TRAVELLER: Out of the Box–A Subsector Map and a Cluster

A Subsector Map:

FullSizeRender-10The lines between worlds are charted space lanes generated with the 1977 rules. These are navigational routes allowing a starship to travel safely from one system to another without the Generate program. The charts are encoded on self-erasing cassettes that can be purchased from starports within jump range of the destination world.

A charted space lane does not guarantee regular traffic. Only that the route is traveled enough, and the information updated frequently enough, to make it safe to travel there without the Generate program.

You’ll notice I erased a few of the lanes. This is in part to clean up the map. If there is a route that extends from A port to a B port and the B port connects to a C port, one can assume there is a route from the A port to the C port without having to directly connect the A to C port.

The other reason is that I’m still futzing with the subsector and deciding about how many worlds in that lower right corner already have space lanes routes. I’m pretty sure that the B starport world in 0708 will still connect to the E starport world in 0709. But many of those fainter lines will take a bit of work on the part of the players to reach them. They’ll have to scrape together enough money to get the Generate program, or charter a flight, and so on.

Notice that the two worlds with E-class starports next to 0708 do not have gas giants. The 1977 rules require gas giants for skimming unrefined fuel. This means that if one arrives in jump-1 ship one cannot leave again unless one carries extra fuel in the hold. Other methods of reaching these worlds and returning involve chartering ships, working one’s way up to a jump-2 ship (and using half the fuel one way and half the fuel the other way.) In short, these two worlds will really not have been visited much, offering a terrific sense of “journeying into the unknown” — which is very much the feel I want to offer to the Players.

I’ll be focusing on a cluster of star systems at first:


Six worlds, one of them being a high tech level world with an A-class starport.

From these worlds a series of lesser starport worlds trail off to the lower corner. And then we can head to another A-class starport in the other direction. But generating enough details for these first six worlds will be enough to get me going.

The subsector is beyond the edge of the empire the characters have come from. If they have a Scout ship or Free Trader then they have sailed that ship a great distance to arrive at this section of space.

The subsector is not ruled by any  central government; it has no shared culture; the worlds are culturally and technologically isolated . Trade is sparse, though a few world governments and charter companies do have ships established for trade between a few key worlds. Not many ships ply the darkness between worlds.

Per the 1977 Ship Encounter rules pirates and government ships cluster around A and B starports. The D and E starports see little if any trade. The danger at the these worlds off the beaten path is isolation and the environment itself. Tensions exist between higher tech worlds with A class starports. The conflicts are often fought on other worlds as natural resources become a point of contention. There will be an underground mystical order with psionic powers trying to unseat these powerful governments and instal their faith as the ruling order.

The worlds of the setting will have for the most part an exotic and even archaic spirit and aesthetic to them. The player characters will be from a more “conservative” (cultural, not political) and recognizable society that the Players can easily identify with. I want a sense of each culture being a bit different and unique. The player characters will definitely be “outsiders” finding their way amid these new worlds.

The fictional inspiration points are the E. C. Tubb’s Dumarest books, “The Beyond” from Jack Vance’s Demon Princes books, Frank Herbert’s  Dune with its raw and dangerous environment, as well as movies like The Man Who Would be King, The Wild Bunch, and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, which focus on ex-military who head off into conflicts and lands uncivilized to find their fortunes.


12 thoughts on “TRAVELLER: Out of the Box–A Subsector Map and a Cluster

  1. Up until recently I’d forgotten about the Jump Cassettes. Thanks for the reminder (here and previously). Originally they reminded me of Heinlein’s Starman Jones and the difficulty of calculating a jump. Thus I always considered them one-use simply because they had a limited lifespan – the solution would only be valid for a short time due to the vagaries and incompletely understood nature of jump travel. And thus the erase function – a safety measure.

    • I think many of the aspects of the Classic Traveller rules and implied setting can be reworked to the referee’s whims and desires. Your example of what charted space lanes is one example. But the Psionics Institute can be reworked into anything the Referee wants. In my setting it will be the mystical order. All the rules will be the same but I am changing the “color” of the details.

      The same holds for the Travellers Aid Society, what fuels jump drives, and so on. You can redefine many of the details and still retain many of the rules.

      • Yes. Definitely. And somehow that comes across more clearly, or is more strongly implied in the old rules. Which i wish i still had. Alas one cleanup too many.

      • I don’t know which rules you have, but the 1977 rules are available on the FFE Classic Traveller CD-ROM. The CD is $35 and you get a ton of CT material, from all editions of CT to all the adventures to JTAS to the board games.

  2. You could also treat the Class A as the equivalent of Hong Kong or Shanghai, the (often corrupt) outermost outpost of “the Empire” where they send all the dregs. Make it an argumentatively useful place full of useless folks who will do nothing but cause trouble for the party out of greed or jealousy or the exercise of petty power.

    But, of course, darn near the only place where a title means “what it should” if you end up with a PC with a title – and similarly, the only place with any of the comforts of home – at exorbitant prices…

    Also, where they have to pick up their pension – begrudgingly handed out with attempts to exhort the players into “one last service for the Empire”!


    • Without doubt! That’s an awesome option.
      Here’s the key thing though: The Referee is free to interpret all these elements any way he wants to build the logic for the setting he or she wants.
      For me, that’s the key thing.

  3. Pingback: Classic Traveller: Making a World from the Universal World Profile | Tales to Astound!

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