My Variant OTU


This thread has got me thinking about a Proto-Traveller(-ish) VTU (Variant Traveller Universe) where the Deneb/Spinward Marches Imperium is the whole Imperium and where all major powers are located within the space of 3x3 sectors.

It all started this way:
daryen said:
I want a setting that is highly condensed and includes at least the option for the various major races. And they don't all have to be major players. I have no problem with the Aslan being reduced down to a nascent, growing pocket empire, and have the Hivers be mostly "off-map" except for some frontier colonies and envoys.

BTW, the other thing my suggestion does is allow for the reworking of important planets, too. In my hypothetical Spinward Marches setting, Capital is in Deneb; Zhodane is in Ziaf....; the Aslan homeworld (sorry, forgot the name) is in Trojan Reach; the K'kree homeworld is in Foreven. Lair is moved to Gvurrdon. (The Hivers stay off-map, but are close to Reft, not six+ sectors away.) I imply that the Imperium, Zhodani, and off-map Hivers are major players. How major the others are is up to how the setting evolves and develops. The important thing is not that they are all major. The important thing is that they are all there. Doing your solution by definition means you effectively jettison major races from the game. My recommendation does not.

(And remember that my Spinward Marches example is just that: an example. Maybe the Zhodani are an upstart power. Maybe the Imperium is just getting started. Maybe the Aslan or Vargr are widespread and hostile. The point of the example is not that it should be used, but to simply show what I mean and what can be done.)

Also, I don't require a reduced 1100 Imperium. It can be any kind of semi-feudal empire (though it probably will still be called "Imperium"). Change it up some. I don't care. The point is to condense and contract space so things are more manageable, and then bring everything closer to allow for accessibility.

Golan2072 said:

Really, it gets my creative juices flowing. All the good OTU flavour, but with TL12 tech and a smaller universe (probably also a shorter timeline) - without the flaws of the OTU. I'm getting the urge to create a VTU (Variant Traveller Universe) based on something like this, as well as, maybe, the flavour of the old Laserburn wargaming rules.

Golan2072 said:
daryen said:
In my suggestion, the "center" would be the Spinward Marches, which is a "neutral zone" sitting in the middle of all of the other powers that effectively ring it. Since the whole area would just be nine sectors, and the Imperium is in "Deneb" sector, that means it would have a completely uncharted sector to its trailing. Note that it would be purely uncharted from the point of view of the setting writeup. It is extremely likely the Imperium would have sent expeditions, found populated worlds, maybe even an extremely minor power or two, and whatnot. But that would be completely the purview of the referee. The setting would stop at the trailing border of "Deneb".
I like this; this way, the Marches would be a good setting for a "Great Game" or "Cold War" situation between the various powers. The Darrians and Sword Worlders will serve as a buffer between the Imperium and the K'Kree; the K'Kree will probably focus their aggression at the Aslan but also continually probe the spinward border of the Marches; and so on.

What I am looking for, however, is a variant of this where Foreven is the Imperial (as well as Zhodani, Aslan etc) frontier, so that I could write up about this mini-Imperium setting on my blog with MGT stats, under the Foreven License; and, besides, some of the best Traveller adventures ever are set in Foreven (Chamax Horde!). Maybe move the K'Kree to Deneb, and make the Imperial Marches (Spinward Marches) the heartlands of the Imperium. The Aslan will be in Trojan Reaches (more densely starred than in canon); the Zhos (probably re-interpreted as "greys") in Ziafrplians; the Vargr in Gvurrdon; the Hivers from beyond the Rift; and there will be a reptilian minor power (less than a subsector in size) in either The Beyond or even Foreven. The Imperium will have some holdings on the trailing side of Foreven, and there will be no Avalar Consulate or Mnemosyne Principality - just some Zhos at the coreward part of Foreven. A lot of independent worlds, sanctioned Imperial colonies and even more unsanctioned colonies.

Here is a rough map I came up with:

Uploaded with

Now, on to the big question: what is the Imperium? I imagine it as a glorified cartel of the major Merchant Houses (AKA Zaibetsus), a bit similar to the Guild in Dune. The Imperium exists to facilitate commerce, especially by the Merchant Houses, and maintains a starport on most worlds, but does not intervene in local politics, or even small inter-world wars as long as the trade keeps flowing in and out. When a local regime threatens commerce, a trade embargo is usually more intimidating than the power-armoured Imperial Legions, though the latter are always ready to step on any local ruler who challenges the Imperial power. The Imperium allows for smaller traders, of course, but the major lines are owned by the Great Houses. "Nobility" is standing in the Great Houses; a Baron is usually a local Factor at a starport or his or her family; the Emperor is chosen by the Moot composed of the representatives of the Great Houses.


Oh, and no "Grandfather" in this VTU. There were multiple species of Ancients, including (but not limited to) the Droyne, Hivers and Darrians. And maybe also something more Cthulhu-esque. Who knows. But all Humans spread around space, and, eventually, colonized the space beyond the Great Rift, in the little-known days before the Long Night - rather than being transplanted by the Ancients. 299 years ago, the Imperium rose from the ashes of the Long Night and so did the local alien powers (who were also probably affected by whatever has caused the Long Night in the first place.


Most powers - Imperium, Zhodani, K'Kree, Vargr, Aslan - are TL13. The Imperium and Zhodani are mid-late TL13, while the K'Kree, Vargr and Aslan are lower-end Tech-13. The Hivers are TL15 (and sell late-TL13 goods to their trade partners, including the Imperium); the Droyne range from TL0 to TL16; and the Darrians are TL14.


Banded Mongoose
It's more orless what I did for MTU except the Solomani engineered the Vargr allowing the K'kree to occupy Gvurdoun.

Hivers helped Cleon to re-establish the Imperium, creating Hortalez et Cie to finance his early expansion (to counter the K'kree).


Heh, I like your idea of the Imperium as a Hiver plot. Especially since in this VTU, the Hivers were once one of the Ancient species (along with the Droyne and the Darrians).


I like this idea as well and as I am trying to decide what I am going to do with a brand new group I might adopt this!

I guess my question is, is it the entirety of the Spinward Marches and then some of Deneb added in?


I suggest the following minor modifications to the map:
- Zhodani only have Foreven holdings in subsector D. Otherwise the blue line stays in Ziaf..., not Foreven.
- The Aslan have no "bump" in Foreven. They are purely in Beyond and Trojan Reach.
- The coreward Imperial "pseudopod" is not there. It stops at Jewell like in the OTU. The rimward "pseudopod", however, stays.
- Make all of the empires slightly smaller, so that they are not packed quite as tightly through all of the border areas.

The reason for the first two suggestions is to truly open up the Foreven sector. That way, there is just a subsector of Zhodani, a subsector of Imperium, and the rest is wide open for exploration and pocket empires fighting out a three-way cold war.

The reason for the third item (besides helping free up Foreven) is to open things a bit for the Daryens and Sword Worlds. They way they are in your drawing, they are totally trapped and, quite frankly, irrelevant. The Sword Worlds simply can't be a Zhodani vassal, as there is no way to get there. Really, in that configuration, there isn't a reason for the Imperium to not simply absorb both confederations. To keep them truly independent, they need to have some space to "breathe", and for the Zhodani to get to the Sword Worlds. Stopping the top "pod" at Jewell (or wherever it should end) will enable that. The bottom one isn't as problematic, though it should be thinner, but will run through Glisten to Collace to Mirriam and into subsector P of Foreven.

Other than that, I can work with it. :)

EDIT: I fixed a stupid spelling error and added a rather critical missing word (bolded).


Another idea (completely independent from the above suggestions) is to keep the Hivers on the far side of the Rift, but make them Vorlon-esque. By this I mean they become much more mysterious, enigmatic, and seriously cryptic. They still are the traditional Hivers, but they play like Vorlons (without the telepathy, since Hivers are non-telepathic). As an added bonus, jazz up the Ithklur into something truly terrifying (some serious nightmare fuel) as the Hiver's foot soldiers.

Oooo. One other idea: You could also take one of their other races (I forget what they are called) and use them as the actual diplomats. So, these Hivers don't talk (just like "our" Hivers) but they don't have any observable translators. Instead, the diplomats do all of the speaking for the Hivers. How the diplomats (or even the Ithklur) talk with the Hivers is a total mystery, but they obviously do. As a result of the use of the diplomats, most people don't even really know what a Hiver looks like, as they have only ever met the diplomats. Meeting an actual Hivers is an extremely rare event.

The Hivers then could have a "representative" world just inside the Rift that they use as their base of operations to interact with the lesser races. (Of course, no non-Hiver has ever returned from any attempted visit to this world.) The Aslan and Imperium have both tried to make trips across the Rift using fuel caches, but they never succeed and the fuel caches always mysteriously disappear after getting farther than half-way across the Rift. When asked about what happened/happens to these expeditions, the Hivers just ignore the queries. Or say something really cryptic. Or maybe the diplomat person just quietly shakes their head.

Anyway, these Hivers are biologically nearly (if not completely) identical to "our" Hivers, but are now put in the roll of a Ancient remnant race that keeps most, if not all, of their former power and are cryptic cyphers. As such, they could probably use to have their TL be at 17, if not 18. This shouldn't be a problem, as they are total NPCs, but gives them a way better advantage over TL13 that they really should have.

(As a distinction from the other ancient races. I expect the Darrians are the surviving fallen remnants of their Ancient period, such that they know their history, but are stuck with their primitive present. Pretty much straight-up Darrian history, except that their height was way higher. The Droyne are the servant remnants of their Ancient ancestors. In their case, their "Grandfather and children" were just normal Droyne who all died back in history. The Droyne are the degenerate (both physiologically and socially) remnants who survived that cataclysm. The Hivers would be a dramatic counterpoint that totally sets them apart from the other two.)

Just a thought I could not help but share. :)


Golan2072 said:
Thank you.

Quite frankly, I am kinda disappointed in myself that I never really thought of combining Hivers and Vorlons before. Really, it just kinda screams to be done, but I never "heard" it until your suggestion of making the Hivers an Ancient race.


You know you could make each of these races a minor races that have only spread out to a small number of systems. That might make your problem alot easier then.

Rikki Tikki Traveller

Cosmic Mongoose
You could even expand farther on Daryen's suggestion for the Hivers.

Suppose the Hivers have DOZENS of servant races (or at least a LOT); but each race is "specialized".

Ground Fighters - Ithklur
Starship Crews (maybe a birdlike race or Quadies?)
Personal Servants
Farmers (Chirpers???????)
Administrators (Bwap?)

So, it looks like they might take a race, determine its best place to fit within their society and then Manipulate them into their racial Caste system. So a delegation might consist of a small group of Diplomats, a couple Administrators, couple of Technicians and a few Fighters.

Sort of like the Droyne castes, but with a different species fitting into each niche. Having the Chirpers be their Farmer race could set up an interesting dynamic between the two former Ancient races... The Droyne specialized their own species; the Hivers specialized OTHER species.


Rikki Tikki Traveller said:
You could even expand farther on Daryen's suggestion for the Hivers.

Suppose the Hivers have DOZENS of servant races (or at least a LOT); but each race is "specialized".
That is a cool idea. I like that a lot.

Just make sure that one of those races is human. It would have to be a nasty shock to see a race of humans that are just one of the specialized servants of the Hivers.


Rikki Tikki Traveller and Daryen, I *LOVE* your ideas!


Ground Fighters - Ithklur
Diplomats - Human/"Grey"* hybrids
Starship Crews - Ael Yael
Personal Servants - Robots?
Farmers - Chirpers (bred from captured Droyne from the Final War of the Ancients)
Administrators - Bwap
Technicians - Vargr?
Scientists/Scouts - "Greys"* (genetically-modified humans; who do you think was behind the entire UFO phenomenon on Earth if not the Hivers? :mrgreen: :twisted:)

* The Zhodani will actually be remnant/escaped Hiver Scientists who have set up their own interstellar society, a psycho-scientific meritocracy.


Well, don't forget that the Hivers have two other races they use. They have a total of three: Ithklur for ground troops, Gurvin for traders, and Za'tachk for administrators. And then the Humans as the generalists.

As such, I suggest the following:
Troops: Ithklur
Diplomats/Traders: Gurvin
Starship Crews: Humans
Personal Servants: Robots/Mixed
Farmers: Chirpers
Administrators: Za'tachk
Technicians: Mixed
Scientists/Scouts: Greys

This way they use their "real" member races, but back off a bit more (using Humans for the ship crews). I like the idea of using Greys as the scientists and scouts. I also suggest not using the Bwaps and Ael Yael, keeping them Imperial. And the Vargr probably need to stay in their space and surrounds.

Again, do what you want. This is just so fun to play with, I just can't help myself!


My idea is that the Hivers have reached Old Earth in Ancient times (about 8,000 BC IMTU) and then took some Humans with them to use as servants. Some were genetically modified into Greys to serve as scientists, scouts and psychics; hybrids between the Greys and ordinary Humans serve as starship crews.

Oh, and they have also visited Old Earth again in the next Cycle, circa 1947 AD, after recovering from the Final War. Then they have conducted a Manipulation using their Greys...