24 January 2016

Traveller needs a reboot

The new logo, stolen from Red Dwarf.
Traveller, the sci-fi RPG created by Mark Miller, has been around a long time. It is a classic, bringing a cool universe full of adventure with its original rule set being really progressive and helping shape the future of roleplaying (the skill system was really amazing in a world of D&D and its imitators). It has been through many versions (original Traveller, MegaTraveller, Traveller: The New Era, Traveller 4, GURPS Traveller, Traveller T20, Mongoose Traveller, Traveller Hero, and the dead on arrival Traveller 5. Also the excellent fan made Spirit of the Far Future for FATE).

Some of the editions used far different rules, but the background was one continuous story of the Imperium and its intrigues in different eras (and even in an alternate timeline where Traveller split into Megatraveller and GURPS Traveller). What never really changed was the technology. Not only has tech plateaued where it has not changed much over millenia, it also has not kept up with real science as it changed over the last forty years. It is missing the future of gene manipulation, transhumanism, nanotechnology and so much more. Traveller has become quaint instead of imaginative.

There is a second edition of Mongoose Traveller coming out, but it is more of the same (in fact, it looks like it is only a minor upgrade to the rules, yet costs an arm and a leg).  The more Traveller changes, the more it stays the same.

What Traveller needs is a reboot, similar to how Battlestar Galactica was rebooted on television. It was at the same time familar and yet so different and modern. This might make some Traveller diehards cringe, but the truth hurts. Cutting edge games like Eclipse Phase are an extension of today's science and are relevant to today's vision of a possible future.

A rebooted Traveller would be similar, with the Imperium, feudalism, jump technology, politicl intrigue, and so on. The history would change but be similar, incorporating the effects of what science might be in the view of today's knowledge. It would be at the same time familiar yet new, and would appeal to newer players as well as making new types of adventures playable.

However, the chance of this happening now are smaller than the distance between gluons inside baryons. As sci-fi has shown us, the future is always in flux, so maybe it could happen.

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