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Top 10 things to know about classic Traveller

A few things that I hope will help prepare players for classic Traveller games I might referee.

Some of these are--paraphrased by me--from a thread in the Citizens of the Imperium-Classic Traveller forum where I asked for the top 10 things to tell players new to Traveller. In these cases, I’ve tried to credit the poster’s username in parentheses. Some other bits have been borrowed from farfuture.net and other sources.

  1. Accomplished characters: Your character will likely be older & retired from his first career.
  2. Minimal character stats: Don’t expect high numbers & lots of skills on your character sheet.
  3. In-game character development: Don’t expect the numbers on your character sheet to get higher or list of skills to get longer. Character advancement is limited. The rewards (& penalties) are all in-game.
  4. Science-fiction: It’s a science fiction game, which tends to run heavy on the “science” as well as the “fiction”. (signless)
  5. Human dominated: Aliens are everywhere, but many of them are human. (Malenfant)
  6. 1970s sci-fi technology: This game was written in the 1970s, so it has a 1970s (sci-fi) view of technology. Anachronic & I like it that way.
  7. Communication = travel: The fastest you can get information somewhere is in a ship. A ship takes at least a week to get somewhere.
  8. Slug-throwers: High tech weapons exist, but low tech weapons predominate. Laser weapons are bulky. Plasma weapons are limited to the military.
  9. Combat is fatal: Getting shot hurts. Getting shot twice is usually fatal. (Aramis) Tactical advice:Hit the deck. Get behind cover. Call for backup. Murphy’s laws of combat apply. (Fritz88)
  10. PCs matter to players, but not to the rest of the Traveller universe. (Aramis)

The creator of Traveller, Marc W. Miller, is fond of saying:

That principle is certainly within the spirit of the rules. How much I manage to make it apply to a game I ref, I can’t say.


A few points about technology conceits.

  1. Fusion power is cheap & effective.
  2. Gravitics: the science of gravity manipulation. Both anti-gravity & artificial gravity. Spaceships have artificial gravity. Most planetary vehicles are anti-gravity.
  3. Reactionless drives allow extended accelleration without the need for reaction mass. Spaceships are rated by the maximum accelleration they can produce in Gs, one to six. (A G being, of course, the accelleration due to gravity on Earth at sea-level. i.e. 9.8 m/s2.)
  4. Jump drives allow FTL (faster than light) travel through jumpspace (hyperspace). A starship is rated by the number of parsecs it can travel in one jump, one to six. (A parsec is 3.258 light-years.) Every jump lasts one week regardless of the distance travelled. Incidentally, interstellar space is only two-dimensional. (Although some like to rationalize it by saying the jump map is two-dimensional.)


The following points apply to the OTU (original Traveller universe) & may or may not apply IMTU (in my Traveller universe). (Mainly there here to remind me to think about how they apply or don’t apply to MTU.)

The Traveller game in all forms is owned by Far Future Enterprises. Copyright 1977-2004 Far Future Enterprises.