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Why I Like...


I've noticed on this board that a lot of people have a very wide view of which versions of Traveller/2300/Twilight2000 they like, and even which aspects within each category they like, for example why they like Striker/High Guard/Book 2 etc. So I thought I'd start this thread to give everyone a specific place to go to express what it is about their favorite systems/adventures/game settings that they like so much. That way someone who hasn't played that particular form or game can read through it and see why it might be worthwhile to try that form of play.

To begin, why I like Classic Traveller plus Snapshot:

1. Characteristic Balance. IMHO, CT was way ahead of its time in making every characteristic important. Endurance is, perhaps, the one characteristic that doesn't get its proper due, but when you use the Snapshot combat system suddenly Endurance becomes very important because it adds to your Action Point total. In this sense, Endurance becomes equivelant to the Twilight 2000 concept of "Coolness under Fire". Furthermore, all three main characteristics form your "hit points" and are therefore very important. Education is hugely important for skills, and Intelligence is very important for gaining ranks (as is social standing if you go Navy). Social Standing is probably the least important characteristic, game-mechanics-wise, but a referee can mess with a character with low social standing.
2. Career Balance. Every career has advantages and disadvantages, and you can really look through them to determine which would be best for your particular character. If you have a high intelligence but not much else, you probably want to go merchants and hope that you make Captain. If you have a high Social Standing you want to go Navy. If you have a high Endurance you probably want to take a chance with the Scouts. Because the Scouts don't gain ranks, they're probably the weakest career, but the automatic Pilot-1 and th chance for a Scout ship as a mustering benefit really makes them a tempting choice. Additionally, I love the fact that your character gets more powerful the longer you stay in your selected service, but aging really hurts you. Especially when using Snapshot Combat, that potential -1 every four years to Str, Dex and End can be a killer. As a result, the character creation process is practically a game in and of itself.
3. Weapon Balance: Who remembers first edition AD&D? Basically you wanted plate+shield+sword. That's it. In all the fantasy novels there were plenty of exotic weapons but none of them were worth wielding in the game. In Traveller, the min Dex and Dex bonus requirements (and Str requirements for melee weapons) mean that you really are gonna see a very wide variety of weapons. Depending on your Dex, you might find a character is better off with a shotgun, rifle or submachingun. Or, if your character is brute, what the heck, give him a cutlass! The laser rifle looks really keen until you run into guys wearing Reflec under their armor. This may not be the most realistic system in the world -- I mean it's a little hard to believe you could carve through battledress with C str and Cutlass-5, but to my mind it's a lot of fun and fun trumps realism.
4. The more powerful you become, the more deadly combat becomes. At first glance, combat seems very deadly. In fact, the first shot has a good chance of dropping you. You only get two dice for each characteristic, and most weapons do three dice damage, so they'll probably knock you out. However, you get six dice for *all* your hit points, so it's unlikely the first shot will kill you. So, in fact, it's not that deadly. You will recover from most combat. UNLESS you're really powerful. Once you start taking damage that DOESN'T knock you out on the first shot, and you start picking and choosing where to put the various dice of damage, you can quickly get down to wounded characteristics like Str 4, Dex 3, End 2. And when you're that wounded, all it takes is to roll a 9 on three dice to kill you. Furthermore, if you start wearing Battledress, suddenly people start coming at you with MUCH more dangerous weaponry. It's hard to penetrate Battledress with anything less than a HEAP grenade, or if you're referee's really mean even a plasma or fusion gun. And those things do so much damage you're almost guaranteed to die.
5. Characters can be heroic: With enough skill points, it's technically possible for a character to take down someone in battledress with an autopistol. I think that's cool.
6. Wargame Integration: I love that you can integrate wargames into CT. It's part role-playing game, part wargame campaign.
7. Solitaire Play: You can actually play CT solitaire. Mercenary, High Guard, and Book 1 all have versions of combat that are abstract enough that you can play the "opponents" without too much concern of "cheating". There is enough randomness to the trade system and the starship encounter system in book two or the traders and gunboats supplement to play a pretty long solitaire merchant game. Although I haven't tried it, with a little work (maybe creating a number of random merc tickets) it also should be entirely possible to create a solitaire mercenary campaign with the goal of your character eventually forming his/her own merc force.
8. One thing I forgot: I love that Snapshot (and AHL, too) allow you to move out from behind cover, fire, and move back into cover in the same turn. And to combat that, it allows you to "cover" an area so you can pop someone trying that trick. I also love that facing rules mean that you're essential tactical objective in those games is to shoot your opponent in the back.
I started with Classic Traveller in '78 and was swept away by the limitless possibilities it offered. As other materials were published, they were cherry-picked for new ideas and added onto the basic structure.

Mayday and Snapshot added greatly to the original combat systems.
Book 4 was the brightest jewel in the CT crown and Striker brought it to its fullest expression as well as tying it back to my wargaming roots.

Traveller does offer many opportunities for solitaire play. Systems design, character generation, and trade are great paper-and-pencil games. I also ran a few solitaire mercenary campaigns.

2300AD .... man, I really want to love that game. The setting was fresh and inspiring, many aspects of the personal combat system touched greatness and I did love some of the starship concepts.

The common thread is that I like settings having a "horizon"; an unexplored frontier that can hold almost anything. I like game mechanisms that are simple and clean and I like technolongy that I can consider plausible without swamping the design sequences with excess detail.