Yesterday, I was musing about what to do with all the games I own – years of collecting and buying product, most of which I don’t get to use because there are not enough free hours after work with the energy to do so… not to mention interested players who are also free.
Last night I dug out a book that has been in my collection for months and I thought, hey – let’s read it. When I picked it up I discovered it was still shrink-wrapped. Sheepishly, because it’s pretty sad that I haven’t even flicked through it – I cracked the wrapping and started to read.
I’ve been a fan of Traveller since my friend Daniel introduced me to the 1977 edition of what is now called Classic Traveller, sometime between ’78 and ’80. From the mid-80’s, I fell in love with the Third Imperium universe and… well, I have collected everything I can over the decades.
Mongoose Publishing make lovely hard-back books. The art is getting better, the writing is engaging, and, well… they are updating the Third Imperium to their current second edition of what many call Mongoose Traveller. I always buy their books. I’ve been wanting to play for years but, aside from the odd short adventure, I haven’t committed.
“Solomani Front” presents an area of the Third Imperium that has always been fascinating to me: the smugly superior and often racist Solomani of Terra, now ousted from their homeworld, stand in a cold war with the diverse and cosmopolitan Third Imperium.
The offer of the Solomani Front is for stories around the clash of opposing ideologies and cultures, one of which is abhorrent to me. I have always embraced the dream of discovering the stars and yet, for some reason, I was always strangely drawn to understand those who (like the Solomani) despise difference. Of course, the magic of roleplaying is that (with the right fellow-players) we get to imagine our way into alien cultures and try to experience their point of view.
But that’s not all. I realised that I am wanting to finally immerse myself into the Third Imperium that I have skirted around reading and playing for at least 40 years. I am fascinated by this far future that never was and drawn into the many alien vistas it offers. Sooner or later, I will play there… but for now, I realise, I can delve the books and read about it.
While I am enjoying the creative act of designing the Northern Isles for my fantasy gaming, I am drawn to learn about the Third Imperium for my science-fiction adventure. Maybe I’ll discover an empty nostalgia. Or maybe I will deepen my understanding of the universe enough that I can feel the confidence to take other players there too. What is certain is that the deeply troubling, uncomfortable themes in this book have connected me to my deepest purpose: to create a community of discovery where people can feel accepted… one day as a table playing in the universe of the Third Imperium.
Thanks, Mongoose… and thanks Marc Miller of Far Future Enterprises, and also to the old team at Game Designer’s Workshop. You gave us Traveller and we’ll always be grateful for the journey.