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The Foible Federation Campaign

Campaign originally run by Don Rollins, Expeditions Ltd., Cal State Fullerton, c. 1977-78.

In Memory of the Free Traders Boxcars, Teramell, and Valley Forge, and the Privateer Cookieduster.


Based on impressions of Star Wars' "Old Republic";SW had come out only months before, and was still fresh in everyone's mind. Don also being a comics fan, he also incorporated some elements from Marvel Comics.


Five stars "of different colors" in a pentagonal arrangement. (Similar to the rank tabs of an American Five-star General.)


Never firmly established, but presumably 8 to 10 subsectors, comparable with the Shavian Empire. (This appears to have been a typical size for pre-3I Traveller empires.)

Tech Level:

13-15; most likely 15, as the Empire-Federation War seemed to indicate the Federation had a tech level or two advantage over the Shavian Empire.

Tech Peculiarities:

Jump Fuel Consumption -- 1%/Jump instead of 10% (local Trav convention to allow long-range cruising)

Lightsabers -- Personal melee weapon; CT range matrix as broadsword, armor matrix & damage as laser rifle; required special Lightsaber skill.

Stunners -- Personal "firearm"; specialized non-lethal weapons. Details unknown.

"Bank Lasers" -- Ship weapon; oversized superlasers, similar to a High Guard weapons bay.


American-style Federated Republic, with heavy bureaucratic overhead. One peculiarity was that the Federation's regulatory bureaucracy was more intrusive and restricting than the Empire's; Federation player-characters often had to play "beat the system".

Attitude towards Psionics:

Legal, but regulated; high psi potentials were evaluated for the Guardian Knights (see below). Generally psionics were much more accepted and advanced than in the Empire.

Special Character types:

Guardian Knights (Elite "Other") -- essentially the Jedi Knights without some of the spiritual/holy order emphasis of the later SW prequel trilogy; prerequisite was high Psionics. Benefits included maxed-out Psi training, automatic Soc 11, lightsaber.

Army, Navy, & Marines allowed Promotion rolls even if Commission roll failed; this represented advancing through enlisted/non-commissioned ranks:

Non-com Rank Army Marines Navy
1 Corporal Corporal Petty Officer 4th Class
2 Subsergeant Sergeant Petty Officer 3rd Class
3 Sergeant Gunny Sergeant Petty Officer 2nd Class
4 Color Sergeant Master Sergeant Petty Officer 1st Class
5 Sergeant- Major Sergeant- Major Chief Petty Officer

Non-commissioned ranks rolled for retirement benefits as per commissioned ranks of one rank lower (DM -1).

Alien races:

On an ad-hoc basis; if a player wanted to run a particular critter, Don would allow it in and include the homeworld somewhere in the Federation. Races encountered included:

Name Origin Description
Cynthians Poul Anderson's Polesotechnic League Three-foot tall, highly-matriarchal Persian Cats with an attitude.
Ducks possibly Marvel Comics' Howard the Duck Four-foot tall ducks; often used as comedy-relief characters.
"Eet" Andre Norton's Zero Stone One-of-a-kind alien symbiote/mutant housecat. Special critter for a player-character sidekick.
Kree Marvel Comics "Blue-skinned Dorsai"; heavy into Marines and mercenaries.
Slishii (NPCs only) Starfaring SFRPG (Ken St. Andre) Highly aggressive octopoids, Redzoned, often found as pirates. Functioned as the "bug-eyed monster" alien threat out on the frontiers.

Based on the rule-of-thumb of "one alien race per subsector", the Federation had room for four to six more without becoming overcrowded.


An "aircraft-carrier navy", with missile-armed fighters being the decisive weapon. Federation task forces would stand off (carriers behind screening destroyers) and launch massive fighter strikes at the enemy. Federation weapons fits emphasized missiles over beams because of their ship-busting superiority, at the cost of superb logistics to guarantee ammunition supply.

Think "American Navy" of the Cold War era.

Fleet performance: Jump performance (Jump-3) was equivalent to the Shavian Empire, as the two were at effective parity. Judging from ship reconstructions, Maneuver drives appear to have been standardized at 5-G, emphasizing speed and agility - "Hard to hit before hard to hurt." (This last was a necessity, as the tonnage of carriers' fighter-handling facilities precluded them being armored; also, the faster fleet can pick its battle range and break off more easily.)

Ship Classes:
Warship Type Tonnage Description
"spider" fighter 12.5t Maneuver-8, unstreamlined, missile-armed fighter. Could salvo all 12-16 missiles in a single ship-busting punch. (From the cover of an Analog magazine of the period.)
"Canard" fighter 12.5t Maneuver-8, streamlined, laser-armed fighter.
PG "Corsair" 400t General-purpose patrol/light warship; functionally identical to the later Type T Patrol Cruiser, but with 5-G performance instead of 4.
DE Destroyer Escort 1200t General-purpose warship similar to an enlarged and streamlined Broadsword or re-gunned Kinunir; turret weapons only.
DD/DDG Destroyer 2400t General-purpose warship with small bank lasers and/or a full High Guard missile bay. (Based on the "Escort Cruiser" miniature from Valiant's Stardate:3000 line.)
DLG Frigate 6000t Super-destroyer with a couple full bank lasers and missile bays. (Based on Valiant's "Cruiser" miniature.)
CR/CG Cruiser 12000t Enlarged destroyer; primarily used as task force/fleet flagships. (Based on Valiant's "Heavy Cruiser" miniature.)
CV Carrier 12000t The Federation's capital ship; carried several squadrons of fighters. (Probable appearance similar to Battlestar Galactica.)
CVB Supercarrier 25000t Enlarged supercarrier; carried 2-3 times a standard CV's complement of fighters, plus heavier attack craft and a large force of Marines.
ISBM Interstellar Ballistic Missile 50-100t Unmanned Jump-capable missile (based on a Cutter or Type S Scout hull) carrying a large thermonuclear warhead or warheads.

Estimated fleet size was 50-80 CV/CVB, 80-100 CR/CG, 400-500 DL/DD/DE, lots of smaller stuff. The organization and doctrine has been reconstructed in overview.

Ground Forces

Federation Marines were equipped with Battle Dress (powered armor) and energy weapons, with Guardian Knights attached for psionic support. Federation Army was locally-raised levies at the planetary/system level, but with standardized Federation equipment for various tech levels. Army unit names included their world/system of origin.

Again based on 1950s American practice, ground force organization was either triangular ("three-by-three") or pentonic ("five-by-three").

Mercenaries were not used within the Federation itself (though some planetary units came close), but were common enough outside the borders. Mercenaries used both standard and non-standard organizations.

Local Convention: Special Ship-combat Rules

When a ship was hit in combat, characters aboard could be hit by "blow-through" damage from the ship-sized weapon. A starship-combat "Hit" did 10D damage to any character in the compartment hit; this damage was cut by half (to 5D) if the character was wearing personal armor. Cloth protected against missile hit blow-through, Reflec against laser hits, and Battle Dress against both. (A lot of characters started refitting their vacc suits with Cloth + Reflec layers in case the ship got bounced; especially after having to scrape up the remains from a blow-through hit.)

Ships had a Structural Integrity rating (effectively "hit points"); every 10 tons of ship was one Structural Integrity point. Each ship-weapon hit did one SI point of damage to the ship's structure; if a ship reached zero SI points, it had lost structural integrity and could not attempt to maneuver without tearing itself apart.

General Campaign "Feel":

Freeform and a bit gonzo, reflecting Don's personality -- a sense of improvisational High Adventure (in a galaxy far, far away) that didn't take itself completely seriously. Highly cinematic -- a bit of Star Wars (including near-exact parallels of the original SW boarding scene and Empire Strikes Back's Hoth evacuation scene), a bit of WW2 naval/submarine movies (such as ships on long patrol rendezvousing to exchange the latest movies from home), and some of the more "interesting" player-character interactions.

Campaign Arcs:

Free-trader Boxcars: A retired Guardian Knight got together a ship's crew of colorful characters, found a ship that needed a crew, and set off to find ways to get in trouble out near the frontiers. He did, including ship-to-ship shootouts with Slishii pirates, inter-character romance, a blockade run, and a murder whodunit which ended up in an attempted jailbreak and a "Jedi Council" Board of Inquiry.

Free-trader Valley Forge: Misjumped 36 hexes into unknown space and found their way back -- the longest misjump to do so. Took them over a year, but they got home. Their navigator cracked up when he realized how far they'd misjumped and rode the entire way back in a Low Berth. Upon returning from the dead, hit the talk show circuit as instant media stars and started an interstellar cruise line with the proceeds.

Privateer Cookieduster: Small-scale privateering against the Slishii, with one unique incident when the captain was trapped outside the ship when it emergency-jumped and found himself drifting in his spacesuit with about four hours of air, no rescue for several weeks, and managed to survive -- sort of.

The Brotherhood of the Coast: Pirate campaign in a frontier backwater of the Federation; when a captured pirate turned Fed's Evidence, the Brotherhood of the Coast tracked him down and exacted a terrible revenge. "This is what ye get when ye betray the Brotherhood of the Coast -- Avast, Arrrr, me buckos."