Thursday, March 14, 2024

Signal Boost

 This is outside of my usual kinds of posts, but I feel like it's worth doing. While Traveller is my main game, it, like all other RPGs owes a debt to The World's Most Popular Role-Playing Game. Also, it is Good and Right to know your history.

Ad Fontes!

From Mr. Mollinson:

At the 21ish-minute mark, Jason launches into a very interesting story about pre-GenCon tournament D&D play.  What it looked like.  What players did.

SPOILER ALERT:  The #BROSR was right.  About everything.

Link to the issue of Europa:

Monday, March 11, 2024

Play Report - Gaming on Vacation

This past weekend my sons and I went on vacation to Charleston, SC. Saturday brought heavier rain than we anticipated. This curtailed our plans and kept us inside the hotel for a good part of the day. Fortunately, Dad thought to bring along The Traveller Book and some dice. We had a map of the Holtzmann's Corridor subsector, but none of my other notes. They chose to begin play on Armstrong's World, so were for a change not playing Imperials.

Keep in mind the following:

  • PCs were rolled on the spot

  • I used the random encounter and rumor tables, with results enforced

  • I used the reaction tables, with results enforced

  • I provided a little imagination for the details

In the span of just a few hours of gameplay, the following adventures happened:

Their PCs took ship as temporary crew by a Belter patron. They flew off-planet to a gas giant ring system and went ice asteroid mining. The mining expedition lasted three weeks of game time. The trip featured a near-brawl aboard ship with an NPC. A crewman got lost, a damaged suit almost killed one PC. On top of this, they still managed two separate strikes of crystal deposits. In three weeks of adventuring,they made a net total of 30,000 credits each. The patron offered to take them along back to Ferrocore, but they decided against it.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

More on Careers - Barbarians!

 What does it mean to be a ‘barbarian’ in the Far Future?

Merriam-Webster defines barbarian as “a person from an alien land, culture, or group believed to be inferior, uncivilized, or violent”. Let me emphasize some of those words.  Inferior. Uncivilized. Violent

OED has several definitions. The most relevant two are:

A foreigner, one whose language and customs differ from the speaker's

A person living outside the pale of the [Roman] Empire and its civilization

With the general idea being simply ‘you’re not one of us, and that fact makes you inferior’.

For many fans of adventure fiction, ‘barbarian’ brings to mind Conan the Cimmerian. He wears hides & fur, and wields a sword. If you read Howard’s works, you find that the differences between Conan and the ‘civilized’ people have little to do with technology. Conan despised ‘civilization’ because he saw it as morally bankrupt. He was not jealous of their fancy toys.

This is an AI generated image
This is an AI-generated image.

We readers can also see Conan as ‘primitive’. Compared to 20th/21st century technology, Cimmeria was primitive. Compared to Aqilonia, they were not that far behind. Lack of sophisticated technology does not make one a barbarian.

Here’s another definition. Civilized is defined as “At an advanced stage of social and cultural development, usually marked by the existence of organized communities and an adherence to established conventions of behaviour; highly developed; refined and sophisticated in manner or taste; educated, cultured”


a relatively high level of cultural and technological development”

A modern New Yorker, with his smart phone and digital everything (TL 8-9) might think of the poor rural dweller in, well, anywhere that isn’t NYC, to be a primitive. He doesn’t have a smart phone and a Tesla model 4! He does have other accoutrements of TL 7-8 life, though. Cable television, modern medicine, new model cars, and a comparable public education.  All that it takes is one TL of difference. The label barbarian may be all in the eye of the beholder. Small-town man does not think of himself as a barbarian, or inferior to fancy-pants city man.

In my Church and Empire setting, from the Talaveran point of view, all the residents of the Corridor could be considered barbarians. Their tech is lower (how uncivilized!), sometimes far lower. They don’t speak Talaveran. They do not hold to Talaveran customs of behavior. Thus, barbarians. Barbarian can be no more than a term of snobbery, a means for looking down upon one’s fellow man. Pride of race/culture. I don’t present the Corridor worlds that way, and my play group has not adopted this attitude, I’m pleased to say.

Keep in mind, that Stavanger is TL-12 and Lanzhou is TL-13. Almost as good as the Empire, but still behind. But do they therefore not meet the definition of ‘civilized’? Of course they do! Mavramorn and VanGoff’s World at TL-10 out-do modern America. Yes, they’re civilized.

What I’m getting at is: think beyond the stereotype of the pidgin-speaking, melee-weapon, primitive barbarian. A barbarian can come from any world, at any tech level. They are a group apart, separated for whatever reason from the main government and society. They might come from a Subordinate world, or live out on the edge in Ungoverned Space.

Let us now consider the Barbarian career, both what it states, and what it implies.

Monday, January 22, 2024

An Interview with Marc Miller

 No, I have not gotten to interview The Man. But this guy Garry Snow did. Give it a listen.