I’ve never been especially quiet about my love for sword-and-sorcery, heroic fiction, and historical swashbucklers, so it may come as a surprise to some that one of my very favorite diversions is that most famous of science fiction role-playing games, Traveller. It is literally worlds away from the rest of my interests, and perhaps that’s why I’m drawn to it. Traveller‘s Third Imperium setting is rife with adventure, intrigue, and fascinating places to visit.
I’ve been reviewing Traveller products in Black Gate‘s game column for years, and it’s been a real pleasure to see a whole new generation of rule books, adventures, and supplements released by Mongoose Publishing. I’ve been reading a number of them for our upcoming winter issue, and as I started work on the reviews, I decided to contact the publisher of Mongoose Traveller, Matthew Sprange, to see if he had time to answer a few questions. He kindly obliged me, and here’s what he had to say.
BG: What do you think is behind the enduring appeal of Traveller? Is there any one quality to the game, or is it a combination of factors?
Matthew Sprange: A combination, certainly. Traveller is effectively a collection of mini-games (trading, character creation, etc.), and there is usually one that grabs someone’s attention.
BG: It certainly seems that Mongoose has stepped up to the plate with their line of Traveller products. Do you hear the same kind of reactions from Traveller diehards and newcomers?
MS: Generally, the response we have had has been very good. We are supporting the game very heavily, especially now with the Living Campaign and the all free Secrets of the Ancients adventures which re-tread classic ground but have given it a fresh new spin.
The future is looking bright for Traveller!
BG: With the scheduled release of Robots in December you’ll have covered all of the original character generation supplements. Do you intend to expand into further character generation packages, or present the existing material in different ways?
It is probably inevitable. We have bandied about the idea of an “Alien” book, and maybe a book of extra careers, but no solid plans yet.
BG: I thought it interesting that you chose to highlight one of the “lesser-known” Traveller aliens in the third supplement book, the Darrians. In previous editions of the game they’ve been handled later than some of the other alien races, and are often given less space than the more iconic Aslan and Vargr. I think the result was impressive – for me at least Mongoose has made them far more viable and interesting than they’ve been in the past — but what was the reasoning behind covering them third? Will there be more surprises down the line with alien supplements? Are there plans to cover the traditional Traveller aliens and beyond?
We started in the Spinward Marches, and used the first two Alien Modules to cover adjoining sectors – Reft Sector also bolts on to this.
Basically, we started with the Marches and are continuing our quest to cover the Third Imperium, one adjacent sector at a time! Looking at it that way, Darrians were the most obvious to do next, as they are in the Marches. Next up (early next year) will be the Zhodani.
Quite where this leaves the K’Kree, Solomani and Hivers we haven’t yet determined!
BG: I’m not sure I was fair to the supplement Tripwire when I reviewed it in print last issue. The more I consider it, the more impressed I am that writer Simon Beal devised compelling reasons for the characters to visit every world in the sub-sector. That’s just not easily done. Are there plans to cover any other sub-sectors in greater detail like this?
Its possible – it is one way to do an adventure/mini-campaign, but there are others. We’ll have to see!
BG: You stated early on that you hoped to make the Traveller rules more of a default science fiction system, and you’ve used it as the skeleton behind Judge Dredd and some other products as well. Do you have plans to use the system for additional properties?
Yes – it will be our core sci-fi system for at least the next seven odd years.
BG: In an ideal world, what Traveller products would you and the rest of the Mongoose team like to see brought to life? Are there any projects you’re dying to tackle in the next year or so, or some kind of dream project you’d like to see brought to fruition?
Star Trek would be interesting, and it would be nice to see a version that “survives” (we managed that with B5, even though everyone thought it was doomed!). As for other projects… well, you’ll just have to see!