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Monday, 16 July 2007

My Life And Roleplaying... (the penultimate chapter)

(1=) Traveller (Games Designers' Workshop). In my time roleplaying, I have been lucky to shared my table with many, many great roleplayers, but two long-term campaigns stand out because of the dedication, talent and imagination of their respective gamesmasters.

First we had Steve and his Villains & Vigilantes game, of which more in a later entry, but for the science-fiction, far future escapades of Traveller, only one name ever sprang to mind: Nick.

Years before Eden Studios suggested framing games of their Buffy The Vampire Slayer RPG as a television show, Nick was presenting us with Traveller adventures as on-going seasons of a futuristic vid-cast following the adventures of suave, big game hunter (and Roger Moore wannabe) Jamus Dirkson and his stunted sidekick, the psychotic scout and aspiring Wolverine, Marcus DeChambre.

After Dungeons & Dragons, Traveller was the first game system of any substance that I played regularly, thanks to befriending Nick at school. I would hazard a guess that, with substantial breaks, this particular campaign ran for about a decade, with Steve and I as regular headliners and Pete popping in as and when.

As a side-project Nick also invented the Grav-Ball boardgame (kinda American football in zero-G), which in later years of school became a mainstay of the after-school games club, when we created a league. I'm not sure if we ever finished a season of that, though!

Nick has very kindly unearthed his log of our various adventures over the years, with annotations where appropriate.

Season 1

1. Loggerheads (an old JTAS adventure)

2. Rumpus on Ranther

3. Yo-ho-ho (river pirates in Apocalypse Now-style boats)

4. Wheel of Fortune (the first appearance of the Corsair Casino, a popular haunt, and Grav-Ball)

5. Hot Spot (archaeology in Vargr space...)

6. March or Die (... results in 'volunteering' for the Vargr Alien Legion)

7. Nighttime on the Khanate (... from which I believe you ended up deserting!)


Season 2

1. The Mission (captured by Claw, the Ho Chi Minh of Vargrdom)

2. The Shooting Party (hob-nobbing with the local nobility)

3. We're Leaving on a Jet Plane (making their getaway...)

4. The Night After the Morning Before (... back to the casino)

5. Age Concern (a spot of big-game hunting)

Season 3

1. Unlucky for Some (fighting the Vargr invasion on an iceworld)

2. Dirkson's Dogfight Demise

3. Royal Dirk (in which Jamus becomes King of Andrex...)

4. King Kang: The TV Movie (a diplomatic mission to a mad Vargr ruler - so a bit like the last Star Trek film - with rescuing the Marquessa, Jamus recurring bit of squeeze [although he had to keep dodging the Marquess], from the harem thrown in)

The Mini-Series

1. Adventures in Baby-Sitting (a luxury liner - Pete was B'zarr, the head of security - escorting the Archduke's young niece and nephew home)

2. Day of the Knight (a hijack attempt - well, there had to be really)

3. Farewell to Arms, Hello New Order (the all-time quote of the game from Marcus de Chambre: 'I grab a beermat and rush into the toilet..' Dirkson is knighted on Deneb, Marcus deChambre gets proper bionic arms, aahhhh!)

4. Dirkson's Dirk (into the desert; veloceraptors are mentioned)

5. Bungle in the Jungle (possibly some big game hunting to finish off?)

What I always loved about Traveller - besides the character generation system where you could kill off your creation before he'd even got to adventure - was the simplicity of the whole system, something sadly lacking in many of the modern d20 inspired systems. You had a handful of skills, rolled 2d6 for task resolution and your physical attributes were also your "hit points" ... it really couldn't have been any easier.

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