Citizens of the Imperium

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Solo December 12th, 2001 02:11 PM

I always regarded Traveller as being Space Opera as opposed to Hard Sci-Fi despite attempts by the designers to make the ship/planetary systems "realistic".

i.e. more like the Exordium book series or Hamiltion's Neutron Alchemist series than Clarke's 2001 stuff or Stephen Baxters works.



kafka47 December 12th, 2001 02:51 PM

Traveller tries to straddle both worlds.

It is Hard enough to pass for some real science, namely, in things like world creation, animal encounters, the physics in starship construction, etc.

But, it becomes soapy when it details that every system has some sort of inhabited world without the Tech to terraform (ok ...maybe the Ancients did it), FTL, a perfect feudal future. And a grand narrative that essentially places good (however you define it) against bad (again however you define it).

CT gave us plenty of room to choose between Hard SF and Space Opera. Other versions of Traveller, I have drifted toward more Space Opera. Afterall, Traveller is a brother of Star Wars and the New Realism that griped the world of literary SF never really impacted upon the cinegraphic (although, I do have my hopes for Enterprise...) So Traveller got pinned with making more and more compromises that would win over younger gamers, which having seen Star Wars or some clone wanted to play the same way. But, the legacy of CT remained which was a choice. I hope, in whatever incarnation we see Traveller we will always have that choice.

For me personally, I would favor a more Hard SF approach. Just because I think the grit of adventures can be found there. To reduce entire worlds to monocultures and subject players to mono-campaign seems criminal for the preminent SF game on the market. These compromises with Space Opera will attract younger gamers but increasingly shun some of the older set who wish to see a narrative based on reality. Of course, we never will get a pure Hard SF or pure Space Opera game. Because like all forms of popular culture there must the impurity principle unless Marc or Hunter possess a crystal ball and are able to chart humanity's future development.

Ben W Bell December 13th, 2001 06:45 AM

Well my Traveller universe tends to be more Hard Sci-Fi.
Most systems are habited, but only about a third have naturally occuring habitable planets.
The Imperium is far from perfect with corruption just like any other form of government.
In system space travel is more realistic and so is the general science.

Gallowglass December 13th, 2001 07:52 AM

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Solo:
I always regarded Traveller as being Space Opera as opposed to Hard Sci-Fi despite attempts by the designers to make the ship/planetary systems "realistic".

i.e. more like the Exordium book series or Hamiltion's Neutron Alchemist series than Clarke's 2001 stuff or Stephen Baxters works.



To me, what you outline is the differance between near-future and far-future SF. Hard SF can be either, it's about a basic level respect for the scientific method and our current understanding of the universe. Space Opera on the other hand is less grounded in reality, more epic in scope and freely ignores the current views of science where necessary for narrative purposes. Science Fantasy blatantly contradicts science (eg Colin Greenland's Harms Way, Ian McDonald's Desolation Road). There is a very clear discussion of the thre in the Intro to the 2300AD Director's Guide...

I have always found Traveller as a Rule Set is best suited to Hard SF (well, CT, MT and T4, can't comment on TNE or T20) and the OTU covers the range from far-future hard SF to "restrained" Space Opera (i.e. reasonably plausible science etc). To me, Traveller has always felt like CJ Cherryh's Alliance:Union:Compact books, or harry Harrison's Death World Trilogy...

Secrect Cow Level December 13th, 2001 12:07 PM

TRAVELLER as a rules set is reasonably hard science with a liberal dash of space opera to make life a little more free wheeling and easy for characters (things like psionics, medical slow drug, and artifical gravity). The OTU, however, is very space opera, with things like the Ancients who just so happened to seed humans throughout this section of the galaxy so that they're everywhere. Then they create the (really lame IMHO) Vargr so that characters can interact with an easily understandable alien race and then kindly destroy themselves in a war so that humanity can take its "rightful" place as overlords of the galaxy. Add to this a monolithic imperium that dominates all of known space and the "Spinward Main" (over 200 star systems in a row which all just happen to lie exactly one parsec away from each other) and you can see that TRAVELLER embraces space opera and makes no appoligies for it.

Solo December 13th, 2001 04:06 PM

-I know this is a Traveller site (and this is not a Promo)-
...But has anyone looked at the forthcoming game from SJG, TransHuman Space? That looks pretty Hard SF to me.

FlightCommanderSolitude December 13th, 2001 09:22 PM

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Solo:
has anyone looked at the forthcoming game from SJG, TransHuman Space? That looks pretty Hard SF to me. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

It's also a good example of well-done cover art, frankly.


aramis December 13th, 2001 09:42 PM

Space Opera or Hard Sci-fi?

Well, it's not Lensman nor Star Wars...

BUT, In my mind, at least, it is Hard Space Opera... Epic storylines, grand setting issues, chandelier-swinging swashbucklers-in-space, with realistic physics.

Characters die. Often in non-heroic ways, but it really is more star wars than 2001...

I dislike certain rulesets for various reasons.
CT was not enouguh to define a universe. Not quite CORPS' "Tabula Rasa", but still a fairly generic set of rules.
CT+ (Bks 4-8, supps 1-13): still realistic in tone, but allowing for grand swashbuckling.
MT: my personal favorite. But it was Errattq Cenrtal... And didn't make the one reality rule I would argue was most essential: Armor for vehicles took no space.
TNE: Too many "reality rules" that didn't simulate reality. The combat system was smooth, but very unrealistic. (under stock rules, even with the double damage on crit, you can't kill an NPC with a .22acp in one shot... you will not be able to cross the 20 point threshold; NPC's die at 21 points of damage, and even with x4 (x2 head, x2 crit), 1d6-1 maxes at 20.
T4: Too many botches, and nearly as badly edited as MT, plus Chris Foss art, a lack of real love of the system, and FF&S carrying forward its failures tech-wise and adding more, plus the printing error making the formulae hard to work...
GT: First, it is GURPS. Second, it makes numerous small changes and assertions of hotly debated points. Third, it is a wholly incompatable set of mechanics for many things. (most annoying is the GURPS $... it's GURPS consistant, but it is NOT 1:1 for the imperial Cr... and moreover, there isn't even a good straight-line comparison.)

T20: Not out yet; in playtest. Playable, but somewhat more limited than other editions. waiting and hoping to help make it the best traveller available.

Each set of rules has very different combat results (MT and CT are the closest to each other in results; CT and T4 second.) Each rule set had different ship design parameters, too, which also changes the setting. (Heck, CT had TWO, and so did T4).

I feel the nature of CT was clearly a cinematic setting. MT was more realistic (except for the aforementioned armor issue); it did, however, make for just as swashbuckling a setting due to non-mechanical considerations, and the mechanics were easily adaptable for more cinematic feel. TNE went too far; beyond cinematic in personal combat (almost to the chambara level); very realistic space combat mechanics, with space-opera ranges... I could see Lensman-TNE. (in fact, I've nearly done just that before.) T4 has a cinematic feel, to, but much more "Die Hard" than "Enter the Dragon".

but all are cinematic to some degree.

Smith & Wesson: The Original Point and Click interface!

phydaux December 13th, 2001 11:22 PM

"Characters die. Often in non-heroic ways..."

i thought it was:

Characters die. Often in CHARACTER CREATION...

simontmn December 14th, 2001 08:57 AM

I think 'hard space opera' is a good definition of Traveller. The core of the game is the 2d6 tables that generate Universal System & Character Profiles - no other game has ever matched the USP's elegance. I'm currently running a deliberately 'Space Opera' campaign game that uses slightly-modified TNE rules for characters and personal combat, Classic Traveller rules for starship travel, and my own rules for starship combat. I don't use the Imperium setting at all. The joy of Traveller is its ability to model any SF universe, without too much tweaking.


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