But a buddy bugged me about running a Traveller game. What the hell? Why would he do that to me? Not that I've never done that to him (twice, for the record). But then I couldn't get it out of my head until I'd written 3 pages on it.
Here's the first, the overall setting "What has the Galaxy gone up to now?" If I get around to it, I've got campaign assumptions, and a page on initial location and characters and a bit on some initial hooks.
The big question: does this make you want to get out 2d6 and a sheet of paper and roll for survival? Or yawn at all the tropes?
The Directorate is over. It’s done. Its fuel tanks are empty and its lost and adrift. Ain’t no refueling this sucker.
It wasn’t the Free Federation of Planets Rebellion. They didn’t have the ships, nor the credits it takes to staff them. They were crushed, like all the other threats the Directorate had ever faced. We were all one happy corporate interstellar state, XXX parsecs wide, from the XXXX to the XXXX.
But once that Rebellion was done and peace was assured, the creditors came. The Travellers Aid Society, the Interstellar Monetary Fund, Monsanto Terraformation, the shipping cartels, the different engineering corps, they all called in their chips. Pay those debts. Red numbers on the balance sheet were redder than any rebel’s bleeding heart.
Patronage and payroll were the heart of the Directorate. Bankrupt, the Directorate’s bureaucracy shattered. It might have been in the interest of the other interstellar institutions for the Directorate to continue, but who wanted to be the one to write off their loans? Screw the greater good, we have our balance sheet.
Most didn’t notice it so much at first. Yeah, the Directorate furloughed some staff, mothballed some cruisers. But that was just the moment in the airlock before the outer door opened.
The real difference was felt later. A few pirates, always out there on the edges, hiding out in a nebula where it’s hard to scan, or using electronics to hide their nature, hit some bigger fish than usual; they were testing the atmosphere. The victims sent out their distress signal. Instead of getting help from Directorate gunboats jumping in, they got a message: pay up.
Which is where we are today. Different portions of the Directorate bureaucracy and military are now mercenary, as overlords, paid enforcers, or gangs. Different shipping corporations have different contracts, settlements and even mergers with the neo-Directorate entities that still try to maintain their monopoly of force. The now mostly free planets are going their own under malign independence. As yet, no planet or planetary coalition has managed to build a force that survived a challenge of a neo-Directorate entity.
Commerce continues, risky, expensive and fragile but like transplanted life is determined to blossom in the new environment in whatever way possible.