Monday, November 26, 2012

A depressing read

Since Traveller is a game I have a very complicated relationship to, I don't know if I dare to get ideas about starting a game of Traveller. But, you can always read your gamebooks, right?

I've been reading 1248 Sourcebook 1: Out of the Darkness lately. It's number one in a series of books expanding the time line and concepts of the Traveller edition knows as TNE, or The New Era. TNE have caught a lot of flak from the fans, and for good reasons.

The guys at GDW lasting impression in the rpg hobby is How To Ruin Your Game Setting. A sad one.
This book have a long section where all the threads from older sources are tied up into a long history from 1116 to 1248 Imperial time. Many times I find time lines be of little use, but in this case its kind of needed, since older source have included information about what would happen, and tying it all together takes some time.

It's an impressive effort, and author Martin J. Dougherty have managed to include a lot of back history, and reasonably often making sense of them. Still, the lasting impression is one of failure.

Mind you, it's not a failure by the author in his task of assembling the data and presenting a gameable setting. In that I think it probably does as well as could be hoped for. No, the impression of failure is rather the theme of 132 years of pure misery in the game setting. Step by step civilization is rebuilt after the madness that was the civil war of the Rebellion, and the senseless slaughter that came after with the unleashing of Virus. But, as soon as someone forms some stellar state that can rebuild, another hammer comes along and beats them into dust again. Frankly, it's unbelievably depressing.

More problematic is the idea of 130 years of warfare. Considering that multiple times the wars degenerate into orbital bombardment with spinal guns and nuclear warheads (case in point - Vland) it's hard to believe that anything would be left. And you know what, smoking ruins makes for a boring game setting.

So, while something emerges that looks like a setting that could actually be fun to game in, the way there is depressing. To say the least.
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