Campaign Blog: The Fall of Tanith /Starter Set


Emperor Mongoose

1. Premise and People.
So, I've been missing playing Traveller since my last group broke up and I decided to try and get a group together at my FLGS. In the hoary tradition of geeks everywhere, I posted notice up at the store and surprised to get the minimum two players I needed for a viable game.
They're an interesting pair. I live in a garrison town so I see a lot of servicemember gamers and, no surprise, my two takers are service-connected. One is an active duty officer, the other is a Reserve NCO. Me, I'm an old cavalry corporal.
Miss A., the officer, is a dedicated geek and, now that I think of it, is the very first officer gamer I believe I've ever met. Mr. J, is pretty much ROAD... just trying to ride out the last few years so he can retire with his 20 years in. Both are really nice examples of the human genome.
What's interesting about these two is that they sat there and generated their characters in front of me and really rolled with the punches insofar as 'GooseTrav 2 tables and dice results went. They took the failures to get promoted, mishaps, and weird events results like real troopers and it was a real treat to watch two characters come to life as we rolled our dice over a plate of nachos.
And one of the results was really, REALLY weird. Our Merchant did three terms in the Merchant Marine, but only got promoted once. She had one event that required the third term. So, three terms + Rank 1 equals 4 muster out rolls. I kid you not at all... three rolls for a Free Trader and one roll on the cash table! :shock: 8) :lol: Second player rolls up a Marine but gets bounced after Term 2. He decides to go Drifter /Scavenger to pick up some ship skills. Gun + Gun + 3 Ship Shares.
I swear, it couldn't have turned out better if I'd planned it! And let me be clear... there was absolutely no fudging, finagling, or GM Deus in the machina. Every single one of them was a straight up legit roll.

2. Setting.
I chose the Starter Set's Athwa Subsector and the nearly empty Calidan Sector for two reasons. Firstly, I didn't want to entangle the players in the OTU metaplots and have that learning curve for two players who were new to Traveller. Secondly, I wanted to include some IMTU goodness and some exploration.
The basic setting conditions are these:
Athwa Subsector occupies Subsector G of Calidan Sector. The rest of the sector is blank. The setting describes this being a region of small Human states neighboring an alien species called the Esseray. The Federation of Calidan is rimward of Athwa subsector and Athwa is described as frontier region with scattered independent worlds and one world owned outright by the Federation.
I've ruled the following as the campaign conditions:
- The Federation of Calidan is a multi-subsector state that larger than a TNE pocket empire but smaller than the Fourth Imperium's control of the entire Gushemege Sector. Their border is one subsector rimward.
- The Federation has achieved a max TL of 13, with 12 being high common and 8-9 being low common. The theoretical sciences are imagining TL 14, that's the province of university research departments and corporate think tanks.
- For the sake of having identifiable playable aliens in the setting, I've included the Vargr [the Vargr and Aslan are included in the Starter Set]. The crew has a Vargr NPC as the ship's engineer.
- The Esseray are mysterious to the Calidanans. They have no diplomatic relation and all interactions are on the Esseray's terms. Mostly this is an exchange of resources. Since the Esseray present their offers in a take or leave it fashion, it can hardly be called 'trade' inasmuch as there is no negotiation or cultural exchange involved. And by 'resources' I mean just just that: raw resources traded for raw resources. No finished goods are exchanged.
- Esseray space is to trailing of Calidan /Human-Vargr space.

3. Results
This is where the campaign sits at this point. Characters have been generated, basic Traveller conditions have been explained ['messages only move as fast as the ship carrying them', etc.]. The setting overview has been explained. Next session I'll be missing one of my players, but the newest one will be there. We'll run through the task system in the skill check /social /combat arenas and I'll introduce the Vargr engineer to her.

Stay tuned.
Session Two in the books.

This session was explaining the campaign conditions in detail and the players taking possession of their ship, the Type A2 Far Trader MV Windfall.
NPCs filled out the crew positions with the two PC's being the bridge officers [Pilot/Captain/Owner Aboard and the Astrogator].
I've begun work on creating a civilization out of the brief sketch given in Starter Set Book 3. Civilization as in 'Humans and Vargr know they're not native to this region of space, but how have they dealt with that'.
And, as usual for a campaign that's just starting, it's amazing just how much background needs to be done. I don't mind doing it, but there's always another detail I need to cover.

Next session we'll start dealing with Patrons.
Well, there's gonna be a delay in the campaign.
One of my players had a death in the family and they'll be gone for two weeks.
While I regret the cause, it does give me a chance to further flesh out the Calidan region and give the setting something other than bare bones.

For those who read this, I have a question for you.
I included Vargr in the setting as 'fellow Uplifts' and to allow those who wanted play an alien an easy one to play.
But now I have a chance to populate the region with alien races beyond just the Esseray, Vargr and the unnamed native sophonts of Rushesal [described as 'crab-like'].
I absolutely want to avoid any more 'fuzzy suit' aliens... no cat-people, lizard-people, squirrel-people, etc. I'm thinking about bringing the Pentapods from 2300 over, but I wonder if they're too much like the Esseray.
So, any suggestions of aliens to include?
Figure out what hole or role you want them to fill in your ecology.

I could tell you jellyfish, but what do you want those jellyfish to do, and how do they relate to the other space faring species?

Perhaps they'll negotiate treaties that allow them to colonize gas giants exclusively, and retain strict neutrality with everyone else.
Okay here's where I'm at with the 'sophont environment'

- Humans and Vargr know they are not native to what they think of as their homeworld. While the biology is compatible [levo-amino acids, they can get natural diseases, etc. -- it's not Earth, but it's not Vland either], most native life on the world is hexopoidal and few animals use fur or hair to manage heat.
- Given the bio-technical nature of the Esseray, the biological manipulations they use on their own people, and the limited communication with them, there are uncomfortable theories that humans and Vargr might be products of Esseray experimentation.
- There is no 'Ancients' theorizing. This is beyond the area of the galaxy that Yaskodray and the Ancients populated.
- The Calidan Federation is one of several interstellar states, some Vargr in nature and some human, that are a patchwork of states to Rimward. Esseray space is to Trailing.
- Athwa Subsector contains two minor races: the Calu of Lacaluju and the unnamed 'crab-like' race on Rushesal. These races don't seem to have much effect off their homeworlds, with the Calu living in a fluidic [Trade Code Fl] atmosphere and needing middlemen to interact with interstellar society, while the Rushesalans are segregated to their own continent. While Lacaluju has a TL of 10, Rusesal has a TL of 7.

We also know from the Fall of Tanith book that the Esseray are a major power, have technology equal to or slightly better than the humans /Vargr states, and will be conducting a major offensive in the course of the campaign. The Calidan Federation is destined to fall as will the Athwa subsector worlds of Cenhening and Tanith. This will leave the survivors in three asteroid ships [probably in low berths] and a 'rag-tag fugitive fleet' [cue Battlestar Galactica theme here] fleeing the Esseray onslaught.
While I don't envision a major alien power able to take on the Esseray and be the Human's saviors, I also don't want another inconsequential minor race that is little more than flavor text. Ideally, a new alien race would provide a safe harbor for the refugees and allow a certain cultural synergy to happen... the seeds of a successor state of some form that could possibly resist the attacks of a race that doesn't worry about casualties.