A science fiction roleplaying game, perhaps the best of its genre ever created. Traveller kept the rules fairly light, kept the science fairly realistic, and didn't require a whole bunch of funny dice to play. The various books and supplements detailed a stupendously large empire called the Third Imperium, which gave just about every roleplayer something they liked, from court intrigue to grunt fighting on the frontiers.

It was eventually replaced by MegaTraveller, the game's second incarnation. While MegaTraveller cleaned up a lot of the mechanical problems Traveller had, it started to take the Traveller universe in directions some of the players didn't want to go - specifically, the emperor was assassinated and the grand, sprawling empire broke up into the space opera equivalent of city-states.

Then in 1993 third game's third incarnation, called Traveller: The New Era, was published. This book wasn't a great success, partly because the mechanics were completely changed and also because the Third Imperium was completely destroyed by a sentient computer virus called (of all things) Virus.

Then the original designer of the game, Marc Miller, tried to recreate what was so special about the original Traveller in a new book called Marc Miller's Traveller (usually abbreviated T4). But this book also had problems - there were an unusually large number of typos and pasteup errors, some of which actually prevented the book from being used as written. The mechanics were simplified from Traveller: The New Era, but still did not even begin to approach the simplicity of the original Traveller game. Several supplements were published for the line, but it sank pretty quickly.

Then Steve Jackson Games got into the act, licensing the Traveller universe and producing a version of Traveller based of their GURPS roleplaying system. GURPS: Traveller (as the final book was called) was considered a step in the right direction by longtime Traveller fans - it was mostly written and edited by Loren Wiseman, an experienced Traveller writer/editor, the GURPS system was much cleaner than the systems of Traveller: The New Era or Marc Miller's Traveller, and the book set up an alternate timeline where the events of MegaTraveller and Traveller: The New Era never took place.

Since then, many supplemental books have been released, ranging from mediocre to staggeringly good (the Scout and Merchant books, in particular, have been widely praised).

As I write this, plans are being made to reprint the original Traveller books (now called Classic Traveller) and Marc Miller is saying he wants to do a T5...

As you can see, despite its checkered past, Traveller is a game that a lot of people know and love and don't want to see die.

A science fiction role playing game (RPG) first published in 1977. Authored by Marc Miller, Loren Wiseman, Frank Chadwick and others. Published by the Game Designers Workshop (GDW). Since its publication it has undergone a number of revisions and there have been (as of april 2002) six editions of the game.

It features one on the most fully developed game backgrounds of any RPG. During its heyday (roughly 1977 to 1985) it was standard against which all other SF RPGs where measured. It still has many devoted fans and remains widely played.

The first edition was originally known simply as Traveller (note the English spelling). This initially comprised three basic volumes (Characters and Combat, Starships, and Worlds and Adventures) in a boxed set. This edition was noted for its lack of illustrations and simple but striking black cover (giving the common nickname of the "Little Black Books"). This basic set was then extended by numerous supplements (13), additional rule books (5), adventures (2 full campaigns, 13 full length, plus 6 shorter double adventures), alien modules (8) and games (5). The basic rules were also published in three additional formats (single hardcover book, single softcover book and boxed starter edition with two low level adventures). This edition is know usually referred to as "Classic Traveller" to differentate it from subsequent editions. Unfortunately however, by 1986, the game mechanics were showing both their age and the strain of ten years of uncoordinated tweeks and additions and were in dire need of an overhaul.

The next version was published in 1987 and was called Megatraveller. This was the first version that tied the game to a specific background setting (the "Shattered Imperium"), though this was simply an extension of the unofficial game setting that GDW had been developing since the games first publication. While the game continued to be published by GDW, the actual production had been subcontracted to another company (Digest Group Publications or DGP) This version was noted for poor (some claim almost totally non-existant) proof-reading and editing; and it required extensive errata. There was also controversy regarding the game mechanics. While clearly decended from the previous Classic Traveller mechanics it introduced a number of new concepts. Some thought it overly complex and difficult to learn, while others regarded it as the elegant and easy to learn. There were also grumblings regarding the direction which the background setting was taking (especially towards the end of this versions "life").

In 1992, GDW retook control over Traveller, and published an new version. This was know as "Traveller - The New Era" (usually abbreviated to TNE). This edition introduced two radical changes. The first was the game mechanics. They were totally rewritten and bore no relationship to either Classic Traveller or Megatraveller. They were infact a development of a new set of mechanics that GDW had developed for its other games (2300, Twilight 2000, etc.) and adopted as it house rules. The second major change was to the setting. While it was theoretically simply an extension of what had gone before, it actually totally overthrew the previous setting. It involved the total destruction of the previous interstellar civilisation by a malicious AI computer virus. Many long time players found themselves incapable of the suspension of disbelief required. These two changes resulted in many long term fans abandoning the game. However the game continued to be published until GDW's eventual demise in 1995, at which point the rights reverted back to the original authors (though controlled by Marc Miller).

After the demise of GDW, Marc Miller licenced a new company, Imperium Games (owned by Sweetpea Entertainment, who would later go on to produce the D&D movie), to produce another revised version of the game. The new version was known as either Marc Miller's Traveller (MMT) or more commonly as 4th Edition Traveller (T4) and was released in 1996. This edition's game mechanics were derived from the original Classic Traveller rules (though there were also elements of Megatraveller). Unfortunately this version was a disaster. The production of the core rules was rushed and the proof-reading and editing were extremely poor (generally regarded as worse than Megatraveller). Subsequent books in the line continued to show poor production quality, and their content was mixed (ranging from good to dire). Also Imperium Games proved to have rather lacklustre business sense. Eventually after two years Marc Miller revoked the licence and the project collapsed.

At the same time as T4 was drawing to its sad end, Marc Miller authorised Steve Jackson Games (SJG) to do a version of Traveller using the GURPS mechanics (by 1997 it was widely felt that Traveller was no longer a set of game rules with a game setting, but had become a game setting completely independent of any rule set). Loren Wiseman (one of the original Traveller authors) was hired by SJG to write the core rules and oversee the product line. This appears to have been a critical difference from other versions. Since its release in 1998, GURPS Traveller has been marked by a consistant flow of (usually) high quality supplements.

In 2001 QuikLink Interactive, announced that they would be producing another version of Traveller, but this edition would utilise the D20 game mechanics, published by Wizards of the Coast. This version is known as T20. It should be noted that GURPS Traveller is still being produced and that there are no plans by either Marc Miller or Steve Jackson Games to alter this. It is expected that GURPS Traveller and T20 will be produced and marketed independently of each other.

In addition to the above, Marc Miller apparently intends to release yet another version at some stage in the near future. Based on a revised and updated (and hopefully error checked) version of the 4th Edition rules, it is usually referred to as T5. Also Marc Miller (in the guise of Far Future Enterprises) is currently reissuing the entire Classic Traveller catalog.

TRAVELLER
To tip the traveller; to tell wonderful stories, to romance.

The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

"They bred such horses in Virginia then,
Horses that were remembered after death
And buried not so far from Christian ground
That if their sleeping riders should arise
They could not witch them from the earth again
And ride a printless course along the grass
With the old manage and light ease of hand."

Stephen Vincent Benet

Traveller was a horse owned by General Robert E. Lee throughout most of the Civil War.

Born 1857 in Greenbrier County of West Virginia, Traveller was christened Jeff Davis (probably after Jefferson Davis) by Andrew Johnston, the man who reared him. Among the horse's early accomplishments was winning the Lewisberg Fair's first place premium prizes in both 1859 and 1860. He was first purchased by Captain Joseph M. Broun and renamed Greenbrier. In 1861, Lee happened upon Captain Broun in South Carolina and bought the horse for $200, redubbing him Traveller. Traveller was an American Saddlebred (perhaps best known as being the breed of the Lone Ranger's horse, Silver). He had a sturdy build, was 16 hands high and weighed 500 kilograms. General Lee once described his horse in a letter to an artist friend who wanted to paint a portrait of Traveller:

If I was an artist like you, I would draw a true picture of Traveller; representing his fine proportions, muscular figure, deep chest, short back, strong haunches, flat legs, small head, broad forehead, delicate ears, quick eye, small feet, and black mane and tail. Such a picture would inspire a poet, whose genius could then depict his worth, and describe his endurance of toil, hunger, thirst, heat and cold; and the dangers and suffering through which he has passed. He could dilate upon his sagacity and affection, and his invariable response to every wish of his rider. He might even imagine his thoughts through the long night-marches and days of the battle through which he has passed. But I am no artist Markie, and can therefore only say he is a Confederate grey.

Lee rode Traveller consistently throughout the Civil War. With the Second Battle of Bull Run, however, their smooth relationship was interrupted by an unfortunate accident. As General Lee dismounted and held Traveller by the bridle during intense combat, the horse got spooked and dove to the ground, causing Lee to fall onto a stump. The fall smashed both of Lee's hands, and the general supposedly spent the remainder of the campaign directing his troops from the bed of a field ambulance. Afterwards, when he did deign to descend from the ambulance to ride Traveller, it was only with a courier riding before him and leading the horse.

There seem to have been no hard feelings about the incident, however, and after the war ended, General Lee brought Traveller with him to Washington College, where the retired general was given the position of university president. The renowned horse lost many tail hairs to students eager for a souvenir, inspiring Lee to write to his daughter Mildred that "the boys are plucking out his tail, and he is presenting the appearance of a plucked chicken." When Lee died in 1870, he was outlived by Traveller, who marched in his funeral procession clad in black crepe and with reversed boots in his stirrups. A year later, in 1871, the horse that had survived so many battles of the Civil War was finally done in by a rusty nail, which he trod upon and contracted lockjaw. As there was no known cure for the disease, he was euthanized and buried alongside General Lee at Washington College. He was thirteen.


sources:
http://www.civilwarweb.com/articles/09-99/horses.htm
http://www.stratfordhall.org/leehorses.html
http://www.civilwarhome.com/leeshorses.htm
www.equinenet.org/heroes/travelle.html
www.american-saddlebred.com/gallery/lee.htm
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traveller_(horse)

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