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Traveller of course has an infinity of possible characters, and a large number even mentioned in Canon. Here however are some of them.

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Yaskoydray AKA "Grandfather"

Father of the Ancients, and a 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 Artifacts about for intrepid adventurers to find if they are lucky... or if they are not.
  • Abusive Precursors: Grandfather had around twenty children — each of whom had twenty of their own (hence the name "Grandfather") — and then discovered a few thousand years later that their experiments were interfering with his own. His solution: Kill Them All.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Many of the things Grandfather and the Ancients did remain incomprehensible and unexplained.
  • Deus ex Machina: Ancients in general are fairly commonly used as this; they are useful in explaining plot devices like earth-like planets and species.
  • Eldritch Abomination: He's immortal, he lives in a separate dimension, has unimaginable power, considers humaniti beneath his notice though he profoundly influenced them in the past, performed experiments that fundamentally changed his own race and created new ones like the Vargr as pretty much side effects, and he is responsible for many shattered planets throughout charted space which he destroyed in a genocidal war against his children and grandchildren. He's also served by a group of secretive super-advanced self-aware robots who keep tabs on what's happening in real space and eliminate anyone who may be coming close to discovering his continued existence or the secrets of Ancient technology and which are absolutely loyal to him - yeah, Grandfather is pretty much space Cthulhu, except that he isn't prophesied to come back to end the world.
  • The Greys: Kidnapper of other races — most specifically the dozens of strains of Humaniti scattered throughout Charted Space — but he also uplifted the Vargr because humans were too independent for his taste.
  • Mad Scientist: As were all the Ancients.
  • One-Man Industrial Revolution: Up to Eleven. The Droyne were stuck at 1950's-level technology for sixty thousand years. Then Grandfather was born — combining Marc Remillard's Psychic Powers with Nikola Tesla's Ditzy Genius — and he immediately dragged his species into the stars kicking and screaming. To note;
    1. He wanted to do all kinds of experiments, so he conquered his entire species just to have a civilization capable of carrying them out.
    2. He realized his species was too stupid to help him with his projects, so he bred them into castes to make them vaguely capable of maintaining a spacefaring society for him.
    3. He did this before he grew old, then realized he was going to die and invented a way to live forever.
    4. He realized he still wouldn't be able to see even a single percent of the universe before it ended, so he invented Faster-Than-Light Travel.
    5. He realized that his species was still too stupid to help him with his projects, so he tried various other species; Transplanted Humans(Humaniti), Uplifted Animals(Vargr), before settling for nonsapient robot laborers.
    6. Then he went to work. He engineered entire species. He reshaped planets like a gardener would a flower bed. He tore apart entire solar systems to build Dyson Spheres.
    7. He looked up and realized his children were interfering with some of his projects, so he wiped them out; in the process he demolished hundreds of stars.
    8. Finally, he built his own universe just so he'd never have to bother with the one of his birth ever again.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: Knowledge seems to have been Grandfather and the Ancients' ultimate motivation.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Grandfather is almost completely unknown to the modern galaxy, except for Droyne legends of him.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: Many of the things Grandfather and the Ancients did are far beyond anything anyone else can do even 300,000 years later.
  • Time Abyss: He's over 300,000 years old.
  • The Unfettered: Grandfather did whatever he decided was necessary to achieve his goals.

Cleon Zhunastu

The founder of the Third Imperium.
  • The Chessmaster: Cleon's Imperium won because he always seemed three steps ahead of his rivals.
  • The Emperor: The first one for the Third Imperium.
  • Founder of the Kingdom: Founder of the Third Imperium.
  • Galactic Conqueror: With the caveat that most of his conquests were gained by manipulation of local econonomics and politics rather then by military means.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Deft manipulation of the opponents of the early Imperium was how Cleon grew his empire.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Like found a thousand-year empire.
  • Shrouded in Myth: In most versions of Traveller Cleon lived a thousand years ago. His legacy has understandably grown in that time.

Cleon III

Great-great-great-great-grandson of the Third Imperium's founder. Aka "Cleon the Mad".
  • The Caligula: He had a habit of resolving disagreements in his cabinet by shooting them.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Thanks to Cleon II abdicating the throne he was a minor frontier noble until another emperor died sans issue and he was Offered the Crown by the Moot.
  • Klingon Promotion: The Moot instituted the Right of Assassination specifically to get rid of him.

Empress Arbellatra

The victor of the Imperial Civil War and founder of the last dynasty to rule the Third Imperium.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Arbellatra was a fleet admiral in a distant territory of the Imperium who used her fleet to conquer the Imperium.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: After having defeated her predecessor in battle and acting as regent for seven years, Arbellatra finally achieved this.
  • Cincinnatus: Sort of; she deferred to the Moot's authority knowing she would get the throne anyway. Whether or not she was thinking primarily of the public good or her own is not made clear.
  • The Emperor: The 33rd ruler of the Third Imperium.
  • 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.
  • Offered the Crown: Which she accepted.
  • Rightful King Returns: Well, return of an acceptable candidate. That was good enough.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: She did most of her most notable deeds before she was technically a royal, but they were very notable.
  • Succession Crisis: She solved a Succession Crisis and won the crown for it

Archduke Norris

The ruler of the Spinward Marches in the name of Emperor Strephon. His first name is not "Chuck".
  • Bad Ass Mustache: And in most illustrations he has a flat-top too.
  • The Chessmaster: Won the Fifth Frontier War and manipulated himself into the position of Archduke.
  • The Good Chancellor: In the New Era continuity Norris basically appointed himself Archduke, but Strephon later ratified the appointment.
  • The Strategist: Proved his stripes during the Fifth Frontier War.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Easily the most sympathetic faction leader in the Rebellion era, seeking only to keep his portion of the Imperium intact.
  • Royal Decree: Made notable use of an Imperial Warrant during the Fifth Frontier War.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Won the Fifth Frontier War and in the New Era is pretty much single-handedly responsible for preserving the Domain.
  • Warrior Prince: See "Won the Fifth Frontier War" above.

Emperor Strephon

The Last Emperor of the Third Imperium
  • 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.
  • The Patriarch: Although he ends up with a family of Upper-Class Twit s.
  • Space Cadet: He was doing service as a Midshipman in the Imperial Navy when he heard his father had died making him Emperor.

Admiral Manuel Albadawi

The most famous Terran from the Intersteller Wars era; he broke the back of the Vilani Imperium.
  • Four-Star Badass: Albadawi was the architect of the final defeat of the Vilani.
  • 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.

Marc Oberlindes

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

     The Three Imperiums 

The First (Vilani) 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.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: An Enforced Trope. The Vilani bureaucracy was intended to obstruct technological progression and social innovation. Their origins as the abandoned lab rats of the Ancients — on a planet full of berserk machines — have made them terrified of anything the slightest bit unfamiliar, exemplified by their Lightbulb Joke;
    Q: How many Vilani does it take to change a lightbulb?
    A: Six.
    One from the ladder carriers' guild of the maintenance bureau to bring the ladder in and set it up.
    One from the ladder holders' guild of the same bureau to steady the ladder once it is set up.
    One from the clerks' guild of the government bureau to make sure the proper forms are filled out for changing light bulbs and to pay the proper fee to the energy bureau.
    One from the lightbulb-changers' guild of the energy bureau to change the bulb.
    One from the wick-trimmers' guild because it is traditional.
    One from the supervisors' guild because his presence is required by law whenever five or more workers are engaged in the same task.
  • 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 is 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 than 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.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Fighting the First Imperium made them become the Second one.
  • 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.
  • Screw You, Elves!: Towards the Vilani — how dare you say we are an Insignificant Little Blue Planet!
  • 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, re-programmable 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.
  • United Space of America: The Terrans are close enough to our own time to be culturally familiar.
  • Won the War, Lost the Peace: The Terrans' fast-adapting society was able to conquer the entirety of the trillions-strong Imperium. However, they couldn't really rule the territory, and when they finally dropped the ball it took two thousand years for interstellar government to re-establish itself.

The Third Imperium

The default setting of most versions of Traveller. The Third Imperium is a vast decentralized state. By its 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 its 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.
  • Earth Is the Center of the Universe: Inverted. Earth is a border world.
  • 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.
  • The Government: What the Imperium is for 11,000 worlds.
  • Humans Are Leaders: The Emperor and most of the nobility are humans of mixed Solomani (Terran) and Vilani ancestry and have been throughout the Imperium's 1,100 year history. The baseline of intersteller culture is a mixture of these two mega-ethnic groups. Humans just have a better talent for building states and colonizing worlds. As well as in fighting.
  • Multiple Government Polity: The Third Imperium is feudal on the interstellar level, owing to the difficulties of galactic governance, but individual planets are left to govern themselves.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Sometimes. It really depends on how competent the local nobles are.
  • Powered Armor: The Imperial Marines use "battle dress", their term for 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.
  • Recycled In Space: Resembles a combination of The British Empire and United Space of America.
  • Space Navy: The Imperium has a gigantic space navy to protect its merchants — usually with a regular and a reserve fleet for each subsector.
  • Space Marine: The Imperial Marines are an elite fighting force that makes extensive use of Powered Armor. A popular choice for character backgrounds.
  • Space Police: Mostly absent. The Imperium does have a Ministry of Justice that polices "high crimes", but most regular enforcement is left to individual member worlds or the navy in space.
  • Space Opera and Space Western: As a Space Opera Traveller is fairly detailed and "believable". The communication time makes frontier sectors like the Spinward Marches resemble a Space Western.
  • Wagon Train to the Stars: Since the game is usually about getting in adventures on new planets each week, this could describe a typical campaign set in the Third Imperium.
  • What the Romans Have Done for Us: Despite being a hereditary oligarchy the Imperium provides defense, keeps law (more or less) and assists trade by providing a standardized system of port facilities and measurements as well as regulating local customs charged by member worlds. Not to mention encouraging science and protecting indigenous peoples. At least that's what they say.

     The Major Races 

The Aslan

Aliens who resemble lions in form. They are a warlike people who live in a tribal structure and have a highly developed philosophy about the need for honor.
  • Anatomy Arsenal: Aslan don't need swords. They have claws. When a human duels in Aslan fashion he uses an artificial claw called an ayloi.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: Male Aslan are only allowed to be interested in war and ranching.
  • Cat Folk: Very lion-like, as their name would indicate. In-universe, no one is actually quite sure where "Aslan" came from or what it means.
  • 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 their 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.
  • Family Honor: Aslan culture views family as more important than individuals.
  • Feuding Families: Unlike the other races, the Aslan are tribal and their "government" is simply what the 29 most powerful clans can agree to.
  • 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.
  • Glory Seeker: What do you expect of a Proud Warrior Race?
  • Honor Before Reason: The Aslan are tribal, but their culture is impressively monolithic. Honor is paramount.
  • 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.

The Droyne

Smallish winged humanoids that combine reptillian and insectoid aspects. The Droyne are the oldest major race, but seem to lack the drive that others have.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: The individual Droyne castes cannot survive for long without the presence of others, except the Sports, who are the deliberate exception to this rule.
  • Glory Days: They were once the Ancients.
  • 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. Played straight in that Droyne colonies can develop and maintain any Technology Levels up to Grandfather's, which usually results in their neighbors aiding in hiding them to keep their markets from being disrupted by Sufficiently Advanced Alien technology — as well as maintaining a supply of ultratech goodies for themselves. They just rarely feel the need to do so.
  • 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 — followed by joining with other Droyne into a second-rate Hive Mind.
  • 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 what their homeworld is, and they are not telling anyone. Everything about them is mysterious.
  • Space Elves: Uncommonly fond of mysticism at least.
  • Winged Humanoid: They can even fly on planets with lower gravity and higher atmospheric pressure.

The Hiver

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 the various hiver nests. This is because their entire species is unintelligent unless their brains are repeatedly and constantly stressed to solve problems and avoid danger; they need to learn to be conscious at a very early age the same way humans need to learn to speak.
  • Hive Mind: Averted, despite the name. Although the Hivers were described as this in the very earliest Traveller material, it was Ret-Conned 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.
  • Starfish Aliens: They even look like starfish.
  • Technical Pacifist: Most Hivers are psychologically incapable of directly attacking anyone. They have little problem with getting others to attack for them, though.

The K'kree

Centaur-like creatures on an everlasting crusade to rid the universe of carnivores.
  • Animal Wrongs Group: The K'kree want to rid the universe of meat-eaters, including omnivores. They regularly exterminated any lifeform they encountered who wouldn't stop eating meat, often with no regard to preserving any kind of ecological balance. They nearly destroyed their homeworld before figuring out they had to hand-pollinate all the plantlife and eliminate herbivorous pests.
  • Claustrophobia: All K'kree are claustrophobic unless they have some form of mental defect — from fragile nerves to violent schizophrenia. K'kree cities don't even have buildings — populated areas are tented with transparent materials with properties separated by fences — no walls whatsoever unless they are load-bearing components of shade. Their ships are as similar to this as possible; saucers enclosing a single large open space, with holographic projectors making it seem like they're standing on a planet's surface. This is one of the many things that make them pathetic in space combat; as there are no interior compartments, a single breach in the ship's hull instantly kills everyone aboard not wearing a suit — QED everyone aboard, as most K'kree are too afraid of enclosures to wear helmets.
  • Evil Vegetarian: Their entire culture is based around a "Manifest Destiny" to eliminate every carnivorous species in the universe.
  • Feeling Oppressed by Their Existence: It doesn't matter whether you're pacifist, minding your own business light-years away with no intention of ever bothering or even going close to them, or even a non-sapient animal with hard-coded genetic imperatives: if you eat meat in any way shape or form, they hate you and want you gone.
  • Freudian Excuse: Species-wide; where most sapients developed intelligence to outsmart and consume prey, the K'kree developed it to outsmart and escape predators. They thus have an instinctual horror of anything that consumes meat. This has caused them no end of trouble.
  • Killer Rabbit: They're an entire culture of vegetarian herd-dwellers who treat each other with the tenderest of care. They also kill every carnivorous creature they can get their hands on, and only stopped their jihad against meat-eaters when they realized how hilariously outgunned they were.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: The only purpose of K'kree females is to adore male ones. Oh, and produce more males.
  • Xenophobic Herbivore: Their whole crusade against meat-eaters.
    1. When they developed technology, the first thing they did was hunt down and kill every predator on their planet. In the process they caused the collapse of every ecosystem on their homeworld, forcing them to manually oversee almost every aspect of nature — such as pollination, or population control for other animals — as the loss of all predators crippled their biosphere's ability to function on its own.
    2. When they developed telescopes and discovered their moon was inhabited by sapient carnivores, they invented spaceflight just to invade and exterminate them. They bragged about this to their enemies before they realized how primitive they were compared to everyone else, and now every other race knows how fanatical they are.
    3. When the Hivers subtly re-conditioned a number of K'kree colonies to eat meat, the K'kree immediately annihilated every one of the colonists and the worlds they lived on — and have refused to go within a parsec of a Hiver world ever since.

The Vargr

Uplifted wolves who live in a chaotic society.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Vargr societies that get too big for one leader to personally dominate tend to break up.
  • Berserk Button: Anything that insults Vargr in general. Don't say the word "doggie" in front of them, for instance.
  • Chaotic Neutral: Sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes neutral, always chaotic.
  • The Horde: Many Imperials see all of Vargr space as a massive barbarian horde. Good thing they infight so much that they've never been much of a threat.
  • Klingon Promotion: Vargr leaders have to constantly prove that they should be leader, or they will be deposed by someone who can.
  • 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.
  • Proud Merchant Race: Despite the stereotypes, Vargr are merchants just as often as they are corsairs.
  • Space Pirates: The Vargr recognize corsairs as a sort of cultural hero archetype.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Even more then humans or Aslan, the Vargr have persistent issues with internal divisions and fighting amongst each other.


Space Spelling for the most important race of all in the Traveller universe. By chance it is the one to which most PCs belong to. As far as research indicates, most writers do too. The three main human megatribes are the Vilani, the Solomani and the Zhodani. By Emperor Strephon's time the first two have merged. These groupings are divided into umpteen states, clans, factions and sects and there are minor human races as well.
  • Humans Are Special: Because Humans Are Leaders, Humans Are Warriors, Humans Are Diplomats, and Humans Are Survivors.
  • Transplanted Humans: The other reason Humans are Special; 300,000 years ago, Grandfather transplanted humans all over charted space simply because they could thrive in any environment where they can breathe the air and drink the water. Where every other species in charted space has some kind of environmental dependency and/or glaring weakness, humans had already colonized every corner of their uniquely diverse homeworld when Grandfather found them. He thus staffed many of his projects with a thousand or so abductees — and often made them into projects by dumping them on interesting worlds just to see what would happen. Notice how "eat the food" wasn't mentioned? When Grandfather's war began, a population of humans were trapped on a planet with food they couldn't eat and rampaging autonomous war machines; within a single generation, they'd figured out how to process the local life into edible food and hide from the berserk machines. A quarter of a million years later, the Vilani Imperium had conquered most of charted space.

Characteristics of the individual human races:


See Terran Confederation / Second Imperium.
  • Earth Is the Center of the Universe: Earth varies in political importance but still retains an emotional appeal and a cultural effect.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Solomani — especially the Solomani Confederation — are often presented as bad guys. At the least, they are often described as unusually militaristic.
  • Humans Are Warriors: The ancient Terrans conquered a vast human-dominated empire when they only had a handful of planets of their own. Humans of Solomani descent have also formed a good portion of the Third Imperium's military might throughout its history. They were finally beaten during the Solomani Rim War, however.
  • Humans Advance Swiftly: When they won the war with the First Imperium they quickly expanded even beyond the First Imperium borders.
  • Proud Merchant Race: Along with dominating the Vilani militarily, they also undermined their authority economically during the Interstellar Wars.
  • Proud Scholar Race: Scientific type rather then mystic type
  • Planet of Hats: Probably inventiveness and flexibility, but also a certain racial/cultural superiority by the time of the Third Imperium.
  • Planet Terra: Earth was re-named Terra pretty early in Traveller history.


See First Imperium.
  • Alien Lunch: Vland, the planet they were abandoned on, had no related Terran life deposited with them and the native life's biochemistry was quite alien. The good news was that this meant none of the local germs could make them sick, local parasites weren't interested in them, wounds didn't get infected, etc.. The bad news was that the Vilani couldn't eat any of the food — at least unprepared. A small group of the population had been taught some basic techniques by the Ancients on how to process their food through fermentation and various chemical treatments — which basically made them Monsanto's wet dream; the sole source of edible food on the planet, and the de facto rulers of their race. Vilani food is said to be very spicy to mask the tastes of the remaining inedible proteins and poisons left in the food after processing, and if they have non-Vilani guests they supply a side dish of antihistamines that are usually given to Vilani children.
  • 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.
  • Good Old Ways: The Vilani are arch-conservatives, believing that any conceivable problem was solved by their ancestors long ago. In some cases they have a point.
  • Sacred Hospitality: Coming from a planet where food requires a lot of preparation to be edible has made guests sacred in their culture.
  • Supreme Chef: Played With. The Vilani lived on a planet with food that is often actively poisonous to humans without processing, 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.
  • Vast Bureaucracy: The First Imperium was one gigantic bureaucracy that was more concerned with stability than growth.
  • Youngest Child Wins: By Vilani tradition the third child in the family gains the estate. This is to make sure that no position is frozen within one dynasty for too long.


     Minor Races and Random Cultures 
Cultural groupings and minor races not yet mentioned, listed for plot importance or just interest. Some are subsets of the above.


Newt-like aliens scattered throughout known space. Known for their skill and persistence at recordkeeping.


An enlightened people that revere arts and sciences.
  • The Alliance: With the Imperium, through several Frontier Wars.
  • Badass Bookworm: Their cultural icons are all cultured as well.
  • 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.
  • Elves vs. Dwarves: Sword Worlders are like Dwarves to them, and the two are in regular conflict.
  • Fantastic Racism: to Sword Worlders, to a degree. Being in near constant conflict doesn't help.
  • The Federation: But not nearly as big as the Imperium.
  • Feudal Overlord: They allowed Aslan to settle on their territory in exchange for military service. Despite the cultural difference some of their most loyal soldiers are Aslan. In turn, the Imperium can be interpreted as almost their Feudal Overlord.
  • 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.
  • Insufferable Genius: Comes across as this at times.
  • Minored in Ass-Kicking: While they hate war, they are some of the most fearsome fighters on the Spinward Marches.
  • Our Elves Are Better: Played with and probably depends on who you ask. In-verse some would certainly think so.
  • Perfect Pacifist People: The Darrian homeworld was once something of a garden world where the only survival demand was to breed out bellicosity. When other humans arrived from Planet Terra the Darrians had to adapt to more common human instincts. This is perhaps one reason why Swordies and Darrians not only dislike each other but can't comprehend each other.
  • 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.
  • Blood Knight: They know what they're good at and they love to do it.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: They not only know they are good at fighting, they actively enjoy it.
  • Bruiser with a Soft Center: Ithkklur culture is interested in finding the self and meditation — they just feel that fighting is the best way to do both.
  • 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.
  • The Reptilians: Scaly, and have a short tail.
  • Proud Warrior Race: They're not really proud so much as just happy with their lot, but most of the trope holds.
  • Slave Race: Not really a Slave Race for the Hivers, but fills the same niche so to speak.

Sword Worlds

Mostly Solomani, descended from soldiers of Scandinavian and German descent who fled from Terra during an ancient civil war. Known for their admiration of the 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.
  • The Alliance: The Sword Worlds Confederation to Zhodani. Also internally; their central government is minimal.
  • Apron Matron: The Sword World female ideal is somewhere between this and Silk Hiding Steel.
  • Barbarian Tribe: Subverted. Although they sometimes act in a rather barbaric manner, they are an advanced if rather eccentric civilization.
  • Determinator: Their chief virtue. They are stubborn, quarrelsome, and widely accused of Testosterone Poisoning. But they can also survive anything life throws at them.
  • Determined Homesteader: And every determined variant thereof. The ideal Sword Worlder.
  • Elves vs. Dwarves: To the Darrians; Darrians are like elves making Swordies like Dwarves. Also swordies do have some traditional dwarvish characteristics.
  • The Federation: The SWC is a small federation, compared to the Imperium, but yeah.
  • Fire of Comfort: They consider hearthfires sacred.
  • Had To Be Sharp: Swordies have lived for centuries dealing not only with nature (and some of their planets would qualify as a Death World), 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, 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, so 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.
  • The Migration: Their founders arrived in an epic Migration.
  • Mr Fix It: While they are hardly as technologically advanced as the Imperium, let alone the Darrians, they make large quantities 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.
  • The Patriarch: The Sword World male ideal.
  • 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.
  • Proud Warrior Race: Sword Worlds in general.
  • Proud Merchant Race: The planet Tizon more specifically. They are more urbane and sophisticated then most Sword Worlders and trade widely through the Spinward Marches. However when they are put upon, the Tizonian Navy will most certainly show that they are are still Sword Worlders.
  • 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 did not work out particularly well; the best that can be said about the idea is that the Imperium does not have to spend lives maintaining an occupation force in hostile territory.
  • Rated M for Manly: The whole Sword Worlds thinks it is this.
  • Shout-Out: Lifted almost entirely from Piper's Space Viking. In verse they make Shout-Out s to Vikings and to J. R. R. Tolkien.
  • 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 Death World, 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. The more geeky Swordies on the planet of Orcrist will do experiments in there own gardens, and enter it on the planet's internet to be processed and discussed.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Beer. Swordies make some of the best beer in known space. It is the only true manly drink according to Swordies.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Stoic: Traditional nordic courage means the Sword Worlders stay stoic.
  • 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.

The Virus

A 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.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: It's a computer virus.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Virus can get into nearly any computer system just through radio waves. Somehow. Word of God speculates that it may actually be a psionic life form.
  • The Virus: Yeah, pretty much, but only for computers.
  • 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.

     Notable Institutions 

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.
  • Ambadassador: One of their primary missions.
  • Badass Bookworm: The Scout career in original Traveller made three attributes important: Strength and Intelligence modified your chance of enlisting, while Endurance modified survival rolls. Scouts notably had the most difficult survival roll of the careers included in Book 1, and were tied for the highest attribute requirement to improve their survival chances. A good Scout is smart, strong, and TOUGH.
  • First Contact Team: The IISS are the ones who are supposed to do this and have elaborate procedures for doing so.
  • Knight Errant: Scouts who have mustered out are often given a scout ship they can operate by themselves with only the obligation to report in occasionally. This gives the Imperium another source of intelligence while the scout gets to keep travelling.
  • Mildly Military: Notably they don't have any rank in the field office.
  • Space Police: Some of the time.
  • Walking the Earth: Scouts mustered out of the service are often put on "detached duty" — they get a free scout ship to wander the galaxy with as long as they make occasional reports on their activities.

Imperial Marines

The Marines of the Third Imperium
  • Badass Army: The Imperial Marines are the elite of the Imperium, and have the gear and training to match.
  • Cool Sword: Marines love cutlasses. For ceremony, sport, and dueling, not for war.
  • Everything's Louder with Bagpipes: this is a tradition of the Imperial marines
  • Space Marine: It's in the name.
  • Powered Armor: Imperial Marines use battle dress, a form of powered armor that doubles their strength and gives them enough armor to shrug off small arms fire.

Sol Sec

Solomani Security. The Secret Police of the Solomani Confederation
  • We Are Everywhere: Subverted. In the time-lag of the Traveller universe they cannot possibly be everywhere. They are only thought to be so

Confederation Patrol

The intersteller police of the Sword Worlds Confederation.


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