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Proto-Traveller is a small ship, low traffic setting for Traveller, typically focusing on civilian or quasi-civilian (ex-military) play rather than strictly military science-fiction. It tends to prefer the simpler rules over the more complex ones: basic chargen over advanced chargen; weapons from Book 1 over the ironmongery of Book 4; and so on.

Its default ruleset is Classic Traveller, the best edition of which is probably Starter Traveller. Supplements 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 are often accepted, as are Adventures 1-3 and all of the Double Adventures. LBB4 (Mercenary), LBB6 (Scouts), Supplement 7, and Adventures 4, 10, and 12 are sometimes used. LBB5 (High Guard) is often not needed.

Exclusion List

Here is material which is typically excluded from basic Proto-Traveller, only to be brought in as needed by the referee:

  • Advanced Character Generation
  • Non-Spinward Marches starcharts (e.g. Atlas of the Imperium, alien module starcharts)
  • the Fifth Frontier War and related material
  • High Guard 2 (HG2 or just HG)
  • Megacorporations
  • Merchant Prince
  • Striker
  • Trillion-Credit Squadron (TCS)

JTAS and Challenge

A number of articles in JTAS and Challenge are useful to Proto-Traveller. JTAS Nos. 1-6 generally is completely acceptable. Nos. 7 and up, and all Challenge issues, have good material, subject to the exclusion list above.


Ships are designed using "Book 2 Plus" (click here for a T5-based approximation): a system which included add-ons from a prototype of High Guard 1 when needed (examples: small craft drives and fuel use, armor, hull configurations, and particle accelerator barbettes). The size limitations of Book 2 are honored -- but note that Book 2's drive potential table implicitly permits slow and ponderous ships up to 12,000 tons. That's 120 hardpoints, folks. The implication is clear: dreadnoughts are slow but thick with armor and bristling with firepower. There's one more implication: virtual battery rules must be used when fighting with the larger ships.

There are also hints of a wide array of non-standard components which exist at various places in or near Charted Space. For example, the unique drive design of the ANNIC NOVA, the military jump drives of the Scout/Courier, the integrated Jump/Power drive of the Xboat, and Black Globe artifact caches.

The Kinunir is considered a true battle cruiser. Book 2 starship combat tends to be preferred.

The Third Imperium

From Classic Traveller, Supplement 3:

The Imperium is a strong interstellar government encompassing 281 subsectors and approximately 11,000 worlds. Approximately 1100 years old, it is the third human empire to control this area, the oldest, and the strongest. Nevertheless, it is under strong pressure from its neighboring interstellar governments, and does not have the strength nor the power which it once had.

The Third Imperium is significantly darker than what is later portrayed, and is specifically labelled as declining. Capital physically controls the only known narrow crossing of a Rift that cuts through the local galactic arm. The Spinward Marches could be an actual frontier -- although the Imperium has neighboring interstellar empires which put strong pressure on it.

The Spinward Marches

A flagging political entity such as this Third Imperium is twitchy, prone to rash moves, cannot cover all its bases as it once did. A weakened Imperium means that there are few ships, a short reach, a slow reaction time... especially in the distant and difficult to reach Spinward Marches. Thus, there is an implied vacuum in the Imperial power in the Spinward Marches. Even as it expanded into the region, its power was failing.

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