Saturday, February 18, 2012

Old Traveller adventures - the emptiness of space

I recently bought the Mongoose edition of Traveller, as you might remember me mentioning before. It is a good game, and a fun read. Now I have brought som eof my other Traveller stuff out of storage as well, browsing it since the mind is full of Traveller anyway. You know what? I think I'm seeing a trend in these adventures.

A classic Traveller adventure is describing a locale, either a space ship or a planet. There is usually a task to be done, and some hindrances in the way.

Does that sound familiar? I noted another thing. Quite often the party is stuck in this research outpost, APC, starship, desert, jungle, whatever and need to use their tools to get out alive. More often than not there are rules for how to handle the environment and/or the technology at hand.

I'm missing something.

This setup there's the party, and this locale. That's it. Who the hell are you supposed to interact with?

If you look at classic D&D adventures, there are always NPCs. Remember Lareth? Remember the nutty lich in D2? Remember the zoo of factions in the Caves of Chaos? Space is empty in comparison.

I think I've found out why I so often fail at making science fiction games fun. Space just is too big, cold and empty.

5 comments:

  1. But what about the aliens? Those cold, empty places can be very good for horror stories, in any case.

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  2. Good point, but they are not very often utilized for much effect, I find.

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  3. When I ran some Traveller, one of my players commented that it felt like D&D in space. I didn't know what to change. :(

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  4. So hand wave space and play were the NPCs are. Planets, city sized space stations, convoys of ships, etc.

    The sci-fiction located in space / small ship / barren planet is invariably horror (or some lame introspective bullcrap like Solaris).

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  5. Good suggestion, Norman.

    I find it interesting that so many published adventures, at least the ones I have looked at, don't do this.

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