Traveller is a series of related science fiction role-playing games, the first published in 1977 by Game Designers' Workshop and subsequent editions by various companies remaining in print to this day. The current edition is produced by Mongoose Publishing.
Originally Traveller was intended to be a system for playing generic space opera themed science fiction adventures, in the same sense that Dungeons & Dragons is a system for generic fantasy adventures. However, a suggested setting called the Third Imperium was detailed with the publication of following supplements and since then this setting has become strongly identified with the game, such that to fans the name Traveller and the Third Imperium are synonymous.
Characters are expected to travel between star systems, engage in battle on the ground and in space, and involve themselves in interstellar economics. Traveller characters are defined less by the need to increase native skill and ability and more by achieving positional advancement in the form of wealth, gadgets, titles and political power. While any version of the game system could be used in many science fiction settings, most published supplements have dealt in some way with the Third Imperium, also sometimes referred to as the Official Traveller Universe, or "OTU".
The game system introduced a unique character generation system which helped it to stand out from other Role-playing Games of the time. Whereas most roleplaying games start characters as inexperienced youngsters who acquire skills and abilities as the game progresses, Traveller characters got their skills and experience before play began. To accomplish this, players took their characters through a career development path (usually in the military) where the character rolled for different assignments and gained extra skills, rank and retirement benefits, but suffered the risk of possible injury and death. Leaving a character in service for longer before the game would lead to more skills and beginning cash but could also mean that basic attributes (such as strength) would begin to degrade with old age.
The starship design systems and starship combat systems, both the original version from Book 2 or the modified version from High Guard, are like games unto themselves, with a complex balance of starship systems fitting within certain hull weight classes, technology levels, and modifiers based upon characters skills. It is complex enough that computer programs have been created to more effectively model and predict starship combat, with one such program named Eurisko winning Traveller TCS national championship in 1981 and 1982, the program's maker retiring it from the game only after the officials threatened to abolish the competition.
Chapters that Play
The following chapters are know to play, previously played, or open to playing the game: