GURPS Traveller (1998)

For a lot of folks, Traveller went off the rails when the classic game transitioned to MegaTraveller and even more so at the advent of New Era. Though both these games are mechanically heavier than the original Traveller, the problem was more one of setting. Developments to the Classic Traveller galaxy rolled out so slowly, it was essentially static, were as Mega and New Era introduced metaplots that made sweeping changes to the galactic status quo. Some folks hated that!

Steve Jackson Game (and long-time Traveller scribe Loren Wiseman) came to the rescue of those fans in 1998, with GURPS Traveller (the canon time line, meanwhile, progressed as T4, published by Imperium Games). At the time, it was probably the most ambitious GURPS conversion. The move is both a fundamental change for Traveller, but also not as radical as you might suspect, thanks to clear guidelines on what GURPS sourcebooks are appropriate for the setting (and what the inappropriate ones do to it, which is kind of fun). The point-buy skill system generates more obviously balanced characters and provides abilities and a path to progression that the original Traveller mostly lacks. Does that make it feel less like Traveller? Kind of? Does it matter, though?

The real draw for GURPS Traveller isn’t the system, its the setting sourcebooks. They present a galaxy where the Emperor was never assassinated, the rebellion never took place and the Virus was never released. The game world has progressed slightly, but retains that static feeling. It’s the same old dog-eared Imperium. Thank goodness.

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