alexander-kaene-deactivated2013 asked: Hi I'm working on a CT setting that takes place in our solar system, I've destroyed Earth, and all drives travel in AU's not parsecs. I was just wondering if you had any ideas or suggestions on what I could do with the planets Haumea and Varuna?

This sounds like an interesting setting. Do the basics of Jump remain the same other than distance? That makes Kuiper Belt planets pretty remote, in addition to inhospitable.

It’s hard to answer without knowing more about the background, but here are a few ideas.

1. I like placing cults in remote locations. For a human-centric, sol-centric campaign, you might try a cult of someone like Yuri Gagarin. It’s good to make them mysterious and reclusive- saves you the trouble of figuring them out until they’re needed.

2. If you’re down with trans-humanism, these would be the places for the most extreme version. Lots of stuff we evolved on Earth is pretty pointless out there. Maybe people are optimized for low-light, low-pressure, low-g; or maybe their brains are transplanted into biomechanical bodies at birth and they live in hard vacuum. Throw Shapers and Mechanists in a blender with a little bit of Timothy Leary and you’ve got plenty of options.

3. No human has ever traveled this far. There are only robotic colonies mining volatiles for the inner system. But when all contact is lost with the colonies, some poor sap is going to have to go investigate.

4. We’re building planets! The Haumeans are devoted to gathering as much matter as they can and building up the planet. In just a few hundred years, they might clear their orbit and build something they can live on.

5. Varuna is the jumping-off point for a scheme to colonize the Oort Cloud. If the cloud extends far enough to overlap with the cloud of the nearest star, maybe we can eventually spread out among the stars in jumps of a few light-minutes at a time. It may take thousands of years to build, but who’s in a hurry now that we live forever? (I don’t think the physics work out on this one, but it’s a fun enough idea to make it work if you want.)

Just five random ideas. I hope one of them is of use.

Library Data: The Third Imperium

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.

Traveller Wiki On The Imperium

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.

Marc Miller’s History Of The (Traveller) Universe

Marc Miller’s Traveller, Imperium Games, 1996. Aka T4.

Read More

Wikipedia’s Key Features Of Traveller

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.

T20 On Travellers

The Traveller’s Handbook Lite Edition, RPG Realms, 2002. You got your D20 in my Traveller.

Most people live on a single world and don’t ever go to the stars. A few might travel once or twice on business or for a holiday. Travellers are different. Travellers (by definition) travel. Not all Travellers are adventurers; many are professionals, merchants, freelancers or whatever, who make their living wherever they can find employment.

Player-characters are usually Travellers (though their actual classes and professions vary considerably; they need not be of the Traveller character class). What they have in common is a willingness to confront a few risks and maybe bend some rules to get the job done. Unlike most fantasy adventurers, Travellers tend not to be inexperienced 1st-level characters. A typical Traveller is 26-46 years old, and has been around a bit. Some have done a stint in the military; others are university graduates or have pursued a career. A few have done all these things, and more! Typically, a starting Traveller character will be level 3-7 depending upon his or her age, with skills and experience to show for it.

This makes Travellers handy people to have around, and in a universe where “official” help is weeks away, it is often to Travellers that local organizations will turn when they need a job done or a problem solved.

Mongoose Intro To Traveller

Traveller Core Rulebook, Moongoose Publishing, 2008.

Traveller is a science fiction roleplaying game of the far future. Humanity has gone to the stars and found them crowded with other forms of life and other sentient races, and science and technology have advanced vastly over the present day – but the essential nature of humanity is unchanged. Life continues as it does today, only spread out over the sea of stars. A mighty Imperium unites thousands of star systems under a single rule, but it is beset by enemies both internal and external.

The Imperium commands the space between the stars, ensuring that civilisation endures and trade continues. Megacorporations and feudal lords conduct the bulk of this trade, but there will always be a place for the free trader – hardy travellers and adventurers on the fringes of known space, dealing in strange goods and smuggled cargoes, doing whatever they can to make a credit.

While the Traveller rules can be used to model almost any science fiction novel, movie or setting, the traditional setting for games is the Third Imperium of Mankind, the third great empire to stretch across the stars. In the Third Imperium setting, the players take on the roles of tramp merchants and mercenaries, wandering the galaxy in search of profit and adventure.

GDW Intro to Traveller

Book 0: An Introduction To Traveller, Game Designers Workshop, 1981. I think this is a booklet that came in the Deluxe Set with the three main booklets and a hex map or something.

Traveller is a science-fiction role-playing game set in the distant future, when humanity has made the leap to the stars and interstellar travel is as common as international travel is today. This means that Traveller is set against a background drawn from adventure-oriented science fiction literature, and the scope and breadth of the game are limited only by the imagination and skill of the players and their referee. Players are no longer limited to wandering inside a single underground labyrinth, to exploring a single continent, or even a single world. In Traveller there is an entire universe to be explored. Almost any situation which occurs in any SF novel, movie, or short story can be recreated in Traveller with a little work on the part of the referee.

In Traveller, mankind has conquered the stars, and travels from one stellar system to another as easily as present day Terrans can travel from one continent to another. The tremendous distances involved, however, dictate that interstellar voyages can take weeks, months, and sometimes even years. A situation similar to earth in the eighteenth century is created, where communication is limited to the speed of travel, and the stage is set for adventure in a grand fashion, with all the trappings of the classic space opera: giant, star-spanning empires (good, evil, or both), huge starfleets, wily interstellar merchants (or pirates, depending upon your point of view), complex diplomatic maneuvers, larger than life heroes, heroines, and villains — the mind boggles.

About The D&D Next Playtest

I ran one session of the D&D playtest, and it was fun. We would have played more the next week if schedules had worked out.

Afterwards, I spent a bunch of time considering what I liked about it and how I’d like to see it develop. But the more time I spent thinking about class features and balance and all the different ways Wizards could make the parts fit together, the more I came back to the same idea.

The basic problem with D&D Next is that it’s D&D.

Before my old school kick, I was done with D&D. I hate classes and levels, I don’t care about elves and dwarves, and linear probability produces weird and arbitrary results. I also agree when people say that D&D is a genre of its own, and I find it limiting and uninspiring.

I’ll probably still run an occasional session of AD&D, since I’ve got piles of material prepared, but I’m on to better things. My Reign campaign is being resurrected due to popular demand, despite my best of intentions to run some Traveller. And I’m looking forward to actually being a player when my friend runs Spirit of the Century.

I will definitely allow classes and levels long enough to give Gamma World a shot, however.

On reflection, I compared these to a straight 2d6 (which I transposed by subtracting 7 for purposes of comparison). I should have realized this, but graphs are easier than thinking:

d6-d6 is functionally equivalent to 2d6.

That means that in mechanical terms, Starblazer Adventures is basically Traveller with aspects. (Well, in terms of dice throws, at least.) If you’re going to ditch the Fudge dice in favor of d6’s, you might as well just transpose your ladder by 7 and eliminate the wonky math.

Also, I realize I’ve been representing 2d6 as a bell curve, which is not strictly true. It still achieves the same effect of producing more consistent results, but wrong is wrong. Whatever.

If none of this makes any sense to you, don’t worry about it.

EDIT: If you’re not familiar with, the basic trick is to change the view from Table to Graph as soon as you get there. Makes life so much easier.