Back in 1984, GDW's Classic Traveller was nearly the first role-playing game I played (the very first RPG I played was a single session of the AD&D module Tomb of Horrors, but that's another story). We used to have hours of fun zooming around the galaxy getting up to all sorts of mischief.
I stopped playing Traveller just before Megatraveller was released, and apart from a brief campaign last year using Marc Miller's Traveller (T4), I haven't touched it since. I was never particularly interested in the developments in the Traveller universe, and T4 always seemed a bit too low tech for me. But CT has always held a soft spot in my heart; I sometimes miss those days.
When I first heard about GURPS Traveller, I was rather dubious. I had a particularly bad experience with GURPS at Gencon 94 and vowed never to look at it again. But the resurrection of the CT universe made me interested enough to rethink my antipathy. I can honestly say that I'm glad I did.
Loren Wiseman has taken the Traveller universe from just before the introduction of Megatraveller and built on it from there. Because Traveller has been around for so long, there is a lot of background information about the game universe that needs to be explained to people who haven't seen it before, or like me, haven't bothered to look at in for over a decade.
The first half of the book is basically "Library Data"; it's a great collection of common terms and names, together with explanations, in some cases, quite detailed ones. I had a lot of fun reading through this stuff. I kept thinking "oh yeah, I remember that now!" If you are a hard-core Traveller fan, then this information might seem to be nothing new or perhaps boring. If you have never played Traveller before, or it has been a long time between drinks, then this section could well be worth your while. The Library Data section also has sidebars with some additional information; some of it is game universe history, while others provide meta-game information about the origins of some of the names in the game.
The next 25 pages give details about character generation. Most of this section is made up of GURPS templates for characters. Not being a GURPS player, this seems rather neat to me, because it gives you a simplified way of spending all of the character points, but still ending up with something appropriate.
It's important to note that these are not the full character generation rules for GURPS. GURPS Traveller clearly states on the back cover that "GURPS Basic Set, Compendium 1: Character Generation, and GURPS Space are required to use this book in a GURPS campaign. Ultra-tech and Ultra-Tech 2 will be useful." Personally, I feel this GURPS Traveller's achilles heel. Out here in Australia, each GURPS book costs between A$30 and A$60. It would have been nice to include the GURPS lite material in the back of the main book for us sorry individuals who are only just starting to look at GURPS (as SJG did with their GURPS Discworld book. If the main GURPS Traveller book was more useful as a standalone product, it would have made it even better.
After the character generation section, there are sections converting the well known weapons from Traveller across to GURPS, as well as rules for converting older Traveller characters over as well. Appendix A presents some of the starships in GURPS format, Appendix B presents a modular starship design system for GURPS and Appendix C covers starship combat.
From what I can tell, Steve Jackson Games is pursuing a seriously rapid expansion of the GURPS Traveller line. I have three other GURPS Traveller books, and I know of at least 2 others I don't have. There are also quite a few more in the pipeline. Keeping up with all the new material is going to be a challenge.
Overall, I'm impressed by GURPS Traveller. Loren Wiseman seems to have done a pretty good job of converting an old favorite over to a new system. I can't honestly say how it would play (not owning the requisite GURPS books, which I might try to pick up cheaply at Gencon in a few weeks), but from an old fan's perspective, it still gets a thumbs up from me.
Style: 4 (Classy and well done)