I had heard that the original release of Traveller 5 was “more than a bit of a mess”. Chaotically organized, unedited, missing any sort of guides on how to run/play a game, filled with tables but missing simple things like equipment lists, showing no signs of familiarity with changes in both the industry and the audience, etc, etc. But that was years ago, and plenty of reviewers and forum-dwellers made all those flaws clear. So, along comes a new kickstarter campaign to reprint it with all those quite legitimate complaints taken care of, as Traveller 5.10.
Yeah, no. Reading through the recently-released PDF core books, I find no game here, just a construction kit that, with immense patience and energy, could be used to create a game and a universe to play in. Its 888 pages read like an unconscious parody of rules-heavy, table-driven RPG design, and, oddly enough, it ends up feeling kind of like Spawn of Spawn Of Fashan. As a bonus, if you’re nostalgic for early-Eighties game art, many of the included illustrations are actually from the early Eighties. Combined with the fact that neither the table of contents nor the index contain hyperlinks to the associated pages, I’m forced to conclude that nobody associated with this project is familiar with graphics or layout software released this century.
Mind you, in all those pages, there are no real examples of how to use any of this stuff; it’s just tables all the way down (and, no, still no equipment lists; but you can design every possible kind of hand-weapon from scratch and make your own!). No wonder everyone recommends Mongoose Traveller; despite its flaws, it’s actually intended to be played, not weighed.
Seriously, the table of contents for all three books is shorter than
the table of charts in each book (124 in book 1, 125 in book 2,
and 121 in book 3), but there are no printable pages of forms to make
use of any of the supplied generators. Even the sample sector and
sub-sector maps are just low-resolution JPEGs
mutools extract is your friend here…).
For the previous release, they apparently did you the favor of extracting the relevant pages from the books to create a set of “forms”, which was better than nothing but not terribly useful. I’d hope that they’d do better this time, but there doesn’t seem to be any interest in supporting this as a game system.
By the way, how often do you actually need to know each character’s “species scent”?
Just re-read the kickstarter, and it seems the Player’s Manual was promised as part of the original T5 kickstarter seven years ago, and is now promised as a free follow-up to this one, delivery date unknown.
Looks like the closest thing to a modern Classic Traveller is Cepheus Engine. This merges the free SRD from the first edition of Mongoose Traveller (which was deliberately designed to be compatible with existing CT content) with useful ideas from other editions like T20 and MegaTraveller, all wrapped up in an Open Gaming License.
Because it seems Mongoose screwed third-party publishers when they released version 2 of their Traveller, replacing the OGL with a profit-sharing scheme that takes 50% off the top.
So if you happened to find any good ideas in the T5 books, your best bet would be to incorporate them into a CE-based game, with additional content from whatever edition of Traveller books you can find.
Which brings to Miller’s point that while he likes the challenge of game design, he doesn’t use the complex game designs he creates. He doesn’t use rules that have rules for everything. He instead uses the simple, straightforward, Referee-driven rules of Classic Traveller.
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