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!