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Randall's Essential Classic Traveller Supplements

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As I said in another post, discovering the Traveller Starter Set is available for free yesterday convinced me to look around and see what other interesting Traveller goodies might be available. GDW is offering almost everything they published for Classic Traveller in PDF at very low prices. All 13 Supplements are available. Here is a list of the ones I consider almost essential to running a sandbox-style SF campaign with Traveller:

Supplement 1 - 1001 Characters Currently $2.00
"Contains 1001 pre-generated Traveller characters ready for use as non-player characters, quick characters for a spur-of-the-moment game, or to supplement the work of the referee. Plus a bonus of nine characters drawn from science-fiction. 44 pages." This sounds like a boring book and it is boring to read. However, it is great when you need an NPC on the fly. All the characters have stats, skills, and are ready to use. I used my print copy in just about every Traveller game I've ever run.

Supplement 2 - Animal Encounters Currently $2.00
"This supplement provides a general set of animal encounter tables for use in most common situations. 48 pages." Like Supplement 2, Animal Encounters is just as boring to read as it sounds. Given how much of a pain it can be to create an animal for an encounter on the fly in Traveller, it's one of the most useful supplements GDW published for Traveller, especially if you run a sandbox style campaign instead of running pre-written adventures. Like 1001 Characters, I've used this supplement in just about every Traveller session I've ran over the years.

Supplement 4 - Citizens of the Imperium Currently $2.00
"Character generation for twelve new character types. Wet Navy, Orbital Forces, Barbarians, Belters, and more. Plus 40 pre-generated examples of each. 48 pages." This supplement fleshes out the "Other" character type for player characters and the 40 pregens for each type are every bit as useful as the ones in 1001 Characters. Complete character generation tables are included for Pirate, Belter, Surface Navy, Diplomat, Docter, Flyer, Barbarian, Bureaucrat, Rogue, Noble, Scientist, and Hunter character types.

Supplement 6 - 76 Patrons Currently $2.00
"Sixty separate patron encounter situations for everyone from a single adventurer to a dozen or more, each one with three or more possible resolutions. Plus 16 mercenary job offers. 48 pages." This supplement is great for creating patron encounters and the adventures taking a patron up on his offer might generate. Just flipping though the book generates ideas for adventures. While this book is somewhat less essential than others on this list, it's still a book I would not want to try to run a Traveller sandbox campaign without.

Supplement 7 - Traders and Gunboats Currently $2.00
"Detailed deck plans for common starships within and without the Imperium. Plus, High Guard statistics for each starship. 48 pages." This supplement includes plans and details for Scouts, Subsidized Merchants, Free Traders, Close Escorts, System Defense Boats, Xpress Boats, and small craft. You probably could live without it, but it makes it far easier for you and your players to use common ships in your adventures.

Most of the other supplements are less useful as they are either something most campaigns will not need (Supplement 9 - Fighting Ships, for example, is full of High Guard stats for huge naval vessels) or only useful in campaigns set in GDW's Third Imperium. One of these other supplements probably is worth the money, however. Supplement 3 - The Spinward Marches details the Spinward Marches sector which is the home for most of the adventures GDW published for Classic Traveller.

Jer said...
April 7, 2010 at 3:57 PM  

You know, I was just going to post to ask your advice on this.

What about the "Books" - I've only ever had Book 0 through Book 3 (found the Deluxe Box years ago). Books 4-8 clearly aren't essential for me, but are they all worth getting if I'm just using Traveller as a generic sci-fi setting rather than with the Third Imperium setting?

Jeff Rients said...
April 7, 2010 at 4:19 PM  

Good list. Supplement 4 is crucial for groups with players who never want to play something straight out of the core rules. And it has pirates.

Randall said...
April 7, 2010 at 4:47 PM  

Jer: I wouldn't call any of Books 4 - 8 essential, but all are available for my campaigns. The Scouts and the Merchant books are most useful to me. My more military-minded players liked Mercenary and High Guard quite a bit, however. The main problem with the additional books is that they tend to make Army, Navy, Scot, and Merchant career paths so much better than options that do not use the more complex generation system provided for these character types.

Anonymous said...
April 7, 2010 at 5:23 PM  

Great list, and at these prices they should be on every gamer's virtual bookshelf. Kudos to them for releasing such an iconic (and wonderful) game for free, and to you for pushing it to the forefront.

I'll disagree about one thing though - I rate 76 Patrons as one of the best supplements ever made for any game. Give me that supplement, a copy of Traveller and half a brain and I'll give you a campaign to last many years. It's a terrific idea spark machine, and I'd kill for a similar supplement for D&D :D

Adam Thornton said...
April 8, 2010 at 12:44 AM  

You can also buy CDs of Traveller stuff from Marc Miller for $35.


I got the Classic Traveller, JTAS, and Apocrypha ones and have not been disappointed.

Andreas Davour said...
April 11, 2010 at 1:33 PM  

I totally agree that Supplement 4 - Citizens of the Imperium is essential, as without it your game is based only on military careers. That's my one traditional problem with Classic Traveller out of the box play.

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