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FCVW and Updated Apps

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For some reason it's whenever I head out to the US for the Federal Consortium of Virtual Worlds event that my mind (and time) turns to Traveller - something to do with all that time spent in Starports, sorry Airports.


Anyway the fruits of this trip are updated versions of the Surface Encounters and Next Ship To ... applications. It's also given me time to return to Port2Jump, the "big" Traveller app I've been working on, which as its name suggests lets you fly (in text) a starship all the way from port to jump, and back again, across entire .SEC sector files, and dynamically generating systems as you go. I'll hopefully have it out in beta in the next month.

MicroTraveller

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Traveller thoughts been all over the place as I've started to re-engage. First thought was a revival of idea for making a more realistic Traveller - 3D space maps, realistic solar systems, AI etc, but its just too big a jump (although its a "powered by Traveller" setting I might do some time, and for my latest work on 3D star maps see http://www.daden.co.uk/blog/2011/02/its-all-full-of-stars-25-light.html.

I then thought of finishing my Port2Jump application, but thought it too big (although I may soon get back to it), and moving my Minerva model to OpenSim will be a big job (although watching Dune I'm drawn to the idea of just creating some environment sims in OpenSim).

So I finally hit upon the idea of creating a Referee's Screen on the web that I could use from the iPad. Had a great time over the last few days pulling bits together from IMTU rules and MT (my favourite OTU rules) and Snapshot/AHL. What's now dawned on me though is that what I really want is microTraveller - a version of the Traveller rules that's so simple and easy to use that not only will they fit on a few screens of the iPad but I can actually play it more or less from memory (the task system of course being key here). The other part to the Referee's Screen/Companion is of course the software, automating all those parts of the rules that are needed that are just too complex to remember for data reasons (eg encounter tables etc), so that you can create encounters, map a world, jump to orbit etc just in a single mouse-click. So that's the aim, lets see where it goes to.

iPad Referees Screen

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The time just isn't there to do an app like Port2Jump at the moment (and my Empress Minerva model in SL is half built and awaiting transfer to OpenSim. So thought I might try something simpler - turning the iPad into a C21 Referees Screen. Browser based first.

Return to the Third Imperium

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After a break of almost 15 years I've decided that it's time to return to Traveller. This has been driven by a number of things, including getting the TravellerMap into our Mapscape hub in Second Life (a very Traveller space), the growing (if small) Traveller scene in Second Life, and the general resurgence in Traveller resulting from the new Mongoose Publications edition of the rules and supplements.

In re-embracing Traveller I'm struck by the fact that yet another lynchpin of my youth has become a "fantasy". Just as the Third World War which I trained and wargamed for will now not happen as advertised (central Germany, circa 1985), so too will the future of Traveller, or any "Star Wars" type SF, not happen. I am convinced that AI, or simpler personality constructs, and their gleisner robot selves will be the first "earthkind" to reach the stars. If we ever get there as our biological selves then we'll find local space already populated by our digital selves and their bretheren. This goes far beyond the Cyberpunk of William Gibson et al, and is still best captured by Greg Egan's books - although just how you'd make an SF-RPG of them I've no idea (but it is an idea).

There certainly remains a couple of issues with Traveller, in all its incarnations. The first is the whole take on AI, wetware, cyberpunk, and robotics, which are generally frowned upon (or banned) and the most over-taken by real tech development. But at least an IMTU (In My Traveller Universe) approach can incorporate those without too much damage to the canon. The bigger issue is 3D space. The  Traveller Universe is a 2D map, and I love that map. But nowadays it seems just too unrealistic - particularly when I can use SL to visualise 3D volumes of space. Traveller 2300AD was a great product, and in some ways it would be great to have its version of real, 3D space, grow into the accepted Traveller Known Space. But for now I'll accept the 2D map - even if I play around with my own morphing of the 2D data onto a possible 3D mapping.

And why Traveller and not another SF RPG. I love its depth of history, the detail of the history, the community effort, the fact that the only FTL is by jump, the fact that it *was* a beleivable future - if a little Imperial.

So which Rule Set and Milieu to use. I "grew up" in CT, I remember where I was when the Fifth Frontier War broke out (travelling through Minneapolis), so for me the setting has to be the classic one, circa 1100 - 1110. Rule wise I always preferred MT, I love the task system (and still use its principle in other games), and the amount of background detail it had. The fractured Imperium plot-line I can take or leave. TNE was just too different and messy, T4 OK (and I wrote a lot for it), T20 so-so (no great fan of D20), and still haven't got T5. GURPS Traveller is a sore point as I wrote a whole supplement for them which was cancelled at the last moment and I never got paid. Reading the reviews it sounds like the Mongoose Traveller may be good - with improved character generation and a task system - so I'll probably buy that and if as good as it sounds use that as my base. (Bought it, looks good)

Then there's a question of style. I probably haven't played a face-to-face game of Traveller since I left school - it's never been the most popular of RPGs in the UK, and a lot of us just get enjoyment from the setting and literature. But virtual worlds like Second Life offer the opportunity for virtual role-play, not just meeting up with Travellers, but acting out adventures in "real" Scouts and at "real" starports. One day I can see an entire OpenSim grid for Traveller (or a more generic SF setting), and I'm happy to help build it. But once I also had fun playing real-time Traveller - where you play a solo adventure but everything happens in real-time - so if you character makes a 7 day hyper-jump trip you spend 7 real days waiting for the to reappear. I don't think I want to constrain myself to such a literal linkage, but the idea of using Traveller to effectively drive a long term narrative does appeal. In fact the other driver to get back into Traveller is my daughters interest in what she calls "role-playing" - collaborative interactive fictions created on discussion board sites live Envision Free. Why not play Traveller more like that.

So I think I'll take a blog approach. My character, Corro Moseley, of course, will adventure across Known Space, initially from Gushemege (where I was HIWG Sector Analyst and so built most of it!) through Vland to the Spinward Marches, and then into Zhodani space, and who knows on to the Galactic core (or Longbow?). I'll record his adventures on the Gushemege blog, using random encounters a lot to spark adventure ideas, and pre-published adventures where they fit.

Of course another driver for this is to try and automate Traveller. If we do get that Open-sim Nirvana I don't want to spend the whole time rolling dice and looking up tables, I want to play it like a fully immersive MMORPG. So the whole exercise will give me an excuse to track down the current web based software and information support for Traveller, make extensive use of (and add to) the Traveller Wikia, and maybe create new resources too. I also want to be able to do a lot of this in dead-time, so that means finding/creating resources which will work on my iPhone or Netbook.

So that's enough of a brain dump about what I want to do, and why. Let's hope I can now make the time to do it.

Online Traveller Map

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Traveller Map

Lovely resource.

Traveller in Second Life?

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Gosh haven't posted here for a while!

Have spent some time recently getting back into Second Life. For those who don't know its a virtual world but not an on-line game, you just do whatever you want there. The big thing about SL is that you can build what you want, including working devices, so people have built robots, guns and more creative items. The world is not fantasy or SF per se, but there are places and groups that reflect both (the vast majority of SL just looking like our world but with the brakes taken off).

So that's all got me to thinking - could we use SL to create a true Traveller environment. I'll put out a call for interested parties in-world, but if tehre's anybody else in the Traveller community interested in the idea please get in touch.

My in-world name is Corro Moseley, and my home/office is at Nari <48,170,134>. I must put up a virtual Traveller poster.

[Weird. I post this then later in the day read that the Starship C3 "universe" is just moving in to SL.]


P.S. The writing project came to nought, the publisher had a change of heart, but I now have a 48+ page supplement on colonisation in draft if anybody wants to help publish it.

Writing Project

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I know things have been quiet around here, but I'm currently working on a potential new writing project for Traveller. More soon I hope......

T20 Travellers Handbook Arrives

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The new T20 Travellers Handbook arrived in the post from Marc Miller's Far Future Enterprises today. Great to have it from the hand of the man himself. Thanks Marc. Now all I need to do is go and buy a D20 core set. Modern D20 gets a good write up. Oh well, back to Waylands Forge.

atari

A hunt around in the loft finally revealed several Atari discs worth of my old Traveller and HIWG stuff. The only challenge is to read it on my Windows PC! Luckily I saved a lot off in DOS format ( a feature of the Atari) in preparation for just such an eventuality. Also in the box with the discs was the Atari Zhodani Conspiracy Traveller game. Almost worth getting an Atari emulator for.

My Imperium Games/T4 Proposals

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Here's a file from my archive of works I was proposing to IG. Who knows, I may end up doing some of them for GURPS or T20. The file is dated 26 Jul 97.

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AnySystem
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Synopsis: AnySystem details a world system to a level never before achieved in Traveller in order to provide players and referees with a rich environment in which to adventure. Every planet and moon is mapped, every major settlement and organisation detailed, native craft and key patrons described, and representative locations from starport bars to factories detailed, together with encounter tables and rumours. Armed with AnySystem players can spend many hours playing the adventures provided, or just travelling around the system, or alternatively referee's can use the material in AnySystem, which is presented in as modular and generic form as possible, as readymade adventure material to flesh out worlds and systems within their own campaigns.

Milieu: Adventures are set in M0 or are Milieu neutral.

Contents:

Title/Legal/Contents: 4 pp
Overview of System: 2 pp
Worlds and Planets: 20 pp
Major Space Settlements: 6 pp
Major Land Settlements: 8 pp
Sites of Interest: 4pp
Encounters, locations, rumours: 12pp
Patrons: 6 pp
Craft: 4pp
Political/Economic description: 2pp
History: 2pp
Military: 2pp
Major Organisations: 4pp
Library Data: 4pp
Citizens: 3pp
Adventures: 12pp
Using Material in other settings: 1pp

Length: 96pp

Author: D Burden + ??

Manuscript to IG: 2Q97

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Deep Base Omicron
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( OK the name is too much like DS9 but its a working title ).

Introduction:
At the cutting edge of Cleon's expansion are the Deep Bases. Here scouts and traders meet and swop notes between forays into the depths of unrecontacted space. The book will describe the base as a rich adventure setting and then present a series of linked adventures that follow the fortunes of scout, trading, diplomatic, military and survey teams as they venture beyond the safe confines of Deep Base Omicron.

Milieu: 0

Contents:

Title/Legal/Contents: 4pp
Introduction/Scout Missions: 2pp
Base Layout Maps: 4pp
Keyed Base Description: 6pp
Encounter locations and rumours: 6pp
People of the Base: 4pp
Patrons: 4pp
The Scout Operation: 6pp
The Trade Operation: 4pp
The Diplomatic Operation: 4pp
The Military Operation: 4pp
Base Command and Control: 2pp
Base Defense: 2pp
Neighbouring Space ( 2 subsectors ): 4pp
Key World Descriptions: 12pp
Small Craft: 4pp
Starships: 4pp
Adventures: 20pp

Length: 96pp

Authors: D Burden + ??

Manuscript to IG: 3Q97

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The Annililik Run
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Introduction:
At the end of the Long Night it was the first legendary route of trade. The Annililik Run. From Vland to Core a trading corridor a few parsecs wide found its way through pirate and alien territories to link together the two greatest powers of the age. The Run was a thing of daring, and it was a rare Trader who could take their craft along its whole length. Join the adventure and players explore this unique region of space, and pit their commercial and survival skills against all that the universe has to offer.

Milieu: 0

Contents:

Title/Legal/Contents: 4pp
Introduction: 2pp
SubSector Maps and Overviews ( 8 subsectors ): 16pp
Key Worlds: 16pp
Races of the Run: 6pp
Vargr: 4pp
Pirates: 4pp
Navies: 4pp
Traders: 4pp
Megacorporations: 4pp
Patrons: 4pp
Making a Living: 4pp
Starships: 4pp
Adventures: 20pp

Length: 96pp

Authors: D Burden + ??

Manuscript to IG: 4Q97

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For late 97/early 98

Belter! Planets are for kids. The real spacers are to be found in the asteroid and planetary belts of a solar system. Hardened space veterans who can sniff out a Lanthanum deposit at fifty megameters, and who can bring their spaceships through a planetary rings without a scratch. Belter looks at the economics and adventure possibilities of life in the belt. Included is a major adventure, many aventure hooks and patron ideas and a standalone game/simulation of belt mining economics.

Software Applications (Web-based)

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