Traveller Mailing List/FAQ

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Traveller Mailing List/FAQ: This is an unofficial Traveller Mailing List frequently asked questions list. The original Official FAQ has not been updated since 1999. This FAQ attempts to update some of the questions, add new information, and fix some of the dead links.

Description (Specifications)[edit]

All About The Traveller Mailing List: The Traveller Mailing List (TML) is open to discussions on all aspects of Traveller. It exists as a means for the Traveller Player/GM to exchange ideas and discuss the various aspects of the Traveller System, and its universe. This includes discussions on Mongoose Traveller, Traveller D20, GURPS Traveller, Marc Miller's Traveller, Traveller: The New Era, MegaTraveller and Classic Traveller. This also includes the background.

How Do I Subscribe?[edit]

To subscribe to the TML, visit

How Do I Unsubscribe?[edit]

To leave the TML, visit

How Do I Post a message to the list?[edit]

There is only one valid mailing address for each of the mailing lists.

To post to the Traveller mailing list, send your message to

What are the etiquette rules for the lists?[edit]

Here are a few guidelines for posting your thoughts to the TML. Please note that they are only guidelines. They are intended to make everybody's life easier by keeping the noise level down and keeping the content high.

  • All messages should have a meaningful title. Please don't use "Re: Traveller-digest V1996 #2" or anything similar.
  • Any message which is over about 150 lines should be labeled as LONG in the title. This gives a warning to those running terminal sessions over slow links. In many countries even local calls cost money.
  • HTML isn't handled well by digest format, and some mail readers can't handle it at all. Please use plain English ASCII text.
  • Embedded pictures and video are automatically stripped by the list software. Please post pictures and videos to a web site and provide a link.
  • Please remember that the list membership is international. For some subscribers English is a second language. Please consider this before replying to messages.
  • If you have a very long message that is not relevant to everybody, please consider making it available on an web site instead. Then announce its existence on the list. A good example of material suitable for this is program listings and scripts.
  • Discussion of current events without specific reference to Traveller, particularly of a religious/political nature is discouraged.
  • Flame wars should be quickly extinguished or moved to personal email addresses.
  • When quoting, please follow these guidelines:
    • Please quote the minimum amount possible to show what you are responding to. Remember everybody has already read the original message, they just need to remember it! :-)
    • Please don't paste in 5 generations of replies on a particular topic, or an entire 150 line message. Excerpts work best.
    • Don't quote signatures.
    • Don't quote a message just to say "me too"
    • Remember that copyright applies on the net too. Get permission before extensively quoting a published work.
  • Signatures should be limited to around 4 lines please.
  • The TML members prefer Bottom posting for your replies.

History & Background (Dossier)[edit]

What subjects have been 'Done To Death' already on the TML: The following subjects have previously been discussed in some depth on the TML.

  • They invariably had staunch defenders on both sides, and led to some fiery debates.
  • So, unless you have some new and inspired material, please don't stoke the coals.

OTU Setting Questions & Discussions[edit]

Traveller FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
No. Topic Question Response
Q1. Feudal Technocracy What is a Feudal Technocracy? Starting in May 1994, there was a thread on the TML regarding the definition of a Feudal Technocracy (Government Type 5) in Traveller. It originated as a spin-off from a discussion between David Johnson and Hans Rancke about the Sword Worlds.

It became clear that different people had very different ideas about what was and was not a Feudal Technocracy. Hans favored emphasizing the feudal aspect while David emphasized the technocratic aspect, using the term 'practice of technology'. He approximately defined this as requiring industrial activity in all possible areas for a certain TL, producing sufficient surplus resources to support research, development, production and operation and support the expansion of the economy and stated that he regarded this as the prime requirement of a technocracy.

However, Bill White has calculated that the average FT in the Imperium has a population in the 100,000's, insufficient to support the broad spread of industry David requires by the above definition (David believes a minimum population of the order of millions is required).

Also, a number of people (including me) had expressed the preference that 'critical technology' governments, who govern by virtue of control of some critical technology, be possibly describable as Feudal Technocracies. This type of society is possible at the lower population levels at which FT's commonly occur in the Imperium.

Given these arguments David made the following comment:

  • "Maybe we have to accept that, in Traveller terms, there is no distinction between feudal technocracy, technocratic oligarchy, technocratic feudalism, or anything else that might be considered in any way `feudal' or `technocratic' since neither of these terms exist in any of the other government codes." Any such government could be described with a government code of 5.
  • While David dislikes the vagueness of the resulting government type, it does embrace all of the proposed examples of FT's, including his own. This was the compromise conclusion that we reached.
Q2. Fighter Viability What is the role (if any) of fighters in Traveller space combat? Fighters are found in all versions of Traveller. Their 'canon-ness' is undisputed. The problem is that it is quite difficult to see what role they are designed to fill.

View #1: Fighters have a limited role

  • Unlike the current day, the future history of Traveller does not provide us with the kind of weapons that allow fighters to become a useful weapons platform. There is no Traveller equivalent of the Exocet missile, able to kill a warship with a single hit. Traveller fighters are limited to the same maximum acceleration as larger ships, so they cannot outmanoeuvre the enemy. They only seem to be useful against lightly armed and armoured targets, such as civilian vessels.

View #2: Fighters can play a major part

  • Waves of fighters can overwhelm a capital ship, if sufficient numbers are employed.

View #3: fighters are only meant to provide expanded sensor range.

  • A fighter using active detection can send back information to a larger ship that remains in passive detection. T
  • hey can also provide capital ship anti-missile defense.
  • Otherwise yeah, it's a crap gig to get stuck with and the cost of fighters doesn't provide the kind of battlefield returns to make them useful at all. [1]

View # 4: use them like historic light cavalry or torpedo boats. [2]

  • Scout and screen with them, a fighter squadron can cover a far larger area than an escort.
  • Use them to drive in your opponent's screen and scouts.
  • Threaten your enemy's flanks and rear. Although capital ships could be designed with the same G thrust as fighters that would take up far too much space in drives and fuel so fighters should be able to out manoeuvre a squadron of larger vessels.
  • Use them as a forward screen to scare off the enemy's fighters, threaten his lighter ships and provide a useful anti missile screen (One of the early JTAS editions had optional High Guard rules for anti missile fire by other ships and multiplying fighter fire power in squadrons).
  • Swarm isolated capital ships or concentrate the entire squadron's fire power onto one destroyer or cruiser.
  • Attack convoys and bases.
  • Support assault landings.
  • Go active on the sensors to act as a decoy or deception.
  • Arm them with nuclear missiles for a cheap but very effective weapon upgrade.
Q3. Microjumps How do Jumps less than one parsec work? What happens if you jump less than 1 parsec? Many people have asked if it is possible to jump within a system, or to just outside the system.

Basically, it is possible and it works exactly like a one-parsec jump. It takes a week with the normal uncertainty factor. The amount of fuel used is also the same as for 1 parsec - (1 divided by the maximum jump range) times the total amount of jump fuel for a full length jump. e.g. A one parsec jump in a Jump-3 capable ship will be 1/3 of the fuel required for a 3 parsec jump. A point to remember though, in a week the solar system may have moved a bit.

Q4. Piracy / Corsairs Is piracy economically feasible in the Third Imperium? This is one of the more flame war inducing topics on the TML.

The basic argument boils down to (on the pro side) that the early CT books included a "pirate" entry for the starship encounter table, and pirates make for more interesting gaming experience and should, therefore, be included. On the con side is a detailed economic and military analysis of the Third Imperium, where the Imperial Navy has the money, ships, and manpower to, should it choose to do so, place an anti-piracy ship patrol in every system controlled by the Imperium of sufficient strength to deter any possible piracy attempt.

A parallel discussion occurs regarding what do the pirates take. In most cases the most valuable thing the victim has is the large merchant ship itself.

After several such discussions the Sunbeard Declaration has been adopted. It is recommended that you read the declaration before asking questions (or making statements) about Piracy in the Third Imperium.

Q5. Relativistic Weapons Effects of rocks on Planets The reactionless drive postulated in MegaTraveller (Thruster Plates) allows unlimited acceleration times, so long as fuel and power are available. Given this fact, what's to stop players or GMs using asteroids (or small craft such as lifeboats) as relativistic (i.e. near the speed of light) projectiles against unsuspecting worlds? Doesn't this capability give any spacecraft owner access to a weapon of unbelievable power?

Basically, yes. There is no canon reference to this ever having happened, but the physics used in MegaTraveller clearly allows it. Traveller the New Era shied away from this problem by introducing a new, reaction-based drive, HEPlaR (Which, incidentally, has its own problems).

These links are for impact calculators, see for yourself what happens when you crash an near-c rock into a planet.

Q6. Spacing What are the effects of spacing? Just what are the effects of being escorted off ship into vacuum with no vacuum suit (aka spacing)? What happens when that bolt of energy from the pirate/navy ship (take your choice) chasing the PCs blows a gaping hole through the hull and into the bridge? Here is a description adapted from a number of answers posted to the list in September, 1996.
Briefly, survival in vacuum is probably possible for a minute or so. Consciousness will go away much more rapidly, with the victim having about 10 seconds to react before losing consciousness.
Upon losing consciousness, one would become paralysed, then go into generalized convulsions and then become paralysed once again. During this time, water vapor will form rapidly inside the body, causing it to swell to perhaps twice its normal volume unless it is restrained by a pressure suit. The victim, however, will not explode.
Meanwhile, the heart rate may rise initially, but will fall rapidly thereafter. After a minute or so, the circulation of blood slows to a halt. After the initial rush of air from the lungs during decompression, gas and water vapor will continue to flow outward through the airways. This will cool the body, but the mouth and nose will reach near-freezing temperatures quite rapidly.
It is very unlikely that a human suddenly exposed to vacuum would have more than 5 to 10 seconds to help himself. If immediate help is at hand, although one's appearance and condition will be grave, it is reasonable to assume that recompression to a tolerable pressure within 60 to 90 seconds could result in survival, and possibly in rather rapid recovery. Neurological problems, including blindness and other defects in vision, are also common after exposure, but usually disappear fairly rapidly.

On a more personal level, this from John Lambert who went through it:

I was in an airlock in a jumpsuit when it was vented to (near) vacuum. (True story!) The first indications were the noise and what felt like a punch to my chest as the air in my lungs escaped. The airlock then filled with a cloud of condensing water vapor. [..] I had plenty of time to locate and don my oxygen mask.
Q7. Star System Catalogue Is there a list of all star systems in the Imperium? There are several. They contain canon (published) and non-canon listings and so may not be representative of the entire Imperium and could change if other sectors are officially published in the future. (And estimates or calculations based on this data may not accurately reflect the official Imperium.)

Extended FAQ & Glossary[edit]

What is the answer to... ?: Here are a few answers to questions that have been asked on the TML at various times.

GLOSSARY: What's that acronym or nickname mean?[edit]

Extended FAQ[edit]

Traveller FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Topic Question Response
Bibliography & Ludography Is there a list of Traveller books? There is a relatively complete ludography, and a list of products organized by publisher.
  • Bibliography = Study of Books
  • Ludography = Study of Games
  • There is overlap between the terms
BITS How do I obtain BITS Traveller material? BITS products should be easily obtained in the UK through local games stores. BITS have also signed a distribution agreement with Steve Jackson Games in the US. Stock should be available from Warehouse 23. A summary of BITS products can be found at the BITS web site
Canon: DGP How canonical is DGP material? Digest Group Publications has long been involved in the development of Traveller. CT Book 8 - Robots was primarily written by Joe Fugate. Much of the work done in developing the basic MegaTraveller rules was done by DGP, who also produced MT supplements under their own name. DGP were in contact with Marc Miller during the development of MT.

There has been some discussion as to whether some aspects of DGP publications are canon. The general feeling on the TML appears to be that DGP publications are, for the most part, canon.

Canon: GURPS Traveller Is GURPS:Traveller considered completely Canon? The GURPS Traveller universe is officially considered an alternate Traveller universe, which diverges from the Official Traveller universe in 1116, shortly before Dulinor is to have assassinated Strephon and started the Rebellion. However, since the GURPS 'timeline' is the only 'timeline' that is still 'living' (ie: supported with new material) & progressing, it has steadily gained adherents who view it as the actual history of the 3rd Imperium.

Like every release before it, GURPS Traveller both forced some changes and added new things to the mix. GT, being the first Traveller release based upon an existing RPG ruleset, was required to use the existing GURPS rules as much as possible. Steve Jackson Games also required the GT releases to meet their high standards for publication. The number and scope of these changes (GURPS Traveller: Behind the Claw, 20% space penalty for streamlining ships, Jump masking, Marines in battledress, and others) make some feel that it's not 'real' Traveller and won't use it. Everyone else feels they're all the poorer for it.

Contact: Marc Miller or FFE How do I contact Marc Miller? Be aware that Marc is a busy guy. If you've got questions about Traveller that need a quick answer, try the TML, or this FAQ. Having said all that, you can contact Marc through his web site:
DGP's Fate Whatever Happened to DGP? With the March 1993 issue of the MegaTraveller Journal (#4) DGP officially ceased supporting Traveller. They cited the release of Traveller the New Era, the loss of Marc Miller's active involvement with the design of the game and the fact that DGP could not control the direction of Traveller's development as reasons. At the same time DGP announced the impending arrival of AI (Not Technology and Magic, but Technology as Magic!) their new, wholly DGP-produced RPG.

Unfortunately AI was never published.

Eventually DGP ceased trading, and the DGP name and properties were purchased by Roger Sanger.

Following the demise of GDW in December 1995, Roger posted a message suggesting that DGP would be interested in producing new materials for the new version of Traveller. It was also suggested that DGP would consider re-releasing previous DGP products, possibly on CDROM or in a repackaged format. In January 1996 Roger announced that DGP would be producing a new RPG product, including alternate history and science fiction elements as well as elements from AI. In October 1996 Roger reported that DGP was seeking a renewal of their licence to produce Traveller material.

As yet, none of these developments have materialised.

Sources: MegaTraveller Journal #4, Email messages from Roger Sanger dated 9th, 12th January and 12th October 1996

Errata What errata are available?
Formula/s How do I find the formula for...?
Further Reading & Viewing What do you recommend for reading (or viewing)? Peruse the collection of More Reading for various books, games, and movies which can inspire your Traveller game.
GURPS Traveller: Getting Started What do I need to play GURPS Traveller? GURPS Traveller is now a range of sourcebooks in its own right and GURPS itself covers a multitude of settings. What does the starting GURPS Traveller player need in the way of materials?

The absolute minimum you can get away with is GURPS Lite, a downloadable copy of which is available at and the GURPS Traveller rulebook.

The next level of sophistication would be GURPS Basic Set, Third Edition Revised and GURPS Traveller

SJ Games recommend: GURPS Traveller, GURPS Basic Set, Compendium I and GURPS Space with GURPS Ultra-Tech I and II as optional extras.

Discussion on the TML has lead to the following suggestions on additional GURPS material you may find useful (in addition to any GURPS Traveller books that may take your fancy):

  • GURPS Bio-Tech
  • GURPS Robots
  • GURPS Vehicles
  • GURPS Psionics
T4 Supplement F What was T4 supplement F? The spines of the main T4 supplements each carried a traveller-hexadecimal style number. At the time of Imperium Games' demise all of the supplements from 1 to G had been published, except F.

Supplement F was to be Nobles.

Traveller Geek Code What's that strange code I see at the bottom of TML postings? That's the IMTU (In My Traveller Universe) or Traveller Geek Code. It's a way of describing how your own Traveller universe is constructed (and how it might vary from the 'official' universe).

References & Contributors (Sources)[edit]

This list of sources was used by the Traveller Wiki Editorial Team and individual contributors to compose this article. Copyrighted material is used under license from Far Future Enterprises or by permission of the author. The page history lists all of the contributions.
  1. An unpublished factoid written by JC Clements
  2. An unpublished factoid written by James Fitchett