Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I got sidetracked

In my post yesterday, I got sidetracked.

I was going to say how whenever I open any of the Traveller books, I get sidetracked.

And then, while posting about it, I got sidetracked.

The thing is, I've really spent much more time wanting to play Traveller than ever actually playing it. And while I'm sitting there, all by my lonesome, wanting to play, I'll tinker with some of the utterly nifty systems the game provides. Character creation. Ship design. World design.

I played a little, back in the early 80's. That's when I grew to dislike books 4 and 5.

Y'see, I had picked up the basic set (books 1-3) and loved it. Everything one needed was there, and it all worked.

Plus, I immediately fell in love with the Scout service. Any character I created, I tried to get into the Scouts.

And, predictably, most of them died.

But when I went to create a character for another guy's game, the one game going on at the time, they started to put me through some big thing that I'd never heard of. I said I wanted to be a Scout, but they didn't have rules for such a thing.

They did, however, have rules for weapons that would vaporize you. They had rules for starships so big they made the Enterprise look small.

But no rules for Scouts, other than Book 1. Well, hey, at least I can get a ship as a mustering out benefit. So I ended up playing my Scout, and it was okay. The Ref wasn't that big on people making skill rolls to do routine tasks. He was more interested in people playing the game, getting into their character, trying to figure out the puzzle inherent in the scenario.

(And, finally, when Book 6 came out, Scouts couldn't automatically get a ship. But that's okay, because they didn't all automatically get Pilot-1, either. Say what?)

Fighting was deadly, so we didn't fight. Space Combat was not only deadly but expensive as well, do we didn't do that either.

We did trade an awful lot.

In a six hour session, we'd have about two hours of an adventure, followed by four hours of speculation. Seriously, half a game year could go by in one evening.

This so traumatized one of the players that, many years later when I wanted to run T4, I had to reassure him many, many times that the whole trade thing wouldn't happen.)

I wanted to get away from the whole Military/Navy thing everyone else seemed to be doing.

I ran the original game once, for about 3-4 players (this was about 25 years ago, the memory isn't so good). They were hired on to crew a Safari ship, with the specific mission of rounding up exotic animals for the Subsector Capital zoo. The zookeeper wanted to outdo the Imperial capital zoo.

Did I mention that the ship was unarmed?

Another player, hearing about this, got quite incensed and stated that anyone taking off in an unarmed ship was an idiot and deserved to get killed.

So, hang on -- let me do the math here. I'm in a 200 ton safari ship. You want me to mount triple turrets with missile launchers, beam lasers and sandcasters, plus hire and feed two gunners.

All so that, when I'm out and about, a 20,000 ton warship can show up and say "stop", and I -- what, fight back? I think not. It's better to not have weapons and just run away. Or sit there and let them board you. And then unleash the perilous beastie you have in the no. 2 hold...

But the bottom line is that Traveller, even when you're not actively involved in a game, is still loads of fun to tinker with. So even if I never get a game going, I'll still have fun with it.

It just sidetracks me, is all.


James Maliszewski said...

You and me both.

I love that game.

Kevin said...

Sweet, sweet Traveller. Got a character whose stat rolls you don't like? Make him a belter. The worst joke God ever played on me was the time I actually had a belter SURVIVE, so I had to play him.