Wednesday, October 14, 2020

What is "Traveller Envy" and why do I have it?

My memory is hazy, but my second RPG was either Traveller or Chill.  I like to say it was Chill since it gives me Horror RPG cred.  But in truth, I think it was Traveller.  No shame in that, I was a huge Sci-fi fan back then, even if I rarely got to play Sci-Fi games.

Who's Number 2? Sadly I can't recall.

While this month is dedicated to nothing but horror, I have been itching to get back into some sci-fi gaming and I have been reflecting a lot on something I call "Traveller Envy."

Growing up in the middle of Illinois had some advantages.  We were is what has been referred to as the RPG or even D&D pipeline.  We were situated between Chicago/Lake Geneva and Carbondale, IL where Tim Kask's (and my) Alma Mater SIU is.  We were also close enough to the University of Illinois.  It is only within the last couple of decades that I have come to learn how good I had it then.  Meaning, we had access to RPG products that most of the country lacked.  Judges Guild was just on the opposite side of Springfield from me.  Pacesetter was far North of us, but soon Mayfair would move into the Chicago burbs.  I regularly ordered games I could not otherwise find from The Dungeon Hobby shop/Mail Order Hobby Shop in Lake Geneva or Games Plus in Mount Prospect.

I would usually go to the AD&D/D&D material first, but it would not be long before I'd hit the other games, in particular Traveller.

D&D was great and had many worlds. Traveller had the whole universe. Literally.  

What struck me the most was not just all the RPG products Traveller had, but all the board games and other related games that all seemed to live inside the same in-game Universe.   I imagined campaigns (which always looked like a cross between Star Trek and Blake's 7) where you could role-play your characters and then turn around and have massive space battles using one of the many Traveller related board games

It was full immersion into a world universe that I just couldn't get with D&D.   Oh sure. I had the Dungeon! board game and I loved (love) it.  But a Dungeon! character is not the same as a D&D character. Even back in those earliest days.

I still love Dungeon!

I thought we might get a little closer in D&D4 with the various Dungeon & Dragon board games. But even they were both too close and too different at the same time.  Also I never really could get into those board games. I picked a couple up to try, but in the end I just ended up cannibalizing them for the minis.  IF and this is a big if, I ever rerun Ravenloft as a campaign I might pull that on in.

This feeling of wanting to expand my universe more with more varieties of games is something I have dubbed "Traveller Envy."

I suppose I could have also called this "Star Fleet Battles Envy" since they do something similar, but that doesn't roll off the tongue as easy.

Now it could be that my Traveller Envy is built on something that doesn't even exist.  The dawn of it was reading over Game Catalogs and maybe seeing stronger connections that were not really there.  I have learned that some of the board games take place in the RPG's "past." Even then if the connection is less than I suspect, it is still strong.

I have wanted to do something like this for a long, long time.  I have some ideas on how to do it and what to do, but I am nowhere near close to figuring it all out.

"Travelling" with the Witches

My goal would be to use some board games (as many as I can) in my War of the Witch Queens campaign.  While my Come Endless Darkness campaign is multi-versal that is not something the characters know until much, much later.  In War of the Witch Queens, they learn this early on.

So it makes sense to give it a multi-versal, multi-media feel.

None of these board games are even remotely compatible with my old-school D&D game.  They are also largely incompatible with each other.  Only Affliction and Witch Hunt work by covering the same historical event. But I have to give it a try.

In one respect at least Cauldron Bubble and Boil has the advantage of featuring my iconic witch Larina in it as the "Arcanist" witch. 

I have talked Wizard's QuestWitch's Caldron, and Witchcraft Ritual Kit before.  Not all of them are going to work. Not all of them will even work well, but I think I owe it to that 13-year-old version of me to at least give it a try.

Maybe I could have picked an easier batch.  Again my BlackStar game could work with StarFleet Battles (any version) and even some Cthulhu related games.  But this is where my love is.  Besides, there is no challenge in climbing hills, only mountains. 

Are there games you look at and think "man, I need to try that in my game"? 


faoladh said...

Oh, yeah. Every time I look at Wizards, I think to myself what a wonderful scenario that could be as an RPG, getting deeper into the specifics of what all those quests imply. Just the idea of a game where the goal isn't so much to defeat the enemy in direct confrontation but to strengthen the ties that connect your allies to each other is amazing to me. Plus, the whole prog rock sensibility of the thing is fantastic. I just need to find the time and energy to do the work to make it a playable thing in some more detailed RPG system. Because it's me, I'd probably go with GURPS, but I can see some other games that might work as well, like Pendragon or even Lace & Steel with the background and player options completely revised.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Honestly. You had me at "prog rock sensibility."

Teresa said...

We played a Star Fleet Battles - Trek game using multiple systems. Federation/Klingon War
Federation and Empire to sneak into Klingon Space
Star Fleet Battles to fight and sneak our way to a solar system
FASA Star Trek 2e to roleplay it on the ground. We managed rescue the POWs and get home mostly intact.
It was much harder fighting our way out.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

@Teresa, YES That is exactly the sort of thing I am looking for. Especially the Star Fleet Battles / FASA Trek connections.

More to explore really.

faoladh said...

This could, probably should, be the cover of a Yes album.

Little Odo said...

I have always been lucky with my gaming group - each player, on occasion, has an idea that they wish to explore and designs a play by email game for use at the macro level (be it space exploration, trade, starship battles and so on) which we play through and use to create our "history". These "historical" macro-events become part of our canon, which we then continue to play parts of at tabletop battle level (i.e. a wargame like Spacefarers or Laserburn) to flesh that history out, e.g. create the famous battles, heroes and so on. Finally we add the sheen with games at RPG level; small scale skirmishes, what happens to the ordinary people when a planet is invaded and so on). Many of the games are player created, but often we would also use shop bought games (often amending them to our needs) to fill a gap if we felt the need.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

@faoladh, yeah. I get a solid Chris Squire vibe off that!

@Little Odo, that is fantastic! And also the sort of thing I'd love to do as well.