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This review is written from the point of view of someone who approaches the game from the point of view of a researcher rather then that of a player. And from someone who is limited to the Gurps and the Marc Miller versions. With this said, I will declare that Traveller as a setting goes above any Space Opera setting ever written. It has a vast and detailed structure that at the same time leaves more then enough room for flexibility. It is hardened Space-Opera and goes out of it's way to make "realism" possible. Yet at the same time it is perfectly possible to have a secret that Man Was Not Meant To Know, or an Eldritch Abomination , or whatever. The Third Imperium is Lawful Neutral and is usually a benign oligarchy . But one can make the Third Imperium an antagonist and still remain within canon. Politics is refreshingly unsimplistic. None of the major powers are completely good or evil. History is fascinating as well, and the sample characters and technology is well done.
The volume Intersteller Wars which describes the massive conflict caused by the mutual arrogance of the Vilani and the Solomani is the very best for artwork. Most Gurps are black and white but Intersteller Wars has splendid colour. Another of my favorites was Sword Worlds, which describes the curmudgeonly but indomitable Sword Worlds culture.
A player can be any of a variety of roles. He can be an explorer, a trader, a soldier, a mercenary, or a spy. He can take part in high level court intrigue. He can be part of a Command Roster of a Cool Ship , or part of a Ragtag Bunch Of Misfits on a Used Ship. Or any variation thereof . Most Sci-fi tropes are available as well as any the writer can think of himself. Traveller is THE setting for Space Opera , and it would be hard to find competition.
So say we all. The setting is open enough to hold a huge variety of adventure genres without breaking, yet there is a distinctive cultural flavor to the history and background. With all the versions available you can also pick the game mechanics that best fit what your group wants to do.
Thank you EC Tubbs for the Dumarest Universe, widely-known as the wellspring from which Traveller was created.
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