Friday, November 18, 2011

My First Long-Running Traveller Campaign

If I am honest, over the years I have probably spent more money on Traveller than I have on D&D — I certainly own a lot of Traveller related stuff that takes up more space on my bookshelf than my D&D books. That money, however, has never produced any kind of long-term campaign. It's not that my fiends and I didn't play Traveller (we did), it's that we had a lot more fun playing the mini-game of character and world creation than we did when we finally got around to doing something with those characters and worlds.

I mention this because in my Lost Colonies campaign, there is a real possibility that my players not only will not be heading back to Headwaters any time soon, but may be hopping from one world to the next in ways that I will not be able to predict. I do have several options available to me, one of which I don't relish at all: creating from scratch all of the various possible choices my players could make. I could also assign various pre-fab campaign worlds to each of those possible choices. While I certainly have a couple in mind to have as options, I don't have enough and too many of them are not only interchangeable, but some of my players are also intimately familiar with them.

Enter Judges Guild. Back in 1980 and 1981, Rudy Kraft produced his Portals series of mini-campaigns. Each has a radically different flavor than that found in a typical D&D world and they are all connected by a series of portals that teleport players in-between worlds (thus, giving them all a dungeon-like feel). The world that I find most inspiring is the world presented in Portals of Twilight.

Whereas the other two installments derived their uniqueness from their inhabitants, Twilight is unique because of the world itself. The rotation of the planet is parallel to the orbit so that one side is always in light and one in darkness. Thus, the only inhabitable part of the planet in the narrow strip of twilight along the equator. This sounds like something straight out of Traveller.

Thus, the inspiration for my solution for dealing with the potential meanderings of my players: revisit the mini-game of world creation in Traveller. This method has several things I find very attractive:

  • It is random — which usually results in more creativity on my part.
  • It's fun — I have literally spent days of my life creating sub-sectors for use in Traveller.
  • All the results can be recorded in a simple code wherein there will be enough information for me to be able to improvise should I need to.
  • I don't have to waste a whole lot of time creating a bunch of worlds my players will never visit.

I do this with a very real sense of irony — my very first long-term Traveller campaign has turned out to be D&D.


Robert Weaver said...

Fr Dave,

Father Bless! I am also an Orthodox Christian who enjoys roleplaying. Traveller has always been my main game. I've written on my blog about Traveller and about Orthodoxy, and I'd like to try writing something about the connection between the two. Could you help? My blog is at Could we discuss by e-mail?

Library Bob

FrDave said...

Library Bob,

I'd be happy to help. Normally, I don't give out my email via the blog. But, if you can give me a way to contact you I'd love to chat. Your implied question (how do I do a Traveller campaign that is informed by Orthodoxy) is also good enough that I might do a post myself on the issue...