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Old March 15th, 2016, 04:02 PM
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Default "What is Traveller?" by Rob

What This Post Is. This is an attempt to summarize what "Traveller" is. What makes Traveller Traveller. What underpins Traveller. What the guys who created Traveller were thinking.


I. Travel. Travellers travel within the limits of jumpspace, high fuel usage (includes wilderness refueling), and gravitics.

II. Open Limits. Rules and options set open limits, allowing many possible worlds, characters, aliens, ships, beasts, tech. It is a DIVERSE space, including anachronism and atavism.

III. Material. Tangible or connexional gains. No Experience Points or Leveling Up. Newtonian physics tends to be followed.

IV. Agency. Self-Reliance. Remoteness of authority, speed of jump, starports as "deep water" ports, explicit feudalism (and even piracy) supports, empowers and requires the players to make their own decisions and act.

V. Sociology. Interstellar society is socially stratified (high, mid, and low passage; SOC), but people are still human. The typical game shows how being a traveller crosses classes and breaks stratification.


Originally Posted by Marc Miller via LBB
Travellers travel.
Originally Posted by Bill Cameron
There are design assumptions underlying Traveller which were used to create a corpus of rules.
Originally Posted by Mike West
Traveller is all about a base set of assumptions... Violate these, and you lose the "Traveller"... Keep these, and setting probably doesn't matter.
I. Foundational Assumptions

This is a modified version of Daryen's list.
  • The Jump Drive (100+ tons, one week's time) is the key to interstellar communication and travel.
  • No two bases are alike. Starports, Naval bases, and Scout bases are like Deep Water Ports.
  • Wilderness refueling is worth the risk.
  • The universe is cosmopolitan, understandable, and consistent.
  • No two worlds are alike. There is high-tech, atavism, and anachronism (shotguns and cutlasses) that defies SF conventions.
  • Mercenaries and Tickets.
  • Social Stratification (High Passage, Mid Passage, Low Berths) -- but player characters break stratification almost by definition.
  • Patrons mediate between the setting and players' goals via Push, Pull, Enigma, and Gimmicks.

II. Foundational Mechanics
  • Chargen and Toolsets as modular mini-games.
  • Six Characteristics per person.
  • Physical characteristics take the damage from combat.
  • Combat is deadly.
  • Material rewards. No "experience points" or leveling up.
  • The careers and design systems define limits on reality. 2D hex maps, empty hexes.

III. Typical Game Tropes in Traveller
  • Death during chargen.
  • Visiting a starport.
  • Gambling in the TAS hostel bar.
  • Jump travel; High and Low Passage.
  • EVA in a vacc suit.
  • Piloting a ship.
  • Wilderness refueling.
  • Doing space combat.
  • Shotguns and cutlasses alongside monomolecular axes and Laser Rifles, together in combat.
  • Fighting alien creatures.
  • Solving a cosmic enigma.
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Last edited by robject; August 16th, 2018 at 12:24 PM..