The summer holiday has arrived. I am done with work for five weeks and there are far fewer things for me to be worried about, day to day. With this in mind, I found myself back at the place I often arrive when I stop being a Game Master: I am playing alone.
I feel an urge, a desire, to play solo but I don’t really know what or how.Webster’s Daybook, Volume 2, July 22nd 2020
Those words have matured into some actual play. Predictably, at least from where I am sitting, I have picked up a game and rolled up some characters. Next, I plan to try out the combat rules and see if the basic mechanisms of the system “work” for me. If these experiments go well, the next step will be to insert those characters into a World (or, in this case, the Universe) and see where things take us.
Traveller5, Classic, or GURPS: The Plan
After many months, nay years, of near continual genre fantasy in my gaming, I have an hankering to play some science-fiction. I was torn. I knew that I wanted to visit the Universe of the Traveller game – I own every edition, from 1977 “Classic” Traveller through to the 2019 Traveller5 – and I was feeling the pull towards each extreme.
Earlier this year, I had rediscovered the Classic Traveller – aka the Little Black Books (LBB) – experience. It was rich and rewarded me with many insights into play. Excitement led to me trying to run the game for friends through the play-by-message platform on Rolegate – an abortive attempt failed by a combination of my flakiness and the unsuitability of the platform for what I wanted to do. I am still strongly wanting to play the 1977 game and it seems reasonable to bring it back to the table, solo.
That said, I also have the 2019 Traveller5 hardback books – all three Big Black Books (BBB) – and I have not done much more than roll up characters in terms of my exploration of that product. The format puts me off but the content, whenever I engage with it, rewards my patience and effort. It seems to be what it claims to be: a comprehensive and complete roleplaying game in a science-fiction far future. It demands to be played.
I have resolved a plan: my goal is to explore the Universe presented in the Official Traveller Universe (OTU), aka The Third Imperium, and to adapt it to my tastes as I go, generating I suppose what is termed, “My Traveller Universe”. The specific direction of travel is to create a predominantly Dreaming Alone experience (that’s Dreaming Together but for the solo enthusiast) with a definite and deliberate dose of Step On Up military SF flavouring added to the mix.
NOTE: If this terminology is unfamiliar, you can find my explanation in the recent podcast episode, “701 Purpose and Engagement“.
In terms of the game rules, I have decided to travel through three options. Each game will get a good read through (as needed), character generation of at least two characters for play, a test of the combat rules and general mechanisms of adventuring, and then be evaluated for further play. I have begun with Traveller5; if that falls flat, I will move to Classic Traveller; should both fail, I will opt to use GURPS and take my game forward with reference to the Classic Traveller mechanisms for adventuring.
Finally, having selected a panel of Rules and the Universe to play within, I will be using the Mythic GM Emulator Deck to resolve GM questions that are not addressed by the source material. I will also be seeking to play through some of the classic adventure modules, probably starting with the “Annic Nova” and “Shadows” adventures from Double Adventures 1 (1980). These originate from the Journal of The Traveller’s Aid Society in 1979 and provide a great example of how adventures were written and played back in the day. That said, I am also drawn to trying “The Kinunir” (1979), Traveller Adventure 1, by way of an introduction to the Universe. These elements form my additional Solo Play Methodology, on top of those tools already provided in the game rule books themselves.
All in all, it is time to immerse myself in the Universe that I have been wanting to visit ever since my friend Daniel first introduced me to those three Little Black Books, sometime around 1979-1980 (most likely). Perhaps I should simply forego the trip into the later rules that Marc Miller has written and dive on into the Classic game, but I feel I at least owe his effort a look-in. And so… “Here I go again, on my own,” in the immortal words of Whitesnake. Wish me luck.