Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Next Project: The Traveller Sandbox Experiment...

Good Afternoon, All:

Having enough of a foundation created to start my Savage Odyssey Prime campaign, I've decided to turn my attention to a new challenge. I've started first with building several sandbox settings for fantasy (Hammersong's Legacy and its related Madlands setting, as well as the minimalist Egyptian Great Plains and the Isles of the Saharan Sea setting), and I've applied those same techniques to the cross-genre Savage Odyssey Prime campaign. I'd like to see what I could get if I turned those same techniques to create a Traveller campaign setting.

Some great articles already exist in these regards, from the pages of Challenge Magazine to modern blogs such as Ron Conley's fantastic How To Make A Traveller Sandbox article. However, since the approach I've developed from An Echo Resounding worked so well for the development of my Savage Odyssey Prime campaign, I'm going to use that as much as I can in this process. Where there are gaps, or where the setting elements call for it, I will fall back on other techniques to add to the flavor of what I'm creating. Still, it should be interesting how this new approach informs my Traveller setting creation.

As for the locale of this particular setting, I want it to be set in the same milieu as Azri Drakara, but not use the Azri Drakara sector itself. I'm trying to decide whether to use an adjacent sector, or a sector located at some point between Terra/Old Earth and Dracos. I suppose I'll generate a basic sector and then see how it feels.

My first step, though, will be to generate a sector. Once I have a sector, I'll run it through a few apps I've written, which will identify allegiance codes based on being within two-three jumps of Class A starports with a Population code of 7 or higher and a TL of 9+. (The jump distance is based on the TL of the world, so TL15 civilizations are larger than TL9 polities, for example.) The resulting map of polities should give me some ideas of where to go from that point.

The second step, at that point, will be to choose a quadrant to play with. That's when the fun stuff will begin. I prefer to use a quadrant, because I've found that's the average region of space that tends to be covered over the course of one of my Traveller campaigns (barring jumps into parallel universes, etc.)

The third step will be to determine five to ten worlds that will serve as the cultural centers for the setting. Two will be the major hubs, and the remainder will be minor hubs. If there are two polities with capitals in the quadrant, that could prove to be very interesting.

The fourth step will be to define a number of resource worlds, probably eight to ten, that the citizens of this quadrant can fight over and exploit. These provide key locations for potential conquest, should the game take on a military flavor. (Oooo, I haven't done a military campaign like that in Traveller, yet. Might be fun.)

The fifth step will be to choose a number of backwater worlds which will contain ruins, abandoned colonies, and similar sites that can serve the need for exploration-based adventures in Sci-Fi games. These should number about ten in total, so that there are plenty of options for greedy merchants, adrenalin-junkie mercenaries and similar entrepreneurial spirits to pursue within the campaign.

The sixth step will be to develop a number of "lairs", or locations where set-point adventures can take place. These are the ubiquitous pirate dens, rogue colonies and other aggressors that occasionally harass their interstellar neighbors. As a part of this, I may also create a list of potential encounter types, in a manner similar to the Encounter Scenarios I've created for previous settings here.

The seventh step in this process involves creating a Hall of Infamy, based on the setting details to date. These could be political figures, corporate CEOs, and other powerful entities with a major agenda and lots of power behind them.

The eighth step is to fill in the blanks, making sure that any obvious holes are covered. Sometimes, a cool world might fall through the cracks in the above process, and should be added into the mix as color for the setting.

The final step is to review the setting and see if there are any rules additions I should introduce, such as new careers, event tables, etc. I imagine that races would have been created or at least conceived along the way, but this would be the step where I would likely formalize them, if I hadn't already.

Once all of that is done, I will have a sandbox setting for Traveller that I hope will be geared toward exploration, action and adventure. I don't know how it will shape up compared to the flavor of settings that I've seen in the past for Traveller, but that's why this is an experiment.

So, what do you think? Do you think the above is possible, and that it will create a setting worth playing in? I don't know for certain, but I'm willing to give this a shot and find out.

With Regards,


Norman Harman said...

Whaddi think? That I will enjoy reading along with your experiment.

Kobold said...

I'm very interested to see you go through this process. My development of the Gazalon subsector has ground to a bit of a halt as I debate whether to use UWPs as rolled, or fiddle them to make them more interesting.

John said...

I'm very much looking forward to the rest of this series, since I'm looking at running a Traveller sandbox myself next semester...