PhantomSkyfire
 member, 94 posts
 Nothing is sacred.
 Everything is permitted.
Wed 15 Mar 2017
at 21:32
So many Travelers, however shall I chose?
I've been looking to start a space exploration game far in the future. Far, far, far, FAR in the future, during the heat death of the universe. I want major focus on spacecraft, with great ability to create virtually any sort of alien species I see fit, and without an implicit setting. Classless is preferable.

For this purpose, I've had Traveler recommended to me. The Wikipedia article is promising, but there are approximately as many versions of Traveler as there are stars in the universe. Which version of Traveler do you recommend? Bonus question: do you know of a system that can capture my vision better than Traveler?
engine
 member, 257 posts
Wed 15 Mar 2017
at 21:41
So many Travelers, however shall I chose?
In reply to PhantomSkyfire (msg # 1):

It depends what you mean by "major focus on spacecraft." If you want price breakdowns, weights, power consumption, mortgage rates and the like, Traveller is for you. Mongoose Traveller didn't, as far as I could tell, make it easy to generate one's own NPC or PC races, but it had a system for creating alien beasts suitable for harassing the PCs.

If you just want the players to "belch forth apocalyptica" in a "heat-death-of-the-universe" sort of way, well, I was part of a pretty rad Apocalypse World game that was reskinned for high-SF in the vein of Alastair Reynolds or Richard Morgan. But the amazingness there was much less the system and much more the collaboration of like minds. Apocalypse World has levels, but they're pretty unobtrusive, and I don't think we ever leveled up.

Of course, if you don't need rules support as much as room to jam, Fate Core is always available.
horus
 member, 92 posts
 Wayfarer of the
 Western Wastes
Thu 16 Mar 2017
at 03:59
So many Travelers, however shall I chose?
I can recommend Classic Traveller from my own experience with it, and Traveller+ (a freely available points-based character creation and combat system) which is adapted for online play and made to complement Classic Traveller.  (It has certainly worked well enough for me...)

Classic Traveller is still considered a commercial product, so I can't speak much more than to tell you that {your favorite search engine} is your friend.

Traveller+ is freely available - see Traveller System Resources in Heaven - Gaming Resources. for the link to the Crucible Highport (in Stuff).

Traveller is a classless system, but its normal character creation rules have characters descending from one branch of service or another (Navy, Marines, Army, Scouts, Merchants, Other)

Traveller+ greatly streamlines the character creation process, taking what was a "roll dice for stats and skills" system and converting it to a build points system which goes much faster and allows much greater flexibility (in my own humble opinion).

There are literally tonnes of online resources (including star maps of entire vast areas of space in the Traveller Universe) available for free out there in cyberspace.

No matter what version of Traveller you wind up using, the basic mechanic is to roll 2d6 against a Difficulty to accomplish a Task.  Base difficulty is 8+ (meaning that 8 or better succeeds) for most average Tasks.  Skills modify Task rolls, and environmental and other external factors modify the Difficulty rating.  It's pretty much dead simple, mechanics-wise.

It sounds from the description of your game concept so far as if you may find Traveller tech levels to be a bit low to meet your needs, but that may just be my take on it.

What subsequent versions of Traveller treat on to some advantage is clarifying the Task system (MegaTraveller started this trend), and giving much more detail to the Referee (Traveller-speak for the GM) about the "Official" Traveller Universe.

This is just my two Credits worth, and I'm admittedly an enthusiastic Traveller fan-boi, so factor that in and keep a small Siberian Salt Mine TM in your hip pocket.

EDIT:

QUESTION:  What sort of ship technologies are you considering as standard in your game?  Traveller uses a "Jump Drive" for FTL transits that has a well-specified mechanic.  This may not fit in with your vision.  What I have done for games that don't fit that profile is whip up my own mechanics for alternate technologies, but that may not be something you'd want to do.

POSSIBLE ANSWERS TO YOUR BONUS QUESTION:

Another system that may work better?  Look at Cortex or Cortex Plus (both commercial products), or even Tri-Stat dX (a free system).  You'll probably wind up doing a lot of legwork no matter which system you use.

If space combat is a large part of your game, you may wish to look at Full Thrust (a starship combat system which uses miniatures) as a jumping off point for some good ideas.

Good Hunting, and may the dice always treat you kindly.

This message was last edited by the user at 04:14, Thu 16 Mar.

icosahedron152
 member, 729 posts
Thu 16 Mar 2017
at 06:32
So many Travelers, however shall I chose?
Traveller is a great system and a very flexible one. It is typically formula-based rather than tables-based, making it much easier to tweak things. I've been a follower of the game since it first hit the UK well over 30 years ago and I've done a LOT of tweaking in that time.

Traveller can be adapted to run almost any setting you want - it was designed to be setting-independent (its own official setting came later), but it is a 'hard science' system. It avoids 'magical' pseudo-science and roots its technology firmly within the laws of physics.

Parts of Traveller provide so much detail that you can not only design starships, you can even design custom bullets for your guns (yes, that's bullets not Zapotron Rays - Physics Rules in Traveller).

If you want a mechanical, Flash Gordon/Star Wars/Firefly universe, Traveller is for you. If you want a Drexler-esque, form-warping, nanotech, AI feel, with a touch of Clarkean Magic, you should probably look elsewhere. Traveller can probably still be adapted, but you'll have a lot of work on your hands.

If you can tell us more about your setting and your style preferences, we can give a better indication of Traveller's fit and which version might be best for you.
horus
 member, 96 posts
 Wayfarer of the
 Western Wastes
Thu 16 Mar 2017
at 19:59
So many Travelers, however shall I chose?
In reply to icosahedron152 (msg # 4):

So very well said!  You nailed an aspect of Traveller I was trying to get to but my words got in the way, maybe.

Adaptability is the very reason I got into Traveller in the first place.  I have ran games all over the "Standard" Traveller Universe as well as adapting it to my own settings for play.  If it had not been so versatile, it would not have held up over time like it has.

Again, Phantom SkyFire, you could make a worse choice.  Whichever system you choose, if you build it, they will come.  In the words of the great playwright, "The play's the thing."
PhantomSkyfire
 member, 95 posts
 Nothing is sacred.
 Everything is permitted.
Thu 16 Mar 2017
at 23:26
So many Travelers, however shall I chose?
Regarding details as to what I hope to accomplish in the game:

I want a fairly realistic space combat system that can slide up and down in scope easily. A scenario that should be plausible is the crack pilot dodging and weaving the ship through enemy fire, a gunner managing the point defense lasers to shoot down the enemy missiles while returning fire with the ship's own, an engineer rushing to a damaged compartment to repair long range sensors, and a soldier escorting him through hostile boarding parties.

But I also want extremely flexible character creation. It should be plausible for the soldier to be a human-sized fairy with mechanical legs who dual-wields pyrokinesis in one hand and a sentient ancestral katana in the other, who happens to have been a pop idol before mysterious circumstances she can't speak of forced her into a life of piracy.

Primary FTL method should be with jump gates, though with extremely large ships possibly possessing the ability to jump themselves (perhaps with the jump drive taking up space that could have been better used for cargo bays or a wing of fighters). In any event the types of ships commonly possessed by PC-types shouldn't have their own FTL ability.

Due to the apocalyptic nature of the setting it should be easy to slide up and down the tech scale, and to combine things from wildly different tech levels. Mounting conventional chemical engines in the hull of a bioship, that wields conventional explosive warheads and plasma cannons simultaneously in combat.
horus
 member, 100 posts
 Wayfarer of the
 Western Wastes
Fri 17 Mar 2017
at 05:49
Re: So many Travelers, however shall I chose?
PhantomSkyfire:
Regarding details as to what I hope to accomplish in the game:

I want a fairly realistic space combat system that can slide up and down in scope easily. A scenario that should be plausible is the crack pilot dodging and weaving the ship through enemy fire, a gunner managing the point defense lasers to shoot down the enemy missiles while returning fire with the ship's own, an engineer rushing to a damaged compartment to repair long range sensors, and a soldier escorting him through hostile boarding parties.


Traveller treats most of this fairly simplistically - everything is a Task, with certain Tasks aided by Skills.  It all tends to be very fast-paced and straightforward.  If you want something more complex, look at the Caliber combat system that accompanies Traveller+.

If you devise a different FTL system, be sure either existing Skills will cover it, or devise new skills to suport the new system.

The same can be said for weaponry, but Gunnery and other skills should cover most weapon systems regardless of type.  In Traveller+, there are Cascade Skills (related groups of skills) that can make a character much more versatile.

quote:
But I also want extremely flexible character creation. It should be plausible for the soldier to be a human-sized fairy with mechanical legs who dual-wields pyrokinesis in one hand and a sentient ancestral katana in the other, who happens to have been a pop idol before mysterious circumstances she can't speak of forced her into a life of piracy.


Traveller and Traveller+ are all about Skills.  Traveller+, in particular, makes it possible for players to select the skills they want their characters to have (spending Character Points for them) instead of having randomly assigned skills.  It makes for really playable characters.

No classes, no levels, just upgrades to Characteristics (STR, DEX, CON, INT, EDU, SOC) or to Skills by spending Experience Points (which are basically each worth 1/2 Character Point).  {I dispense with XP altogether and just award further CP.}

quote:
Primary FTL method should be with jump gates, though with extremely large ships possibly possessing the ability to jump themselves (perhaps with the jump drive taking up space that could have been better used for cargo bays or a wing of fighters). In any event the types of ships commonly possessed by PC-types shouldn't have their own FTL ability.


The "jump gate" is a feature of more than one science-fictional setting.  You may have to work out the economics of travel by jump gate (how much does it cost per tonne of ship per parsec of jump?) and how that gets paid.

You should also (if you haven't already) give thought to why jump drives for smaller ships are impractical yet large ships can support them.  There are a lot of possible angles here.  What limits the use of jump drives that makes them less practical for small ships?  Is it an economic thing?  Is a biological component or very expensive and rare computer system required (like a quantum computer)?  Are there rare and expensive materials needed for construction of drives and gates?

quote:
Due to the apocalyptic nature of the setting it should be easy to slide up and down the tech scale, and to combine things from wildly different tech levels. Mounting conventional chemical engines in the hull of a bioship, that wields conventional explosive warheads and plasma cannons simultaneously in combat.


Sure.  With ship tech its a matter of defining the effects within the game, and any restrictions concerning mixing of technologies.  Pretty much the same thing with weaponry.  Ship scale, vehicle scale, and personal scale damage should be consistent in its effects across the spectrum.

You might hunt up a gaming aid called Guns! Guns! Guns! or 3G.  It permits design of weapon systems and rapid conversion to other systems.  There's a bit of arithmetic, but it really is a useful design system.  (If you know how to bang out a good spreadsheet, it will help.)

Good Hunting,
D

This message was lightly edited by the user at 06:23, Fri 17 Mar.

icosahedron152
 member, 731 posts
Fri 17 Mar 2017
at 06:18
So many Travelers, however shall I chose?
Okay, I'm pretty sure Traveller will handle most of that.

In order to play out dodging and weaving, you may need to locate the third-party add-on Full Thrust mentioned above. Classic Traveller Book 2 allows this in spades, but it's a complex vector system that rigidly uses Newton's laws of motion and it can be very difficult for a novice to get his head around - it's not just a matter of moving three hexes forward; the amount of acceleration and deceleration you can bring to bear may have you shooting past the place you want to stop...

If you want to look closely at repairs of equipment and maintenance schedules, Traveller The New Era (TNE) grinds through that stuff at some length IIRC.

PD lasers and missiles are a staple of Traveller.

Traveller assumes humanoid characters but there are alternative generation rules. The game focuses mainly on skills rather than body shape, so a tentacled fairy or whatever would be a matter of chrome for the player to RP. Psionics is covered in Traveller. Perhaps not specifically Pyrokinesis, but you could easily adapt that.

Jump gates are not a stock feature of Traveller, but I've adapted the system for them, it's easy to do. However, as Horus says, you'd need to work out the economics. Having said that, the Traveller economics isn't 100% anyway.

Non-jump 'small craft' are covered in Traveller, so you could just adapt the cut off point at which they are allowed - define 'small' for your own game.

Diverse tech levels are a stock premise of Traveller, so there are no difficulties there, although sentient bioships are somewhat off Traveller's tech scale. You might have to extrapolate your own levels above Traveller's limit. Again, it's do-able. I designed a Traveller TARDIS by extrapolating higher tech levels. :)
Aslanii76
 member, 114 posts
Sat 18 Mar 2017
at 00:33
So many Travelers, however shall I chose?
I believe, historically, didn't the Zhodani mount coreward expeditions ??  They seemed to be preparing for another one in one of the histories I read ages ago.  The Zhodani race would open up psionics in a class-based society.

Jumpgates would really open that up for travel time.  However, that may also imply a fast in and a fast departure too ...