Saturday, May 8, 2010

Planning the Campaign

I'm slowly but surely building my next Traveller campaign, based in Canopus in the (Imperial) year 1201. This will be a single-player campaign, with me as the Referee and my spouse as the player. The original idea was to make this a highly-political campaign with relatively little on-screen action; but following some thought I've given this, as well as a few thorough discussions with my spouse, we've decided to make things more varied.

This will be, at the baseline, a trader campaign. She'll play a female Aslan purser (and factor-on-board) of a trading ship, tasked by her clan with establishing new trade routes within the Alkonost subsector of Canopus and beyond. In addition to making formal deals with potential trade partners (and setting up local factors on various worlds), she'll also have to make a profit in the meanwhile, using her ship for speculative trade and/or passenger traffic and even certain mercenary contracts. This is, in a sense, similar to the A4: Leviathan scenario, involving exploratory trade with a ship, which, in essence belongs to a corporation (an Aslan clan, in this case). She'll have a free hand in running this operation, as long as she caters to the long-term goal of building her clan's interstellar commercial empire.

I talked with her about this and she wants a mixture of trading, adventuring, politics and action/combat, up to and including mercenary actions. For the latter part, I think I'll make her character married, with her husband being the ship's captain/pilot and also (naturally, as he's the highest-ranking male in the ship's pecking order) lead the ship's troops. I'll let my spouse play the husband and/or his retainers in tactical combat as a mini-game.

To make things easier and more varied, the character will come from Iele (Canopus/1916), also called "Aralaa" by the Aslan. This world was originally a Solomani world settled by Aslan ihatei - who founded their own new clans - shortly after the Collapse, so it is a mixture of Human and Aslan states. There is a lot of trade (and war!) going on between the Human and the Aslan states, so the PC will be familiar with Humans and be able to work with them (I'll give her a good Tolerance skill). Her ship's crew will be a mixture of Aslan clan-members and Human hirelings, and I'll possible add a single Droyne or even Hiver to make things interesting.

The game will be more-or-less a sandbox. She'll be in charge of the ship, and be able to travel anywhere within the Alkonost (and even Risar) subsectors. I'll try to set up each and every planet as a unique location with its own NPCs and adventure possibilities, so that visiting worlds will be interesting. There should be several possibilities to establish a factor's presence on each world, sometimes involving messing with local politics, sometimes involving exploration and sometimes involving combat (or doing 'favors' for someone). Smuggling and/or cutting deals with oppositional factions might also be an option.

I'm not sure about the scale of the ship I'll give her. At the lowest end of the spectrum we can have a 400-ton Solomani Trader (of pre-war manufacture and with several Aslan modifications); on one hand such a small ship will be pretty easy to handle, but it will have only limited versatility especially if we'll want to try a more varied game (with some small-scale mercenary actions added in). At the highest end of the spectrum is a 1,000-ton ship (probably a new Solomani design I'll make) which could carry a lot of cargo and passengers and maybe even a small platoon of mercenary troops; but this may be a little overwhelming for a single-PC game. However, I'm currently leaning towards the middle-ground of a 600-800-ton Wilds-modified trader, possibly carrying a squad (circa 10 troopers) of ship's troops in addition to crew and passengers; this way I can still involve the PC herself in planetside action AND send in the troops for heavier action and a tactical mini-game (with miniatures and terrain to boot!). Advice on this matter will be welcome.


  1. Were any of the Aslan ship designs in Mongoose Aslan of any use? I seem to recall an ihatei raider which also had reasonable cargo space as well as troop carrying capabilities.

  2. Yep, one of the options I'm considering is the 600-ton Owatarl-class tender (Aslan pp.104-106) as it armored and armed and thus ready for the realities of Wilds life; but on the other hand it has relatively few staterooms and is only capable of 1G acceleration.