Monday, June 23, 2008

My Other Traveller Pet Peeve

It's only fair after praising Mongoose Traveller for getting the weapon/armor balance right to point out where they failed: the deadly Low Passage. Traveller has three levels of interstellar travel tickets, like first, business and coach in today's airlines, only in the Traveller universe you have a significant chance of dying if you fly coach. In Traveller they are called High, Medium and Low Passage. Low passage involves being put into cold sleep and revived on the other end. You have to make a revival roll and if you fail you never wake up. There's even a Low Lottery where every low passenger bets on how many will survive the trip.

This is, in fact, utterly ridiculous. There's an approximately 28% chance of dying for the average person if revived by a doctor. The odds get worse if a doctor isn't present, or if the passenger happens to have below average endurance. So much worse that there's nearly a 60% chance of dying if only a med-tech is present on revival. There is no commonly used voluntary mode of travel in human history that is any where near as dangerous. If this was the best rate of survival that could be managed the technology would have been abandoned, not put into widespread use as it is in the Traveller universe.

Editions that followed Classic Traveller recognized this and made failed revival rolls result in injury rather than death. IMTU (In My Traveller Universe, a common acronym in Traveller discussions), I'll be using a similar method.

Fortunately, this problem is easier to fix than my other pet peeve would have been had it not been done right in the rules. Still, it's disappointing to see this bit make it in unchanged from the original rules. I can see where some old-time players may be glad to see its return, but I'm not one of them.


BlackDiamond said...

At least it's not a fatal flaw in something like the combat system, like other Mongoose books.

The "coach" of Traveller reminds me folks who ride on the roof of trains in third world countries.
I was Googling the various train classes in India when I found an article about Indonesia spraying roof riders with dye to identity them for arrest. Not only are they not paying fares, but 53 roof riders died in the last two years. I'm sure the odds aren't nearly as bad as Traveller.

Fulminata said...

The roof riding is not as lethal, and illegal to boot.

The only real-world form of transport that I can think of that even comes close to the lethality of Low Passage in Traveller is the "Middle Passage" of the African slave trade.

Very true that it's not a fatal flaw. Overall this is still probably the best edition of the Traveller rules so far.

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