12/28/14

CT Character Experience & Improvement Revisited

For many players, especially those who came to the hobby after the golden age of the late 70s to early 80s, the biggest "flaw" in CT's design is the lack of a proper experience system for character advancement and improvement. "I have to take 4 years of game time off and then I get to make a die roll check to see if the training stuck? -F- that!!!" Although the CT arrangement didn't bother me back in the early days, even I now tend to agree that there needs to be an easier way to improve the characters through play without allowing them to build latter day D&D style supercharacters.

I reviewed the various incarnations of the improvement rules in Traveller's editions (except GURPS and T20, which operate within the paradigms of their base systems) and was generally sad to see that the status quo from CT is basically maintained, with even more complexity added here and there. While I don't begrudge the designers and their probably quest for "realism" in the game mechanics, I wasn't totally satisfied with any of the "canon" systems, although, TNE's system came close, and seems the most workable and satisfying to the player who wants to see somewhat regular improvement in their character. Based on that, I present the custom experience and improvement rules I've been using for a while now, based loosely on the TNE system.

Alternate CT Experience & Improvement Rules

Earning Experience
At the conclusion of each episode of the campaign(1), the referee will award each PC a couple of Experience Points (XP), based on the following:

  • Survival of the episode: 1xp
  • Player went above and beyond to enhance the fun of the episode for the group: 1xp
  • PC made a major self sacrifice to aid the team or another PC: 1xp
    Peer MVP award (the players, not the referee, mark a secret ballot voting for their pick for the most valuable PC for the episode. They cannot vote for themselves unless they have a solid, exceptional reason.) 1xp
With the referee's approval(2), XP may then be spent to improve a character's attributes or skills. There are a couple steps to this process:

Acquiring New Skills
If a character wishes to add a new skill to his talents, he must spend 3xp and succeed at a 2d throw of 8+ (DM+1 if EDU 8+, DM+2 if EDU 12+). If the throw fails, the xp are not lost unless the unmodified throw of the dice resulted in a total of 2 (in other words, two 1s, "snake eyes", whatever your group calls a "fumble".), in which case 1xp is permanently lost. In either case, a failed throw to acquire a new skill results in that skill being unavailable to that character for 6 months of game time

A success on the acquisition throw means that the desired skill is added to the character at a level of (Skill-1). In addition, a natural, unmodified roll of 12 (two 6s, a "critical" success) on the acquisition check signifies that the new skill came naturally to the character and only cost him 2xp instead of 3.

The Inspiration DM rules, below, apply to new skill attempts.

Improving An Existing Skill
Most characters will not be satisfied long with skills of level 1, and will want to improve their ratings once they have the XP to do so. The method is similar to that for gaining a new skill. The xp cost for raising a skill one level is equal to the target level (Princess Vespa wants to raise her Vacc Suit-2 to Vacc Suit-3, this improvement would cost her 3XP). Then, as with gaining a new skill, the player must succeed at a 2d throw of 8+ (DM+1 if EDU 8+, DM+2 if EDU 12+). If the throw fails, the xp are not lost, but a failed throw to improve a skill results in that skill being closed to improvement for 6 months of game time.

A success on the acquisition throw means that the desired skill is added to the character at a level of (Skill-1).

The Inspiration DM rules, below, apply to new skill attempts.
Skill Inspiration
It is very likely that a character will want a skill that someone else, PC or NPC, has used recently and proven to be useful. It is therefore logical to assume that a character who has studied under another person, or even simply observed that person's regular performance of a skill will have a slightly easier time learning that skill himself.

Any time a character decides to forgo his actions for the duration of another character's performance of skill, doing nothing but observing, taking notes, memorizing, etc, he may make a 2d throw against 6+ to gain an Inspiration point in that skill. The observer receives a DM of +2 to that roll if his mentor is taking the time to actually demonstrate and teach the skill, which doubles the time it takes to perform the skill task.

A character may accumulate up to 4 Inspiration points for any given skill at a time, and these points may be applied 1 for 1 as positive DMs to the throw to acquire or improve a skill.

Inspiration points may also be awarded upon completion of a formal training class, self study holo-vid or computer program, or other means of education, at the referee's discretion in terms of cost, time required and Inspiration points gained, but the 4 point total still applies.

Improving A Character Attribute
Although costly in terms of xp, this process is fairly simple.

The xp cost is the attribute's target score multiplied by 1.5 (rounded UP)
(Our friend Princess Vespa wishes to improve her DEX score from 8 to 9. This costs 9 + 4.5=13.5 rounded up to 14xp).

The character must then make a 2d throw against the attribute's target score. Success means the xp are spent and the attribute is raised to the target score. Failure means the xp are not spent, but the character must wait 1 year of game time before attempting to raise that score again.

Inspiration points, in the form of tutoring, physical coaching, etc, apply, using the same guidelines as for skills, about.
XP do not need to be spent immediately, and the character will in fact often have to save up for a few episodes to afford the improvement he wishes to purchase.

Notes:
(1) For our games, one episode is usually the completion of one 4 to 6 hour game session. A shorter or uneventful session may be rolled into the next session to count as an episode, and conversely, an exceptionally long, grueling or action packed session might count as 2 episodes. The individual referee is responsible for deciding how often XP are awarded.
(2)Most of the time, we just apply the time honored concept of handwavium and allow the player to, if they wish, purchase the improvements they desire right when they get enough XP to do so, assuming that their character has been training, studying, observing a mentor's actions, etc and is ready to gain the benefits of a new or improved skill or attribute as soon as they can afford it. In exceptional cases (learning a rather difficult skill, for example) or for referee's wishing for a little more realistic improvements, the character may be required to return to a proper resting place, or library, or gymnasium, whatever in order to practice for a short time before applying their newly purchased improvements. I do not recommend further monetary costs to the character beyond those mentioned in the Inspiration points section, and we prefer to keep any training "downtime" to a few weeks at most (maybe a throw of 1d to decide how many weeks of study or training is needed?)



12/24/14

Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah from the TNN team!



We'll see you this weeked with new updates!

12/23/14

Why is the OTU so "low tech"?


One critique I hear about Traveller (and other old school era Sci Fi games, to be totally fair) is that the technology is dated, based on 1970s expectations of futuristic technology and unable to keep up with rapid advances in computing, robotics and other applied sciences in the nearly 40 years since the game was first published.

I imagine the first temptation for most players and GMs of Classic Traveller is to try and shoehorn more advanced technology into the rules, often borrowing from games and sources like cyberpunk to represent cutting edge computer technology, but in my mind, this changes the scope and feel of the Traveller experience too much to be worthwhile.

I prefer to give some thought to justify why the OTU has the technological standards that it does, so that the mechanics of the game remain unchanged, but players can accept the tech level of their campaign as plausible. Here's a few thoughts on specific technological topics:

Computer Technology.
In the 1970s, when Traveller was written, even the home "microcomputer" was a pretty bulky piece of equipment that usually had to be plugged into an equally bulky cathode ray tube television set. Opening the computer's case revealed a series of circuit board "cards" that plugged into slots on the main board providing and expanding many of the system's functions. Those circuit boards were familiar to anyone who took high school electronics shop class or spent their hobby hours hanging around the local Radio Shack talking transistors with their fellow radio geeks. I mention Radio Shack for an important reason. While you could very easily go buy an Apple II or Commodore home computer that came, essentially, ready to use, Tandy/Radio Shack's systems often came as DIY kits, with the buyer expected to have the electronics basic skills needed to assemble the device according to their needs. Anyone with a modest workbench and selection of basic, cheap tools could build, and more importantly, repair, their TRS80 (Tandy - Radio Shack, get it?)

When you are hurtling through space, light years from the nearest repair facility and restricted by practical matters of available space on your ship to a fairly basic selection of tools and spare parts, you need to be able to fix things yourself. "Old school" computer components, such as the circuit boards I mentioned above, can be assembled or repaired with pretty basic tools: wire snips, screw drivers, soldering irons and a handful of spare resistors, transistors and wire. An engineer PC is expected to be able to fix most problems with the ship's computers with little more than these parts. Keeping computer component technology at the levels given in the game makes this plausible.

Even today's state of the art computers have reached the point where they are no longer user serviceable, if your iPhone malfunctions, you send it off to some mythical service center where they use expensive, high tech tool to fix it, or more often, replace it, since that is often cheaper than fixing the broken unit. This service model is completely unworkable on a small starship. The bulky advanced equipment used to service micro and nano technology is too big and expensive to build into a ship's engineering room, and what happens when that equipment breaks?

Ship Software.
For many similar reasons, advanced computer programming is unwieldy and inconvenient for the crew of a small starship. Where most computer programs could be coded or troubleshooted by anyone with a basic education in programming and a bit of time to go through the code in the 1970s, today's programs are complex and often generated by other programs to a user's specifications. If you're the computer tech on a starship and the software gets buggy, you need to be able to troubleshoot it quickly and easily before your life support, drive controls or weapon systems go offline.

In our "After the Rim War" campaign, we also retrofit the Traveller: The New Era ideas on Virus into the setting's history, as a minor contributing factor to the onset of the Long Night. Complex, integrated systems are a hacker or intelligent virus's dream, while simpler, isolated and dedicated programs make those cyber attacks less effective and easier to combat. Since the Long Night ended and the starfaring races recovered from its horrors, it is very rare for computer builders to interconnect every system on a ship with arcane and impossible to troubleshoot computer programming.

Cybernetics.
The previous two points on hardware and software pretty much explain the reason cybernetic gear doesn't permeate the OTU setting. If your cyber-arm's metallic frame breaks, who can repair it out in the field? If you suffer brain trauma and the programs controlling your cyber-eyes go buggy, who can plug in and troubleshoot the code?

Another major point is the assumed cost of these devices. How many average citizens can afford this gear? Sure, wealthy nobles and merchants probably get fancy cybernetic items installed in order to flaunt their wealth, but 99% of the folk you meet while Travelling simply can't afford the stuff, especially when life extending and enhancing drugs and medical treatments can achieve similar results much more safely and cheaply.

I think it's fun and cool to have the PCs encounter really high tech gear now and then, but that's what the tech level mechanics in the game are for. My players will run into TL15+ worlds once in a while, but overall, I'm going to keep things in the TL10-12 ballpark.

Your thoughts?

12/22/14

The Solomani Mind: Grassroots political activism in the Solomani Confederacy

Although overall and long term governance of the Solomani Confederation rests solely in the hands of the highest Directors of the Solomani Party, who are usually kept divided equally between Home and Terra, with a third portion spread around various other Confederation worlds to prevent a possible mass assassination of the Party's leadership, matters of little importance to the Confederation as a whole, and day to day administration of individual worlds and settlements is left to the corporate interests that actually own those locales.  Some of these corporations handle all such affairs internally, effectively ruling the citizens of their settlement with strict yet generally fair and tolerable policies dictated by the administrators of that organization.

Other, more progressive Corporations and local Party Directors have found it both more economically advantageous and beneficial to the morale of the citizenry to preserve (or at least pretend to preserve) the ancient political systems of Terra, giving the people a chance to elect representatives to convene on their behalf to direct the policies of their settlement, as well as to petition the Party Directorate on various matters. This arrangement has led to the creation of myriad political causes and "parties (lower case P)" around the Confederation. Most of these factions come and go within a year or two as their members awaken to the futility of trying to change a nearly 5000 year old society, and many others evolve and adapt to changing political memes, but only a rare and select few, such as the Preservation party, headquartered on Luna (Terra, Sol) have the actual numbers and clout to genuinely influence Party policies. More than a few parties also exist only as public relations operations of local or rival corporate organizations, seeking to influence the morale of the citizenry.

A few sample parties are provided here, but use your imagination and consider how irrelevant and whimsical some fringe real world political causes may seem to those not affiliated with them.


A few sample minor Solomani "Political Parties"

The Labor party:
The Labor party is the oldest continuously operating socio-political faction in Solomani space, tracing its roots directly to the Lunar Labor party on Luna in Sol system's pre-jump drive colonial era.

The Labor party exists to improve the plight of the common working folk of the Confederation, constantly petitioning local administrators and directors, as well as Party leadership itself in hopes of obtaining higher wages, safer working conditions and other matters of importance to the average citizens.

Most Laborers and leaders are down to earth, hard working and well meaning folk who, despite wildly variant views on larger social and political issues, band together for their basic day to day interests, though corrupt and opportunistic charlatans seeking only to elevate themselves as liaisons with the corporate and governmental interests on their world or colony are not unknown.

Other parties, common citizens (even those not actually affiliated with the Labor party) and many low level Party government officials are sympathetic to and friendly with the Labor party, at least grudgingly agreeing that the working man sometimes suffers to promote the welfare and productivity of the Confederation. It is usually only the administrators and low to mid level management of corporate organizations that actively dislike and oppose Labor party members and leaders.

The Social party:
Generally dismissed as idealistic, irrelevant and out of touch with economic reality by almost all corporate and Party government officials, the Social party is simply the current incarnation of a fairly constant yet ever changing theme in Solomani politics; the idea that the government and corporate masters should provide all basic needs and luxuries to their citizens.

Social party causes are usually focused on attempts to obtain cheaper (or, ideally, free) air, water, food and medicine for the citizens of whatever world or colony the party cell is active on. Less often, such luxuries as improved holovid network access, cheaper or faster transportation networks and other frivolities are the subject of the party's activism.

Most Socialites are well meaning and harmless, generally wide eyed youths driven by grandiose dreams but inexperienced in the realities of life in 57th century Solomani space. Although most corporate and Party officials find the Social party annoying, there is rarely any real ill will toward them and it is highly uncommon for party members or leaders to have any noteworthy enemies.

The Preservation party:
Almost as old as the Labor party, the Preservation party was founded almost immediately upon public awareness of the discovery of the Vilani on Barnard's Star in 2097 (Terran). Isolationists and social conservatives within the nations of the UNSCA feared that the introduction of alien influences to Terran culture would endanger the traditions and legacies of the people of Terra.

The Preservationists existed as a moderately influential force throughout the Rule of Man, when Solomani culture was on the rise and exerting its own influence on the other sophonts of known space, as well as through the Long Night, when limited to nonexistent contact with outsiders made threats to Solomani culture a less critically important matter, and it was not until the formulation of the Solomani Hypothesis and its confirmation by the members of the haut-Devroe expedition that the Preservation party blossomed into its current and ongoing prominence.

The Preservation party is directly responsible for the formation of the Solomani Movement and the themes of racial, historical and political patriotism common in the Confederacy. The Preservationists are closely allied with, though formally independent of the Party government, and often occupy low level administrative positions in local corporate or government bodies, granting them a fair amount of local clout as well as access to contacts through the Party government.

The Repatriation party:
An offshoot of the Preservationists, and one of the Confederation's newest socio-political factions, the Repatriates advance the cause of welcoming home the far flung kindred of the Solomani people, to include all races transplanted or manipulated by the Ancients from Terra to their current home worlds, with the exception of the Aslan/Fteirle, for reasons discussed previously in the "Solomani Hypothesis and Terran Human Supremacy" article on this blog, provided that those individual beings cast off their "alien" culture and adopt the lifestyle and values of the Solomani.

Obviously, the Repatriate agenda is quite controversial in much of the Confederacy, especially among elder Solomani humans. Old, deeply ingrained suspicions and prejudices are difficult to cast off, though the general peaceful success of the Repatriate party so far is having a slow but soothing affect on relations.

This article is based on material from "Luna: A Traveller's Guide" 
by Marc W. Miller, from Dragon Magazine Issue 87 (1984, TSR, Inc.)

12/21/14

The Solomani Mind: The Solomani Hypothesis and Terran Human Supremacy

"It's now undisputed scientific fact accepted by all the starfaring sophonts of known space, except the Aslan(1), that humaniti and derived humanoids trace their genetic ancestry to Terra! We are the untouched and purest strain of human blood! Pay no mind to the insolents of tainted lines who claim that our late entry into interstellar affairs makes us somehow inferior to them, that logic is nonsense. We needed no mythical ancestors of the Chirpers(2) to hold our hands throughout our technilogical progress, we achieved alone what the rest of our scattered cousins did only with mentors aiding them down the path to the stars!"

 - Andrea Solomon(3), TNN Commentator, 184-5634 (1114 IC)

Notes:
(1) One of the Solomani scientists involved in the haut-Devroe expedition of 588 IC, a genetic anthropologist named Viktoriya Beagle, came to much more controversial and, many of her peers and scientists since then say, biased, conclusions than the rest of the researchers present for the expedition. Most of Dr. Beagle's theories and conclusions were disputed or disregarded outright, and were not published among the official findings of the h-D team. Nevertheless, many Solomani loyalists, including more than a few high ranking Party directors, accept Dr. Beagle's body of work as fact.

One of Dr. Beagle's most disputed claims was that the Fteirle, or Aslan, as most humans refer to them, are not a naturally indigenous sophont race. Beagle claimed that genetic analysis of the Fteirle and samples from other animal species found on Kusyu obviously revealed that the DNA of that world's prehistoric life forms had been modified with DNA samples native to Terra. Using methods similar to those used to uplift Terra canines to become the Vargr, Dr. Beagle claimed that the Ancients had uplifted Kusyuni proto-felines to become the Fteirle.

This theory is rejected by Imperial, Fteirle and Hiver scientists, and even questioned (at least publically) by most Solomani researchers. Futhermore, confronting most Fteirle with the "Beagle Conjecture" is a rather egregious insult. Solomani loyalists who accept Dr. Beagle's ideas argue that the fact that the Fteirle declined to participate in the haut-Devroe expedition, and even forbade biological and genetic study of their homeworld's life forms by the members of the h-D team is evidence that the Aslan have something to hide, and insist that until the Fteirle allow an "objective" scientific survey of Kusyu's plant and animal life, Dr. Beagle's theory is within the margin of acceptable scientific error.

It is worth pointing out that although Dr. Viktoriya Beagle is something of a heroine to Solomani extremists (racists, to be blunt), she herself was decidedly not a racist or advocate of innate Solomani superiority. As a matter of fact, late in Beagle's career, decades after the haut-Devroe expedition, she was dismissed from her tenured professorship at the University of Luna after the sordid details of the nature of her relationship with her long time associate and confidant Kfouzarra, a female Vargr long in the employ of Dr. Beagle's research department came to the public attention.

(2) Rooted in a long history of superstitions and urban myths dating back to the infancy of Terra's space age, the Solomani as a whole have a deep distrust and dislike of the Droyne. This, coupled with the condescending attitude toward the Ancients and the races they meddled with, which is demonstrated clearly in Miss Solomon's rant above, leads most Solomani loyalists to refer to Droyne as Chirpers, the common name used for the Droyne's degenerate non-spacefaring cousins.

(3) Miss Andrea Solomon is a well known celebrity new analyst and commentator all around the Confederation, appearing as the host of a popular holovid program called Terra Talk. Imperials and less sympathetic Solomani view Terra Talk, and its host as angry, overly patriotic drivel, but the program is wildly popular and anticipated among many, many Solomani in the post Rim War years. Andrea is a blatant, raging Solomani racist and anti-Imperialist, akin to the most annoying fringe extremist "journalists" of modern day earth. (Insert your wacko talking head/blogger of choice here)

Miss Solomon lives and works from the TNN headquarters on Mars, Sol, and it is a little known secret that she is also the eldest daughter of one of that world's top SolSec operatives, making her a dangerous person to threaten or harm. Andrea herself is somewhat unaware of the exact nature and stature of her father's position, and is surprisingly unlikely to his him as a threat against those she dislikes.

Andrea Solomon (Andrea Fabiani) 5749BA
Solomani Female, Age 44
7th Term Solomani Party, Cr 200,000 (plus liberal access to TNN assets related to her work)
Administration 3, Bribery 2, Leader 2, Liaison 3, Streetwise 1

Miss Solomon is also a typical example of TNN's Terran Humanity bias and focus. All of the major, Confederation-wide reporters, anchors, analysts and hosts on the TNN holovid programs and XBoat delivered "email" reports use surname pseudonyms derived from the word Solomani; Solomon, Solo, Solomonson. The one exception is the Arrghoun language Vargr holovid anchor "Mr. Agzee", a pseudonym used by a succession of Solomani sympathizing Vargr celebrities and based on a rather crude Anglicization of the Arrghoun term Agedzllaergh, "he who returned home". The Vargr of the Confederation are uncommon, but not unknown, and the current Mr. Agzee is always wildly popular among them, as well as among younger Sol humans who are fluent in the Arrghoun language.

One last note: Dr. Beagle's name is just a silly homage/joke re: Charles Darwin, referencing the sailing ship upon which he formulated most of his evolutionary theories.

12/20/14

What is the TNN?

Transstar Corporation is one of the Solomani Confederation's oldest and biggest businesses, operating as the corporate arm of the Solomani Party. Founded near the end of  the Long Night when the Party leaders on Terra decided to acquire the assets of the failing Galactic Transit Corporation (GalTrans), consisting at the time of mostly aging freighters and passenger liners. Other financial assets were used to refit the company fleet in anticipation of a boom in business as trade around Terra reopened to interstellar interests.

Over time as the Confederation grew during the 3rd Imperium era, Transstar was expanded to include a variety of subsidiaries, most notably SolBanc, the official, and largest, financial services organization in the Confederation. All Party members, and a huge majority of average Solomani citizens, both human and otherwise, trust SolBanc with their money, since it has the backing of the Party government.

Another spinoff of Transstar, due to the extensive contact its ships have with every world under Solomani rule, as well as most of border worlds in Imperial, Aslan and Hiver space within a jump 1 or 2 of the Confederation border, and many of the rimward independent states and worlds, is the Transstar News Network.

The Party voted to establish their own news outlet shortly after the onset of the Solomani Rim War, due to concerns about the pro-Imperial bias they claimed the TNS was scourged with. Although the Traveller's News Service (TNS) is and always has been a service of the Traveller's Aid Society (TAS), and quite independent from the Imperial government, the fact that most of the investigators, reporters and editors of TNS reports are, even in Solomani space, Vilani, has always made Party loyalists suspicious of its true agenda.

Despite the TNN being founded to escape perceived Imperial bias, the Solomani people were not to be given a free and honest media. Pro-Solomani sentiment and agendas, both political and social, are rampant, but the TNN's directors are careful to give the masses the news they want. Feel good stories of Solomani patriotism and superiority are the order of the day, and any truths that go against this point of view are either sugar coated to make them more palatable to the people (and Party leadership) or covered up completely.

Regardless of the bias, TNN permeates modern Solomani life. Their holovid personalities and "on the street" reporters are household names on the worlds they cover, and a handful of the most successful journalists and analysts are known and loved throughout the Confederation.

All employees of TNN, and freelancers who contract with the company, are members in good standing of the Solomani Party, and it is widely (and correctly, of course) assumed that more than a few of them are SolSec agents. Player characters who are loyal to the party might find the local Ace (see note below) to be a valuable source of information and aid, while travellers who don't toe the party line and annoy a journalist may discover that that person has some very important friends and colleagues.

A note: Travellers bumming around Solomani worlds will find out that encountering a TNN "celebrity journalist" is a rare thing. The big name holovid stars only work in the field when a huge, career making story is developing, and due to travel time constraints, they're often late to the scene, covering the aftermath of the story and providing analysis of the investigative and on the scene reporting of local aces, the jargon name for part time journalists who freelance locally for TNN. Some of these aces are quite popular and influential in the area (usually a colony, world or system) they report on, but have little name recognition Confederation-wide, since the TNN big shots rarely name their sources in their holovid shows, taking credit for themselves for the information and images they present.

12/19/14

Fiddling with Pulp-O-Mizer


I've seen these mock pulp fiction paperback book covers here and there for a while, so I decided to give it a try myself, with a nonsense cover page I'll probably use for an upcoming player's campaign primer/houserules document. Turned out alright for 5 minutes of fiddling around.

If you want to check it out, click on over to the  Pulp-O-Mizer. at the Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual website. If you're a fan of old pulp era Sci Fi, be sure and look around the rest of their site, it's full of cool stuff.

And if anyone is wondering, the "Post 0" mock Traveller LBB cover from the previous introductory post  was created using the equally cool LBB Front Cover Rendering Machine, now hosted at The Zhodani Base.

Welcome, fellow Citizens of Terra, to the Transstar News Network!


Greetings, fellow Travellers,
I've been  a Traveller player for as long as I can remember, going back at least 30 years to the dubious days of 4th or 5th grade in California's public schools. I'd been introduced to role playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, Star Frontiers, and the obscure gem Droids before that, and quickly fell in love with the hobby. I'd heard of Traveller, but never really seen any of the products in person or really talked with any regular players enough to get an idea of what the fuss was all about.

That changed one chance day when I wandered into one of the local hobby shops with that month's newspaper delivery pay in hand, just to see if they had any new game books or model kits. To both my pleasant surprise and mild dismay, the clerk informed me that they had decided to quit carrying RPG and non-miniatures wargames to focus on their models, gaming miniatures and model train supplies. The good news was, big blowout clearance sale! All RPG hardbacks were $5, All softcovers $2 and all "digest" sized books (such as most of the Traveller line at that time, or the original D&D volumes, remember, this was around 1981 or 1982) were a thin buck a piece!

Needless to say, they had quite a selection of Traveller stuff, and though the exact titles of most of what I picked up escape my now 40something year old memory, I recall grabbing the Traveller Book, the Traveller Adventure, the Traveller Starter Set box (I think the box sets were bargain priced at $8 each), at least a dozen of the various LBBs and a couple of the Judges Guild and other 3rd party publishers' offerings. A genuine treasure trove of Traveller goodness for around $35 or $40 out the door. Once my gaming friends and I (I don't recall ever hearing the term "gamer" until years later, when I was in college or thereabout) greedily poured through all the books and figured out how to drudge through the character creation, we were hooked. No idea if those guys still enjoy RPG or wargaming these days, but as you might have guessed, I sure do.

Fast forward almost two decades, and it's 1998 or 1999, and I discovered the internet after a few years of shunning technology. Fairly quickly I was introduced to the online RPG communities by my dear friend, the late Maria DelTorre. For a couple years prior to that, I'd been playing AD&D with the roomies and a few others that hung around the large but crappy apartment we shared, and Mar was a devout AD&D fan, so we naturally gravitated toward that end of the online world, becoming quite active in the Greyhawk campaign world community for nearly a decade. Personality conflicts, boredom and the decline of my offline gaming due to real life time constraints led me away from all that, and I'd been drifting around different gaming interests for a couple years until I stumbled upon P.O. “BeRKA” Bergstedt's excellent Zhodani Base blog and website a couple months ago.

My old interest in Traveller, which had waxed and waned during my D&D and Greyhawk projects, is reignited, and the wonderful group of fans at the FaceBook "Traveller-RPG" community has me posting, and more importantly, thinking about the Traveller game quite a bit. So I throw my hat into the blogging ring once again (I've had a couple short lived D&D/Greyhawk related blogs that aren't really worth mentioning :-P ) to share my ideas and thoughts on Traveller and Sci Fi gaming, books, TV and movies in general. Hopefully some of you will find my ramblings interesting or useful.

Enjoy!
Rich "trickeyrat" Trickey
Terra, Sol, 353-(-2504)

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