Traveller Shadowrun

Why? Why would anyone opt to combine these different systems, settings, and flavors into a single game and story? In the same way peanut butter and chocolate work together better, two halves make a better whole.

I have always liked the Traveller universe – its depth and its scientific basis. The amount of material developed over its long history is amazing, and the fan support has developed wonderful tools. However, the overly scientific nature of the characters has always felt “dry” to me – not difficult, but without that spark of excitement that adventurers need. Characters come across as a nature documentary rather than an action-adventure.

Shadowrun is instead the polar opposite, a fantasy world of humans, dwarves, elves and trolls mixing science with magic, in a corporation dominated world. The characters are lively and bigger than life, fitting for an action movie. However, the “world” is limited, and once you have done grimy grungy city for a while, there is a desire to go bigger or different. Sure, you can leave the city, but its always for just another city or another corporate – same thing with a different skin.

For our group, we wanted the best of both – bigger than life characters in a robust and realistic universe – go to any planet, explore, and profit with adventure. We have tried a few options over the years, and none really checked all the boxes. Spacemaster is good, but too detailed. Star Wars is solid (especially the old West End version), but limited in context. Starfinder was a disaster, Pathfinder in space sounds good, but mechanically it has a lot of logic problems. There were many other options we considered (and I have played over the years), but none really hit that balance.

Thus our Traveller Shadowrun combination came to life, bringing the best of both. The Traveller setting, with cinematic characters doing what they can to survive and profit. Sprinkle in some magic, some rigging, and some matrix, stir in world-hopping space travel, and you have an endless sandbox to play in. And the group can decide on how they go about what they wish to do, subject to interstellar laws and the threat of the 3rd Imperium (and a few alien races).

After a bit of play testing, we opted for the 6th World Edition of Shadowrun, except for combat mechanics – for that we subbed back in 5th Edition. Armor soaking damage just makes more intuitive sense, but the 6th World really streamlined skills and actions to work better. Edge as well was adjusted to be more in line with 5th Edition, since 6th World makes Edge a book-keeping mini-game.

For Traveller, we settled on Mongoose Publishing’s 2nd Edition of Traveller (MgT 2e), although inspiration and resources are coming from across all ranges. This edition really just serves as a baseline for time period and references.

Finally, after a bit of research, I settled on the Pirates of Drinax campaign as the best starting sandbox for the players. Their characters would fit right in, and they were not restricted as to how they would go about their lives. Pirates, thieves, murderers, heroes, saviours, merchants – whatever the group wants is workable.

For player reference to the universe, we are heavily influenced by Firefly and Serennity, though of course some Star Wars and likely Aliens will be tossed in here and there.

If you are curious about our adventures, please check out our YouTube chronicle, in which we record the group’s progress during each session.