What’s Traveller? An introduction to the sci-fi tabletop RPG that impressed Starfield

Tale personality introduction, skill-based totally mostly development and exhausting sci-fi – could per chance well we peep all these in Bethesda’s subsequent story?

From Baldur’s Gate 3’s revival of the legendary Dungeons & Dragons series to Warhammer’s delusion football traipse-off returning in Blood Bowl 3, 2023 appears to be like to be like to be a year defined by video games rooted in traditional tabletop games both explicitly and more no longer without delay – and Bethesda’s sci-fi jog Starfield can be no various.

Starfield creative director Todd Howard openly cited the impact of tabletop RPG Traveller on the hotly-anticipated birth remaining October, announcing that the upcoming video sport is “hearkening help to these conventional roleplaying games that we loved”. There could be an especially deepest connection for Howard too, as he recalled programming a Traveller sport for the Apple II computer as one among his earliest coding initiatives.

Relating to conventional roleplaying games, there are few older than Traveller. Released in 1977, finest a couple of years after Dungeons & Dragons revolutionised tabletop roleplaying, the sci-fi RPG has evolved over no fewer than a dozen editions within the remaining 40-plus years, altering hands alongside the methodology from usual creator Game Designers’ Workshop to recent-day studio Mongoose Publishing.

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The game has also jumped between various gameplay systems, with the 1977 sport’s reliance on two six-sided dice being changed temporarily by the d20 familiar from Dungeons & Dragons – D&D writer Wizards of the Waft itself launched a Traveller D20 within the early noughties – and seeing a traipse-off for surroundings-agnostic machine GURPS before returning to its usual suggestions for Mongoose’s most smartly-liked model.

Among the many aspects that made Traveller so ordinary at the time of its birth – and quiet held up as one among the correct sci-fi RPGs as of late – is its narrative skill to personality introduction. In distinction to D&D’s use of rigid classes to outline characters’ skills and abilities, Traveller makes use of a lifepath machine that simulates a personality’s previous skills.


This lifepath machine works love a mini-sport in its agree with appropriate, with gamers choosing a occupation for his or her personality – most frequently a militia path, or life as a merchant – before rolling to peep what successes and mishaps they encountered in their previous. This defines their starting tools, money and more. In the harshest of cases, characters in traditional Traveller could per chance well even die correct by personality introduction.

Pretty than getting frequent phases hit with a obvious amount of generic skills aspects, characters’ development in Traveller is tracked by their development in individual skills, which could be improved by participating in explicit working in direction of. Achieving greater phases in skills requires longer working in direction of, making it a dreary course of – however one which will pay off with highly efficient personality builds. This impact can arguably be seen already in previous Bethesda games love Skyrim, the put genuinely the usage of skills is desired to toughen your personality’s ability in them. Pretty than skill advancement being the correct focal level in Traveller, characters also toughen by obtaining improved tools, money and social standing, which puts them in a more get characteristic within the massive universe.

One more key impact that Traveller could per chance well like on Starfield is its depiction of a sci-fi surroundings that hews moderately closer to what the future could per chance well genuinely see love, in need to a more fantastical interpretation. In acknowledging the RPG’s inspiration, Howard eminent that “Traveller has moderately more ‘exhausting’ science-fiction” – the usage of the time duration most frequently frequent to show sci-fi rooted in valid-life science and skills, even supposing or no longer it is with a forward-taking a see optimism.

Whereas Traveller does embody some more out-there suggestions – corresponding to psionics and telepathic powers – the universe also grounds itself with sensible suggestions such because the develop of Newtonian psychics on ships correct by space fight and the presence of more passe firearms within the characteristic of rayguns or blasters. Howard has previously confirmed that ship fight in Starfield would require gamers to organize systems corresponding to shields, energy output and weapons, adding to the sense of a more simulationist-flavoured skills.

How deep Traveller’s impact on Starfield runs remains to be seen, however early appears to be like to be like at the game already hint at an jog that could actually feel very familiar to fans of traditional sci-fi roleplaying. It could perhaps per chance well per chance be that Howard has sooner or later managed to craft his fancy letter to the tabletop RPG despite all the pieces these years.

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