite good, especially Darth Vader. No it doesn't depict the Lord of the Sith as a hero, far from it, but it does explain how when Vader offered Luke the opportunity to team up with him to defeat the Emperor, it wasn't a bluff. Vader meant to do just that.

    1. I have looked at some of them, and overall I haven't been too impressed.

      The exception to that being the Darth Vader series, which is quite good indeed. I like the added subtext of Vader's attitudes, and actions. It was well thought out, and still fits in perfectly with what we've seen onscreen.

  2. Just as info. a podcast Happy Jacks, has posted some actual plays of a star wars traveller campaign, maybe even a character creation episode if u need a jump start

  3. How's the star wars traveller project coming. You have an impatiently-waiting customer here.