Friday, August 10, 2012

Mechanisms and rules I am using

This post will detail the mechanisms I will be using for solo Traveller.  The next post will be the character and the ship and starting location, and then I will be off and running!

Traveller version
I will be using MegaTraveller as the basis for the solo play.  I am familiar with both Classic Traveller and MegaTraveller, having played both.  Being an "old school" RPGer, the games I was part of or ran were fairly rules lite anyway.  No miniatures, just playing out what occurs and occasionally rolling some dice.  So it never really mattered too much on rule specifics.  MegaTraveller I am more familiar with so I will use that  It  does seem more internally consistent than Classic Traveller.  I won't be using the Rebellion setting from MegaTraveller which seems to be a large gripe with it.  It does have a consistent task resolution system which may come in handy.  But I will be using things from Classic Traveller.
I did consider using Mongoose Traveller. It does seem like an updated version of Classic/Mega-Traveller.  But I am not as familiar with it. Going with what I know.  But I may change to use it later. 

I did not want to play in the Imperium.  Almost all the games I ever played were either not in the Imperium, or were in it but the Imperium was really a backdrop and really it could have been any setting.  So, I thought I would set the game in the Imperium universe but far enough away from the Imperium it may no difference.  I thought of Glimmerdrift Reaches as I have the old non-canon Judge's Guild supplement and it is far enough away from the Imperium I can ignore stuff.  I likes the idea of the Marla subsector but I've always rolled my own subsector for games so why change now?  I rolled up the Marlene subsector which is in the same location and some of the names are the same.  But that is the only thing remaining. All the planets in the subsector are in a loose alliance and the nearest words to the alliance are 3 parsecs away (this is similar to the Marlan Primate in the supplement).  I rolled up the worlds with some minor modifications. Hopefully I will not need to travel outside the subsector as I don't have a plan any further than this!

Game flow
I will start with one character and one scout ship and pick up employee or travel companions along the way.
I will use the Traveller Solo flowchart that seems a very handy way to structure a week's play but still provide some randomisation.  I am going to use a spreadsheet so the less rolling of dice the better - I will generate the flowchart sequence for the week and any encounters, patrons etc that occur as well.
I am hoping that Patrons will supply the majority of adventure, but I will somehow try and tie up a number of the patron sponsored adventures (5-ish), events and encounters into some meaningful greater story arc and have a grad resolution scene at the end. I may use Rory's Story Cubes to help here.

I will use the encounter table from MegaTraveller (almost the same as CT) and roll for reaction as per MegaTraveller.

I created six events for each world region type.  Hopefully enough and varied.  I have not gone into unique world events etc but may do if I get bored. 

If a patron is called for during the week, I will randomly select a patron from the following 5 books:
  • 76 Patrons
  • Patron Encounters
  • 21 Plots
  • 21 Plots Too
  • Planetside: 21 Plots
This should provide me with a few adventures.  Some are small, some are large.  I thought the patron description would be enough to flesh out a bit of adventure, but they are not.  My current thought, and this may change as soon as I try it out, is to use Rory's Story Cubes to plan out the sequence of the adventure.  Not sure how exactly.  Possibly roll them all and construct the scenes, or roll 3 at a time (3 times for a total of 9 dice) and construct scenes/scenes from that.

I am using MegaTraveller but incidental cargo will use Classic Traveller.  I will modify some of the trade classification DMs based on the area you buy/sell from - possibly simple a bonus if you are in an area that matches the type of goods.  I will create these as I go.

Main character will be a Scout that needs a least Pilot and Engineer skills.  Liaison would be nice.  I will likely roll for the table to choose from but select the actual skill.  I have never used advanced character generation and will not be doing so either.  While I can see the attraction, not for me.  I thought about using Mongoose as it has all sorts of great background material built in - life events,contact, enemies etc. I think I will flesh out the main character's background as I need to.
For other characters, I will use CT supplements 1001 Characters and Citizens of the Imperium.  both have loads of characters to choose from.  I may roll for one trait for each NPC that becomes part of the part using Mongoose NPC traits.

Combat is likely to be a combo of Azhanti High Lightning and THW Larger than Life.  I have not thought further than this.  I am not a skirmish gamer. All  my previous Traveller experience had "roleplayed" combat so never really followed to many formal rules.  I will cross this bridge when I come to it.  The Azhanti combat is simple and MegaTraveller equipment maps to it quite nicely.  Larger than Life combat should assist as it is solo friendly, and damage is expressed the same way (or similar - I may find out I am completely wrong).

Borrowing from Star Smuggler, I have 14 planetary area types.   Each planet will have anywhere from 1 to 10 of these area types, sometimes two or three of the same type.  The number of locations is loosely based on population and the types are based on the world codes and trade codes.  Rather than define specific locations and map out the planets such as cities, jungles, etc, this way adventures can happen on planet quite a bit, moving between areas.  Encounters will be different per area, and I am thinking of how to incorporate cargo DMs into the area you are buying/selling rather than just the planetary ones (e.g. if you would get a DM of +7 on selling due to Agricultural world, maybe selling at the spaceport only gets you DM+3 and being in an actual rural area gives you the full DM+7).

Star Smuggler had this concept that as you moved from area to area in a world you may be detected.  If detected you roll for an event.  I like this, and using areas, so have a table for this.

Planetary Events
I am using the table from  T4 Pocket Empires, rolling weekly for a chance (10+ on 2d6) event in the subsector.  I am tracking Popularity for each world as events do effect popularity, and popularity declines can lead to some events (strikes, coups etc). I am also using the Pocket Empires relationship code between each of the worlds and randomly increasing or decreasing some of them each week (about a 1 in 40 chance of going up of down by 1.  Helps me understand a world's relationships with others, and may help to provide a bit of background to the adventures.  All done by spreadsheet so not taxing.

I see the potential of  Mythic for solo games.  Very narrative driven.  I like structure and specifics.  So I decided against it.

Larger than Life (Two Hour Wargames)
This has the entire adventure sequence built into.  It is aimed at Pulp adventures but with some tweaking of the tables could fit right into an Traveller SF campaign.  I would like to give LTL a go after running this "campaign".  Why LTL for combat and not other THW rules?  Larger than Life is a little pulpy (which I don't mind as it will help the party survive), has reactions for civilians Vs Military and the combat seems more streamlined and simpler compared to some of the other THW Chain Reaction based rules.

Mongoose Traveller Supplement 9 - Campaign Guide
This  is full of tables that seem like they could be useful.  The majority look to weird or something unlikely to need for solo play.  There may be some useful tables in there related to some specific events, such as what you may stumble over when searching in rough areas.

Non-Traveller SF RPGs
I own a lot of these but never played.  I will lift things from anywhere if I think it will help.  But I have not found anything yet, although factions in Stars Without Number would great but I think I have what I consider too much background stuff running already! MT's World Builder may help flesh out worlds more but haven't used anything from there before.  I will use stuff from anywhere if I think it will be handy.

Halfway station
Andy Slack's gaming blog has been very useful in helping me out on what I am looking for in a solo game.  He has run a solo campaign with a lot of Traveller element to it - The Arionaid.  This blogged single campaign has been the single most useful site for solo Traveller I cam across.

End note
I created a page outlining the tables and mechanisms I will be using.  I will be updating these as I need to.

And yes, I do know Mongoose is coming out with a Solo Traveller supplement soon (2012? 2013?). I  could not wait.

Enough already of the mechanisms.  By next post I will have rolled up the character and started them off.


  1. Looking good Shaun. Might mostly be a battle game then with a story back drop? Not much reason to roleplay with yourself unless you want concerned looks from the Missus. ;-D

    Looking forward to the next instalment.

  2. *cough* *cough* actually the other way around. None of the games I was ever in or ran had an abundance of combat. I am not that fond of skirmish gaming either. So i am hoping there won't be too much combat. I seriously thought about going down the Star Smuggler route of combat (2 ranges and very simple to hit and damage results) but thought i should at least make an effort. Think of what I am doing as semi-structured story telling where it happens as you go along, uses Traveller as the constraints. It as more of a narrative generated by the rules rather than sitting down and just writing a story as a stream of consciousness. And I can do it in 5-15min intervals during the week, when I can't get to my miniature figures for my other blog. So not really roleplaying, but the storytelling aspect of roleplaying,

    I get concerned looks from the Missus with the drawers of figures while playing the ancient games, and strange looks from the fact I actually have people that read my blog(s)!

  3. Have you considered allowing followers to vote for patrons from the listed source books per week?

  4. i had not considered getting anyone besides me to do anything for the game. But then I had no idea of the interest in solo traveller. For the first few, I am going to pick them randomly. Some are quite small and short, other can lead to months of game time action. I may want to "cheat" and ignore a randowm one that really does not fit. So random for now, but I will keep the suggestion in mind for a bit later. i must admit I had not ever considered interaction that way, but it is a worthy idea for the near future

  5. You're already "cheating" by selecting your skills instead of rolling, so why not just do what you want? It's your game.

    1. Over the last 3 1.2 years I have been considering what I actually want out of a solo rpg and think I have what i am looking for, and it isn't Traveller. I hope to post an update on future plans in the next few months.