Traveller - In Two Pages

The Imperium and surrounding states


The Traveller universe is set in a huge fictional empire called the Imperium, spanning immense distances of one spiral arm of the galaxy. Ruled by an Emperor (Strephon), and a heirachy of nobles below that, individual worlds are allowed their own governments and laws, as long as they obey the code of the Imperium, most of which applies to interstellar crimes and weapons of mass destruction.

The Imperium comprises many thousand star systems, and all progress at their own pace as regards development, culture and technology, though interstellar trade is a major influence on most.


Traveller is set in the 57th Century. Man has spread to the stars, both from Earth and from other planets to which he was transplanted 300,000 years ago by the mysterious Ancients. Dates are expressed in the dating system of the Third (current) Imperium; it's 1110 by that reckoning. The Imperial Calendar uses day numbers, so Jan 4th is 004/1110. The Fifth Frontier War between the Imperium and the Zhodani has just ended and a flood of demobilized service personnel are foot-loose and fancy free.



Star travel is by means of Jump drives, devices which can throw a starship between one and six parsecs (3.26 light years) in around a week. There is no faster method of communication between star systems; regular communication is carried by starships, particularly the XBoat network run by the Scouts.

This means that there is far less central control of decisions and far more autonomy for local planetary authorities to make them. It also means that the unscrupulous can commit crimes and escape justice by getting far enough away. Depending on how keen the pursuit is!


Surrounding the Imperium are several other star empires. The races that control these are among the Major Races - those that discovered Jump Drive on their own rather than being sold it by other races.

The Ancients ruled most of the galaxy for tens of thousands of years, mastering technology unmatched since. 300,000 years ago they destroyed themselves utterly in a terrible war. Now all that remains of them is scattered ruins of unimaginable scale and very, vary rare artifacts, often of immense power, incomprehensible function and lethal dangers.

The Aslan are catlike humanoids, averaging 6.6-7 feet tall, with a great emphasis on honour and family ties. Male and female roles are sharply divided, with all leadership and direct combat activities falling to males while females handle trade, money, diplomacy and anything involving much in the way of introspection or forethought.

The Vargr are genetically uplifted Terran wolves, placed in a far distant star system by the Ancients hundreds of thousands of years ago. They live in a fluid, chaotic society with a baroque, buccaneering approach to life, and success among Vargr is driven by relative charisma. Vargr have a regrettable tendency to flourish in mercenary and space pirate fields of endeavour.

The K'kree are hexapodal herbivores - sometimes referred to by humans as "centaurs", fanatically -and aggressively - vegetarian and conservative. Their society is based on a herd structure, and the only time one K'Kree is encountered is if one is lost, injured, dying or insane. They are also very claustrophobic and K'Kree starships are usually enormous.

Hivers are intelligent, six-legged starfish with the best computer and robotics tech in the galaxy. Averse to physical violence, they have a psychohistorical technique called "manipulation" which they use to influence events.

The Zhodani are another transplanted human race, who have developed and utilized psionics as an integral part of their society. The Zhodani and the Imperium have warred frequently, mainly in the sector in which the characters are situated.

The Solomani (men of Sol) are the humans who remained on Earth. Their militaristic and rather totalitarian empire touches the Imperium, and they have fought - and lost - wars with the Imperium in the past. They believe themselves the only "true" humans. One of their specialities is genetic uplift, and they have raised several species of animals to sentience.

The Droyne are a remnant race, small winged psionic humanoids with a very structured caste system. Rather secretive, persistent theories insist that the Droyne are the descendants of the Ancients. The modern Droyne show no sign of anything awesome, travelling in small clans on the edge of society and seldom gathering in large enough numbers to control an entire world.


Technology is rated by tech levels, according to the following table. Most player characters will have originated from worlds rated 9-15.

Powered Armour
Rough Equivalent
Stone Age; primitive.
Bronze, iron. Bronze age-Middle ages.
Printing press. First firearms. c.1400-1700.
Basic science, industrial revolution. c.1700-1860.
Internal combustion. c.1860-1900.
Mass production. c.1900-1939.
Nuclear power. c.1940-1969.
Miniaturised electronics. c.1970-1979.
Quality computers. c.1980-1989.
Anti-gravity. Jump-1. c.1990-2000.
Interstellar community.
Lower average Imperial. Jump-2.
Average Imperial. Jump-3. First robots.
Above average Imperial. Jump-4.
Above average Imperial. Jump-5.
Technical Imperial maximum. Jump-6.
Darrian. Advanced meson beams, AI robots, experimental matter transport
Artificial intelligence, anti-matter, improved matter transport
Personal disintegrators.
Plastic metals.
Comprehensible only as technological magic. Ancient Tech Level.

Note this list uses hexadecimal numbering. This is common in Traveller so as to allow larger numbers to be expressed in a single symbol.



Many people of many races roam the stars. Such travellers may be traders, plying single ships from system to system, or mercenaries, fighting for one planetary faction or another, or scouts, forever looking beyond the next hill.

One definition states: "A Tourist journeys to distant and interesting places and frequently gets into trouble. A Traveller journeys to distant and interesting places and frequently gets into trouble - and gets themselves out again."

Player characters are typically experienced individuals who have served in the armed forces of either a world or the Imperium itself, have acquired skills and benefits, and have for one reason or another set out to travel the galaxy and find adventure and employment in more interesting places. They can also be interstellar traders who have come from a merchant background, or criminals, or gamblers, or explorers... or pretty much anything. Unlike many other RPGs, Traveller characters typically start off with a significant level of skill.

Traveller is a copyright trademark held by Imperium Games and Marc Miller for their roleplaying game of the far future. All rights to intellectual property are acknowledged and use of copyright material is made for illustration of the game.