Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Traveller Referee Emulator - Part 1 - so much information in one place

This is my Traveller Referee Emulator spreadsheet, which I use to facilitate my gaming, and because hiding behind a card stock referee's screen is sooo 1983. Inspired by Dragon Magazine #80's "Dungeon Master's Familiar" program, it has been an ongoing work in progress for over six years. That issue of Dragon was inspirational in other ways, as anyone who remembers the cover might tell you, but I digress.

The spreadsheet is a combination of official rules, house rules, multitudes of random generators, and other various role playing lists and gaming aids. It has been a lot of work, but a labor of love. I wish I had the time to clean it up and make it more organized. Still, it has been an ever expanding workhorse. Let's take a closer look:

The NPC Generator
I like to be able to flesh out my NPCs quickly, so this and a little imagination can go a long way. This random generator is different from others I've seen in a few ways:
  • The UPP is strictly 2d6, with no additions for service or subtractions for aging. I figure they probably cancel themselves out anyway. Skills are limited to three service skills, one weapon skill, and one homeworld skill (someday). Simple? Yes. Lazy? Most certainly. Effective? Absolutely. If the NPC starts to become a major NPC, add more skills if necessary.
  • The UPP includes Willpower, Appearance, and Charisma. Good for sizing up your random encounters and determining if your hireling will follow your orders when the heat is on.
  • It points out high and low stats: 2,3, and 4 in red, 10,11, and 12 in green. This makes it easier to quickly see what the NPCs strengths and weaknesses are.
  • It provides at a glance a suggestion of who the NPC might be relative to the PCs. The NPC is either an ally, contact, enemy, informer, rival, or patron.
  • Likeness - a list of celebrities and other famous people. This is one I stole from "The Traveller" comic strip in White Dwarf magazine and it goes a lot farther in making an NPC come to life than I would have thought. Likeness can be just the physical appearance, or more usefully, mannerisms they, or in the case of actors, their characters have. The blue button next to the name links to a Google Image search for that person. In cases where the dice conflict with other information in the description, I usually let the dice win. Sorry, Dalene, you only look kind of like Thandie Newton. You're still only a 6.
  • Life Event - one if not THE major event in the character's life. The NPC sees the event as sad, funny, weird, inspiring, or intriguing.
  • Alternate Jobs/Services/Classes - sometimes you just don't need a standard Traveller character. This gives a basic idea of the NPC's job and their skill at it.
System Details
The spreadsheet contains sector data for the Spinward Marches, The Foreven Sector, and a few sectors of my own, or can generate individual random systems on the fly. Nothing too spectacular here, just easy access to information. It does include these features:
  •  It can be linked to the NPC's homeworld, so you can get even a better understanding of where the NPC came from.
  • Basic system information including color coded stars and planetary bodies. It's not much, but it provides a little extra flavor when entering a system. In this case you can quickly describe the system as having two red suns. I'm pretty sure the stellar classifications are canon. The number of planets is randomized, so definitely not canon.
  • Main world gravity - which is something I'm always forgetting to incorporate into gameplay. Again, just a little extra flavor, but randomized.
In The News
Something is always going on outside the PC's little world, and this little gem tells you what's happening and at what scale. Maybe it's nothing, maybe it's a red herring, or maybe it's the players' next great adventure.

Update 09/25/2016
Click here for Traveller Referee Emulator - Part 2


  1. I very much like the Traveller Referee Emulator. The quick breakdown and news events for each world are helpful, and the NPC data is awesome! It looks like you use all of the random generators - animals, starships, urban, etc. Good idea to add motivation, charisma, and appearance - it brings the NPC onto the scene moving in a given direction - just like people in real life. Don't clean it up! It works fine as is. How can I get a copy from you? cfblakely@hotmail.com

  2. This is nice...are you up to handing out copies? erictholmes@yahoo.com

    1. I would eventually like to clean it up and distribute, but as it sits right now there is too much copyrighted material in it.

    2. Hello Robert,

      Have or do you intend to distribute this anytime soon?

    3. I made this available in July of 2017. Check out this link for the post: https://travellerrpgblog.blogspot.com/search/label/referee%20emulator