Marc Miller's Traveller
Imperium Games, Inc. 1996
What you get/need
Marc Miller's Traveller, $25.00
Concept - 5
Science Fiction in all its glory, that's what the new edition of Traveller is all about. Rather than the space opera games that run rampant throughout the space-based RPGs, Traveller attempts to define a more rigid, realistic universe. Alien races, trading, piracy, exploring new worlds and new civilizations, this is what it's all about!
Character Creation - 4
One of the interesting ideas in the game is that not all adventurers will have to start out as heroes. The book gives many life choices and a player could start out already experienced. This can lead to many levels of characters within the game. Character creation itself brings us back to a time of rolling dice to give us random stats. In Traveller's case, the attribute scores (or characteristics) range from 2 to 12 (that's 2d6). There are 6 different stats and (here's the funny bit) you get to write your characteristics in hexadecimal! For example a character whose stats were 7,12,4,5,10,8 the character sheet would read 7C45A8. To be honest, this can get more annoying than amusing while in gameplay.
Playability - 4
The system in Traveller is nice, but a bit clunky when compared to other systems that have come out recently (such as Fading Suns). For a simple skill check the skill level is added to the corresponding stat, the sum of these numbers gives the player their target number. The more difficult the task, the more dice must be rolled. The total of the roll must be equal to or lower than the target number. Fortunately, this doesn't mean the player will have to run out and buy a rowboat full of dice, as a difficult level of "Impossible" requires a roll of only four dice. When compared with other sci-fi (rather than space opera) game systems, however, Traveller shines.
Writing - 4
Traveller is put together nicely, and in a very technical style. Looking up facts and information is quite easy and the index and table of contents are well detailed. My biggest gripe with the current version of the main sourcebook is the lack of ship design notes that could be found in earlier versions. The authors have decided, this time round, to sell the ship design book separately. In my opinion, one of the best things about Traveller (at least the earlier revisions) was the ship design. Bad move, Imperium. Bad move.
Highs - Well thought out, realistic, and detailed.
Lows - The "hexadecimal" character attribute system can get annoying. No ship design.
Final Call - This is the one to pick up if you're looking for a space sci-fi game and don't want to spend time designing the entire universe.