2021-03-03 Animal encounters for Classic Traveller

The animal encounter tables for Traveller are hard to translate into random tables for Hex Describe, but not impossible. It’s not yet 100% there, but I feel we’re close.

I can use it to generate the following, for example:

There’s joint called Green Heron. If you recently arrived with a ship, travel clerk Amarachi Konkwo is looking for help: “I’ve been contacted by Law Ju bent on visiting 「nearby backwater system」. They have the necessary credits, but I don’t have a ship and crew to spare. Would you be willing to take them off me?” The rich tourist is Law Ju, eager to get going, 635897, Streetwise-1. The mission mainly consists of getting there and back, and keeping Law Ju safe. At one point, there’s an animal encounter: typical crater chaser, 12 kg, H: 5/6, jack armour, W: 7, as pike, A: if more, F: 9, S: 3, “Ji Dog”.

And you can create entire encounter tables, too. Here’s one such use:

The Indigo Hyena is on a xenobiology survey mission, here. Ship captain Gerald Clift would appreciate any help in finding, capturing and describing any of the following local fauna.

Desert animal encounter table.

  • grazers (9), 12 kg, H: 12/10, no armour, W: 5, hooves and teeth, A: 5, F: 2, S: 2, “Desert Sheep”
  • siren, 6 kg, H: 3/6, battle armour, W: 11, as broadsword, A: if surprise, F: 7, S: 0, “Kevadim Siren”
  • grazers (7), 200 kg, H: 14/7, no armour, W: 17, horns, A: 6, F: 2, S: 4, “Thugatahew Deer”
  • gatherer, 1 kg, H: 5/0, jack armour, W: 1, thrasher, A: 9, F: 8, S: 1, “Wuxiyin Hamster”
  • grazers (18), 50 kg, H: 16/6, jack armour, W: 5, hooves, A: 7, F: 4, S: 2, “Spotted Antelope”
  • grazers (3), 1 kg, H: 1/0, no armour, W: 1, horns and teeth, A: 6, F: 1, S: 2, “Wruf Moose”

Let’s talk about the things that still don’t work quite as I want them.

In terms of tables, the system of random tables does not take planetary size into account. The planetary size ought to affect animal size. I have a pretty good idea of how this needs to be implemented, but I still need to do it.

The animal names are not always cool. As an example, in the list above, there is a small grazer, a mere 1 kg of weight, that is given the name “moose”. That’s weird because the moose suggests a big animal. Right now, the Earth-equivalent names ignore animal size.

I am also missing Earth-equivalent names (or other cool base names) for many of the types. These are the types I have tables for. It’s not easy, unfortunately.

There’s also the problem of generating cool adjectives or prefixes. I think I’m doing some part of it (“desert” sheep, “spotted” antelope, or fantasy names using the same Elite-like name generator I’m using for system names), but there’s more that could be done, I think.

I also don’t pick appropriate tables given a system, so I’m not yet ready to generate an encounter table. For example, right now the tables would happily generate an animal encounter table for a vacuum world. I guess that means those animals live inside the structures? Perhaps… Or you could get “hill” or “forest” animals on a water world.

Ah, and that brings me to the last part: the tables I use don’t generate fliers, or swimmers, and therefore all the water biomes are currently not served. These are the terrains I know how to handle:

It’s a start, but it’s not finished, yet. I just need to focus on some actual adventure writing before spending any more time on this.

Anyway, check it out: a few animal encounter tables.


While your tinkering has a way to go, as you say, I still find it helpful when my brain refuses to come up with ideas and I have a game to run in 2 days or 2 hrs time. It gives me something to hack, which I think for many is much easier than starting from scratch. The world building tools in Traveller are pretty good, but sometimes I don’t have the time to roll the dice: or I do, but using one of your example outputs does the trick and gets me so much further. Thanks.

– Alistair 2021-03-24 03:21 UTC

Thanks for the encouraging words!

– Alex 2021-03-24 07:39 UTC

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