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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 May 5th, 2019, 01:53 PM
mactavish mactavish is offline
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Default New Near-Future Earth Setting

Good afternoon, Travellers.

I am looking for input into a near-future campaign that begins on Earth but then expands out into the Milky Way.

The setting begins in 2023. Humanity is unaware of life beyond Earth let alone extraterrestrial intelligence. Mankind does not possess Jump Drive or most of the other Traveller-standard technologies.

Habitable planets are uncommon but not exceedingly so. Roughly 1 in every 1,000 worlds has human-tolerable gravity, temperature, atmosphere and hydrology. Of these habitable planets, about a third have plants (or their analogues), and of those roughly 5% have more complex lifeforms, typically including (but not necessarily limited to): microscopic life, insects/arachnids, fish, amphibians and reptiles (or analogous contemporaries).

Very few worlds have the equivalent of avians or mammals (< 1% of life-bearing worlds), and fewer still ever produced proto-sentient or sentient life.

Having stated thus, there are three other sophonts within a few months' travel [at Jump-1] of Earth, including:

1. Danari'i: A mammalian-insectile humanoid race of greenish hue. They are primarily mammalian analogues, but have similarities to terrestrial monotremes (i.e. egg-laying mammals). They are slightly smaller than the average Terran (1.5m), have what appears to be scaly green skin (actually exoskeletal plates), and have two large pupilless eyes and four smaller eyes (laid out symmetrically). They also sport two 0.2m-long insect-like antennae extending up and back from the top of the head.

The Danari'i are the most similar in terms of psychology to humanity, but would charitably be referred to as "bipolar" by human clinicians. Nevertheless, they are gregarious if somewhat paranoid of non-Danari'i.

The Danari'i possess Jump-2, control a handful of star systems, and are generally the only real power in their interstellar neighborhood. They are comfortably ~150 years more technologically advanced than terrestrial humans at the beginning of the campaign.

2. Haarnians: Near-humans (thanks to parallel evolution) of impressive intellect and expansive civility, the Haarnians are [outwardly] nearly indistinguishable from Homo sapiens, though the whole of the population appears to be of East Asian ancestry (i.e. epicanthic folds around the eyes), again thanks to parallel evolution, though they are completely hairless and of very pale complexion.

Despite being ~300 years more advanced than Earth, the Haarnians never developed faster-than-light space travel (i.e. Jump Drive). However, within the last 20 years one of their preeminent scientists designed and produced TransMat technology (i.e. macroscopic teleportation on an interstellar scale). Using this technology, the Haarnian ruling Science Council has begun dispatching fast STL probes to nearby star systems.

The Haarnians are almost certainly capable of designing and constructing faster-than-light engines and starships; they just have little interest in doing so. Their high-speed STL engines have proven more than adequate for establishing colonies on every viable planet, dwarf planet, moon and asteroid in their solar system.

3. Ux-But'tat: The Ux-Bhu'tat are a hexapedal humanoid race (four arms, two legs) reminiscent of shaggy black terrestrial orangutans. They stand nearly 2m tall and tend to eschew clothing (though most wear harnesses to carry important items).

A barbarian race ~100 years less advanced than humanity until roughly 50 years ago, Ux-Bhu'tat "wise men" managed to reverse-engineer a Danari'i scout ship that crashed on their homeworld after encountering a solar flare. Since that time, the Ux-Bhu'tat managed to improve their spacefaring technologies to those of 1980s Earth with the exception being that they can construct 100-200 dTon starships capable of traveling at Jump-1.

The Ux-Bhu'tat are ruled by a feudal technocracy comprised of aggressive and constantly competing barons, each of which controls a city-state. The more powerful city-states send representatives to a Barony Council that sets policy for the planet. Their combined space forces managed to subjugate several planets in neighboring systems.

Further, the Ux-Bhu'tat have three genders: alpha [male], beta [subordinate male] and female. Theirs is a largely female-dominated society with the barons chosen from the offspring of the most prominent matriarchal lineages.

The Ux-Bhu'tat are the nearest extraterrestrial sophonts to Earth. A few barons have aggressively begun scouting the systems for an eventual invasion as there are vast resources otherwise unavailable in their own system or in other systems they've surveyed (including potentially subjugated humans for use as slaves).

Besides the above-listed races, Danari'i scouts have uncovered artifacts on several worlds across several star systems suggesting the existence of a [now-extinct] race of sophonts that they refer to as the Builders. All evidence uncovered thus far is at least 80,000 years old, so recovery of any organic residue is unlikely.

Unbeknownst to all of the intelligent, spacefaring races (and humanity) is the the Builders are the answer to the Fermi paradox. In the distant past the Builders, fearful of upstart intelligent races interfering with their inscrutable agenda, devised and produced a Von Neumann-type nano-weapon system and programmed it to seek out other intelligent spacefaring civilizations and eradicate them, then use their surviving technologies and infrastructure to reproduce, expand outward and continue their mission.

While it would be poetic justice, the Builders did not fall victim to their creation. They instead degraded over time due to a genetic instability that their medical science could ameliorate but not correct. Their numbers dwindled until, roughly 75,000 years ago, the surviving population constructed subterranean bases throughout their space, programmed their greatest artificial intellects (artilects) to study the problem, and to wake the survivors from their induced hibernation when a cure was discovered.

In recent years, the artilects discovered Earth and its resident Homo sapiens. Their research indicates that the human genome may provide a solution to their problem.

So there it is. This is what I've come up with so far. I'd love to read your comments, particularly what Technology Levels you all think are appropriate for the various alien races as well as the Builders.

Thanks in advance.

mactavish out.

Last edited by mactavish; May 5th, 2019 at 02:03 PM..
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Old May 5th, 2019, 02:16 PM
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What will a group of PCs do in this setting?
The beauty of CT LBB1-3 is that the ref is free to make such decisions for themselves.
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Old May 5th, 2019, 03:18 PM
mactavish mactavish is offline
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That's the million-credit question, isn't it?

There are a couple scenarios that I have in mind, a couple possible introductions, and I'm not sure which to start with (or whether to have my group splint into more than one group and introduce them to the campaign separately).

The first scenario is First Contact. The PCs are in positions that provide access to a Danari'i delegation that approaches humanity to a.) warn them of a probably invasion by the Ux-Bhu'tat (whom the Danari'i despise), b.) render assistance in preparing for a potential invasion, c.) warn them about the Great Filter approaching them (as - in this scenario - mankind is on the precipice of developing a Jump Drive prototype) or d.) Ux-Bhu'tat representatives (in a nod to a stealth invasion) circumvent Danari'i intervention by approaching Earth first to warn them that the Danari'i are the real threat.

The second scenario is Abduction. The PCs are taken by either Danari'i hunters in a Predators-style situation, dumped on an alien world, and either hunted to their eventual deaths (some or all), or they manage to make a miraculous escape and steal the Ux-Bhu'tat ship (or, if they don't manage to do so on there own, are rescued by a Danari'i scout from a different clan).

The third scenario is that the PCs are on a Research Team for SETI (or a successor or some other private organization) that uncovers an Ux-Bhu'tat signal in high Earth orbit. In this case, other PCs - maybe military (or ex-military) - assist in the response when the vessel is unceremoniously shot out of the sky by missiles, satellite defenses, or what have you. The whole group responds to the crash site (conveniently nearby) and has to deal with hostile aliens as well as being tasked with recovering any surviving technologies/artifacts (which will certainly include their near-functional Jump Drive).

A final scenario is Evacuation: the necessity of escaping Earth in as large numbers as possible due to the approach of the Builders' weapon. This would fit in with the idea that humans are testing the first Jump Drive prototype and the weapon detected its signature. While it is unlikely to be defeated - and that is a possibility, if the Players are clever - there is at least the chance that some fraction of humanity (including the PCs) could be taken elsewhere, perhaps by the Danari'i (who are sympathetic to mans' plight), the Ux-Bhu'tat (who would love to have some slaves), the Haarnians (who use their TransMat to teleport masses of humanity to colony worlds [as a kind of terrarium]), or maybe even some other unknown agent (i.e. rogue Builders who believe humanity may be their key to survival, time travelers [LOL], etc.).

I love the concept of the whole of humanity being thrust into a galactic-political morass, particularly when most of the others are hostiles (or at least potentially hostiles). I also love post-apocalypse settings as well. This has the potential to be either or both.

mactavish out.
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