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< * [ Traveller Subsector Mapper]


> * [ Traveller Subsector Mapper] (on this blog: [[SVG Mapper]])

2015-09-13 Highgate

Brett Simpson used my SVG Mapper for Traveller to generate a little booklet for the subsector he’s been working on.
Highgate by Brett Simpson

Brett says: “There is no need to add a link to a page, as the only pages I have are unrelated to role-playing.”


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2012-10-19 More about the Mashup

Today I posted about my Planescape-Spelljammer-Traveller mashup on Google+ and I was asked to say more about it.

Basically the players got hold of a Spelljammer ship to sail the astral sea. It was one of the classic ships: a Mindflayer Nautilus class called the Black Strangler. Basically the astral sea is what Planescape has as the sea at the bottom of Celestia. When I read about the astral plane, the big wheel and all that, I was confused and I figured the players would be as well. Instead I opted for something alike Marion Zimmer Bradley’s travel to Avalon: get on a boat, travel for a bit, use some magic and you can be elsewhere. I think the astral sea is how D&D 4E does it as well?

Anyway, so we have a “sea” and “islands” on it – or basically worlds, systems. It already starts to sound like a bit of Traveller. Many of them will have gates linking them with larger worlds – fantastic worlds inspired by Planescape: hells, elemental planes, alternative prime material worlds. A bit like Philip José Farmer’s World of Tiers, perhaps?

One world, for example, is non-magical except for the gate that leads to the astral sea. So they built a fortress in the astral sea and discovered that magic works on the other side. Now they use it like a space station or star port to manufacture mundane stuff that requires magic to be built.

All these small worlds, astroids and stations get an UWP and I feed it to my Traveller Subsector Mapper to produce a nice map. Check out the astral sea map and click on the systems to go to the campaign wiki pages.

I think my greatest inspirations from the web where the One Page Dungeon submission The Forgotten Depths by the author of The Metal Earth and the session reports on Planet Algol. Nevertheless my campaign took a while to evolve to this place. At first it was very traditional Wilderlands of High Fantasy. Then we explored the first few levels of Dismal Depth, the Fight On! megadungeon and a bit of Barrow Maze. And when a player character fell into an “infinite pit” and another player character threw himself after the first one (picture), I decided to push it to a new level.

Oh, and the Google+ post was me saying that I was working out the domain stats for the region using the rules from An Echo Resounding (interesting comparison of An Echo Resounding and Adventure Conqueror King). I hope my players aren’t overwhelmed by my sneaky introduction of these domain rules. I think the two key phrases I heard last session justifying this move were “I think we’ll keep Monkey Island as our base!” and “Can we benefit somehow from reopening the mine on Monkey Island?”


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2012-10-17 Traveller Maps for Campaign Wiki

Since I’m apparently going to use my Spelljammer-Planescape-Traveller map for a while, I added a way to make map display even easier on Campaign Wiki pages.

Write “Traveller:” followed by the UWP like this:

Tu Akhra 0404 D0602B3-1 P  As De Lo Lt R
Susrael 0503 B0604A4-1 N  As De Lt NI A
Nova Genova 0607 B867686-1 N  Ag Ga Lt NI Ri
Hinia Oot 0705 E060200-1 As De Lo Lt A
Monkey Island 0308 E064105-0 Lo Lt

And the result will be this:

Traveller and Spelljammer

Klick to switch to the map. There, you can click on the systems to get the wiki pages.


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2012-10-11 Traveller, Spelljammer, Planescape

I finally decided that the Astral Sea needed a map. One of the player characters decided to pursue his quest to revive Arden, the dead elven god. His corpse is being drained of its remaining life force by the sorcerer queen of the gray elves (Githyanki). His corpse is also drifting in the Astral Sea. A gate was found (a bottomless pit in the Barrowmaze), a ship was gained (pictured on the right), and now the party is sailing the Astral Sea Spelljammer style and finding places in the Planescape fashion. :ok:

Anyway, I was wondering how many random encounters I should be rolling for any trips from A to B. I should draw a map, I thought. I remembered my Traveller Subsector Mapper. All I had to do was to generate an UWP for my locations.


Tu Akhra     0404 D0602B3-1  P  As De Lo Lt    R
Susrael      0503 B0604A4-1  N  As De Lt NI    A
Nova Genova  0607 B867686-1  N  Ag Ga Lt NI Ri
Hinia Oot    0705 E060200-1     As De Lo Lt    A

I basically ignored the requirement for an atmosphere of 0 to generate the asteroid trade code. All these worlds have breathable air. Plugging this into the mapper:

Astral Sea


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2010-09-23 Mixing Fate and Skill Challenges

I’m running a biweekly Diaspora game in a Traveller Subsector. The party had just crash landed on a planet after being shot down by a gunship using space combat rules and made it to the base on a sort of social combat map with the opponents being earthquakes, a sea monster, and a patrol of aliens. Inside the base, they saw the overgrown and partly disassembled remnants of the ship that had brought the alien infection to the system and decided they were going to hook their diplomat-hacker up with the central nervous system running the base. I asked the table whether they felt like another map and combat but Harald reminded me of another technique I often use: Just go around in a circle and ask each of the players what they’ll do to help solve the problem.

Four players, four rolls. I said you need at least two successes. First attempt by Thomas at finding a quiet corner fails spectacularly. The aliens get spin. Second attempt by Florian at fighting the immune system of the mega-organism fails spectacularly. The aliens get spin. Third attempt by Harald at hooking up the hacker fails spectacularly. The aliens get spin. Whoa!! The last roll comes up and I ask for the stakes. What’s going to happen when Jörg fails? I say he’s going to be taken over and integrated into the base if he fails. He says “w00t!?” He doesn’t want to take the consequences for all the earlier failures. Harald volunteers to take a severe consequence that would change his result into a success – “infected by an alien mind”. Yay!! Jörg manages to reprogram the alien factory in order to make the resulting ship something they can use. Victory!

As the session was about to end, I give the diplomat-hacker the following choice:

  1. will you try to get off-world as quickly as possible with the intelligence you gathered, ie. leave safely but without resolving the situation? No fight, no loot, minimal plot advancement.
  2. will you man the ship as soon as possible, head over to the wreck of the old ship to rescue an ancient artifact, delaying long enough that you’ll have to fight your way out of the system? One space combat, but save artifact.
  3. will you confuse the three ships in the system in order to gain enough time to penetrate the central nervous system of the base, eliminate the threat, and then try to get off the system? One personal combat, and one ship combat, but resolve situation.

They picked #3 – Alien 2 style. So proud. :)


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If I wanted an easy way out, I wouldn’t be playing in the first place.

– Harald Wagener 2010-09-23 14:04 UTC

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2010-07-14 From Traveller to Diaspora

Bye bye Traveller category – our gaming group has decided to give Diaspora a try!

What happened?

  • One player left the campaign because he’s working in Berlin during the week and can’t play in Zürich on Wednesdays.
  • Another player said that the campaign wasn’t really working for him.
  • That leaves only three players – and one of them very busy – and a game master.
  • I said that I felt the system was pushing us into micro-managing things we only cared for on an abstract level; basically we weren’t interested in anything involving money: trade, maintenance costs, equipment costs, etc.
  • Three of us had given Spirit of the Century a try; we liked FATE but didn’t like the rulebook.
  • Harald and I had read the Diaspora book and liked it.

Today we had three hours. First we discussed the state of the campaign and decided to switch to Diaspora. I printed out character sheets, skill reference sheet, personal combat sheet while Harald explained a bit about the rules. Then we converted our Traveller characters. It went pretty smoothly. The free form aspects are a real boon.

We assigned a system to each one of us, and said that we’d convert the UWP to the Diaspora stats on our Campaign:Kaylash subsector wiki. We’ll convert them as we go. Technology, Environment, Resources, and three aspects, that should not be too hard. We already have a map and a lot of info on some of the systems.

I don’t think we need a Diaspora cluster. Perhaps I’m missing something? The benefit of having small clusters might be a localized game suited for people that like to switch campaigns often? We’ve been playing our biweekly game for a year, now. I think we want to keep playing in this subsector and we want to keep exploring our characters for quite a bit more.

Wish us luck! :)


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< -- AlexSchroeder 2010-07-15 01:19 UTC


> -- [[AlexSchroeder]] 2010-07-15 01:19 UTC

Good luck!

I’ll be following this with interest - Diaspora is firmly on my To Do list!

greywulf 2010-07-14 21:36 UTC

Well, I converted one character: CW:Kaylash/Bergofan Maia for Traveller → CW:Kaylash/Bergofan Maia.

AlexSchroeder 2010-07-15 01:19 UTC

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2010-05-20 Updated Traveller Mapping

My SVG Mapper for Traveller got a bit better regarding communication routes (at least compared to last time).

It uses a two-step process:

  1. it connects all the systems with a class A starport, a naval base, or an imperial consulate that are one or two parsecs from each other
  2. any system with an amber or red travel code will eliminate all connections except the ones to the best and closest starport

I’m still working on the trade routes. At the moment it looks way too busy, so I’m trying to think of an elimination step that will get rid of some of them again. Anyway, I have some working code, but it needs some improvement before I’ll deploy.

I also fixed the spinward/trailing labels. I had them confused!

Note for the curious: If you check the link you’ll also find a source link at the bottom. It’s Free Software. Enjoy! :)

Update: Trade routes now added!

  1. considering only systems that offer fuel: starport A-D, gas giant, or Wa trade code
  2. connecting trade codes In or Ht with As, De, IC, or NI within 4 parsecs using a jump-2 route
  3. connecting trade codes Hi or Ri with Ag, Ga, or Wa within 4 parsecs using a jump-2 route
  4. but in the end, when I have the trade graph (which is part of the SVG but invisible in case you want to look at it using Inkscape), I use Kruskal's algorithm to create a minimal spanning tree based on the subset of legal trade routes thanks to a suggestion by Joshua Bell

Later: I suspect that there are still bugs in the system. It generates an unpopular trade route between Labeveri and Sogeeran, but as far as I can tell, there is no reason for it to exist. Must debug… Hm… Nope. Everything is as it should be. If you check the debug output (there’s a new checkbox) you’ll find that the system participates in other trade-routes as well:

  • Inedgeus - Biveer - Sogeeran
  • Biveer - Sogeeran
  • Diare - Aanbi - Sogeeran
  • Reisbeon - Aanbi - Sogeeran
  • Lara - Aanbi - Sogeeran
  • Lalala - Bemaat - Sogeeran
  • Azaxe - Lara - Aanbi - Sogeeran
  • Biveer - Sogeeran - Onreon
  • Labeveri - Sogeeran - Onreon

Phew! :)


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(waves from

For automated communication route generation I was pondering trying a minimal spanning tree.

Joshua Bell 2010-05-24 05:01 UTC

… just remember that the maximum node length is 4, since XBoats have Jump-4 drives.

Harald Wagener 2010-05-24 09:48 UTC

Traveller Map is the best! :)

Thanks for the excellent suggestion! I’m still calculating the trade routes according to the rules:

  1. considering only systems that offer fuel: starport A-D, gas giant, or Wa trade code
  2. connecting trade codes In or Ht with As, De, IC, or NI within 4 parsecs using a jump-2 route
  3. connecting trade codes Hi or Ri with Ag, Ga, or Wa within 4 parsecs using a jump-2 route
  4. but in the end, when I have the trade graph, I use Kruskal's algorithm to create a minimal spanning tree based on the subset of legal trade routes

I’m not quite sure whether I like the result, but it’s already good enough to be used, I think.

I can already see the next problems:

  1. I’m not happy with the colors I’ve picked. Suggestions?
  2. I can’t used dashed lines – assume I have four systems A B C D in a line, A connects to C, B connects to D – the overlapping lines between B and C will result in a mess (not in Inkscape but in Firefox it sucks).
  3. Using Bézier curves would be awesome. :)
  4. I added a random button which queries the UWP Generator for a random subsector.
  5. I extended the generator such that it accepts a seed value.
  6. I extended the mapper such that it adds a link back to the UWP (bottom right corner) if it was randomly generated.
  7. I’m not sure I want to start generating Traveller appropriate names [1][2] – I’m still happy with the Elite-like names I’m generating.
  8. The generator now also has a button to generate a map.
  9. The generator also had a bug which I fixed; that bug led to systems with no starport still having bases.

I announced it on Citizens of the Imperium.


I like the work you have done … I only found one small problem which was you limit the law code to 9 … when in theory it can rise higher than that.

Because the Law Level code is restricted, any worlds with Law higher than 9 just don’t appear on the map. I can see the Regex expression is 0-9 and could be changed to 0-9A-F

All of that aside I think you did a great job :)

Brennall 2010-05-31 19:50 UTC

Indeed, I looked at the tables on the Imperial Encyclopedia [3][4] and fixed both the UWP Generator and the SVG Mapper for Traveller.

AlexSchroeder 2010-05-31 23:41 UTC

Alex, I was looking at the SVG you generate, and I noticed the special symbols you used for the Gas Giants etc. When I attempted to save the SVG locally and look at them in an editor it replaced the symbols with “?”. Obviously my editor defaulted to the wrong character set, but I am curious what character set you did use which had the emblems in?

Brennall 2010-06-02 12:29 UTC

Its ok .. should have looked further in the extended UTF-8 Character set. Found them now.

Brennall 2010-06-02 12:44 UTC

For future readers looking for help:

gas giant 0x25C9FISHEYE
imperial consulate 0x25A0BLACK SQUARE
navy base 0x2605BLACK STAR
π research base 0x03C0GREEK SMALL LETTER PI
pirate base 0x2620SKULL AND CROSSBONES
communication/trade 0x25AEBLACK VERTICAL RECTANGLE

AlexSchroeder 2010-06-02 13:06 UTC

Thanks Alex .. Very helpful

Brennall 2010-06-02 13:36 UTC

I am curious Alex … have considered a method of saving the SVG output from the map ?

Brennall 2010-06-04 13:41 UTC

Uh… What browser are you using? I just hit Ctrl+S and save the SVG file. And since I also have the option of printing to a file, producing a PDF is no problem either.

In fact, I sometimes update the UWP of my campaign, regenerate the SVG map, save it, and use Inkscape to add the spheres of influence we have. The result:

At one point the party caused civil war in a system by dropping a tactical nuke on large part of a government. I then assigned a red zone to the system, which caused the major trade routes to shift. Result:

before after
note the spheres of influence but I forgot them here, hehe

AlexSchroeder 2010-06-04 14:26 UTC

After some quick testing the following results

  • Chrome saves the HTM file by default not the SVG.
  • IE doesnt show the map and tries to save it only.
  • Safari gives the option to save it when doing Save As.
  • Firefox gives the option to save it when doing Save As.
  • Opera gives the option to save it when doing Save As.

Interesting difference given Chrome and Safari both use Webkit.

I will have to switch over to Firefox from Chrome to get what I want!

I will also have to give Inkscape a try as I haven’t used it yet.

Cheers Alex.

Brennall 2010-06-04 15:03 UTC

Yeah, I <3 Inkscape! :)

I wasn’t aware that browser reactions varied so much. But then again, I was surprised when I learnt that Firefox was going to support SVG in the first place.

AlexSchroeder 2010-06-04 22:57 UTC

Mark Merrell
Great work! I love this program.

A few quick questions though…

1) I’m importing my own UWP codes so that I can make my own sub-sector but I can’t seem to get the Amber or Red Zones to show up on my map. I can see them when I do a randomly generated map, but just not my own.

Here is an example of my UWP code: Darkgate 0810 X563401-B Ni G R 124 Ukn

It shows the: Gas Giant, Research Lab,X Spaceport and name (Darkgate) but no red circle. Name

2) What UWP code do I use for asteroid belts (to see the circle in the hex)?

– Mark Merrell 2011-08-03 01:28 UTC

Mark Merrell
Nevermind, I figured it out. I had extraneous info in my UWP line.

Also, figured out the grey circle is in fact the amber zone.

I learned something today!

Again, thanks for the program!

– Mark Merrell 2011-08-03 01:35 UTC

Heh, excellent. No idea regarding the asteroid belts – those didn’t show up in my Mongoose Traveller book. :)

AlexSchroeder 2011-08-03 08:26 UTC

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2010-05-16 The Sound of Traveller

What music would you use for your Traveller?

  • I tried Star Wars and it was too weird.
  • I tried the German Captain Future soundtrack by Christian Bruhn and it worked ok.
  • GM Harald used Macross it worked just fine.
  • More Jazz? I have a small number of so-called Science Fiction Jazz CDs. I no longer like the music that much; I wonder whether it would work for Traveller.
  • Maybe Ghost in the Shell has enough weirdness, Jazz, and Asian gibberish we don’t understand to work as a background? It would require better preparation.
  • Vangelis’ Bladerunner soundtrack?
  • *Cowboy Bebop*? Perhaps the sound of the future is not technoid after all.

I’ve seen DM Peter a Computer RPG game soundtrack for an entire campaign. There was our intro theme, our combat theme, and a small number of selected tracks for selected scenes. Perhaps picking a small number (three?) of tracks per session, and another small selection (two?) tracks per campaign would work?


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< -- AlexSchroeder 2010-05-17 08:18 UTC


> -- [[AlexSchroeder]] 2010-05-17 08:18 UTC

Cowboy Bebob is actually what I would be going for in terms of style, also the soundtrack of Firefly. Both are kind of specific and might be a bit too weird in all situations, so basically I would go for some bluesy/jazzy feeling in city/tech surroundings and for country sounding music (maybe only instrumental) whenever you touch the wilderness (and with that I mean underdeveloped planets and stuff. The soundtrack of Deadwood comes to my mind for that.

Also: have you looked into Christopher Franke’s Perry Rhodan “soundtrack” and the work he did for Babylon 5? Might be something.

And for more spacy feelings: why not put on some of the more experimental Prog Rock things. A few songs by Pink Floyd, Yes or Jethro Tull might work wonders. Although, that might give a very 70s-ish style of a soundtrack

G. Neuner 2010-05-17 00:38 UTC

Good point. One of the reasons I think a retro soundtrack would work is that Traveller is in a way a Retro Future. We would get rid of all the William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Charles Stross influences.

Perry Rhodan… Damn it, I was subscribed for a while!

One problem I have with the prog rock is the lyrics. If people start singing in the background I cannot help but listen. “Mother do you think they’ll drop the bomb?” I must avoid that.

Deadwood & Firefly, two shows I haven’t seen, yet. :(

Maybe I’ll start with a small collection of Jazz for cities and build it from there.

AlexSchroeder 2010-05-17 08:18 UTC

Me, I recommend Philip Glass. For moderate pace, use something from Glassworks:

For driving fast, there is NOTHING like The Photographer

– DanielMacKay 2010-05-17 11:35 UTC

I actually had a mix of different styles of Music for different parts of the game:

  • For the visit to the Drug Baron’s Den I used Music from the Diva OST, Macross Plus OST and Gotan Project (all more quiet stuff with piano and/or female singers)
  • For the space drift stuff, I had a mix of Swod/Gehen, Amon Tobin, Gotan, some more orchestral pieces from Diva and a smaller selection from the Macross Plus OST – almost ephemeral, ambient at times
  • For possible action scenes, I had The Tea Party, some more Amon Tobin, Diva, the Seventh Sign OST and again a smaller selection from the Macross Plus OST - more upbeat and loud stuff.
  • for tension parts like the second space walk after the explosion, I had more Seventh Sign, other parts from Diva and Macross Plus - muted, choral parts

For next wednesday’s game, I’m still trying to find the right music, but I have some ideas. For the high king of Axaze I think brass heavy classical music may be good, with a dash of John Zorn for when the shit hits the fan. And then there are some other groups that deserve their own sound scape (without spoiling too much). Btw, I do this less for the game and more for me to have aural cues as to what kind of mood I want to convey. I hope it works.

Harald Wagener 2010-05-17 13:09 UTC

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2010-05-12 Traveller Bureaucracy

I’m spending about an hour after each Traveller session (itself usually 2½h) updating our Kaylash campaign wiki with notes on money made for trading, money spent for repairs, maintenance, salaries, etc. It’s a lot of bureaucracy. [1]

Unlike D&D 3+ where players can spend a lot of time away from the table thinking about their character and tweaking it, Traveller seems to be the game where players can spend a lot of time away from the table thinking about their ship’s finances.

I’m not sure I like it. Right now we’ve been rotating game masters, so I’ve been recharging my creative energies, but once I return to running games, I might not feel like updating the site. My players don’t seem too interested in it, and yet the rules afford spending a lot of time on it – just like D&D 3+ rules encourage players to spend time tweaking their characters.

You’re not required to do it, but the rules invite you to do it.


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< -- AlexSchroeder 2010-06-08 15:51 UTC


> -- [[AlexSchroeder]] 2010-06-08 15:51 UTC

I think your ship needs an expensive malfunction…

BeRKA 2010-05-13 06:34 UTC

The ship just had an expensive malfunction with a couple botched impromptu repair attempts.

Alex, when you take over as GM, I’ll be happy to have a look at the finance side again.

Harald 2010-05-13 12:31 UTC

Tim’s Give them a ship suggests that finding an excuse to give the party a ship with no mortage payments to be made would free the party to more adventurous stuff.

AlexSchroeder 2010-06-08 15:51 UTC

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2010-03-12 Traveller Communication Lines

Last time I said I was going to improve the Traveller Subsector Mapper I had written to show communication lines. Well, now it does. But I’m still not happy. My unhappiness just moved on.

I’m now looking at some sort of algorithm that will “simplify” the network. Take a look at the sample subsector. I’d like this algorithm to delete the connection between Bemaat and Atcevein and the connection between Esgeed and Maxereis. Those I think should be obvious. Less obvious would be to delete the connection between Diare and Esgeed and between Atcevein and Esgeed.

I’m still struggling, however. What should the exact elimination rules be?

For every code amber and code red system, eliminate all but one communications route. The one and only communications route from such a system should go to the system with the best starport, the closest one, with the most people, and the richest, with no code amber or red.

This would make the following changes:

  1. Labeveri will only connect to Sogeeran – good
  2. Diare will only connect to Atcevein – good
  3. Esgeed will only connect to Usmabe – good
  4. Azaxe will remain unchanged since it only has one connection
  5. Onbebior is not actually connected to anything, it’s just in the way

Or I could try something else.

Every system will keep the shortest communications routes it has.

  1. Biveer and Labeveri will remain connected but loose connections to Sogeeran – good
  2. Bemaat will remain connected to Diare and loose the connection to Sogeeran; Sogeeran will have none left – good
  3. Atcevein will remain connected to Diare and loose the connection to Bemaat and Azaxe – not so good; Azaxe wants to remain connected… I think that’s the same problem that Sogeeran has. It wants to connect to all the neighbours two parsecs away, but they all have partners that are but one parsec away.

Hm, I don’t think this is going to work.


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< -- AlexSchroeder 2010-03-15 15:23 UTC


> -- [[AlexSchroeder]] 2010-03-15 15:23 UTC

I’m just going to say I so wished your Traveller mapping apps (and similar technology) had been available way back in the day when I first scored my Trav LLBs. You know - instead of plinking around with the TRS-80.

Brian 2010-03-14 16:06 UTC

Thanks! Isn’t it ironic that I bought Traveller and started writing the mapping app because of the Mongoose Traveller review on 2d6 Feet in a Random Direction? :)

AlexSchroeder 2010-03-15 15:23 UTC

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