Traveller is a science fiction role-playing game, first published in 1977 by Game Designers' Workshop. Marc W. Miller designed Traveller with help from Frank Chadwick, John Harshman, and Loren K. Wiseman.
Cover of the original Traveller boxed set
|Designer(s)||Marc W. Miller|
Loren K. Wiseman
|Publisher(s)||Game Designers' Workshop (Traveller, MegaTraveller, Traveller: The New Era)|
(T4: Marc Miller's Traveller)
Steve Jackson Games
(GURPS Traveller, GURPS Traveller: Interstellar Wars)
QLI/RPGRealms Publishing (Traveller20)
(Mongoose Traveller 1st & 2nd Ed.)
Far Future Enterprises (Traveller5)
|Publication date||1977 (Traveller)|
1993 (Traveller: The New Era)
1996 (T4: Marc Miller's Traveller)
1998 (GURPS Traveller)
2006 (GURPS Traveller: Interstellar Wars)
2006 (Traveller Hero)
2008 (Mongoose Traveller)
2016 (Mongoose Traveller 2nd Ed.)
|Genre(s)||Science fiction space opera|
|System(s)||Custom, GURPS, Hero, d20 System|
Characters typically journey between various star systems and engage in activities such as exploration, ground and space battles, and interstellar trading. Characters are defined not by the need to increase native skill and ability but by achievements, discoveries, wealth, titles, and political power.
Key features derived from literary sources are incorporated into Traveller in all its forms:
Traveller uses a lifepath-style system for character generation. Characters get their skills and experience in a mini-game, where the player makes career choices that determine the character's life right up to the point before adventuring begins.
A character can be human, robot, alien, or of a genetically engineered species. A character can be civilian, military, or noble, a young cadet or a tried-and-true veteran, each with strengths and weaknesses. Death during character generation is even a possibility in some editions, a mechanic that became infamous.
Characters are described by six primary characteristics: strength, dexterity, endurance, intelligence, education, and social standing. These characteristics are typically generated with a roll of two six-sided dice. Other general characteristics also exist, such as psionics and sanity. There are also variant characteristics, such as charisma and caste, which replace a primary characteristic, to add nuance to alien characters.
Extra-sensory perception, telekinesis, telepathy, and other psychic abilities are organized and standardized into "psionics". Depending on their choice, characters can be psionic.
Each rule system has its own task mechanic for resolving character actions. Some systems use two or three six-sided dice, while others use multiple six-sided dice or a twenty-sided die. Target numbers are typically determined by the referee, who takes into account task difficulty, skill level, and a characteristic. Situation and equipment used can provide a bonus or penalty to a roll. Depending on the task, a success may require rolling above or below the target number.
Equipment typically emphasizes wilderness exploration, hazardous environments, and combat. As a result, equipment lists are heavy on vehicles, sensor equipment, communicators, rations, personal armor, and weapons.
Low-technology: Since primitive worlds exist near technological worlds, primitive weapons are also typically included, such as swords, shields, pikes, and bows.
High-technology: And since high technology is available, cybernetic implants and non-sentient robots typically also show up in equipment lists, as well as artifacts from ancient, vanished technological civilizations.
Hard Sci-fi Flavor: While there are energy weapons, there is also a strong presence of slug-throwing weapons such as rifles and pistols. The prevailing theory is that (usually) the most efficient way to stop someone is with kinetic energy (e.g. bullets).
Rules for starship design and combat are like games unto themselves with a complex balance of ship components fitting within certain hull volumes, technology levels, and modifiers based upon characters' skills. It is complex enough to be able to generically represent most starships used in role-playing games, and flexible enough to support custom add-ons to the system. (GDW published several board games allowing Traveller space battles to be played out as games in their own right - Mayday using the Traveller rules, Brilliant Lances and Battle Rider using the Traveller: The New Era rules.)
Computer programs have been created to model and predict starship combat using Traveller rules. The most famous case involved Douglas Lenat applying his Eurisko heuristic learning program to the scenario in the Traveller adventure Trillion Credit Squadron, which contained rules for resolving very large space battles statistically. Eurisko discovered exploitable features of the starship design system that allowed it to build unusual fleets that won the 1981 and 1982 championships. The sponsor stated that if Lenat entered and won the next year they would stop the sponsorship, so Lenat stopped attending.
Worlds represent a wide spectrum of conditions, from barren planetoid moons to large gas giant worlds, from uncolonized territory to planets with tens of billions of people. Most worlds tend to be only modestly colonized, though some worlds may be dangerously overcrowded.
The world generation system is geared to produce a highly random mix of worlds. Extensions take star system generation into account, and modify the process depending on the fecundity and history of the targeted area of space. Similar to the use of the UPP for characters, worlds are represented by an alphanumeric Universal World Profile that encodes key physical, social, and economic properties of the world.
The original booklets were promoted as generic rules for running general science fiction role-playing games with no official setting. However, in the adventures and supplements that soon followed a suggested setting began to emerge, in which the human-dominated Third Imperium was the largest interstellar empire in charted space, a feudalistic union of worlds, where local nobility operate largely free from oversight, restricted by convention and feudal obligations.
The setting features various descendants of humanity, who are collectively called Humaniti. These include the Solomani, humans emigrated from Earth within the last few thousand years, the Vilani, humans transplanted from Earth tens of thousands of years ago by the Ancients (see below) who founded the First Imperium, and the Zhodani, psychic humans ruled by psionically-gifted nobles.
Despite the thematic dominance of the human race, with most adventures taking place in human space, the Traveller universe is cosmopolitan, containing many technologically advanced species known as sophonts, a term borrowed from earlier science fiction material. The setting principally concerns itself with six major races that developed faster-than-light travel independently. In addition to Humaniti, the standard list of major races includes the honor-bound felinoid Aslan, the winged reptilioid Droyne, the sixfold-symmetric and manipulative Hivers, the centaur-like militant vegetarian K'kree, and the uplifted wolf-hybrid Vargr.
Additional minor races are numerous. An early publication from GDW noted that "The minor races, of which there are hundreds within the area of known space, will be largely left up to individual referees." GDW's quarterly publication, the Journal of the Travellers Aid Society designed by Loren K. Wiseman, sketched out about one race per quarter, starting with the Aslan in Issue 7. Taken together with aliens casually mentioned or introduced in separate scenarios or adventures—often arbitrarily—there is therefore no indication that the number of minor races is limited in any sense.
The Ancients were a major race in the distant past; their ruins dot planets throughout charted space and their artifacts are more technically advanced than those of any existing civilization. For unknown reasons, they transplanted humans from Earth to dozens of worlds, uplifted Terran wolves to create the Vargr, and undertook many megascale engineering projects before destroying their civilization in a catastrophic war.
The original gamebooks were distinctive digest-sized black pamphlets (the so-called "little black books") produced by Game Designers' Workshop (GDW). The main rules were detailed in three such booklets, sold as a boxed set while the same format was used for early support material, such as the adventures, supplements and further books. Later supplements and updated versions of the main game system introduced full sized booklets, complete re-writes of the game system and significant changes to the Third Imperium.
|Pub. date||Game||Abbrev.||Primary publisher|
|1977||(Classic) Traveller||CT||Game Designers' Workshop|
|1987||MegaTraveller||MT||Game Designers' Workshop|
|1993||Traveller: The New Era||TNE||Game Designers' Workshop|
|1996||T4: Marc Miller's Traveller||T4||Imperium Games|
|1998||GURPS Traveller||GT||Steve Jackson Games|
|2006||GURPS Traveller: Interstellar Wars||GTIW||Steve Jackson Games|
|2006||Traveller Hero||TH||ComStar Games|
|2008||Mongoose Traveller||MGT||Mongoose Publishing|
|2013||Traveller5||T5||Far Future Enterprises|
|2016||Mongoose Traveller 2nd Ed.||MGT2||Mongoose Publishing|
Though nearly all older versions of Traveller are available in PDF format, Traveller5 and Mongoose Traveller 2nd Ed. are the two current rulesets. Both rely on six-sided dice exclusively, and both draw from the original Traveller rules.
The original version was designed and published by GDW in 1977. This edition is also sometimes called, retroactively, Classic Traveller. The core rules originally came as a box set of three little black books, and were later compiled into a single volume rulebook. Supplemental booklets included advanced character generation, capital ship design, robots, and more. Eight boxed wargames were released as tie-in products.
A major overhaul published by GDW in 1987, but designed by Digest Group Publications. The game system used revised rules developed in DGP's Traveller's Digest periodical. The game was set during the rebellion which shattered the Imperium. Supplements and magazines produced during this era detailed the progression of the rebellion from the initial assassination of the Emperor in 1116 to the collapse of large-scale interstellar trade in roughly 1124 (the beginning of the supplement Hard Times).
A Japanese edition of MegaTraveler was published by Hobby Japan.
Published in 1993, this was the final edition published by GDW. Set in the former territory of the Third Imperium after interstellar government and society had largely collapsed. TNE introduced Virus, a silicon chip-life form that infected and took over computers. The game mechanics used GDW's house system, derived from Twilight: 2000, 2nd Ed. The game used a more realism-centered approach to science fiction, doing away with reactionless thrusters, shortening laser ranges to a reasonable distance, etc.
Published by Imperium Games in 1996, T4 is set in the early days of the Third Imperium (Milieu 0), with the small, newly formed empire surrounded by regressed or barbaric worlds. The mechanics and text resemble a mix of Classic Traveller and The New Era.
Designed by Loren K. Wiseman and published in 1998, GURPS Traveller uses the third edition of the GURPS system and takes place in an alternate timeline in which no Rebellion occurred and Virus was never released. Steve Jackson Games produced numerous supplements for the line, including details for all of the major races, many of the minor races, interstellar trade, expanded world generation, the military forces of the Third Imperium, and starships.
Published by Quick Link Interactive in 2002, this version uses the d20 System as its base and is set at the time of the Solomani Rim War around Imperial year 990, about a century before the era depicted in the original game. The preferred setting is the Gateway Domain region of the Imperium. After the company's license to the Traveller brand and setting lapsed, the purely mechanical elements of this game were republished as the generic SciFi20 system.
In 2006, Steve Jackson Games released GURPS Traveller: Interstellar Wars (GTISW, sometimes GTIW) for the 4th edition of GURPS from 2004. The timeline was rolled back to 2170, which is several millennia earlier than the usual Traveller setting, to the early days of Earth's presence in space at the time when Earth first started to send out interstellar ships to include the period just after the Third Interstellar War between the Terran Confederation (Earth) and the gigantic Ziru Sirka Empire (Vland).
A port of the Traveller setting to the Hero System, produced under license by Comstar Games in 2006.
Mongoose Publishing published this version both in a traditional format and as an open gaming SRD around which other games may be built. It is adapted from Traveller, with updated careers and technology. It is referred to as "MgT" or "MGT" to differentiate it from "MT", or MegaTraveller. The core rule book was released in April 2008, with a regular series of supplements following. The SRD has since served as the basis for Cepheus Engine, an independent retroclone of original Traveller.
In 2013, Far Future Enterprises published a new set of rules by re-working and integrating concepts from earlier rulesets. The Traveller5 Core Rules book is a rules mechanics reference, pulled from Traveller adventures and toolbox material from supplements. It has a "retro" black-and-white production style.
A second edition of Mongoose's Traveller was published in 2016. It uses a full color production style while resembling the original Traveller rules in scope. This edition is not licensed under the Open Game License. The second edition core rules include pre-career university and military academy education options. Skills specialization have been reorganized to reduce skill bloat. Some equipment descriptions have been altered and spacecraft operations and combat now have a different approach. Additional supplements flesh out rules further, including a revision to High Guard to handle all starship design.
David Ritchie reviewed Traveller in Ares Magazine #1, rating it an 8 out of 9. Ritchie commented that "This game starts off where Dungeons and Dragons left off, but, if there is any justice, will end up being more popular than that venerable relic. For one thing, the Traveller rules are fairly consistent (moreso than is usual for such games). For another, unlike the first generation of role-playing games, this one requires no referee or gamesmaster. Somewhat complex. Variable playing time."
Traveller was added to the Origins Hall of Fame.
Traveller (as either Traveller, Mega Traveller, or Traveller: The New Era) was ranked 3rd in the 1996 reader poll of Arcane magazine to determine the 50 most popular roleplaying games of all time. The UK magazine's editor Paul Pettengale commented: "Although originally intended as a generic science fiction system, Traveller quickly became linked with the Imperium campaign background developed by GDW." Pettengale said: "This background offers a great degree of freedom for individual referees to run campaigns of their own devising, while providing enough basic groundwork to build from, and has proved to be immensely successful. Everything from political intrigue to action-packed mercenary actions, trading or scientific exploration is possible, and a lot more besides." Pettengale suggested Traveller was "one of the true classics of the roleplaying hobby".
The Imperial Data Recovery System is a computer program published by FASA in 1981 as a play aid to speed up bookkeeping for Traveller, and assist with sector maps, character and ship records, accounting, and encounters. John M. Morrison reviewed The Imperial Data Recovery System in The Space Gamer No. 50. Morrison commented that "I would seriously recommend that FASA take this off the market and re-write it form the ground up. There's definitely room for a Traveller aid program on the market, but not this one."
GDW licensee Paragon produced two video games based on the Traveller universe:
Several novels have been specifically set in the various Traveller universes:
|#||Year||Title||Series||Author||Reference and ISBN||Notes|
|1.||1993||"Again, Oytritsyu'aby"||n/a||Charles Gannon||n/a||Novelette (short story)|
|2.||1993||"Count or Country"||n/a||Charles Gannon||n/a||Novelette (short story)|
|3.||1993||"The Trap of Triton"||n/a||Gary A. Kalin||n/a||Novelette (short story)|
|5.||1995||Death of Wisdom||Book 1 of 3||Paul Brunette||ISBN 1-55878-181-1|
|6.||1995||To Dream of Chaos||Book 2 of 3||Paul Brunette||ISBN 1-55878-184-6|
|7.||1998||Gateway to the Stars||n/a||Pierce Askegren||ISBN 0-671-01188-X|
|8.||2005||The Force of Destiny||n/a||Dale Kemper|||
|9.||2004||Diaspora Phoenix||n/a||Martin J. Dougherty||n/a|
|10.||2006||Tales of the New Era 1: Yesterday's Hero||n/a||Martin J. Dougherty||n/a|
|11.||2010||The Backwards Mask||Book 3 of 3||Paul Brunette|||
|12.||2011||The Backwards Mask (Alternative)||Book 3 of 3||Matthew Carson|||
|13.||2012||A Long Way Home: Tales of Congressional Space||n/a||Terrance McInnes||n/a|
|14.||2014||Shadow of the Storm||n/a||Martin J. Dougherty||ISBN 1558780343|
|15.||2014||Fate of the Kinunir||n/a||Robert E. Vardeman||ISBN 978-1-55878-029-3|
|16.||2015||Agent of the Imperium||n/a||Marc W. Miller||ISBN 978-1-55878-037-8|
Originally published by GDW as an updated replacement for Traveller, eschewing classic space opera to take inspiration from the grittier contemporary hard science fiction media of the 1980s. The first edition was named Traveller: 2300, which incited both confusion and criticism since the game carried over neither the rules nor setting of its namesake. The second edition was renamed 2300 AD, and added some cyberpunk rules and adventures. It is presented as a future extrapolation of the speculative World War III of GDW's popular military role-playing game Twilight: 2000. In the 2300 AD setting, interstellar travel is relatively new, Earth is still divided into nation-states, and the most powerful nations are competitively exploring and colonizing the fifty light year sphere of surrounding space. Mongoose Publishing released a sourcebook for the setting in 2012 that adapted it to their version of the Traveller rules.
This page lists board and card games, wargames, miniatures games, and table-top tabletop role-playing games published in 1977. For video games, see 1977 in video gaming.Ancient (disambiguation)
Ancient or ancients may refer to:
Anything considered "very old"; see List of time periods, Prehistory, in particular anything from Antiquity. "Ancient monument" may have a legal definition that includes relatively recent structures.
Ancient history, in historiography
A corrupt form of the military rank of ensign used during the 16th century in BritainAslan (fanzine)
Aslan was a highly regarded British role-playing game fanzine that was published in Brighton and subsequently York in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It ran for 13 issues and many of them had sub-zines included. The title refers to both a character in The Chronicles of Narnia and an alien race in the Traveller role-playing game. The fanzine grew out of a long-running fantasy role-playing game which took place at the University of Sussex. The editor and publisher was Andrew Rilstone, who was initially assisted by Martin Wykes.
Aslan became known for its RPG theory, philosophy, speculation and commentary. It took a stance opposed to much of the role-playing games industry of the day, which at the time was concentrating on expanding into the children’s games market. As a reaction against the use of heavily pre-plotted scenarios in many commercial game products Aslan promoted the concept of player-centred narrative. This allowed the actions of the players to determine the course of the narrative rather than requiring the story to follow a predetermined plot. Thus it foreshadowed modern Sandbox RPGs.
The magazine has been credited with popularising freeform role-playing games in the UK.Rilstone later went on to edit Interactive Fantasy, a journal published by Hogshead Publishing that took his RPG ideas further. Interactive Fantasy ran for four issues in 1994–95; the first issue was titled Inter*action but this was changed for subsequent issues because of trademark difficulties.British Isles Traveller Support
Known in the gaming industry by their acronymic trademark BITS UK, this fan-owned game design company provided and continues to provide licensed product for the Traveller Role Playing Game.
They are licensed by Marc W. Miller to use the Traveller setting and trademarks. They are also licensed by Jon Tuffley to use and adapt his Full Thrust game engine.
They are also noted for their activities in support of all editions of the Traveller RPG in British and European gaming conventions. They are the organizers of the TravCon Traveller gaming convention.D20 Future
d20 Future is an accessory for the d20 Modern role-playing game written by Christopher Perkins, Rodney Thompson, and JD Wiker. It facilitates the playing of campaigns in the far future, using elements such as cybernetics, mecha, mutations, robotics, space travel, starships, and xenobiology. d20 Future is one of the most extensive of science-fiction d20 games, and has its own SRD, which is a source for many other sci-fi d20 games.David Drake
David Drake (born September 24, 1945) is an American author of science fiction and fantasy literature. A Vietnam War veteran who has worked as a lawyer, he is now a writer in the military science fiction genre.John M. Ford
John Milo "Mike" Ford (April 10, 1957 – September 25, 2006) was an American science fiction and fantasy writer, game designer, and poet.
A contributor to several online discussions, he composed poems, often improvised, in both complicated forms and blank verse, notably Shakespearean pastiche; he also wrote pastiches and parodies of many other authors and styles. At Minicon and other science fiction conventions he would perform "Ask Dr. Mike", giving humorous answers to scientific and other questions in a lab coat before a whiteboard.Lester W. Smith
Lester W. Smith is a game designer who has worked primarily on role-playing games.Open gaming
Open gaming is a movement within the tabletop role-playing game (RPG) industry with similarities to the open source software movement. The key aspect is that copyright holders license their works under public copyright licenses that permit others to make copies or create derivative works of the game.
A number of role-playing game publishers have joined the open gaming movement, largely as a result of the release of the original System Reference Document (SRD) by Wizards of the Coast, which consisted of the core rules of Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition. Open gaming has also been popular among small press role-playing game and supplement authors.Sector admiral
Sector admiral is a fictitious military rank which has appeared in numerous science fiction sources both live action production and literature. The rank of sector admiral is typically considered senior to a fleet admiral and is bestowed upon an admiral who commands all planetary installations and starships operating in a sector of space.
For example, in the Traveller role playing game, sector admirals typically command major naval Depots or the forces assigned to either a sector or domain.Space (role-playing game series)
Space is a text-based role-playing video game franchise for the Apple II that was originally designed by Steven Pederson and Sherwin Steffin of Edu-Ware Services, and then expanded upon in a sequel by David Mullich, in 1979. These games were notable for not only being one of the first science fiction RPG's to appear on personal computers, but also for providing a level of realism not found in other games of the time.The game system was based upon the Traveller role-playing-game, created by Game Designers Workshop, which sued Edu-Ware for copyright infringement in 1982. In an out-of-court settlement, both Space and Space II were removed from the market.Striker (miniatures game)
The miniatures game Striker was a science fiction tactical wargame that was published by Game Designers' Workshop in 1981 as a boxed expansion to the Traveller role-playing game.TDX (disambiguation)
TDX may refer to:
Medical shorthand, TDx Tentative Diagnosis - A possible though unconfirmed diagnosis.
Theta Delta Chi, an International Fraternal Organization
Tanadgusix Corporation, a shareholder-owned Aleut Alaska Native village corporation.
Game terminology, the high-tech ground-plane explosive featured in the science-fiction RPG Traveller (role-playing game)