Traveller is a role playing game. I had relationship with it. This is my story.
My story begins in the summer of 1979, when I was 14 years old. I was already a nascent wargamer.
I was obsessed with a pulp-fiction book series called The Executioner, by Don Pendleton. The Executioner series was not high art. But, like Edgar Rice Burroughs before him, Pendleton wrote intelligently. His “Mack Bolan” character was believable, given that this was pulp-fiction. Before the Great Purge of 1988, I owned almost every one of the original 38 books.
However, this is not a post about the The Executioner series. It is about Traveller.
I’m not sure when I bought Traveller. I know that I bought a game called Top Secret early that summer. Back then, the internet did not exist. There were exactly three places for a 14-year-old boy to buy a modern wargame: Toys R Us, Tower Records, and my Friendly Local Game Store (FLGS). I spotted Top Secret at Toys R Us.
Top Secret, according to the back cover, had complete rules for personal combat. This was exactly what I needed to for my imagined Executioner game! It was also a “role playing game”, which I did not understand at all.
So I bought this game and shut myself up for a few days. I ginned up an Executioner scenario, using the as-advertised personal combat rules. Life was good.
At some point, I let on to my friend Rick that I had this game. Rick was a year older than me. Although he was one of my closest friends at the time, he also had a wider network of friend his own age. Bottom line: he knew what a “role playing game” was. He grabbed my rules, and the sample mission. Before long, he was GM-ing a game of Top Secret, with me and my friend Tom as players. It was one of the most wonderful weeks of my life.
Once we exhausted the sample mission in Top Secret, we resumed our normal schedule of wargames. At some point, before the end of the summer, someone introduced Traveller. I don’t think it was me. But by the time I went to high school at the end of August, I owned a copy. I remember reading the rules in the original 3 Books during the first weeks of my freshman year.
I know that, during that freshman semester, we played a good bit of classic, Classic Traveller. The meaning of the of the double “classic” will become clear in later posts. I’m not sure when we ascended from Classic Traveller to Enhanced Classic Traveller. And if you think that I am splitting a hair… Stay tuned….