Traveller Mailing List FAQ

This document seeks to give the new subscriber information about the Traveller mailing list, how to use it, and also about what else the Internet holds for the avid Traveller fan.

Please Note: Some of these entries contain 'spoilers' for various versions of Traveller.


Contents

    Revision History (revisions.html)
  1. What is Traveller?
  2. All About The Traveller Mailing Lists
    1. How Do I Subscribe?
    2. How Do I Unsubscribe?
    3. How Do I use the List Processor?
    4. How Do I Post a message to the list?
  3. What are the etiquette rules for the lists?
  4. What subjects have been 'Done To Death' already on the TML
    1. Effects of rocks on Planets
    2. Was this Virus thing such a good idea?
    3. SDBs and the Defence of Gas Giants
    4. What is a Feudal Technocracy?
    5. Jump Torpedoes - Canon or Otherwise?
    6. What is the official maximum Tech Level for the Rule Of Man?
    7. Is piracy economically feasible in the Third Imperium?
    8. What is the role (if any) of fighters in Traveller space combat?
    9. Crew Structure on TNE Starships (Command-Crew.html)
    10. Starship Troopers
  5. What is the answer to...?
    1. What's that acronym or nickname mean?
    2. How should starship miniatures be painted?
    3. Is there a list of all star systems in the Imperium?
    4. What are the effects of spacing?
    5. How do Jumps less than 1 parsec work?
    6. How do I search for Traveller sites?
    7. How do I obtain BITS Traveller material?
    8. What's that strange code I see at the bottom of TML postings?
    9. How do I find the formula for...?
    10. What is the Empress Wave?
    11. How canonical is DGP material?
    12. Whatever happened to DGP?
    13. What was T4 supplement F?
    14. Copyright
    15. What do I need to play GURPS Traveller?
    16. How do I contact Marc Miller?
  6. What errata are available?
  7. What internet resources are there for Traveller? (Resources.html)
  8. What Traveller related software is there? (Software.html)
  9. What did other people think of product X? (reviews.html)
  10. What products were produced for TNE? (Products.html)
  11. What products were produced for CT? (Products-CT.html)


1. What is Traveller?

Traveller is a Science Fiction Role-Playing Game (RPG) that was first published in the 1970s. It has gone through several incarnations: Three previous editions were originally published by Game Designer's Workshop (GDW). These were the Classic Traveller, MegaTraveller and Traveller The New Era. For a description of the differences between these three earlier editions see the review. A brief precis follows: Contents

2. All About The Traveller Mailing List

The Traveller Mailing List (TML) is open to discussions on all aspects of Traveller. It exists as a means for the Traveller Player/GM to exchange ideas and discuss the various aspects of the Traveller System, and its universe. This includes discussions on GURPS Traveller, Marc Miller's Traveller, Traveller The New Era, MegaTraveller and Classic Traveller. This also includes the background.

The old XBoat mailing list has now been closed. Discussions on Classic Traveller and Mega-Traveller can be made on the TML.

2.1. How Do I Subscribe?

To subscribe to the TML, visit http://tml.travellercentral.com.

2.2. How Do I Unsubscribe?

To leave the TML, visit http://tml.travellercentral.com.

2.3. How Do I use the List Processor?

The list processor is the program that manages the lists. Visit http://tml.travellercentral.com for more info.

2.4. How Do I Post a message to the list?

There is only one valid mailing address for each of the mailing lists.

To post to the Traveller mailing list, send your message to tml@travellercentral.com.

The address tml-digest@travellercentral.com also exists. This address is only an alias for the main one mentioned above, so you really should use the main one.

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3. What are the etiquette rules for the lists?

Here are a few guidelines for posting your thoughts to the TML. Please note that they are only guidelines. They are intended to make everybody's life easier by keeping the noise level down and keeping the content high.

Contents


4. What subjects have been 'Done To Death' already on the TML

The following subjects have previously been discussed in some depth on the TML. They invariably had staunch defenders on both sides, and led to some fiery debates. So, unless you have some new and inspired material, please don't stoke the coals.

4.1 Effects of rocks on Planets

[Additional info to be added]

The reactionless drive postulated in MegaTraveller (Thruster Plates) allows unlimited acceleration times, so long as fuel and power are available. Given this fact, what's to stop players or GMs using asteroids (or small craft such as lifeboats) as relativistic (i.e. near the speed of light) projectiles against unsuspecting worlds? Doesn't this capability give any spacecraft owner access to a weapon of unbelievable power?

Basically, yes. There is no canon reference to this ever having happened, but the physics used in MegaTraveller clearly allows it. Traveller the New Era shied away from this problem by introducing a new, reaction-based drive, HEPLAR (Which, incidentally, has its own problems).

4.2 Was this Virus thing such a good idea?

[Additional info to be added]

Some Traveller players have found the 'Final Weapon' unleashed in TNE to be unpalatable. A sentient computer virus able to physically rewrite computer circuitry goes against the grain for many with a computing background. Others find the destruction of the Imperial background too dark a setting, with Virus' homicidal tendencies the final straw.

Some Traveller players enjoy the possibilities inherent in the TNE background for discovery, re- contact and rebuilding. Virus is a totally evil enemy who it's easy to hate. (But see Vampire Fleets). Virus is as believable as FTL travel and Thruster Plates.

4.3 SDBs and the Defence of Gas Giants

[Insert Precis and digest references here]

4.4 What is a Feudal Technocracy?

Starting in May 1994, there was a thread on the TML regarding the definition of a Feudal Technocracy (Government Type 5) in Traveller. It originated as a spin-off from a discussion between David Johnson and Hans Rancke about the Sword Worlds.

It became clear that different people had very different ideas about what was and was not a Feudal Technocracy. Hans favoured emphasising the feudal aspect while David emphasised the technocratic aspect, using the term 'practise of technology'. He approximately defined this as requiring industrial activity in all possible areas for a certain TL, producing sufficient surplus resources to support research, development, production and operation and support the expansion of the economy and stated that he regarded this as the prime requirement of a technocracy.

However, Bill White has calculated that the average FT in the Imperium has a population in the 100,000's, insufficient to support the broad spread of industry David requires by the above definition( David believes a minimum population of the order of millions is required).

Also, a number of people (including me) had expressed the preference that 'critical technology' governments, who govern by virtue of control of some critical technology, be possibly describable as Feudal Technocracies. This type of society is possible at the lower population levels at which FT's commonly occur in the Imperium.

Given these arguments David made the following comment: "Maybe we have to accept that, in Traveller terms, there is no distinction between feudal technocracy, technocratic oligarchy, technocratic feudalism, or anything else that might be considered in any way `feudal' or `technocratic' since neither of these terms exist in any of the other government codes." Any such government could be described with a government code of 5. While David dislikes the vagueness of the resulting government type, it does embrace all of the proposed examples of FT's, including his own. This was the compromise conclusion that we reached,

References: TML#24 and old TML (ftp.engrg.uwo.ca) digests

Contributor: Tom O'Neill (tom@csvax1.ucc.ie)

4.5 Jump Torpedoes - Canon or Otherwise?

#1: Is the presence of the ability to send messages through jump space, in small portable "torpedoes", consistent with the Traveller background as written?

No: Limited communications is such a fundamental part of Traveller, that you can't make them easier without fundamentally altering the setting and introducing inconsistencies. J-torps make communications cheaper and make the commitment of men and ships unnecessary.

Yes: If the cost is assumed to be high, and the reliability assumed to be low, then J-torps do not make communication any faster than before, and do not make it easier to a degree sufficient enough to affect CT background.

#2: Can the rules can be interpreted as allowing them and does one or two mentions of them makes them "canon"?

TNE: Yes, no rule restricts their construction, and an example is present in the Regency Sourcebook.

CT/MT: The adventure 'Leviathan', not written by Mark Miller (the author of Traveller), mentions them. Subsequent source books published in CT and MT contain no reference to them. Also, a 'no jump ship under 100t' rule exists which seems to make this construction illegal. An alternative suggestion is to have a jump drive surrounded by a collapsible framework holding the jump net. The contraption is energized from outside and uses the same grace period that drop tanks do to get far enough away from the ship not to interfere with jump field. This may make trouble for the background, since ships could be energized the same way.

References: XTML and TML digests in late January and February, 1996.

Contributors: David P. Summers (Summers@Ethyl-the-Frog.ARC.NASA.gov), Hans Rancke-Madsen (rancke@diku.dk), Robert Flammang (FLAMMANG@vms.cis.pitt.edu).

4.6 What is the official Tech Level of the Rule Of Man?

The publication of the T4 supplements Central Supply Catalogue (CSC), Emperor's Arsenal (EA) and Anomalies led to some lively discussion on the TML as to the maximum Tech Level of the Rule Of Man (the immediate successor to the First Imperium, lasting from -2204 to -1776). The CSC entries on Vacc Suits, for example include an entry called EVA-14, which was supposedly manufactured at TL-14. According to CSC:

Specimens and portions of specimens have been recovered from derelict ships, and these confirm historical accounts of their performance.

Other supplements offer TL-14 goods as 'treasure' for Characters to discover, sometimes in large quantities.

The implication is that at some point in history prior to year 0 humaniti, either Vilani or Solomani, had reached TL-14. We know that the development of Jump-3 proved decisive in the interstellar wars between the First Imperium and the humans of the Terran Confederation which led to the ROM (this is recorded in several GDW and DGP publications, including Alien Module 5 - Solomani, Supplement 11 - Library Data (N-Z) and MegaTraveller Imperial Encylopaedia). Jump-3 is by definition a TL-12 technology. TL-14 would grant Jump-5 capability, beyond anything described in previous canon for either Solomani or Vilani of that era.

A group on the TML suggested that there was further evidence to support the claims of a ROM with greater than TL-12 capability, but as yet no conclusive evidence has been presented. The general view seems to be that the inclusion of TL-14 technology in CSC and other T4 supplements is an error caused by unfamiliarity of the authors of the supplements with the Traveller timeline as previously published.

The discussion mentioned above became sufficiently 'lively' that references to the TL of the ROM will still draw a wry smile (or groan) from those who were around to witness it.

References: T4 CSC p16, CT Module 5 - Solomani p5, CT Supplement 11 - Library Data (N-Z) p11, MT Imperial Encyclopaedia p33, TML digests for June 1997 (#1450 onward)

4.7 Is piracy economically feasible in the Third Imperium?

[Additional info to be added]

View #1 Yes

Piracy is portrayed as relatively common in most versions of Traveller (see the Starship Encounter Tables), so it must be feasible.

View #2 No

In order to be effective, Pirate ships become sufficiently specialised that they can only be used for piracy. This makes them easily identifiable and an easy target for local or Imperial forces.

4.8 What is the role (if any) of fighters in Traveller space combat

[Additional info to be added]

Fighters are found in all versions of Traveller. Their 'canon-ness' is undisputed. The problem is that it is quite difficult to see what role they are designed to fill.

View #1 Fighters have a limited role

Unlike the current day, the future history of Traveller does not provide us with the kind of weapons that allow fighters to become a useful weapons platform. There is no Traveller equivalent of the Exocet missile, able to kill a warship with a single hit. Traveller fighters are limited to the same maximum acceleration as larger ships, so they cannot outmanoeuvre the enemy. They only seem to be useful against lightly armed and armoured targets, such as civilian vessels.

View #2 Fighters can play a major part

Waves of fighters can overwhelm a capital ship, if sufficient numbers are employed.

4.9 Crew Structure on TNE Starships (Command-Crew.html)

4.10 Starship Troopers

Starship Troopers (ST) is a book by 'The Grand Master of Science Fiction' Robert A. Heinlein. There is also a (loosely derived) film of the same name by Paul Verhoven. It is of relevance to Traveller players because:

There are generally two points of contention when ST is discussed on the TML. Either point generally seems to lead to dicussion of the other. The discussions are generally long, involving much quoting of the book and much second-guessing of what Heinlein actually meant by what he wrote.

What is the nature of Federal Service in Starship Troopers?

This is normally the longer of the two discussions and hinges around the question of whether Federal Service is only served in the Military. The nature of Federal Service in ST is defined inconsistently in the book itself. Heinlein made statements later in life about Federal Service which are not consistently represented by the novel as published.

Is the government portrayed in Starship Troopers fascist?

This one is generally resolved more quickly, although it depends on which definition of fascism you use. The government in ST is a democracy, albeit one with franchise limited to those who have completed a term of Federal Service. This is what makes the nature of Federal Service important to so many people.

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5. What is the answer to... ?

Here are a few answers to questions that have been asked on the TML and XTML at various times.

5.1 What's that acronym or nickname mean?

5.2 How should starship miniatures be painted?

Military ships would be camouflaged - either matt black for space combat, or pale on the bottom and darker on the top for atmosphere combat. Civilian ships can be painted pretty much any color.

All ships have chameleon skins according to the SOM, so paint them any way you want. Colorful military ships can be assumed to be in "parade mode". They turn black while on missions.

5.3 Is there a list of all star systems in the Imperium?

Well, yes, there is. Have a look at ftp://mac9.ucc.nau.edu/pub/Misc/rpg/traveller (This link seems to be dead at the current time) or http://www.u.arizona.edu/~bjohnson/archives/sectors.zip. This is where the Digest Group Publications data which was originally on Genie is stored. It is dated 1116 i.e. at the eve of the rebellion. It isn't fully detailed, but it is a start. From the comments coming out of Imperium Games, it isn't canon any longer either, so later products may invalidate it in the same way that the T4 rule book redefined the Sylea home subsector.

Another, more interactive option is the subsector viewer written by Ethan Henry in Java which is available at http://www2.magmacom.com/~ehenry/traveller/ in the US, or http://deceased.hb.north.de/hosts/bakunin/traveller in Europe. The european site has all 35 DGP subsectors online.

5.4 What are the effects of spacing?

Just what are the effects of being escorted off ship into vacuum with no vacuum suit (aka spacing)? What happens when that bolt of energy from the pirate/navy ship (take your choice) chasing the PCs blows a gaping hole through the hull and into the bridge? Here is a description adapted from a number of answers posted to the list in September, 1996.

Briefly, survival in vacuum is probably possible for a minute or so. Consciousness will go away much more rapidly, with the victim having about 10 seconds to react before losing consciousness.

Upon losing consciousness, one would become paralysed, then go into generalized convulsions and then become paralysed once again. During this time, water vapor will form rapidly inside the body, causing it to swell to perhaps twice its normal volume unless it is restrained by a pressure suit. The victim, however, will not explode.

Meanwhile, the heart rate may rise initially, but will fall rapidly thereafter. After a minute or so, the circulation of blood slows to a halt. After the initial rush of air from the lungs during decompression, gas and water vapor will continue to flow outward through the airways. This will cool the body, but the mouth and nose will reach near-freezing temperatures quite rapidly.

It is very unlikely that a human suddenly exposed to vacuum would have more than 5 to 10 seconds to help himself. If immediate help is at hand, although one's appearance and condition will be grave, it is reasonable to assume that recompression to a tolerable pressure within 60 to 90 seconds could result in survival, and possibly in rather rapid recovery. Neurological problems, including blindness and other defects in vision, are also common after exposure, but usually disappear fairly rapidly.

On a more personal level, this from John Lambert who went through it:

I was in an airlock in a jumpsuit when it was vented to (near) vacuum. (True story!) The first indications were the noise and what felt like a punch to my chest as the air in my lungs escaped. The airlock then filled with a cloud of condensing water vapor. [..] I had plenty of time to locate and don my oxygen mask.

5.5 How do Jumps less than 1 parsec work?

What happens if you jump less than 1 parsec? Many people have asked if it is possible to jump within a system, or to just outside the system.

Basically, it is possible and it works exactly like a 1 parsec jump. It takes a week with the normal uncertainty factor. The amount of fuel used is also the same as for 1 parsec - (1 divided by the maximium jump range) times the total amount of jump fuel for a full length jump. e.g. A 1 parsec jump in a jump 3 capable ship will be 1/3 of the fuel required for a 3 parsec jump. A point to remember though, in a week the solar system may have moved a bit.

5.6 How do I search for Traveller sites?

Recently many Traveller site managers have banded together under the subject line of 'Linking up the Virtual Archive'. As a result, there are a few keywords which you can use to search for Traveller sites. They should start to appear soon on many Traveller sites. Currently these will work on the Altavista and Infoseek search engines.

The main keyword to use is TravellerRPG. This should be on all Traveller sites. To look for more specific topics, try Character, Design, Deckplans, Technical, Timeline, Filk, Contact, Amber Zone, Casual Encounter, Sector, Starship, Vehicle, Spreadsheet, Mac Software, PC Software, Worlds, Adventure, Errata, Aliens, FFS, MMT, T4, CT, MT, TNE, or RCES.

To use these keywords on your web page, use the following HTML tag in the HEAD section of your page. Replace the content with whatever keywords are relevant to your page.

<META NAME="Keywords" CONTENT="TravellerRPG, mailing list, FAQ">
For more information on meta tags, see http://www.htmlhelp.com/

5.7 How do I obtain BITS Traveller material?

BITS products should be easily obtained in the UK through local games stores. BITS have also signed a distribution agreement with Steve Jackson Games in the US. Stock should be available from SJG from January 1999. In addition, at least one UK based games store is prepared to sell to US customers:

Dom Mooney writes:

If you can use VISA or Mastercard contact Leisure Games (
http://www.btinternet.co.uk/~leisuregames ) . If that URL doesn't work
it'll be .com (I haven't got details to hand). They'll need a fax or phone
call to confirm with your first order, but other North American TML'rs have
used them with success. Angus or Mike are both helpful!
A summary of BITS products can be found at the BITS web site http://www.bits.org.uk

5.8 What's that strange code I see at the bottom of TML postings?

That's the IMTU (In My Traveller Universe) or Traveller Geek Code. It's a way of describing how your own Traveller universe is constructed (and how it might vary from the 'official' universe). For more details see http://downport.com/eaglestone/imtu.html.

5.9 How do I find the formula for...?

For game-type calculations see http://www-cs-students.stanford.edu/~amitp/gameprog.html

For Space calculations see http://saturn.las.ox.ac.uk/internet/news/faq/archive/space.math.html
or http://www.seds.org/pub/faq/Space_FAQ_04_13_-_Calculations

5.10 What is the Empress Wave?

The Empress Wave is one of the Enigmas of the MT/TNE settings. It is mentioned in the supplement Survival Margin, and more fully described in the Regency Sourcebook. The wave is a psionic disturbance radiating out from the core of the galaxy at the speed of light.

5.11 How canonical is DGP material?

Digest Group Publications has long been involved in the development of Traveller. CT Book 8 - Robots was primarily written by Joe D. Fugate, Sr. Much of the work done in developing the basic MegaTraveller rules was done by DGP, who also produced MT supplements under their own name. DGP were in contact with Marc Miller during the development of MT.

There has been some discussion as to whether some aspects of DGP publications are canon. The general feeling on the TML appears to be that DGP publications are, for the most part, canon.

5.12 Whatever Happened to DGP?

With the March 1993 issue of the MegaTraveller Journal (#4) DGP officially ceased supporting Traveller. They cited the release of Traveller the New Era, the loss of Marc Miller's active involvement with the design of the game and the fact that DGP could not control the direction of Traveller's development as reasons. At the same time DGP announced the impending arrival of AI (Not Technology and Magic, but Technology as Magic!) their new, wholly DGP-produced RPG.

Unfortunately AI was never published.

Eventually DGP ceased trading, and the DGP name and properties were purchased by Roger Sanger.

Following the demise of GDW in December 1995, Roger posted a message suggesting that DGP would be interested in producing new materials for the new version of Traveller. It was also suggested that DGP would consider re-releasing previous DGP products, possibly on CDROM or in a repackaged format. In January 1996 Roger announced that DGP would be producing a new RPG product, including alternate history and science fiction elements as well as elements from AI. In October 1996 Roger reported that DGP was seeking a renewal of their licence to produce Traveller material.

As yet, none of these developments have materialised.

Sources: MegaTraveller Journal #4, Email messages from Roger Sanger dated 9th, 12th January and 12th October 1996

5.13 What was T4 supplement F?

The spines of the main T4 supplements each carried a traveller-hexadecimal style number. At the time of Imperium Games' demise all of the supplements from 1 to G had been published, except F.

Supplement F was to be Nobles.

5.14 Copyright

See http://members.aol.com/sfrpg/T01d1.html for Marc Miller's Copyright FAQ

5.15 What do I need to play GURPS Traveller?

GURPS Traveller is now a range of sourcebooks in its own right and GURPS itself covers a multitiude of settings. What does the starting GURPS Traveller player need in the way of materials?

The absolute minimum you can get away with is GURPS Lite, a downloadable copy of which is available at http://www.sjgames.com/gurps/lite and the GURPS Traveller rulebook.

The next level of sophistication would be GURPS Basic Set, Third Edition and GURPS Traveller

SJ Games recommend: GURPS Traveller, GURPS Basic Set, Compendium I and GURPS Space with GURPS Ultra-Tech I and II as optional extras.

Discussion on the TML has lead to the following suggestions on additional GURPS material you may find useful (in addition to any GURPS Traveller books that may take your fancy):

5.16 How do I contact Marc Miller?

Be aware that Marc is a busy guy. If you've got questions about Traveller that need a quick answer, try the TML, or this FAQ. Having said all that, you can contact Marc through his web site: http://members.aol.com/sfrpg/ or by direct email at FarFuture@aol.com

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6. What errata are available?

Contents
This document was originally compiled by James Dempsey (jamesd@spirit.com.au), and is now maintained by Stuart Squibb (scs@vectis.demon.co.uk). Contributions, comments and corrections are welcome. Please send them either to me, or to the list.

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