Friday, October 23, 2009

Traveller: What version?

A couple days ago Gameblog reader Erin asked "if one were interested in the OTU, but didn't know what version to pick up, what would you recommend?" In case Erin missed it I wanted to point out that donm61873, a.k.a. Don McKinney, a.k.a. my personal Traveller guru and one of the coolest cats I've ever met, provided an answer:
Mongoose Traveller is pretty good... (and I'm not just saying that because my name is in the books) but if you're really interested in the OTU, get the CT and MT CD-ROMs produced by FFE (www.farfuture.net). The TNE CD is now also available.
I think the Classic Traveller CD-ROM is definitely the correct answer here. For $35 you get one of the best buys in the history of the hobby, both in terms of quality and quantity. The only reason I don't own a copy myself is that I have so much of this stuff already and I'm a cheap bastard. Inevitably I'll want one of the harder to find/more expensive items on the disc and I'll order the dang thing. But before you go and get one I want to offer a couple caveats:

1) Holy crap, that's a lot of game stuff! It would be easy for a newbie to get overwhelmed by the amount of material. Don't fret. Start with The Traveller Book and The Traveller Adventure. I think those two would go a long way to figuring out how much you dig this scene. After those two, the rabbit hole goes about as deep as you could possibly want. There are 60 more books on that disc, and that's not everything ever written for the game. Which brings me to my next point.

2) A lot of Trav people take the idea of Canon very seriously. I am not one of them. While I acknowledge Marc Miller as the Supreme Overlord of All Things Traveller, there's a lot of superfun 3rd party stuff that he no longer considers official. If you get the CD-ROM, you get a horse-choking quantity of official Games Designer Workshop materials, but none of the cool stuff from FASA or the Gamelords or Judges Guild or a whole bunch of other publishers. Much of that junk lacks the polish of GDW or the hardcore wargamer work ethic of the people who worked there, but it's all still a vibrant part of Traveller's colorful publishing history.

Just a couple things to keep in mind.