To follow on from recent musings about subsector creation using Traveller, it’s very enjoyable and somewhat exciting to randomly generate worlds for the game map.
If I asked you to come up with a bunch of cool ideas for science-fiction worlds to include in my game, how many could you generate off the top of your head before it became repetitive? I suspect not too many.
What Traveller offers the Referee is the ability to randomly generate worlds which provides some million or more possibilities. When I combine that with the rules on the post-Purge collapse, generating further variation, the outcomes are widely different.
On top of the desired variability of worlds for my game, I also find the process enjoyable. Rolling the dice allows me the experience of Discovery within my own Otherverse. This is one of the key engagements for me and a big reason why I want to play RPGs. Thus, prepping the Otherverse becomes an act of play and discovery. This means that prep is transformed into playfulness.
Of course, I can always choose the outcomes instead of rolling the dice – I did this for Eden Prime itself. For that world, drawing on the description I had already written, I simply set the dials where they needed to be for my vision. I can repeat this anywhere should a cool idea for a world appear. But I am not required to be creative on the spot. Instead, the random values give me some parameters from which to extrapolate a description of each world.
This is making Traveller prep much more enjoyable than I expected. It’s also pointing me towards the greater use of random tools to populate sandbox maps. I’ve known this for all of my gaming life, of course, but it seems that I had forgotten how it feels to use it.