Stars, Darkened With Traveller

Last night I sat down with the Traveller Explorer’s Edition and gave the booklet a pretty thorough read. Pleasantly surprised at what I found, I’ve decided to take the prescription on offer and run my forthcoming Dark Age SF game using the Mongoose Traveller 2e rules.

What I didn’t realise, until reading the Explorer’s Edition booklet, is quite what the product was offering. It’s basically a focused set of rules – as brief as can be while still hitting the mark – designed to let you run Traveller exploration games. It only contains two careers, the Scout and the Scholar, but it also strips away all the other options which cloud what you need to run an exploration scenario.

This reminded me that, for starters, Traveller offers a wide range of careers but that you can customise the options on offer to the players to fit your vision for the campaign ahead. Want to do MilSF scenarios? Then just allow players to access the Army, Marines, and maybe Navy career options. Keep things focused on the campaign you want to run. In the past, I’ve tended to give the full array of options to players only to end up with a diverse and unworkable group of Travellers at the table.

On top of all of that, reading the stripped down version in the Explorer’s Edition booklet, I was able to see the core of the game rules and recognise the basic utility and ease for play that exists at the heart of the system. It gave me confidence to accept the prescription for SF on offer because I could see that combat would be relatively easy to run, the character creation process gives me the structure for interesting and deep Travellers, and the whole thing is flexible enough to handle my version of the Otherverse.

A week ago I wrote that:

The trade-off with a prescriptive set of game rules, that come with hard-baked assumptions about the way SF universe work, is that you have to accept those assumptions up front. In return for having someone else doing the design thinking up front, you get to dive into the enjoyable bit of building characters and putting them into interesting situations.

The reality is that my Otherverse for this game is heavily influenced by my love for Traveller ever since I began play back in the late 1970s. It was, after all, my first RPG experience as a player. It seems silly to ignore this and seems natural to build my game around that system which already works on so many underlying assumptions. For all the tweaks that might be necessary, I can house rule what I need.

And so here we are, planning to run a new game with the set of rules I was fairly sure I wouldn’t use simply because I’d forgotten why I liked it. Thanks to the slightly odd but (as it turns out) highly useful Explorer’s Edition, I am back to digging into SF gaming with my favourite RPG brand.

Game on!

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