Thursday, April 23, 2009

Fantasy Traveller

After spending a few weeks mucking about with a C&C/D&D character background generation system (an unhealthy obsession now well-documented here on this site), I have found myself more and more wanting to go the whole nine yards and create a mini-game ala the sci-fi RPG gem Traveller.

Interestingly, online discussions with some of you fine folks out there revealed all kinds of parallel thinking and interest along the same lines. To a large extent much of this tinkering seems to be oriented to mounting a fantasy setting onto Traveller's core mechanics.

Truth be told, though, I may myself ultimately only want to go only about six yards down this road. My own dream end product would flip this route around. Instead of "Fantasy Traveller", as my title suggests, perhaps I'm looking more for something like "D&D" in all its glorious, loosey-goosey core mechanics--with a correspondingly loose, flexible (read "vaguer" and GM-adjudicated) character generation system bolted on top.

In other words, more emphasis on the quick, open-ended, and strange, and less on grinding through rigid "terms of service" and skill-building in an occupational field. But, of course, keeping all those wonderful crunchy Traveller elements such as "benefits" (gear, cash, attribute hikes, and the like) and "dangers" (old wounds and perhaps even untimely death) from rolled-up previous backstory experiences.

What would your own "Fantasy Traveller" look like?


  1. Whoa.

    This is DnD though, not Traveller: get out your percentiles.

    My first instinct would have created something that would be at home in Hackmaster: scars, alchemical mishaps, obscure bonuses and all that.

    One practical note: Traveller kind of uses attribute bonuses (as well as skill bonuses) as experience. Getting some xp for a successful survival roll would be valid. I think you started your characters at greater than 1st level, right?

    Stepping back a second, it might be easier to create more general tables that are DMed. Results would be more general: quirk, flaw, advantage, etc. The DM and the player could have the freedom to negotiate these as appropriate to the character. That's a longer process and couldn't be automated into the cool clickee-script that was done for your other tables.

    Thought: each term of a scholarly wizards life path would be multiple years while a thief's life path might be mere months.

  2. Man, I saw something about this idea on rpg.failnet. What an amazing idea. The life path and trading systems would be awesome in D&D. Count me intrigued.


  3. That picture is priceless, btw. The GDF product list is wonderful.

    I rolled up some Traveller characters with my kids with the Mongoose system, as was struck by how gameable the characters become. With more terms of service, they become richer and richer (in detail.) I'd love to see something like this for D&D. There are some cool tables at Beyond the Black Gate about events for different classes, and that could be all you need. Also, Traveller doesn't allow for advancement in the same way as D&D; all advancement is gear, status and story based. So, in a Traveller fantasy game, a tome of spells becomes a much bigger deal, as does a magic sword, because you aren't going to get better at fighting without it unless you do some huge favor for a reclusive sword master or make a deal with a devil (which is on the table in such a game, I guess.)

    In the Mongoose game, there are a huge variety of careers, many of which are non-military. There are rogues, Barbarians, Diplomats, diddilantes, colonists, workers, and so on. It actually wouldn't be a far step to convert some of these into sword and sorcery adventurers. Convert all gun stats to bows or throwing, convert all tech skills to magic or riding or recon as appropriate. Hm.

    I like the base mechanic of Traveller, and I think it's very adaptable to old school dungeon crawling. What I don't like about Traveller is that it has no base stat for something like mental toughness, wisdom, spirit, Chi, or whatever.

    Short answer: I love the narrative possibilities that the character creation opens up in Traveller. Other people have written things that allow for that kind of experience in ORS games. (Check out the Interludes at Pinnacle for Savage Worlds. Have each character roll three times on that table before beginning play. Assign bennies or XP as you see fit.)

    Cool post!