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Author Topic: Traveller 5  (Read 2585 times)

Aglondir

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Traveller 5
« on: August 15, 2022, 12:54:47 AM »
Just picked up the three Traveller 5 PDFs at Bundle of Holding for $17.95, which is a great value since the retail price is $69.00. This isn’t the Mongoose version, rather, it’s the huge tome that Marc Miller created in 2012 and later split into three separate books. A total of 888 pages.

This had been on my radar for a while. I’ve got Classic Traveller, MegaTravller, Gurps Traveller, and both editions of Mongoose Traveller, so it’s not like I needed this. But this is probably as cheap as it’s ever going to get. I’ve read strong criticism of T5 on other forums, and at a first glance, I can see why. Although I’ve only spent an hour skimming through the first book, there are some weird design choices.

First is the organization. The first book is Characters and Combat, which opens with A Brief History of the Universe, a primer on the Third Imperium. Normally, I’d expect this in Book 3: Worlds and Adventures, but I guess they put it here for context. Next, a section on The Foundations of the Traveller Universe which explains the sci-fi parameters of Trav: no FTL comms, jumps take one week, contragrav, etc.  Then how dice work, then money, then distance in the game, then hex codes, terrain hexes… wait, I thought this was about characters?

It’s not until page 46 that we actually get to characters. There are 13 careers. Looks like Army and Marines are combined into Soldier, and Navy is now Spacer? Bureaucrat is now Functionary? Then right after the 13 is "Land Grants” which made me think it was a 14th career. But no, it's a reward your character can get from a government. I think there should have been a new section heading, maybe Rewards?  But then it goes into Aging so I don’t know.

Core Concepts starts on page 120, which is basically task resolution. This is not an easy read. I think the task resolution basically works like this:

1. GM determines difficulty (1d6 = hard, 2d6 = normal, 3d6 = Hard)
2. Player rolls Xd6
3. Success if roll <= Att + Skill

There’s all sorts of specifics that I won’t get into, like hasty vs cautious, and difficulties that go up to 9d (beyond impossible. Don't ask me how that works.)

---

So are there any good parts?

I like the style. I think Miller was trying to evoke the old Classic Traveller feel. Everything is B&W. There are small art pieces, but they are more like simple illustrations and icons. It looks better than Mongoose 1E, and I like the B&W retro feel better than Mongoose 2E's full-color.

Forms! Remember those? Brings back memories of the old days. And tables. And formulas, which make it feel a bit like a physics textbook. That’s not a bad thing—it’s got a Looks Boring But It's Actually Cool quality to it.

There’s a lot here for the price. A LOT. This is probably the most complete sci-fi game I’ve ever seen. For example, there are pages on how sight, smell, and hearing work. Pages on the dynamics of social interaction. Pages on military explosions, WMDs, and nukes. Will I ever use this stuff? I don’t know, but it’s a neat read.

---

I never made it to Combat, since I know I will never play T5 due to the core mechanic. I’ve played a campaign with a 2d6 roll-under core mech and hated it. Which is weird, since I like 3d6 roll-under core mechs, but for some reason 2d6 was awful. I've also tried a core mechanic somewhat like T5's: a roll-under with 2d10/3d10/4d10. The higher yields/granularity make it work better. (Guess the game-- it's very obscure!)

So I’m sticking with Mongoose (for Traveller) or Stars Without Number (for almost Traveller.) I don’t regret buying T5, but for now it’s relegated to the same space as Gurps Traveller—a cool read, but I’ll probably never play it.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2022, 01:00:20 AM by Aglondir »

Omega

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Re: Traveller 5
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2022, 12:10:14 PM »
As usual. One of my local players has it. Had a glance at it and was not al that impressed. I prefer the feel of early Traveller.

hedgehobbit

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Re: Traveller 5
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2022, 12:22:32 PM »
Core Concepts starts on page 120, which is basically task resolution. This is not an easy read. I think the task resolution basically works like this:

1. GM determines difficulty (1d6 = hard, 2d6 = normal, 3d6 = Hard)
2. Player rolls Xd6
3. Success if roll <= Att + Skill

Wow. That is an absolutely terrible resolution mechanic. I would have to work hard to make one that is worse.

jeff37923

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Re: Traveller 5
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2022, 12:48:04 PM »
Core Concepts starts on page 120, which is basically task resolution. This is not an easy read. I think the task resolution basically works like this:

1. GM determines difficulty (1d6 = hard, 2d6 = normal, 3d6 = Hard)
2. Player rolls Xd6
3. Success if roll <= Att + Skill

Wow. That is an absolutely terrible resolution mechanic. I would have to work hard to make one that is worse.

The scary thing is that in one of the T5 versions is the mathematical proof of why it works. It is brilliant, but it is also the writing of Abdul Al-Hazred. I only lost a little sanity to that counter intuitive mess by washing my eyes with the Classic Traveller LBBs.
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Svenhelgrim

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Re: Traveller 5
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2022, 01:55:01 PM »
It’s too bad Marc Miller has chosen to go this route.  I loved Classic Traveller, and the adventures that he wrote for Space 1889.  An excellent, brilliant designer.  What Marc fails to grasp is that we don’t need more rules.  What we need more of is: adventure hooks, maps, worlds, cool equipment and gewgaws that we can reward players with, and any other thing that we can slap down in the middle of our campaign when we haven’t had time to write an adventure or prepare for the next game.

Aglondir

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Re: Traveller 5
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2022, 06:59:09 PM »
Core Concepts starts on page 120, which is basically task resolution. This is not an easy read. I think the task resolution basically works like this:

1. GM determines difficulty (1d6 = hard, 2d6 = normal, 3d6 = Hard)
2. Player rolls Xd6
3. Success if roll <= Att + Skill

Wow. That is an absolutely terrible resolution mechanic. I would have to work hard to make one that is worse.

The scary thing is that in one of the T5 versions is the mathematical proof of why it works. It is brilliant, but it is also the writing of Abdul Al-Hazred. I only lost a little sanity to that counter intuitive mess by washing my eyes with the Classic Traveller LBBs.

Jeff,

I think that may be in the appendix to Book 1. There are tables of the percentage distributions for 2d6 to 10d6.

One idea I like is the Flux, Good Flux, and Bad Flux mechanic. All of them use 2d6.

Quote from: T5
Flux. Roll one die, then a second die and subtract it from the first. This roll is the same as D-D, but renamed for easier identification. For less confusion, use a light colored die and a dark die; always subtract dark from light.

Good Flux. Roll two dice: subtract the smaller from the larger value (if both dice are equal, the result is zero). This roll produces a range from 0 to + 5.

Bad Flux. Roll two dice: subtract the larger from the smaller value (if both dice are equal, the result is zero). This roll produced a range from 0 to - 5

Not sure how I would use that, but it looks like it might have potential for something.

hedgehobbit

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Re: Traveller 5
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2022, 08:14:59 PM »
The scary thing is that in one of the T5 versions is the mathematical proof of why it works.

I'd like to see that. I'm sure the system works mathematically, but it utterly fails logistically. Having the DM tell the player how many dice to roll for every single action would seriously drag the game down. Especially when you're dealing with 10 or more characters on a side.


I 100% agree with Svenhelgrim that the best way to go would be a cleaned up of T1 with tons of extra [usable] campaign material.

Mishihari

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Re: Traveller 5
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2022, 08:52:16 PM »
Can't comment on the game as a whole, but I can see the reason behind how the book is ordered.  How are you supposed to know what type of character to make until you understand the setting he will be operating in?  This is always a bit of a conundrum for me when writing a game - it seems like everything needs to be first,

HappyDaze

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Re: Traveller 5
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2022, 11:36:40 PM »
I don't usually do Traveller, but when I do, it won't be this version.

Kyle Aaron

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Re: Traveller 5
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2022, 11:57:37 PM »
How are you supposed to know what type of character to make until you understand the setting he will be operating in? 
You don't, you just roll it up.
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HappyDaze

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Re: Traveller 5
« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2022, 12:02:30 AM »
How are you supposed to know what type of character to make until you understand the setting he will be operating in? 
You don't, you just roll it up.
Without context, you might think that your retired scout character had spent 20+ years flying through space selling & delivering cookies.

Omega

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Re: Traveller 5
« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2022, 01:09:57 AM »
Core Concepts starts on page 120, which is basically task resolution. This is not an easy read. I think the task resolution basically works like this:

1. GM determines difficulty (1d6 = hard, 2d6 = normal, 3d6 = Hard)
2. Player rolls Xd6
3. Success if roll <= Att + Skill

Wow. That is an absolutely terrible resolution mechanic. I would have to work hard to make one that is worse.

The scary thing is that in one of the T5 versions is the mathematical proof of why it works. It is brilliant, but it is also the writing of Abdul Al-Hazred. I only lost a little sanity to that counter intuitive mess by washing my eyes with the Classic Traveller LBBs.

It is actually a fairly simple system. That odd Metamorphosis Alpha one-shot RPG used a similar idea and I've seen it on a rare few other games. One variation is players roll Xd6 where x is difficulty and the DM might roll as well as a counter.

Main thing is like many other RPGs. It puts the onus of determining what constitutes a difficulty on the DM. With examples. But its still up to the DM to puzzle out what when and where.

Aglondir

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Re: Traveller 5
« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2022, 01:54:47 AM »
I don't usually do Traveller, but when I do, it won't be this version.

HappyDaze,

Have you played Traveller before? If so, which version do you prefer?


HappyDaze

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Re: Traveller 5
« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2022, 02:04:53 AM »
I don't usually do Traveller, but when I do, it won't be this version.

HappyDaze,

Have you played Traveller before? If so, which version do you prefer?
I have. I played a few early versions, but rarely for long (I didn't run it). I dug into New Era for the setting changes, but the rules were horrible. I tried the d20 version (again, only as a player) and didn't like it. Played a bit of Mongoose 1e, and it was tolerable but nothing great. Own pdf of a few Mongoose 2e, but really have no strong desire to play or run it. As I said, I don't often do Traveller...

David Johansen

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Re: Traveller 5
« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2022, 02:07:26 AM »
Without context, you might think that your retired scout character had spent 20+ years flying through space selling & delivering cookies.

Pretty much really, by 1100 the Imperium is pretty well explored and scouts mostly update survey data and carry mail.

Anyhow I bought into T5 very early on when it was first offered and promised by August of that same year.  About three years later the CD came in the mail.  I was disappointed to see that it wasn't playable at that time.  A few years later they did a kickstarter promising the big book.  Eventually I got my big book, signed by Marc Miller and  I got all excited and tried to work with the tools and run it and there were a lot of problems.  Then they did 5.09 which made things much worse and failed to fix many obvious problems.  I never even ordered 5.1 but I did look over a friend's copy.

Nobody wanted to love T5 more than I did.  My personal bugbear is that large animals with horns still are better anti-tank weapons than heavy plasma cannons.  I kid you not  armour penetrating damage dice equal to strength on critters with 5d strength is crazy.

So, T5 is an amazing thing.  There are parts of it that are very good.  The scope of it is breathtaking.  But damnit if there was ever a task system that needed half dice this was it.  Difficulties in dice are too chunky and mixing them with modifiers is a nightmare.  If Marc wanted to please Traveller fans he'd have stuck with 2d and modifiers with ascending target numbers.  There are many places where there's too much information or the information is vaguely useless like all the additional armour values and the damage types that only affect the armour rating.  It's just screwy.
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