Anybody who's read my blog for long knows that I am a regular reader of Strategic Forecasting, because I like to keep up on what's going on in the world. But have you considered how you can use real-world analyses to bring the complexity of geopolitics to your Traveller game?
Each planet/system in a Traveller subsector can be treated like its own nation; neighbors compete for local and regional dominance, for access to markets for their exports and for suppliers for the imports they want. Stratfor looks at these activities in the real world, but the motivations and decisions and actions they explain can be easily transferred to Traveller, whichever rules set you are playing with.
To get a sense of the possibilities, visit these sites and explore the content available.
All of these sites have a mix of free and subscription content. They're not cheap, so choose wisely how much intel you want to access. The free stuff should be plenty for a referee who wants new adventure ideas, particularly for settings where the PCs are involved in local/interstate politics.
I have described what Stratfor is and does elsewhere.
The Jane's Information Group has been a preeminent source of military data and intelligence since the 1890's. IHS/Jane's 360 is a free information source covering the dreaded "military-industrial complex". The site covers land, air and naval technology; who's buying or building or selling what and to whom.
Geopolitical Monitor is a consultancy firm based in Canada that “offers members original, timely and comprehensive analysis on events of international significance to readers in the English speaking world.”
Here are some recent articles that could be the basis for a Traveller adventure, either in the Official Traveller Universe or in your (or my) universe, or in another published setting like the Clement Sector by Gypsy Knight Games.
"China Builds another island in the South China Sea" - China is creating new land masses that they can claim as Chinese territory, far from their sovereign waters. It was reported this week that the Union of Socialist Worlds is constructing another planetoid habitat in the uninhabited binary system of Cimarron (Dothan-Talaveran 0400), putting almost the whole of the Dothan Alliance within Jump-4 striking range, if Union naval assets are to be based there. The Alliance has lodged formal protests at this intrusion into their near-space. PCs can be hired to spy on the installation, to sabotage the work, or attack construction/supply ships on the way to it. Or they might approach it as free traders, looking for a chartered cargo run, and get on the wrong side of the Dothans.
There's a rumor floating around the starport that one of the local defense contractors has concluded a sale with a neighboring system and there are lots of interested third parties who may for one reason or another want to see the arms shipment destroyed/diverted/never arrive.
Imperials from all across the Regina subsector have over the years travelled to Efate to join with the terrorist & pro-Zhodani group Ine Givar. Now, as Imperial Marines are finally making significant progress in stamping out the organization, many of their agents are fleeing Efate and returning to their worlds of origin, to ‘continue the fight’. Planetary authorities in Regina, Aramis and Lanth subsectors are stepping up security measures, increasing scrutiny of travel documents, and tightening up cargo and weapons inspections for Travellers coming from Efate and the surrounding systems. The Travellers’ Aid Society has officially protested these measures, stating that the rights of its members are being infringed.
Every referee can use some assistance in coming up with exciting adventures for their players. What better source than the real world, where all manner of conflicts are actually going on? Nothing like some grounding in reality to keep the sense of Traveller as a science-fiction game.