Introduction to Traveller
- 300,000 years ago, the Ancients seeded thousands of star systems with species from Earth, including different species of humans.
- One of these, the Vilani, achieved FTL travel and built the Imperium.
- Towards the end of the 21st century, humans on Earth discovered FTL, met the by now technologically stagnant Vilani Empire. After many wars, the Vilani were defeated.
- Terrans formed the Second Imperium, aka the Rule of Man, aka the Ramshackle Empire. It soon collapsed.
- This leads to the Long Night, where civilisation collapses and interstellar trade pretty much ceases.
- Around 4500 AD, the Third Imperium is established (by the Vilani again).
- It is now about 5600 AD, or 1105 by the Third Imperium calendar.
- Moving between star systems is via a Jump Drive. A Jump always takes one week, regardless of distance travelled. It can take a year to travel across the entire Imperium.
- FTL communication is not possible except by sticking a message on a ship and sending the ship.
- Given the communication time lag, there are layers of nobility who rule local regions in the name of the Emperor. Individual worlds tend to be self governing, and the Imperium (and its nobility) stay out of it, only managing the space (and trade) between worlds.
- There are half a dozen or so major Races, each with their own empires. Some are friendly with the Imperium, some aren't. There are dozens of minor races.
- Anti-grav is common, so lots of flying cars and easy access to space.
- Laser guns are common, but so are guns that use simple bullets. Some people (especially nobles) even carry swords - they tend to not make holes in starship hulls.
- Traveller was written in the 1970s, so computers tend to be quite limited. Human-like AIs are rumoured, but few people have ever seen one.
- Cybernetics is possible, but generally only to fix injuries. This is not a cyberpunk setting (but given the tens of thousands of worlds, there are individual worlds with such a setting).
You are citizens of the Third Imperium, a massive empire of humanity spanning thousands of star systems. You are close to the border of Imperium space, close to the Aslan Hierate. The Aslan are one of the major races, a species of cat-like humanoids who have a culture based on honour and conquest.
You're also close to the Great Rift, a region with sparse star density, which makes it a good barrier between you and the Imperial core worlds.
You're also not that far from the Sword Worlds (think vikings in space), and the Zhodani Consulate. The Zhodani are another Empire of humans who have embraced psionics - pretty much everyone has telepathy in one form or another (psionics is effectively outlawed in the Imperium).
Another reasonably common alien race are the Vargr - humanoids uplifted from wolves when the Ancients took them from Earth 300,000 years ago and who have since created their own space faring empire, though they have a (well deserved) reputation of being pirates.
For character generation, pick a background and pick a career.
Your first choice is the type of society in which you grew up. This will give you skills and experiences related to that type of upbring.
You spent your early years in a belter community or similar environment, such as a remote outpost on a gas giant moon or an undeveloped rock ball world, with the sort of lifestyle where experience with Vacc Suits and Zero-g was pretty much required.
You grew up in a relatively civilised environment such as a city on a mid or high tech world. You learned how to make a living, rather than surviving in a hostile environment.
You grew up in a Metropolis or on a Developed World or Space Habitat, but you were one of those on the edge of society, living either as a criminal or in an environment were crime and violence was common.
You grew up in a crowded city or other high population environment, where education and high technology was easily available to you.
You lived in a ‘city in space’, either a large space port or an orbital ring habitat. It was a civilised, cosmopolitan environment with plenty of chances to meet aliens and outsiders in a high tech setting.
This is what you’ve been doing for most of your life, and provides most of your professional skills. By now, you are probably in your late twenties to early thirties.
You found a job working in a bureaucratic or managerial capacity for a large organisation, such as a shipping line, financial institution or government.
You worked for an intelligence or law enforcement agency, investigating crime or obtaining information by covert means.
You became well educated in the medical and biological sciences, and either sought well paid jobs on civilised worlds, or decided to travel to experience all the different types of alien life.
You’ve made a living on the fringes of society, where your actions might not have been actually illegal but were generally disreputable.
Your career revolved around discovery and obtaining knowledge. You may have been a field researcher, a theoretical scientist or perhaps just someone whose curiosity led them far from home.
You served aboard an exploration or survey ship, gaining a broad selection of skills as you encountered many unique and unusual situations.
You served as an officer aboard a naval or commercial starship, serving as part of the bridge or flight crew.