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  #1  
Old February 7th, 2007, 02:34 PM
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I know, the canon is far more sacrosanct than any one rules subsystem. So, it's all idle.

Having said that, I would ditch the zoomorphs. Seriously. They scream "1985" far more loudly than the underperforming computers.

Now, computers are easily upgraded. Aliens, not so much. What are proper aliens now, in 2007? Beats me. If anything, first cyberpunk and then nano-fi have tended to be indifferent to them.

I want to say, we need more sentient oceans (as in Solaris the weird book, not the crappy movie). But that's hardly enough.

Maybe just not replace them with anything. Make aliens really really rare and strange. No alien empires at all (exception: Hivers, because they're beyond cool).

Apart from that, I got nothin'.

You?
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Old February 7th, 2007, 03:09 PM
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My understanding is that ditching fundamental elements of the OTU is just not on the table.

After all there is so much more that is Space 1977 about Traveller than the poor Vargr - the lack of nanotech, cyberware, AI etc and it looks like T5 will still not have those - as well as the 2D universe, the worlds that are all magically multiples of 3.26 light years apart, the jumps that take one week, 56th century pseudo-feudalism etc.

Uplifted furry animals are as nothing in comparison.
  #3  
Old February 7th, 2007, 03:28 PM
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In one of the introductory texts early in the T5 "playtest", Marc said something about the key concepts of the game. I can't remember the exact details but some of them sounded very at odds with what we've come to know as Traveller, IIRC one of them was that humans weren't a big part of the universe? I'm sure someone who has more info can chip in with the exact details but they had us scratching our heads quite a bit at the time.

But yeah, the fundamental problem with the setting is that it's dated (and that MT review that was linked to the other day also pointed this out too). Maybe it was relevant at the time, but nowadays scifi (and scifi fans) has largely moved on from clunkytech space empires and glorified furries. That and none of the aliens in Traveller are really "alien" at all, they're very much "humans in funny suits".

Addendum: I've read a lot of books lately where the aliens aren't there anymore, but their huge ultratech relics (hollow moons, acceleration gates, boobytraps, etc) or their leftover nanite killing machines are. Alasdair Reynolds in particular seems to be fond of that sort of thing. Techwise we've also had a lot of transhumanist scifi lately exploring things like uploaded intelligences and posthumans ("Cusp", by IIRC Michael Metzer? is an enormously entertaining romp of that ilk), which Traveller completely ignores. There are still some authors around who think that the future is going to be like the past but in space (most of it military-based, oddly enough), but the more... thoughtful scifi is really about the cutting edge.
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Old February 7th, 2007, 03:30 PM
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Take the alien generation table do a few tweaks & cheats. Plunk your character's ship down a Farscape Wormhole that was created by the Regenerators (not, the Ancients) and away you will go. Same rules as the OTU but suddenly things go much weirder and wonderful. The basic tech that served them so well over there suddenly is archaic. Suddenly, the universe is your oyster again.
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  #5  
Old February 7th, 2007, 03:37 PM
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Well now kafka, to me that wouldn't be Traveller. If you're going to take the PCs and toss them into an alternate universe or a distant part of this one that has no connection to the OTU setting, then you're playing a different game.

That's why I've often advocated a reboot/reimagination of the OTU - have the same races (tweaked to be a bit more alien/interesting), the same setting (tweaked to have updated tech, working trade, similar ships, more realistic systems, similar history etc) and so on. It's still the Traveller setting, just...fixed. [img]smile.gif[/img]
  #6  
Old February 7th, 2007, 04:04 PM
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It's the old problem... one of the strikes against scifi RPGs over against fantasy RPGs is that the latter's source material and hence the settings age so slowly. Lankhmar in 1985 and in 2007 are the same thing. New fantasy (sub)genres evolve all the time, but they don't invalidate older ones. A Game of Thrones, or even Perdido Street Station, doesn't make Conan look dated--not at the core.

We are not so fortunate.

You also have to think ahead... today, as opposed to ten years ago, cyberpunk is already barely tolerable any more. How long is the transhumanist thing going to last?

Is it possible to create/modify a scifi setting in such a way that it's specific enough to be exciting but generic enough to be modifiable? Probably not.

What about publishing several Traveller universes? One with wolves and people in banana republic uniforms, one with nano, one with next decade's flavor?

Greg Porter did something like that with his various EABA settings, most of which are future or near-future (and some of which are very cool, btw).
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  #7  
Old February 7th, 2007, 04:09 PM
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Wouldn't go so far as to say none of the aliens are really alien (how would we know anyway?) - Hivers are pretty bizarre as are some of the minor races like the Shriekers.

Also think that there's a lot to be said for the assmption that the aliens who humans will interact with most are those most compatible/comprehensible to humans and the really weird ones would be like Cherryh's Knnn or the gas giant dweller race in the Flandry books, who'd hardly have any basis for interaction as they can't share the same real estate.

And as for SF fans, many more of them buy Star Wars and Trek and B5 books with their 'humanoids of the week' than the cutting edge new SF you or I might prefer - and old SF like Heinlein or Asimov (and deliberately retro- new stuff from the likes of Weber and Ringo) is still pretty damn popular.

I suppose the real cutting of the Gordian knot would be to ditch any new milieu (which I don't think anyone really wants) and make T5 truly generic again and franchisable to other settings as well as the OTU.

Just write in some alternative FTL methods (as FFS1 did), options for all the missing hi-tech (again much of which was in FFS1) and then maybe it can become the system of choice for the Cherryverse or Flandry or B5.
  #8  
Old February 7th, 2007, 04:19 PM
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I'm all for tweaking aliens
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  #9  
Old February 9th, 2007, 12:51 AM
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The fundamental complaint seems to be that the aliens in the original CT were just people in furrysuits. So we throw them out and replace them with... what? Aliens that look weirder?
Wouldn't that just be people in rubber suits? Is it just the way they look that is annoying? If they looked more like the Predator from the movies would they be more acceptable?

There seems to be some thought that they are not "alien" enough. For the Vagar, this makes
perfect sense. Remember, their ancestors were terrestrial wolves. Their origins are tied in with the story of the ancients that manipulated may races.

As for the Aslani, I like them. It is a favorite topic of what if another species besides hominids developed intelligence first. They come form a planet much like the African plain on earth (savanna), and if the theory of evolution is correct, similar environments create life forms that are similar. So it is not improbable that one a planet like that you would have a creature that looks "something like" a terrestrial cat (remember, they are only something like lions). So what if that cat-like creature developed intelligence?

As to the cyber, nano-tech, et al. A lot of that can just be "assumed". Why have rules to cover
nanites when the rules for doing things just assume they are their? The repulcators in StarTrek are a prime example of this. For years, nobody bothered to ask how they worked. It was just... science fiction. Later, when the concept of nanites came up someone said, "Hey, that's how they do that!" Cybernetics can be handled much the same way. A person loses a limb or an eye, it's replaced with a cybernetic equivalent. Same functions and stats. It's even filled with EMP resistant nanites so that it heals just like the original would. Why bother weighing down the rules with them? They are what ancient gamers like myself refer to as "Chrome". The look real nice, but they do not enhance the performance of the car.
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  #10  
Old February 9th, 2007, 01:52 AM
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it's bad enough that traveller has five or six rule sets. now it's to have five or six settings too? imitate other settings? follow the latest fads? what will we call it? star wars lite? star trek wannabe? transhuman lame?

the CT setting strikes me as being particularly powerful in scope and potential, both for players and writers. 11,000 worlds over 3000 years and beyond! if that's not enough then maybe traveller itself isn't the issue.

as for the aliens not being alien enough, sounds like a referee problem. the aliens can be as alien as you want them to be - and I think that that's why they're not so alien.
 

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