Traveller: The New Era (1993)

Shifting gears a bit to Traveller: The New Era (1993). OK, shifting gears a lot.

TNE is born, essentially, out of the failure of MegaTraveller. In that iteration of Traveller, the Imperium fractures into many factions of rebellion. Some folks didn’t like that at all but the ones who did were frustrated by the lack of unfolding story — the rebellion stayed in statis until Hard Times, which fast forwarded to explore the terrible effects the stalemate had on society and trade. Interesting, but bleak. It didn’t save MT.

TNE is characterized by three things. First is the system, which is, unfortunately, derived from Twilight 2000. The back cover of the rulebook has the nerve to describe this as fast and simple. It is not. There is a lot of rolling, a lot of little things to track. Combat (which, admittedly, covers everything from hand to hand through ship to ship) runs like 100 pages of a 380 page book. It is far too much of a system, especially when you look back at how light the original 1976 box is.

The other two defining parts of TNE are narrative. Its 100 years after the Rebellion and the focus is on reformation, of re-discovering lost planets and bringing them back into the greater whole. I love this! The other is Virus, a homicidal artificial intelligence, unleashed as a weapon of war, that controls “vampire” fleets, floating cities and even some whole planets. It seems like a lot of folks thought Virus was too tonally different from the rest of Traveller. I kind of get that. I also really like Virus and the vampire fleets (which remind me a lot of Mass Effect’s reapers, gotta say).

Regardless, there is a TON of great sci fi art in this book and it is work picking up for that alone — Aulisio, Frank, Nunis, Vilardi and Harris, to name just a few. Great John Zeleznik cover, too.

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