Thursday, May 8, 2008

End of Netflix and Traveller

Last night I watched the bottom of the barrel of my Netflix queue. I think I'm going to suspend my account until I've got a list worth watching. It's like I've seen the light with torrent. I'm looking around wishing I could send a check to someone for the great service I'm getting. Season 3 of Weeds was addictive and season 3 of Battlestar Gallactica was also pretty great. Both of those are months away from Netflix distribution.

The bottom of the queue was mostly bad fantasy movies that I felt compelled to eventually watch. Beowulf took three sittings over the weekend and after watching the "making of" video on the disc, I understand why. It was a manufactured, rushed job, by design. I tried to watch the Dragonlance movie last night, but it was unwatchable. It's quite a shame too. I loved the books in college and it was a hot property, selling many millions of books. It deserved much more than cheesy animation, not fit for Saturday morning cartoons. Darkon was kind of interesting, a documentary about SCA type LARPers and how their fantasy outlet means so much to them in their life. Many are pretty miserable in their daily lives and their hobby brings them happiness. Dressing up in costume and whacking people seems kind of strange to me, but I'm living in a giant glass house, so.... The one glimmer of hope was Turok: Son of Stone. It's an animated feature about a Native American outcast warrior who ends up in dinosaur land. Not great, but well paced. Dinosaurs, volcanoes, and revenge. Not bad.

I finished putting troop gear on the 40K vehicles last night. I took a break for the evening and started reading the new Traveller RPG from Mongoose. It looks promising so far, at least after the first chapter or two. It starts out assuming you're not familiar with an RPG, going over gaming definitions, dice types and the types of Traveller campaigns possible, with references like Firefly, Starship Troopers, Star Trek and Honor Harrington novels. It's D6 based, with stats being comprised of two D6's and larger scale rolls made "percentile style" with two D6's, as in a two ones would be 11, two sixes a 66, etc. So far it looks promising, although I'm a little concerned with the spelling errors, stuff that could have been picked up by a simple run through with a spell checker. Then again, Traveller is spelled incorrectly with two "L's."

I brought in a dozen copies of the book and it is selling slowly. New role players are unaware of its heritage and basically don't care, especially with so many great sci-fi options available, such as Dark Heresy and Serenity (arguably a Traveller rip-off). The old-school gamer response is usually that they already own it or they already own three different editions. The cover is the same style as the original books, which I'm thinking is impeding sales. That there have been at least three other versions of Traveller doesn't help, especially when the original books have been reprinted and are still available. It's not going to be the big hit of the year I was hoping for, but with some luck it could be a steady seller. Mongoose is supporting it with regular releases, with the next one in June.

40K Tallarns
As I mentioned, the gear is on the vehicles and the missing laser piece installed. Most of the rough riders arrived yesterday. One of the sergeants is still coming from eBay and I'm looking for one more. I don't really need it though as sergeants have to use the same weapons. The mortar teams arrived too. Although I've decided against using mortars because they suck in-game, the mortar crew are perfect models for the basilisks.


  1. I looked at the Traveller book and wasn't sure if it was a reprint or not. On the web Marc Miller is apparently pushing T5 which is PDF. Is the Mongoose yet another different version or a hardcopy of T5?

  2. It's complicated. It's a new, updated version of the old system. It has nothing to do with T5.

    Check out this thread:

  3. That depends on who you're listening to. At one point I was reading somewhere that Mongoose Traveller would be a subset of the full T5, which would only be available in .pdf format. You'd still have a full game from Mongoose, but T5 would have a lot of extras.

    I have no idea if that's the case now.

    BTW, Traveller is spelled correctly... if you're British. I have no idea why they used the British spelling since they were based in Illinois. It's one of those minor gaming mysteries I've always been curious about.

    The history of the rules set is more convoluted than you realize:

    1) Traveller (now called Classic Traveller): went through two editions and at least three format changes before becoming...
    2) MegaTraveller: attempted to unify the rules, but ended up with more complexity.
    3) Taveller: The New Era: completely revamped rules, but screwed up the background. The last GDW version.
    4) Marc Miller's Traveller: a complete train wreck. The only good thing about it was the cover art which combined the classic look with a beautiful sci-fi painting (probably what Mongoose should have done, but the classic look is cheap to pull off, and Mongoose is short on the moolah). Attempted to update the classic Traveller rules, but did so badly. 190 pages of rules required 25 pages of errata, and I hear it still wasn't playable even then.
    5) GURPS Traveller: my favorite version since the original. In many ways it exceeds the original, but not in all ways. This will still be around (although who knows how long GURPS will actually be around at this point)
    6) Traveller 20: the d20 version of Traveller. It was already due to be discontinued due to Mongoose getting the license, but WotC ending the d20 license will probably speed that along. Not a bad version, but d20 and Traveller never seemed to be a very good fit to me.
    7) Traveller HERO: the one version of the rules I don't own. I'm not sure what the status of this is after the Mongoose deal.
    8) Classic Traveller: reprints of the original available in both hard copy and CD-ROM.
    9) T5: ?
    10) Mongoose Traveller

    Just to muddy the waters further, GDW put out a game called Traveller:2300 that didn't have anything at all to do with the Traveller game except that both were sci-fi RPGs. Later reprinted as 2300 AD to lessen the confusion.

  4. Good thing about the new Traveller - you can die in character creation still, although you have to fail like 6 rolls in a row.

    Didn't see much else worth picking the game up. I agree with Fulminata, GURPS Traveller is the best one for me.

  5. The thing I like best about GURPS Traveller is that it ignores the whole Rebellion/Virus timeline. If I were to run the game I would use either the Classic Traveller rules, or more likely the ruleset I forgot to mention before: Spirit of the Far Future, which uses the Fate system from Spirit of the Century.

    In either case, I'd use the GURPS supplements as additional background/fluff.

    Also, I haven't actually seen the Mongoose version yet. My copy is somewhere in Texas according to UPS.

  6. I'll just point out that around here, nobody plays GURPS. It's one of those games where the same three guys buy every new release and the core rulebooks rarely sell. The source material from third edition is fantastic, but the game system goes unused.

    The advantage to Mongoose's Traveler is that it should be widely available and fairly simple to play. As it forms a kind of open-source basis for other games, it should remain available for some time.

    I would personally want to play classic Traveller, since it's still in print. If I were serious, I would have to carefully compare the two.

  7. I always looked at "Striker" (iirc) it was a small scale miniatures supplement for Traveller, but never purchased it.

  8. Striker was my first ever miniatures rules, although I never had enough money back then to actually buy miniatures. You can still get it as part of the Classic Traveller reprint series. It's in the "Classic Games" volume.

    A lot of people who play Clasic Traveller use the Striker rules for combat instead of the CT combat rules. I'd probably do the same if I ran with CT instead of SotFF.

    It was an excellent game for its day, although there are better choices now.