Sunday, January 9, 2011

Traveller Session 0

My wife and one of the other players made their characters last night. We've got three PCs, some vague back story, some half-formed alien races, a mostly mapped sub-sector... I think we're good to go. I'll put up my alien races as I finish them.

I have one possible misgiving about Traveller. I have a player who started with an unprecedented 22% ownership in a Free Trader. He also picked the stock model, getting another 10% off. Even owning nearly 1/3 of a very modest ship, he has a mortgage payment of about 103,000 credits per month. In addition, he has to pay 22k in supplies/life support and 3k in maintenance. I think it also costs about 45k to refuel the ship, which must be done twice a month. Oh, add the 2k per month to pay for an NPC steward, since they want to make money porting passengers and none of them have the skill. That puts operating costs somewhere around 220,000 credits per month.
I did a quick, back-of-the-envelope sample run where the players had a cargo hold nearly full of freight and most of the state rooms and low berths filled, and they managed to pull in about 130,000 for a two week period. This means that in four weeks, they could pull in an average of 260k, assuming luck holds out.

So... this seems a little tedious. Unless I ran the numbers wrong (a distinct possibility), the characters will be spending all their time running passengers and cargo. That seems a mite tedious. We'll give it a chance and see how it plays out. If the game really does become a budget balancing exercise, I have a few ideas in mind:

1. Let the freight and passenger stuff happen in the background. Adventures, actual play sessions, will focus on what happens when the characters take a special job/mission or have some kind of unusual encounter. This takes away from the sandbox style I have come to prefer when I run a campaign, though.

2. Ignore it, and simply say that the players must spend X% of their money on upkeep.

3. If it really is tedious, or the other two solutions don't work the way I want them to, then convert to Alternity or D6 Space (Actually West End Star Wars, but everything I need is in there) or maybe do it with Mini-Six.


  1. I've always wanted to run a Traveller game (mainly because the vastness of appeals to me), but could never motivate my gaming group to try it. I'm looking forward to some session reports on how it goes!

  2. If you're needing a little more GM support for your game, you might want to check out Stars Without Number, a free PDF at DriveThruRPG. While the core mechanics of the game are D&D-flavored, I wrote the GM tools to support a sci-fi world compatible with a lot of Traveller assumptions. In particular, the starship maintenance and repair rules on page 70 combined with payments on 68% of the credit cost of the sample free merchant on page 190 might give you numbers that give your PCs a little more financial breathing room.

  3. dino- that is indeed a badass map. I am mapping my own subsectors, which is turning out to be far less fun than I had originally imagined, but I think I will thank myself when the work is done.

    Sine- I will definitely have to check that out. The PC owner of she ship has been crunching the numbers and I think he's worked out a way to not only keep the ship afloat but bring in some cash... which he needs, due to rolling up a character with a lot of medical debt and a desperate physical addiction to anagathics...