Category Archives: Random musings

Still alive …

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Usually I avoid this kind of posts, but since I haven’t really written anything since May, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to send a few life signs…

In May I returned to work after being  on sick leave for about one and a half years. My coworkers and – to my surprise – my superiors are really helping me out a lot right now and I am slowly getting back into the routine – and it’s actually good to be back!

But this also has it’s drawbacks. At the moment 8 hours of work are still pretty draining. Especially in May I felt emotionally exhausted and tired all the time. That has directly affected my ability to write blog posts and to run roleplaying games on a regular basis.

Often I just don’t have the energy to do anything more complicated than watching movies or playing on my Playstation. Things are slowly getting better, as I get back into the routine, but at the moment I prefer to chill instead of forcing me to be creative.

So what does that mean for the blog? I will probably write more regularly in the future. But at the moment I don’t actually have that much to write about. There are a few products I want to review, but I haven’t had the opportunity to read everything properly yet. But I’ll eventually get to it.

I hope you don’t mind the hiatus.

New Traveller Starter Set

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Sometimes I don’t know what’s going on in the minds of the people working at Mongoose. Recently they released the digital version of a Starter Set for their 2nd Edition Traveller game – or as they call it “New Traveller”. There will be a boxed set in the near future. So far, so good. Unfortunately this starter set sets you back $39.99 for the PDF version, and I don’t really want to know what the printed version will cost.

Starter Sets are made to get new players interested in a game. They are usually inexpensive and include simplified rules for newbie players and GMs alike. Especially FFG has released a couple of great Star Wars Starter Sets which provided you with a lot of bang for your buck. Wizards of the Coast has done so as well with their D&D Starter Sets.

To Mongoose’s credit I have to mention that their Starter Set basically includes the complete Core Rules. It’s not simplified or restricted in any way. BUT in my opinion this defeats the purpose of a starter set. Their core rules book is sold at their website for £35.99 which is about $46. If the upcoming boxed set is similarly priced, it will cost about $60. Wow, that’s a lot of dough.

In my opinion a Traveller Starter Set should consist of a boxed set including dice, a couple of pregenerated characters, simplified rules in small booklets (reminiscent of the LBBs), perhaps a map of the Spinward Marches and a couple of deckplans. And all this should be sold for a more reasonable price.

What are your thoughts on Mongoose’s latest Traveller product? Do you think it was the right move or another bad decision? Please share your thoughts below.

 

Traveller: No Hero’s Journey

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During the preparation of my upcoming Traveller campaign I realized something about Traveller: it’s different in one important aspect from most other roleplaying game. Characters don’t get new abilities over time. There’s no (mechanical) character advancement. The skill ratings you have at the end of character creation will be the skill rating your character will have at their demise. The only changes you can expect are because of aging.

In a way this actually makes sense. In Traveller (at least most of its editions) a skill rating of 1 is enough to get a job in that field. With a skill rating of 2 you might have a bachelor’s degree, with a rating of 3 your skill level is equal to someone with a master’s degree, and so on. In most other games a skill rating of one doesn’t mean much.

You acquired these skills during character creation which simulates several terms of service in one of the available careers. It often took 4, 8, 12, or more years to learn and practice those skill, so it doesn’t really make sense that you can easily improve on those skills during gameplay.

A lot of games, especially fantasy ones, tell the classic “hero’s journey”. Traveller doesn’t want to tell that story. In Traveller the character’s journey begins after they left their previous careers behind. Your character is not a spring chicken, but someone with perhaps 20 or more years of professional experience under their belt. You are also not playing superheroes, but common people.

I actually find it quite nice to play characters of my age from time to time. In games like D&D playing an older character always felt a bit weird. Even though your backstory said you’re an old veteran, your skills and abilities are basically on the same level as the ones of your 16-year-old comrades. Of course you could let older characters start at a higher level, but that opens another can of worms.

Aside from Traveller I don’t know that many games in which your characters don’t improve their skills and abilities during gameplay. It’s definitely one of the more common tropes in roleplaying games. Even games that boast “RPG elements” often just take the “levelling up” mechanics and disregards the other aspects.

In a game like Traveller not having skill advancement makes sense. It fits the kind of stories the game was designed to tell. What are your thoughts on the subject? Do you think mechanical character advancement is a must? Or can you live without it? Please share your thoughts below.

P.S.: The crew of the Nostromo (as seen in the image above), hasn’t been harmed during the making of this blog post. 😉