Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Freetrader Conventions become STARSLUGS and some thoughts on homebrew Traveller settings

At the suggestion of Zak, the Freetrader Conventions will hereafter be known as the Simple Translation Agreement Rules Simulating Lastingly Unified Galactic Sectors, or STARSLUGS for short.  I've also been made aware of this handy document which should help in converting characters from other versions of Traveller if anyone wanting to run GT or MT decides they want in on this whole STARSLUGS thing.

On a tangentially related note, in a comment on my initial Boom Worlds/Galaxy of Fear post, Greg stated that "whenever I have seen different settings using Traveller, my mind refuses to accept it," which is a sentiment that seems to be common, even if it is not universal.  It is also a sentiment that I have a hard time understanding.  Looking at Classic Traveller, and even at the more recent Mongoose edition which I'm reading, I see a game that almost demands that you make your own setting.  It provides the referee with the tools to generate the sectors, worlds, and even the ships in which the game takes place.

Now this is not to say that there isn't a setting implied by the rules.  The most notable example of this in both CT and Mongoose Traveller is the presence of the Scout Service; however, the underfunded Star Fleet character of the scouts makes them something I'd include in a setting anyway, and I see that as little different than keeping beholders in a D&D game.

And I think that's really the key of what I'm saying: I view the implied setting of Traveller the same way I view the implied setting of D&D. They are both a set of elements borrowed from various pieces of source fiction that have been combined to make the game feel a certain way, but that are malleable and subject to the desires and inspirations of the referee.  Traveller, at least as presented in the LBBs and the Mongoose corebook, is a toolbox for making your own science-fiction adventures in the far future.

For some neat examples of this philosophy from the early days of Traveller, check out Freelance Traveller's Other Roads.  Particularly interesting to me are these two campaigns, run by two different referees at the same time in different parts of the galaxy.  They are what finally convinced me that STARSLUGS would be a good idea.


  1. Zak seemed to imply that you could convert characters from non-Traveller games to STARSLUGS, such as Star Wars or Mekton. Is this the case? How do you go about it according to these 'Conventions'. Thinking Star Frontiers perhaps.

    1. I believe in a paragraph or two before that on Zak's post, he notes how easy it would be to convert Star Wars or whatever into Traveller, which may be what he's talking about. You'd have to ask him.

  2. I will admit one setting I didn't have much trouble with using Mongoose's Traveller was the Cthonian Stars setting by Wildfire (same people who make CthulhuTech) which is basically our solar system about 200 years from now with Cthulhu elements. The system has colonies and facilities on most of the planets/moons. There was only inter-planetary travel, no Jump capable starships.

  3. right now I'm wondering about the East India companies as the Scouts and/or vice versa.
    HMMM. LBB Trav's institutions are a little too rock-solid for my usual tastes BUT MAYBE that just means I have to write my own Trav setting (again) that begins with the militarization of all society and tries to figure out why that might be.

    You are totally right, though: LBB Trav gives you very little world and demands you make up your own. Early supplements give you table for doing exactly that. Where could this attitude possibly come from?
    Maybe it's because it's kinda agnostic about everything except the very few issues dealt with in the rulebook? (eg civil society, bureaucratic structure of the empire(s), regional variations in spaceship technology)