This article originally appeared in the May 2014 issue of Freelance Traveller.
The Canon on CD-ROM. Various authors.
FarFuture Enterprises http://farfuture.net
PDF and other files on CD/DVD, ~310MB
The creation of this CD comes long after the previous Traveller Canon CDs from FarFuture Enterprises (FFE); while no actual reason has (to the author’s knowledge) ever been given, it is surmised that issues regarding license status and the death of the proprietor of the original publisher (Quiklink Interactive) may have complicated things. Nevertheless, the Canon for Traveller20 (Traveller for the d20 system) is now available on CD, under the same terms as prior FFE CDs.
Unlike previous CDs, the Traveller20 CD is a commercially-prepared CD—silver on the data side, rather than the blue, green, or purple of most user-writable CDs—and the label is full-color artwork applied directly to the disc, rather than color printing on a paper label subsequently pasted to the disc or monochromatic Lightscribe image burning.
With your computer’s AutoRun capability enabled, your browser will be launched with the index.html page from the disc’s root directory. This page presents you with a nicely-formatted array of thumbnail images of the covers of the various products, each linking to the PDF document proper. In addition to the 45 Traveller-specific PDFs, you also get a folder containing the Microsoft Office RTF format documents making up the d20 System Reference Document, which defines the basic rules for the d20 (D&D Third Edition) system. You need this, or one of the various core rulebooks (such as d20 Modern, frequently recommended) put out by Wizards of the Coast, to play Traveller20.
The PDFs are informatively, if tersely, named, so you don’t actually need to use the index page as a ‘switchboard’ to get you to the document you want. Readers for PDF files and RTF files are required.
If you’re not using the index page as a switchboard, you'll see that a few of the PDFs are labelled “(Print)”, and that there is a similarly-named document that omits that indicator. The difference between the two documents is the absence in the “(Print)” copy of internal page border art, making it more printer-friendly. A quick check seems to indicate that the remainder of the content is the same, and pagination is not altered between the two.
As with the other CDs, the PDFs are “text-behind-scan”. The scans are quite readable, but the text behind them isn’t fully edited, so text searches, while possible, may not return all the results they should, and you’ll want to look over any text you choose to copy-and-paste.
The Traveller20 milieu, like the versions of Traveller that came before it, offered plenty of opportunity for adventuring. Like other milieus, it had its own ‘flavor’ due to both astrographical and political factors. Sadly, it never really caught on with either the Traveller community or the d20 community; one can offer several hypotheses for the reason why, but whatever the reason, the support for extensive development wasn’t there—and the development that likely would have brought community support wasn’t there, either.
Getting this CD wouldn’t be a waste of money; if you’re willing to do a bit of conversion work, much of what’s here can be used in a Classic era game, opening up a new area for play where even veteran Traveller players might not know ‘spoiler’ information.