Friday, September 10, 2021

My first Traveller campaign - a look back

I have often on this blog written about my Traveller adventures with my sons. But my first attempt at Traveller, as an adult anyway, with me as the Referee, was with my wife, Angela. It seems appropriate to write about this, because my wife died in May of this year, four months ago today. This is the reason for my long absence from the blog. With my return, I want to remember my wife and her impact on my gaming life in particular. This blog is not the place to discuss the fullness of my marriage.

In the first year we were married we moved from North Carolina to Pennsylvania as I took a job at a school there. We knew nobody, and had been married less than a year. What to do?  Play Traveller, of course. 

Angela was fond of the Dragonriders of Pern series by Ann McCaffrey, so she asked if her game could take place on a world like that. I've said before that you can model just about anything with Traveller, so I said sure, let's have a world with starships and dragons. I selected Bellesile from my TU, and set about designing the world and figuring out how humans and dragons exist together. I kept all the notes from that project in a folder through all the subsequent moves.

She named her character Alina Madrig, and chose the Noble career after getting a good SOC score. This is her hand-written character sheet:

Alina also possessed Animal Telepathy - she could talk to the dragons! Beyond rolling dice, she took a character building guide I found online and wrote out a pretty thorough description of who Alina was, where she was from and whom she knew. I used that to build a list of major NPCs that her character could interact with. She may have had the most complete backstory of any Traveller character I've ever dealt with.

Angela loved working with her hands, even though drawing was not where she put the emphasis. Nevertheless, she drew her own map of Alina's world. Here is the hand-drawn map of Bellisile:

As a Mustering Out benefit of the Noble career, Alina ended up with a Yacht, the Dragon's Wing. She also had a crew of NPCs working for her at the outset. I put her ship stats on an index card just like they say in the book:

Alas, the campaign and the dragons never really got off the ground. Life became busier when I had to take on a second job. And busy we stayed for the next 22 years. I think Alina had one significant NPC encounter, and was preparing to set off in the Dragon's Wing for her first adventure when it got shelved by life.
But I found time to play now and again, and once the boys got into the double digits, with her agreement and encouragement, I introduced them to roleplaying. They took to it like ducks to water and never looked back.

Only once, in 2019 we did roleplaying as a family. It wasn't Traveller, it was the Decipher Games Lord of the Rings RPG. Still it was great fun, and is a treasured memory of my Angela.

Angela did not often get directly involved with the gaming, but I would discuss my ideas with her. She loved to study literature and stories. We would talk about what the players were doing, or what the NPCs might do. “What about this?” she would say, and suggest a villain's motivation or reaction. I can't say I used every idea she had, but she helped me think and look at the plots and characters in different ways.

When a session was on, she would be in another part of the house, as she always had something she needed to work on. But at times she would drift towards the table, listening in. She would engage the boys and their friends in discussion, as she had many of them in her literature or theater classes. She asked questions, and challenged them to think about what they might do or should do in a situation.

Every single bit of game content that I've created or worked on, from short fiction to the Wreck in the Ring, to the details of Holtzmann's CorridorI did because she encouraged me to do it. She got me started on book indexing by responding to an acquaintance who asked on Facebook if anyone knew how to write an index. Then she talked me into doing what she already believed I could do. I think it's worked out okay. Initially, I did not see what I might accomplish with blogging, but she persuaded me to try. What you are reading right now is the result of her influence.

She took much pride in her husband when I wrote or edited or indexed anything. That was all the motivation I needed – it made my wife smile.

So if you've enjoyed my work here at AF3, or any of the published material I've created or contributed to, you have my Angela to thank for it.

May she rest in peace, may light perpetual shine upon her, and may her memory be eternal. Amen.


  1. My condolences on your loss. Your wife sounds like she was a wonderful person.

  2. Please accept my condolences for your terrible loss. What is remembered, lives.

  3. My condolences as well.

    Sounds like you had a wonderful partnership, in every sense of the word.

  4. My condolences, sir. May her soul dwell with the blessed.

  5. My sincerest condolences. I cannot even imagine. Memory Eternal.