Classic Traveller: Making a World from the Universal World Profile

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After playing around with Classic Traveller’s system for generating Main Worlds and subsectors, I have decided to add the Tags system from Stars Without Numbers as part of the process.

Here’s why:

I think the Classic Traveller Main World generation system is compelling as all hell. It offers the Referee a tool to make him go… “Hmmm… what crazy-SF-themed thing is going on here to justify these numbers?”

The weakness in it, if it is one, is that it might suggest to people, “Roll up these numbers, slap on some obvious high-tech explanation for any obvious inconsistencies, and you’re done.”

But I think that’s doing the system a disservice. The trap is that, like the Original Dungeons & Dragons rules before it, at the time of the game’s publication the game assumed that people who would pick up a game about “Science-Fiction Adventure in the Far Future” would be deeply read in the science fiction stories preceding the game’s publication.

If we turn to the stories that inspired Marc Miller when he was writing Traveller we find the works of E.C. Tubb, Jack Vance, Poul Anderson, Jerry Pournelle, H. Beam Piper, Andre Norton, and others. And in these tales we find that the worlds and SF premises of countless worlds that would be considered outlandish by the standards of today’s science-fiction.

I bring all this up to say, if one roll up the UWP numbers, slap on some obvious high-tech explanation for any obvious inconsistencies, and call it done, one is missing the next step… which is to create the weird, the unexpected, the spectacular, the strange, the exotic, and the unique worlds that would be at home in the science-fiction tales and novels from the 40s through the mid-70s. These are the qualities that these stories from the 40s, 50s, 60s, and early 70s traded in.

The problem is that the Classic Traveller Main World generation system doesn’t necessarily lead to the qualities. It is presumed. But if one assume the underlying quality of the setting is being “realistic” or “hard SF” one can easily iron out these presumed qualities. And if one hasn’t read the books that inspired the game, or even know about them, it might seem that the string of numbers is enough. (One might even be confused as to why the randomly rolled values are so strange!) But it isn’t. The string of numbers is a jumping off point for creating a world.

Later Classic Traveller material, as well as later editions of Traveller, would drill down deeper into astronomical detail when generating world and systems. I would offer this is the wrong direction — at least the wrong direct from the original concept of the game. (If that’s the sort of game the Referee wants AWESOME! I am simply talking about the core conceits and purpose of the game as originally written.)

Marc Miller was not only an Army Captain but also got a B.A. in Sociology. Combined with the compelling conceits about countless societies found in the books by Tubb, Piper, Vance, Bester, Norton, Anderson, Pournelle, and all the other SF authors that inspired Classic Traveller, a compelling case can be made that the focus of the game is not actually Hard SF and astronomical detail, but rather all the interesting cultures and societies the characters the Player Characters get to encounter, puzzle out, and interact with.

Certainly that’s the argument I’m making in this post.

So if we roll up a string of numbers that give us facts about a world, do we necessarily end up with compelling societies and cultures for the player character travellers to interact with? Not necessarily.

The strength of adding the Tags from Stars Without Numbers into the mix is that it immediately colors the world being created with culture, society, factions, conflicts, and NPCs. It encourages the Referee to make something extraordinary that the Player Characters can encounter and interact that is new and fresh and unexpected.

Recently I started nailing down a subsector of my own.  I rolled up the locations of the worlds in the subsector, their respective spaceport types, and the space lanes from the 1977 rules. I made notes for the kind of setting I wanted for the subsector.

Then I chose a cluster of stars for the beginning of a campaign. (For a variety of reasons I like to “Star Small” when working up a subsector. Here on some thoughts on that.) From that cluster I picked the first wold I would begin with: the world in the middle of the cluster with an A class starport. This is where the PCs would begin.

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For that world I rolled a UWP of A-210989-B. So we have a world only 2,000 miles in diameter, with a very thin atmosphere, and a population of billions. “Exactly,” I thought, “how would this work?”

I then thought of an O’Neill Cylinder in orbit around the sun near the planet, which the colony used for mining. But then I realized that an O’Neill Cylinder wouldn’t hold billions. Some quick research and some math told me I would need about 1000 O’Neill Cylinders in orbit to hold the population of the system.

That’s kind of over the top, right? But AWESOME. The image of A THOUSAND O’NEILL CYLINDERS glittering in the sun as a ship approaches would be an astounding sight. And the world itself, small though it is, would be lit up with millions of bright lights as the entire surface of the plane is part of a mining operation that has been going on for a hundred years. Other ships blink in and out of existence as they Jump within the system to gather resources from other worlds within the system.


— Sample Tags from Stars Without Numbers. You roll two Tags to flesh out a world.

I then rolled on the SWN Tags and got Civil War (!) and Restrictive Laws. The Restrictive Laws was an easy fit with the Law Level of 9 that I had already rolled. But the notion of a Civil War raging across these islands in space really caught my imagination. I want the setting to be at the fringes of an ancient, failing interstellar empire. I wanted a noble of the empire to rule the star system. And now I saw that noble’s grasp on the system failing. More importantly, a 1,000 O’Neill Cylinders are fragile. There would be many laws restriction munitions and conflict. The Restrictive Laws would fold neatly into a culture of many rules and customs that keep conflict from spilling out of control and literally tearing the ground out from under the feat of the citizens.

I have no idea yet what the Civil War is about, or whether it has even started. But already I have conflict and action coming to bear in a unique culture driven by the SF details of the setting. This also all works within the Government Type: A Civil Service Bureaucracy mired in tradition. I’m seeing lots of robes with bright colors and elegant patterns that denote one’s station in the hierarchy. The institutions of the system keep generating new rules to sustain their sense of power and order even as they fail to see that discord is brewing below their elegant and elaborate customs and laws.

All of this seems worthy of a setting of a story for Vance or Anderson and the other authors listed above. And three things:

  1. I am clearly not taking the UWP literally (which I don’t think is the point of the UWP, so I don’t)
  2. I do want to spend some time figuring out what it means to fight a war amid islands that can shatter and kill millions if things get too hot, so how does one “fight a civil war” in this kind of terrain. But won’t it be awesome to find out?
  3. I’m not worried about it being fully “realistic.” That is, it will need to have a layer of verisimilitude and self-consistency to feel real. But ultimately there will be awesome adventures, action, puzzle solving, and more… all from rolling 9 pairs of dice and discovering images that excited me from those rolls.
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QELONG: Aakom Poison Tracker (Lamentations of the Flame Princess)

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My Players’ characters are heading off to the Qelong next week and I’ve spent my break from Refereeing by working up notes and prepping details for the expedition.

As I’ve noted before Qelong is dense and complex. I’ve taken some time to “unfold” the material in the book and prepare for an easier time running it.

One of the complex parts of the setting is the threat of Aakom Poisoning. If you’ve read the module you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t read it you don’t know what I’m talking about–but don’t worry because its too complicated to go into.

For those of you have an interest in running Qelong for your players but who have thought, “How the hell am I going to track the Aakom Poisoning?” I offer this following tracking sheet.

The deal is this:

I will print out several sheets, using one sheet per day the Player Characters travel through the Qelong valley. Each day of travel I will mark down any actions that incur Aakom points. (Each column heads notes the number of Aakom Points accumulated for different events.) At the end of the day I total the Aakom points for that day and then total the to the Aakom points for the entire expedition thus far.

The spreadsheet itself was sort of a no brainer. But I imagined what a mess the sheet would become after several days of adventure. (Truly, tracking Aakom Poisoning is a pain in the neck.) It was only after I realized I should have a new sheet for each day that I thought, “Okay, I can now track this and use the threat of the poison in a reliable and organized manner.”

I bring this up because my players are smart players and they love to have new problems and puzzles. I don’t want to hand-wave the effects of the poison. If the application of “scoring” the Aakom points is consistent and understandable they will figure out the patter and they will take action to solve the problem. Hence this detailed solution to tracking the poison.

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Notes for My First Session of My Lamentations of the Flame Princess Campaign

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I just came across the pages shown in this post. This is how my Lamentations of the Flame Princess campaign began, with three people I knew, and three others I found off of Meetup.

I started my campaign with a brief adventure called Stranger Storm from the original LotFP Referee Book and the notes pictured above. (You can get the PDF of the LotFP Referee Book for free at RPGNow.)

The Player Characters started on a road, at night. They had each rolled a rumor from the World Rumor Table I made, as well as rumors about meteorites that had fallen to the south a few nights earlier.

They were looking to find the meteorites, but would encounter the situation of Stranger Storm along the way.

The adventure Stranger Storm has no maps. I grabbed some maps from other RPG books to help me out.

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So, I started with:

  1. Rumor Table (which focuses the players, but lets the choose what to do)
  2. Stranger Storm (With a few alterations of the creatures to fit my campaign. Specifically I altered the nature of the Changelings to make them into arcane spies of sorcerers of Carcosa.)
  3. A stack of LotFP adventures that the Rumors on the Rumor Table point to
  4. The notes I have attached in photos
  5. A map of an inn and of a small keep I cribbed from elsewhere (they never went to the keep)

We’ve been playing for over a  year, alternating games on occasion, for a solid six months of play so far.

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Der Entdecker: An alternate-reality sailing ship found by the Player Characters in my Lamentations of the Flame Princess campaign

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My game is on hiatus right now, allowing me time to sort through some bookkeeping and prep for further adventures.

As noted previously, my players tracked down a sailing ship that can travel between alternate earths. Here’s a writeup for the Players, using the rules from Rules & Magic and the ACKS Guns of War.

I built the sheet above to hand the players so they’ll have a sense of ownership of this piece of equipment. They’ll be tracking supplies and more.

When we left off they had used the ship for the first time, using the ship’s wheel to steer a course for an alternate world where two arch-mages fight a decades long battle and the the peaceful Qelong Valley has been shattered by the fallout.

Lamentations of the Flame Princess Spell Booklets for Clerics and Magic-Users, Levels 1 & 2

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Jeff Rients notes:

One of my few gripes with the Lamentations of the Flame Princess Rules & Magic book is the spell section.  I hate, hate, hate getting all the spells as a single long alphabetical list.  For too long my neural pathways have been charred into a configuration based upon the organization of spells by class and level.

And frankly, I think that the old way of organizing spells was a lot more friendly for newbies.  Imagine playing a cleric for the first time and needing to search through 200 spells to find the ten you have to choose from.

I concur.

A year ago, when I started my LotFP campaign, I thought the same thing. I made spell list pamphlets for my LotFP Players, ready to be printed out as little pamphlets.

Include both 1st and 2nd Level spells. Since Player Characters won’t need 3rd Level Spells until 5th Level, I knew this would mean they’d be useful for several months of play!

LofFP M-U Spell Booklet, Lvl 1&2

LotFP Cleric Spell Booklet Lvl 1&2

They are formatted as A5 pages, but they’ll easily squeeze into a 5.5″x8.5″ sheet for booklet printing.

Free Traveller 5 Deck Plan Set

126973.jpgGame Designer Workshop is offering the Traveller5 Starships & Spacecraft-2 FIVE Deck Plan Set for Free (normal list price is $19.99)

Inspired by Judges Guild’s classic Traveller deck plans: Starships and Spacecraft. This new Deck Plan Pack re-imagines classic Traveller starships and adds new spacecraft and charts to the mix.

Five 22 x 34 inch black and white deck plan sheets for Traveller5 starships:

Scout/Courier, Express Boat, Free Trader, Corvette, and Colonial Cruiser. Sheets are 1:120 scale (1 inch = 10 feet; 1.5 meter square = one-half inch). Colonial Cruiser is 1:180 (1 inch = 15 feet; 1.5 meter square = one-third inch).

Plus, a sixth sheet: the Astrogator’s Starchart of the Spinward Marches: perfect for plotting voyages through the most famous of the Traveller sectors. Map scale is 1: 1,645 quadrillion (one three-quarter inch hex= one parsec).


Also: Welcome new visitors! (Apparently lots of people are stopping by to see this post!)

I thought I’d mention I’ve written a lot of posts in a series called TRAVELLER: Out of the Box.. The premise is simple:

I examine Books 1-3 of the original Traveller rules found in the original boxed set (both the 1977 edition and the 1981 edition) and see what sort of game and play is found within.

This means excluding the later books. It also means no concern for the Third Imperium (which is not mentioned in any way in the first three Books). And it means looking specifically at Books 1-3 and not The Traveller Book or Starter Traveller, which both contain different text than Books 1-3 and which change the nature of the implied setting found in Books 1-3.

If you’re interest, take a look around!

Making Traveller Subsector Maps with the Awesome Poster Maker

For Subsector Maps, use the awesome Poster Maker from The Traveller Map.

By entering data in the proper format you can create lovely, colored subsector (and sector) maps.

Here’s a sample of one I made:


To make it:

1) Go to the linked Poster Maker Page from the awesome The Traveller Map.

2) Use the Header line and the dotted lines I’ve pasted below. (You can also get the header by selecting a subsector from the stored Traveller Map and copying the header from that.)

3) Enter your data, system by system, like the example below. Note that you have to enter the data under each heading, space by space. So, four hex numbers, and then a space, and then the name of the system, and them add spaces (NOT TABS) until you get to the UWP spaces, enter the UWP spaces. (Not every column needs to be entered (for example, Stellar can be left blank) but you must have spaces under for each “column” of space, and dashes where you see dashes.)

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4) You can get a good handle on what the columns/codes mean and what features are available by looking at the Data Categories on this page.

5) You can make Space Lanes using this tool. (The default will be green. If you go inside the coding, you can change the colors up.)

6) When printing it out, you can make it color on black, color on white, black and white, a draft version that looks like the rough notes of the original notes from GDW’s Spinward Marches, and the old FASA. (If you’re only doing one subsector, select subsector A and that will produce that data as the sole subsector).

Like I said, it’s pretty awesome.

As an example of formatting, here is the Data and the Metadata I used in Poster Maker to create the subsector pictured above:

The Data

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The Metadata

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Prepping for my Classic Traveller Convention Game–Weapon Cards

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 2.45.51 PMThis is another post in a series of tools I’m building to make running Classic Traveller easier for me. Although an upcoming convention has put a deadline on these tools, I’ve been meaning to do them for a while as I would use them in any Traveller play.

This third installment is perhaps, for people who really love Classic Traveller, the boldest and most interesting.

As we all know, when attacking with a weapon, one makes a Throw for an 8 or higher on 2D6. This roll is modified by several factors:

  1. The character’s weapon expertise
  2. Modifiers due to the character’s Strength or Dexterity not being high enough to handle the weapon properly
  3. Modifiers due to the character’s Strength or Dexterity being high enough to provide an advantageous DM
  4. A DM produced by cross-referencing the weapon with the armor the weapon is being used against
  5. A DM produced by cross-referencing the range of the particular weapon to the target
  6. A character may use his expertise level in his brawling or blade weapon weapon as a negative DM when engaged in brawling or blade combat
  7. Characters suffer a DM when the number of rounds they’ve used a Brawling or Bladed Weapon exceeds the value of their Endurance
  8. DMs based on conditions (darkness; shooting at a target firing from cover) and so on.
  9. Any other DMs the Referee chooses to apply.

That’s a lot of modifiers to add up!

It’s especially tricky in regard to the Weapon/Armor matrix and the Weapon/Distance matrix. There’s two tables, lots of rows and columns, and even though the DMs might not change very much in a given combat, lots of people end up checking them on each roll because there’s no clever place to log combat DMs for a given combat.

A while back I read a post from a poster named Supplement Four at Citizens of the Imperium in which he described how he wrote out the DMs for a weapon on an index card. If a character picked up a new weapon, he got a new card. If a character handed off a weapon to a compatriot, the player handed that card over.

I loved that idea.

I also know that dealing with the Weapon/Range Matrixes and the Weapon/Armor Matrixes can be a bear and slow down combat. I know that the the old Judges Guild Traveller Referee Screen did a great job of combining these two matrixes into one table to get a throw number, like this:

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Which seemed like a great idea, but still was a pain in the neck in terms of lookup, as the table was so big. (The section above only covers Blade weapons and animals weapons. The whole table includes firearms and three more ranges.)

So I decided to combine Supplement Four’s idea with the Judges Guild screen. I went in whole hog and made up a complete set of Classic Traveller Weapon Cards. That link will lead you a PDF with every weapon from Traveller Book 1, as well as the bows and crossbow weapons from Supplement 4: Citizens of the Imperium.

If you look at the card, you’ll find the information to determine:

a) the Throw required for the weapon based on target armor and distance
b) the DMs for the weapon based on the character’s Strength or Dexterity.
c) a space for the Player to write in his character’s “Personal DM.” (Personal DM is the DM based on the PC’s weapon expertise added to the DM for Strength or Dex.) See the handwritten element in the upper left cell as an example.

[Note that while the DMs for minimum and advantageous characteristics are listed at the top right, you don’t need to calculate them for every Throw. They are already added into the Personal DM. They are there for reference if characteristics drop from combat or rise due to training. For this reason, the Personal DM cell should be marked in pencil. It can rise and fall because of characteristics.]

This is an example card for a Player Character called Mattos, one of my convention pre-gens. Mattos has an expertise of Blade-5.

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If he gets near you, he is going to manhandle you and drive that thing right up into any soft spots in your armor. (Soft spots he has studied and knows quite well.)

When it comes to the brawling and bladed weapons, a PC can use his weapon expertise as a -DM to parry the attackers blows, so the expertise should be placed after a slash in the Personal DM cell. (See example above.)

So, to do damage to an opponent
1. The Player rolls 2D6
2. Addes the DM from the Personal DM cell
3. Sees if the total value is equal to or greater than the value found by cross-referencing the armor and range.

There might be situational DMs (cover, darkness), DMs due to exceeding Endurance for the number of Blows, or DMs the Referee adds. But certainly having the cards above makes even these additional elements much easier to sort out.

The PDF has four of the same weapon per page, with most weapons repeated across two pages (for a total of eight cards per weapon). I did this so I can print them out in one printing and have enough for the whole group if everyone is carrying the same weapon, and have one for the Referee as well.

I know many people prefer coming up with news systems or using Striker or Snapshot for their rules. I am intrigued, however, with the notion that different weapons are better against different types of armor and that you want the right tools for the job. I also like the fact that certain weapons drop dramatically in effectiveness at different ranges. (If someone gets right in your face while you’re carrying a Rifle, that Rifle is not as effective as his dagger, for example.)

There’s lots of info I could have added to the cards: Ammo capacity, weight, and so on. I tried all of this, in different permutations. I even tried placing the information on the back. Ultimately each of these designs became too unwieldy. I opted to keep it streamlined and simple. If you need to know what you need to roll with the base DMs, this is what you look at.

To track ammo, I suggest a scrap of scratch paper or index card. I also suggest using something like the Gear Sheets I linked to in this thread. In this way, all the book keeping of weight and ammo is on one sheet, and you look at that when that’s what you want to check. And you look at the Weapon Card when you want to find out what you need to hit.

Other people will design such tools in different ways. This is how I decided to make these.

So, if these are of use to you, print them, cut them into quarters, and you’re good to go!

The idea is that if the Player has this:

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And this:

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And this:

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In front of the player he should be able to have any information he needs for play at the tips of fingers at a moment’s notice.

Prepping for my Classic Traveller Convention Game–Gear Sheets

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The other day I posted the character sheets I’ll be using for the game this weekend. The idea is to strip the game down and keep things clear. Because of the limited time for the convention, I want to have as many of the tools of play ready to go and easy to read for the players. But if I were starting a new Traveller campaign I’d probably do the same thing.

Classic Traveller uses old sensibilities and tools, which lots of people might not be familiar with. It is, for example, a game of limitations. Different weapons are more or less effective against different types of weapons. Do you have the rights weapons for the enemy at hand? If not, what are you going to do about that? Do you have the right tools for the problem at hand? If not, what are you going to do about that?

Encumbrance rules, which are not features in many contemporary games, are part of the sensibility and tools of the game.

  • Characters can only carry a weight in kilograms equal to the value of the Player Character’s Strength before they become encumbered. A Strength of 7 allows the character to carry 7kg.)
  • A character can carry up to double the value of his Strength in kilograms, but lose 1 point off of his three physical attributes while carrying the extra weight.
  • A character who is part of a military force (mercenary unit; combat unit; troop unit) may carry up to triple his or her strength in kilograms, subject to a reduction of 2 in strength, dexterity, and endurance.

Keep in mind that the values of Strength and Dexterity affect how effective a character is with blade weapons and firearms, respectively. So, as these values go down, the character might lose Advantageous DMs for weapons, or might even suffer penalties for falling below the required value to handle a weapon efficiently. The penalties will also affect how well a character handles himself in combat, allowing an effective shot to take a character down more quickly.

Notice that Traveller provides choices. It is not that there is an absolute limit the character is working with. A character can carry a heavier load, but at consequence. These kinds of choices are, I think, very much part of the feel of the game. You don’t always get everything you want in Traveller, but you are given choices about what you need the most.


The gear sheets are set up to match the pregens I posted, with one card per Player Character. (See the name at the top of each.)

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The gear sheets are already filled in with the weapons the character starts with, along with the weight of the weapon, weight of the ammo.

The table also includes what I call the “Personal DM” of any particular weapon. I’ve defined Personal DM as the value of any Skill the Player Character might possess added to whatever value should be factored in from the Minimum or Advantageous values for Strength or Dexterity for a particular weapon.

So, for example, in the gear sheet above:

  • Moynahan has a Revolver-2
  • With his Dexterity 7 he has the minimum to use the Revolver without a penalty DM, but not enough to gain and advantageous DM.
  • Thus, we add the DM of +2 from his skill, and a DM of 0 due to his Dexterity and end up with a Personal DM of +2. (I hope I got all the values correct! There were lots of little numbers!)

By adding this pre-calculated value to the Weapon Cards I’ve made we get a Throw value very quickly.

The idea is to have these as many values percolated so the Players don’t have to worry about this stuff at the start of play. And if they pick up new weapons there is a template in place for theme to sort out the calculations and fill in the blanks with a little bit of instruction.

Note, too, that if the characters take damage, the values for the personal DMs might drop (either losing the advantageous DM, or acquiring a -DM for failing to have the minimum value require to use the weapon efficiently.)


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I created the second table with the same agenda of making place simple and efficient for the convention game.

The logic of the setup is that the Player Characters are at the end of their ropes in a mining colony at the end of a series of jumps. They have no money left and little of person value. Simply to get back to an A or B port in the hub of commerce and trade would cost Cr16,000 to Cr24,000  (depending on the Jump Drive of the ship for two or four jumps). And that is not money they have.

I’ll be handing out a list of things like communication gear, electric torches and stuff that the players can draw from for routine gear. If they want it, they can have it. Bu it will start adding to their load out. But no weapons, no armor, no expensive stuff. So the gearing up phase at the start of the session won’t be about shopping. It will be, “How much stuff do I want to have vs. how effective do I want to be?” That’s an interesting choice.


If I were to start a campaign I would probably make each of the tables longer for each list. But I think having these details worked out as part of each Player Character’s load out helps the Players get in the minds of their characters and makes the minutia of Traveller gear–which is crucial part of the game–easy to track and reference as needed.

Here are the gear sheet sets that matches the Player Character pregens I previously posted. You’ll find the blank sheets at the end of the doc.

 

Prepping for my Classic Traveller Convention Game–A Character Sheet and 24 Pregen Characters

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This Labor Weekend I’ll be running two sessions of Classic Traveller. To get ready, I’m not only planning out the adventure (based off material I found in Chris Crawford’s Hard Light setting for Stars Without Numbers).

To prep for the game, I wanted to create Pre-Generated Characters for the Players. I love the character creation process for Classic Traveller, but it can take time for new players and in a four hour slot, time is precious.

I thought about going an easy route and writing up the characters on index cards–the way it used to be done! But I wanted something a bit fancier to pull the Players into the game. I also wanted clear labels for the “pieces” of the Player Characters, so the Players could know what each one was easily. (Simply running the six characteristics into a string wasn’t going to do. I’d have to keep telling them what each number meant.)

So I decided to build something similar to the Character Sheets that GDW created to look like TAS Forms. However, I wanted something simpler and stripped down.

Here’s the original character sheet from GDW:

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The sheet fits on a single page of the digest sized pages of the original Traveller books.

There are a lot of boxes on that sheet that we would not be dealing with: Birthworld, Dischargewold, Psionics, and the deeper military histories available through the advanced character generation rules of the later Traveller books. Moreover, in the style of play I like for older RPGs, I don’t want too deep a backstory or too much information about the Player Character’s past. The focus of play is the adventure in front of the Player Characters. Their “back story” is the first sessions of play. (I write more about this here.)

My thinking was, “Even if I leave the boxes empty, there’s just all this stuff lying around that character sheet that will beg questions from the Players.” I wanted something streamlined and to the point, so that the Players would have an idea of what they needed to focus on for the next few hours. To that end, I ended up making this character sheet:

And here’s what I ended up making:

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It has more breathing room and a little more clarity on what pieces are needed for play than the original sheet.

You’ll notice I did keep a couple of the bells and whistles: Noble Title and Retirement Pay. These elements probably won’t come into play proper. But they are par to both the setting and the background of the adventure for the characters for the following reason:

In the scenario I’m building, the Player Characters are all formers members of various branches of the military. They’ve struck out on their own (for whatever reasons) and ended up at a dead end star system where a small mining station collects and processes dense metals from a massive asteroid belt. As the scenario begins the Player Characters are just scraping by. Whatever dreams they have had about finding a fortune or settling into a more comfortable life have come to a close. But each one of them has picked up clues about a possible ruin of an ancient civilization within the asteroid built. Recognizing each other as men and women of capable qualities, they have set up a side project on the space station, comparing notes, doing more research, and building a plan. Securing an spacecraft used for repairing drones in the asteroid belt under false pretense, they head off for the location they think a fortune might wait…

So, for me, the fact that there is a noble society–but they are not part of it, that there are people with comfortable lives living on retirement–but they are not part of it… I wanted these elements on the character sheets, staring at the Player Characters the whole time. Because it is part of why the adventure is happening.

Finally, I created 24 pre-generated characters, six each from the branches of the Marines, Navy, Army, and Scouts. I took them from Traveller Supplement 1: 1001 Characters and wrote them on the character sheet. I’ll set them in four groups on the table and say, “Which branch do you want your character to have served in? Pick one from the respective pile.”

Here’s what one of the character sheets looks like filled in.

Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 9.20.10 PM

For my convention game, I’m assuming the Player Characters are down on their luck, have no cash, posses a weapon corresponding to any specific weapon skill they have, and tool sets corresponding to any specific skill they have. Other than that, I don’t want a lot of footing with buying gear. What they have is what they have. That’s why they’re going on an adventure. (Think of Bogart at the start of The Treasure of Sierra Madre, and you’re all set!)

I think (I hope!) the sheet will be easy to read, allowing the Players to glance down at the sheet and find whatever information they need easily and quickly. The idea was to build a character sheet that lets the Player think, “I’m this kind of guy. How do I see the world though the qualities of my guy. How does this guy choose to solve problem?”

For me, the Classic Traveller system is less about a hard and fast skill system than it is a collection of pieces for the Referee and the Players to end up making rulings (often without die rolls) based on the character concept and the information on the character sheet. This weekend I’ll be taking this view of the game out for a spin!

If you’re interested you can find the PDF with the blank character sheets and all the Pre-generated Characters here. (The blank sheets are on the last page of the document).