I’m running a Traveller adventure, as early as next week. I have a pretty good idea what sort of campaign I’ll be running, but I need to do some brainstorming about my version of the Traveller Universe.
I don’t know much about any of the various timelines connected with the different Traveller iterations, but there are bits and pieces I’ll lift from various eras as well as stuff ripped off from Fading Suns and Star Frontiers. Fortunately none of the players are hardcore Trav geeks, so I won’t have people calling me out for butchering their beloved setting!
Taking a cue from Traveller: The New Era, the Third Imperium has fallen and the Virus War raged across the galaxy, reducing galactic civilization to a shambles.
Following the Virus War, the surviving Noble Houses, the Merchant League, and the Universal Church pooled their resources to rebuild galactic civilization. X-boat routes were reestablished, trade between worlds and sectors gradually recommenced, and the Fourth Imperium’s Emperor was crowned.
* The Virus still exists, as do rogue AI-controlled ships, robots and installations. To guard against infection, newer computer and robot designs are more “primitive” and networks are virtually nonexistent.
* The Universal Church does not wield much overt political power, but has tremendous social influence over the general population. Anti-technology Church inquisitors hunt “heretic” psions, cyborgs, technophiles, and over-zealous inventors and engineers.
* Although the five Major Noble Houses have “officially” accepted the rule of Alexius IV (of the Hawkwood house), they continue to plot against one another and jockey for power. Numerous Minor Houses also vie with one another for social position and control of worlds and resources. All the Major Houses have their own military and intelligence services, which nominally swear allegiance to the Empire.
* Although the megacorporations were badly damaged during the Virus War, the Orcus Corporation and Demogorgon Cartel (a nod to a previous Traveller adventure I ran) managed to end up with major power in the Merchant League. These two bitter rivals maintain their own spacefleets and private “security services.”
* The Charioteers’ Guild is charged by the Emperor to regulate spacecraft and travel in Imperial space. Spacecraft and pilot licensing, jumpgate access (allowing rapid travel between hub worlds), and other aspects of interstellar travel are overseen by the Charioteers.
* Most worlds are techno-feudal societies ruled by Noble lords or councils thereof, wherein the general populace (especially those people living outside the major cities) has limited access to “advanced” technologies.
* Alien races: I’m not a terribly big fan of humans-with-funny-prosthetics kinds of aliens, so the Zhodani are getting blown out the airlock. Cute and cuddly animal races are out too, so there go the Aslan, Vargr, and K’kree. (The only concession I might make to this point is an apelike race which IMTU are descended from genetically-modified, uplifted Terran chimp stock. Still making up my mind.) The Hivers seem weird enough to keep around, and I’m thinking that the insectoid Vrusk and protoplasmic Dralasites (from Star Frontiers) might also join the party. Ultimately I want human conflict to fuel the adventures, not the rubber-mask-alien-menace-of-the-week. The diverse galactic human cultures of Vance’s Gaean Reach novels, Herbert’s Dune, and Tubb’s guilty-pleasure Dumarest of Terra series are my guidepoints in this regard.
More to come…