Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here and discuss here.
Traveller of course has an infinity of possible characters, and a large number even mentioned in Canon. Here however are some of them.
open/close all folders
Father of the Ancients, and Genius Who Left His Mark On the Traveller Universe Untold Ages Ago. Did sinister experiments on various life forms and transplanted them throughout the stars. Fond of leaving Ancient Artifact s about for intrepid adventurers to find if they are lucky...or if they are not.
Abusive Precursor Grandfather had around 200 children and then discovered a few thousand years later that their experiments were interfering with his own. His solution: Kill Them All.
The Extremist Was Right: Cleon's empire lasted for more than a thousand years and brought a great deal of peace and prosperity to billions of sentients. Not bad for a businessman who may have just wanted a bigger market to sell his products in.
Magnificent Bastard: Deft manipulation of the opponents of the early Imperium was how Cleon grew his empire.
Just the First Citizen: Arbellatra defeated the last "Emperor of the Flag" Gustus but didn't take the throne. She acted as Regent instead until seven years of searching failed to find a legitimate heir to the throne.
Lady of War: Leader of the victorious Imperial forces during the Second Frontier War was her warm-up to defeating the Emperor.
He's Just Hiding: Strephon's assassination is what kicked off the fall of the Third Imperium, but it was a double who was killed - Strephon was off overseeing a secret project, and went into hiding for a time after the assassination.
Galactic Conqueror: Overthrowing the Vilani basically made Albadawi the conqueror of most of the known galaxy.
Officer and a Gentleman: Albadawi was going to be an architect until he lived among the Vilani and decided that he hated their stagnant Imperium.
Shrouded in Myth: He is the greatest Terran war hero of the Interstellar Wars, and because his will specified he be cremated there is no monument for him.
The head of Oberlindes Lines and one of the main players in The Traveller Adventure, a somewhat obscure but interesting NPC. He helped bring the Oberlindes family from an obscure band of free traders to a company that could compete with the biggest lines in the Imperium. In the process he was given a noble title by the Imperium
About the time the Roman Empire was collapsing on Earth, humans from Vland were just finishing consolidating an interstellar empire that spanned thousands of worlds. The Ziru Sirka ("Grand Empire of the Stars") was extremely conservative, byzantine in its bureaucracy, and usually quite harsh in suppressing dissent. It also provided peace and prosperity for trillions of sentients for thousands of years. When they met the unruly and ambitious Terrans the Culture Clash and the mutual arrogance of both Terrans and Vilani caused a generations long war between them that would change the face of the Galaxy.
Crystal Spires and Togas: To some extent. Once the Vilani find something that works they refine it for thousands of years until it is very sleak and reliable, rather than making any innovations.
Obstructive Bureaucrat: The Vilani bureaucracy was intended to obstruct technological progression and social innovation. They preferred stability to growth.
Transplanted Humans: The Vilani were humans transplanted from Earth/Terra to Vland hundreds of thousands of years ago by the Ancients, but they were not aware of this fact before they discovered the Terran humans.
Vast Bureaucracy: The Vilani have a bureaucracy actually designed to make sure nothing gets done. With no outside rivals for thousands of years It Makes Sense in Context . Sort of. Things were different when they met the Terrans.
Vestigial Empire: By the time the Terrans emerged at the edge of the Imperium, the Ziru Sirka was incapable of bringing enough force to bear to crush them. Any frontier governor who collected enough strength or political capital to crush the Terrans would either then make a play for power in the Imperial core or be seen as a threat by that core and eliminated.
We Have Reserves: The first few wars with the Terrans were barely line items on the regional governor's budget.
Terran Confederation / Second Imperium.
The Terrans were a Promethean society that valued initiative and individualism. Long before Emperor Strephon's Reign the Terrans and the First Imperium waged war for two hundred years. At first Terra and its outposts fought for survival and freedom from the oppressive Vilani Imperium. Later Terra's war for survival became a war of conquest. Though the canon gives vague details about earlier times, in a way this time the beginning of the Traveller History. Prominently featured in GURPS Traveller: Interstellar Wars.
Badass Army: The Terran Army; ludicrously outnumbered by the Vilani Imperium, but still fighting.
Combat Medic: Not only do the terrans have a Badass Army, they have badass medics. They need them too, as conquered Vilani haven't been immunized to Terran diseases.
The Federation: In contrast with the oppressive Vilani Imperium, at least.
Gadgeteer Genius: The Terrans were ahead of the Vilani in science and technology in less then two hundred years. Even at first contact they were ahead in some areas such as electronics, aspects of military science, and medicine.
Galactic Conqueror: What the Terran Confederation became when it turned into the Second Imperium.
Glory Seeker: After they started winning this almost became the Terrans' Hat.
Terrans are warriors: For two hundred years the Terran Confederation was on an almost uninterrupted war footing. Everyone was a warrior.
Proud Merchant Race: When they weren't actively fighting wars with the Vilani Imperium the Terrans tried to make every credit they could off of them, incidently introducing Terran ideas and fostering dependence on Terran products.
The Republic: Until the Terran Navy arranged a coup at the end of the Interstellar Wars.
Rising Empire: Throughout the volume Intersteller Wars which is where we get most of our information. The Second Imperium was almost a Vestigial Empire right after the collapse of the Vilani because of the administrative difficulties in managing so many planets.
Space Marine: Terran marines are prominently featured as a character option.
Space Navy: Two of them. The Terran Navy was innovative and flexible but drastically outnumbered, while the Imperial Navy was massive and powerful but tradition-bound and therefore predictable.
Space Pirates: The Terrans condoned commerce raiding, and letters of marque were issued in timese of war. More than a few of the Terran "merchant" ships were designed to be easily converted to commerce raiders for when the next war started.
Techno Wizard: The Terrans were far ahead of Vilani in electronics. For instance the Vilani did not have multipurpose, reprogramable computers. Instead they had concentrated on making one program for each computer. Vilani systems were often efficient-they had built and refined them for thousands of years after all-but the Terran models could do more and be adapted to circumstances.
Tragic Hero: In 400 years the Terrans went from a small state fighting for its freedom to a ramshackle empire not much different from the Vilani at its fall.
The default setting of most versions of Traveller. The Third Imperium is a vast decentralized state. By it's unwritten constitution worlds have internal autonomy but defer to the Imperium in intersteller matters, such as foreign relations and defense. As the Imperium is so vast, it will vary in it's atmosphere from place to place and from time to time. There is plenty of room for Referees to place all sorts of unnusual worlds and societies to explore.
Badass Army: The Imperial Army is the strongest in known space.
Combat Referee: The Imperium sees "minor" wars as a useful safety valve, and allows member systems to fight them occasionally, so long as they don't bother their neighbors too much and no weapons of mass destruction are used.
Crystal Spires and Togas: Imperial technology is very sleek and refined - antigravity, for example, was first developed thousands of years ago.
The Empire: Despite the name, averted. The Imperium is generally no worse than any of its neighbors, and is much more tolerant of diversity than the Zhodani, Aslan, or K'Kree. Which all make it more like The Federation.
Feudal Future: Because of the time involved in traveling from one side of the Imperium to the other (at least a year) the government is necessarily decentralized, and local nobles govern on behalf of the emperor.
Generican Empire: The laws that govern the Imperium are few. Basically: pay your taxes, the Imperium controls the space between the worlds and how you deal with foreign nations, no slavery, no use of WMDs in any local war. That allows it to have great diversity from world to world, but also means "Imperial Culture" isn't very defined.
Powered Armor: The Imperial Marines use "battle dress" which is powered armor.
Alien Non-Interference Clause: Zig-zagged. There is no prime directive generally but individual planets are sometimes put under this. It seems to be up to the discretion of the Imperial Interstellar Scout Service whether a world is legally protected or is integrated into Imperial society.
Proud Merchant Race: The Imperium's primary purpose is to protect economic activity for its member planets, and its founder was an industrialist.
The Clan: Aslan government is not monolithic, it is tribal.
Aslan clans though, are often as big as human nations while maintaining a tribal ethos.
Code of Honour: The Fteir code. With the proviso that it varies greatly from clan to clan.
Cool Sword: And cool everything else. One of their favorite art forms is making carefully crafted and decorated weapons and tools.
Duel to the Death: Aslan Duel with Claws. Though usually to first blood rather then to the death.
Fantastic Caste System: Roughly the males are expected to do work that involves protecting the clan's territory and gaining more where the females do work that actually produces things. Some specializations are only loosely connected. Thus male Aslan are warriors, politicians, sages and judges, as well as estate managers and ranchers. Female Aslan are merchants, artisans, engineers, and the like. Some ambiguities come about. For instance it is fine for a male Aslan to have enough knowledge of computers to handle sensors reasonably well. But a proper Techno Wizard will be female.
Fighting for a Homeland: Aslan are infamous for conquering land they intend to colonize. While this does happen, it is equally common for them to make a deal with natives who have land to spare. A typical one will be to offer military assistance in exchange for land, and they will regard that as being like a vassalship treaty back home. In this way Aslan have become famous as soldiers for the Darrians, and there are Aslan in the service of other human dominated states including the Imperium.
I Owe You My Life: An "honor-debt" must be paid-even if it takes several generations.
Land Poor: Male Aslan have a biological obsession with land.
Let's Fight Like Gentlemen : Justified. Being fully carniverous rather then omniverous like humans, they are biologigally optimized for killing and evolved strenuous cultural rituals to keep that under watch.
Good Old Ways: They are tens of thousands of years old and don't like changing their ways.
Hidden Elf Village: Downplayed. They live in scattered out of the way places and have the power to psionically suggest indifference to them in other races. They aren't exactly hidden, just no one bothers to look.
Hive Caste System: A biologically-based caste system, with each Droyne undergoing major physical changes when they are assigned their caste at adulthood. Droyne who do not or cannot caste are called Chirpers, and are only semi-intelligent.
Psychic Powers: Though it's not widely advertized in the Imperium, the Droyne are a psionically gifted race. Their primary power seems to be the ability to make others forget about their existence or consider them of little consequence.
Mysterious Past: Not just being related to The Ancients. They have tens of thousands of years of history and no one knows much about them, even their Home World, and they are not telling anyone. Everything about them is mysterious.
Winged Humanoid: They can even fly on planets with lower gravity and higher atmospheric pressure.
Starfish-shaped generally peaceful sentients who get their kicks from manipulating others, especially other races.
Conveniently an Orphan: Hiver reproduction is such that no Hiver knows who its parents are - they are effectively all adopted.
Had To Be Sharp: Their larvae are not held to be intelligent. Rather they are seen as minor pests and shooed out of the civilized areas to take their chances in a wilderness which the adults make sure are stocked with predators. Those who survive to adulthood are adopted by they various hiver nests.
Hive Mind: Averted, despite the name. Although the Hivers were described as this in the very earliest Traveller material, it was Retconned fairly quickly into a misunderstanding based on the look of their cities.
Manipulative Bastard: What every Hiver hopes to be. "Manipulator" is actually a title they aspire to, like "Doctor".
One-Gender Race: The Hivers have only one gender. Any Hiver can reproduce with any other.
The Speechless: Hivers don't have vocal cords. They can use voice synthesizers to speak but use hand gestures among each other.
Magnetic Hero: Or magnetic villain, depending. Otherwise known as charisma. Vargr social life is based to a large degree on this.
Pragmatic Villainy: It's not that they have no moral standards but vilainy that is considered to be for rational reasons like avarice or ambition is considered venial compared to vilainy done for reasons considered irrational. That is they might admire The Don but they would never admire a Serial Killer.
Fantastic Caste System: Vilani are dominated by three organizations, one for food production, one for government, and one for industry and trade. The jurisdictions over various suboccupations and things like that are arranged in an complex manner which may be incomprehensible to a non-vilani.
Supreme Chef: Vilani lived on a planet with a lot of poisonous influences making skillful cooking a matter of survival. Thus chefs(called Shugalli) became glorified until they filled much of the work doctors and clerics would among the Solomani.
Can't Argue with Elves: Generally the outcome with any Sword Worlder-Darrian conflict, since the Imperium and their own high-technology ships, not to mention the threat of the Star Trigger, backs the Darrians.
Combat Pragmatist: Because they regard war as rather an unpleasant chore, they could never be suspected of putting Honor Before Reason at least with regard to warfare, and it is feared that they could do almost anything if provoked.
Higher-Tech Species: The Darrians are the branch of Humaniti that possesses the highest level of technology, being somewhere between 100 and 200 years further on the tech scale than the Imperium, the Solomani, or the Zhodani. They developed the Star Trigger (see Star Killing below) as a means to defend themselves against the larger empires.
Playing with Fire: Their most unique art form involves making sculptures out of flame with gravity manipulators.
Proud Scholar Race: Arts and scholarship are seen as the highest cultural values of the Darrian people.
Reluctant Warrior: Nearly all of the wars between the Darrians and Sword Worlders were provoked by the Sword Worlders attacking the Darrians.
Science Hero: The Darrian's consider their advanced technology to be their highest acheivement.
Space Elves: They have pointed ears, a lyrical elf-like language, they value the arts, literature, and scholarship, they were more technologically advanced than the rest of humaniti until they lost most of their technology in a cataclysm, and they lived in massive trees when first transplaned to Darrian. Yep, they're Space Elves.
Star Killing : The only ones in the Traveller universe who claim to be able to do this, and who did do it at least once (accidentally). The Star Trigger is a major part of their defense, acting as an "ultimate deterrant" to the Sword Worlders and Zhodani.
Lizardlike aliens that serve the rather courage-deprived Hivers as warriors when needed. Friendly but absolutely love a good fight.
Our Orcs Are Different: They are probably the closest thing to Traveller orcs but they are more like some of the later varieties then like Tolkienite orcs, not being evil per se but simply energetic and ferocious when called upon.
Mostly Solomani race descended from soldiers of Scandinavian and German descent who fled from Terra during an ancient civil war. Known for their admiration for Vikings. Known also for their curmudgeonly behavior but also for their sheer resilience. Divided into the Sword Worlds Confederation, a small rival Federation to the Imperium, and the Border Worlds Authority, a recently established Puppet State of the Imperium. Both in turn are minimal states with most power being local.
Had To Be Sharp: Swordies have lived for centuries dealing not only with nature(and some of their planets would qualify as a Deathworld ), but with the Darrians, the Imperium, and not least each other.
Hidden Depths: Despite their backward seeming appearance, they are an industrial powerhouse. They also have made splendid if obscure artwork(notably the Hall of Planets on Tizon), and even possess a number of geeks among them, though their stereotype runs more toward Bruiser with a Soft Center .
Klingon Scientists Get No Respect: Played with. The Sword Worlds are of course an advanced civilization capable of starfarring and they do have an intellectual class, which as it happens does get some respect. The chief love of Sword Worlders, though, is for soldiers and farmers and their technology lags behind that of their neighbors.
Made a Slave: Played with. There is no mention in canon of a chattel caste or of institutionalized kidnapping or the normal things associated with this, in Sword World culture. However some Sword World governments have judicial thralldom as a punishment for certain offenses.
Mr Fix It: While they are hardly as technologically advanced as the Imperium, let alone the Darrians, they make large quanitys of cheap, durable equipment that is intended to be easily modified by a clever Determined Homesteader.
Named Weapons: most of the planets are named after swords from tale and legend.
Planet of Hats: Subverted. They follow an ideological ideal that admires vikings. However they are in fact very little like vikings; for one thing Sword Worlders don't travel much and idealize farmers rather then voyagers. For another Sword Worlders live in an advanced society which is capable of supporting an interstellar civilization. Aside from all that, the Sword Worlds have numerous variations based on the environment of their various planets and regions therof, as well as their famously fractious politics. Let's just say they think they are a Planet of Hats but they really aren't.
Puppet State: The Border Worlds Authority. The Imperium conquered several of the Sword Worlds during the Fifth Frontier War and didn't know what to do with them so it formed the Border Worlds Authority as a rival government to the Sword Worlds. That didn't work out particularly well and the best that can be said about the idea is that the Imperium does not at the momment have to spend lives maintaining an occupation force in hostile territory.
Space Police: The Confederation Patrol, a sort of space coast guard which chases pirates as well as criminals who wish to flee from planet to planet.
Terraforming : One noted movement on the planet Orcrist(which is something of a Deathworld and difficult for agriculture), is a series of experiments called the Orcrist Soil Manufacturing Project. This is a populist movement rather then one funded by a Vast Bureaucracy and the more geeky Swordies on the planet of Orcrist will do experiments in there own gardens and enter it on the planets internet to be processed and discussed.
Space Cossacks: To some degree yes, although it has been an awfully long time since they arrived here. However they maintain independance in the face of the Imperium. Also the sample campaign 100 Parsecs is one of the best examples of this trope.
Space Vikings: Played with. They are really not much like Vikings, though they like to think they are.
Stay in the Kitchen: On the whole yes, but traditional provisions are made for women who want to get out and the kitchen is theoretically considered a very dignified position, because tending hearthfires is a sacred task.
Silk Hiding Steel: The theoretical ideal of a Sword World female. Female influence is often considerable behind the scenes. Two examples the volume Sword Worlds notes are high class diplomat's wives talking "secretly" to each other in the kitchen to informally help their husbands, and Sword World women getting their Love Interest out of a rash and dangerous promise by providing the face saver of reminding them of their point of view which argument he can in turn plead to other sword world males.
Living computer virus launched during The Rebellion which ends up destroying the Third Imperium. Doesn't appear in the Gurps alternate timeline.
Always Chaotic Evil: Most Virus will start killing everything around them as soon as they have possessed a new computer system, without regard to their own continued existence. Some of the more "evolved" strains will show a little more caution, but generally still want to kill.
And Man Grew Proud: Virus is what caused the final downfall of the Third Imperium in the New Era timeline.
Weapon of Mass Destruction: Virus was a re-engineered silicon-based life form designed to destroy an enemy and then self-destruct. The designers weren't finished with the self-destruct part when it was released.
Imperial Intersteller Scout Service
The Third Imperium's agency for exploration, intelligence, and frontier diplomacy. Its missions include long exploratory voyages, local planetary surveys, and purely scientific endeavors as well as espionage, border patrol and dealing with the natives. Also handles the carrying of strategic messages. Sometimes even acts as Space Police, notably when an interdict is placed on a planet. Being scouts is one of the favorite settings in Traveller.