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In My Traveller Universe Detail what parts of Traveller you do (or don't) use in your campaign.

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Old April 1st, 2018, 12:23 AM
Diveguy Diveguy is offline
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Default Travelling in The Fringe - A Near Space interpretation

“”How’d we get here?” You’re asking me to sum up a century of observations, all in the space of a beer. Besides, I haven’t taught a history class since ’58, and that was just as a favor. But, seeing as you’re buying, I’ll do my best...

Two hundred years ago it seemed there were just two predictions about mankind’s future in space. We’d either all be one big, happy family, journeying to the stars under a unified government, facing as one the challenges ahead. Or, it would be all empires and plots, misery and rebellion.

Ends up, we’re somewhere in the middle, same as always.

Sure, the “United Earth Alliance” (UEA) is somewhat of a representative government, composing the majority of the Earth nations, as well as most of the colonies. But, the Interstellar Commercial Commission (ICC), run by the leading multinationals, as well as their subsidiaries from other planets, says “frog” and the UEA jumps. Then you’ve got the French - on the one hand, still part of the UEA, on the other, not afraid to start a colony or three of their own as part of their “sovereign right.” Plus, you’ve got the Mandarin Hegemony splitting off and saying they’re done, and half of the Russian Tsarists doing who knows what down in the “Trading Syndicates”. That’s not even counting what’s going on with different colonial administrations, associations of space traders, and independent stations orbiting some world - we’re definitely far from unified.

Empires and war? Well, the “Empire” bit not so much - but, yeah, wars still happen, no matter what planet you’re on. Someone’s always upset about a bit of land, or money, or religion, and using that as the excuse. Only real difference is these days most of them are fought with drones, or a small “pacification action” using deniable mercenaries rather than massed battles with thousands of troops. Sometimes it’s quiet and clean, others folks get caught in the middle. Either way, seems violence is an easy answer to a lot of problems, even for all our “technology”.

Rebellion? Got that too. Ten years back the folks in the Proxima system thought they were big enough to go their own way. Made a stink about “independence” and “equality” and “self-determination under the UEA Charter.” Turns out, those words didn’t think quite what they meant - especially with the UEA looking at losing a whole chunk of mineral wealth, along with the best shipyards in the systems. Took four years to beat some sense into them, but at the end of the day Proxima is still part of the UEA, and those that rebelled were exiled to The Fringe.

The Fringe. Some call it “Mankind’s next hope” - the doorway to new stars, and new systems beyond Earth’s reach. Sure enough, planets like Chara and Circe have done well enough. And, there’s money to be made - whether it’s in raw materials, alien artifacts, or just knowing who’s buying and selling what and where. Plus you aren’t crowded in, smothered in regulations, and fighting everyone for that one crumb on the plate like folks do back on Earth. But, never forget - we’re stuck out here. No soul can get back to Sol but with UEA approval, and that triple-parsec barrier locks us in far side as well. Ask me, it might be gilded, but it’s a cage, all the same.

“Aliens?” yeah, that’s always the fun question, but you gotta choose your flavor. On the one hand, we found plenty - way more than we expected. It’s not like there’s an Earth in every system, but we’ve run into enough planets that ain’t far off; and far more that have some sort of life, even if it isn’t always pretty to our eyes. Ain’t none of them *smart* though - least, not in ways we understand. Sure, it’s out there somewhere, but we ain’t found it yet.

Except for those that went before. Talk about throwing a wrench in the works and farting in church. Depending on who you talk with, we’ve got solid evidence of three, maybe four, groups of folks that was here long before we stopped swinging from trees. Hell, I spent three semesters on Cotter’s talking about that, and you want me to sum it up here?

Martians - yeah, we all call them that, even though we know they definitely didn’t originate there. Pretty much accepted fact by now that we wouldn’t have achieved jump drives without what was found at Cydonia, much less rumors of more that the government has hid away. That, and we know they sure seemed interested in Earth as humans developed civilization - even found artifacts showing they’d visited our planet and taken home souvenirs. Funny thing is, two centuries on, we still don’t even know what they looked like or found any of their ships. One of those great mysteries still, I suppose.

Then you’ve got those they’re calling “Forerunners” - on account of the age of their ships being at least a million years, best we can tell. Not that we know all that much. Three ships found in deep space, sealed tight and us with no way to get in, and a crashed smaller vessel out on Wolf 359. All of them look as shiny as new-made, and not a tool we got can open them. It’s more that we know they had a habit of showing up in systems which had pretty Terrestrial-like planets. Lots of folks have theories on that, but no real proof one way or another.

Only other one we know for sure we got even less. The Mandarin’s call them “The Enigma,” and instead of being somewhat recognizable, it seems they were some sort of crystalline-electric creatures. Since the Hegemony has popped some interesting new tech out in the past couple of years, some of which goes in strange new directions, lots of folks are curious if there’s a connection.

Course there’s a couple other “maybes” out there too - planets with ruins might be one of the above, or someone we haven’t sorted out yet. Species that do some funny stuff that just *might* be signs of sentience, or maybe we’re reading into it wrong. One way or the other, it’s safe to say we aren’t alone out there.

End of the day way I see it, space is mighty big, but humans remain the same. Most of ‘em just want to raise a family and live a secure life; but, always some that want a bit more. Maybe that’s why The Fringe calls to us. Got danger enough out there, but fortunes to be made as well - and, either way, you’ll learn your worth. I like too think that’s how it was near a thousand years back, when folks first started the “Age of Exploration” back on Earth - and that we’re on the cusp of the same sort of wonders. Maybe a few centuries from now they’ll be reading about something we found, and how it changed our understanding.

Anyway, thanks for the drink, Traveller. Good luck to you.”
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Sir Dominic Storm, Viscount Shershe, Captain Imperial Space Marines (Retired)

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