This article originally appeared in Issue #011 of the downloadable PDF magazine.
Here are some things missing from various versions of Traveller in my experience. Forgive me if they’ve already been covered somewhere else, just thought I’d share.
Mutlitool - Pen Knife, TL5: A small folding steel knife with a variety of cutting, gouging, sawing tools included. Also includes at least two kinds of screwdrivers, a magnifying glass, tweezers and sometimes (often the first thing lost) a toothpick.
Variations exist throughout known space, though the Solomani pride themselves on the quality, ingenuity, and sometimes downright ridiculous number of gizmos in their pen knives.
A basic pen knife multitool costs around 15Cr and weighs 0.2kg. Fancier ones can be had had from higher tech materials, cost upwards of 150Cr and can weigh around 1kg.
Mutlitool - Medium TL6, TL10: A heavier duty version of the mutlitool above, but more tools, and a casing that forms handles for better leverage when unfolded and inversed to the tool being used. Often includes snippers and pliers that rely on the improved leverage the design offers. When used correctly, a well made multitool will last for decades, but users have a tendency to improvise with them, shortening the tool’s lifespan, and sometimes the user’s (i.e., using the handle as a hammer in a pinch, creating a circuit with them while not grounded, etc.). At TL10, some wear and tear is mitigated with the use of crystal-iron in the construction, and the inclusion of a gimbaled, lockable hammerhead.
The TL6 version costs 35Cr and weighs 0.7kg. The TL10 version costs 50Cr and weighs 0.5kg.
Special Rules: Multitools allow certain skill rolls to be attempted that would otherwise require a full tool-kit, but at a penalty, depending on the situation. Certain Simple repair tasks can be attempted without penalty, making the multitool a time-saver.
You’d figure multitools would make it into the 57th century? But I guess they weren’t quite common household items when Traveller came out (I didn't even see my first Leatherman until the late ’90s), but Swiss Army knives were common then. I’d imagine the Vilani thought they were both ingenious and somehow wrong at the same time - unless that’s taking their hidebound specialization a bit too far? Human minor races flock to Terran ships to get their Swiss Army Knives and real Leathermans - the Imperium’s days are numbered!
Emergency Combination Radio/Flashlight, TL7, TL8: A small handheld case containing an LED flashlight, red flashing LEDs, a radio receiver (AM/FM/Shortwave), mono speaker, headphone jack, digital clock and alarm setting. Power is provided by a handcrank dynamo, rechargeable batteries, and a solar panel in the handle, making its power supply very versatile. The TL 8 version also includes a Distant (5km) communicator at no additional weight, and the construction is a bit more durable.
The TL7 Combo Radio/Flashlight weighs 2kg and costs 35Cr, while the TL8 version costs 100Cr.
Author’s Note: I own an American Red Cross TL7 version of this - its pretty cool.
Aquaponics Subsistence Unit, TL9: A nearly closed system (when connected to the habitat sewage/treatment system) that provides rapidly growing fresh vegetables and cultured seafood for a single human or human analog. Includes a computer for monitoring its automated system as well as for keeping record of food harvested and seed/egg/frozen embryo stock available. Audio instruction systems can teach unskilled beings how to operate, repair, and monitor it provided they speak the same language. With proper care and management and stable power supply, a stocked unit can last for 5 years. A 5 year resupply or stock-spares (not including water) costs 15,000 Cr, displaces 3kl, and weighs 2 tons.
Each unit displaces 4 tons (54kl), weighs 30 tons, costs 0.3 MCr, and requires .07 MW to run. The subsistence unit, if integrated into a starship, counts as part of the Environmental Controls section. Although the unit doesn’t include artificial gravity, it does need a stable gravity field in which to operate.
Making the equivalent unit for Hiver, K'Kree or Aslan requires 50% more resources than above for the increase in the fish/protein production (for Alsan), an ‘aging bin’ (used by the Hiver, aka ‘Composter’ by humans), or more hydroponics units (for the K’Kree, who only use the fish for aesthetics and ammonia to nitrate fixing.). Vargr and Droyne, with some minor modifications, can subsist on a unit designed for humans.
Variations are known throughout known space, including higher tech versions with more failsafes, higher yield foodstuffs for smaller amounts of space taken used, or catering to exotic diets. A visually aesthetic TL13 version designed for Micro to Zero-G environs, with lifeforms appropriate to it also exists, and has been a mainstay of Glisten startup communities for centuries.
Author’s Note: Some of the numbers pulled out of the air, others were interpolated from MT environment components - Correct them if you feel the stated figures require too little space, but I am going by TL9+ (future) unknown techniques and handwavium nutrient/fertilizer management techniques. Just wanted to have the option for the players finding a ‘derelict’ covered in solar panels with an old coot/geezer of indeterminate vintage surviving in a void somewhere for years, or the frontier family on a rockball somewhere, still digging the grand garden-cave beneath their habitat while they use these in the meantime, or a scientist on biology cataloging sabbatical for a University, gone for close to a decade and thought deceased, living in an advanced base and one of these.
Likewise, simplistic gypsy ships can be crafted with these units, scooping and purifying fuel and making planetfall only when something interests them or they need to get ‘out’ and stretch their legs, eat something besides 'strawberries and fish', or need other kinds of resupply.