Monday, January 4, 2016

It's Not Me, Traveller, It's You

     Soooo... This is a letter too long in coming... a "Dear John" letter of sorts... Actually, it's a "Dear Marc Miller and Traveller" letter of sorts...

     For all my years as a gamer, I've had an interest in Traveller ever since I saw the picture of the interdiction satellite from GW's IISS Ship Files book in Ian Livingstone's "Dicing With Dragons". I took the dive with T4, learned that 25 pages of errata is 24 pages too many, and forged ahead, getting the reprints of the CT books and the GURPS Traveller books.

     The relationship intensified when Mongoose came out with their edition of the game in 2008 and announced there would be an Open Game License, SRD, and a Foreven Sector license. That was when I came to see the unfortunate, true colors of a cancerous subsection of the Traveller community.

     You might think I'm guilty of excess hyperbole here, but it's true. The Traveller community has a cancer that it can't seem to cut out of its fabric. There's a subset of Traveller fans who apparently can't stand change. It's natural with any RPG fandom, but with Traveller it seems to be particularly virulent, resistant to any kind of common sense or diplomacy. Narcissism, sycophancy, arrogance, and hubris run rampant among a number of the game's fans, particularly some of its older fans.

     Happen to like the Rebellion in MT or the post-Long Night era of TNE? You're a heretic. Like Mongoose Traveller? Get ready to be burned at the stake. Favor a third party setting over the OTU? You obviously don't play "true" Traveller.

     Traveller holds a precarious position in the history and fabric of both the tabletop RPG hobby and industry. It was one of the first SF roleplaying games out there, but it is also one of the smallest. Rooted in the classics of SF, it favors hard science, but not to the exclusion of having a massive star-faring empire out of space opera.

     Because it fits in such a tiny niche within the hobby, its fandom is equally small. Despite its size, Traveller fandom is very vocal and active in trying to keep this venerable game and setting alive. Marc Miller's Kickstarter for Traveller5 was evidence of that. Sadly, that size and vociferous nature is also why the bile rises so quickly and drives so many away from the game's community. One would think that a fandom so dedicated to keeping the game alive would want it to grow in a variety of ways, including the creation of new settings. Unfortunately, that's not the case.

      But I digress. Early on, I decided to try and stand my ground. I put out a trio of good products - The Starfarer's Kit (a set of player and GM aids), the Starfarer's Kit Character Folio, and Captain Sturmhammer's Command Cards, under the OGL and the Foreven license. They did moderately well considering the size of the market I was working with.

     But, after witnessing and fighting the cancerous minority for several years, I was nearing my breaking point. That point came when Mongoose announced it was going to release a second edition of its version of Traveller. That alone really wasn't the problem - it was how Mongoose proceeded to handle it.

     I'm not a fan for pay-to-playtest schemes, not even when the publisher offers a $20.00 gift certificate for the final version of the rules once it comes out. Mongoose took it a step further and stated that third party publishers (3PPs) would no longer be able to release material for MgT1's license. If you want to publish for MgT as a third party, you have to wait for the new edition and its SRD and then invest in the new edition.

     As someone who works for a living separately from being a 3PP, that's unacceptable. I don't have the time, money, or space in my home or hard drive to devote to a new edition of a game I want to publish material for, let alone one with a cancer in its community. To add further insult to injury, Mongoose, in its hubris, refuses to listen to - let alone acknowledge - any kind of constructive criticism from any quarter.

     If you've managed to follow me through this wall of text, here's the endgame. It's not me, Traveller, it's you. While I love your universe with all its eccentricities and inconsistencies, the canonistas and zealots in your community make it impossible to do anything right as a 3PP. Coupled with a creator who can't see past the sycophants at his feet and a company that can't take a hint, and you can see where this is going.

     That being said, I've divested myself of most of the community. I'll lurk, but I won't be actively posting anything in any forums. I'll produce my own material under the Fair Use policy using the D6 system (and if we're all lucky some of it might find its way online), but I won't produce anything for profit. My Mongoose material is officially off the market, the last products being pulled from DriveThruRPG this past December. If you want it, sorry, it's not for sale any more.

      I'd like to thank John Watts, Ian Stead, Hunter Huntman, and many others not named here, for their support as fellow 3PPs and fellow Travellers. I wish you the best in your future endeavors with (or without) Traveller as your case may be. I'd also like to thank those of you who bought my product, showing me there are those who appreciate my efforts.

Clear Skies, Travellers