So I’ve decided to create a Traveller RPG setting based heavily on E.C. Tubb’s iconic Dumarest saga, which I named The Doldrums. The first major decision to make is how FTL travel will work.
I want the setting to reflect the long travel times hinted at in the Dumarest books. However, no actual travel times are listed within them (“travel at the speed of plot”). I could just go with the standard times used in the Traveller rules – 7 days, approximately, per jump) – but I wanted to do things differently. I want distant, isolated systems to be just that – distant and isolated. So rather than place systems farther out/apart, I decided to change the time in Jump space.
What I decided on is a base time in Jump of around 1 day’s travel per light year (LY), making the drives act more similar to a hyperdrive (though still being a Jump drive). As travel time between two neighboring systems (1 parsec/hex/3.26 light years apart) would be around 3.5 days (not nearly long enough for my liking), I added 3 days to the base travel time (6.5 days for Jump-1; 22.5 days for Jump-6).
To keep with the concept of variable time in jump, I’m going with a Flex roll (1D6 minus 1D6) multiplied by 0.25 days, added to the base time. I’m using this to simulate navigational requirements, such as avoiding minor stars or gravitational anomalies, and so forth. This puts a normal jump-1 (3.26 LY, or 6.5 days) at anywhere from 5.25 to 7.75 days. A Jump-6 would be 22.5 days, plus Flex time (21.25 to 23.75 days). This is more than sufficient to create that ‘separated’ feel, so necessary for backwater or frontier regions.
Jumps of longer than 6 parsecs ARE possible, but become increasingly difficult. Few astrogators (or ship owners) would dare attempt such a dangerous transit, and most wouldn’t have enough fuel or provisions for it, either. Such a risky jump would require guts, high skill, and planning. Or desperate player characters!
Unlike most Traveller games/settings, there is only one level of jump drive. I haven’t decided on the exact size requirements just yet, but they will NOT require a separate fuel source, and will be much larger than the standard drives listed in the T5 rules.
Power plants will also be different. They will be twice the sizes listed, and require the listed operations fuel per week, rather than per month.
For maneuver drives, I don’t really feel like dealing with ‘realistic’ drives; it’s too much work for this old geek, so I’m leaving maneuver drives (STL) unchanged. It’s a science fiction setting, right?
These modifications should give the right ‘feel’ I want in the Doldrums setting, reflecting the longer travel times and isolated feel of many systems within the Dumarest novels.
If you haven’t read these books, they are highly recommended! They are considered to be a major literary influence on Traveller.
As always, I am interested in what you think of my ‘chattering’, and am open to constructive criticism, questions, and ideas. Feel free to leave a comment.
Thank you for your time, and Keep On Travelling!
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