Monday, June 27, 2022

Low-Tech and Fantasy Armor for Classic Traveller


Classic Traveller's Book 1: Characters and Combat provides a surprisingly complete collection of low-tech arms. Weaponry includes a good range of TL0-3 weapons, from spears to muskets, ideal for low-tech lost colonies and to forays into medieval and fantasy role-playing. Furthermore, Supplement 4: Citizens of the Imperium provides bows and crossbows, including the inaccurate but rapidly firing Repeating Crossbow. Book 3: Worlds and Adventures also provides common adventuring gear, such as torches.

However, the one thing lacking in these rules is low-tech armor. The only low-TL armor in Classic Traveller is the Jack (leather) armor (TL1). Below I will detail a few additional suits of armor for your Proto-Traveller game.

Chain, TL1, Cr250. A suit of flexible armor composed of many small interlocking metal rings. Treat as Mesh against TL2 or earlier weapons and as Jack against modern weapons. Weighs 18000 grams. Like modern armor, it does not count towards Encumbrance.

Elven Chain, TL1, Cr2000. A suit of particularly high-quality and lightweight Chain armor. Treat as
Mesh-1, weighing only 8000 grams. At the Referee's option, it may even count as regular Mesh against modern (TL3+) weapons.

Plate, TL2, Cr1000. A heavy full-body suit of armor built of metal plating. Treat as Cloth against TL2 or earlier weapons and as Jack against modern weapons. Weighs 25000 grams, and, unlike other suits of armor, Plate does count against the Encumbrance limit.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

On the Implied Setting of Classic Traveller


Note that, in the setting postulated in Traveller's Three Black Books, especially in their 1977 edition, star travel is infrequent, dangerous, and expensive.

A parsec's passage in cold sleep (with its 15% mortality rate!) is Cr1,000. Traveller Credits are said to be $3 each in 2020-or-so real-world USD (prior to the current wave of inflation). So, $3,000 just to travel, at a risk to your life, to a neighboring world. Crossing the subsector (8 parsecs) would cost you $24,000. One way. In dangerous cold sleep.

Normal "Mid Passage" without the risks of cold sleep costs $24,000 per parsec. Crossing the subsector will cost $192,000.

Add to that the risks of engine failure and/or "misjump" of the ship you are riding even when in "safe" Mid Passage. And frequent piracy. And hijacking (ships are worth a lot, so thieves abound). 

People don't travel casually.

PCs are Travellers - belonging to the small class of people who actually travel frequently, be that thanks to wealth/Travellers' Aid Society membership, or due to having a job on a starship.  Most NPCs stay on their homeworld.

Also, the average (and approximately median) world has hundreds of thousands of residents. The average world, isolated by the dark gulfs of space, has the population of a small city.

Worlds with billions of residents are rare, and, if their tech level permits, are often local hegemons. This has interesting implications to interstellar warfare. First of all, given ship size and availability, expect even large planetary invasions to be the equivalent of the Third Battle of Cartagena rather than of D-Day. Second, as world populations are typically small, a reasonably-sized mercenary unit can often have local military significance.

That's Classic Traveller as written originally. Within a few years, it evolved and changed into a more "open" space-opera setting, with various unified task systems and with a grander, less isolated setting. Passage costs remained high, but starships grew, and the setting changed from one or two subsectors rolled by the Referee to the vast Imperium.

My own Cepheus Deluxe books and settings were inspired by these later mechanics, while trying to preserve some of the original spirit. But they are quite different from the original form of Traveller. If I were to write an OSR book in the spirit of such original, it would have looked quite different from Cepheus Deluxe.