#SciFiFriday – Agent of the Imperium: A Story of the Traveller Universe (Marc Miller, 2015)

Cover courtesy GoodReads

Within the Traveller RPG community, there is an acronym known as IMTU, or “In My Traveller Universe.” This usually denotes a setting that may draw from, or be different, from the OTU or “Official Traveller Universe.” When Marc Miller, the creator of the Traveller RPG writes, one would think that anything he publishes should be canon and part of the OTU. It was with this bias that I started reading Agent of the Imperium (AoI). By the time I was finished, I am not so sure that what I read is OTU, or Mr. Miller’s version of his own IMTU.


To me, Traveller has always been about the little guy; average joes who did their time in the service and now are out wandering the spacelanes for adventure. As much as I played around in the Third Imperium setting, it really is the far frontiers adventure of the 1977-edition Little Black Books which had no real setting other than to travel. So when I started reading AoI I expected a character much like Captain Jamison, the Merchant Captain used in every character generation example since Classic Traveller.

Instead, we get Jonathan Bland, a Decider agent of the Quarantine Agency. He is brought to life for 30 days at  time with a wafer chip. He is not a lowly adventurer – he is/was a member of a powerful bureaucracy and now an agent of the Emperors themselves. This was one of many events that challenged my vision of the OTU; I had never really considered cyberpunk elements in the setting nor adventure at these higher levels of government. Indeed, if one looks at the starship computer rules with their immense size (measured in displacement Tons of 13.5 cubic meters) the idea of advanced brain chips seemed so foreign to the game!

It is through Jonathan Bland that we see the Third Imperium develop. Surprising me again, this story does not take place in the Golden Age of the Traveller RPG setting (around game year 1105) but rather starts in year 350, or almost 800 years before OTU adventures. More interesting was to see Mr. Miller’s view of the Third Imperium in this time. In this he used several tropes that I was familiar with – and expected – in a Traveller book but introduced others that I had not consciously associated with the Third Imperium. In this respect the book is highly successful; it challenged my pre-conceived notions and made me imagine more. But at the same time AoI made me think about what the Third Imperium setting means to me.

When trying to fit Agent of the Imperium into my view of the Traveller RPG universe, I have to designate this one as the “Marc Miller IMTU of the OTU.” It’s not that I don’t like the book (I do) but the story is loftier than I imagined the OTU to be. I find nothing wrong with the story of AoI, but as a game inspiration it is more an example of the awe and wonder of the Third Imperium rather than adventure seeds.



IMTU* – Federation of Arden

*IMTU – In My Traveller Universe. Take a part of the Traveller RPG universe and make it your own!

Spinward Marches (Courtesy RPGeek)

AS I READ through the Mongoose Traveller (MgT) supplement The Spinward Marches, my interest was piqued when I read about Arden in the Vilis Subsector. Arden is a high-population world (1.03 billion) with a “solid TL8 economy.” A major political player is the Arden Society, dedicated to creating the Federation of Arden.

So I got to thinking; how could the Federation of Arden come about IMTU? In doing so I have looked at several problems including the stellar system, technology, and military forces.

The Arden Star System is only loosely defined. In MgT terms the planet is C5549CB-8. This is actually a bit off from what some sources say (several credit Arden with TL9 by c.1105) so I guess they are on the cusp of the TL changeover (more on that later). The Arden system is credited with one planetoid belt and no gas giants. Using the Star System Generation format found in Traveller 5 (beta), I went ahead and created the entire system. The results will be the subject of a separate post.

The results of the Star System generation led to thoughts on technology. In terms of space travel, at TL8 Arden has “Space Shuttle, Space Stations, and non-Grav maneuver 3-5 capability” (Technology Transportation, Comparative Technology Levels, LBB9, p. 65). Spinward Marches states the government of Arden has “a handful of small jump-capable ships,” obviously bought elsewhere since Arden cannot produce starships themselves (a combination of TL and a C-class starport).

NASA Antimatter Concept (Really!)

IMTU, the Arden system has 12 planets spread out over two stars. The companion star (M5V stellar class) is in the Remote System of Arden in Orbit 16. The companion system has five worlds with 10 satellites. So how do the Ardens reach this major portion of their system? The answer came in the form of Paul Elliott’s Slower-Than-Light (STL) ruleset. STL covers the creation and operation of reaction drive ships using NERVA-style nuclear thermal rockets or a Fusion Rocket. Several STL designs for Arden as well as some travel commentary will be the subject of yet another separate post.

The last area I have looked at is military forces. In doing so I have drawn heavily on Trillion Credit Squadron (TCS), Power Projection: Fleet (PPF) as well as The Spinward Marches and Spica’s new The Outer Veil. Though many Traveller fans will argue over the validity TCS (and PPF which reimplemented the same system) in terms of a realistic budget, the exercise is nonetheless enlightening. Again, this will be the subject of a later post.

So let me conclude by making the following observations:

  • Traveller can make you think
  • Not all thinking is fun, but thinking about Traveller is fun!