Traveller homebrew conversion for Savage Worlds

A while back I wrapped up my 4E D&D campaign and we were thinking about our next round of gaming to try out. I had recently picked up the new Traveller RPG from Mongoose publishing and liked the rules and setting for a sci-fi universe. The downside was that it’d be another ruleset for our group to jump into. Also, I wasn’t sure how deeply the group would be vested in trying out Traveller. Some were thinking a few sessions would be fun and then maybe rotate to something else. Again the burden of getting everyone comfortable with another set of rules was hanging around there in the background. So doing something using Savage Worlds was rather enticing.

I decided to write up my own Savage Worlds treatment of Traveller. One thing right off was that I wanted to use the rules as much as I could out of the Mongoose book. The first bit was to convert much of the target numbers and penalties to an equivalent with SW. Another key point was to translate some of the characteristics to SW attributes. I ended up having a print out of those tables handy when I ran a game. So I could consistently scan any rule in the book for an equivalent in Savage Worlds. This made it immensely easy to use tables and charts in the Traveller book. Even starship combat was possible as I could just use the Traveller rules for checks, just translate them to SW die types and numbers.

Character generation was a challenge. I really liked the organic process and mini-game in Traveller. One of the major challenges was to work on converting the list of skills to something more manageable. I truncated a lot of different skills. At the same time, I want some gradation in combat skills. Shooting could encompass too many weapon types, so I opted for some carry over with weapons. Having a high skill level in ballistics weapons like a d8 meant you could also shoot well with energy weapons, just at one die type less (d6). It allowed characters a choice with their progression. They were freed up to consider using skills gained for a variety of other professions if they wanted to. Alternately they could try to focus on having as many fighting skills as possible be all at the same relative level.

Knowledge skills could get out of hand using this rule though. You could have a character gain some specialty in one field and be able to use that as a base for a lot of other skills. So for knowledge skills, I still allow some crossover with its application in other fields, but at two die types less. This for me made a bit more sense. Just because a character had a d10 in Astrophysics didn’t mean they were well versed in Biology. However, with all their training in science, they likely got some exposure to this field of science, so they could get a d6 with Biology checks.

Social standing was also not part of the game. To address this I have a temporary attribute that characters used during character generation. Having a high enough social standing at the end of their career meant they could gain some additional edges.

With this as a basis, you could then go through the charts and tables for character generation and basically get the same result. I truncated the careers somewhat to 3 year terms and capped the number of terms at 4 (or about 12 years). Beyond that you’d get characters getting upwards of 20 skill points which was a bit much starting out. This would cut out some hindrance choices (like the old age), but could be worked around just giving the character longer imagined times of career terms.

It’s far from perfect. You are going to get some divergence in the number of skill points between them, but overall I like how they run. They really match up pretty well with the theme and flavor of Traveller character generation. There is also room for establishing connections and picking up hindrances and edges as they go through the process. These are not very tight and rigid as your typical SW system. You are going to get characters with different skill sets and perks. I’d just run with it. By default I gave characters 3 bennies to reroll any trait or table roll during character generation. You might want to consider having only 2 for a more unpredictable career path.

Of course with all those skills, you needed a new table of weapons and equipment. For the most part it’s a port of the SW weapons with a few tweaks and nods to the technology in Traveller. As I mentioned, I really wanted to keep a lot of the material in the Traveller book relevant, so you can still use the equipment and items from that book for your game.

One small bit I added with starships was the concept of the 100 diameter gravitational threshold. I simplified it to a simple random amount of time that was adjusted by the thrust of the ship. I wanted to give something concrete but still have an easy ruling at the table so a GM could just spurt out a time needed and keep the action going. I like the concept that these routes are predictable. When you jump in (or jump out) to certain systems you will be traveling a common route within the system to minimize fuel use. The danger of this is that these sub-system routes are ripe for pirates (or for security patrols). It’s just a little ‘realism’ to back up why players might run into pirates as they jump into a system, or how security authorities know what route the players are taking when they break out of orbit from a local planet.

As trade and ship upkeep goes, I threw in the towel. I tried to use the freighter a base for figuring typical monthly costs for paying off the ship mortgage and upkeep costs and just gave up. The numbers don’t work out if running simple freight. For this I certainly took the spirit of SW with embracing a simple process over the convoluted rules in Traveller. Every two weeks players can run basic freight that will pay off half their monthly costs for upkeep and the ship mortgage. They keep doing this they can always pay the bills and potentially get a little more cash in thier pocket.

Alternately they can dabble in speculative trading, however they won’t get a windfall like they would in Traveller. Instead they will be able to sell goods at 10% over the base cost. For each raise they get on their Trader roll, they get an additional 5% increase in price. This allows the players to get a little extra money with trade goods, but it won’t be a huge amount like in Traveller. The good news is that players can always unload goods at 25% less the base cost for that planet type if they fail to get a buyer. So they will lose a bit of cash, but not be completely wiped out.

This conversion is far from perfect but it was serviceable for me. It allowed me to use the base rules in the Traveller book and quickly port much of it over to Savage Worlds. Feel free to give them a whirl at your own table.

Note: It’d be criminal not to mention Chaotic GM’s Space Savage Worlds rules. They are fantastic. Use them.