An Interview Marc Miller


Over at Stargazer’s world, Michael Wolf has an interview with Marc Miller.

A quote:

Marc Miller: When Dungeons & Dragons came out, I was a wargame designer. In a sense, the fantasy role-playing idea was new, but in another sense, it was a familiar concept. I had done political role-playing exercises in college: model UN and model Organization of American States, and some campaign simulations.

What struck me (and everyone else) about D&D was the application of numbers to the individual character and role. Gary Gygax’s conversion of role-playing from a touchy-feely analog system to an easy-to-use digital character system was brilliant, even if we couldn’t quite put it into words. D&D literally took over everyone at Game Designers’ Workshop, and after a couple of weeks, we (the designers and owners) had to make an important rule: no D&D during work hours. Nothing else was getting done.

So we played in the evenings. Based on our experiences, Frank Chadwick designed his Three Musketeers game En Garde! as he digested the idea of fantasy role-playing, and I started working on a science-fiction role-playing game concept that became Traveller.

7 thoughts on “An Interview Marc Miller

  1. I think that it’s interesting that Mr. Miller seems to fail to see the advantages of the LBBs and relegates them to mere nostalgia.

    • Does he relegate them to nostalgia? I’m not seeing that.

      I do see — and understand — he is deeply involved with creating a new game. So I completely see where his focus is.

      The thing I have observed is this: in almost every interview, sometime subtly, sometimes bluntly, Miller talks about how when Classic Traveller came out all these people had all these questions about the game. How to play it, how do I do this, how do I do that.

      Now, a lot of people don’t have those questions. They read the rules and go, “Oh, I get it.” These people do not pester Marc Miller with questions. These weren’t writing to GDW to tell them how to do things back in the day. They were just playing the game.

      But for the people who needed a rules set that does not depend on a Referee to run the game but rather a rules set to run the game then Miller is trying to make a game that answers EVERY QUESTION as to how to play. I think it’s a quixotic effort. But some people want Miller to deliver that, and he seems to be trying.

      The original Traveller rules are the opposite of that. And since his efforts are built on doing the opposite of that I can see him not being as valuable as answering the needs of the people who want this new thing.

      • I think that you’re right about what he’s trying to do now, and also probably about his chances of succeeding. However, from the interview, when asked about prior rule sets being kept in “print” electronically, and which sets he’d recommend for different purposes:

        Each edition of Traveller appeals to its own particular type of player. The older editions continue to be available for the players who played them once upon a time and have fond memories of that material. I am talking about more than just the GDW editions: some players prefer HERO, or GURPS, or D20, and there are editions for them.

        But for someone new to Traveller, there are (in my mind) two choices: Traveller5 or Mongoose. I think either one will ultimately bring that player to the other, and the confluence of the two will add to their enjoyment.

        Thus, the older sets are, to his mind, kept around for people who are nostalgic for those rules, while new players should go for MgT or T5 (or both) depending on their priorities. As a result, I am sure that he hasn’t seen the analysis of reasons to prefer older sets such as have been given in this blog toward CT (or my lesser efforts toward MT a while back, which I really should get to in more detail and with more focus at some point; except that I’ve been coming to a new set of conclusions, in great part because of your work, that sort of change my perspective toward needing to develop MT in a new direction to really fit my current preferences fully as a sort of LBB77/MT hybrid, but that’s starting to digress – mainly, but not exclusively, I prefer the Armor Value/Penetration system to the CT method, and MT integrates that in ways that the Striker/AHL [I am told that AHL also used it, though to this day I’ve never seen the game in person] optional combat systems don’t, plus the 15m/1.5m squares method makes combat more tactical which I like).

      • Too bad he ignores Cepheus Engine. CE is closer to CT than T5 will ever be. CE also has lively support from several great Third Party publishers. I personally have distanced myself from the money grabbers at Mongoose and refuse to support MgT2E or their IP-stealing TAS.

  2. I wish Marc would recognize what Tales to Astound has helped me realize…the core mechanic in Classic Traveller is not a Task Resolution System but a Situation Resolution System. CT actually does combat AND social interactions unlike what Marc states in the interview.
    Once a person realizes CT is a Situation Resolution Mechanic combined with adventures driven by Encounters (not combat situations but opportunities to adventure) then the generic form of CT can be used for a wide variety of settings.
    It’s unfortunate that over the years Traveller came to be synonymous with the Third Imperium. Cepheus Engine is a good step-back way-ahead system that captures much of that old time CT feeling.

    • Definitely agree. Also, many people seem to see Traveller as pretty much military in focus. But, it always had scope for more than that, even from the start. Especially before the OTU began to coalesce and impinge on the rules. Army, Navy, Marines – yep: military. Scouts – that depends on your view. Merchant and Other – not military at all. These Tales to Astound posts have really helped (I think) to shift focus on what the original rules and first few supplements provided. And some often overlooked possibilities – e.g. just being psionic from the start, or starting as young adventurers that *don’t* enter a service. Its a versatile toolkit for running games based on *your* favourite inspirational Science Fiction. Or Science Fantasy.

      • See also SOLO by Paul Elliott published by Zozer Games. Though a solo play system, it is also a good framework for four different campaign styles – Travellers, Traders, Navy Officers, and Scouts. The Clement Sector from Gyspsy Knights also allows for pirates and colonists. So much adventure to be had beyond “the military!”

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