GURPS Traveller

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GURPS Traveller
Designer(s) Loren Wiseman
Publisher(s) Steve Jackson Games
Publication date 1998
Genre(s) Science fiction
System(s) GURPS

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GURPS Traveller is a set of table-top role-playing game books by Steve Jackson Games, designed to allow game play in Traveller's Third Imperium science-fiction setting using the GURPS rule system. Traveller was originally published in 1977 by Game Designers' Workshop and was inducted into the Origins Adventure Gaming Hall of Fame in 1997.


Steve Jackson had been a long-time fan of Traveller, and had previously talked to Digest Group Publications about doing a GURPS Traveller back in the late 1980s.[1]:111 Following the dissolution of GDW in 1996, Jackson licensed the Traveller property from Marc Miller,[1]:111 while Miller simultaneously licensed Traveller to Imperium Games.[1]:63 Jackson brought on Loren Wiseman to produce the new game, which was set in an alternate history of the classic Traveller timeline (which was at the time licensed to Imperium Games).[1]:111 Following its publication, GURPS Traveller was extensively supported with numerous background books through 2003, and the Journal of the Travellers Aid Society was resurrected as a Pyramid-like online magazine in 2000.[1]:111

The game uses the GURPS (Third Edition) system and takes place in an alternate timeline in which no Rebellion occurred and the Virus was never released. Steve Jackson Games has produced over 30 high-quality supplements for the line, including details for all of the major races, many of the minor races, interstellar trade, expanded world generation, the military forces of the Third Imperium, and starships. The game is often referred to as "GT". Loren Wiseman who worked with Game Designers' Workshop in the design and development of Traveller is still the GURPS Traveller line manager and editor of the online magazine Journal of the Travellers Aid Society.

In August 2007, Mongoose Publishing announced changes in Traveller license and a strongly supported reintroduction of the Traveller system: Steve Jackson Games licence for the Journal of the Travellers Aid Society runs until the end of 2011.[2] The distribution of GURPS Traveller products by Steve Jackson Games finally ceased at the end of 2015.[citation needed]

Difference between Classic Traveller and GURPS Traveller[edit]

Loren Wiseman and Jon Zeigler have attempted to keep the information, equipment, characters, style, and atmosphere of GT as close as possible to the original Classic Traveller universe. However, the use of the GURPS rules means there are several differences between playing GT as opposed to the original Classic Traveller.

  • GURPS has a point based character creation system rather than the essentially random system of Classic Traveller. The GURPS system ensures that all characters in a group will be roughly equal in terms of abilities and skills, while in the original game it was in principle possible for a character to die during creation, through risks taken during his previous career, and the characters of the different players could be very different in power and abilities. On the other hand, the essentially random nature of the character creation system of CT which could often spark a player's imagination in unexpected ways: whereas in Classic Traveller a player would generate a character and then produce a back story to match the rolled characteristics, character creation in GURPS involves choosing a backstory and then creating a character to match.
  • Because Traveller was conceived in the 1970s it strongly resembles science-fiction from the late 1960s. People who want to play GURPS Traveller and still keep their game universe more in line with what we currently picture the future to be like can quite simply add equipment to their game world from other GURPS sourcebooks. The GURPS Traveller main rulebook detailed the assumptions and restrictions that would be required in order to keep GT like the original game, but also had some speculation on what changes to that model would do to the setting.
  • The GURPS game system is more detailed than the original Traveller game system. GURPS describes game effects and character point values for advantages such as above average hearing and variable-gravity tolerance, and disadvantages such as motion sickness and color blindness. The original Traveller game system did not provide game mechanics effects for advantages or disadvantages.
  • Until 1998 the original Traveller books had been out of print for over a decade. Also the small size and amount of the books meant there wasn't as much information on the universe as many people would have liked. Steve Jackson Games has already printed more material for Traveller's Imperium setting than Game Designers' Workshop ever did, with more pictures, starship deckplans, and details of the game universe.
  • Character advancement works very differently in GURPS Traveller. The original Traveller system had very limited mechanics for improving skills or abilities, and in practice characters were rewarded through exploration of the setting and monetary gains rather than through more traditional character advancement. GURPS allows for much more dynamic character advancement.

Current Edition[edit]

While the core GURPS ruleset was updated to a streamlined version with the August 2004 release of its Fourth Edition, until recently GURPS Traveller players have had to remain content with GURPS Third Edition. Steve Jackson Games released GURPS Traveller: Interstellar Wars in February 2006. The book includes updated versions of the most essential mechanics found in the third edition books, including system generation, starship construction, starship combat, and interstellar trade.

The book also presents a new setting. Prior books in the GT line were set in an alternate timeline of the Third Imperium where the Rebellion did not take place - around the year 1120 (since the founding of the Imperium). GT: Interstellar Wars is set almost 2500 years prior to the founding of the Third Imperium, with a default year of A.D. 2170. The humans from Earth finally invent a faster-than-light drive for their space ships. They soon make first contact with extraterrestrial aliens, and those aliens are human. The Interstellar Wars has the potential to be a much more dynamic campaign setting than the essentially static background of the Third Imperium.


See the complete GURPS Traveller product list at: List of GURPS books



  1. ^ a b c d e Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7. 
  2. ^ "Steve Jackson Games Daily Illuminator Archive - August 2007". Retrieved 2007-08-26.  Entry for 6 August 2007