Category: Traveller

Running the Game: a DM tutorial series

I’ve got a player eager to take the helm running a D&D game periodically. I’m super excited to see them flip to the other side of the screen and be a DM. They freely admitted struggling some with thinking up an appropriate way to kick off the game, and the decision to dabble in making up their own world or run something pre-made. They also wanted to know if I had any advice. So I pointed them over to Running the Game, a YouTube series about being a DM.

It’s done by Matthew Colville, a writer that also works in the video game industry. The videos he creates run between 15 to 30 minutes and commonly cover a specific RPG topic. Some address a specific issue most DMs will face at the table or when planning out their session. He also has a series that covers his own game more in detail and the problems he occasionally has when playing.

Now a big caveat with the advice is that what he will regularly state the tidbits he throws out are his opinions and how he likes to run his own games. Your mileage might vary with his advice, and he’ll freely admit his approach might not be for everyone. Another point is that much of the series is about running D&D. I think if you were a GM for other game systems a lot of his advice would still be great but you are going to get some chunks of content not quite applicable to a non-D&D game.

This last point touches on a few episodes. One is related to the Deck of Many things (which dragged some for me), and if not playing D&D or including that magic item in your campaign, much of the video will be not helpful. However you might pick up some interesting tips and ideas handling a similar powerful, legendary magical item in your own game. The concept of using a few props to spice up your game is great and I particularly like the idea of a little sleight of hand to make players think they have full agency (when in reality you are guiding events some).

Another ding with the video series is the speed that Matthew speaks. He talks fast. You might want to slow down the playback speed at little. I think especially if English wasn’t your mother tongue you’d have a hard time keeping up. I enjoy his rapid fire dialog and find it engaging and quippish, but keep in mind he speaks at a fair clip.

But these are quibbles. You’ll find his videos a great resource. I especially like that he also talks about things that fall flat at his table. We tend to just spout off the things that work in our sessions and not dwell on the times when things just didn’t work. I agree with his opinion that sharing stuff that failed can also serve as helpful advice.

In the end you have a fantastic introduction to being a DM. Seriously, for the uninitiated wanting to sit down and try their hand at running a game, this is a great series. The first four are especially solid tutorials for DMing your initial adventure. There really are some golden tips covered in them. It’s such a helpful and entertaining bunch of tutorials. I really can’t recommend it enough to new DMs, and if you’re a bit long in the tooth as a GM, give a few videos a watch. You’ll either be nodding your head in agreement or picking up a few good ideas for your own game.


Random Sci-fi adventure generator

TravellerArtASo my sci-fi Savage Worlds game is chugging along. Generally it’s a big sandbox game. The players are flying around in the Scalawag and seeing what trouble they can get into. I employ a sci-fi version of a job board. Each system they jump into they have a few options on employment opportunities. For my game I scooped up the idea of Traveller’s FTL travel. You jump so many parsecs and it takes about a week in this alternate space, regardless of the actual distance traveled. In effect is this age of sail feel for the game, allowing players to potentially run from the law or bounty hunters (and making pursuits after baddies all that more aggravating).

I also fell in love with an idea from Traveller Patrons books. Essentially when the PCs get a patron, after making the initial meet and accepting a job, the GM rolls a d6. While the typical results mean that opposition or the expected situation is what the patron described, there is a chance things could be far more difficult, or that the entire situation is not what it initially seems. I loved this concept as I’m certain I tend to telegraph any secret intentions from NPCs. Not to mention this sort of mirrors events in real life. Sometimes things are a lot easier than expected and sometimes well… sh%t happens and everything goes pear shaped.

A fan made supplement I’ve long gushed over, Savage Space, has a great adventure generator. But I wanted to tweak it some. I expanded the potential outcomes and settled on a series of 8 x 8 tables. As a GM you roll two different colored d8 to represent the rows and columns of the tables. In general an adventure framework is:

Players must [Do][Something] at [Location] against [Opposition].

So I have a series of tables for the Do, Opposition, Something, etc. As a twist, sometimes the players might have to go through some hoops to complete an adventure. Success or failure from previous adventures might impact future tasks, so I created another chart to mimic that. This would also potentially throw in complications to the adventure. To add some structure, certain types of adventures would utilize particular types of side missions, and additional charts I whipped up reflect that.

The end result you can find in my downloads section. This adventure generator isn’t perfect and sometimes you get some wacky combinations that need to be reworked some. However I’ve been surprised how flexible it is. It really has become a great way to spark adventure ideas and a helpful tool for creating a foundation for a potential mission. Hope folks find some use for it in their games.

Dropping Swimming and Climbing skills (or how I learned to love Athletics)

TravellerArtCQuite a while back I talked about some of the fan made settings I liked. One was a great classic space opera ruleset called, Savage Space. There were some really cool ideas in that one, and I latched onto it and used Savage Space to port over to a some other conversions I whipped up.

Savage Worlds doesn’t get saddled down with a lot of different skills. However occasionally you get a few that sort of overlap, or mushroom into a ton of different options that just don’t really amount to much practical differentiation in actual play. The Investigation and Streetwise skill come to mind. Yes there is a difference in how the skills are applied and how they are supposed to work in specific situations. However I can see some players making an argument that either could be applicable to particular challenges.

One that certainly stood out to me was the swimming and climbing skills. A ways back I was working on a Traveller hack using Savage Worlds and ran into this skill problem with swimming and climbing. Traveller uses Athletics as a catch all skill for tests of physical activity. You were never penalized for not having it, and could always test against strength, dexterity, or endurance if needed. But a good way to show you had all round physical prowess were skill levels in Athletics.

While digging through Savage Space, I saw the writer picked up on the same vibe. Climbing and swimming were not skills in that setting. Instead a uniform skill called Athletics was used. I loved it. As RAW, if most characters wanted some decent representation of physical ability they would need to spend 4 points, both to raise swimming and climbing to d6. That is a chunk of points and nearly a third taken up for something that would likely be used in limited situations. There should be other (and better) options.

I’m running another sci-if game and certainly wanted to revisit this again. So I latched onto the idea of an athletics skill. A skill that could represent the overall physical ability of a character. The pickle was would I tie it to strength or agility? So I decided to use both. The skill below has sort of become my go-to skill to cover a lot of physical tests:

Athletics (Agility or Strength, see below)
Points used to raise this skill are either based on Agility or Strength, whichever die type is higher for the wild card. This skill replaces Climbing and Swimming from the Savage Worlds rule book. This skill is also applicable for tests of physical ability. It represents the overall fitness of the character and how well they might complete some physical tasks. If a character was a professional athlete they would likely have at least a d8 for this skill.

Keeping campaigns organized with blogs and wikis

I’ve been fiddling around with my sci-fi Savage Worlds game getting everything together. Something I’ve been a stalwart supporter for over the years is using online tools as information repositories for current games. I tend to game pretty infrequently, just about every other week. So for long campaigns I need a place to keep track of major events that happen. Another plus is I don’t need to saddle my players with scribbling down the name of every major NPC they come across. The important stuff I can put on up the campaign site for reference later.

Additionally we have about 2-3 different settings going on. I sometimes get a little burnt out GMing a particular setting and like to have an occasional one shot game once in a while. It can be a challenge for my players to keep track of the types of worlds they are playing in. Sometimes they need something to jog their memory on who the major movers and shakers are for that campaign. In these cases having an online wiki or blog is great keeping everything together.

For a long while now I have been using Obsidian Portal for a few of my games. It’s a great tool but lately I’ve migrated towards having more simple sites. I’ve found I don’t usually need the complete functionality of a wiki. I can just keep a running page or two of major NPCs or locations. So currently I’ve been leaning towards using blogs instead.

For my Savage Worlds superhero game it’s been a great means to provide a quick reference for major criminal (and neutral) organizations. Also by adding posts and tagging them, my players can filter out a lot of stuff and skim through past posts looking for specific enemies or topics related to the campaign. I haven’t been keeping a running adventure log going for that, but it could be done.

With my sci-fi game I’ve found this especially helpful. Above all other settings I think players sometimes need a little more information on the game universe. Sci-fi encompasses so many styles and themes, it can be difficult to accurately get across to players the levels of technology or how proliferate alien species are. Having a site that they can navigate to get that information is helpful.

Mind you have to be realistic about how deep players will dig through your site. Some may enjoy it but expect many to be willing to skim through about a paragraph at most. So I try to keep things brief if possible, especially for adventure recaps.

One last point though on having a campaign blog or wiki, it’s public. While it’s a way to share your world and ideas with others, it’ll also show how messy your games run including all the lackluster ideas. Just roll with it. Because sometimes you’ll have people mine your stuff for adventure ideas to use in their own games (Hee… or learn about things to avoid if scouring my campaigns). Honestly that alone is a great reason to have your campaign material up on a wiki or blog.


Sci-fi starship combat variant for Savage Worlds

TravellerDOne thing I latched onto planning out my sci-fi campaign game was using ships as characters. I tinkered a lot with the sci-fi companion rules and they still floundered some with me. I just couldn’t really see making starships a larger part of the game and making it work. If I approached making them characters I could make combat and other aspects of travel more engaging, even if it was being abstract over the traditional vehicle rules.

So I really dug the idea of using ships as characters and I scooped up Savage Space, a fan made space opera conversion. Although the spaceship combat rules were pretty solid, I didn’t quite want to go the route of a battle mat and miniature ships along with using actual ranges to work out combat. I liked the idea instead of using the chase rules from SWD. There were some additional tweaks I wanted to implement however.

Turrets vs Fixed Weapons – I altered the costs some of weapons and kept the idea of fixed arc weapons hitting harder, but were cheaper than turret weapons. Unlike the RAW (Rules As Written) chase rules, I’m allowing ships to return fire against other target craft. Yet they would be limited to turret weapons if the ship didn’t have advantage.

Speed matters – Ships announce their intended speed and it has an influence on ship initiative if substantially higher than the opposition. Some ship weapon systems like torpedoes would require a slower speed to lock in and would be subjected to snap-fire penalties otherwise.

Combat is chaotic – I liked the idea of drawing clubs introducing some type of complication with some ship systems possibly going offline. This allows the repair skills having some other purpose than out of combat checks for ‘healing’ ships. It could be mitigated some with drawing a lot of cards which ties into….

Piloting skill is important – The piloting skill matters. Aside from drawing cards for initiative, the higher the roll, the more cards that can be drawn, and the better chance a different card can be chosen if a club is drawn. Also there is a small change I have with the RAW chase rules, all ships draw 2 cards. If they fail their piloting check, they have to play the lowest card. So piloting has a lot of bearing in ship combat.

Inherent ship agility matters – Another small change I wanted was to have the agility of the ship have some function. I decided to make a basic check using the agility of the ship. Slow, lumbering craft with a low agility would be more difficult to gain advantage during a round compared to more nimble starships. So if failed, there would be a penalty to the Piloting check for that round.

Below are some more details on the ship combat rules I worked up. Another notable aspect is using a damage table for wounds received, but it’s covered pretty well in Savage Space. I also tweaked the range tables some from the rule book to allow for more attacks at medium range (and also allowing for lower range modifiers). Below are some high points of starship combat. Hope folks get some use of of this for their games.TravellerArtE

Starship Combat

Starship combat is a variant of the chase rules. Combats will typically be 5 rounds. At the end of the 5th round, and each round afterwards, the GM rolls a die. On an odd result the combat ends with either a ship slipping away, or the pursuing craft breaks off. On an even result the combat will continue at the GM’s discretion (ex. 3 fighters are pursuing a player ship. One fighter is destroyed and another is heavily damaged during the pursuit. A 6th round of combat should happen but the GM decides to break off the fighter attack, deeming the attackers have taken too many losses to likely keep up the pursuit).

For each round of combat initiative is determined by drawing various cards. Follow the sequence below to determine initiative order.

  1. Declare and record speed (For an ambushed ship current speed is equal to its acceleration).
  2. Each ship is dealt 2 cards.
  3. Determine Ship Agility Modifiers. Players make a trait test using the ship’s ability value. This can be modified due to ship wounds (or other applicable modifiers). On a failure the Ship Agility Modifier for this round is -1, on a success the modifier is +1.
  4. Players make a Piloting check applying any modifiers for wounds, shaken ship, etc. including the Ship Agility Modifier determined in the previous step. On a failure the ship must take the lowest of the 2 cards. On a success, the ship may take the highest. For each raise another card is taken and the ship may take the highest. Note that on a success, players may opt to take a lower card (especially if the higher card is a club).
  5. All ships act in initiative order. Ships which have a higher card compared to other ships are deemed to have the advantage for this round against those ships. If the selected initiative card is a club, some manner of complication happens to the ship during the round.

Additional Initiative Check Modifiers (All of these modifiers are cumulative to the Piloting trait check):

Speed – Apply a +2 modifier if the ship’s current speed is higher than the fastest opponent. This becomes a +4 if their speed is twice as fast.

Climb – If their climb is higher than their opponent, this confers a +2 bonus but only while in an atmosphere.

Terrain – Some conditions may incur a -2 penalty (like flying through a debris or asteroid field).

If the ship has advantage (their initiative is higher than an opponent), the may fire all weapons to bear on the target ship. Ships without advantage can fire on their attackers but only with non-fixed weapons and have a -2 penalty to Shooting in addition to any other penalties. The number on their initiative card indicates the range and any penalties due to distance are in parenthesis (see the Range Table).

Snapfire Penalty – Some weapon systems have the snapfire characteristic. If the ship’s current speed is equal to its acceleration, or the target is at short range, there is no penalty to fire. Otherwise the craft suffers a -2 penalty to Shooting.

Range Table

Card Range
2 Out of range, enemy is blocked, etc. No attack can be made this round.
3-7 Long Range (-4)
8-Jack Medium Range (-2)
Queen-Joker Short range (no penalty)

Damage Table

2d6 roll Wound Effect
2 Maimed Ship – Ship suffers severe scars and damage affecting its appearance.
3-4 Random Sub-system Offline
5-9 Internal Damage – A vital system inside the ship is damaged and needs repair.
10 Engine Damage – The engine’s FTL drive goes offline or its agility is reduced by one die type.
11-12 Cockpit Damage – Scanners, the ship AI, or some other sub-system goes offline.

Complications Table

2d6 Effect
2 Disaster: Piloting check at -4. If failed a major system fails at GM’s discretion such as the engine going offline, life support failure, hull breach, etc.
3-7 Major Complication: Ship Vigor check at -4. If failed ship has a system offline/component failure*.
8-Q Complication: Ship Vigor check at -2. If failed ship has system offline/component failure*.
A Distraction: The crew has their hands full. If attacking, a -2 penalty for Shooting this round.

* These complications are typically at the GM’s discretion. Alternately, cards can be drawn for various ship equipment and if a club is drawn the listed complication for that piece of equipment may occur.

Savage Worlds sci-fi gear: Ablat armor

I’m busy getting things together for my sci-fi Savage Worlds campaign. So I’ve been tinkering with a lot of stuff. One thing that stood out for me was armor for energy weapons. There aren’t a lot of options in the companion book aside from reflective armor. I like the idea of reflective armor and that if can be worn over other types. I especially like how it’s rather frail and can deteriorate due to damage. But I wanted another option.

I can’t envision a universe where weapon systems would migrate to one standard type, as it’d be too easy to offer cheaper defensive systems. That’s one thing I love about the gear in Savage Worlds. Body armor is great for stopping bullets, but worthless against lasers. Conversely reflective armor can disperse laser weapons, but can’t stop a bullet. If you wanted absolute protection, you can combine the two wearing one over the other. The other route is one I don’t want to go which involves power armor (as that diverges into heavy armor only being damaged by heavy weapons).

This is serviceable, but I wanted to give my players more options. Digging out old books of Traveller you’ll find Ablat armor. This was cheap, easily replaceable armor that would disperse energy weapon damage and vaporize when hit by lasers (ablation of the protective material). So it’d offer some protection but get worn out when hit by energy weapons.

I liked the idea of being able to combine ablat armor with regular body armor. You could buy a cheap suit to go over (or under) the ballistic armor. However another option would be to incorporate ablat material onto the the body armor itself. This could be thin ceramic tiles or strips, or maybe a layer of material sprayed over the armor. It wouldn’t last though. Each combat would likely chip away at its effectiveness until the ablat armor had to be replaced. So with that I worked up the following:

Ablat Armor: +4 toughness vs energy damage, negates 2 AP from energy weapons, but offers no protection against ballistic or melee damage. Cost: $500

Ablat armor is thin strips (or small hexagon tiles) of dark, ceramic material that diffuses energy. It is prone to damage easily from ballistic or physical attacks, and portions vaporize with each hit from energy weapons. For every wound that a player receives, reduce the armor value by 2 permanently. Additionally the first time a player is hit in a combat, resolve the damage normally. If no wound is scored roll a die. On an even result, 2 points of armor are permanently removed, just like as if a wound was taken.

Ablat armor cannot be repaired. It can be worn over (or under) traditional armor types but is rather bulky. Ablat armor is usually combined with non-reflective armor as outer coat of energy protection. Usually it is attached in thin strips/hexagon pieces to the surface of existing armor, or sprayed on in a thick coat of ceramic particles with an adhesive compound. This process takes about 2-4 hours and can be done only on planets of average technology or higher. Partial repairs are not possible with ablat, instead an entirely new layer would have to be added. Ablat also does not alter how noticeable the target is except in some odd cases at the GM’s discretion (like an arctic world where the dark, ablat plating might stand out).
Certainly having ablat armor is something my players will dabble in. I’m also certain they’ll agonize some over the constant drain of cash reapplying damaged armor. However it’ll give them some options and potentially ease that urge to pick up combat power armor as soon as possible. Hope folks get some use out of this for their games.

Savage Worlds sci-fi planet system

306d5-travellermapFolks that follow my blog will know I’m a fan of Traveller and even worked on a hack version for Savage Worlds. My Dark Sun game has been going a while but after picking up the new science fiction companion, I’ve got a bee in my bonnet to run another game. So all things sci-fi have sort of been on my mind as of late.

While I have my Traveller hack I really didn’t want to visit that again. I love the feel of the Traveller universe and likely will use it as a basis for my game, but I just didn’t want to juggle different game stats and rule books at my table. I wanted to just use the sci-fi companion and run with it. There are still some tweaks I’m making with the sci-fi companion, but they are pretty minor. Pretty sure it’ll be easy for myself and the players to jump in between different genres as we switch back and forth from sci-fi and Dark Sun.

So I’m slowly in the process of creating a few star systems. I wanted to get some manner of a map to plop down on the table and entice the players to explore some. I appreciate the relatively simple world creation rules in the sci-fi companion but it can create stuff that is all over the place due to every planet characteristic being unrelated random rolls. Because of that I began to eye the world creation system in Traveller.

I love Traveller’s idea of the UPP. A universal planetary profile that quickly provides key information on a planet’s characteristics. However I didn’t want to delve into using that that too deeply to create my maps, as again, I’d be trying to merge rules and stats from one system to match another. Instead I opted to work on my own version that primarily used the tables in the Savage Worlds sci-fi companion with some tinkering. The biggest change is that gravity and atmosphere would have some interaction and impact on the relative tech levels of the planet. I also scooped up Traveller’s tables for governments and culture quirks to flesh out planets some.

The main idea is that all star systems are classified using a universal planetary profile (UPP) for one planet that is the major, inhabited, economic, and political power in that system. It’s a 7 number/letter profile that conveys basic information on the planet. Along with the UPP, there is usually another designation indicating the type of government and any other notable planet characteristics (like trade codes). Each star system typically takes the name of the planet represented by the UPP. As an example:

Floria: NBW523X-L, Po, Ag

Reading the profile from left to right, we see Floria is a normal gravity planet (N) with a breathable atmosphere (B). It is dominated by oceans (W) and has a world population in the tens of thousands (5). It has a typical law level (2) and a below-average technological level (3). Primarily because of this, there is only a haphazard starport available (X) which is likely no more than a flattened plateau just above the sea level. The planetary government is run by a dictator which inherited the title (L) and is not well liked by the populace. Floria also has trade codes of being a poor (Po) and an agricultural (Ag) world.

What is especially nice about using UPP codes is I can whip up a spreadsheet to generate a planet on the fly. So now I can cut and paste a random string of d20 rolls and spit out a UPP for any system. Couple that with some awesome stuff out there for making up sector maps for Traveller and now I’ve got a means to quickly create several sectors. Add in a list of random planet names and I’m good to go. Hope folks get some use out of this for their games.

Savage Space – A fan made Savage Worlds sci-fi supplement

A while back I covered a Borderlands-inspired setting for Savage Worlds. I wanted to take some time and bring attention to another wonderful fan-made sci-fi supplement, Savage Space. Folks that follow my blog might recall that I considered running Traveller for one of my games. I ended up using Savage Worlds making my own conversion rules but much of the game I lifted stuff from Marcus “Chaosmeister” Burggraf’s amazing sci-fi companion.

I feel dirty using it, as it’s such a great space opera set of rules. I am a huge fan of settings that don’t go hog wild with edges and skills, and instead just add a dollop to the base rules. Savage Worlds is flexible that can fit a lot of genres. So settings that embrace that and amend what is necessary is appreciated.

You get a surprisingly thorough treatment of sci-fi rules with Savage Space. There are a few select knowledge skills. There is a replacement of climbing and swimming with an all encompassing athletics skill, which is something I’ve sort of adopted for my other games as well. Alien creation rules are missing primarily as much of this is covered in the regular rules with racial backgrounds. Cyberware however is something that is covered a bit more, primarily as it can be acquired as equipment of sorts replacing natural limbs with cybernetic ones.

I like the approach done with starships, making them have characteristics like characters. Ship to ship combat is covered more of a general outline in the rules. I think the author admitted these are a little limited in scope, but they provide a good basis for a system. You might need to work a bit more to fit it into your game however in practice (or lift rules from another setting or game). One tremendously useful part of the rules is an adventure generator, providing seeds for some classic space opera missions as well as some more scoundrel, mercenary-type tasks.

It’s not a complete sci-fi setting, as there are no rules for creating systems or planets. However that’s something that can be lifted easily from other game systems. The equipment section is rather complete having a lot of your typical gear and equipment that aspiring star travelers would have for their adventures. As expected there are a variety of weapons with differing technology levels, as well as more mundane and exotic technological gear.

It really is a wonderful set of rules for running a classic space opera game. It may not be a complete setting with a larger campaign detailed out for the universe, but it does have some great bits that can be lifted out and plopped into your own hacked sci-fi campaign. The setting background they provide is brief and paper thin. However the theme of the companion rules is for a generic space opera, so not having a detailed universe setting is expected. Savage Space is a great fan-made set of rules for Savage Worlds, check it out if wanting to run a sci-fi game. – sounds for your game

A while back I linked a gaming site that had various MMO soundtracks you could download. They had a pretty nice selection and found a few tracks that would work well for some background music to my sessions. I used to shy away from having music for my games. However I found with a decent mix you could get something playing in the background on a loop adding a little flavor to the game, and still not make it a distraction to what was happening around the table.

A few months ago I ran a Savage Worlds game for a local con. Being a demo game with new people, I really wanted to add something to the session to make it stand out. Normally I’m not one for sound effects. However for a few key points in the game, I wanted to add something to make it more of an engaging experience. As it was a horror sci-fi game, I also wanted some type of ambient noise to get everyone in the mood. Having a MP3 player and a miniature speaker, I could easily get something portable up and be able to play some tracks without it being too fiddly and taking up a bunch of space on the table.

So I needed to try and pick up some sounds. I stumbled across and fell into the rabbit hole of creative commons sound files. A bit of digging and I was able to find that perfect space ship alarm. There were tons of industrial and factory sounds. You can really find some wonderful ambient stuff. As for my sci-fi horror game, I settled on a few and also threw in a particularly longer ambient music track that was perfect for setting the mood.

The tracks are free, but many require attribution if being used in other projects. Consider throwing a bit of money to the site also as a donation. There are some nice tracks folks have made available. As for me, I am certainly going to be mining this for certain games. I simply cannot see running a horror game taking place on a dark and stormy night without using this site for some needed atmosphere.

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.