Lacking Natural Simplicity

Random musings on books, code, and tabletop games.

Recent Reading: Marc Miller and Game Designers' Workshop

  • Traveller, by Marc Miller & Game Designers' Workshop, copyright 1977, 1981 by Game Designer's Workshop. Books 1–3, The Basic Books, Classic Traveller Reprint Series, copyright 2001 by Far Future Enterprises; a joint publication of Far Future Enterprises and QuikLink Interactive, ISBN 1-55878-218-4. “The Olympia Incident” by Martin J. Dougherty.

    This is a reprint of the 1981 second edition of Traveller, along with a little bit about the publishing history of Traveller, and a short story, “The Olympia Incident”, set in the Traveller universe.

When I was first getting into gaming, I remember going on a trip to Morgantown, WV with my brother and some of his friends from high school who were in the gaming group that I'd recently joined. We visited a couple of places that sold gaming materials, and one of the group, R.S. if I remember correctly, bought a copy of Traveller. I remember reading the books in his basement rec room and trying to make characters. Unfortunately, at that point the only RPGs that our group had seen were variants of D&D (T&T and DQ were still a couple years away), and I, at least, never really figured out Traveller and what you could do with it, and, again if I remember correctly, our group never did much with Traveller.

Something must have struck a cord, however, because over the years I bought several editions of the game, from Megatraveller to Traveller: the New Era (also known as T:NE), to GURPS Traveller, to Marc Miller's Traveller (also known as T4), and even including 2300AD, which was originally published as Traveller: 2300, even though the mechanics and setting were in no way related to the Traveller mechanics or setting. Many of this I probably picked up during a long period where I wasn't doing any gaming, and just reading game books. (This would almost certainly have been before the explosion of RPG stores on the net.) I probably picked Megatraveller up after it was out of print; my copy seems to have the (infamous) errata fixed. I may have picked up T:NE when it first came out. I know I picked up almost all of the GURPS Traveller books as they came out. I'm sure I picked up 2300AD off the discount rack. I remember being saddened when GDW closed their doors, although that was in part due to really enjoying their Space: 1889 line and Frank Chadwick's Cadillacs & Dinosaurs RPG, based on Mark Schultz's comic books, which I had read and enjoyed. I never got a chance to play any of GDW's games while they were still in operation, but have always wanted to play a game with Space: 1889's background. I never figured out what to do with Traveller, though. I came closest with GURPS Traveller, having enjoyed playing GURPS before my gaming hiatus. I enjoyed reading all the GURPS Traveller books, but I had no gaming group at that time.

Anyway, years later, after I'd gotten back to gaming regularly, in 2007, I had been reading about a number of people who had been playing Classic Traveller, which is what folks called the original system, with or without the Traveller Universe. They praised the game for its simplicity and completeness and for its relatively small size. I had know about the Far Future Enterprises Classic Traveller reprint line, but couldn't afford them when they first came out. I did, however, find a an inexpensive reprint of just Books 1–3, published jointly by Far Future Enterprises and QuikLink Interactive (also know as QLI/RPGRealms), and I ordered it in October 2007. After some problems with QLI's order system, I finally received my copy in November, 2007. It was a reprint of the 1981 2nd edition of Traveller, which apparently cleaned up the rules a little bit. I read it quickly, and my reaction was: “Huh. Why didn't we play the heck out of this back in high school? I could see playing this today and having a blast!” I liked the basic simplicity of the system, having moved away from complex systems like GURPS to systems that were much simpler, like Savage Worlds.

Sometime later I got Mongoose Publishing's new edition of Traveller,and though it was a reasonable version. Certainly it was closest of any system to the original, definitely since Megatraveller, and possibly since the original itself. And the fact Mongoose released it with several licenses that allowed free use of the system, and some use of the background made it more attractive. It prompted me to go back and read most of my other versions of Traveller, including the FFE/QLI reprint of Books 1–3. After looking at them all, it was Classic Traveller I wanted to play. Since then I've gathered some of the original Traveller publications, and a couple volumes of the FFE reprint volumes. (I wish they were all still in print.)

I'm going to have to run a Classic Traveller game sometime soon.

Print Friendly and PDF


Comments powered by Disqus