"Whither Traveller" Debate, Jan 1996

Last Updated 10 September 1998.

Return to Tavonni Repair Bays
I originally posted this letter in February 1996, but only recently found it again. I thought it might be interesting to review this "survey" in light of the direction T4 finally took!

I have annotated my original Analysis Highlights with new (Sept 1998) comments about the final form the book took.

Dear Folks (and Marc!) -

Here is a summary of the "Whither Traveller" debate, as at digest 614 (Thursday 29th February 1996). In many cases, I had to glean people's "votes" from one or two throwaway sentences, so please forgive me if I have noted your vote incorrectly. It dates from the time Marc extended his invitation to comment on Traveller's direction (Digest 536/Xboat 490).

While you may think that this just gives everyone something to shoot at (ie. another flame war is in the offing), my belief is that all the arguing has been done - to death, in fact.

...And if you don't believe me, just review these threads (cross-postings to Xboat & Digest are only counted under Digest figures):

So please don't restart the TNE-vs-MT/CT thing again, OK? We all know the sentiments on both sides.

However, if you are not in the list below, feel free to cast your vote, now that the battle lines have been drawn! I have already added mine ("DJW").


Comment Voters Total
Don't rush things JN, SZ, AL 3
Concentrate on a few things first JN 1
Concentrate on quality control CC, AL, HH, W, JZ, SS, AZ, ER, DJW, TC 10


Comment Voters Total
a. Overall
Use upgraded CT/MT Rules MM, SMA, LB, S&V, W, BF, Pug, PMc, VAG, CC, rob, RM, JS, AMc, DE, MSH, EWF, MS, TC 19
Use TNE Rules (&/or upgrade them) A, Cy, DG, M, C, SC, BJ, BB, BAM, DCB, J, MAT, HH, Bri, AZ, grim, terry, JL, Fm, DN, Kmbr, PMc, CG, JK 24
Support all versions JG, VAG, LB, MC 4
b. Formats
Make the Basic Rules small A, DG, WR, NTM, Kmbr, RM, EWF 7
Simplify core rules, then have additions/expansions RM, J, PW, TC 4
Multiple books (PHB, DMG) RM, PW, NTM, SMA, DJW 5
c. Char Gen
Simple Char Gen (Bk2) SMA, LB, W, DCB, CC, RM, PW, ER, DJW, TC 10
Expanded Char Gen (MT) W, DCB, LP, CC, SS, CG, JZ, RM, PW, ER, DJW 11
TNE Char Gen SC, iain, ASS, DG, MAT 5
Include Alien Char Gen LB, W, JZ, PW, DJW 5
Include more Char Gen options than basic CT (a la Citizens & TNE) SMA, W, SC, BJ, CC, CG, JZ, iain, Bri, Borich, AMc, PW, DJW 13
Split stats (have more stats) ER, CC, (J-no), (TS-no) 2 + 2 no
d. Tasks
Use MT Tasks (PMc-no), W, CC, SS, DG, JZ, AMc, RM 7 + 1 no
Use TNE Tasks DCB, C, MAT, DG, CG, RM, NTM, TC 8
e. Combat rules
Use simpler combat than TNE S&V, A, C, SS, JZ, AZ, CC, RM, DG, J, WR, SMA, DJW, TC 14
Use MT combat CC, W 2
Use TNE combat SC, BB 2
f. Other rules
Use rules flowcharts for simplicity RM, M, DJW, TC 4
Expand Law Level SMA, LB, JZ, DJW, TC 5
Expand TL SMA, LB, PMc, A, MAT, DG, MSH, DJW, TC 9
Use simpler/reworked World Gen JZ, AMc, RM, DB, PW, MSH, SMA, EWF, TC 9
Better Trade rules JZ, TC 2
Abstract space combat CC, SS, RM, TC 4

Design Rules

Comment Voters Total
CT Ships RM 1
HG/MT Ships PMc, W, LP, WR, MS, TC 6
FF&S Re-write Cy, DG, M, W, SC, DCB, BJ, J, A, CW, JL, SS, ER, JZ, AZ, Kmbr, MAT, JN, CrB, RM, Borich, EWF, DJW 23
FF&S Lite M, SC, DCB, A, J, CC, CW, C, W, rob, EW, SS, HH, ER, DG, JZ, Kmbr, MAT, WR, CrB, AMc, RM, DB, PW, Borich, SMA, EWF, DJW 28
Very Simple Vehicle Design SMA, LB, TC 3
BL/BR M, A, SC, LP, EW, DG, CG, J, AMc, RM, PW, DJW 12
Include Thruster Plates PMc, CW, Borich, (BMc-no), HRM, (AZ-no), W, AL, DJW, TC 8 + 2 no
Striker-style book SC, AMc, PW, TC 4
Conversion rules (HG to MT to FF&S to Omni) BJ, CC, SS, ER, J, JN, M, PW, VAG, AL, EWF, DJW, TC 13


Comment Voters Total
TNE (RC & Regency) MM, S&V, DG, BJ, JN, AZ, Kmbr, (PMc-no), RM, B, JL, CC, AL, Sam, Borich, SMA, DJW 16 + 1 no
TNE only CG, DEB, bpa, NTM, HH 5
MT (Shattered Imperium) MM, W, DG, PMc, Pug, WR, AMc, VAG, LP, DJW, TC 11
MT only RB, AL, CC, TC 4
CT (Spin. M & Sol Rim) MM, DG, A, RM, SMA, TC 6
Grandfather's Children MM, BJ, LP 3
Long Night MM, BJ, ER, TC 4
Early Imperium MM, BJ, ER, TC 4
2300AD JL 1
TNE (Virus, etc) + 200 years AZ, CG, RM, B (guarded), CB, LP, JK, JAK 8
Multiple Eras MM, W, DG, BF, C, VAG, M, BB, MAT, JZ, grim, JL, FM, Kmbr, RM, J, CC, GWH, PW, Pug, WR, ER, SMA, DJW 24
Don't tie timelines together H, RM, (CG-no), (B-no), CC, W, Pug, ER, VAG, Max, DJW, TC 9 + 2 no

Books and Magazines

a. Sourcebooks
Comment Voters Total
Personalities of the Imperium A, CW, LP, RM, DJW 5
Imperial Navy A, CW, SC, TC 4
Imperial Scouts EWF, TC 2
Imperium Sourcebook A, CW, SC, RM, MA, DB, PW, SMA, TC 9
Spinward Marches A, CW, RM, SMA, TC 5
Research Stations RM, TC 2
Trader Guidebook PW, TC 2
Exploration/Colonisation SC, LP, SMA, TC 4
Starports and Space Stations SMA, AL, DJW, TC 4
Robots, Cyborgs and Androids MS, EWF 2
Book of Adventures LP, EW, JZ, PW, DJW, TC 6
Finish Virus Redux series EW, DJW 2
Equipment Guide PW, TC 2
Aliens Cy, DG, SC, EW, JZ, Kmbr, RM, PW, MS, EH, SMA, BWF, TC 13
Eras Kmbr, PW, TC 3
Major Pocket Empires EW, TC 2
Atlas A, TC 2
b. RPG Magazine
Increase distribution of TTC P, BJ, EW, DJW, TC 5
New magazine CW, M, EW, ER, EWF 5

CD-ROM Discussion

Comment Voters Total
a. General Approval
General concept MM, R, L, S, C, P, BJ, A, Rog, ER, AZ, TC 12
b. Format
Adobe Acrobat R, C, B 3
ASCII text C, TC 2
c. Licencing
Sensible licencing R, L, CG, TC 4
d. Shareware
Ref's Assisant-type software (var.) MM, P, BJ, Rog, CC, AZ, Kmbr, DJW, TC 9
Games (include. Doom-style, simulation, RPG, tactical) S, P, SMA, GOS, TC 5
Char Gen CG, DJW, TC 3
World/System Gen CC, ER, JZ, CG, DJW, TC 6
e. Rules
Basic Rules TC 1
Full Rules R, S, AZ, TC 4
Craft Design R, S, A, JZ, JN, DJW, TC 6
f. Source Data
Library Data S, C, AZ, CG, DJW, TC 6
Software to manage user's own data S, TC 2
Backgrounds S, AZ, CG, TC 4
Atlas A, CW, SC, RM, DJW, TC 6

Traveller on the Net

Comment Voters Total
a. Introductory material (teasers)
Basic Rules L, SMA, B, A, H, LP, TC 7
Backgrounds L, B, BJ, H, LP, CG, TC 7
Library Data L, LP, CG, TC 4
Short Adventures L, TC 2
b. Other
On-line Traveller (?) MM 1
Beta-test all rules via the Net JS, TC 2
Shareware via the Net CC, TC 2
Online Net Game GOS, TC 2

Marketing stuff

Comment Voters Total
Poster MM, CC, PW 3
T-Shirt MM, BJ, CC, PW, EWF 5
Novels MM, C, PW, TC 4
Trading Cards MM, (BJ-no), (CC-no), H 2 + 2 no
Posters, prints MM, CC, PW 3
Comics, graphic novels MM, C, CC, TC 4
ID cards MM, EWF 2


Comment Voters Total
Get Back Tom Peters MS 1
Cardboard ships, tanks MM, TC 2
Figurines (plastic?) LP, TC 2
Contributors providing Lib Data and news reports to MM RM, AZ, TC 3

My personal comments

Everyone expects the world of Marc - and there is no way he will be able to please everyone. I hope that everyone involved is able to understand this.

I have never been happy with combat in Traveller. I am happiest with MT combat. However, I'm an AD&D man, so feel free to ignore this ("Fireball, fireball, lightning bolt! - is it dead yet?" - Andrew P. Madden).

As to backgrounds, no matter what comes out, as a referee I run my own campaigns. These are loosely based on GDW's background, but are changed to surprise the know-it-all players (eg. I ran my own version of the 5FW, beginning it in late 1105, and allowing the PC's to zap the 40th at Fulacin... etc. I have no problems with the supposed problem of "the Imperium is too big for the PC's actions to have any effect" rubbish! Change things -- it is YOUR campaign!). However, as a collector, I want to know about the "Empress Wave", and possible alternates to the Rebellion aftermath -- etc. ("I want it all -- it's mine, I tell you MINE, Mine! Bwah hah hah!!").

A background sourcebook on the Imperium could include sections on the Imperial Navy, Nobility, etc.

Stats at the time of data collection

452 subscribers
357 subscribers
556 unique addresses (~250 people are on both lists)


Discussion began in Digest 536, with largest posts being "wish lists". First nasty comment occurred in 569. Slugfest started in Digest 575 and began to die down by 593, when we returned to wish lists.

Analysis Highlights


EVERYONE wants new stuff to be properly proofread, quality-controlled etc (and many have offered their services to this task, some suggesting to beta-test via the Net). NO-ONE is unhappy that GDW has given control of Traveller to MM, BUT everyone expects the world (should that be "the universe"?) from him.


CT/MT vs TNE is a BIG debate - it suggests that MM tread carefully and test the water more. Having both simple and expanded Char Gen seems to be the way to go, including more than the original 4 careers and possibly an aliens section. Task Resolution is wanted, but type is undecided. Simpler combat than TNE appears favoured. Expand world profiles, especially LawLvl and TL.

Final Result:

Design Rules

FF&S "Lite" (suggested first by M but named by J) seems to be a real winner - both GearHeads and NGH's want this one. Many people liked FF&S (was this the most populer TNE item? -- it seems so!), and most want to see it again; general consensus is for a re-write, many wanting it to mesh better with Traveller's background (many called to look at the GDW-Beta list for ideas AND for computerised design sequences - especially as part of a CD-ROM). Many want BL and BR kept, and asked for conversion rules.

Final Result:

Backgrounds, Books and Magazines

CT/MT vs TNE is STILL a big debate, evenly split, BUT multiple eras get a big thumbs-up. As for books it is a scattered reply, with "Aliens - Give Us Anything!" and an Imperium Soucebook being the two front-runners.

Final Result:

CD-ROM Discussion, Traveller on the Net

Many approved of the concept, but are undecided on the contents! World Gen, Craft Design, Library Data, and an Atlas are the most favoured. Net Traveller is favoured to garner interest in the product, more than as a serious full-on venture.

Final Result:

Marketing stuff, Other

Luke-warm responses to the marketing ideas, maybe just because it is very low on everyone's agenda.

- Hyphen (David Jaques-Watson)

Return to Tavonni Repair Bays
Return to Top of Page