Traveller…the skill based OD&D
James Maliszewski started an interesting conversation on his blog about the literary influences of Traveller. What struck me is how a fair number of people thought that the game’s overall setting has not aged well. To me, these conversations are fascinating as I’ve never treated the core rules — the first three LBB — as being in any way concrete.
In fact, I see the basic ruleset as being synonymous with OD&D when it comes to house ruling and setting. As I’ve mentioned before, I seldom use the Third Imperium. But how I’ve used Traveller goes beyond changing the setting — I’ve stripped out interstellar travel and used it for an Earth-based Blade Runner game; I’ve taken out space travel and limited the tech level to create modern espionage games; I’ve created a pulp horror/science fiction smorgasbord; not to mention changing the shape and scope of any given campaign in order to create unique space opera or hard Sci Fi sagas.
With Mongoose’s relaunch of Traveller, you can see evidence of this as publishers begin to pull together setting books outside the long-standing norm. I should also point out that Mongoose has effectively left the core mechanics as they were but have added updated equipment books and technological tweaks without upsetting the balance of the game in the least.
The beauty of the game is no different than the clones we love so much. If you don’t like something, change it. The system underneath is solid and can do far more than allow players to explore the Third Imperium.