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Author Topic: Traveller 5  (Read 14496 times)

jeff37923

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Traveller 5
« on: July 13, 2013, 10:55:50 pm »
This is a review of Traveller5, which was funded through this Traveller5 kickstarter. I participated in this kickstarter and have been involved in the playtest for this RPG, hence my own review may be considered biased by the reader.

Traveller5 is not the RPG that it could have been.

Actually, Traveller5 is not the RPG it should be, yet.

Ronald Reagan used to tell the parable of two little boys - one an optimist, the other a pessimist. The pessimist was placed in a room full of toys and he whined and cried continually saying that there was nothing to play with. In contrast, the optimist was placed in a room full of horse crap. The optimist was happily digging away in the manure. When asked why he was so happy, he said: "There's got to be a pony in here somewhere!"

I'm an optimist about Traveller5. We'll get to the pony later on.

Physically, Traveller5 is a large hardbound tome of 658 pages. It is larger than my Pathfinder Core Rules, of equal size as my copy of Ptolus, and has slightly better bullet stopping capabilities than my last phone book. The interior is mostly black-and-white priting on white paper with several pages of color prints in the back. The binding is exceptional, better than my Pathfinder Core Rules in fact.

In keeping with the tradition of Classic Traveller, the illustrations are spartan. Most of the book is taken up by rules, very densely written rules. The scope and breadth of the rules are astounding, an incredibly daring attempt at covering everything the author felt was important.

Unfortunately, one of those things was not proofreading or editing. There are spelling errors throughout the book, simple ones which could have been solved by running the documant through spell check. Then there are the proofing errors, sometimes it is misplacing the example armor's defense against certain types of attacks thus causing anarchy in the blogosphere (for example cloth armor has an armor value of 1 against bullets and 14 against EMP) and sometimes it is confusing the V0 system for V1 or V2 (there is no V0 system, and the V1 system is for NPCs only and optional). This makes some of the most important rules a hash and damn near unuseable.

And those rules themselves are what makes Traveller5 potentially great. Well, there are the Makers. GunMaker makes guns and just about any other kind of ranged weapon. BladeMaker makes melee weapons. ArmorMaker makes all kinds of armor and shields. ThingMaker makes the rest of the equipment that a Player could possibly want. Tech level goes up into the TL=33 range (the technological singularity), so super high technology can be extrapolated. BeastMaker creates critters of all shapes and sizes and ecological niches. VehicleMaker creates everything from horse-drawn carriages to ship's boats. Characters can be created as natural (with a system for determining characteristics of offspring from parents), robots, clones, or bioilogical constructs. Sophonts (Traveller for alien races) allows you to create almost any possible alien race that is biologically imagineable. Starships are given eight possible drive systems in two categories and use the same Maker-like system which allows each component (maneuver, jump, power, sensors, weapons, defenses) to be specifically designed. Stars and worlds allows you to craft star systems, subsectors, sectors, and include systemic mapping for those places. Computers and consoles and the accompanying personalities and brains chapter cover everything cyberpunk and transhuman you could possibly desire. Robots shows you how to build your own robots. Trade and Commerce allows you to play the classic mode of ethically challenged merchant. To top it all off, each Maker has a section allowing you to randomly roll outcomes from it instead of picking and choosing.

The downside being that the Makers have editing problems, as mentioned above. However, most of their output is compatable with the rules.

In all good conscience, with a cover price of $75, I cannot recommend this book for purchase. It has been poorly produced and is not worth the money for the average gamer. Your $75 can be better spent elsewhere.

With that said, I can now show you the pony.

Having invested their time, effort, and money into this game - the community of Traveller gamers at the Citizens of the Imperium forum are working with Marc Miller and the playtesters to compile Errata for Traveller5 to ensure that the game works.

I have never seen that before. Usually if a bad version of a popular game comes out, people will be rushing to trash it in private and in public, typically because of some past real or imagined slight. But to try and fix what is considered broken? To band together and make a bad product better? I will and have gladly joined with a group of fans dedicated to doing just that.

Traveller5 is currently not worth its cover price.

Traveller5 will be worth more once we get done with it.

This is a link to the latest Errata File.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2013, 11:34:00 pm by jeff37923 »

Zachary The First

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Traveller 5
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2013, 04:31:35 am »
Seems like a fair review, Jeff. Thanks for posting it. It sounds like the game wasn't quite ready for primetime, but the Maker systems and tech levels sound neat. How in-depth do they go into the tech levels.
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jeff37923

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« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2013, 08:09:03 am »
Quote from: Zachary The First;670740
Seems like a fair review, Jeff. Thanks for posting it. It sounds like the game wasn't quite ready for primetime, but the Maker systems and tech levels sound neat. How in-depth do they go into the tech levels.


Tech levels are treated with a fair amount of depth, they have their own chapter on Technology, but it is done with a depth of slightly greater than Classic Traveller but with greater depth for the new tech levels and what they mean.

There are a tremendous amount of Good Ideas in Traveller5, but many of them need a bit of work before they can be fully realised.

Spinachcat

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« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2013, 04:19:20 pm »
So the Kickstarter patrons paid $75 for a playtest document and after the fan base (what's left of them) does all the playtesting, editing and reworking of the rules, then everyone in the KS is going to get a free copy to replace their "ashcan edition"?

Or will they be paying an additional $75?

There isn't any justification for spelling mistakes. There is no real justification for proofreading or editing errors because I am quite sure all these fans who are proofing the game now would have done so quite happily before T5 was sent to the printer.  

And as for selling an un-playtested game? That's idiotic, but somehow acceptable in RPGland whereas that shit don't fly in other game genres.

Shame. The Maker rules sounded interesting.

jeff37923

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« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2013, 06:13:03 pm »
Quote from: Spinachcat;670849
So the Kickstarter patrons paid $75 for a playtest document and after the fan base (what's left of them) does all the playtesting, editing and reworking of the rules, then everyone in the KS is going to get a free copy to replace their "ashcan edition"?

Or will they be paying an additional $75?


Probably not in answer to both of your ascerbic trolling questions. However, you weren't looking for an honest answer, were you?

Quote from: Spinachcat;670849
There isn't any justification for spelling mistakes. There is no real justification for proofreading or editing errors because I am quite sure all these fans who are proofing the game now would have done so quite happily before T5 was sent to the printer.  

And as for selling an un-playtested game? That's idiotic, but somehow acceptable in RPGland whereas that shit don't fly in other game genres.

Shame. The Maker rules sounded interesting.


The playtest lasted about 10 years for this, actually.

Oh, they are interesting. So much so that I am helping with the Errata files.

Now, since you have gotten your digs in to bolster your ego, why don't you come and join in our effort to fix things? I'm pretty sure that you didn't bother to be a part of the Kickstarter, because you really aren't that interested in Traveller, so you do not have a stake in this. But it would be something to do with your gaming life that wasn't just a petty sneer on a forum.

jeff37923

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« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2013, 06:23:58 pm »
Something I was not going to add to the Review was that the one thing which encapsulates the problems with this project is in a chapter of Traveller5 itself.

The chapter on dice roll mechanics used to justify the roll under system preferred by Marc Miller is brilliant as a proof in probability mathematics and how they effect die rolls in gaming. However, the premise is flawed not in its approach to math, but in its approach to people. Most people find a roll under system like in Traveller4 or Traveller5 to be counter-intuitive, and thus find roll over systems more familiar and easy to learn.

Problems with Traveller5 have more to do with people and execution than with the actual rules.

Spinachcat

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« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2013, 04:11:18 am »
Quote from: jeff37923;670878
pretty sure that you didn't bother to be a part of the Kickstarter, because you really aren't that interested in Traveller, so you do not have a stake in this.


As one of the only GMs in California who runs Traveller at conventions, as I have for the past 30 years, I suspect I'm plenty interested in Traveller.  The lack of Traveller at cons has always surprised me since CT especially is perfect for one shots with new players. But sadly, I don't think there is a handful of active GMs in the state who play Trav outside their house.

I did not join the KS because I wasted money on T4. That game was a half-assed disappointment (with lots of bright points) and nothing in the T5 KS promo lead me to believe that things were going to be better this time around.

jeff37923

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« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2013, 04:32:17 am »
Quote from: Spinachcat;671126
As one of the only GMs in California who runs Traveller at conventions, as I have for the past 30 years, I suspect I'm plenty interested in Traveller.  The lack of Traveller at cons has always surprised me since CT especially is perfect for one shots with new players. But sadly, I don't think there is a handful of active GMs in the state who play Trav outside their house

I did not join the KS because I wasted money on T4. That game was a half-assed disappointment (with lots of bright points) and nothing in the T5 KS promo lead me to believe that things were going to be better this time around.


So you come in and gloat over the percieved misfortune of people who were involved in the Traveller5 Kickstarter, but you get really sensitive when called on it. Why? Were you expecting to be congratulated for being an asshole? While getting the pony, I'll be sure to send you some horseapples in thanks.

danbuter

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« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2013, 09:25:00 am »
Jeff, you're way too defensive about this. It was a great review, though.

My biggest thing is the makers. Could you post how they work, exactly? Your review is very opaque about them, other than they make stuff.
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jeff37923

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« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2013, 01:31:34 pm »
Quote from: danbuter;671167
Jeff, you're way too defensive about this.


Maybe so, but I will treat assholes like they are acting.

Quote from: danbuter;671167
It was a great review, though.


Thank you.

Quote from: danbuter;671167
My biggest thing is the makers. Could you post how they work, exactly? Your review is very opaque about them, other than they make stuff.


The approach is slightly different for each Maker. Most of them are designed so that every added descriptor you place on a base form changes the characteristics of that item. The closest thing I can relate it to is the advanced design system from Mekton Zeta. So that a Pistol-1 fires a bullet that does 1D of damage at pistol ranges while an Advanced Pistol-1 fires a bullet that does 2D damage at pistol ranges and a Silenced Advanced Pistol-1 fires a sound supressed bullet that does 2D damage at pistol ranges.

The sector/subsector/star system/world generator allows either choosing characteristics or random rolling to create worlds, so it is closer to the original system from Classic Traveller. The system allows for creation of larger worlds (up to size 15 or 20) and uses flux (1D-1D) instead of 2D-7 for the random modifier which creates fewer outliers. I personally like the more prevalent outliers because they make more interesting worlds.

dungeon crawler

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« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2013, 08:20:15 pm »
Thank you for a honest review. I intend to pick up a copy in September because I love the Traveller line. Right now I just can't swing it.

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« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2013, 02:40:45 pm »
Well, I am a long time role player, being in the game since 1994 (mostly GURPS, AD&D and Shadowrun). I love sci-fi, cyberpunk, space opera, and I thought getting the new Traveller5 to start with the system a good idea. Apparently, I was wrong. What would be the easiest path to get a campaign on the run? Getting rid of Traveller 5 and jumping in Gurps 3rd edition Traveller? Gurps 4th? I find the scenario amazing, but learning the new system seem to be a cumbersome task for veterans, and I am a newbie on that. Any hints?

jeff37923

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« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2013, 03:03:42 pm »
Quote from: rafaelsmoreno;677518
Well, I am a long time role player, being in the game since 1994 (mostly GURPS, AD&D and Shadowrun). I love sci-fi, cyberpunk, space opera, and I thought getting the new Traveller5 to start with the system a good idea. Apparently, I was wrong. What would be the easiest path to get a campaign on the run? Getting rid of Traveller 5 and jumping in Gurps 3rd edition Traveller? Gurps 4th? I find the scenario amazing, but learning the new system seem to be a cumbersome task for veterans, and I am a newbie on that. Any hints?


Sorry, I haven't been paying close attention to this thread so ther was a delay.

If you are just getting started there are a few options available. The approaches I recommend the highest are using DriveThruRPG and downloading Starter Traveller ( a free basic version of the original Classic Traveller), on the same website download the free Book 0: An Introduction to Traveller for Mongoose Traveller (a backwards compatable in print version of Traveller currently available). Those two will give you a good overview of the roots of the Traveller system. When you are comfortable with spending money, I would suggest either the Mongoose Traveller Core Rules or the Classic Traveller CD-ROM from Far Future Enterprises.

GURPS 3rd Traveller is available primarily as a PDF from SJGs and I consider it to be better than GURPS 4th Traveller which is intimately tied to the Interstellar Wars era of the OTU. These will also cost some money.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2013, 02:13:27 pm by jeff37923 »

rafaelsmoreno

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« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2013, 10:37:55 am »
Thanks for the hints! Just downloaded the Starter Traveller :)

Quote from: jeff37923;677991
Sorry, I haven't been paying close attention to this thread so ther was a delay.

If you are just getting started there are a few options available. The approaches I recommend the highest are using DriveThruRPG and downloading Starter Traveller ( a free basic version of the original Classic Traveller), on the same website download the free Book 0: An Introduction to Traveller for Mongoose Traveller (a backwards compatable in print version of Traveller currently available). Those two will give you a good overview of the roots of the Traveller system. When you are comfortable with spending money, I would suggest either the Mongoose Traveller Core Rules or the Classic Traveller CD-ROM from Far Future Enterprises.

GURPS 3rd Traveller is available primarily as a PDF from SJGs and I consider it to be better than GURPS 4th Traveller which is intimately tied to the Interstellar Wars era of the OTU. These will also cost some money.

David Johansen

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« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2013, 08:29:12 pm »
Really the Kickstarter proved to be a problem and is probably responsible for the erratta levels.

Marc Miller has a long history of underestimating how long things are going to take.  The kickstarter put pressure on to get the book out the door and even though it was late, it simply wasn't late enough.

The other source of complaints is the very nature of the book.  It's a tool box for building universes not a complete roleplaying game with a detailed setting.
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