Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Traveller lasers

I've never been big on Traveller even though I don't have any major problems with the game system. Most of the criticisms I have of the rules are nitpicks. But I don't particularly care for the OTU, partly because it's so low-tech. When you roll up a character you just might end up with skills like "cutlass" or "revolver". Those are great for a certain type of setting - like campy space pirates - but it doesn't quite fit my view of the average space opera game. My views on this were shaped by things like larry Niven's Known Space tales where Louis Wu doesn't know how to use an axe, or the TOS episode "Shore Leave" by Theodore Sturgeon where Sulu has to explain what a revolver is.

Skip to to the 10:00 min mark for Sulu's history lesson

So my idea of a space opera setting is one where things like cutlasses and revolvers are antiques, not standard issue. If characters have weapons they'll be things like force blades and lasers. But in OTU the lasers that are available are cumbersome weapons that require a bulky external battery to use.

That's the kind of weapon that would be more at home in the near-future of Cyberpunk 2020 than in a star-spanning interstellar empire where anti-gravity tech is common. As for laser pistols, forget it. They didn't show up until MegaTraveller. I'm not sure why Miller and co. decided to go this direction, but maybe it was to make the game seem more realistic. Or something.

This isn't a major problem. Creating your own campaign setting is part of the fun of gaming. And it's relatively easy to come up with some house rules for laser pistols and such like. But there are a lot of little things like this about the rules that are sticking points for me. Traveller is a game I want to like, but it takes quite a bit of tweaking to get it to where I want it.


BeRKA said...

I love Traveller, but I admit that there are a few problems in the rules.

The problem you describe here isn't a big one for me. There are others that are worse for me.

In my games it isn't uncommon to use a slug-thrower, since these are a lot cheaper than (and almost as good as) the energy weapons. My games are probably closer to Firefly than Starwars. Energy (and Gauss) Weapons are mostly used by the military.

Jerry Cornelius said...

That makes perfect sense in that context. CT is great for a setting like Firefly. But if you want to do, say, Farscape or Babylon 5, where people are running around with PPGs, you'll have to do some custom write ups. Like you say, it's not a big deal, and it depends on the feel you're going for. I guess I just lean more toward B5 than FF by default. (You have a great blog, BTW.)