LBB9: Library Data, Mongoose Publishing, 2011.
Third Imperium (0 to present): Also called The Imperium. Founded in 0 by Cleon Zhunastu from the Sylean Federation of what is now Core sector. The Imperium grew swiftly during the early Pacification Campaigns, and then more slowly thereafter until stability was reached in the 600’s, by which time the Imperium had absorbed much of the territory of the First and Second Imperiums.
The Imperium can be best thought of as a form of feudal confederation. Member worlds of the Imperium agree to pay taxes and obey a few fundamental laws that the Imperium promulgates, known as the High Laws. In return, the Imperium agrees to patrol the space between the worlds, to protect interstellar trade, to encourage travel and commerce and to arbitrate diplomatic relations between worlds. Beyond this, individual worlds are left to their own devices so long as they acknowledge the power of the Imperium to rule the space between the stars.
Imperial power is present on member worlds in the form of consulates, bureaucratic offices and bases. Sometimes, larger enclaves of Imperial power are placed where they can enhance the emperor’s strength.
Third Imperium, on the Traveller Wiki (all the way down in the section labeled “Meta”).
The Imperium is a series of consecutive galactic empires.
- The First Imperium (or Ziru Sirka) was an empire of the Vilani.
- The Second Imperium (or Rule of Man) was formed by the Solomani after they had conquered the First. The Rule of Man collapsed due to the weight of stagnation that it had absorbed from the Ziru Sirka.
- The Third Imperium arose after a period known as The Long Night, when a small federation of planets known as the Sylean Federation re-absorbed the worlds of the previous empires. The early years of the third Imperium are the setting for Marc Miller’s Traveller. A well established Third Imperium is the setting for Classic Traveller, Mongoose Traveller, and Traveller20. MegaTraveller and Traveller: The New Era are set after the collapse of the Third Imperium. GURPS Traveller is set in alternate timeline where the Third Imperium did not collapse.
Traveller (role-playing game), on Wikipedia.
Human-centric: The background of the OTU features a human-dominated universe. As such, the core rules primarily focus on development of human characters touching only briefly on a few non-human species. There are numerous Traveller publications however, with rules and extensive information on playing members of other races.
Cosmopolitan: Despite the dominance of humanity, a large number of aliens was always implied to exist, inside and outside of Charted Space. The number of aliens per sector is estimated to vary from zero (in “barren” sectors) to eight or more (for example, in the Spinward Marches sector).
Interstellar travel: Interstellar travel is facilitated, and limited, by the use of a technology called the jump drive. These drives are capable of propelling a spacecraft between one to six parsecs depending on the individual drive’s specifications. Regardless of the distance of a jump, the duration required for the trip is approximately one week, thereby recreating an “age of sail” feel to the game.
Limited communication: A central theme to Traveller is that there is no form of faster-than-light information transfer – meaning no ansible, subspace radio or hyper-wave communication technology is available. Most interplanetary communication is handled by courier ships, most commonly “X-boats”, which are small Imperial vessels with long-distance jump drives that travel between systems transmitting and receiving vital data. Systems not on an X-boat route must rely on mail runs brought in by visiting ships.
The new feudalism: The restraint on the speed of information leads to decentralization and the vestment of significant power in the hands of local officials. This isolation causes entire wars to be fought, won, or lost on the frontiers before a message gets to any remote administrative capitals to let them know the war has even begun. This means that all kinds of agents, from merchants to generals, must show initiative and be reasonably independent from their corporate or political overlords. Since local rulers cannot be directly controlled by central authority, affairs are managed by a class of independent nobility, who make use of classic titles such as Baron, Duke and Archduke. This decentralization of authority is one means of coping with the difficulties imposed by size and limits of speed of transportation technology.
Non-utopian future: In the OTU, the human race never evolves into a superior state. People remain people and continue to show courage, wisdom, honesty and justice, along with cowards, liars, and criminals. Tension is vented regularly in small conflicts before they have a chance to reach Imperium-shattering proportions. Thus, planets are allowed to fight out internal wars, and capitalism is the major driving force of civilization.
No prime directive: There is typically no prohibition on contact or interference with other races protecting them from advanced technology. Economics and other factors that applied to exploration and colonization on Earth are the same factors that shape the Traveller Universe. However, governments may interdict planets with native primitive intelligent species. These interdicted worlds are commonly known as “Red Zones” based on the Imperial designation for such a world. ‘Red’ (or the less restrictive ‘Amber’) zones are often to protect the interest of an interstellar government, not the native population.