TRAVELLER: Out of the Box–Another Difference Between the 1977 Edition and the 1981 Edition


I’ve posted before about the differences between the 1977 edition of Books 1-3 and the 1981 edition of books 1-3.

Here’s another difference! The nature of the Starship Encounters Table produces very different results.

Here are the rules from 1977:

When a ship enters a star system, there is a chance that any one of a variety of ships will be encountered. The ship encounter table is used to determine the specific type of vessel which is met. This result may, and should, be superseded by the referee in specific situations, especially if a newly entered system is in military or civil turmoil, or involves other circumstances.

Throw two dice; apply a DM based on the starport of the primary world of the system (A +6, B +4, C +2, D +1, E –2, X –4). The result indicates the ship type encountered. If necessary, exact specifications for the ship should be generated. Both Patrol and Pirate Ships will generally be Type S Scout/Couriers (throw 6–) or Type C Cruisers (throw 8+), with the chance that they are Armed Type Y Yachts (throw 7).

Ship Encounters Table
Die……….Ship Encountered
8 or less…No encounter
9………….Free Trader
10 ………..Free Trader
11 ………..Free Trader
12 ………..Pirate
13 ………..Subsidized Merchant
14 ………..Patrol
15 ………..Subsidized Merchant
16 ………..Yacht
17 ………..Yacht
18 ………..Patrol

Free Traders, if friendly, may serve as a source of information about other circumstances in the system; Subsidized Merchants may also provide such information. Patrols may be simple border pickets, or may be a form of pirate, exacting tolls or penalties.

And here the Starship Encounter rules from 1981:


When a starship enters a system, there is a chance that it will encounter any one of a number of different ships going about their business. Very often, the exact encounter is the responsibility of the referee; for routine encounters, or for inspiration, the accompanying starship encounter table is provided.

The table classifies each system by the starport within it. Two dice are rolled and modified by the presence of scout or naval bases in the system. If a dash is shown on the table, then there is no encounter. The letter codes indicate the various types’ of standard design ships described earlier in this book. The referee should examine the specific type of ship involved and determine the precise nature of the encounter. Free traders may want to swap rumors and gossip; scouts may want information; patrol cruisers may want to inspect for smugglers.

The suffix P on any ship type can be construed as pirate; such a ship will probably attack, or at least try to achieve a position where it can make the attempt.

It is also possible to encounter a variety of small craft in a system. If an asterisk appears on the table entry, a small craft has also been encountered. Roll one die and consult the standard small craft table to determine type. This encounter occurs either before or after the large ship encounter.

The referee may want to use the reaction table from the encounter section of Book 3 to determine the precise reaction of any type of ship and crew.

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Let’s leave aside for the moment that the 1981 edition of the rules contain a larger range of ships. What interests me is a table that Aramis put together over at the Citizens of the Imperium which compared the odds of encounter a Patrol vs. Pirates in the 1977 edition and the odds of encountering a Patrol vs. Pirates in the 1981 edition. [The notions N, S, and B stand for the presence of a Naval Base, a Scout Base, or a base of both kinds in a given system.)

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 9.13.11 AM

Look at the difference. Out of 36 Throws for encounters when entering a system, the difference could not be more stark.

I’ll let Aramis sum it up:

In 77, pirates are the bane of populated systems, but are absent in the backwaters. The mains are dangerous for lack of services, not hostiles…

In 81, pirates are the scourge in the fringes – desperate men choking the lifeblood out of minor trade. Meanwhile, the major ports have no pirates, but plenty of law. And patrols are EVERYWHERE.

The “empire” of 81 leaves E and X alone, and to the pirates, but patrols the A and B systems, and the pirates only match with them in the C-ports.

The “empire” of 77 patrols everywhere, but is outgunned by pirates in the systems with good ports…

One is effective, the other not…

Carlobrand, another poster at CotI added:

’77 and ’81 paint starkly different trade pictures, if you think about the meaning behind the numbers.

Where there’s big money involved, that money will try to protect itself, and that clearly is not happening in the ’77 universe. ’77 is a universe of little trade between planets, with what trade occurs being the result of adventurous souls willing to take big chances to score that big hit. As Aramis points out, it’s not a universe where the interstellar forces of goodness and niceness are very effective. Maybe they are more effective somewhere else, but they’re not very effective where the players are. It’s a universe where anarchy has the upper hand out in the airless void …

… and as such, it is a small-ship universe. Big ships in trade mean big money and, as I noted, big money tries to protect itself.

By the ’81 universe, it seems they’re giving thought to an Imperium, or at least some organized effort to protect the trade lanes. There’s enough economic activity going on up there to justify a planet putting up enough force to push piracy out to the hinterlands. Could be big ship, could be lots of small ships, but there’s enough to warrant a real effective effort, at least where the bulk of traffic is.

I concur with the statements of aramis and Carlobrand.

Here are a few more differences between the 1977 rules and text and the 1981 rules and text:

When we look at the 1977 rules, we also find that there are Charted Space Lanes rather than Communication Routes in setting up a subsector.

Space Lanes are pre-plotted Jump plans that can be bought on cassettes that self-erase after one use. A ship with the Generate Program does not need them. But a ship without a Generate program needs them if it is going to get from one system to another. And if a Space Lane between two systems has not yet been charted at all, then the Generate program is required for a ship to get to it.

Also: The 1977 rules have no Travel Zones (Amber or Red). As one can see from the quotes above, it seems unlikely that governments that is constantly trying to swat away pirates from A starport systems (and not succeeding) will be able to interdict an entire system. Instead, all worlds, no matter how dangerous, are open to Player Character travellers if that’s where they want to go. They could, of course, encounter resistance from any number of factions. But there is nothing on the books advising or warning them not to go.

Also: while digging into this I came across this first paragraph from the section on Starship Encounters on p. 36 of the 1977 edition of Book 2:

When a ship enters a star system, there is a chance that any one of a variety of ships will be encountered. The ship encounter table is used to determine the specific type of vessel which is met. This result may, and should, be superseded by the referee in specific situations, especially if a newly entered system is in military or civil turmoil, or involves other circumstances.

This assumes a setting that will have “military or civil turmoil” in the space between worlds. Not that there has to be turmoil. That is up to the Referee and the worlds he or she builds. But it is certainly implied there can be such turmoil, and the text encourages the Referee to think in terms of offering up such turmoil. But this sensibility is in contrast to the rules of the OTU’s Third Imperium which allows conflicts on worlds, but not in the space between them.

These elements alone are enough to bring me peace of mind. This is the sort of rough-and-tumble setting that I always imagined for Traveller because, of course, I bought the 1977 edition in my youth.

During the game line’s development the rules changed, the OTU was developed, and the game and the setting became one thing. My view of what sort of environment the Traveller rules originally implied became erased. When I would say, “The Spinward Marches seems safer and more civilized than I want,” I would be met with the reply, “How can you say that? It’s on the edge of the Imperium. There’s all sorts of adventure.”

Which is true, by the way. There is all sorts of adventure in The Spinward Marches. Nonetheless, to me, with all its mega corporations with tendrils to the smallest and off the beaten path worlds, its empire capable of interdicting entire star systems, its vast fleet of enormous startups that utterly dwarfed the ships of the player characters, its all seemed a much different environment than those I remembered reading about when I first bought the rules. Overall, the Third Imperium enforced a law and order across the stars that wasn’t in alignment with my sensibility for Science-Fiction Adventure in the Far Future. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that! Traveller was always about the Referee making the setting he or she wanted to share with is players. GDW made the setting they wanted from the core rules — and that is awesome.)

Now, I’m not saying playing with the 1977 rules is the “right” way to play, or that the setting implied by the rules is the right kind of setting to use.

I bring this up, as I always do, to open up the possibilities of play. The Third Imperium is a an awesome application of the Traveller rules to make a specific setting. It is the setting the guys at GDW wanted to make–and make it they did. But the Third Imperium is not the only setting–or even kind of setting–that works well with the Traveller rules.

And we know this because when we look back at the 1977 rules we see an utterly different kind of setting than we would see in later years as the the game line added more rules, ignored other rules, and built a setting that actually is at odds with the rules in Books 1-3.

A thought experiment:

Let’s use the rules and observations of aramis and Carlobrand above, along with rules shared with the 1981 edition:

  • no fuel purifiers (which were introduce in Book 5–and is one of the most fundamental changes to the rules)
  • a cap on ship size at 5,000 tons (or so — yes, yes, I know one can extend the table)
  • the discussions of pirates and hijackings as a threat in Book 2
  • the need for Refined Fuel (which is only found at 37% of starports) to travel without the risk of drive failures and misjumps (both of which can cause catastrophic results)
  • the fact that Refined Fuel will only be available, on average, in 37% of star systems when rolled using tables in Book 3
  • Space travel is relatively expensive compared to the living expenses listed in Book 3:

Costs of Living per Book 3
– Ordinary food and housing is Cr4,800 per year (estimate Cr12,000 annual income)
– High food and housing is Cr10,800 per year (estimate Cr27,000 annual income)
Costs of Space Travel Passage per Book 2
– High Passage: Cr10,000
– Middle Passage: Cr8,000
– Low Passage: Cr1,000

(And remember, those passage prices are per jump)

  • governments do not handle communication through interstellar mail, but hire independent contractors to carry the mail
  • the fact that some people who need to travel but can only scrape together the Cr1000 needed for a Low Passage ticket are willing to risk a base 15% chance of death in order to get to another world
  • the fact that the interstellar culture is clearly stratified along class in some fashion or another

First: are there any other differences between the 1977 and 1981 rules that provide interesting contrasts in terms of setting?

Second: what sort of assumptions can be made about the setting? What are the implications? What do we think the settings would be like drawn from these rules and bits of text?


42 thoughts on “TRAVELLER: Out of the Box–Another Difference Between the 1977 Edition and the 1981 Edition

  1. Another awesome Traveller Out-of-the-Box article! I am with you; the 1977 OTU (is that the Original-Original Traveller Universe – 2OTU?) is the setting I want to play in. It’s also seems closer to the literary roots.

  2. I have been reading up your very well written posts on your take on Classic Traveller and how it differed from later editions (particularly with the introduction of the Third Imperium setting). It’s so wonderful to read your observations and ideas as it brings back memories on how I ran (and wanted to run) my homebrew game when I first started refereeing Traveller in 1980. Great job on your blog posts and these have inspired me to revisit my LBB set and probably set up another homebrew game in the near future.

  3. That’s a good one. Makes a solid case for another element that should be adjusted to properly present a given setting.

    • Exactly.
      Look, there’s no “right setting” for Traveller. The whole game is a framework or a toolkit to help one create the kinds of settings one wants. Encounter tables are one of many quick and easy ways to define the setting of play in a concrete manner that directly interacts with the Player Characters.

  4. Did you want to comment on the differences between the 1977 and 1981 cargo tables? Although the 1977 tables make the Type M not viable, they also suggest less trade to be relied upon on average, on the other hand, the introduction of TL into the calculations in 1981 suggests the trade that happens is mostly between similar TL worlds, and now the subsidized merchant is more viable on the fringe (which goes hand in hand with a more powerful imperium, the odd thing about 1977 is even the inclusion of the subsidized merchant, if the imperium is weak on the fringes, why would they be subsidizing merchants there?

    Also my re-read of the above (admittedly skimmed somewhat since I had read originally on CotI), did you highlight the introduction of the Type T Patrol Cruiser in 1981?

    • Hi Frank,

      A few thoughts:
      • The Type M is a different ship between the 1977 edition and the 1981 edition. I think that’s part of the difference in the success rate.
      • I think the subsidized merchant is there to promote trade in the long run. The government uses subsidized ships to help create communication and trade between worlds and do the ground-work for resource exploitation that will come later as the Imperium arrives in industrial force.
      • I’m not convinced the cargo lot results are that much smaller in the 1977 edition than they are in 1981 edition. In the 1977 edition one rolls 1D6 for each Population value for the World of origin. One the multiples the value of the die by five to determine the tonnage of the lots. Meanwhile, in the 1981 edition one has chances for Major lots (multiply the value of each D6 by 10, and Minor lots (multiply the value of each D6 by 5). While there is variance from each potential jump based on destination worlds, the wild swings of the results of the 1981 table provides results that are often in-line with the 1977 results — sometimes more and sometimes less. (I might be wrong about this. I haven’t run a lot of numbers. But the numbers I have run suggest this interpretation.)
      • Finally, I mentioned in passing the inclusion of more ships in the 1981 rules. I really hadn’t thought much on how the Patrol Cruiser (Type T) changes the setting in a significant way since it seems about as dangerous to a ship belonging to the PCs as the Mercenary Cruiser (Type C) the PCs might encounter. But I look forward to other thoughts on this!

      • Aramis ran the numbers on the cargo lots, and at least the average is higher for 1981, with the possibility of minor lots to fill in the space. There is more swing, and one needs to consider the effect of TL difference and destination population which may actually conspire to reduce the amount of cargo available, or at least reduce the viability of larger ships (if they can only guarantee to fill their holds one way that may be a problem).

        My thought was the introduction of the Patrol Cruiser implies an imperium that has more resources to patrol, in 1977 the Scouts do the patrolling with the quasi-military Type C cruiser and armed Type Y perhaps being local polities or even individuals (hmm, armed Type Y – a local noble who desires to patrol areas he cares about….). Also, note this sentence: “Patrols may be simple border pickets, or may be a form of pirate, exacting tolls or penalties.” which suggests more harassment from this phrase in 1981: “patrol cruisers may want to inspect for smugglers.”

      • Ah, I had not noted all the differences in the Type M, updated my document. I agree they are different ships. They don’t appear so initially, but on closer examination, they definitely have different roles even though the high passage cabins are the same (21 in each case) and the cargo isn’t that different (124 in 1977 and 129 in 1981). 1977 implies a LOT more folks take low passage… And 1977 subsidized liners must call on ports that have shuttle services.

      • Can you point me toward those cargo lot numbers? Because I’m looking at both the tables and the results and to say one consiststantly gets more cargo in 1981 seems dubious at best.

        Good points about the Type T!

      • Note that as we have these conversations here, on CotI, and on Google+, I update my comparison document… I don’t always remember to announce such… For example, I just updated the Type M differences…

      • No the calculated averages don’t take into account the destination, which definitely yes, can conspire to reduce them. Really 1981 can only be evaluated for a set of actual worlds.

        But the system DOES allow for larger trade volume in a well established “imperium” where all the worlds are high population and TL is fairly consistent, which is a good thing, but not applicable to the setting of play as described by the rules in Book 3.

      • Yes, the 1981 odds would be crazy complicated to figure. Worlds of Pop 4- get a DM -4. Well, if you roll up a subsector as written 40% of the worlds will be Pop 4-. That’s a lot of worlds that are going to get hit with that DM -4.That’s going to have an impact on the cargo lots for a lot to travel. Add in the TL modifier and a) the odds get wonky and b) a lot of worlds that might otherwise have solid cargo might well not. (Traveling from a Pop 4- world to a Pop 4- world is almost doomed to an empty cargo hold no matter what the the odds would “normally” be. The only thing that could save the trip is traveling from a high TL, Pop 4- world.)

        But over all, yes the cargos are larger.

        Using the 1977 rules (which I’m suddenly, because of this conversation, tempted by) suggests the crew of the ships have really stuck it to themselves. They’ve taken a gamble to head off into parts unknown with ships that really will not be able to survive on trade alone.

        In the 1977 model, cargo and passengers are there to supplement and support a goal that is entirely different than trade itself. Speculation can help. But ultimately the crew will be out to gain their wealth through extraordinary measures. Whether the are treasure hunters, a mercenary crew looking for a dream ticket, out to take over a world, or whatever, the cargo hold and stateroom are there to help them KEEP GOING until they reach a much larger pay day.

        This takes the focus off of trade. The crew is hoping they get enough cargo and passengers they don’t have to bleed out too much on the haul they’ve accumulated thus far. And if they have really struck it rich (but are not satisfied yet) they might not even both trying to find cargo and passengers, since the profits might be a drop in the bucket compared to the ease of being responsible to no one but themselves.

        This model means low Population worlds are even more off the beaten track since it is clear that most ships will never bother going to them for purely trade reasons. What could draw someone? Rumors of treasure. Ruins. A place to conquer and build a military foundation.

        The Type R will never make it simply as a trader. Even the higher pop worlds will seldom fill the cargo hold.

        The question is, “Why journey in a Far Trader beyond the fringes of civilization?”

        One way of looking at it, the common way I suppose, is that the Type M is “broken” and the trade rules don’t work.

        Another way is to ask, “What do you get with a Type M? or a Type R” Plenty of state rooms and lower berths (especially with the Type M!). Plenty of room for gear and equipment. A crew could carry plenty of mercs and weapons, as well as the ammo and gear to keep an operation running for a while.

        That’s just one example. But an easy one.

        I often think that a lot of people make a mistake about Traveller. They think things should work at peak efficiency — and if they don’t then something is wrong. (The same way many people are frustrated with the weird results of the Main World generation system.)

        But another way of looking at it is: this wouldn’t normally make sense. But someone is doing it. So why? Why Type R or Type M if they can’t fill their holds? Well, that’s a question worth considering!

        Because here’s one thing: If they go to a world rumored to have a wealth of [Insert McGuffins Here] they can fill their holds up and come back with a rich treasure to sell off.

        [Here’s another thought: Subsidized ships split their income 50-50 to the government off of cargo carried and passengers… they don’t split salaries and they don’t split speculation. If a Type R or Type M is carrying a large compliment of adventurous men and women (the PCs and their hirelings) and hauling speculative trade and captured booty, none of that is split. Yes, they have to pay for fuel and life support, but if they fill their cargo hold with valuable, all that profit is theirs to keep.]

        I have to say I am drawn to this style of play, driven with a more pointed sense toward adventure than the weekly operations of running a starship.

      • Yea, that works for me. To some extent, I see the subsidized liner as a piece of color, but obviously it was put in the rules for a reason. PCs might not jump to purchase one, but what does it mean to encounter one? What’s it doing out here on the fringe?

      • Exactly. As a default I think it works really well as an an encounter. On a mundane level, it is part of a regular round ferrying goods a people (especially people) from one world to another. Its presence implies there is a world that people want to get to. (Settlements are starting. Workers are needed. And so on…) Or perhaps a place people desperately want to leave. (There is war taking place, people are fleeing, people are scraping together their Cr1000 to take a low berth the hell off the planet.)

        Other nefarious situations and reasons can be created as well.

        As you point out, there’s no need for the PCs to be involved in running such a ship. But it is there to be used if the Referee wants one.

      • “Here’s another thought: Subsidized ships split their income 50-50 to the government off of cargo carried and passengers… they don’t split salaries and they don’t split speculation. If a Type R or Type M is carrying a large compliment of adventurous men and women (the PCs and their hirelings) and hauling speculative trade and captured booty, none of that is split. Yes, they have to pay for fuel and life support, but if they fill their cargo hold with valuable, all that profit is theirs to keep.”

        That’s not, at least, how subsidies are described in the rules:

        “Subsidies: The government may subsidize larger commercial vessels (built on
        type 600 hulls or larger), primarily to assure consistent service to specific worlds.
        These subsidized merchants are generally assigned a specific route connecting from 2 to 12 worlds of varying characteristics. The route will generally be determined before a subsidized merchant is purchased, to allow tailored design features as may be necessary. When a subsidized merchant is ordered, the character himself must make the 20% down payment, with the government assuming responsibility for the payments upon delivery, and taking 50% of the gross receipts of the ship while in service. The character is responsible for all expenses and costs of operation.” Book 2, p.5 (identical in both 1977 and 1981).

        * The ship has an assigned route, generally set before it is commissioned.
        * The government takes 50% of _gross_ receipts, not _net_ — that is, half of *all* income, before costs are subtracted.
        * “… gross receipts _of the ship_…” implies that any income on the ship’s account, regardless of the source, is affected. That would include (e.g.) mail delivery contracts and charters.
        * All expenses and costs, including salaries, are paid out of the ship’s half of gross receipts.

        Now, there is nothing here to prevent a passenger (i.e., a non-crew PC) from shipping freight at their own expense for sale at a later destination. The government would still take half of the Cr1,000 per dton shipping rate and passenger fare, but the speculative profits would be off the ship’s books.

      • Hi Christopher,

        I can completely see how you are reading the rules/economics for subsides. I can only say I read them differently.

        In Book 2, in Starship Economics, the text introduces two sections after the section on “Starship Purchase”: one for “Operating Expenses” and one for “Revenue.”

        As far as I can tell these two sections cover the base elements that will govern subsidies and be governed by them.

        “Trade goods,” as introduced and defined in an entirely different chapter of the book called “Trade and Commerce” are clearly of a different kind of of economy than Operating Expenses and Revenue.

        Trade goods are never defined as “cargo” within the Trade and Speculation chapter. They are unique and apart from the ship’s revenue scheme. The fact that the ship’s crew *owns* the trade goods, in my view, makes it clear they are are off the books of the ship’s “Operating Expenses”and “Revenue.”

        But that’s my read after looking over text, the fact that trade goods are in their own text, and that the Starship Economics chapter never mentions trade goods. I can completely see how someone will read it otherwise and play as you suggest.

        That said, I completely agree with you on having to split the fee on the Mail Contract. Thanks for pointing that out!

  5. Nicely done! I really enjoy you doing these comparisons between CT77 and CT81, it’s the sort of thing I’d love to do but simply don’t the time or energy for at the moment.


  6. The ’77 set-up sounds more like H Beam Piper’s Space Viking than the Kipling/Conrad vibe of ’81; less trade, fewer ships, less central authority means the ships there are will need to look after themselves, and those armed ships could easily oscillate from traders to raiders.
    (As I recall, in Space Viking the reason there weren’t more ships wasn’t the technical difficulty of building them, but the economics)

  7. The more I read on your site, the clearer it is to me that I prefer the 1977 version of the rules. Luckily I have 2 copies of the 1977 Books 1-3, so I’m set for life. Thanks for all the interesting articles.

    • Sadly I gave up my boxed set of the 1977 rules years ago!

      I can print out a hardcopy from the PDF set on the FFE CT CD-ROM – but of course it won’t be the same. Sometimes a copy of the set will come up for sale online. But when I see the price I really can’t justify the cost!

      Like you I’m feeling the pull of the ’77 set more and more!

      • Might try garage sales and oddball bookstores…I got a boxed set of the Victory Games 007 game complete with the Q Manual and Thrilling locations books for a couple of dollars one time at a yard sale.

  8. …more like four of us. While I am not sure ‘pure’ as to constrain myself to just the CT77 set of rules (there are mechanics I mine from subsequent sets to assist with /mitigate house ruling) I do like the CT77-81 pre OTU feel. I realise that like many I got sucked into thinking the OTU was probably the way I should go with traveller games – until I found a group of players who didnt know about the OTU AND DIDNT CARE WHAT I DID AS LONG AS IT WAS FUN. So this most recent discussion has been great for articulating the possible fabric of what pre OTU looks like. And its interesting to track how generally rules and settings have become entwined as time has gone on.

    • I meant to say I’m not ‘…so pure as to…’ – sorry if that was confusing. I should also say, in case my mentioning of subsequent rules seems I’m wandering off topic from the original ‘out of the box’ idea, that this discussion has been a great lesson in setting and scenario design. And potentially also game rules design. The analysis of language and presentation, as well as rules mechanics details, has been quite instructive as well as entertaining. It has made very clear how different your settings can be with just a few simple differences in the rules – and how, if you have a particular setting in mind, how well or badly a given rule or set of rules can be for delivering something that carries within it the spirit of your intent. It started for me back when I first got the Mongoose 1E traveller rules because I thought it to be a good re-statement of the *original* classic. It cleaned up a lot of mechanics, and opened up some more options. And I preferred it over T4, TNE, and MegaTraveller. But it made also me realise that I was finding the OTU an unsatisfactory universe to run *my* games in. Quite happy to play in. But not run. And that the rules I was using (MegaTrav, then some attempts at TNE, and a very brief skirmish with T4), weren’t the games I was looking for. The game I was looking for was the one I discovered in 1979-80, which was CT77. Then CT81. As exemplified in these discussions. So thanks guys.

      • Nothing wrong at all with reaching forward for good stuff to take from later editions, and of course nothing wrong with embracing the later editions whole hog. I think the key to Christopher’s examination is to not assume the 1977 rules are broken just because there are later editions, and thus to actually examine the game described by those rules. Having made that examination, a GM is certainly entitled to make the game his own by whatever means make sense to him.

      • I know I’m pulling details and rules from the 1981 edition. (For example I think I’ll use the Type M rebuild and the additional ships from 1981.)

        And I think Rumor Tables (from The Traveller Book) are really important tool for a sandbox setting.

        So, yeah. It’s not like it’s any kind of purity thing for me.

        I’m simply discovering that as a baseline to work from 1977 works best for what I’m looking for.

        Notice how putting on a Vacc suit during emergency decompression is handled in the 1977 and 1981 editions. I can tell you I prefer the 1977 edition!

        Here is the 1977 phrasing: Throw 9+ to put on an available vacc suit; DM + level of vacc suit expertise, and DM + dexterity of the individual.

        I think that’s imprecise phrasing of the actual intent, which is “+DM level of vacc suit expertise, and +DM high dexterity of the individual.” I read it that way because it falls in line with other DMs based off stats for Weapons and such.

        The 1981 edition has you make a straight up DEX or less roll. First, I’m not fond of those rolls. Second, it’s the only time such a roll is in the rules. I’d rather toss that right out of the gate.

        Here’s the approach I’ve settled on:

        I’m building a personal edition of the rules. I’m starting with the 1977 edition of Books 1-3, editing and reorganizing as I go. This is the baseline with Errata. Then I’m adding in bits I want from the 1981 set and The Traveller Book.

      • Yea, the rumor rules from TTB are definitely worth taking. Mega-Traveller and Mongoose Traveller have additional tables for fleshing out patrons which are worth a look also. There are also additional encounter table details in later editions which are worth considering.

        A key to adding any of these encounter bits is to consider how they impact the implied setting as has been examined with the ship encounter tables.

      • Right.
        One can, for example, build specific encounter tables for specific worlds. These tables can repflect the kinds of people, the kinds of society, the kind of government and law of the specific world. They can reflect the kinds of situations that are putting a stress on the culture. For example if there is a civil war going on encounters will reflect that. If the culture depends on duels to settle matters of dispute a patron seeking to hire a champion will reflect that.

        In other words the world is reflected directly in who the PCs interact with and what their concerns are rather than reading a wall of descriptive text at the Players.

        Can anyone talk about the expanded value of Patron encounters from MT and MgT? I have looked at them (perhaps not carfully enough!) and I’m not seeing the expanded, value-added improvement.

      • MgT has d66 tables for Mission, Mission Target, and Opposition for Patrons. Can provide inspiration as to what the patron is looking for, It also has starport, rural, and urban encounter tables that have a variety of events and other types of encounters compared to CTs tables that have mostly a variety of people (with 6 of 36 entries being blank) and animal encounter tables (which have animals on all by the “10” entry on the 2d6 table and just animals on the d6 table).

        The MT tables have a list of patron missions for inspiration (no dice rolling, just GM pick or be inspired). The MT wilderness encounter table has non-animal at 5 and 9 which provides more variety.

        Each edition has slightly different patron lists.

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  10. It may be a little bit of a cheat, but I’ve found that to get a different feel I’ve used encounter [and other] tables from games like Flashing Blades and Privateers and Gentlemen in the past. Or, used them to construct rough d6 – d66 – 2d6 tables in a more traveller format, but with other ideas. Borrowing from other games can help give a twist and different feel. I’ve also borrowed price lists for strange worlds that don’t use the credit. As well as using the Mongoose tables (1st ed) and other borrowings from subsequent traveller editions. What I’ve realised is that the 1977 rules that I read so long ago stuck with me a lot, and I really liked the feel conveyed by the way they were written and the concepts they presented. Such as jump cassettes and space lanes, and the remote authority that wasn’t able to fully exert its power by a long shot. Rules are less important than these concepts, I think, so this re-examining what T1977 gave us is good. Then ‘better’ rules from elsewhere can be borrowed if needed. I’m starting to think though I perhaps need to borrow less than I thought.

  11. Pingback: & Yore | A new appreciation for the 1977 version of Traveller

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