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"Flavors of Traveller" Topic

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nukesnipe Supporting Member of TMP23 Mar 2017 10:19 a.m. PST

I'm confused and could use some enlightenment.

I'm a sucker for the Bundle of Holding charity bundles and have managed to acquire two versions of Traveller, even though I know next to nothing about the game or setting. One version is "Mongoose Traveller"; the other is "Traveller20".

I understand Traveller20 is a d20 version of the game; I'm not sure what game engine the Mongoose version uses.

I also understand there are other versions of the game. Do the Cepheus Engine and the 2D6 SF system have anything to do with Traveller?

If I were to print out the rules and play the game, is there a version that is "better" than the other?

Thanks in advance for any insights.


Scott Chisholm

Delta Vee23 Mar 2017 10:58 a.m. PST

the mongoose version uses its own engine, similar to the classic traveller 2d6 system,

ive never heard of the other 2 systems so cant comment on them.

Playing wise, they will have very different feels, and better is a very personal opinion, especially for traveller

TNE230023 Mar 2017 11:01 a.m. PST

Mongoose Traveller is sort of an 'updated' version of Classic Traveller
it started development with the intention of being fully compatible with T5
that did not happen
(sort of how the Leopard and M1 started as a joint project)

Cepheus Engine is not Traveller
(but it is)

there are a number to choose from
CT – 77 / 81 / Starter / TTB / proto
MT – be sure to get the errata
MgT 1st
MgT 2nd

IMHO T20 is not traveller (at all)
altho – a lot of the adventuring material for it was quite good

game or setting

there is a lot of discussion of whether Traveller is the Game or if Traveller is the setting

the OTU 3rd Imperium setting is per the authors only a suggestion
the original LBBs (little black books) had no setting
it was assumed the group would design their own

…is there a version that is "better" than the other?

flame war in

Dynaman878923 Mar 2017 11:04 a.m. PST

There is also GURPS Traveller for both 3rd edition and 4th edition of GURPS. The 4th edition version covers the intersteller wars between the Earth and the other Imperium from that time.

TNE230023 Mar 2017 11:25 a.m. PST

knew I was forgetting something

Personal logo John Treadaway Supporting Member of TMP23 Mar 2017 11:31 a.m. PST

There's a Mongoose version of Traveller themed for Hammer's Slammers which I don't have an opinion of.

John T

nukesnipe Supporting Member of TMP23 Mar 2017 12:01 p.m. PST


Thanks for all the input. I'm sort of branching into the SFRPG genre and have been picking up rules sets as I find them at affordable prices.

Most of my RPG experience is with The Fantasy Trip and Tunnels and Trolls. Lately, I've been playing with the Two Hour Wargames titles which are a different species of game altogether.

I am aware of, but have no experience with the d20 system, and haven't a clue what the Cepheus engine is, or 2d6 for that matter. Pretty sheltered life as I've limited myself to solo-friendly rules sets.

Is anyone aware of an encyclopedia or bibliography of RPG engines that explains the basics behind their mechanics? I've been seeing "1d6" and "2d6" a lot lately and wasn't entirely sure what they mean other than an allusion to how many dice are required for play.

Thanks again!


Scott Chisholm

Mako11 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member23 Mar 2017 2:46 p.m. PST

Based upon polls done, CT or Classic Traveller (AKA the LBB, or Little Black Books) usually wins hands down.

Mongoose is a derivation of that, IIRC, from what I've read, just in a larger, and more expensive book format.

Yes, check Wikipedia for Traveller, since there's a good overview there of dicing conventions, etc., e.g. having to roll low, or high, number of dice, etc..

T5 is the latest tome, and apparently it has a lot going for it, but sadly, no index, or even a chapter list were included with it, making it a bit unwieldy to use, due to its large size.

Oberlindes Sol LIC23 Mar 2017 2:49 p.m. PST

@TNE2300: Thanks for the tip about Cepheus Engine. I will have to check it out.

@nukesnipe: "2d6" means "roll 2 6-sided dice". That is pretty typical syntax in a lot of games.

In Traveller, you'll also see things like "8+ on 2d6; DM+1 if Dex A+", which means, "to succeed, roll 8 or higher on 2 6-sided dice; add 1 to the roll if the character's dexterity is 10 or higher".

The official, sometimes called canonical, Traveller universe is very (maybe extremely) well developed, but the rules work well in many other settings, including those developed by the referee.

Traveller can be characterized as hard science fiction. The closest things to fantasy elements are the jump drive (which allows interstellar travel), psionics (telepathy, telekinesis, etc.), and the Darrians and Geonee (don't ask*). The game designs have, in each version, sought a balance between gritty technical detail and playability.

Traveller includes many games that are not RPGs:

Striker, Striker II, and Fire, Fusion and Steel allow you to design your own weapons and vehicles for miniatures ground combat.

High Guard allows you to design your own starships for space combat.

Brilliant Lances and Battle Rider are map-and-counters games of space combat.

Fifth Frontier War, Imperium, and Invasion:Earth are strategic-level map-and-counters games of interstellar war (FFW and Imperium) and planetary invasion (I:E).

Snapshot and Azhanti High Lightning are map-and-counters games of shipboard combat, with each counter (or figure) representing 1 person.

Welcome to the Traveller universe. My screen name is a Traveller reference, by the way.

(*OK, those are Elves in Space and Dwarves in Space, respectively.)

stephen m23 Mar 2017 4:34 p.m. PST

I have used the basic mechanics of CT to run other types of games. For a few years in the mid '80s my players were operatives on the Ontario/Quebec border keeping the Dominion intact.


TNE230023 Mar 2017 5:28 p.m. PST

there are those adapting Traveller to fantasy settings



Goober24 Mar 2017 4:49 a.m. PST

Cephus Engine 2d6 is to Traveller as the D20 OGL rules are to D&D. It is a 2d6 based scifi rule set that is in reality a truly genericized version of the CT/MgT Traveller rules. It's also an open system, so it can be used as a basis for other science fiction games with the appropriate attribution.

Mongoose Traveller is an updated version of the Classic Traveller rules. The two are mostly interchangeable, but the spacecraft rules are notably different. The Mongoose rules are also presented in a more lavishly illustrated format, with the most recent books being full colour throughout. Many Classic Traveller players do not like that.

As well as the various versions mentioned above, there was also conversions of Traveller for Hero system.


Jason O Mahony24 Mar 2017 6:13 a.m. PST

I GMed Classic and Mega Traveller for several years.

I recommend Mega Traveller especially because of the way it handles armour and hitpoints. I did not find it over complex when compared to Classic and gave (IMHO) more realistic results.

At the end of the day, it is a matter of taste.

Mister Tibbles24 Mar 2017 7:21 a.m. PST

Just remember that when a character is shot in Classic Traveller, he usually dies, just as in real life. It's very gritty and deadly. I GMed CT and its early versions for several years starting in 1980. My players avoided combat at all costs, unless they knew they could shoot first and hit. It became a trading, exploration, and political intrigue campaign set in the Spinward Marches. They did help instigate another Frontier War.

If you want shooting, look to the classic d6 games from GDW. The generic books are free online as Pdf. I loved their Star Wars version.

If you want super hard sci-fi then get Classic Traveller. They reprinted the books in larger softbound compilations.

BTW it was not unusual for a PC to die during character generation. Oh the joy of those days! :-)

nukesnipe Supporting Member of TMP24 Mar 2017 11:27 a.m. PST

Thanks again for all the insights!


Scott Chisholm

infojunky01 Apr 2017 3:43 p.m. PST

Ok in terms of of gross rules systems

Using a 2d6 and sharing similar mechanics
Classic Traveller (CT) The original.
Mega Traveller (MT) The second edition of CT, Kinda.
Mongoose Traveller both 1st and 2nd Editions (MgT1e, MgT2e)
Cepheus Engine (CE) a OGL release of MgT with thematic/mechanics from CT and MT.

Collectively there is more material usable under this set of rules than any other version of the rules.

Using variable d6 rolling under a target number
Traveller4 or Marc Miller's Traveller (T4)
Traveller5 (T5) The current "Official" version of Traveller.

Both of these take a lot of GM dedication to run effective games.

Using GDW's House System
Traveller, The New Era (TNE) the most mechanically unified set of rules.

GURPS Traveller (GT), which is Traveller using the GURPS rules and assumptions.

Hero Traveller (HT), the same as GURPS but using the Hero System

And finally T20 (T20), Traveller using the 3rd Edition DnD SRD.

Also note there are Traveller Conversions for both CORPS and Savage Worlds, fan made on the net.

Cepheus Engine Note, Both the core rules and the Vehicles book are Pay what you want on DrivethruRPG. It is a OSR version of CT based on the MgT SRD.

(Note Mr Tribbles is wrong d6 Star Wars was from West End Games which uses a variable number of d6 to roll over a target number….)

nukesnipe Supporting Member of TMP02 Apr 2017 9:47 a.m. PST


Thanks for the … ah, info.

So, when I see something on DriveThruRPG that states it's a 2d6 sci fi game, does that make it inherently Traveller compatible? Or, it is for use with the Cepheus Engine it is compatible with the Cepheus version of Traveller?

My RPG experience is pretty much limited to The Fantasy Trip, Tunnels and Trolls and the Two Hour Wargames mechanics as their product lines support solitaire play. I picked up Mongoose Traveller because it interested me and I thought I could use Mythic to run it solitaire.

The I saw something about Cepheus, and T20, and…my head exploded!


Scott Chisholm

TNE230003 Apr 2017 7:43 p.m. PST

…and T20, and…my head exploded!



nukesnipe Supporting Member of TMP04 Apr 2017 4:43 a.m. PST

Wikipedia. I never thought about going there for games.


Scott Chisholm

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