#RPGaDAY: My first, and my most recent RPG purchases


My first RPG purchased

Well, that was the D$D Red Box, as already ascertained, and followed by AD&D. So what did I buy next?

Honestly, I really can’t recall. Around then I was really starting to discover the joy of the Friendly Local Gaming Store, so was buying a lot of stuff. Most of which I never even really got to play, but I loved buying and reading new rules.

The game that really sticks out for me, though, and for a very particular reason, is Traveller — the old black box set with the three rulebooks inside, to be exact. I was essentially looking for something to mock up Star Wars with at the time, and Traveller certainly fit the space opera bill quite nicely. And it was such a departure from D&D — a welcome one, to be sure, but there were certain things that, at the time, I found rather confusing.


For one, it didn’t feature progression rules, which confused me, and its reliance on real math and physics for some aspects of space travel was downright daunting. I know a few people whose introduction to the mechanics of orbital physics was through Traveller, but I was not one of those people.

One thing that was welcome was that it was quite easy to mess around with the game as a solo player. The character creation system, complete with a chance to die before the game even started, was a story in itself — and there were enough other generators that you could easily amuse yourself. But what’s stuck with me to this very day, are the words from the box’s front cover.

“This is Free Trader Beowulf, calling anyone… Mayday, Mayday… we are under attack… main drive is gone… turret number one not responding… Mayday… losing cabin pressure fast… calling anyone… please help… This is Free Trader Beowulf… Mayday….”

It’s just such an alluring invitation to the game. This was the only thing on the cover, too – no art, just text. But it said everything it needed to about the game.

My most recent RPG purchase

Well, speaking of Traveller, my latest RPG purchase was Mongoose’s updating of the Traveller 2300 setting. I picked up that, the main Traveller rulebook, a couple of expansions and scenario books.

I’ve recently devoured a fantastic science fiction series called The Expanse by James SA Corey. It’s rollicking good space opera with a hard SF edge. There’s no FTL, no artificial gravity, and no aliens, more or less. It’s a tonne of fun, and it reads as though the authors have more than a little RPG experience themselves.


Having finished that, I wanted to look at running something similar — and Traveller 2300 is a perfect fit, though on a far larger canvas.

Despite the update, there’s something about the game that still feels kind of delightfully retro. It’s unabashed space adventure, but with a heavy grounding in the geo-politics of the 80s. Some don’t like the idea of all those old antagonisms following us into space, but for me it makes for an instantly recognisable world. And, after all, if I want everyone to be happy I can always (and do) run Star Trek.

And it’s really appealingly lo-fi. It has FTL, but it’s a very interesting FTL. Most guns are still projectile-based, most ground-vehicles are hover-types, and the aliens are really, truly alien, especially the big-bad of the setting, the Kafer.

Mind you, I still haven’t gotten that campaign off the ground… I always have more ideas than time!

The #RPGaDAY project is running all through August.

David Hollingworth is the Managing Editor of PC & Tech Authority, as well as Hyper and PC PowerPlay magazines, and is more handsome than he has any right to be.

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