Getting Started in Classic Traveller

I was contacted by email and through this blog earlier this week by Will Shade who was looking for some advice in how to get back into Traveller, having last played the game back in the 70’s. Will had read my review of ‘The Traveller Book’ and wondered if this would be a good starting point to start playing?

I responded to Will via email and afterwards thought this would form the basis of a blog post that others may find useful. So, to set the scene; you may be someone who has previously played Traveller and may remember it from the early height of RPGs in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s? If thats the game that you are looking to get back into, then there is a wealth of material available at reasonable prices.

The Traveller Book

For those who like a physical copy of the rules, you can purchase a print-on-demand hardback copy of The Traveller Book. This contains all the rules from the original Classic Traveller boxed set (books 1, 2 and 3) repoduced from the revised 1981 edition, plus a few additions and two scenarios. This is available from DriveThru RPG and is a really nice way to get into Classic Traveller, whether you have played it before or have never played before.

My full review of The Traveller Book can be found here: The Traveller Book Print on Demand

The Classic Traveller CDROMs

For those that want to expand beyond the basic rules into the supplements and scenarios originally published by Game Designers’ Workshop (GDW), you have two sources to pick up PDF copies; DriveThru RPG is probably the easiest if you want to select and pick up individual copies of the ‘Little Black Books’, of which all of the supplements, rules and scenario’s are available to purchase from GDW. However, if you want to buy all of them, this could work out quite expensive. Marc Miller’s FarFuture.net sells CDROMs with the complete collection of the Classic Traveller PDFs which considering the number of files and books contained on the disc, is incredible value. In addition, Marc also sells a CDROM with the Journal of the Traveller’s Aid Society magazines (JTAS) and a number of other discs with PDFs of third-party publishers material from FASA and Judges Guild.

Print Copies of the Classic Traveller Books

Unfortunately it isn’t possible to buy new copies of the CT books any more (other than The Traveller Book mentioned above). If you want copies of the original books, you’ll have to look at aftermarket resellers such as eBay or AbeBooks.

What is Actually Available?

If you’re unsure what books and editions of Classic Traveller were has produced, a helpful ‘Guide to Classic Traveller’ is available to download for free from DriveThru RPG. This has been updated over time and is a very interesting and useful resource.

Scenario Ideas on a Budget

If you’re just dipping your toes into trying out Classic Traveller and have perhaps just picked up a copy of The Traveller Book, where can you get some inspiration from for scenario and adventure ideas? A couple of really good resources that have over the years have collected a number of scenario ideas with contributions from the Traveller community (including submissions from yours truly) in two formats: ‘76 Patrons’ and ‘Amber Zones’. For those that aren’t familiar with the two styles, ‘76 Patrons’ is named after the CT supplement 6 which is a book containing a number of scenario ideas, with six possible outcomes. The ‘Amber Zone’ style is named after the JTAS articles of the same name. These tend to be more detailed scenarios for the referee to develop the possible outcomes naturally during gameplay.

The Amber Zones and 76 Patrons adventures can be found via the Amber Zone and Zhodani Base websites:

https://amber.zone/

https://zhodani.space/tag/76-patrons/

I would like to note that the Amber Zones are primarily aimed for use with the grandchild of the Classic Traveller rules, the Cepheus Engine. However only a minimal set of game-specific statistics are provided in the scenarios so these will be easy to adapt whatever set of 2D6 gaming rules you wish to use.

Another very useful resource is the ‘Freelance Traveller’ magazine, which is free to download. Thanks to @timpaa Timothy Collision for reminding me; FT can be found at: https://www.freelancetraveller.com

You may also find this blog post useful: New Classic Traveller Resources and News which contains details of fanzines and material supporting Classic Traveller.

I would like to thank Will for getting in touch and asking my advice and I hope you find this article useful if you are thinking of getting into Classic Traveller, whether as a new player or revisiting veteran.

About AlegisDownport

Musings on the Traveller RPG world, technology, astronomy and digital art.
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11 Responses to Getting Started in Classic Traveller

  1. jay murphy says:

    So your friend is intent on playing the fabricated GDW setting as opposed to their own sci-fi universe? If so, that is a terrible shame. Classic Traveller is an excellent tool-box for running your original sci-fi setting.

    • Hi Jay, Will got in contact to ask for my advice (I don’t know him other than from the email sent last week) as he hadn’t played Traveller since the 70’s and simply wanted to play that edition of the game, being Classic Traveller. Hence I directed him to what resources he could use to get started, there wasn’t any mention of the 3I, I was going to leave the setting upto him. I agree regarding the toolbox nature of CT, its one of its strengths and probably why it’s endured over the years.

    • Ad Astra says:

      Seriuosly? Yes lets not have anyone commit the crime of wrong fun. Maybe creating a whole homebrew setting for someone just wanting to get reintroduced back to the game might be a bit much for them. But heaven forbid anyone

      • jay murphy says:

        whoa people. step away from the edge. you are reading that all wrong. don’t be defensive. i hated on the third empirium (i do think the setting is bland), and so never touched traveller. then someone recommended i read classic traveller, especially Marc Miller’s comments at the end and a blog series called Classic Traveller out of the box. It was like that old v-8 commercial, light bulb went on in my head and i said to myself duuuu. i think it is always worth a discussion when someone wants to get into traveller. most people do like a prepared setting and those who don’t may be as daft as me. this is not an uncommon phenom especially with new players. just trying to expand the event horizon here.

  2. Pingback: SAFCOcast 25: “Useless” Skills and Scurrying for Cover! – SAFCOcast.com – a Traveller RPG Podcast

  3. timsbrannan says:

    This is excellent. I have been wanting to get back to Traveller and this is a great overview. Thank you!

  4. Anzon says:

    The Into The Void campaign write ups at Concrete Lunch Gaming were neat. Technically not set in the official Traveller universe, it’s still ‘classic’ Traveller. The GM reflections between sessions were also good.
    Coming back to some if the early adventures, I remember having fun playing them but I’m not sure I would now

  5. Will says:

    Thanks for the info, Steve! I passed on the previous blog link to my wife who is supposed to get me the “on print” for my upcoming birthday… I’m very difficult to buy gifts for these days since I basically have all I want and she was relieved that for once there was a “wish list” that didn’t include vinyl LPs! I intend to play with my 8-year-old, who just began playing 1E AD&D with me… methinks he’s gonna like CT more though because he’s such a space & sci-fi enthusiast. Again, thanks for the pointers.

    • Will says:

      *”on demand” print version

    • Hi Will, you are very welcome and I’m glad the blog post was helpful in your birthday choices! I hope you and your son have an enjoyable time playing CT and best wishes for the upcoming birthday. Just as an aside, you getting in touch with the questions about CT has turned the blog post I generated from it into a very popular article! All the best, Steve

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