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The Aleph--An attempt at Zing

Ok, picture this:

Part one-The Pitch

Around three months before T5 comes out a series of one-shot adventures comes out for 993, 1248, and GT.

One of them, released for the then booming 1248 milieu goes something like this-

The players begin deep in the wilds, nearing a gas giant for some rough re-fueling. As they approach the looming mass, their sensors pick up a faint broadcast--a Signal GK transmission that follows the protocols of the Third Imperium. It also picks up an old-style transponder desperately reaching out to nearby ships. As they pull in to investigate, they see it: a smallish brisitling with very high tech sensors and weaponry. Aside from some battle damage, it's gleaming hull suggests that this is a new ship. A cursory reading of it's hull configuration and equipment shows that the ship is similar to crafts built at the very height of the Third Imperium. An impression that is reinforced by the blazing emblem proudly imprinted on the ship's hull.

After determining that the craft is powered down and apparently harmless, the PCs are encouraged to board it to investigate. The ships systems are currently offline and it's distress beacon is running off of an auxillary battery. Strangely enough, the ship has networked TL16 computers in abundance, although it's primary computers look as though many of them have recently been blown out. Equally bizarre is the number of TL16 and possibly + spare parts in the hold.

However, the most disturbing thing the PCs notice is a cache of old 3I credits in one of the crew quarters. Normally this wouldn't be out of place on a 3I ship but for two things- 1) The 1cr pieces all bear the image of Empress Iphegenia and 2) they were minted in the treasury in Vland sector in 1192, nearly eighty years after Vland seceeded from the Imperium.

And when the party brings the ship even half online it's internal communication system whispers to them the desperate words of ship's old A.I.: 'the Eaters...they've found the Aleph...mustn't get through...we must get back, warn them, destroy it, or none of us are safe..."

As the adventure continues the PCs are eventually brought face to face with an Ancient artifact that opens a bridge to some very different places. They will have a whirlwind tour of the different milieux, leaping between a Vilani Imperium embroiled in a war with the upstart Terrans, a world where Dulinor failed and Strephron held the Imperium together, a universe where the Imperium was shattered, but Virus never released and where the Hard Times continue. They will leap to the Golden Age of the 3I and to a Year 0 and in both instances realize that the history is slightly different than their own.

All the while they are dragged along by a petulant ship that is desperate to return to it's home universe, warn the Empress and destroy the Aleph. They are brought face to face with the eaters-Virus infected Droyne machines that have rediscovered how to work some Ancient technology and will not rest until they have come through the Aleph and dominate all of the TUs.

Can the PCs stop the Eaters from coming through the Aleph and subjegating universe after universe? Will they get back to the 1248 milieu by the end? Will the Aleph be destroyed and the secrets of pan-dimensional travel finally be buried with Grandfather and his kin? All these questions will be answered in The Aleph: 1248 (and of course, although set-up differently, Aleph: GT, Aleph: 993, Aleph: IW, etc)...
Part Two: the rationalization.

Like it or not the OTU milieux have become a crucial aspect of the Traveller brand. While this is fantastic for us die-hards who will be fascinated by each of them, it has its problems. My Aleph/OTUs idea is an attempt to address them without throwing the baby with the bathwater.

The first problem is that, as a few posters have stated, everyone knows where the historical settings are going to end. By making each milieux and YTU a slightly different timeline within a matirx of OTUs you can have canon and the freedom of not knowing how your Imperium will develop. A second problem is that some settings (like the Rebellion) have been overwritten with canon endings. This frees them up for further development down the road (who doesn't want a Hard Times 1137 supplement?). And yes, some groups already do this, but this way it is validated and a potential source of profit from the developers.

And yes, I said developers. I'm working on the premise that T20 and GT will continue alongside T5. If Mark is interested in the health of the Traveller brand rather than a particular rule set, I think it is good to keep the other games going. With a set of adventures that alude to or directly cross-over with the different Mileux offered by the different companies you manage to:
1) cross-promote Traveller in all it's forms (good for the brand)
2) allow each company to develop the settings they are invested in and good at developing
3) encourage T20 players to grab IW and GT players to grab Gateway 993 or whatever the T5 default setting is.

Finally, I agree that T5 needs one, kick-ass developed setting and then allusions to the other milieux. I would suggest a first civil war setting that firmly establishes that it will end differently than the old OTU timeline. I also think that doing a multi-verse approach is a good way to allude to/encourage the exploration of the other settings and rich histories of Traveller. In my vision each TU would be legitimate and every YTU would fit within the OTUs.

(and for the record I don't know anything about the new setting for Gurps 4th ed, but I suspect I'm plagerizing. Not that multiverses are that original. Ask any comic book reader).
Interesting idea - a Traveller multiverse.

Could be the only way to reconcile the rules induced differences between the eras...
It's a good idea... but then you have to figure out what ruleset to use. And from what I've seen of it, personally I'd rather chew my own legs off than use T5's rules.

Kinda makes you wonder when the game's fans come up with better ideas of what to do with the setting than the guy who came up with it in the first place though.
Originally posted by Malenfant:
Kinda makes you wonder when the game's fans come up with better ideas of what to do with the setting than the guy who came up with it in the first place though.
Heh, us RuneQuestors have had that problem for years ...
Originally posted by Malenfant:
It's a good idea... but then you have to figure out what ruleset to use. And from what I've seen of it, personally I'd rather chew my own legs off than use T5's rules.

Kinda makes you wonder when the game's fans come up with better ideas of what to do with the setting than the guy who came up with it in the first place though.
Ahhh, but think that's one of the advantages of this approach. It ultimately looks at Traveller as a brand not a rule set. Therefore, it doesn't favor any of the existing/upcoming rulesets and in fact encourages consumers to see it all as Traveller first and D20, Gurps, or Mark Miller second.

It would also encourage say, T20 players to go out and grab IW if it tickles their fancy, even if it does have a different ruleset, as setting material. The important thing is that what is good sales wise for one form of Traveller is good for the Traveller brand as a whole. And quite frankly if T5's rules prove popular or fails completely then the market can take care of those products without necessarily sinking the T5 milieu/Traveller brand.

Oh, and on an unrelated note, I was thinking that at the end of the first set of Aleph adventures, the Aleph artifact would be destroyed in order to cut down on the possibility of this turning into 'Interdimensional Traveller.' Refs would be encouraged to use Pandimensional travel very sparingly (so would product developers for that matter). That said, I think the last 'read to your PCs' section of the adventures would all hint that there were more Alephs out there, waiting to be found...
Very nice idea, Cad Lad!

Taking the approach of dealing with the Intellectual Property of Traveller is a winning formula and having the licences fight it out in their respective zones. Kinda reminds me what I first thought of D20. Traveller, I do, believe is up to the challenge (pun intended), I just wonder how far we could stretch the IP. When you look at the OGL, look at the work of Monte Cook of late and not it resembles nothing like the original D&D (which is not neccessarily a bad thing).

I also like the adventure hook.
Not just Runequest, either. I got "Gregged" recently in Pendragon. (And not just setting... rules, too, got "Greggings"

And, like Mal, T5 current-draft is clearly in the chew off limbs rather than play.