When Traveller: 2300 came out in 1986, I purchased it immediately. My friend was GMing the Twilight: 2000 RPG, and I was excited to have a closely-related game ‘for myself’.
Traveller 2300 is of course set 300 years after the Twilight War. Between the nukes and the chaos of the aftermath, billions died. Even in game present, the scar of the trauma persists in humanity’s psyche
The old political order perished in the flames as well. In 2300, France is the preeminent power, contending with rivals such as Argentina and Manchuria. 200 years ago, the nations of Earth returned to space, and the stutterwarp drive was invented. Now the stars were within reach.
In 2300, mankind has settled planets around other stars, colonizing the region of space within 50 light years of Sol.
Today, I’ve got a complete Traveller 2300 set for a photoshoot.
Traveller: 2300 – Mankind Discovers The Stars [BOX SET]
1986 … Marc Miller & Frank Chadwick & Timothy B. Brown … GDW 1000 … ISBN 0943580161
CONTENTS: Player’s Manual; Referee’s Manual; Near Star Map and Near Star List; Forms Booklet; Beginning Adventure – Tricolor’s Shadow; (Understanding 2300).
To see all the classic releases for Traveller 2300 – including its second edition (2300AD) – visit my RPG reference site page for 2300.
GDW’s development of the Traveller 2300 roleplaying game background was created through an in-house macro-political simulation called “The Game”, advancing the future history decade-by-decade, with staff members playing the nations of Earth. There’s a fascinating story behind the hand-made maps designed for The Game, see my page for the full scoop on The Game.
See also my deep-dive into 2300’s predecessor, Twilight 2000: Twilight: 2000 (1st Edition Box Set) – Photo Gallery
The Players Manual is very compelling, and entices the reader into this future world. The gritty atmosphere of 2300 is much like today’s science fiction series, “The Expanse”.
The small arms drawings are from the pen of the incomparable Steve Venters.
Note the Credits in the first photo. Many people were involved in the genesis of Traveller 2300. The Task Resolution system was a selling point in GDW’s advertising; it is similar to the skill system in MegaTraveller (1987).
My brother is running a 2300AD campaign with myself and my middle son as players. The combat system is… unique… but has the virtue of no hit points, which I appreciate. We joke that “All Roads Lead to DAZED” – once a PC or NPC is wounded, things can go downhill quickly.
The Near Star Map is the heart of the game, gorgeous in its simplicity. Human space – oh did I mention there are aliens? – is divided into three settled “Arms”: The French Arm, American Arm, and Chinese Arm. Despite their names, many other countries have colonies in those arms.
The Near Star List booklet is full of coordinates of star systems. I’ve spent many hours calculating star locations, seeing if there were any uncharted paths to new stars within the 7.7 light year limit set in the game.
It became clear early on that 2300 gamers needed a bit more explanation of the rule systems and background. GDW began adding Understanding 2300 booklets into the sets to clarify matters. These booklets are not present in all sets.
Within two years (1988), the 2nd edition – 2300AD – released. There were few actual rules changes; this was more clean-up and re-presentation.
Decades later (2021), 2300AD released once again as a box set, mated with Mongoose Traveller 2nd edition rules. I took some quick contrast shots of the two sets.
The color art is more vibrant in the 2021 books. The ship pages in the 2021 set feature deckplans for the referee, which were sorely missed in the 1988 game – one had to buy 3rd party books by Seeker to get ship maps. I do prefer the 1988 weapon drawings by Steve Venters – they seem more… realistic?
Near Star Map (1988) vs Explored Space (2021). The NSM was the jewel of the 1988 set. All the stars within 50 light years, mated to a booklet with X,Y, Z coordinates of star positions. I spent so many hours searching/calculating for viable pathways from the Arms.
While I love the NSM, I’ll have to confess that the ES map is more immediately useful/practical for the GM.