The early Traveller roleplaying game was an ensemble production that went beyond even the creative minds at Game Designers Workshop (GDW). A number of licensees came and went, including FASA and Judges Guild, but none held as much sway as Digest Group Publications (DGP).
DGP published a number of adventures and supplements (WB reference site), and were de facto partners with GDW in the development of Megatraveller. A couple of early releases were 101 Robots (1986) & Early Adventures (1988), which I will profile today.
I call these booklets “lost” because of a rights snafu after DGP dissolved. Virtually all of the other 3rd party Traveller material has been secured by Marc Miller (Far Future Enterprises) to release in PDF form (including those companies previously mentioned, plus Gamelords, Paranoia Press, etc). They can be found in inexpensive CD-ROM megacollections. But not the DGP releases.
One morning, late in 1994, a fan named Roger Sanger showed up at Joe Fugate’s door looking to buy DGP books. Joe Fugate was still paying back creditors and trying to decide what to do with the remaining boxes of DGP items he owned. Sanger initially bought some of the remaining backstock, but over the next nine months he came to an agreement whereby he paid Fugate a few thousand dollars for the remaining assets of DGP, including copyrights and trademarks. Fugate would keep the larger debts, but Sanger would deal with the smaller ones.
Fugate agreed, and soon DGP had a new owner. At first, Sanger was enthusiastic about republishing DGP material and supporting what was by then the fourth edition of Traveller, Marc Miller’s Traveller (1996), published by Imperium Games. However, Sanger was unable to come to an agreement with Marc Miller. Reports indicate that Sanger was unwilling to pay Miller’s licensing fees, and that he offered to sell the DGP material rights to Miller for an outrageous fee of a few hundred thousand dollars.Shannon Appelcline, Designers & Dragons: The ’80s
1986 … Gary L. Thomas & Robert Parker & Nancy Parker & Joe D. Fugate Sr. & Rob Caswell … 48 pages … [No product number]
The Early Adventures: Background and Adventures from Travellers’ Digest Issues 1-4
1988 … 48 pages … DGP 864
101 Robots is the companion publication to Traveller Book 8: Robots.
DGP’s Joe D. Fugate, Sr. has the Design credit, and the Robots material originated in Traveller’s Digest magazine (WB reference site).
“Robot Design Revisited, Part One,” by Joe D. Fugate Sr., also appeared in The Travellers’ Digest #1. It was the first of a three-part series that revised robot design rules that originally appeared in old issues of JTAS. These articles caught the eye of Marc Miller at GDW. As a result, Fugate and Thomas were invited to expand and revise the material for GDW. The result was Book 8: Robots (1986), the last of GDW’s “little black books.” It marked the start of a working relationship between the two companies lasting several years.Shannon Appelcline, Designers & Dragons: The ’80s
Unlike DGP products, GDW’s Book 8: Robots is available in PDF. The original print edition in Little Black Book form is a collectible today.
A look inside 101 Robots
101 Robots is chock full of both human and alien robots and androids. Every entry has an illustration, a rarity in old school RPG books.
As a Gamma World referee, I can definitely see the cross-game possibilities for these robots.
The Early Adventures
Unsurprisingly, The Early Adventures reprints adventures from the first 4 issues of Traveller’s Digest (while updating them with Megatraveller stats).
This reprinting is welcome, as the early issues of TD were printed on a dot matrix printer (and are extremely rare today as well).
These adventures form a continuous campaign called the “Grand Tour” over the 21-issue run of TD. This epic campaign treks around much of the Imperium.
A look inside The Early Adventures
As typical of DGP releases, the writing and art are excellent. Look at all those Vargr NPC sketches!