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Note: This should refer to the game Imperium, See Third Imperium for the Human empire of the same name.

Imperium box cover.jpg
Empires in Conflict — Worlds in Balance
Author Marc Miller
Publisher Game Designers Workshop
Version Classic Traveller
Edition 1st
Format Game (Box)
Language English
Year Published 1977
Canonical Yes
Also See Imperium: 3rd Millennium

Imperium is a Game Designers Workshop product.

Description (Specifications)[edit]

This is a two-player game that simulates a conflict between the emerging Terran (human) Confederation and an immense and ancient alien empire, the Imperium. The Sun and nearby stars lie at the extreme edge of this alien space-faring civilization, and the humans struggle to expand against this powerful state.

This setting is the conflict between Earth and the First Imperium in the history of the Traveller Universe from the Traveller role-playing game. The rules, locations and technologies are based on concepts from Traveller, and even some seemingly arbitrary rules are based on the history of the Traveller Universe. For example in the first edition the Imperial player was prevented from building fighters (F) and carriers (CV) until after the Terran player had done so, this represented the "historical" inertia of the Imperium to recognize the Terran threat. While the game is to many players just a great stand alone wargame it also allows Traveller fans to play out what is known as the First Interstellar War, the conflict that in official traveller history lead the First Imperium (or Ziru Sirka) being replaced by the Second Imperium (or Rule of Man).

The fold-out map depicts a nearby region of the galaxy that includes important nearby stars as well hyperspace jump routes between them. This sector forms a single province within the Imperium. The map is printed on a dark background and is overlaid by a hex grid. Each hex represents a half parsec, which would require about 1.7 years to traverse traveling at the speed of light. Along the edges of the map are tracks for marking turns and tallying resources. The map includes a number of commonly known stars, such as Alpha Centauri, Procyon, Sirius, Epsilon Indi, and Altair, as well as a considerable number with more exotic names. Only dozen of the stars have naturally habitable planets, although many more have planetary systems with outpost-capable worlds.

The game includes a variety of ship types, ranging in size from the small scouts and fighters to the mighty battleships. The ship counters are blue for the Terrans and red for the Imperium. Each counter includes a set of ratings, the ship type, and a silhouette. The combat ratings gave the Beam weapon combat factor, the Missile factor, and the screen factor. Beam weapons were for close range combat, while missiles were fired at long range. Typically a beam weapon was slightly more effective than missiles, and Terrans had better beam weapon ratings while the Imperium favored missiles. Ships with a black silhouette could perform a jump between stars, while a white silhouette could only remain in orbit.

The following ship types are available for production: Scout, destroyer, several different types of cruisers, dreadnought, improved dreadnaught, battleship, monitor, missile boat, mother ship (...similar to an aircraft carrier), fighter, transport, and tanker.

The available jump routes can significantly hinder the movement of a side's forces. Certain star systems act as bottle-necks, and can be used by each side as a defensive front. Two of the stars do not allow refueling, so tankers are required to leave these sites. Ships are allowed to move at sub-light speeds across the hex map, and so can move directly from star to star without following the jump routes. However the movement rate of these ships is only one hex per turn.

Game Play[edit]

The game consisted of a sequence of turns with alternating player-turns, each consisting of multiple phases. Each turn represented a period of two years. The game included an economic system in which the units on each side were produced and maintained. The Terran income was based on what type of world the player currently possessed, and whether it was connected by friendly jump paths to Sol. The Imperial income had a fixed budget, but an increment for each connected outpost and world.

The Terran player always went first in each turn. Each player turn began with an economics phase. The player would then perform movement and combat, followed by the opposing player's reaction movement and combat phase, and finally the second movement and combat phases. Then the Imperial player would repeat the same sequence and the turn would end.

Combat is somewhat abstracted, with the ships being lined up off map. First the players randomly determine the range (long or short). The defender places the ships down one at a time, and the attacker places a ship down to match. At the end, any left-over ships can be assigned to any enemy vessels, or kept out of combat. Dice are then rolled to determine which ships are destroyed. Combat continues until one side is destroyed or until either player decides to disengage.

The game also includes abstracted rules for ground combat. Terran land units are green while Imperium units are black. In addition to regular land units and planetary defense units that can oppose a landing, there are special drop troops that can land on a planet without requiring a ship to transport them to the surface. The ground units have a single combat factor, plus a symbol and a unit identifier. Surface combat used a combat differential with the defense combat factor subtracted from the attacker's combat factor. A dice was then rolled to determine whether the unit was destroyed.

Victory is determined by a "Glory Point" tally earned by the Imperium. Points are gained for conquering worlds and lost for their conquest by the Terrans. A habitable world is worth four Glory Points and an outpost world is worth one. If at the end of a turn the Glory Point total has reached the amount necessary for victory, then the Imperium player wins. If the total drops sufficiently, the Terran player can likewise win. The range between the amount required for Imperium or Terran victory begins to shrink after turn three, representing the decreasing appetite for continued hostilities.

The game system includes a random events table for various Imperium events. These can favor or hinder the Imperium player. The game is fought as a series of wars forming a lengthy campaign. Thus these random events can affect the course of some of the wars. There is also a system built into the game for production, colonization, and other changes during the inter-war periods. Ships can age and be scrapped; the Emperor can grant or withdraw permission to build certain ship types, and territory can be exchanged.

Table of Contents[edit]

Section Page/s

Library Data Entries (Public)[edit]

  1. Interstellar Wars
  2. Resource Unit (RU)
  3. Terran Confederation
  4. Vilani Imperium

Library Data Entries (Automated)[edit]

Library data entries

Dark Nebula / Imperium Ship Types Overview[edit]

  1. Noncombatant Vessel: Civilian and paramilitary ships are not intended to engage in military battles and that function as auxiliaries in wartime.
    1. Tanker
    2. Transport
  2. Small Combatants: Smaller than a cruiser, but not expected to stand in the line of battle. Small combatants are lightly armed and armored ships intended for escort or exploration duty.
    1. Destroyer
    2. Expeditionary Ship
    3. Scout
  3. Cruisers: They encompass several types of ships. including light cruisers, strike cruisers, attack cruisers, and heavy cruisers. Cruisers form the major heavy fleet elements of any force, due to their relatively low maintenance cost, and to their high firepower.
    1. Attack Cruiser
    2. Light Cruiser
    3. Heavy Cruiser
    4. Strike Cruiser
  4. Capital Ship: The general class of capita! ship includes dreadnoughts, improved dread· noughts, battleships, and monitors. Capital ships are each capable of carrying one troop counter as cargo and ejecting jump troops for invasions. Capital ships are better equipped to defend against planetary defense fires because each has a screen factor of 7 or greater. All capital ships except monitors require two turns for construction; monitors only require one turn.
    1. Battleship
    2. Dreadnought
    3. Improved Dreadnought
    4. Monitor
  5. Special Ship: Special ship types perform a variety of missions.
    1. Missile Boat
    2. Emmisary Ship
    3. Fighter
    4. Mothership

Dark Nebula / Imperium Ship Types Entabulation[edit]

Dark Nebula / Imperium Ship Types
Supraclass Type Code Cost Stance Remarks Vilani (Red) Terran (Blue) Aslan (Red) Solomani (Blue)
Transport TR 01 RU Starship They are cargo-carrying ships capable of moving planetary defense markers and troops from place to place. One transport carries one counter as cargo. Vilani-TR.png Solomani-TR.png Aslan-TR.png Terran-TR.png
Tanker AO 02 RU Starship They are mobile stations capable of manufacturing fuel directly from stellar atmospheres. A tanker is required to properly refuel starships so that they may jump from a tertiary system hex (...though un-fuelled ships could still exit such a hex using sublight movement). Vilani-AO.png Solomani-AO.png Aslan-AO.png Terran-AO.png
Scout SC 01 RU Starship They are small, lightly armed ships originally designed for exploration and courier duties. Vilani-SC.png Solomani-SC.png Aslan-SC.png Terran-SC.png
Emmisary EM 01 RU Starship They are small, lightly armed ships designed for diplomatic duties. Their combat capabilities are insignificant and they are destroyed if engaged by enemy forces. Vilani-Emmisary-Red.jpg Terran-Emissary-Blue.jpg No Neutral-Transport-Terran.png
Destroyer DD 03 RU Warship They are small fleet units designed for escort duty and limited independent operations. Vilani-DD.png Solomani-DD.png Aslan-DD.png Terran-DD.png
Light Cruiser CL 06 RU Warship They are the smallest of cruiser-type ships. Vilani-CL.png Solomani-CL.png Aslan-CL-Light-Cruiser-Red.png Terran-CL.png
Strike Cruiser CS 10 RU Warship They are characterized by high missile factors, lending themselves to a variety of missions, especially planetary bombardment. Vilani-CS.png Solomani-CS.png Aslan-CS.png Terran-CS.png
Heavy Cruiser CR 12 RU Warship They are the standard cruiser class ship, forming the backbone of major space forces. Vilani-CR.png Solomani-CR.png Aslan-CR-Heavy-Cruiser-Red.png Terran-CR-Heavy-Cruiser-Blue.png
Attack Cruiser CA 14 RU Warship They are potent ships with high beam armament. Vilani-CA.png No Aslan-CA.png No
Expeditionary Ship EX 10 RU Warship They are scientific research ships which combine armaments with laboratories, and are used in the exploration of space and new worlds. No No Aslan-EX.png Terran-EX.png
Early Dreadnought B 13 RU Warship They are heavily armed and armored starships intended as the mainstay of the fleet. Maintenance costs for such vessels greatly hinder their usefulness. No Terran-B-B-Early-Battleship-Blue.png No No
Dreadnought B1 13 RU Warship They are heavily armed and armored starships intended as the mainstay of the fleet. Maintenance costs for such vessels greatly hinder their usefulness. Vilani-B1.png No Aslan-B1.png Terran-B1.png
Improved Dreadnought B2 14 RU Warship They are evolutionary developments of the dreadnought. Vilani-B2.png No Aslan-B2-Improved-Dreadnought-Red.png Terran-B2-Improved-Dreadnought-Blue.png
Battleship BB 15 RU Warship They are the ultimate capital ship with the highest available firepower and armor. Vilani-BB.png Solomani-BB.png No Terran-BB.png
Monitor M 06 RU Warship They are heavily armed ships incapable of performing the hyperspace jump; they may only move using sublight drive. Monitors are pre-dreadnought in design and belong only to neutrals. Because they do not have hyperdrive and because they are often assigned to the defense of outposts, monitors may pay for maintenance (...see the Maintenance Rule) when in a friendly secondary system, rather than perform the die roll. Aslan-M-Monitor-Red.png Terran-M-Monitor-Blue.png Neutral-Monitor-Aslan.png Neutral-Monitor-Terran.png
Missile Boat MB 04 RU Warship They are a strictly Terran development and represent the installation of missile launching equipment in small, easily produced hulls. This development is a reaction to the high Imperial missile factors in common use. Missile boats are equipped with hyperdrives, but do not have the endurance to allow sublight movement. No Terran-Missile-Boat-Blue.jpg No No
Fighter F 01 RU Warship They are small craft designed for tactical combat. They are incapable of either sublight movement or hyperspace jumps, but may be carried as cargoes. Fighters require a base before they may operate. A base may be a friendly world or outpost, or it may be a mothership (see below). Vilani-Fighter-Red.jpg Terran-Fighter-Blue.jpg No No
Mothership MS 07 RU Warship They are carriers capable of transporting, launching and retrieving 0-0-1 fighters for combat. One mothership can carry up to three fighters and can launch and retrieve that number per combat round. Disruption of a mothership also disrupts its fighters If they are aboard, A mothership may launch or retrieve fighters at the beginning of each space combat round. If fighters are being carried (inside the mothership), they are ignored; if they are not being carried, each counter is treated separately. Fighters are not included in the production of a mothership. Vilani-Mothership-Red.jpg Terran-Mothership-Blue.jpg No No

Meta-history & Background (Dossier)[edit]

Imperium is a science fiction board wargame that was published in 1977 by the Conflict Game Company and Game Designers' Workshop.

It was designed by Marc Miller and developed by Frank Chadwick and John Harshman. The game came in a cardboard box illustrated with a space battle on the exterior. It included a cardboard-mounted, folding map of a local region of the Milky Way galaxy, a set of rules and charts, and the 352 counters representing the various spacecraft, ground units, and markers, and a six-sided dice.

  • A new edition of this game, Imperium, 3rd Millennium, was published in 2001 by Avalanche Press.
  • This new release had improved graphics and updated rules.
  • In 2002, I3M was nominated for four Origins Awards.

Imperium was originally not connected with Traveller, published in the same year; the original 1977 game rules included only a few sentences of background information. The game situation, with the Terrans fighting a series of wars against an empire with vast off-map holdings, was later incorporated into canonical Traveller universe history as the Interstellar Wars, and the map astrography was incorporated into the design of Solomani Rim Sector in 1982. The many Sumerian names for stars in Imperial space influenced the phonology for Vilani words and names in later Traveller products, which have a Sumerian/Akkadian character. When GDW reprinted the game in 1990, it contained a historical outline booklet detailing the Interstellar Wars and their place in Traveller history.

Early Classic Traveller Game Modules[edit]

These games helped to set the setting of the very early Third Imperium in the early 1980's:

  1. Asteroid (game)
  2. Azhanti High Lightning
  3. Dark Nebula (game)
  4. Fifth Frontier War (game)
  5. Imperium
  6. Invasion Earth
  7. Mayday
  8. Snapshot
  9. Striker

Credits (Primary Sources)[edit]

Credits (Primary Sources)
Credit Authors & Contributors
Designer Marc Miller
Developers Frank Chadwick, John Harshman

External Link/s[edit]

Commentary & Data articles:

  1. EXTERNAL LINK: Board Game Geek reviews and pictures of the original game.
  2. EXTERNAL LINK: Imperium, 3rd Millennium official page at Avalanche Press.
  3. EXTERNAL LINK: Dark Nebula & Imperium Overviews


  1. INTERNAL LINK: White Dwarf - Issue 16

Other Articles:


References & Contributions (Sources)[edit]

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