Thursday, 14 January 2010

A Brief History of (my) Traveller Time




I discovered Traveller in about 1980. School holidays spent working the kiwifruit harvest, and then doing various odd jobs on the family farm, paid for my three Little Black Books, and then paid for some of the Supplements and Adventures. A side effect of that time is that I still loath the smell of kiwifruit.

The three LBBs were all you really needed to get started with Traveller – you didn’t even really need players, initially, as generating subsectors and planetary systems was a game in itself.

My Science Fiction influences at that time would have been Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy, Andre Norton’s Young Person’s Science Fiction (in particular, the Solar Queen stories, Judgement on Janus, Lord of Thunder, and The Beast Master), Heinlein’s Have Space Suit, Will Travel and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, plus other writers, as well as Blake’s 7, Space 1999, Battlestar Galactica and, of course, Star Wars.

So, Traveller, to me, has a slightly 70’s Space Opera tinge. Humaniti is just one of a number of star spanning civilizations; there are mysterious ruins to explore on steamy jungle worlds; there are pirates to elude and criminal gangs hanging around the star port bars; fortunes can be won or lost over a game of Stars and Comets; and while the Imperial Fleet and the Imperial Marines struggle to enforce law and order, there are always those in power looking for an unofficial fix.

When I created my campaign, I wanted to establish it in a border region, a bit like the Spinward March, as borders are always areas of political tension, and tension creates adventures. And so The RimWorlds campaign was born.

Initially, I rolled up the Gamelea subsector, and this is still the subsector I know best in my head. Over the years, I have expanded the number of mapped subsectors to six, sketched out a sector map, and even worked up a history for the thousand years before the campaign date, and the last 500 or so years in more detail. The ‘official’ Traveller Imperium exists, but at some distance away along a wisp of stars linking the RimWorlds cluster with the Spinward March. This allows me some freedom to run things my way, while keeping some of the flavour and background of the original game.

So, that’s the premise of my Traveller campaign. Now for some detail and and some thought experiments.