Traveller (role-playing game)

Designer Marc Miller
Publisher Game Designers' Workshop
Imperium Games (Marc Miller's Traveller)
Steve Jackson Games (GURPS Traveller)
QLI/RPGRealms Publishing (Traveller 20)
Mongoose Publishing
Far Future Enterprises
Publication date 1977 (Classic Traveller)
1987 (MegaTraveller)
1993 (Traveller: The New Era)
1996 (Marc Miller's Traveller)
1998, 2006 (GURPS Traveller)
2002 (Traveller 20)
2007 (Traveller Hero)
2008 (Mongoose Traveller)
2009 (Traveller5)
Genre(s) Science fiction space opera
System Custom, GURPS, d20 System

Traveller is a series of related science fiction role-playing games, the first published in 1977 by Game Designers' Workshop and subsequent editions by various companies remaining in print to this day. The game was inspired from such classic science fiction stories as the Dumarest saga series by E. C. Tubb, the Foundation stories of Isaac Asimov, H. Beam Piper's Space Viking, Larry Niven's Known Space, Jerry Pournelle's CoDominium, Poul Anderson's Polesotechnic League and several other works of science fiction literature[citation needed].

Characters typically journey between various star systems and engage in activities such as exploration, ground and space battles, and interstellar trading. Traveller characters are defined less by the need to increase native skill and ability and more by achievements, discoveries, or obtaining wealth, gadgets, titles and political power.

Originally Traveller was intended to be a system for playing generic space opera-themed science fiction adventures in much the same sense that Dungeons & Dragons was a system intended for generic fantasy adventures. Marc Miller, one of the original designers of the Traveller RPG for Game Designer's Workshop, said that the idea for creating Traveller came about when he said "I want to do Dungeons & Dragons in space."[1] Most published supplements for Traveller deal in some way with a default setting called the "Third Imperium", (sometimes referred to as the Official Traveller Universe (OTU)), but the main rules are generic enough so that a campaign can be played in any setting the referee chooses.


Key features

From the key features derived from literary sources grew the detailed specific background of the stellar governments and alien races of the Traveller universe:

The background of the OTU features a human-dominated universe. As such, the core rules primarily focus on development of human characters touching only briefly on a few non-human species. There are numerous Traveller publications however, with rules and extensive information on playing members of other races.
Despite the dominance of humanity, a large number of aliens was always implied to exist, inside and outside of Charted Space. The number of aliens per sector is estimated to vary from zero (in "barren" sectors) to eight or more (for example, in the Spinward Marches sector).[2]
Interstellar travel
Interstellar travel is facilitated, and limited, by the use of a technology called the jump drive. These drives are capable of propelling a spacecraft between one to six parsecs depending on the individual drive's specifications. Regardless of the distance of a jump, the duration required for the trip is approximately one week, thereby recreating an "age of sail" feel to the game.
Limited communication
A central theme to Traveller is that there is no form of faster-than-light information transfer – meaning no ansible, subspace radio or hyper-wave communication technology is available. If such devices exist they are extremely rare, and are either experimental or of ancient origin. Most interplanetary communication is handled by courier ships, most commonly "X-boats", which are essentially communication satellites attached to long-distance jump drives that travel between systems transmitting and receiving vital data. Systems not on an X-boat route must rely on mail runs brought in by visiting ships.
The new feudalism
The restraint on the speed of information leads to decentralization and the vestment of significant power in the hands of local officials. This isolation causes entire wars to be fought, won, or lost on the frontiers before a message gets to any remote administrative capitals to let them know the war has even begun. This means that all kinds of agents, from merchants to generals, must show initiative and be reasonably independent from their corporate or political overlords. Since local rulers cannot be directly controlled by central authority, the OTU rules assume that affairs are managed by a class of independent nobility, who even make use of classic titles such as Baron, Duke and Archduke. This decentralization of authority is one means of coping with the difficulties imposed by size and limits of speed of transportation technology.
Non-utopian future
In the OTU, the human race never evolves into a superior state. People remain people and continue to show courage, wisdom, honesty and justice, along with those who lie, cheat, steal and wage wars. Pre-setting support material is fully aware of tensions and conflicts, and suggests that they must be vented regularly in small outbursts before they have a chance to reach galaxy-shattering proportions. Thus, planets are allowed to fight out internal wars, and capitalism is the major driving force of civilization.
No prime directive
There is no prohibition on contact or interference with other races protecting them from advanced technology. Economics and other factors that applied to exploration and colonization on Earth are the same factors that shape the Traveller Universe. However, governments may interdict planets with native primitive intelligent species. These interdicted worlds are commonly known as "Red Zones" based on the Imperial designation for such a world. 'Red' (or the less restrictive 'Amber') zones are often to protect the interest of an interstellar government, not the native population.


The key feature of characters in Traveller is that they have a past: character generation involves rolling up a character's history, which determines his age and skillset. Characters range from "everyday Joes in space" to crack mercenary teams, and often draws from pulp science-fiction for its aliens (the Aslan are similar to Kzin, the Hivers to Puppeteers, and so on).

Character "classes" are often military-oriented, and come from such backgrounds as a planetary army, space navy, space marines, interstellar scout service, but they can also be agents, rogues, citizens, nobles, entertainers, and more. Moreover, they can come through these careers as humans, robots, one of any number of aliens, or a genetically engineered version of one (or more) of the above.

Classic Traveller introduced a 'lifepath'-style character generation system which helps it stand out from other role-playing games. Traveller characters get their skills and experience in a mini-game, where the player makes career choices that determine the character's life up to the point right before adventuring begins. Commonly, a group of characters may be a mix of relatively young cadets and tried-and-true veterans, each with their strengths and weaknesses, who have to work together as a team.

In character generation, players take their characters through a career where the player rolls randomly on various tables that provides assignments and life events from which new skills, ranks and benefits are gained. There was also a risk that a character suffers injury (or even death) during the course of a career. Keeping a character in service longer leads to more skills and benefits, but could also mean that basic attributes (such as strength and dexterity) begin to degrade with old age.


In most versions of Traveller, characters have six primary characteristics which range in level from 0 (incapacitated) to 15 (superhuman). The characteristics are:

Characteristics are written down using the "Universal Personality Profile" code (or UPP) which was a series of hexadecimal numbers used as a shorthand way of gauging a character's primary characteristics at a glance, with numbers 0 to 9, and the letters A thru F used for 10 and above (A=10, B=11, C=12 and so on). Thus, a person with the UPP code 675AB6 would have STR 6, DEX 7, END 5, INT 10, EDU 11 and SOC 6. This would indicate a person who is smart and educated, but lacking in physical conditioning and has a below average place in society. The "average" is considered 777777.

Players roll randomly for these characteristics (typically on 2d6) during character creation. The scores can be raised or lowered by choosing a particular race (if playing non-humans) and through events during the course of their careers. Characteristics modify task rolls, thus higher values represent more capable individuals.


Skills modify task rolls. Skills are rated by number, from 0 (familiarity only) up. The number of skills supported in the game varies by ruleset, ranging from 30 to over 100. In many cases, attempting a task without a related skill imposes a penalty.

Task systems

The various incarnations of Traveller each have a task system which was used whenever a character encountered a task that needed to be resolved randomly (to determine whether they succeeded or failed).

Classic Traveller, MegaTraveller, and Mongoose Traveller

In these systems, two six-sided dice (2d6) are rolled against a target number set by the referee — and usually the roll must be equal to or higher than the target number in order to succeed. Dice Modifiers (DMs) either provide a bonus or penalty to a roll (the + and – sign precede the number in such cases (+2 means add 2 to the roll, -4 means subtract 4 from the roll)). Target numbers and DMs are determined by situation and vary per skill and attribute score.

In Classic Traveller, a roll of 8+ is typically seen as a success, but there is no standardized table of DMs. For instance a character might get a +2 bonus on an Acrobatic skill check if their Dexterity was 10 or more. Classic Traveller later formalized a Universal Task Profile (UTP) — a standard set of target numbers with Difficulty Levels, such as Routine (7+), Difficult (11+), and Formidable (15+).

MegaTraveller (MT) expands upon the UTP, and allows the referee to codify tasks into a shorthand formula for how hard the task was, what skill and characteristic is crucial to the task, how long the task takes to perform, and what the risks of failure are. Characteristic levels are divided by 5 (dropping fractions) and the result added as a DM also. A roll of 2 is a fumble.

Mongoose Traveller (MGT) standardizes the DMs provided by characteristics being used for the task. The relevant skill level is also counted directly as a DM. A roll of 8+ is typically a success.

Both Classic and MegaTraveller also included occasional "roll low" tasks. For example, to avoid being harassed by local law enforcement, the group would have to roll the world's Law Level or lower on 2d6.

Traveller: The New Era

Traveller: The New Era (TNE) used a modified version of the Twilight 2000 rules. The six abilities are Strength, Agility, Constitution, Intelligence, Education, Charisma, and are generated with 2d6-1. Social Standing is relegated to a secondary ability only. Target Numbers were determined by adding Ability level + Skill level and multiplying or dividing that number by a factor determined by the task's difficulty; if the task is Easy multiply Target Number result by 4, Average multiply by 2, Difficult use the number as normal, Formidable halves the number (drop fractions), and Impossible quarters the number (drop fractions). The player then rolled a twenty-sided die (d20) (or ten-sided die (d10) and a d6 [with 4,5,6 meaning add 10 to the d10 result] to simulate a d20 roll) to equal to or less than the target number to succeed.

Traveller4 and Traveller5

In both these versions, the number of dice rolled represents task difficulty ("Average" is 2D, "Difficult" is 3D, etc.), and the target number to roll under is Characteristic + Skill + situational modifiers. A roll of all 1's results in a Spectacular Success, while a roll of at least two 6's results in a Spectacular Failure.

Traveller, version 4 (T4), published by Imperium Games, also has intermediate levels of difficulty which call for "half-dice" to be used; for example "Difficult" is 2.5 dice and one die result (rolled as a different color die from the rest) must be halved when counted. Traveller, version 5 (T5) does not use a half-die.

Using number of dice to set a task difficulty approximates fixed target numbers without needing to recall those numbers, thus streamlining actions requiring fast play (combat). An interesting feature of using multiple dice for task rolls is that the probability curve starts to look somewhat linear, in the center ranges, when rolling more than 4 dice.

GURPS Traveller and Traveller HERO

GURPS Traveller (GT) uses the GURPS character creation and task resolution system developed by Steve Jackson Games, and Traveller HERO (TH) uses the HERO System developed by HERO Games for character creation and task resolution. Both use three six-sided dice (3d6) which are rolled equal to, or below a target number. The target numbers are usually set by the character's relevant skill they are using, plus any situational modifiers.


Traveller20 (or T20) is the d20 System-version of Traveller, developed by Quicklink Interactive. In T20, characters are built using a class and level system (like most other d20 games). The established classes are based on popular career paths in other versions of Traveller. Characteristics (called Abilities) are the usual six from most other d20 games; Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma, plus Education and Social Standing are added as extra attributes. Education is used for Knowledge-based skill checks (instead of Intelligence), and Social Standing simply indicates a character's place in society. A twenty-sided die (d20) is rolled and the result is added to any modifiers for task checks against a standard difficulty target number (referred to in d20 games as a "Difficulty Class" or DC).


While there are energy weapons in Traveller, there is also a strong presence of slug-thrower weapons such as rifles and pistols. The prevailing theory is that (usually) the most efficient way to stop someone is with kinetic energy (e.g. bullets).

Likewise, high-tech equipment mixes freely with sensible low-tech or appropriate-tech tools.

At the other, extreme end of the spectrum is fantastic-tech equipment that is hard for the typical person to comprehend; this includes artifacts left over from extinct cultures as well as the product of current, highly advanced cultures.


Traveller's rules for starship design and combat are like games unto themselves, with a complex balance of ship components fitting within certain hull volumes, technology levels, and modifiers based upon characters skills. It is complex enough to be able to generically represent most starships used in role-playing games, and flexible enough to support custom add-ons to the system.

Typical Traveller starships consist of control space (i.e. one or more bridges), a central power plant, a maneuver drive for in-system travel, a jump drive for interstellar travel, and payload space (weapons, living areas, etc.). The power plant and jump drive together require significant amounts of hydrogen fuel. Alternate power plants, realspace drives, and interstellar drives exist for modelling different settings.

All of this equipment is fit into an armored hull of a given volume, and all ships in Traveller are measured in the 'ton' as the unit of volume, which represents 13.5 to 14 cubic meters.

Computer programs have been created to more effectively model and predict starship combat, with one such program named Eurisko winning Traveller TCS national championship in 1981 and 1982, the program's maker retiring it from the game only after the officials threatened to abolish the competition.[3]


Worlds represent a wide spectrum of conditions, from barren planetoid moons to large water worlds, from uncolonized territory to planets with tens of billions of people. Most worlds tend to be only modestly colonized, though some worlds may in fact be dangerously overcrowded.

The world generation system in Traveller is geared to produce a random mix of worlds. Extensions take solar system generation into account, and modify the process depending on the fecundity and history of the targeted area of space.


Adventures in Traveller tend to come from a few key themes:

Merchant Free Traders
The players travel the stars trading and adventuring along the way in their very own starship
Struggle against Nature
The players are pitted against an alien environment to survive, with or without the help of locals or others.
People are stranded on a world, and the players are tasked with recovering them.
The players have to recover (or steal) information or goods for someone else.
The players have to train a local cadre, or guard an installation, or alternately assault an installation.
Something unexplained is going on, and the players are sent to find out what it is.


Originally, Traveller had no established setting, and was promoted as a rules system for running general science fiction role-playing games. It was published at a time when role-playing games did not typically feature a well-defined fictional universe, but instead offered rules appropriate to the conventions of a particular genre. Each role-playing group used and altered published rules to suit their setting and play style.

Within a short time, however, a default setting was crafted to take advantage of all aspects of those rules, which has come to be known as the Official Traveller Universe (OTU), also known by the primary political entity in the setting, The Third Imperium. The starting point for this appears to be the board game Imperium.


Galactic Antiquity (-4,000 mya? to -75,000)

A multitude of sophont cultures grow, expand, and die out over the course of a few million years each. Any given region of space will likely contain (1) the ruins and artifacts of extinct civilizations, (2) one or more current civilizations, and (3) the pre-emergent forms of future sophont peoples.

The Ancients Era (-300,000) wielded fantastic technology, and destroyed themselves in a 2,000-year period of massive internecine warfare. Their effects are still evident, from the seeding of humanity across scores of worlds to the incomprehensible ruins and artifacts which are occasionally discovered.

The False Dawn (-200,000 to -75,000) era had occasional interstellar activity, sometimes almost achieving a notable empire-status, but nothing on the scale of the Ancients.

The Imperium eras (-4045 to 1125)

This encompasses three human-dominated interstellar empires. The First Imperium (-4045 to -2204), also called the Ziru Sirka, militarily dominated 15,000 star systems. Their empire became brittle long before being conquered by the Terran-born "Solomani" humans.

The Second Imperium (-2204 to -1776), also called the Rule of Man, was the Solomani-controlled, crumbling remains of the First Imperium.

The years from -1776 to 0 were a period of interstellar decline and anarchy, called The Long Night. Worlds were cut off from one another, technology was lost and the population on many worlds simply failed to survive.

The primary galactic society is the Third Imperium (0 to 1115), a feudalistic union of worlds. Local nobility operate largely free from oversight, restricted by convention and feudal obligations. The Third Imperium's time is further divided into 'Milieu Zero' (0 to +100), 'Aslan Border Wars' (200), 'Civil War' (600), 'Frontier War' (1000), and Golden (1100) periods.

The concept of the Imperium is directly inspired by the history of the Roman Empire and the Foundation Trilogy of Isaac Asimov[citation needed].

The publication of MegaTraveller introduced the great Rebellion and subsequent Hard Times (1116-1125). GURPS Traveller holds to an alternate timeline in which the assassination and subsequent apocalypse never happened.

Virus (1126-1130) and New Era (1200–1247)

Traveller: The New Era has its beginnings with Virus, an electronic superweapon that infected computers with destructive intelligence. The game timeline begins seventy years later, with attempts at reestablishing Interstellar commerce.

Fourth Imperium (1248)

Comstar/Avenger published material in the 1248 New Era setting, with the 4th Imperium, a polity far smaller than its predecessors. This setting is published by Comstar Games and Avenger Enterprises. Other small polities have sprung up in this setting, including the Terran Commonwealth, Solomani Imperium, New Ziru Sirka, the League of Spinward States, The K'kree Dominate, Vargr Splinters, Zhodani Concord and many others.

Far Far Future

A future epoch, millions of years into the future, where a remnant of humanity faces a change of venue, circumstances, and challenges.

Intelligent species

Despite the dominance of the human race, the Traveller universe is cosmopolitan, having several major races (races who developed FTL on their own) and dozens of detailed minor races (races that never developed FTL independently).

Major races

A major race is defined as one that developed jump technology independently, and thus got an early start on establishing itself in interstellar society. In the setting it is generally agreed there are 6 major races, but how they are defined varies a little. The standard list includes:

Minor races

Any species which was contacted before it could independently develop Jump Drive is considered minor. Such species wield much less power than the Major Races, and most are subject to the whims of the established interstellar powers. Numerous minor races exist, some have been fully developed, some only briefly mentioned in the Traveller background material. Listed here are only a few of the minor races.

Minor human races

As well as the three human races that are considered Major, there are at least 22 additional ones that are classified as minor races. Most human races are interbreedable and thus physically increasingly indistinguishable from each other, though a few have unique physiologies due to development in a harsh environment, a period that restricted the available gene pool or other uncommon factors.

Notable minor human races include:

Other minor races

Some of the minor races with a significant amount of background material include:

Publishing history

Box, rule books and supplemental books.


The original Traveller gamebooks were distinctive half-size black pamphlets (the so-called "Little Black Books" or "LBBs") produced by Game Designers Workshop (GDW). The main rules were detailed in three such booklets, sold as a boxed set while the same format was used for early support material, such as the Adventures, Supplements and further Books. Currently these LBBs are available in collected reprints from Far Future Enterprises. Later supplements and updated versions of the main game system introduced full sized booklets, complete re-writes of the game system and significant changes to the Third Imperium. The second edition of the game, titled MegaTraveller, was published in 1986 and attempted to collect and collate the various rules of the system and offer new political twists in the Third Imperium, such as the assassination of the emperor and the rebellion which followed. The last GDW produced version of Traveller was the third, Traveller: The New Era, which broke completely with the previous rules system and presented a setting in which interstellar civilization had been completely destroyed by the rebellion. GDW went out of business before this iteration was completed.

Subsequently, in 1997 Imperium Games published Marc Miller's Traveller, often referred to as T4, which returned to the classic setting and game system, though not without some major alterations. For instance the default setting was "Milieu 0", set about 1200 years prior to the time period laid out in the original Traveller. It was intended that other "Milieux" would be described in following supplements, but T4 proved to be a failure both critically and financially before this could happen. The game was left briefly idle until the publication of GURPS Traveller. Once again the game system was replaced, this time with the GURPS system from Steve Jackson Games, but the setting was returned to the one laid out in the original Traveller, albeit as an alternate history in which the assassination and subsequent fall of the Third Imperium never happened. To confuse matters further there was another version of the game being published simultaneously with the GURPS edition, Traveller 20 or T20, which used the same setting but integrated into the popular D20 roleplaying system and was set a century earlier than either Classic Traveller or GURPS Traveller.


Traveller or Classic Traveller (1977, GDW)

(1977–1986) Published by GDW. The first rulebooks and supplements were printed in the distinctive "Little Black Book" format of 8½" by 5½" booklets. Rather than cover art each rule book, supplement, and adventure had a black cover with the title Book X, Supplement Y or Adventure Z each in a distinct color, numbered in the order in which they were produced. The system is often referred to as CT.

The core rules were available as three booklets in a boxed set (compare to the original Dungeons & Dragons format). Later, these three booklets were packaged together in one volume called "The Traveller Book", and was available in hardcover and softcover. Subsequent rulebooks added "advanced" character generation for Army and Marine characters (Mercenary), Navy characters (High Guard), Scouts (Scouts), and Merchants (Merchant Prince). Mercenary also added rules for fleshing out ground battles; High Guard introduced rules for large starships and big naval battles; Scouts added rules for detailing star systems; and Merchant Prince added a new set of trade & commerce rules.

Eight separate boxed games were released as tie-in products: Striker, a game of tabletop miniature warfare, added very complex rules for vehicle design & combat, Mayday concentrated on small ship vs ship space combat, Snapshot and Azhanti High Lightning featured small-unit battles on board spacecraft, while Fifth Frontier War, Invasion Earth and Dark Nebula were wargames based on selected interstellar conflicts from the Classic Traveller (though in the case of the later this was not the case on its publication, but they were used as the basis of parts of the 'imperial' background) future history.

Most of the Classic Traveller books are available in compendium volumes from Far Future Enterprises, which is the current copyright and trademark holder of all forms of the Traveller game. Far Future Enterprises also sells a CD-ROM containing scans of all the canonical Classic Traveller material in PDF format, including the rules, counters and maps from the boxed games.

Traveller was inducted into the Origins Adventure Gaming Hall of Fame in 1997.

MegaTraveller (1987, GDW and DGP)

MegaTraveller (1987–1992) was published by GDW but designed by Digest Group Publications which published the popular Traveller's Digest (later the MegaTraveller Journal) Traveller support magazine. The game system used revised versions of the Classic Traveller mechanics with ideas first developed in the Traveller's Digest (and later also adapted to Traveller: 2300). The system is often referred to as "MT".[14][15]

The game was set during the Rebellion era which shattered the Imperium. Supplements and magazines produced during this era detailed the progression of the Rebellion from the initial assassination of the Emperor in 1116 to the collapse of large-scale interstellar trade in roughly 1124 (the beginning of the supplement Hard Times).

Digest Group Publications also produced a number of MegaTraveller supplements, including alien modules detailing the Aslan, Vargr, Vilani and Solomani for MegaTraveller and the World Builder's Handbook, which expanded greatly on the world-building system found in the main rulebooks.

Traveller: The New Era (1993, GDW)

Traveller: The New Era (1993–1995) was published by GDW. The game mechanics were changed to GDW's house rules system, derived from Twilight: 2000, 2nd ed. It introduced the Virus and described the former area of the Third Imperium after interstellar society had completely collapsed. The game is often referred to as "TNE".

Where MegaTraveller left the Third Imperium in its death throes, The New Era let the Imperium die, effectively "rebooting" the setting. The TNE setting is one in which players make the difference between the survival and destruction of their worlds. And for those who wish to keep a vestige of the old setting, a pocket of the original Third Imperium was partially preserved. The rest of the galaxy is essentially a wild frontier, with dead or regressed worlds, worlds run by dictators controlling caches of high technology, self-aware but insane spacecraft and computers, unanswered engimas, etc.

TNE used a more realism-centered approach to science fiction, doing away with reactionless thrusters, shortening laser ranges to a reasonable distance, etc. This changed the "feel" of the game to some degree. The starship combat resolution system was fairly well detailed, supported by two published modules: Brilliant Lances for small battles and Battle Rider for large battles. Additionally, Striker made a comeback as Striker 2 for miniatures. With the addition of Fire, Fusion, and Steel, it became possible to design not just ships and vehicles, but also weapons themselves.

Several supplements were published for TNE covering most if not all of what the year 1201 was like, but before any of the meta-events could start to advance the timeline, GDW fell on a string of bad luck and finally was forced to close its doors, after publishing a new product an average of every 22 days, for 22 years (not counting magazines).

In 1994, Traveller: The New Era won the Origins Award for Best Roleplaying Rules of 1993.

Marc Miller has stated that he believes "Traveller: The New Era" to be the "most controversial" edition of Traveller to date, due to that version's use of a different rules system and the radical changes to the setting.[1]

Marc Miller's Traveller (1996, Imperium Games)

Marc Miller's Traveller (1996–1998) was published by Imperium Games after GDW dissolved and the rights to Traveller reverted to Marc Miller, the creator of the original game. It returned to a heavily modified version of the original rules and was set in the early days of the Third Imperium (Milieu 0). It is often referred to as T4. This edition is currently available on Marc Miller's website. Miller has stated that T4 was "plagued by rush," explaining that the books were released without enough editing. He also stated that in spite of the quality issues that resulted from this, he does not believe that T4 is the least popular or most controversial edition of the game.[1]

GURPS Traveller (1998, SJG)

GURPS Traveller (1998–present) was "Created on a handshake with Steve Jackson of Steve Jackson Games." The game uses the GURPS (Third Edition) system and takes place in an alternate timeline in which no Rebellion occurred and the Virus was never released. Steve Jackson Games produced numerous supplements for the line, including details for all of the major races, many of the minor races, interstellar trade, expanded world generation, the military forces of the Third Imperium, and starships. The game is often referred to as "GT".

GURPS Traveller: Interstellar Wars is the second GURPS-driven version of Traveller. It concentrates on the 22nd and 23rd centuries, much earlier than the usual Traveller setting, at the time when Earth first started to send out interstellar ships and had just encountered the Vilani Imperium. This setting book uses the 4th Edition of the GURPS rules, and hence is referred to by some as "G4T" or "GTIW." The Interstellar Wars book features extensive notes on period Earth society, Vilani culture and values, and updated spaceship construction and combat rules.

Traveller 20 (2002, QLI/RPGRealms)

Traveller 20 (2002–present) was published by QLI/RPGRealms Publishing. The D20 system version is set at the time of the Solomani Rim War around year Imperial year 990, about a century before the era depicted in the original game. The preferred setting is the Gateway Domain region of the Imperium.

Traveller Hero

Traveller Hero is a port of the Traveller setting to the Hero System, produced under license by Comstar Games.

Mongoose Traveller (2008, Mongoose Publishing)

Mongoose Publishing produced a major revision of the original Classic Traveller game, offering it both in a traditional format and as an open-source SRD around which other games may be built. It largely stems from, and rewrites, Classic Traveller, using a form of the 2D6 task system, and updating the careers, aliens, and technology found there. The basic starship design system, while resembling Classic Traveller, actually has more in common with Traveller5, even to the point of sharing the basic drive systems.

The core rule book was released in April 2008, with a regular series of supplements following, including setting-related resources for the classic Third Imperium, Babylon 5, Hammer's Slammers, Judge Dredd, and others. Mongoose Publishing holds the license for ten years. .[16]

Traveller5 (Beta, FFE)

Traveller5, or "T5", is the fifth edition of Traveller. The playtest release was made available in February 2009, and revisions incorporating playtested errata are made available to playtesters on a chapter by chapter basis.[17] T5 draws concepts from previous versions to produce a consistent whole. The system consists of a Core Rules Set, with chapters arranged in sections reminiscent of the original three Traveller rules booklets (Characters and Combat, Starships, Worlds and Adventures).

The motivation for developing Traveller5 evolved out of the failure of Traveller 4 to live up to most people's expectations, including the designer's. Marc Miller stated in an interview that his goal in creating T5 was to do what he always wanted to do with Traveller: a game that can account for (nearly) every situation in the Traveller setting. [18]

The core rules include integrated core mechanics and several focused design systems, less detailed than previous systems, but with enough depth to support Traveller's "OTU". All support a common set of benchmarks and share a common design process; as a result, things such as aliens (sophonts), genetic engineering, world environments, robots, weapons, armor, vehicles, smallcraft, starships, and animals are not only consistent and compatible with each other and the game system, but also are used as test cases to ensure that results are consistent with Traveller's assumptions about such things. This in turn means that many things from T5 are usable in Classic, Mega-, and Mongoose Traveller, and vice versa.

Computers and robots are consistent with each other and the rest of the rules.

The personal combat model is straightforward, while also including elements such as world environment, animals, robots, vehicles, smallcraft, and starships.

The full span of technology is supported by the rules and design systems.

The EPIC Adventure System

Recent developments from Far Future Enterprises includes "the EPIC system" which is a method for dividing an adventure into several acts (essentially representing a plot point). Each act contains scenes that can be played in any order. The adventure progresses to the next act once all mandatory scenes are completed. The entire adventure is resolved once all acts are resolved. Although Traveller5 is the main target for the EPIC system, EPIC is rules-agnostic: a properly-written EPIC can be run using any Traveller rules.

Traveller: 2300

This GDW roleplaying game is a clear rules-descendent of Twilight: 2000 and Striker, using ten-sided dice. It was a hard science fiction alternative to the looser space opera of Classic Traveller. Presented as a future extrapolation of the speculative World War III of GDW's popular military role-playing game Twilight: 2000, in which the various nations of Earth were only just beginning to explore and colonize the 50 light year sphere of surrounding space. Some buyers mistakenly thought the game was intended to depict the year 2300 in the standard Traveller universe using Traveller rules; to disambiguate it from Traveller, the 2nd edition of the game was retitled to 2300 AD and this second edition introduced some cyberpunk rules and adventures.

A third version of the setting, 2320 AD was released as a supplement to the Traveller T20 ruleset.

2300AD is planned as a release within the Mongoose Traveller product line.

Traveller in other media

GDW licensee Paragon produced two computer games based on the Traveller universe: MegaTraveller 1: The Zhodani Conspiracy (1990) for Amiga, Atari ST and MS-DOS operating environments, and MegaTraveller 2: Quest for the Ancients (1991) for Amiga and MS-DOS.

Several novels have been specifically set in the various Traveller universes:

  1. Death of Wisdom Book 1 of 3 by Paul Brunette. ISBN 1-55878-181-1
  2. To Dream of Chaos Book 2 of 3 by Paul Brunette. ISBN 1-55878-184-6
  3. The Backwards Mask Book 3 of 3 by Matthew Carson. (finally published March 2011 though only for Kindle) [2]
  4. Marc Miller's Traveller: Gateway to the Stars by Pierce Askegren. ISBN 0-671-01188-X
  5. The Force of Destiny by Dale Kemper (this book does not seem to exist)
  6. Diaspora Phoenix by Martin J. Dougherty [3]
  7. Tales of the New Era 1: Yesterday’s Hero by Martin J. Dougherty [4] (a 6 page short tale seemingly only available online in pdf format)
  8. The Road Less Travelled by Marc Miller (this book does not seem to exist)

In addition, Jefferson Swycaffer has written several novels set in the "Concordat" fictional universe he originally developed for his Traveller campaign.

Heavy metal band Slough Feg issued a Traveller based concept album, appropriately titled Traveller in 2003.

Gaming magazine White Dwarf ran a comic strip called The Travellers by Mark Harrison from 1983 to 1986. The strip spoofed Traveller and other space opera settings.[19]

In March 2011 IngZ Inc announced the upcoming release of Traveller AR in Summer 2011. Traveller AR is an iPhone based port of the Traveller RPG brand.[20]

Copyright infringement lawsuit

In 1982 Game Designers Workshop sued software publisher Edu-Ware Services for infringing upon Traveller's copyright.[21] Edu-Ware admitted to using Traveller as the basis of its role-playing video game Space, and in an out-of-court settlement, removed the computer game from the market.[22]


  1. ^ a b c DiceCast Special Holiday Interview Episode [1] (by Polymancer Studios). Podcast, includes interview with Marc Miller
  2. ^ History of the Imperium, pp2,3
  3. ^ Johnson, George (1984). "Eurisko, The Computer With A Mind Of Its Own". the APF Reporter (Washington, D.C.: The Alicia Patterson Foundation) 7 (4). 
  4. ^ Wiseman, Loren K. (1999) GURPS Traveller 2nd edition, Steve Jackson Games, ISBN 1-55634-408-2, p.21
  5. ^ Traveller Alien module 3 Droyne, GDW, 1985
  6. ^ Darrians: The Secret of the Star Trigger – Alien Module 8, GDW, (CT)
  7. ^ Journal of the Travellers Aid Society (JTAS) No. 15
  8. ^ a b c d GURPS Traveller: Alien Races 4, Steve Jackson Games (GT)
  9. ^ Journal of the Travellers Aid Society (JTAS) No. 11
  10. ^ Aliens of the Rim, GDW (TNE)
  11. ^ Planetary Survey 2 - Denuli, Steve Jackson Games (GT)
  12. ^ GURPS Traveller: Interstellar Wars, Steve Jackson Games (GT)
  13. ^ The Traveller's Handbook, QuikLink Interactive (T20)
  14. ^ Miller, Marc W. (1987). MegaTraveller Players' Manual. Game Designers' Workshop. ISBN 0-943580-38-2. OCLC 29757224. 
  15. ^ "Players’ Guide to MegaTraveller" (PDF). Far Future Enterprises. 2005. Retrieved 2007-03-17. 
  16. ^ Traveller
  17. ^ Miller, Marc (2007-03-17). "Traveller5" (PDF on CD-ROM). Far Future Enterprises. Retrieved 2007-03-17. 
  18. ^ "Spotlight On: The Original Designer of the Traveller Roleplaying Game. An Interview WIth Marc Miller." Polymancer magazine, Volume 2, Issue #10. pp 37–42.
  19. ^ "RPGNet RPG Gaming Index: White Dwarf articles". 2008-02-12. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  20. ^ "Traveller AR". 2011-02-27. Retrieved 2011-03-08. 
  21. ^ Journal of the Travellers' Aid Society 13. 1982. Retrieved 2006-09-25. 
  22. ^ "Tea Leaves: David Mullich: The Interview". August 16 2005. Retrieved 2006-09-25. 

Further reading

External links

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