Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Second Thoughts about the Scale

I'm having second thoughts about the campaign's scope; I want to develop each world and make it a whole setting (as in Path of Tears) rather than an encounter, so the 33 worlds in Egryn and Pax Ruling will be more than sufficient, especially if I add a world or two to fit the adventures I'm using.

At worst, we can always expand into the other subsectors later on.

A Short(ened) History of Known Space

I always thought that the 'canonical' history of the Official Traveller Universe (OTU) is way, way too long. Everything took millenia; everything changed so slowly; the vast scale of both time and space made attachment to the setting difficult.

As I'm using a smaller Imperium in this campaign (a few sectors in size and about 1,100 worlds at most rather than 11,000 worlds), I've also decided to use a shorter version of Imperial history, "shrinking" everything by a factor of 5.

So, here's what we're looking at:
  • Ancients (circa -60000; 57,370 BC)
  • Long Silence (-60000 to -2000; 57,370 BC to 630 AD)
  • Rise of the Vilani (-2,000 to -809; 630-1821 AD)
  • First Imperium (-809 to -486; 1821-2144 AD)
  • Interstellar Wars (-486 to -441; 2144-2189 AD)
  • Rule of Man (-441 to -355; 2189-2230 AD)
  • Long Night (-355 to 0; 2230-2585 AD)
  • Imperium Established (0 Imperial; 2585 AD)
  • Spinward Marches first surveyed by the Third Imperium (20 Imperial; 2605 AD)
  • Pacification Campaigns (15-24 Imperial; 2600-209 AD)
  • Solomani Hypothesis proposed (20 Imperial; 2605 AD)
  • Vargr Campaigns in Corridor (42-70 Imperial; 2627-2655 AD)
  • Imperial-Aslan Border Established (76 Imperial; 2661 AD)
  • First Imperial Survey completed (84 Imperial; 2669 AD)
  • Easter Concord absorbed by the Third Imperium (85 Imperial; 2670 AD)
  • Terra absorbed by the Third Imperium (118 Imperial; 2703 AD)
  • First Frontier War (119-121 Imperial; 2704-2706 AD)
  • Civil War (121-124 Imperial; 2706-2709 AD)
  • Second Frontier War (123-124 Imperial; 2708-2709 AD)
  • X-Boat Network established (124 Imperial; 2710 AD)
  • Zhakirov marries Antiama; Solomani fall out of favor in the court (136 Imperial; 2721 AD)
  • Solomani Autonomous Zone established (140 Imperial; 2725 AD)
  • X-Boat Network covers the entire Imperium (144 Imperial; 2729 AD)
  • Psionic Suppressions (160-165 Imperial; 2745-2750 AD)
  • Solomani Confederation established (174 Imperial; 2759 AD)
  • Solomani Autonomous Zone dissolved (188 Imperial; 2773 AD)
  • Third Frontier War (196-197 Imperial; 2781-2782 AD)
  • Solomani Rim War (198-200 Imperial; 2783-2785 AD)
  • Second Imperial Survey completed (213 Imperial; 2798 AD)
  • Fourth (False) Frontier War (216-217 Imperial; 2801-2802 AD)
  • Fifth Frontier War (221-222 Imperial; 2806-2807 AD)Bulleted List
  • Present - 222 Imperial/2807 AD

Decisions, decisions...

I think I'll use the Egryn, Pax Rulin, Dpress and Sindal subsectors as the quasi-quadrant setting for this campaign; enough worlds to support more than a year of play. and a lot of frontiers to explore, pirates to fight off and new markets to exploits.

I'm also leaning toward the "vague Imperium" option in regard to the "big picture" - that is, focus on the Outrim Void and only hint at the rest of the OTU (there is an Imperium; it is a few sectors in size at most; the largest Imperial ship you'll probably ever see in the ORV is a 5,000-ton battlecruiser as part of the Pax Rulin garrison).

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My Lovely Spouse (and the player in this campaign)

If you wondered how the Referee (me) and the main player in this campaign (my spouse Hani) looked like, here's a photo of us both:

The Big Picture

I'm trying to think of how to present the Imperium (and the rest of the Official Traveller Universe) in this campaign. The thing is that a huge, millennium-old Imperium probably means a lot of military and administrative budgets and naval capabilities, and thus a very big nose to poke into backwater places such as the Outrim Void. I'd prefer the Imperial involvement to be more limited, as given in CT's A4: Leviathan, where a single 1,200-ton Kinunir-class cruiser and two 300-ton Gazelle-class cruisers would be considered a whole "task force", rather having a squadron of several multi-K-ton battleships roving around Pax Ruling and Egryn and making the Belgardian (for example) far less of a threat.

The possibilities I'm toying with are:

1) Be vague about it. The main player, my spouse, is pretty much new to Traveller, so I can present the OTU to her in a less canonical manner. I probably can avoid giving a whole overview map beyond the local quadrant or so, and hint at a Proto-Traveller-sized Imperium (very big, but not THAT HUGE).

2) A proto-Traveller map such as this:

This essentially means using a smaller Imperium, with the entire OTU filling a 4x5 sector grid. The spinward side of Core and Diaspora will contain the Rift, and there would be some frontier sectors around this map (such as rimward of the Solomani Rim). The advantage is that things are kept at a more manageable scale. The disadvantage is that it looks a bit... uncomfortable to me in terms of spatial relations between the various sectors.

3) "Shrink" the OTU, so that eachsector becomes a subsector, such as this:

A few subsectors were moved, removed or merged to create a more coherent overall setting. In total it will be composed of four sectors, named Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta and centered around Capital. This way I can keep most interesting words while getting rid of the various repetitive "filler" worlds.

The main problem with this approach is that it will mean merging Egryn with Pax Rulin, losing some of its worlds and placing it only a few jumps away from the core of the Marches. I'm not sure if this will work well for this kind of a sandbox...

Leviathan and the Outrim Void

A year or so ago I was planning to run a Traveller campaign for my spouse, set in Canopus 1248. The campaign was supposed to start late in 2008 or early in 2009. Anyhow, eventually we decided to continue our Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game campaign another year instead and postpone the Traveller one.

Last week we discussed our gaming and decided that we'll switch over to Traveller at the end of 2009. Both due to our conversation (she wants a game with a lot of politics, trade and exploration, especially looking for new market opportunities and political ties) as well as me liking the brand-new Mongoose Aslan book and the Trojan Reach sector set in it (as well as re-reading CT's A4: Leviathan and loving it), I've decided to run a modified (expanded) version of Leviathan for her.

Regardless of this, I will continue my work on Canopus, of course, both as a long-range investment (I might run it in the future) and to eventually publish it as free fan-material (with CT stats) in Stellar Reaches or any similar fanzine.

My spouse wants to run a female Aslan noble (from one of the more "progressive"/teshko (sp?) - clans), involved in political and corporate intrigues and looking for new markets for her clan or her corporation. I'm thinking about making her the decision-maker (purser? factor?) onboard the Leviathan or an equivalent vessel trying to get an economical foothold in the Outrim Void in general and Egryn in particular. She's an avid role-player so I guess that a major part of the game will revolve around dealing with various political factions on various worlds to get freferrential deals for her corporation or clan.

There would be, of course, other kinds of adventures. I'll also try to adapt some of the CT and MGT stuff I have to this campaign. One adventure I have in mind is Project Steel, which I'm going to move to some world in the Outrim Void (possibly adding another world to the map) and replace the Sword-Worlders with Aslan [i]ihatei[/i] (the pirates will probably be Belgardian). As a horror/action diversion from political play I'll also possibly add a mix of A1: Kinunir and the Chamax adventure, with a derelict Kinunir-class vanguard cruiser floating around some god-forsaken world in the Outrim Void after it misjumped from Foreven (about two subsectors away) after being infested with Chamax.

I'll go through all the adventures I can access and look what I can adapt. This time, unlike my BFRPG game, I want to be heavily prepared for the game to make my improvisations more coherent and the games more frequent.

I'll also do some changes to the subsectors involved, both to remove glaring problems (such as tiny worldlets with thick atmospheres) and to better fit the campaign and the adventures.

I'm not sure about the scope I want it to encompass. The minimum is Egryn and Pax Ruling (as in A4: Leviathan), but I'm thinking about adding two more subsectors (either to the Coreward like Glisten or to the rimward like Sindal). I'm also not so sure about the variant of the OTU I'm going to use, though Cyborg IM1's 16-sector variant looks pretty much appealing.

I'll possibly also create a blog for this campaign.

The game will start December 21, 2009, which will be my spouse's 25th birthday. I intend to make that game memorable; I might also buy her some Aslan miniatures as a birthday present.