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The Cleon Memorial Library For discussion of Traveller fiction, both official and fan-written. Fan-written drafts are explicitly welcome.

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Old November 27th, 2017, 09:23 PM
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Default Scout's Tale Salon

Open for business at the Regina Downport. Lots of widescreen monitors showing sports from a variety of stadiums the world over (obviously no live feeds from off world).

Anyone who would like to comment, bash, thrash, question or offer some rare praise of my very raw, unedited (sometimes not even spell checked) text in "A Scout's Tale" can post here to their heart's content.

Thanks much.
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Old November 28th, 2017, 05:55 AM
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Post Enjoying Scout's Tale

As I relayed in PM, Blue Ghost, here is some more thoughts on Scout's Tale. These short stories give us Travellers more windows into the Traveller universe, more points of view from the authors. They get us thinking about the various settings and situations. And the more we read, the less we suffer Disbelief in the worlds, situations, societies, sophont species and their cultures.

I have enjoyed your take on an Imperial Solomani from Terra. Aston is not the Aslan and Solomani, SolSec, elitist who does his job while flaunting the Solomani Hypothesis at other crewmembers. He knows he is not some hot-shot flying by the seat of his pants. Things just happen to him. He's not out there to put his neck on the line. He's not a hero. His line of work does those things to him. But with the help of his varied crew, Aston gets the task done, even if the reader is kept in the dark about his mission at times.

I like Vash as he is not what some other Travellers call 'dogs' or 'wolves'. He is a Vargr and stands up for his Major Race when he thinks Aston is being a wise-ass. As Vargr are my favorite Major Race, I am curious to learn where he originates and what kind of culture brought him up. Is he an integrated, Imperial Vargr citizen? Did he come from a border world, perhaps Non-Aligned? Or is he from a Coreward polity of some Vargr state? Is Vash reliable, iffy, or stereotypically mercurial. What level of charisma does Aston have in Vash's lupine eyes?

More development of Aston and the other crews' pasts please. It gives us an added dimension to who they are and what they are to Aston. Is he attracted to one of the lady crew? Are the restaurant and hotdog stands all that Aston and Vash do together? How does a Virushi fit through the airlock of a Type-S Scout vessel? What kind of shipboard modifications are needed to accommodate such a huge sophont?

These are but a few minor details that can add window dressing alongside the story's plot, Aston's latest challenge. The more us readers see of the Third Imperium's Scout Service and the current world, the more we can identify with or be repulsed by the Official Traveller Universe. The bazaar scene on the Vargr world appealed to the olfactory sense and the visual chaos. That kind of backdrop is the crack in our nutshell of disbelief.

This reaction brought to you without any abbreviations.

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Old November 28th, 2017, 08:38 PM
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Question Story or Diced Encounter

So, I have a question. While I was writing Down A Peg, I was digging out T5 dice and rolling Personals, planetary and space Encounters and seeing if that would spark up a chapter of story.

Are the Scout's Tales chapters of a game character or just an author's main character?

Do we ever subject our characters to random story generation?

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Old November 28th, 2017, 09:10 PM
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I guess it's more or less a series of scenes that comprise a story. One of my great difficulties and issues with Traveller is that GDW had provided such a huge tapestry, but save with a handful of supplements, the players were mostly left to gallivant around the Marches as a giant sand box like structure.

Writing fan fic for Starfire, Star Wars, Barbarian Prince, Tolkien fan fic, my own fantasy setting, any other game, was actually quite easy. Even if the environment was abstract like Starfire or even Ogre before it became the "juggernaut" that it is now (no pun intended), there was enough stuff there to grasp onto in order to weave a good tale.

In this sense Richard Aston is my attempt to ground Traveller for myself.

Back in the 80s the gamestores and hobby stores had entire walls filled with racks of adventures, mostly for D&D. Incredible artwork, finely detailed maps, wonderful prose, rich backgrounds and what not.

My issue with D&D is that as a pre-teen I had been exposed to Mallory and Chaucer (as well as Tolkein back in the early 70s before the Rankin Bass thing, a long before Jackson), and for all the descriptions of swords and armor, there was little (in fact none) in the way of describing knighthood. And the research on what an actual Paladin was, .. it was so far off base as to be really just out to lunch. So, I tended not to bother with D&D.

But D&D, and other fantasy games, had very well grounded environs for a plethora of derivative settings. Traveller didn't have that. My friends and I would game out a Snapshot hostage situation using FASA's hotel module, but it's like a lot of things for Traveller were bare bones.

I've got stories on other HDs, floppies and CDs in storage where Aston is sitting in a raft at a type E port on a water world. I've got him mining for ore on a moon. I've got him in massive fire fights in the Siege of Efate. But a lot of that stuff (that I've never shared with anyone) is set against an abstract 3I.

In terms of his chronology, throughout the years that I've tried to develop his character, I had a loose chronology that would give some logical structure to his travels in the Imperium, and try to avoid his events colliding with the jump rules; i.e. such that he wasn't in the Marches one week, then back on Earth the next, then hopping around with Hivers the week following that, and the like.

Even so, there is a kind of random factor in the scenes I've posted here. Initially Aston went through basic, and then got tossed into the Marches. But again, I've rethought that, and have tried to put some kind of structure to his travels.

Otherwise they're just various scenes from places in the Traveller-verse that I've not seen explored to any great detail, but find interesting.
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Old November 29th, 2017, 09:02 AM
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On Vash

Vash was born out of the simple need to create a set of characters for a set of Traveller fiction. I think I came up with him ... I think just before I went to finish my degree, possibly earlier than that. That would have been around 2001 to 2004, close to the time I joined this forum, and about the time Hunter and I were talking about me writing for T20 ("If you can write a screenplay, you can write an adventure"). We were talking because at that time I still had hopes, dreams and ambitions to shoot a Traveller short, but noted that if T20 became a thing, then Traveller was about to get a radical makeover.

Even so, I just needed to include a Vargr. I picture Vash as per the Vargr on the cover of the old CT Alien 3 module, the one in the background wearing the red and grey Victorian era-like military uniform with epaulets and golden fabric adornments, but perhaps Vash's grey fur leans more towards a darker shade, perhaps almost Husky or Malamute like.

I didn't want to make him a stereotype. Having known many dogs (and one or two wolves) in my life time, they tend to be rambunctious when very young, but otherwise mellow out with age like all of us. And are extremely loyal almost to a fault. Having said that, Vash is not based on any of the dogs I've owned or known in my life time, but kind of my ideal of what a "good Vargr citizen" might be like. I tend to think that like a lot of immigrant populations you get a hodge-podge of different personality types, and the local prejudices and nativism tends to bring the negative personalities and personality traits to the surface for those who are really affronted with racism. Vash is no different, but like a lot of people I know who are in minority populations, realizes that he can't change the way people think, and his best weapon against prejudice is just to do things better without "rubbing their noses" in it (to borrow from a canine disciplinary tool), because that just creates resentment.

In short, he's a Vargr, but he's a normal human by choice because that's what helps him get through the day. But he still has pack hunting instincts, can smell better than humans (although according to SciShow human olfactory senses are probably just as effective in a number of ways as animals with very strong senses of smell). And like a lot of animals I've known he prefers tasty human food and doesn't mind trying "alien delicacy", even if it's potentially poisonous (again, like a lot of dogs and a few wolves I know encountered).

When I created Vash I really thought of just turning him into a dissatisfied growler who was pleased and tail wagging when things went his way, but that put him on the verge of being bipolar by human clinical standards, and even though canine and lupines have those tendencies, and Vash probably does deep down inside, he, like a lot of moody humans, realizes that just "letting it all hang out" only makes life harder, and probably reinforces already deeply felt prejudices among humans who don't care much for Vargr.

I thought of including an Aslan and Droyne as permenant assignments to Aston's crew, but I really didn't want to make an "X-men" kind of tapestry. I wanted to write about good normal duty bound folks that readers could relate to.

So, in short, even though I have the DGP alien module Vilani and Vargr, and I've breezed through it, I'm still relying on my antiquated memory banks from when I first read the CT Alien Module 3. I've read Vilani Vargr, but even though I read the CT module first and, relatively speaking, the VV module more recently (in the last 25 years), for some reason the CT module stands out more in my mind .... maybe because I read it when I was younger, and used it more than I ever did the DGP module.

Anyway, I hope that helps explain some of what Vash is all about.

p.s. his name was originally more along the lines of G'Vegh or something more Vargr sounding, but I wanted a name that readers could pronounce, or if I ever wrote something for the big or small screen, then something that was easy to learn, remember, and maybe sounded like a name an uplifted Wolf species might say or name their child.
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Last edited by Blue Ghost; December 1st, 2017 at 12:02 AM.. Reason: I'm not old enough to have lived in 20,001 :)
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Old November 30th, 2017, 04:10 AM
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Pakkrat, you also had some curiosity about the Aslan. To me Aslan, like a lot of Traveller aliens, can come across as one-dimensional--almost caricatures of themselves or facets of human behavior they're meant to emulate. I see the Aslan as traditional big-ego-big-honor types. Kind of like Japanese samurai or a medieval knight who was big on doing good deeds (most of them weren't).

To me they're only interesting in that like a lot of Traveller-space, they're untapped. I think in all the adventures we did "back in the day" we came across one official Aslan NPC...Murder on the Arcturus Station. By comparison, because Vargr are violently whimsical (all in the name of freedom), they're a bit more interesting, and more reflect human faults. I think Aslan, in this regard, represent what humans strive for, but in this way represent human shortcomings by trying to be honorable to a fault.

I actually left Aslan space with Aston because I thought if I wrote Aslan characters with what we consider as character flaws, then that he or she would be seen as implausible; i.e. "an Aslan wouldn't do that..." kind of thing.

This this sense the Aslan area easy to write for, but only as protagonists, or antagonists wronged who later see the light.

Anyway, I hope that addresses some issues you had with the Aslan.
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Old December 30th, 2017, 06:09 PM
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Last week my number of views was just peaking over 1000. Now I'm at 1300 and some change.

I'd like to thank everyone for giving my stuff a cursory glance. And for being very forgiving of the extremely rough unedited read that are my postings for the adventures of Richard Aston.

Thanks again. Very much appreciated.
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Old December 30th, 2017, 09:35 PM
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Thumbs up Enjoying the Jewell Riot

Yes! On Jewell, the reader feels threatened, feels for the fallen, wants the crew to help and Aston to vanguard where he can. We feel the sophont humanity as Aston watches someone die. There is visual and auditory stimuli. Taste sense is hinted at with the mention of dessert, a nice touch of homespun camaraderie. A shockwave or six that shakes the ground, shatters hotel glass, rocks the characters' world would create an added, tactile sensory input.

Spelling, a better word choice or two, but the story is supported by the causes of the protesting special interest groups. This is a scenario similar to one I pulled in my Ares Adventures Travellers. During the Fifth Frontier War, many innocent Vargr were repeatedly suspected of being forward spies for the Outworld Coalition. The more Extents a Vargr looked, the deeper the paranoid misconception. That's when some local on Regina spotted the shoulder insignia of the Dzen Aeng Kho on my Gvegh Scout-Courier. An arrest later, led to court and a defense with the Advocate skill by the ship's best 'lawyer'. Friendship was struck that day when Gevaudan was released on the lawyer's cognizance, long enough to get off-world again.

A time-stamp is hinted at in this Jewell story. Tensions between the Zhodani and the Imperials are heating up, if the reader notices. Guessing, I place this story between 1100 and 1105.

I am enjoying this episode. Keep up the good work! With each such short tale, episode, more of us on this forum get windows into the many worlds of Traveller, especially the Third Imperium.
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Old December 31st, 2017, 12:28 AM
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Thanks Pakkrat. I just read through the first installment, and found myself grimacing at the run-ons. When you write, and you think it's good, you get a kind of natural high by thinking that you're dishing out genius prose to the masses. Then you go back and wonder how it is that you missed putting in a word, or skipped a thought or two, or whatever faux-paus you stumble across in your own writing, your head sinks between your shoulders.

As for the time, I'm thinking or year or two before hostilities break out. When I used to play a lot, like everyone else who comes here, most of our sessions took place in the Marches during the 5thFW, but most of the time it was a non-event or non-issue, because we simply forgot about it. None of the adventures made too much of a stipulation about the war, save for a few off handed mentions. So ... for stuff like Twilights Peak or Chamax Plague, or someplace closer like Research Station Gamma, none of the adventure authors really brought it up in spite of it being in the chronology and mentioned, I think, in the library data.

Ergo, when I think of the various wars we, the US, have fought, I wanted to try and capture a contemporary flavor of what it might be like on the border worlds of the Imperium with tensions running high.

That, and I dropped in some conventionalizations to ground the reader; i.e. chili dogs (which I think are cool), Boston Cream pie (which I also think is cool), the Marriot (because they run a decent 4-star 5-ish hotel) and so forth. It's just who I am and how I write.

One booboo I made is that I've got two science officers and a nurse, so the team is approx. 8 PCs, when it was meant to be 4 or 5 My bad, like everything else in it.

Ah yes, as I sit in my office chair, pounding on the keys, thinking I'm just cranking out sheer genius and then paste it into the posting field so I can joyfully hit the "Submit Reply" button, I am then struck with the reality that I just posted sheer and utter run-on dreck Oh well
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Old December 31st, 2017, 06:53 AM
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Just to add here (broken record time); our groups put down Traveller more than once due to some game mechanic issues, but it had the allure in that it had solid "build your own starship and setting" rules, and the combat system was pretty straight forward.

Now, that aside, the GURPS like feel and promise that was grandfathered out, and yet stuck around with all the groups I was ever in, tended to compete or nudge the OTU during sessions. That is the Vargr were there as aliens, but the FFW wasnt'. The Droyne were, but how come they aren't involved in that war that's only loosely referred to?

So, to me at least, this is the thing about this game as a hobby, and that is as you try go navigate its setting for the purpose of adding onto it, things gel and just become a lot more clearer. Back in the day, from 80 up through 95 or thereabouts, and again in 2007 to 2009 I think, there's a kind of murkiness in terms of what's actually going on in the Marches between 1100 and 1113 (or whenever the war ended).

So, one of my aims is to try and clear up that shapeless background. If there's a war on, then how come the players don't experience more battles, or stumble across fleets duking it out? If it's space opera, then, well, where's the opera part?

I mean, after three decades of toying with the system, I understand it a lot better than ever I did as a pre-teen. But even that understanding gets curve tossed at it, ergo I'm more or less trying to sweep out the cob webs of ignorance.

With Gamma World, Blue Planet, Jovian Chronicles, or even SJGames various GURPS books and HERO, there's a form there. Blue Planet is about swimming around on a water world with things like uplifted Orcas, pirates, subs, all that jazz. Jovian Chronicles skews mech-like with shades of various Japanese anime space opera fare. GURPS, for all of its chameleon like forms because it's one basic system with a lot of iterations for specific settings, there's a feel for what it is when you sit down to either just read the supps, or actually play a session. Even HERO has a kind of superhero setting unto itself that's unique and apart from DC or Marvel.

But Traveller, to me, is a little tainted by Keith's sketches, in the back of the 76 patrons and 1001 character LBBs alludes to how you can emulate various characters and settings, but then says there an official OTU. Well, okay, but what does that look like? GURPS added some much needed texture to Traveller, but it still felt nebulous to me, ergo when I wanted to write for it in the early 2000s, about the time I joined the forum, and talked with Hunter about it, I just couldn't wrap my skull around the setting.

Upon reflection a lot of that was intentional, and not just to keep the game detached so that people could use it for whatever kind of gaming session they wanted, but perhaps also to keep it from being too tied to one face or type of presentation. And when you have that, from a writer's standpoint, it's tough to grapple with.

So, that's all a long headed way of me re-stating that I'm just sharing my vision of how the OTU might look and operate. And for all the bad prose I posted, it's actually been kind of a fun process. I've got oodles more stories for Aston and Vash (possible spoiler; at some point Vash was going to age faster than Aston, but I'm not sure I want to do that), but I've got other worlds to explore.

I've stated this in other posts, and I already know the answer and have had it addressed by both the staff here, mister Miller, and just my own genuine "Ah-ha!" moments of realization, but, before I had all that, I was baffled as to why other sub-genres of the scifi genre weren't addressed, and so in this way this is kind of my not-so-sneaky way of shoving in stuff like Dragons or cybogs and whatever else. I mean, it's all fan fiction for a game that has a certain bent to it. As such I feel freer now to play with it as a piece of clay to mold, than I ever did as a Ref running a session for my friends.

Phew! I had to get that out.

This has been an amazing experience. I'll keep writing for Aston and Vash for a while, and maybe toss in a Droyne or a Darrien at some point.

The short version; this has been a very liberating experience. It's all fan fic done in good fun. Thanks for the comments Pakkrat.

I may toss in Hunter Gordon as a character. I really miss that guy.
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