This discussion is to reasonably clearly spell out the rule/setting combination known as Proto-Traveller
. I'll keep this OP updated as the model gets refined.
Proto-Traveller is a small ship, low traffic Traveller Universe, typically
focusing on civilian or quasi-civilian (ex-military) play rather than strictly military science-fiction. It tends to prefer the simpler rules over the more complex ones: basic chargen over advanced chargen; weapons from Book 1 over the ironmongery of Book 4; and so on.
It is therefore closely aligned with Traveller key concepts, embodied in this post: What is Traveller?
Proto-Traveller is a subset of the Traveller rules, typically including LBBs 1-4, Supplements 1-4, Adventures 1-4 and all of the Double Adventures. Adventures 10 and 12 are sometimes included, as are other booklets.
What little setting information is contained in Proto-Traveller is inconsequential enough to be safely ignored or replaced without harm. This pretty much includes any OTU proper noun except perhaps Psionics Institutes and TAS.
Alternately, Proto-Traveller (almost completely sans setting) is completely described by the Traveller5 Core Rules.
Here is material which is typically excluded from basic Proto-Traveller, only to be brought in as desired by the referee:
JTAS and Challenge
- Advanced Character Generation
- OTU Starcharts and background material
- High Guard 2 (HG2 or just HG) and related material
- Merchant Prince
A number of articles in JTAS and Challenge are useful to Proto-Traveller. JTAS Nos. 1-6 generally is completely acceptable. Nos. 7 and up, and all Challenge issues, have good material, subject to the exclusion list above.
Ships are designed using "Book 2 Plus" (click here for an example of a B2+ design system
): a system which included add-ons from a prototype of High Guard 1 when needed (examples: small craft drives and fuel use, armor, hull configurations, and particle accelerator barbettes). The size limitations of Book 2 are honored -- but note that Book 2's drive potential table implicitly permits slow and ponderous ships up to 12,000 tons. That's 120 hardpoints, folks. The implication is clear: dreadnoughts are slow but thick with armor and bristling with firepower. There's one more implication: virtual battery rules must be used when fighting with the larger ships.
There are also hints of a wide array of non-standard components which exist at various places in or near Charted Space. For example, the unique drive design of the ANNIC NOVA, the military jump drives of the Scout/Courier, the integrated Jump/Power drive of the Xboat, and Black Globe artifact caches.
The Kinunir is considered a true battle cruiser. Book 2 starship combat tends to be preferred -- although Book 2 has no rules for dealing with armored hulls.
Setting assumptions for Proto-Traveller are baked into the game's rules (see What is Traveller?
). Beyond that, there is sparse support for an early form of the Third Imperium. Since this material is relatively easily ignored, Proto-Traveller is a way to run Traveller with some setting other than the OTU. Typically a "golden age of SF" setting, or a home-brewed one.
The Third Imperium
Originally Posted by Supplement 3
The lmperium is a strong interstellar government encompassing 281 subsectors and approximately 11,000 worlds.
Approximately 1100 years old, it is the third human empire to control this area, the oldest, and the strongest.
Nevertheless, it is under strong pressure from its neighboring interstellar governments, and does not have the strength nor the power which it once had.
The Third Imperium is significantly darker than what is later portrayed, and is specifically labelled as declining. Capital physically controls the only known narrow crossing of a Rift that cuts through the local galactic arm. The Spinward Marches could be
an actual frontier -- although the Imperium has neighboring interstellar empires which put strong pressure on it.
The Spinward Marches
A flagging political entity such as this Third Imperium is twitchy, prone to rash moves, cannot cover all its bases as it once did. A weakened Imperium means that there are few ships, a short reach, a slow reaction time... especially in the distant and difficult to reach Spinward Marches. Thus, there is an implied vacuum in the Imperial power in the Spinward Marches. Even as it expanded into the region, its power was failing.
The True Frontier
Though the borders of the Proto-Imperium aren't known, what IS known is that the Imperium has open borders. Instead of being hemmed in on every side by client, rival, and sophont empires, the Imperium has unexplored space at its back door.