After the collapse of GDW and the concurrent cessation of its product lines, (especially Traveller: New Era), I have mentioned that those of us who were Traveller fans felt rudderless. There were rumors of course that another company might pick up the line or that Marc Miller himself would print some new material, but the industry as a whole was in a depression.

As you can imagine, it was hard for any of us to believe in miracles in a climate like that. Then came the announcement that Marc Miller had indeed secured a source of funding and some staff to do the impossible. Traveller would be restarted.

Marc had been out of Traveller for awhile, mostly through the TNE days. He had left for other pursuits or been unable to really participate much in the last days of GDW. Still, he had a love for Traveller as he had been its principle creator (and rights holder). So, new books would come out under Marc’s new company, Imperium Games, bearing the moniker of Marc Miller’s Traveller.

The money and marketing people behind Imperium Games were a ridiculously savy lot and they new how to play Traveller fans. They advocated returning to the “classic” feel of Traveller with updated art and story lines set at the founding of the Imperium. There was even an exceedingly strong push on the part of IG to get people to subscribe to basically any book they printed in a pre-order fashion (much like Time/Life and some companies did) so that they’d have the money before the books were even out. In hindsight, all the glitz and marketing should have been a warning.

I tried T4 out on my veteran group of players almost as soon as it was released. Most had played the original Traveller and some had even played MT or TNE. The response was universally negative. There was a sense that the new rules took a step back than forward and that everything from the skill system to combat system were not playable. We sacked the system for a hybrid MT/TNE system almost immediately after the first session, but I like the true addict I am couldn’t stop collecting the books.

I hoped follow-up books might at least have some useful, salvageable material. After all, the MT and TNE sourcebooks had all been gold mines of material for campaigns even when their systems had been lacking. The same should have been true of T4, right? Only somewhat was the sad answer.

Some will say those books were completely unsalvageable, but there were a few diamonds in the rough. Some plot ideas, mostly to do with operating at the founding of the Imperium, The general feeling by many I spoke with, though, and my own opinion as well was that this was not really Traveller. Gone were the familiar ships, races, and polities. Ok, this was supposed to be over 1000 years before the previous setting. We got that. But there was NOTHING that made us think of Traveller other than the title of Imperium and that was used sparingly. The art was interesting and was even used to help sell the books, but it wasn’t Traveller either. Not much about these books could even be used in that sort of setting.

It is widely considered among Trav fans I know for this system to be a wash and yet I own most if not all of its books. Why would I do something so ridiculous if I felt so negatively for it? Call it brand loyalty, gullibility, stupidity or simple nostalgia, I wanted to see Traveller succeed and I held out hope that if Marc got to create enough of these Milleu 0 books, he’d eventually produce some of the later Milleus, possibly even revisiting the eras and stories most Trav fans had grown to love.

Sadly, it was not to be. We were all disappointed to one degree or another when the line faltered, no more books were forthcoming and all we had was the bitter taste in our mouths of being taken for a ride by a company we trusted to produce a product befitting of the Traveller legacy. Is it any wonder to this day that I have not bought another new Traveller product outside of the GURPS license? That’s how long it has taken me to forgive Marc for what he allowed to happen with Imperium Games and that he can blame solely on the lack of quality of his “Imperium Games” product line.

If there were a book series I wish I could take back buying, it would be this one.

Advertisements