A commenter on his post sums it up well:
"I think the problem (to the extent that one can say a game with so many fans has problems) is that a certain segment of players *wants* granularity, *wants* special powers, and *wants* character advancement.
In a sense, Classic Traveller still offers the sort of characters that OD&D offers - lean, streamlined, not very differentiated mechanically. To a gamer who is used to 3.5E, 4E, or 5E, the old OD&D characters feel bland, like they are missing something."
In Traveller power comes from player ingenuity, and an understanding of how the Traveller universe works. Traveller does not provide the power fantasy of easily overcoming enormous obstacles and defeating large & powerful enemies.
Let's face it. When you compare a 'competent' Traveller character to a character from most other RPGs, especially D&D in its later editions, the Traveller comes off looking, well, lame.
Yes, we know that my 4-term Marine with UPP 9998A8 and Cbt. Rifleman-3 is a tough hombre in a fight, but even so he can still get capped by a thug with an auto-pistol. A Barsoomian White Ape will make dinner out of him quickly, unless the PC is lucky and the player is smart.
Compare this to a Pathfinder character with his feats and bonuses and class abilities, and huge hit points pools. Plus those games have more dramatic interior artwork. Behold:
|I always assumed this was Battle Dress. It is not.|
|TL-3 version of Battle Dress. Probably magical.|
The power creep in D&D and in video games has left Traveller behind. I wonder if even John Carter could keep up with the dizzying spiral of power-ups that define a lot of action/adventure games. There's also the trend in first person shooters and action/adventure movies where the protagonist mows down waves of mook opponents - like the main characters in Star Wars, or Jason Bourne. Traveller is not set up to produce those kinds of scenes. It is very hard to produce on the tabletop the visuals currently popular in other media. Traveller was never meant to do that (but there are lots of games which are); it was meant to bring the worlds of classic/pulp sci-fi literature to life.
Video games also have 'save game' functions that make character death merely a pause in the game play. In Traveller, there is no 'raise dead' spell; once you're gone, you're gone. Combine that with all of the things in the Traveller universe that can kill you, and merely surviving should be considered a major accomplishment. Survival in other media is assumed, but not in Traveller.
What is to be done about this? I say: Nothing. Nothing at all. Let Classic Traveller be what it is.
Acknowledge up front that Traveller is not a video game, or an adolescent power fantasy. What it might be is an adult power fantasy. Let me explain.
I know I'm not cut from the mythic cloth of John Carter or Dominic Flandry, and my alter ego/PC is also normal guy. With just a few skills and some moxie, this normal guy can go out into the TU and (with determination and luck) make a big fortune, or get a peerage, or control a fleet of ships, or any number of other accomplishments. Successful Travellers are those who use their brains more than their brawn, who out-think and out-maneuver their opponents. But it takes planning and careful play, because Traveller doesn't offer power-ups as shortcuts. All it offers is a universe in which to make your plans. It's up to you to make those plans as big as possible.
Traveller not-BD image credit David R. Dietrick, taken from Starter Traveller rules booklet.