Reading material to flesh out the card game

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pvanniervp
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Reading material to flesh out the card game

Post by pvanniervp » Thu Jun 04, 2020 2:52 am

Good morning, everyone,

I was wondering if you could recommend some reading material with a view to putting the card game into a larger context.

Though I have no intention of running or taking part in a campaign, I'm looking at acquiring the RPG starter set (or perhaps just the core rules book) to read up on the Traveller universe.

I've had a look at the Imperial Encyclopedia from the RPG Resources tab on this page, which definitely looks like the kind of stuff I'd enjoy reading. I just prefer something in book format.

Any suggestions would be more than welcome!

Many thanks for your time.

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Horizon Jeff

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Re: Reading material to flesh out the card game

Post by Horizon Jeff » Thu Jun 04, 2020 8:18 am

There's probably people with a more encyclopedic command, but I'll start out by trying to give some context to the setting info in the rules sets you may see out there:

Digital copies of pretty much everything I talk about are available from Far Future Enterprises.

There's also a Traveller Wiki with a lot of good information. Here's the entry on the Third Imperium.

Classic Traveller (CT): The original rules set from the late 70s was setting independent, and what would become the official setting (sometimes you'll see it referred to as the OTU, Official Traveller Universe) of the Third Imperium came in dribs and drabs. The wargames Fifth Frontier War and Invasion Earth give good detail on two large conflicts in the classic period. The adventures are another good source.

CT is set in the Classic Era, which is roughly the years 1105-1116 of the Third Imperium, right up until the assassination of Emperor Strephon.

MegaTraveller (MT): This edition dates to the mid-80s, and it introduces sweeping mechanical changes, and also it shakes up the setting by having Archduke Dulinor murder Emperor Strephon. This leads to the fracturing of the Imperium into several factions and a lengthy civil war. It covers the years 1116-11130, and things become increasingly bleak.

The rules are much more closely tied to the setting than in CT, so the information about the setting is easier to find. The Imperial Encyclopedia and the Rebellion Sourcebook are good general background information. Hard Times and Arrival Vengeance do a great job of showing the deterioration of the Imperium.

Traveller The New Era (TNE): This edition is the most controversial, because it uses a radically different rules set (not very good one, imo) and huge changes to the setting. TNE takes place in the year 1201, 70 years after the civil wars are ended by the inadvertent release of Virus, a weaponized, self-aware AI computer virus. It was a super weapon developed by Lucan the Black, one of the faction leaders from MT, but it gets out and essentially destroys most of known space. TNE depicts rebuilding efforts decades later, or an alternative campaign can be set in a small remnant of former Imperial territory that managed to stave off the worst of Virus.

Many, many, many Traveller fans do not like (or even hate) TNE. For me, I quite enjoyed the post-apocalyptic mash up with Traveller, and I thought the way Virus was presented was interesting. The book Survival Margin chronicles the terminal decline of the Imperium through to the final release of Virus. The Reformation Coalition Equipment Guide, though meant as a gear book, has a lot of great tidbits relating to the setting.

Marc Miller's Traveller, aka Traveller4 (T4): Though much maligned for errata, print quality and various errors, this edition was interesting as it depicted the dawn of the Imperium, over 1000 years before the classic Traveller setting. Milieu 0 and the Aliens supplements have good setting concepts.

Despite being called Marc Miller's Traveller, he wasn't directly involved in making T4, from what I understand.

GURPS Traveller (GT): Published during the early 2000s, GT takes place in an alternate timeline where Strephon is never killed. Some of its books are very poorly regarded, like Behind the Claw. Others, such as Sword Worlds, were favorably received. They published some really great deckplans. YMMV.

Traveller D20 (T20): Traveller adapted to the 3rd edition D&D D20 system. Personally, I don't think D20 is great for sci-fi, but if it works for you, great! It's set in the classic era, but it details a previously under-developed area of the Imperium, so there's a lot of good information. The core book and Gateway to Destiny are both solid for setting information.

Mongoose Traveller (MgT or MgT2 depending on 1st or 2nd): A very polished, professional and accessible version of Traveller. Mechanically it's based on CT, though it has more features you'd expect from a modern rules set. I only own a few books, so I don't know which are best to get the setting.

Traveller5 (T5): The most recent edition put out by the original author, Marc Miller. It's kind of his magnum opus. Though questions proliferate throughout the Traveller sphere as to how functional it is as a game, it is definitely incredibly detailed from a mechanical standpoint. I don't actually own T5, so I can't say much about the setting information.

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Re: Reading material to flesh out the card game

Post by pvanniervp » Thu Jun 04, 2020 9:43 am

Jeff, thank you so much for taking the time to draw up this incredibly detailed break-down of the source material, much appreciated!

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Re: Reading material to flesh out the card game

Post by Horizon Jeff » Fri Jun 05, 2020 9:47 am

pvanniervp wrote:
Thu Jun 04, 2020 9:43 am
Jeff, thank you so much for taking the time to draw up this incredibly detailed break-down of the source material, much appreciated!
You bet! I only just realized the best CT supplements for setting information are probably the two Library Data books. They're small, the entries are concise, but there's good information in them. Also, Traveller setting info is presented "in character," that is with a narrative voice that may have bias or an incomplete understanding of the situation. The Library Data books then have a Referee section at the end that gives the true/fuller story.

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Re: Reading material to flesh out the card game

Post by pvanniervp » Sun Jun 07, 2020 9:38 am

Perfect, thanks for the additional information. I'll look into those two supplements!

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Re: Reading material to flesh out the card game

Post by Horizon Jeff » Sun Jun 07, 2020 1:17 pm

pvanniervp wrote:
Sun Jun 07, 2020 9:38 am
Perfect, thanks for the additional information. I'll look into those two supplements!
For my own preferences, I feel the books Hard Times and Survival Margin make for the most interesting reads. They're controversial because they reall tear apart a setting people have known and loved, but in my opinion even independent of that (for instance, if they were about an entirely different universe), they're among the best written Traveller books, and the story they tell of an empire and a society in terminal decline is fascinating.

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Re: Reading material to flesh out the card game

Post by pvanniervp » Mon Jun 08, 2020 8:39 am

Thanks for the additional recommendations!

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Re: Reading material to flesh out the card game

Post by Traveller-Jake » Mon Jul 06, 2020 1:12 pm

"Bundle of Holding" was selling .pdfs of entire Traveller lines a few months ago. They might do it again. I bought the FFE Classic Traveller CD-ROM and have been very pleased.

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Re: Reading material to flesh out the card game

Post by Cpt Ric » Tue Jul 07, 2020 3:38 am

I also just found the DriveThruRPG has several of the classic Black Books in watermarked PDF.

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Re: Reading material to flesh out the card game

Post by Horizon Jeff » Sat Jul 11, 2020 6:31 am

Traveller-Jake wrote:
Mon Jul 06, 2020 1:12 pm
"Bundle of Holding" was selling .pdfs of entire Traveller lines a few months ago. They might do it again. I bought the FFE Classic Traveller CD-ROM and have been very pleased.
Yeah, those bundles are a great deal on what's already a very affordable option. I wonder if Marc has ever considered a book that just tries to assemble the various source materials into a single narrative. Maybe with his own annotations.

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