TRAVELLER: Out of the Box – Rules as Tools Play

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The original Traveller rules are a product of the late ’70s. They are a kissing cousin to the Little Brown Books of Original D&D. I believe there was wisdom in how those early games were buit to facilitate effective RPG play. Looking over the original Traveller rules while prepping and running a campaign with rules based off Basic Dungeons & Dragons, I’m seeing a lot of similarities about efficient use of prep and play. (There are differences as well.)

So I’m going to list the tools that I see the game offers a Referee, and from them what I consider the expectations to be.

Rules to Set Up and Conduct Play

  • Character creation
  • Personal combat rules
  • Space combat rules
  • A skill system with a specific and limited list of skills*
  • Random Rumor Tables
  • Random person encounter tables
  • Encounter range tables
  • Reaction tables
  • Random animal encounter table
  • Patron encounter table
  • Starship encounter table
  • Generating a Subsector
  • Generating system Main Worlds (UWP)
  • The various values of the UWP
  • Generating space lanes (1977 Edition)
  • Starship expenses tables
  • Starship income tables
  • Experience rules (limited improvement in a specific quality of a PC)
  • Psionic rules
  • Drugs and their positive and negative effects on other rules
  • Weapons, vehicles, and equipment with effects on other rules
  • Ship component/construction tables

*compare, please, to most contemporary RPG rules… And Mongoose Traveller in particular. In general, smaller, looser.


It is my belief that while there is solid prep that has to be done by the Referee before play begins, using these tools will allow the creation of entertaining hours of play without having to catalogue endless volumes of data about hundreds of worlds.

If you really peer at these tools, what do you see? How many of them do you use? How do you use them to help you in play?

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2 thoughts on “TRAVELLER: Out of the Box – Rules as Tools Play

  1. Pingback: Traveller: Out of the Box–The Tools Are Not The Setting | Tales to Astound!

  2. Really enjoying the Traveller articles. Lots of insight. Explains a lot of what it is I prefer about the older version. Puts into words things on the tip of my tongue. Great stuff here.

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