Mayday! Recovering Adventures from the Past

My old Deluxe Classic Traveller set; an eBay purchase as I always admired seeing this in my games store.

Happy Mayday! The first of May is traditionally celebrated in the Traveller RPG world with events and news promoting the game. There are a couple of pieces of news which I hope you might be interested in.

CyborgPrime Games are running an online event with interviews, online play and prizes all supporting charity. Further details are available via this link:

Traveller RPG Mayday Mayday 2022

Though I can’t take part or watch online due to other commitments, I would like to wish CyborgPrime Games every success for the day!

Marc Miller of Far Future has released a long-lost MegaTraveller adventure ‘Manhunt’, previously announced by Digest Group Publications (DGP) back in the early 1990’s. The interesting thing for me is this involved a bit of digital archeology to recover the files, through retro microcomputer emulators. I occasionally use old machine emulators myself, such as MSDOS, Atari ST and Atari 8-bit in particular. The files were found by the original author on a 3.5” floppy disk and forwarded to Marc, who enlisted help with the data recovery. The disks were successfully imaged as files and loaded into an Apple II emulator, so that the contents could ve examined. The original software was then identified so that the files could be loaded with the correct formatting, exported to a PDF and then be edited using modern word processors.

The final book was published with the intention of trying to keep it as close as possible with the original ‘look and feel’ of the book series, as if it would have been published back in the 90’s. I haven’t been able to check the book out yet (I’ll certainly be picking up a copy though), but can find further details of why Manhunt was never originally released and the effort involved in recovering this product via this link, described by Nick Gibbins.

Manhunt can be found over at Drivethru RPG for $10 (86 pages, PDF. Print version to be announced soon). In some ways, this is a sort of Mayday! story in trying to recover something that was thought lost, but was found and successfully brought back into service – a very appropriate time to announce this book, Mr Miller!

However you celebrate Mayday!, may your die rolls always be 8+ and the Cr be plentiful!

Posted in Adventures, Classic Traveller, Far Future, MegaTraveller, scenario | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Playing Solo Classic Traveller Review

Articles and reviews are like buses… you wait for ages and two come along at the same time, as is the case with my second-in-a-row Classic Traveller review, ‘Playing Solo Classic Traveller’ by Zozer Games. This was released on Friday (15/04/2022) on Drivethru RPG and is available for free as a PDF with no print option available. Paul Elliott published the immensely popular ‘Solo’ for the Cepheus Engine rules a few years ago and has been one of his best-selling products. As Cepheus Engine is based on the Classic Traveller rules, Paul has very kindly released this stripped-down version of ‘Solo’, a sort of tool kit specifically for CT for the can’t-be-argued price of $0.

The PDF is 25 pages long and contains a what can be described as a loose process with which players who don’t necessarily have others to play a game with, to run your own adventures using the Books 1-3 and one or two supplements, such as ‘Citizens of the Imperium’. The book is divided up into four broad categories; the first section is an introduction to ‘Solo Traveller’ and describes what the aim of the book is. There is a little history of Paul’s first foray’s into CT and how the original ‘Little Black Book’ Book 0 ‘An Introduction to Traveller’ could be used to set up referee games and how this influences solo games.

The second section sets up the main headings of how your solo game will be constructed; your characters, the missions and the wider context eg. the world your characters are located on at the moment and the surrounding subsector. More detail is added with a guide how to roll up your characters; an important note is this isn’t a simple roll the dice process with tables, Paul provides a narrative which gets you to think why a particular dice roll is useful and what you can make out of it, to help build the characters story. Recording the results as you go along is an important point in all of this process, all those results and the workings why can be a gold mine for inspiration and getting you think how the story will develop, inside your head.

Now you have your characters, the third section looks at why the they are where they are (your starting world) and give you a sense of the environment around them. For example, if they are at a starport, what can they see? Traders leaving with specific goods that are the most popular export from this world? Are there significant buildings linked to a particular religion? Though a narrative process rather than a restrictive set of tables, the author gives you the nuts and bolts with which to create a story that is similar in flow when playing with friends. There are a limited number of tables though, just enough to give you a little structure with which to start to write that story. Remember, documentation is the key! The ‘mission machine’ then gets you to think how to use your characters individual attributes in the task they have been set, balancing success and failure.

Providing that your characters are still alive (!), the fourth part of the book then looks at the wider context; how you develop more missions, using the CT rule books to build the world you are on and what can be potentially found in the nearby worlds and resident subsector. To round the book off, an example character sheet, subsector map and hex grid are provided for photocopying.

If you are looking for a nuts ‘n bolts set of mechanics using roll on table 1, then go to table 2, then roll on table 3 etc then this won’t be what you are looking for. There is just enough structure and process to give you an idea how to develop a solo game and doesn’t try to recreate what is already available in the CT rule books. Paul has quite nicely developed a very readable guide to help you think of your story and how your characters can be used in an environment. Some people like to start with building their subsector and all the worlds that inhabit it; however I think there is immense value in starting small with just your characters, what they can see around them and develop things from there. This book certainly encourages you if you want to follow that process and it gives you plenty of ideas with how to construct your story. Ultimately I think that results in a much more enjoyable game rather than simply following a mechanically linked table-based process. At zero cost, this can’t be faulted and could be used not just for Classic Traveller, but any other 2D6 SFRPG’s that you might want to play solo – excellent stuff as per usual from Zozer Games!

Posted in Classic Traveller, Role Playing Games, Zozer Games | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Classic Traveller Facsimile Edition Review

Something I managed to pick up just before Christmas, but haven’t had the chance to take a look at yet, is the Classic Traveller Facsimile Edition, published by Far Future Enterprises. This is available in electronic format and softback print-on-demand book from Drivethru RPG for $3 for the PDF / $12 for the PoD+PDF and contains 161 pages. It is as the name suggests, a reproduction of the original 1981 version of the Classic Traveller rules set, Books 1, 2 and 3. This ‘Little White Book’ (LWB) as I’m going to call it, combines these original ‘Little Black Books’ (LBB’s) from the original Classic Traveller boxed set into one handy 6” x 9”-sized soft back book. Though you can buy the Classic Traveller rules and supplements on CDROM or as a download from Far Future or Drivethru RPG and the Traveller Book is available as an A4 hardback book, I’m not aware of the CT rules being reprinted and available in this LBB-style before now.

The LWB – ‘Little White Book’

In the first couple of pages you get an introduction and bit of background to the universe of Traveller, before the first book kicks off with Book 1 ‘Characters and Combat’. Each individual Table of Contents has been preserved, matching exactly the original formatting. Where there are references to corrections, these have been added in the margin with a page indicator and key as to what has been amended.

Where the original layout does allow for the paragraph to be replaced in whole, this has been applied. This has created one or two differences in the font quality which makes it a little noticeable between the original scanned and replacement typed text, which is understandable.

There is a balance to be achieved here in the production costs and time involved in completely reformatting and re-editing the book so that it looks consistent throughout, or simply releasing a lightly-tidied up version with a few quality flaws here or there. There are a few odd marks where it looks like part of an image ‘crease’ has left a slight impression, or the scan of one page needed a bit of tweaking; the subsector map hexes are a perfect example of this. However, these are few and far between and if you was going to use the latter you can get much better single-page versions for printing anyway.

The three books are rounded off with seven pages of errata (relevant to Books 1-3) which were previously published as a separate document in the ‘Consolidated Traveller Errata’, compiled by Don McKinney.

There is an important point I think when looking at possibly purchasing this version of the Classic Traveller rules set, particularly to those of us who have had some sort of association with Traveller since the late 70’s and 80’s. It is how does having the book make you feel? Does it give you that warm fuzzy glow of nostalgia which in turn gives you the inspiration to write adventures / subsectors / die in chargen (again)? Or, do you take it on face value, purely as a functional product and look at it from the quality of repoduction, especially when comparing it against competing products also available from our favourite games resellers?

In my view, there are a couple of approaches; the first is for players who may already own the original Classic Traveller rules who don’t necessarily want to use their original LBB’s for play and want a copy of the original rules to use for ‘day-to-day’ play. Taking a mathematical approach, I believe this can be explained in the following simple formula:

The other is for new players who may not necessarily be familiar with Classic Traveller and want to pick up a copy to see what it is like, possibly for historical reasons and don’t want to commit to a full-blown (and expensive) version from the many editions that are out there now. They would have the nuts ‘n bolts of the game in the three books and that will give them an ideal starting point. At the same time, there has to be a certain acceptance in the quality of reproduction and realise that this isn’t OCR’ed and re-typed text, it is straight out of the original books with the addition of corrections and adjustments from over the years. Yes it is a little rough around the edges with some obvious cut ‘n pasting, but what you have here is an established veteran game, self-contained for a very reasonable price and a wealth of material available to buy or for free. In my opinion, the right balance has been achieved in getting the product out the door and available to purchase, any additional work to reformat and retype the book would have delayed its release I think. For that, I don’t think the LWB can be beaten and is most certainly worth picking up in print format.

If you want to find out more about Classic Traveller, I have posted an article which is available here: Getting Started in Classic Traveller.

If Marc Miller is listening… if there is any chance of the other LBB’s being converted to this sort of LWB format (eg. Books 4-5 in one release, Books 6-8, the Double Adventures – especially as the reprint editions are no longer available) that would be fantastic and I would most certainly be purchasing!

Posted in Classic Traveller, Role Playing Games | Tagged , , | 2 Comments