Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Traveller Sandbox: Choosing the Right Quadrant...

Good Afternoon, All:

Step Two in our Traveller Sandbox Experiment is simple: choose the quadrant we are going to develop. In order to do that, I think we should review some of the prime features of each quadrant so we can make a choice informed by adventuring potential. Note that all of the Quadrants offer the opportunity for conflict between at least two established major polities, so many of the classic Traveller scenarios can easily be modified to fit into this setting.

To help us out here, I've also used the API to create a new version of the sector map with borders and some trade routes, the ones based off of calculations that do not point to Non-aligned worlds or worlds of differing allegiances.

New Sector with Routes and Borders

Alpha Quadrant (Upper-Left)
The Alpha Quadrant is dominated by the Asuran Hegemony. Other polities that are present include the spinward third of the Seshat Empire, the entirety of the Gyalpoan Trade Coalition and the majority of the Avalon Commonwealth. The greatest potential for conflict here probably lies along the shared borders of the Asuran Hegemony and the Seshat Empire. The smaller polity of the Avalon Commonwealth must also resist the expansion of the Seshat Empire, while the Gyalpoan Trade Coalition remains relatively isolated. I can see this Quadrant emphasizing border conflicts and exploration in a less intense environment, and is probably the most well-rounded of all of the Quadrants in terms of gaming experiences.

Beta Quadrant (Upper-Right)
The Beta Quadrant contains the rest of the Seshat Empire, as well as that portion of the Koyane Shogunate that extends into this sector, the entirety of the Jengu Alliance, the two worlds of the Tabaldak Jurisdiction and the five worlds of the Litha League. The major polities are focused along the coreward half of the Quadrant, leaving the rimward half full of non-aligned worlds and small polities. The presence of the Jengu Alliance and the Seshat Empire around the independent world of Abrakos provides some interesting potential for intrigue and diplomacy on that world. The of the Koyane Shogunate toward Jengu Alliance space paints an interesting picture of a polity trapped between two significant powers. This Quadrant feels like it's in the middle of military action to me, and will probably lend itself to a mercenary campaign. Considering the name of the polities here (an Empire, a Shogunate, a Jurisdiction, a League and an Alliance), there's a lot of potential combat going on. I'm feeling that Beta Quadrant is a strong candidate for selection.

Gamma Quadrant (Lower-Left)
A great majority of the coreward half of Gamma Quadrant is non-aligned. To rimward, the Changesan Dynasty pushes against the independent polities of the Stars of Namaka and the Ishtar Sovereignty, which buffers the Perunian Federation from the much larger Changesan Dynasty. Along the trailing edge of the Quadrant, the Heremod Unity extends some of its border-worlds into this region of space. The Changesan Dynasty-Ishtar Sovereignty-Perunian Federation sandwich going on suggests some interesting political issues, but the large degree of non-aligned worlds here really separates the two big powers of the region (the Changesan Dynasty and the Heremod Unity), and suggests that Gamma Quadrant would be a good option for an exploratory or mercantile campaign. Considering that this is the proto-typical style for most Traveller campaigns that I've run or played in, I'd have to say that Gamma Quadrant is also in the running for selection.

Delta Quadrant (Lower-Right)
The Heremod Unity dominates Delta Quadrant, although the Chakanan Empire has an established presence in this region of space as well. The Moloch Regency puts in a token appearance along the rimward edge, and the Chimalmat Group sits on the coreward border of the Heremod Unity. Here's an interesting region of space, where three larger powers interact. The Heremod Unity is contending with the Moloch Regency and the Chakanan Empire along two of its borders, which probably indicates that a majority of its resources are devoted along those borders. The border-worlds toward the center of the sector are thus less protected, which could add a somewhat "Wild West" feel to that region, if we so chose to take it in that direction. I think Delta Quadrant lends itself well to campaigns that feature "small fish in big pond" scenarios, acting in some ways like a small version of the Third Imperium setting. Much of the action can probably take place within the Unity itself, with occasional forays into Regency or Imperial space, as well as the border-worlds to spinward and coreward.

The Results
Since each Quadrant really stands out as a candidate for a specific type of Traveller gaming experience, I'm now forced to consider the kind of game that I want to run in this particular setting. The options are: the well-rounded Traveller experience (Alpha Quadrant), the mercenary-heavy campaign (Beta Quadrant), the exploration and mercantile campaign (Gamma Quadrant) or the "small fish in a big pond" single-polity campaign (Delta Quadrant). Each one has its merits. Given that I mentioned in the original post for this idea that I hadn't run a mercenary campaign before, I think I'm going to choose Beta Quadrant this time around.

In my next post, I'll be examining the worlds of Beta Quadrant to identify the major cultural hubs that will direct the political influences of the campaign setting we're creating here. If you as a Reader wish to point me to a different Quadrant for this development exercise, please comment on this post soon, before I'm too far along to change my path. Otherwise, hold on, because we're about to shape the forces that motivate the actions of the Bigger Picture...

More Later,

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