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Traveller Starter Set Examined

As I noted last night, the Classic Traveller Starter Set is available for free in PDF form from RPGNow.. As I had owned the original Traveller boxed set, the Traveller Book, etc. for years by the time the Traveller Starter Set arrived on the scene, I never really looked at this set back in the day so I did not really know what to expect when I downloaded it.

I was pleasantly surprised by how complete the Traveller Starter Set is. It contains everything you need to play published adventures or even create your own, including rules for starship, subsector, and world creation. Character generation is limited to the six basic Traveller character types (Navy, Marine, Army, Scout, Merchant, and Other), but this is enough to create matching most common character concepts. While I haven't had time to compare versions in detail, it looks like the 64 page Core Rules booklet contains almost all the material from the three classic booklets, although in the revised form of the latter printings which rewrote some material to insert the "Third Imperium" campaign setting. If you want to play Classic Traveller, the free Starter Set contains all the rules you really need.

The second booklet is 24 pages of tables needed to play the game. It is very nice having them collected in one place instead of scattered through three booklets of rules. I'll print these out before I play Traveller again.

The Third booklet, Adventures, contains two classic Traveller adventures, "Mission on Mithril" and "Shadows" reformatted to fit the larger page size. "Mission on Mithril" deals with a scout ship crew trying to get their ship repaired on a frontier planet. "Shadows" involves exploring a strange, possibly alien structure on a sparsely populated planet. These are the best Classic Traveller adventures GDW ever produced, but they will get a group started or show a referee some of the possible ways to do Traveller adventures.

It's really great to see Classic Traveller available again, especially for free. If you are looking for some old school science fiction gaming, you want to visit RPGNow and download your free copy. Remember, the linked download is only the Core Rules booklet, you'll need to check your email or view the order from the "My Accounts" section of RPGNow to get the links to download the Charts booklet and the Adventure booklet. My hat is off to GDW for making the a complete copy of the classic Traveller rules available for free.

Robert Fisher said...
April 7, 2010 at 4:01 PM  

My Starter Traveller booklets still get used when I play classic Traveller. The charts book is a great referee tool. The rules book also has some clarifying examples that the original books lacked.

The one thing I miss is the experience rules from Book 2. I also like to supplement it with Supplement 4 (Citizens of the Imperium) for the additional career types. So, those would be the first things I’d hit eBay for or print off of the cT CD for anyone who enjoys this set.

Randall said...
April 7, 2010 at 4:39 PM  

I don't think we ever used the experience rules in Traveller. They were fairly strange, taking 4 years or so dedicated to a single improvement and many improvements were only temporary as I recall (I'm too lazy to walk to another room and dig out my boxed set). We tried a couple of experience systems from early White Dwarf articles, but in the end never really bothered.

I agree on Citizens of the Imperium, it's a must have.

Robert Fisher said...
April 7, 2010 at 5:02 PM  

Yeah. IIRC, 8 years to improve a skill by one point. Yet, you immediately got the benefit, you'd just lose it if you didn't finish the 8 years of study. Sounds crazy compared to many other games, but it is pretty in-line with chargen. (& there's sabbaticals and the instruction skill that can also be used for acquiring/improving skills)

I like that cT doesn't have much stat progression, but I like having this option so that it isn't impossible.

Also, if you do a lot of traveling, those weeks spent in jump can start adding up pretty quickly.

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