Classic Traveller vs. Mongoose Traveller


Cover of Little Black Book 1 from Classic Traveller
The version of the game that I will be playing

I imagine that I am not going to make too many friends with this post but I feel strongly enough about this that I have to come out and say it.  I was told by quite a few people that have played Traveller with me that Mongoose Traveller (or MgT) is the version that most people play with a bit of cross over to Classic Traveller (CT).  Well, I was happy with CT but I made a mental note that if were to ever see a copy of MgT on eBay or elsewhere cheaply I would pick it up and read it.  Lo and behold that within a few months it went on special in DriveThru RPG and so I picked it up.

It has taken me around 6 months to start into it and I was quite looking forward to the read.  Some of the material that I had seen for this version of the game was impressive and the bits and pieces that I was selectively gleaning from the material made a lot of sense.  But then a couple of weeks back I decided to do the front to back read of the game and fill the internet with how wonderful it was in my own way.

Well, I can officially report that I could not make it through the book.  I will be sticking with CT and steering clear of any further products that are associated with Mongoose.  The rules that I got to read were good and the writing was good but I will likely never look at this book again except to write this post so I can illustrate my point.  This game actually makes me a little uneasy in calling myself a gamer.

In short, it is the artwork that I find so bad that I will never touch it again.  Do not get me wrong, the art is well formed but it is the context of the art.  EVERY image of a female in this book is of a buxom, scantily clad temptress.  Every male figure in the book is varied.  From ugly to normal to handsome in a variety of poses.  In the book itself there is only one, that is right ONE image of a female that I am not embarrassed to see.

Now, I actually was wondering prior to reading this why it was that I had only ever had one female gamer play in the Traveller game I ran and she only stayed a night.  CT you see makes no assumption on gender and the artwork (what little of it there is) does not look like the females were petitioning Playboy or Penthouse to take them in for a photo shoot.  In fact it shoes them doing normal things and provides a variety of different female styles.  It is probably a bit male centered in numbers the females are not atrociously sexualised in any of the art that I can remember.

In fact, CT to me is also written in very gender neutral terms and a straight forward manner that should not put anyone off.  Admittedly the rules are densely packed and the writing is not what I would call flowing but it certainly would not put anyone off.  The MgT also is not overtly sexualised writing and so I just do not understand the focus of the art that was included.

So, thank you for telling me about MgT players of mine but I just can not bring myself to looking at the book again.  It really worries me that this book which was produced in 2008 thought it was OK to include drawn images that would drive half of the possible customers away.  I think that we need to step back and say that stuff like this is just not acceptable to us as gamer’s.  With the possibility of driving some of my readers to ban me from their reading material I have to stand up and say that this is not OK.  Sexualised images of either sex are not appropriate in this format.  I am no prude and would be happy to see images of this nature elsewhere where I could reasonably expect to see them but in an RPG of an enlightened future in space, no thanks.

As far as I know, MgT could well be the very best version of Traveller that there ever was but I could not bring myself to read past character creation due to this issue.  I refuse to include any of the aforementioned images in this post and I will boycott anything MgT in future.

So for me, and my players in the near future there will be no transition to newer rules.  We will be stuck in the lands of Blakes 7, Lost in Space and other classics because I am certainly not looking for sci-fi with strong male leads and scantily clad giggly women.  I am just after a game that offers strong characters, regardless of sex that provokes thoughtful interactions.  Keep rolling.


  1. Mark,
    I am a Classic Traveller fan just like you. I play the Roll20 Google Hangouts star dust game with Steve from New Zealand as Ref. I believe classic is the best and agree with you on that 100%.. I do not like the lay out at all of Mongoose Traveller but I like some of their ideas and modernization of the game. They clean up starship design well. They have great encopunter tables and better sensible space operation economics. My game is 90% Classic 10% Mongoose. I use Mongoose starships and a blended homebrew space combat system. I use there space encounter charts and modernized space economics, equipment, computers technology and vehicles. Both these systems are so interchangeable you are cheating yourself if you do not look past the artwork and look at the core rules and ideas. If you are a Classic Traveller fan all of the Mongoose supplements and mongoose approved Traveller literature by other writers is so interchangeable with the Classic system a good referee doesn’t even need the mongoose rules to convert this new material to Classic.


    1. I hear about this and I have actually looked at the space rules on behalf of someone else a while back and they do look a lot simpler. But I am afraid such brazen use of sex to sell to who they think they should sell to me has me so annoyed at the book that I just can not bring myself to support it. I may still look at modules that I have though but if they fit the same category I will not likely look very far. Thanks for the comment, Stardust is cool!


  2. I must have a different edition than you do. The woman on pg 11 is not model like, nor is the one on pg 13. The one on pg 17 can’t be seen because she’s so wrapped up in armor (only her eyes and hands are visible). The female on 23 is totally covered with scars. The one on 25 again can’t be seen because she’s totally covered in clothing (even goggles covering her eyes). I only saw about 3 or 4 that would fall into the category of model-like. Some of the people in full body armor with completely sealed helmets could be female as well – can’t tell.


    1. Hi Mario, It certainly does look like there are two editions to the one book for artwork. I apparently got the Penthouse forum version! I have a few comments suggesting there are two versions and I was not aware of that. I wonder if the second version was altered due to similar concerns or if it was just a clean up all round?


  3. The two versions I have are the first release HC and a later LBB version. The latter has more ‘cheesecake’ but I find that context is pretty key: entertainer, dilettante..the first female image (under agent) is weirdly proportioned and the shape of her breast is pronounced but hardly offensive. IMO, of course.

    I wonder about the context of your own strident disapproval- it seems a broad brush to paint an entire system because of your discomfort with certain imagery. IMO, again.


    1. Like I mention here, this could well be the best version of Traveller ever. But there are some non-negotiables in regards to me and they are no-violence against women with a subset being the oversexualisation of women in permissive poses used as art. I will not abide by a system that does not use representative art for the tone of the game. For example, there is a game out there about busty bimbos or something similar. Not my cup of tea BUT the artwork is expected to be risque and that is fine. Traveller is a game about travelling the stars and sci-fi, not about the sexualisation of women and their role being relegated to bit parts.


      1. I support your convictions and agree with your position generally, buy i’m struck again by context- does the entertainer have to look like Mrs Marple poor can she look like an exotic dancer? Both are entertainment jobs. Ditto the dilettante- notorious for narcissism I hardly expect their contextual image to portray them on anything other then come-hither dress of some stripe.

        Can’t help with the agent, though 😉

        In any event, keep up the good fight but of those are the most meaningful flaws you can find with MgT, I’ll keep the system baby and ignore any cheesy bathwater.


  4. Do you close your eyes when you walk past the Victoria Secret store? How do you drive around the beach? Inquiring minds want to know. lol


    1. No, I don’t. It is all about the context. The beach and lingerie store are places I would expect to see that stuff, not necessarily in a game book of Traveller. If the game was Busty Barbarian Babes then that is fine too, I just have no idea why Traveller suddenly needed skin tight clothes and suggestive poses. I also get that it was a humorous comment but it was a fair question too 😀


  5. So instead of an objective “what was changed” and “what parts are better/simpler” we get a subjective “pictures bad because sex”. I found mongoose traveller 1e artwork so pathetic I stopped paying attention to it; not that art is ever a selling point to me in regards to a rulebook. Put it in an art book. Does CT offer anything that mongoose doesn’t? Don’t know, must find another


    1. I never got to the rules. I could not read it with the objectivity. I can’t separate art from rules. It is one package and forgiving one thing for another is not something I can do. What I do remember is the rules were not as dense and not as mathematically intense. The writing was OK and it was aimed at being a more usable text.


      1. I never spoke of forgiveness; i speak of value. I found the pictures objectively bad for their format but not offensive in content. So it got a value of zero and often skipped over them to something that had value.


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