Someone has just asked you “What is Traveller?”. It’s obvious that they want a better answer than “It’s a SF/space-opera role-playing game, like D&D is a high fantasy role-playing game.”. How do you answer them?
“kafka” answered in the October 2010 issue:
Traveller is merely the toolkit for adventure. The way the game has been played up to now…
It combines Hard SF (of Outland or Alien) with a roguish sensibility (of Firefly) set against a vast Space Opera (like Star Wars) with quaint 19th century notions from the Age of Sail (travel does take a long time and players must make decisions in the field rather than ask for help, a la Master & Commander). There are aliens but also human civilizations that are equally alien. There is familar tech (e.g., shotguns in space) but also a touch of the fantastical (e.g., laser weapons). Action can take place on alien world, a starship or even with a computer simulation. Players usually do not have enough money to make ends meet and the universe doesn’t care. But, they have the chance to rise to become heroes and be rewarded with wealth beyond their wildest dreams (well actually knowledge...but who says knowledge is not wealth).