Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Traveling With D6 Space, Part 1: An Introductory Commentary

Long ago, when I was still avidly exploring the realm of RPGs beyond D&D, I indulged my unfulfilled interest in Traveller. It started with the ill-fated fourth edition (Milieu 0) and then expanded to GURPS Traveller (Strephon lives!) and the reprints of the Little Black Books (LBBs) as Big Floppy Books (BFBs). At any rate, I could see that the editions didn't really all jive with one another and set about finding a fix, namely using West End Games' D6 system.

I distinctly remember first finding Jeremy Reaban's conversions of Traveller to D6 Star Wars online and basing my work off that set of conversions first along with material from the green D6 core book. When WEG introduced the three hardcover rulebooks, I worked a little more on them and that was pretty much it. I ran an excellent convention scenario (Rubicon Double-Cross) which combined "Rubicon Cross" and "Exit Visa", but after that I never really ran Traveller except for the Mongoose edition.

Why this was never a thing the world may never know...

Now that Mongoose Publishing has left a bittersweet taste in my mouth and memory (alongside a portion of the Traveller community), I'm more than happy to go back to the D6 system as my go to mechanics for Traveller. Why? Consistency for one thing, also because it's more cinematic and not so stubbornly gear- and hard (-science) headed.

Don't get me wrong, I like details in ship design just fine. CT and MT's systems weren't too bad, MgT's were iffy in some ways, and T4 had some major issues. I didn't even hazard an attempt using any edition of Fire, Fusion, & Steel, as the T4 edition had issues and I didn't know what to make of the TNE system. While D6 Space does have detailed starship design rules, they have their own eccentricities, and to be honest, I just want to run the game and have fun, not figure out how much tonnage and square feet need to be devoted to the frozen watch's cold berths.

That being said, while the two systems are d6-based, things don't always map out directly, which isn't surprising since Traveller has been converted over to the GURPS, Hero, d20 (T20), and Twilight 2000 systems (TNE), all of which required some gymnastics and shoehorning to make even the remotest of fits. Despite my dislike of d20 for anything but D&D, I think the most unusual system conversion I saw was a conversion of the alien races to Alternity in Dragon Magazine ("New Frontiers" by Stephen Kenson in issue #270, to be exact). Still, why there was no attempt to bridge the gap between Traveller and the D6 System during that conversion craze is beyond me. The only speculation I can give comes from a brief discussion within an RPGNet thread about Traveller and a response from Peter Schweighofer indicating that any kind of official D6 Traveller material would be improbable due to West End Games gearing up for Bill Coffin's Septimus RPG at the time.

So what exactly does it take to convert Traveller over to D6 Space? It takes a lot of love, research, massive fiddling with numbers, and some polishing and sanding to get everything just right. Oh, and being a bit insane helps as well - at least that's what Mr. Flibble and the King of the Potato People tell me...

Never doubt Mr. Flibble. It makes him VERY cross...

I should note that in addition to Mr. Reaban's own notes (which have been lost to the ether) I made use of the following material when originally working on these conversions:

I'm sure that's not all the resources I used, but it's a good start. Please keep in mind, this series is NOT intended to be a massive conversion of EVERYTHING Traveller over to D6. It's meant to only be a framework for those who want to give something fun and different a shot. While you'll find in-depth notes on my ideas for D6 Traveller in the next few parts of the series, you won't find anything like a critique of Hiver policy toward meat-eating K'kree, D6 stats for Emperor Strephon or essays on the color of jumpspace.

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  1. Hi. Have you completed your conversion? I'd love to see what you've done as I've been thinking of using the Star Wars D6 system in a near-Traveller setting. (Not entirely Traveller, but the map and some of the ideas I like, while being free from Jedi everywhere and the taint of Lucas!) If you have anything done, I'd love a look.