A friend recently agreed to begin a pbem game of Traveller with me, something I haven’t played in decades. It should be a good way to become reacquainted with the rules, and I’m tempted to buy the buy the newer 0-8 compilation softcover from Far Future since pages are starting to fall out of my little black books.
I started looking through book 1 and realized that I’m unsatisfied with the “Other” option for a chosen enlistment service. “A newly generated character is singularly unequipped to deal with the adventuring world, having neither the expertise nor the experience necessary for the active life. In order to acquire some experience it is possible to enlist in a service.” - Traveller, Book 1 (Characters & Combat), page 5. A player can choose to enlist in one of the six services: Navy, Marines, Army, Scout, Merchants, or Other. “Other” seems a ridiculously broad category, and very ripe for tweaking. Maybe this changed in later editions of Traveller?
The heavy emphasis on military service here is really off-putting to me, and maybe unrealistic or limiting in many ways. Why does a supposedly futuristic vision of interstellar travel seem to rely so heavily on concepts of military service (particularly naval) that harken back to the 17th century or earlier? That is, why is it presumed that you most likely would have served in the armed forces if you’ve made it off planet and gained valuable skills? Why couldn’t I, as a relatively middle-class citizen of relatively moderate means, simply jump into my Vogelsong Saucer, put the top down (figuratively), and cruise around my star system - or even jump to a nearby one where the Grateful Dead are playing (having been re-grown from original DNA and groomed, of course). Maybe I got mad experience from dropping acid and living on a commune, fixing up buses and building stuff. Just sayin’.
Or maybe the Star Wars rpg would be more to my liking. Does it have classes? I’ve never played that one either, and haven’t read my copy of the d6 rules yet (it’s around here somewhere). The baggage of the Star Wars movies bugs me a little, but maybe I could work around that. For what it’s worth, Space Opera might be a little better, in that it has classes where you can be an armsman (soldier), a technician, a scientist, or an astronaut (pilot/all around great guy). It comes off as a little more Star Trekky and progressive, although at least Traveller does offer the catch-all “Other” option.
I’ve also thought about using X-Plorers instead of Traveller, but it does pretty much the same thing as Space Opera: the Scientist, the Soldier, the Scout, the Technician. In a way, X-Plorers is even more irksome to those of us who shudder at the thought of being ruled by a “United Corporate Nations (UCN)” - a global political entity “composed of thousands of powerful corporations.” I get a bad taste in my mouth just thinking of playing the part of a character that works for The Man. To get around that, I could create a new character class, one that’s overtly anti-UCN. “The Hacker” comes to mind, for example, though that could be argued as being just a Scientist with heavy emphasis on the Computers skill. Page 7 offers “The PCs may be more idealistic, working for one of the colonies of the Reaches, or perhaps for a single individual’s interest…” and “..they may simply be mercenaries or smugglers…” That helps warm me to it a bit.
Back to Traveller though, I’m mighty tempted to explore that “Other” service more thoroughly, maybe laying out some specific alternative “services” that one might enlist in… “Career paths” is more descriptive of what I have in mind. The first one I want to write up is a Rock Star path - trying something a little gonzo like that with the oh-so-serious Traveller might be great fun.
What To Do
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