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Traveller: 3rd Party Settings

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Michael has already shed some light on the various incarnations of the Traveller rules. The sheer number of different versions can be somewhat overwhelming.
But once you settled for a given ruleset you face an even more daunting task: making yourself and your players familiar with the vast setting of Traveller.
To my experience this is one possible point of failure when the scope of the setting encounters the expecations of the players for the first time.

The official Traveller universe
The official “Third Imperium” setting for Traveller encompasses 11000 star systems, at least six major polities and a plethora of human and alien cultures. Most of those features are deeply rooted in classical science fiction literature of the 60ies to 80ies – but where this might be very rewarding to me – a SciFi nut for more than forty years – there is little to nothing to relate to for a younger prospective player.

Neither Star Wars features strongly in the original Traveller setting nor does Star Trek and those are probably the most popular SciFi franchises around. And who even remembers Firefly or Battlestar Galactica any more? Coming from the “mainstream of pop culture” the sheer bulk of background “stuff” of the Original Traveller Universe (OTU) without easily recognizable features like a mystical knightly order or a benevolent planetary federation often leads to dismissive reactions (tl;dr).

So how to make this game your own?
There is – as always – more than one answer to this question.
Michael asked me to take a look into a couple of Third Party Settings but there are also a couple of DIY approaches like “Proto-Traveller” (Michael already mentioned it before) to adapt Traveller for your own science fiction gaming needs.

The Traveller rules where originally meant to be generic RPG rules for contemporary or futuristic settings and Mongoose themselves willingly provided a handful.

One of the more successful attempts was 2300 AD (meaning it is still around in 2016) which is probably sufficiently known. But since 2300 AD is Mongoose’s in-house Alternate Traveller Universe (ATU) setting these days I won’t cover it here.

As mentioned above there are also a couple of DIY methods but those were not part of Michael’s request und would be beyond the scope of this post.
Then there are those by third party publishers (3PP) like Spica Publishing (Outer Veil), Terra/Sol Games (Twilight Sector), Zozer Games (Orbital 2100) and Gypsy Knights Games (Clement Sector).
This list is neither representative nor complete those are merely the settings that caught my eye one way or another while I was looking for something new since the Spinward Marches and the Solomani Rim as well as the classic era had somehow lost their appeal.

Except for Twilight Sector they all have in common that they are well below the techological level of the “Third Imperium” setting, that there are no (playable) aliens and that Earth and its neighbourhood feature more prominently.

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Kickstarter: CONTACT – Tactical Alien Defense RPG

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Do you like computer games like XCOM – Enemy Unknown? Do you like roleplaying games with deep tactical combat, base building, high tech, and an alien invasion? You don’t mind crunchy rules? If you answered most of these questions with YES, you definitely should check out Clockwork Publishing’s latest Kickstarter project.

The German roleplaying games publisher Clockwork Publishing (aka Uhrwerk Verlag) is currently trying to raise money for an English edition of CONTACT, its “tactical alien defense” RPG. I actually picked up a copy of the German edition as soon as it came out a couple of years ago, and had a great chat with its author Robert Hamberger. In a nutshell, CONTACT is pretty much the XCOM series in roleplaying game form complete with base building. In my humble opinion it is the best adaption of the series I have seen so far, even though it doesn’t use the license.

cover-contact1Rules-wise it reminds me of games like Basic Roleplaying because it uses a similar percentile dice mechanic. But compared to BRP the combat rules are much more detailed. The game even uses action points like in the original XCOM games. I have to admit that rules-wise CONTACT is a bit too crunchy for my tastes, but you know that I prefer way lighter fare. But people who have played the game told me that you can easily reduce the complexity if needed. But if you are not afraid of crunch, you might find a lot to love in CONTACT.

The game is set into a near-future version of our world where the secret OMEGA organization is fighting against an alien invasion. Of course the OMEGA agents have access to the highest technology available to mankind at the moment. What really makes the game shine is it impressive artwork. Even if you don’t like the art style you just have to admit that this game has awesome production values.

If you want to have a free first look at what CONTACT has to offer, check out the quickstart rules available here.

The Kickstarter started today and is set to end on December 3rd. Clockwork Publishing has set the goal at €12,500 which should be enough to pay for the printing of the core rulebook. There are stretch goals which will update the core rulebook to hardcover or add additional material for the backers.

With a pledge of just €25 you get a copy of the PDF version of the rules if the projects gets funded. Starting with €40 you’ll get a full-color printed copy of the rules. And trust me, the book is gorgeous! As far as I know the rules are already fully translated, so backers should get their PDFs directly after the KS got funded.

If this sounds interesting to you, why not check out the KS project page now?

UPDATE: The PDF version is actually already available on DriveThruRPG right now. One of the KS pledge levels is actually specifically tailored for people who already own the PDF on DriveThruRPG and who are interested in the stretch goals. 🙂

RPG Blog Carnival: Technology in my Games

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Greetings dear readers! Michael recently wrote about our efforts to revitalize the blog, and I think we’re off to a good start. He invited our readers to discuss the types of posts and topics they enjoyed, and in one such comment Voidman said he liked one of my earlier pieces about using technology at the gaming table. Thank you for the kind words; it’s a pleasure to have you, and so many others as our readers.

This topic, the technology I use as a GM, is constantly evolving, and is one that deserves some revisiting periodically. On this post I’d like to discuss the technology I currently use to run our Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition campaign. It also happens that the topic of the RPG Blog Carnival for September 2016 is Game Master Tools, Aids, Apps & Hacks, so it all comes together rather fortuitously!

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