Traveller Present Day
This was the featured article in the July/August 2021 issue.
When I did the designs for my Urban Class car I mentioned in the author’s note that while the specs didn’t match those of present-day cars the designs were quite close and that the reader could adjust the specs if they so wished to especially if they were using Traveller to play a modern day Earth setting, which I thought would be pretty cool. So as Earth is “just another” high population TL8 planet I had a think about it and the following is the result.
This article is written for the MegaTraveller rules because that’s my chosen Traveller ruleset, however it is easy to do similar with any other Traveller rule set. Also, I’m British so this article is biased from a British/European/Western point of view because that’s well … my reality. I don’t have extensive experience of other cultures (although I have some) and it’s not that I want to be but please excuse my bias and of course replace it with your own.
Traveller present day Earth:
Terra 1827 F867976-8 Hi 714 Na G2V
Playing Traveller on present day earth limits character generation to TL8 without the ability to gain higher tech skills. Default Skills are for Early Stellar, however space skills are highly unlikely and there are no gravitic or spaceship engineering skills.
Default Homeworld Skills
- Wheeled Vehicle-0 (the main cause of death worldwide in the under 25’s is vehicle accidents)
- Computer-0 (almost everyone has a mobile phone)
- Possibly (depending on country of birth, and/or membership of cadet
forces or martial arts clubs)
- Gun Combat-0; or
Traveller through sports such as archery clubs, gun clubs, martial arts clubs or fencing clubs, as well as those adolescents growing up helping with the vocations of their families, such as farmers or family run retail outlets. There are cadet forces, the worldwide Scouting and Guide Movements as well as others that teach adolescents a significant breadth of skills. Also depending on the students choice, and country of origin, secondary education such as British and International A Levels* can give a grounding in subjects such as history or biology that have a Traveller skill equivalent. Depending on the background that the player wants for their character the referee has a wide choice in allowing default skills at level 0 or in limited circumstances up to and including level 3 (Jesse Martin was 16 when he solo circumnavigate the globe unassisted) before main character generation.There are myriad clubs and associations that teach adolescents skills that are applicable in
Advanced Character Generation is not really suitable because they are mainly space career based. Army from the Players Manual and Flyer from COACC may be acceptable with the removal of shipboard or orbit service skills and associated schools and specialist training.
However, Pre-Career Options such as College, Military Academy (Army or COACC), or Medical School could be used before embarking on the first term of basic character generation if desired.
While it is almost possible to have Noble as a career choice it should be highly unlikely, and the SOC characteristic should be limited to B (11), with any increase in SOC in character generation being re-rolled if the character has reached SOC B. Those who are SOC B have been knighted for services that have a global impact for the benefit of Her Majesty the Queen for the United Kingdom, or other monarchs for services to their respective countries. Long standing and distinguished military service in their respective countries (Admirals, Generals or Air Chief Marshals), or world renown people in business, celebrities and World and Olympic champion sports stars are those most likely to be knighted.
Some skills should not be available to characters. These skills are listed in the table below; any skill appearing on that table should be re-rolled, or not selected if listed in a cascade.
|Skills not available in “Present Day” Traveller
|Combat Rifleman (Gauss Rifle)
|Handgun (Snub Pistol)
|Heavy Weapons (VRF Gauss Gun)
|FA Gunnery (Meson Guns)
|High Energy Weapons
|Mortars and Howitzers (Meson Guns –1)
|Gun Combat (Energy Weapons, Neural Weapons)
|VRF Gauss Gun
It is highly unlikely that any character will gain Ship’s Boat, Vacc Suit, or Zero-G Environment.
To obtain these skills the character must be a Flyer or Scientist and received special duty thrice in three consecutive terms. If they do they will be/have been a member of either the US or Russian Space programs.
In present day Earth there are no proven powers of the mind in the way that psionics is portrayed in Traveller. Of course, it is up to the referee as to whether they may wish to include them in their campaign.
Trade and Commerce
The trade and commerce rules are really set-up for mercantile activities of free or subsidised merchants in the normal Traveller space setting. It’s possible to use the commodity and stock prices of the actual markets around the world to allow players to speculate and buy and sell cargos around the world shipped by boat if they and you so wished.
All technology is limited to TL8.
To find out how much things cost just look it up on Google or Amazon …
The characters can have any equipment that they can order from Amazon, eBay, or any online shop at the lowest price they can find, for the quality specified.
Pricing from the MegaTraveller design process for vehicles, aircraft, and equipment (or any Traveller ruleset for that matter) can just be ignored. The designs process in MegaTraveller is for an abstract space empire with a tech level that has almost unlimited free power, and that does not translate well to current pricing on Earth today. So just ignore the costs that are produced and use those you can find on the web. Use the designs to integrate into the MegaTraveller rule set where you need them to, such as for combat, and to give you an idea about how fast or far they can go. Again, fuel costs in MegaTraveller are significantly cheaper than they are in the real world.
For example, if your players want to fill up their Land Rover at the pumps on a forecourt in the UK, it’s going to cost them £60 (about US$85). Not Cr7 to fill up a tank that’s 198 gallons large and guzzles fuel in that it only lasts 15 hours, for a car that costs 4,477 1986 US$ as would be the case if you use the design rules for the car below:
|“Asyn” Land Rover, TL5, Cr4,477
|1/3, Disp=1.4, Config=4USL, Armour=1A, 20% Open-topped, unloaded=4.299 tonnes, Loaded=6.599 tonnes
|1/2, InternalCombustion=0.5MW, Dur=15hrs
|1/2, Wheels, P/W=76, Road=129km/h, Off-road=38.7km/h
|Crew=1 (driver), Seats=Adequate×4
|Fuel=0.9kL, Cargo=1.4kL, ObjSize=Small, EmLevel=Faint
|The Asyn (Welsh for ‘donkey’)
can carry four people in comfort, along with many supplies (even
more cargo may also be carried on the roof depending on the
Cost in Quantity=Cr3,582
(CC0 Uncredited) design in the public domain
If there is a need to translate between MegaTraveller costs to today’s pricing then the 1986 US$ is worth 2.4 as much as today’s (2021) give or take a few cents, and if we say Cr1 was the same as $1 US when the rules were published just multiply the price by 2.4 and you’re likely to be in a reasonable ballpark. If you then need to you can use the current exchange rates to translate that into any currency you wish.
Getting into Space is almost impossible, and if the players do then they will most likely be on the International Space Station for a tour, or members of the US or Russian Space programs.
Maps and locations are available on Google, and the internet has a host of building layouts and plans, as well as ship deck plans and aircraft plans.
There are all manner of vehicles already designed at TL8 or lower that can be used such as the four examples detailed in this article.
Many of the Traveller Patrons can just be used as they are written as long as they stay on planet.
At the time of writing the current conflict zones in places like Afghanistan, Libya, Syria or Yemen can be used for mercenary tickets, as well as various insurgencies that are continuing in Africa, and scenarios featuring crime, bounty hunting, corporate and national espionage can be played out around the world, and piracy, anti-piracy or retaking hijacked ships can be played off and around the coast of Somalia.
Libyan Civil War
The PCs have been hired by the Libyan Government of National Accord to assist in their attempts to unify Libya to bring order, peace and stability to the country.
- Getting to Libya
- Afriqiyah Airways scheduled flights to Tripoli are in operation from European (Istanbul) and African (Tunis) airports
- It is possible to sail into Tripoli if the PCs so wish
- The PCs can walk or drive across the border from Tunisia
- If the PCs look, there are Aircraft delivery jobs into Tunis that the PCs could apply for. A Falcon 20 needs to be delivered to Tunis Airport from the PCs location and the delivery company is willing to pay $1,000 for a qualified pilot to deliver the aircraft. The rest of the party can be aboard as passengers.
Once the PCs are in Tripoli they are met by a Captain of the Turkish Army and escorted to their initial messing facilities before deployment.
Depending on the skills of the party there are a significant number of jobs to be done:
- Aircraft maintenance and repair: The inventory of the Libyan Air Force is a mixed one, MiG-21’s, 23’s 25’s Sukhoi SU-22, 24’s and even a Mirage F1, as well as trainers, transports and helicopters. There are limited numbers of native Libyans who have knowledge of aircraft maintenance and repair
- AFV maintenance and repair: The inventory of the Libyan Army is mainly older Soviet tanks, IFVs, self-propelled guns, and armoured cars, and while they have people to maintain them they do not have the organisational structures in place to make effective and continuous maintenance of the inventory
- Pilots: There are a limited number of aging native Libyan pilots who are certified to fly the aircraft available. Qualified combat pilots are required.
- Special Forces: There are more missions than available forces to conduct them. Co-ordination with the Turkish Army advisory teams and training of native Libyans is high on the agenda, as well as co-operation and co-ordination with other countries Special Forces who may be in country at any time.
Intelligence reports indicate that Daesh have managed to repair some captured and abandoned T-72 tanks and are looking to bring these into the fight against the Government of National Accord’s forces.
The PCs are tasked with infiltration and reconnaissance of ISIS territory to report the location of the tanks. If possible the PCs are to destroy the armour in situ. An air-strike may be possible depending on the maintenance situation of the Libyan Air Force.
The PC’s are assigned a local Libyan Army special forces trained scout to help get them into position. Equipment available to the PCs are any small arms and ammunition available to the armed forces.
A MiG-21 with HEAP laser guided ordinance is available for the mission at the desecration of the Referee, or if a PCs if flying it.
ISIS troops are dedicated, fanatical, and experienced combat veterans.
Typical Daesh fighter 778755 Age 26 US$200
2 Terms Army (Rank Varies)
Rifleman-2, Grenade Launcher-1, Pistol-1, Tactics-1, Computer-0, Wheeled Vehicel-0
They are equipped with a mix of AK-47s, AKMs, AK-103s or derivatives, as well as RPG-7s and F1 hand grenades and Glock 17s.
|T-72 Main Battle Tank, TL8, Cr2,351,577
|3/6, Disp=2.5, Config=4USL, Armor=34C, Unloaded=39.12 tons, Loaded=41 tons
|1/2, Improved Internal Combustion=0.5625 Mw, Duration=8 hours
|1/2, Tracks, P/W=14, Road=70 kph, Offroad=42 kph
|Radio=Continental (5,000 km), V Distant (50 km)
|LADAR=V Distant (50km), Headlights×2, Passive
IR×3, Light Amplification×3, Active IR×3, Image Enhancment×3,
|Hardpoints=1, Weapon Stabilise=80kph
Pen/ Max Auto Dngr Ammo Rds Attn Dmg Range Tgts Spc Sig ROF 12 cm HiV HE 24 19 16 Dist(22) - 35 M 7 KEAP - 34 14 Dist(22) - - M 7 HEAP - 37 12 Dist(22) - - M 7 HMG 500 6/3 3 V Long(1.5)3 - H 80 MMG 3000 3/3 3 V Long(1) 3 - H 80
|Computer 1, Electronic×23,
|Crew=3 (Driver, Commander/Gunner, Gunner), Seats=Cramped×5, Env=basic env
|Fuel=0.26 klitres, Magazine=1.1 kliters, Cargo=0.52 klitres, ObjSize=Small, EmLevel=Moderate
|12cm HiV is turret mounted w/MMG mounted
HMG pintle mount
Cost in Quantity=Cr1,881,261.6
Designed by Scott “2G” Kellogg
|MIG 21 Fishbed Interceptor, TL7, Cr827,500
|(24/60) Disp=8.9, Weight Loaded=9 tons, Airframe=Supersonic
|4/10, High Performance Turbo Jet=0.6172 Mw, Endurance=51 min (1 hr 20 min with drop tank)
|4/10, High Performance Turbo Jet, Thrust=18.36 tons (28.36 w/afterburner) Min=280 kph, Cruise=1510 kph, Top=2015kph, (AB Cruise=2100, AB Top=2800), Agility=6
|Radio=Regional (500 km)
|Radar=V Distant (50 km), Radar direction finder, Passive IR
|20mm autocannon Fixed forward firing (200
Plumbed Fuselage hardpoint,
Maximum external stores=2100 Kg
|Powered, 2 manoeuvre points
|Crew=1 (Pilot), Complex cockpit w/advanced ejection seat, Oxygen tank and mask
|Fuel=1,814 litres (1,000 litres in external drop tank), Refuelling probe ObjSize=Small, EmLevel=Moderate
|Cost in Quantity= Cr662,000
Designed by Scott “2G” Kellogg
Scenario: Mexican Delivery
The Tijuana Cartel is being pressed by the rival Sinaloa Cartel and its leaders are wishing to divesting their massive accrued piles of US dollars into more portable wealth.
What few cells of the cartel are left have made contact with the administrators of the Yakutia region of Russia and are looking to broker a deal where their billions in US cash can be exchanged for uncut diamonds and possibly ice ivory.
The PCs can be involved in many ways.
- For Yakutia
- Officials in the city of Yakutia might hire the PCs to set up a route where the diamonds and possibly ivory can be shipped to a mutually convenient location where the exchange can take place.
- Tasks may include:
- Co-ordination of the meeting between the Yakutia’s Officials and the Tijuana Cartel
- Sourcing shipping for multiple pallets of US Dollars from the exchange location to Yakutia
- Bribing or hiring of officials and/or boats of the Border Service of the FSB
- Bribing or hiring of officials and/or boats of the Mexican Navy
- Bribing or hiring of officials and/or boats of the US Coast Guard
- For Russia
- The FSB has received intelligence around the exchange and wish to hire independent contractors, the PCs, to look into the Mexican side of the operation to provide information about the outbound route of the money.
- Tasks may include:
- Identification of current leaders of the remaining cells of the Tijuana Cartel
- Identification of likely transport routes from Mexico
- Identification of the transport carrying the cash
- For Mexico
- The CNI (the National Intelligence Centre) wishes to hire independent contractors, the PCs, to look into the Yakutia and Russian side of the operation to provide information about the outbound route of the diamonds.
- Tasks may include:
- Identification of the Yakutia’s Officials
- Identification of likely transport routes from Russia
- Identification of the transport carrying the diamonds
- For the Sinaloa Cartel
- The Sinaloa Cartel wish to remove the Tijuana Cartel completely and take over their territory and drug routes into the US. They aren’t really concerned about the money, or the diamonds, or even the Russians. They wish for intelligence about the remaining cells of the Tijuana Cartel including times, places and co-ordination so their enforcement arm can eliminate them.
- By Accident
- The PCs could be minding their own business in Mexico when they are involved in a road traffic accident with a white van being driven by two armed non-descript NPCs (rival independent contractors) that has two pallets of US dollars in the back totalling $200,000,000 which is part of the consignment of cash going to Yakutia.
Scenario: The Taxi Service
|UH-60 Blackhawk, TL8, Cr 233,500
|(28/70) Displacement=5, Weight Loaded=7tons, Airframe=Simple
|2/5, Gas Turbine=1 Mw×2, Endurance=2 hr
|Main and Tail Rotor, Lift=8 tons
Cruise=225 kph, Top=300 kph
|Radio=Regional (500 km)
|Flexible LMG mount×2, firing sideways from cargo compartment doors if guns are fitted
|Crew=4 (Pilot, Co-pilot, Gunner×2), Simple cockpit×2, Bench×4 (15 passengers+2 Gunners)
|Fuel=2,550 litres, Cargo=13.5 klitres in place of passengers and 1 ton external sling load, or 2.5 ton sling load with no internal cargo or passengers, ObjSize=Small, EmLevel=Moderate
|Cost in quantity=Cr186,800
Designed by Terry McInnes
The PCs are hired by a Company who runs a high value and high security taxi service in California. The PCs are the pilot and security team for a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter. Patrons of the company can hire the Blackhawk to pickup and take them wherever they wish to go.
- Gang Transport
- The PCs are tasked with a pick-up from SGM Helipad in South Central LA for a drop off in Compton/Woodley Airport.
- 5 gang members turn up for the 8-minute ride. They are all carrying Autopistols in various concealed places. They are just after the flight. They do not say why, however they are all slightly nervous.
- Anything could have happened, it’s up to the referee to decide what they might have been doing, or what they might be going to do and if the PCs get involved or not.
- Gang Member 778743 Age: 22 US$200-500 (Varies)
1 term Rouge (Rank Varies)
Streetwise-2, Pistol-1, Computer-0, Wheeled Vehicle-0
Equipped with a variety of 9mm auto pistols.
- We just want your rotors
- The PCs are called to a pick-up in the hills just north of L.A. for a drop off at SGM Helipad.
- As the PCs are coming in to land there is no one waiting for them. As the PCs are landing a group of armed criminals engage the PCs in order to steal the helicopter.
- The criminals wish to use the helicopter as cover and the escape vehicle from a bank robbery that is currently in progress. They are expecting to take the helicopter to the helipad on the roof of the bank load it up with the money and bank robbers and as it is a known air taxi service be unhindered in their flight away from the bank.
- If the PCs manage to evade capture and successfully interrogate any surviving criminals they may be able to gain this information and act upon it in any way they wish.
- Criminals 878777 Age 26 US$500-5000(Varies)
2 terms Rouge (Rank Varies)
Vice-2, Rifleman-1, Streetwise-1, Pistol-1, Computer-0, Wheeled Vehicle-0
The are equipped with AR-15s, Glock 19s and flak jackets.
Two of them are wearing Rolexes, and one has a $2,000 flat curb link gold chain.
- Medical “Emergency”
- The PCs are in the air close to Beverly hills and are directed as a priority to a pickup from the Los Angeles Country Club.
- A celebrity of your choice has had a slight injury and requires transport to Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre.