Traveller SD 2018 Background
After many years of work, the party have decided to cash in their ship shares, take out a mortgage on a Free Trader (or similar), and see what adventures find them as they haul goods from one star system to another.
This Traveller universe:
The jump drive remains the defining technology of Traveller. Beyond that and the associated two-dimensional hex-grid, this campaign has a slightly harder sci-fi setting: there is no widely accepted evidence of aliens or psionics.
Spaceship crews have three main sources of revenue. They can take passengers, either as passengers or suspended in cryoberths, they can ship freight for other people, and, if they have their own money, they can also buy cargo in one system to sell in another. Some crews may attract the attention of patrons who hire them for particular tasks. In more remote regions, there may be opportunities for salvage, but travelling through such regions often involves fighting off pirates and other thieves.
Time and Distance:
Jump drives are the only known form of faster than light travel. They shift spaceships to hyperspace for a week and then return the ship to normal space, some distance away. The fastest military and corporate ships have a range of 6pc (parsecs). Small systems often only receive supplies from private trade-ships with a range of 1pc. In many ways, this makes the Traveller universe like the age of sail.
The Third Imperium:
Traveller is set in the space 1970s: space Bretton Woods has established a universally convertible currency, those who work in an industry for 20 years will get a pension, and the Third Imperium maintains a merchant marine.
The Third Imperium is a network of interconnected systems stretching from a cluster at the galactic core out to the galactic rim and forming a wedge containing about a quarter of the galaxy. The Milky Way has a diameter of 30kpc. Even if it was worth sending the fastest ships, it would take about a century for a message to travel from one end of the galaxy to the other. Within the Imperium are numerous smaller political units, typically a few tens of parsecs in diameter. Each system typically has its own legal system, which is typically coordinated at the regional level.
The currency of the Third Imperium is the credit, denoted Cr or c. Official documents are usually printed in Corish and the dominant or official language of the region. Away from the core, particularly populous planets are often self sufficient, and may have their own distinct legal systems, languages, and currencies.
The Imperium maintains large armies which are mainly positioned to either deter attacks from regions that have separated or to prevent warfare between regions. At any given time, there are usually some regions at war with the Imperium, including both regions with coherent governments and regions that have collapsed into piracy, but communication is so slow that these wars are usually over by the time news of them reaches the core. The Imperium maintains a merchant marine to supply its armed forces.
Outside the Third Imperium, the galaxy is largely uninhabitated.
Traders will typically own shares of their ship and have to pay monthly payments to a bank on the remaining portion. Ship ownership is divided into between 90 and 100 shares, depending on age and condition of the ship. Banks require payment of 1/240th of the original loan per month for forty years.
Because of the difficulty in planning when communication is so slow, and because banks want to be governed by favourable laws, only in a small proportion of systems is it possible to arrange a loan on a ship. Banks do not accept early repayment to reduce the overall amount paid. Ships with loans on them cannot be sold. Ship shares can only be traded with a bank according to its peculiar rules and cannot be traded with third parties.
The Spinward Little Rift Region:
The Little Rift is a region of somewhat unusually low system density. (The Great Rift is a famous Traveller region that is very large and also has unusually low density.) Forward in the direction of rotation of the galaxy is the region of Spinward Little Rift; behind, is Lagging Little Rift.
Rif'in is the main language in both Spinward and Lagging Little Rift. Spinward Little Rift is generally a safe and well governed region. Although some cities might have disreputable parts, and some isolated areas of some planets might only rarely see patrols, crime is generally low. For decades, there have been reports from the core that the Galactic Senate will reorganise the Imperium as a republic. As has become common in most regions, freight movements are typically brokered by Supremo corporation.
The Hanrahan corridor -a chain of space stations for refueling multimillion ton, jump 5, capital ships- runs through Spinward Little Rift. Proximus d is one of the stations on the Hanrahan corridor. This traffic has made Proximus d a hub for the nearest half subsector. Two million people live aboard this crowded station. Although the Proximus system is remote, loose regulation and infrastruture for ship maintenance have made it one of the few places where Ninth Galactic Bank transfers ship ownership.