Traveling VS travelling

Traveller RPG Gamemster Screen

This post is the first in a series dedicated to role-playing games. Old-school role-playing games. Back when you had to, yanno, use pens and pencils. And dice.

I know better than to start with Dungeons and Dragons. We need to work our way there in easy stages….

So why not kick things off with Traveller? Its 1977 publication established Marc Miller’s Game Designers’ Workshop as a force that even TSR would have to reckon with, particularly as the game quickly outgunned TSR’s own science fiction contender, Gamma World. Turns out that swashbuckling space opera resonated more than a scenario in which Earth had been microwaved and a bunch of mutants were left to fight over the scraps. One can speculate that perhaps in the Cold War throes of the 1970s/1980s, post-apocalyptic environments seemed a little too real. A dose of healthy escapism was in order.

And Traveller was made to fit the bill (we’ll get to Gamma World later). The essence of a particular strand of science fiction is a bunch of guys cruising around the galaxy on a beat-up spaceship, and that’s what you got with Traveller, as GDW happily cranked out adventure after adventure within that basic framework. Miller’s team also worked to release various supplemental booklets that expanded the rules to include mercenaries, merchants, planets, and fleet battles of various sizes. In doing so, they were drawing on the incredibly rich world they’d created, with a robust timeline and— perhaps even more importantly—ultra-cool maps.

Speaking of, let’s take a look at the overall one:

Ah, the Traveller version of the World of Greyhawk. I used to spend hours gazing at it, imagining the journeys between the stars . . . the strange planets . . . the weird aliens. And this map goes one better than the original, as you can zoom in on various sectors (via the controls in the upper right-hand corner). Like all good RPG creators, the Traveller brain trust was into serious detail….

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