creating the traveller sandbox
During our year-long Star Frontiers binge, my elementary-school gaming group never paid much thought to “hard” sci-fi concepts. We were way too wrapped up in the science-fantasy and space opera stylings of Star Wars, Flash Gordon, and the cheesy Buck Rogers and Battlestar Galactica tv shows to care much for realism. We didn’t spend a lot of time before sessions puzzling out planetary data, trade possibilities, and stuff like that. If memory serves, we didn’t even have a star map – we just gallivanted willy-nilly around the unexplored universe looking for adventure.
Now that I’m a grownup, why do I feel the need to plot out my Traveller sandbox in the “proper” amount of detail? The Universal World Profile is a very handy thing, but I’ve found that if I just start randomly placing planets on my subsector map it kills some of the fantasy that is crucial to my enthusiasm for science fiction, which skews heavily in the direction of the planetary romance and sword & planet subgenres. (As my grade school transcripts will attest, “hard” science has never been my strength; perhaps this accounts for my lukewarm attitude towards hard SF?)
So I’ve come up with about 8 worlds with UWPs and several adventure hooks, but also left a lot of blank space for rogue planetoids, ghost ships, space stations, and uncharted systems. So far it seems like a nice sandbox, now I just need to flesh out a couple of the planets and things will be in good shape come the first session…