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The Shavian Empire Campaign

Campaign originally run by Wayne Shaw, Expeditions Ltd., Cal State Fullerton, c. 1977-78.

In Memory of the Free Traders Starreach and Shaw's Folly, and the Rooner Pothunter.


Classic "Star Empire" from space-opera lit-SF, with influences from H.Beam Piper's original Sword Worlds (Space Viking).


9 Subsector maps (3 x 3 grid), with the Imperial Core (including the throne world of Imperia) at the center. (This appears to have been a typical size for pre-3I Traveller empires; Wayne determined the size by communication lag time; even with Jump-4 to 6 couriers, he felt he could not justify round-trip communications of more than a month or two.)


A sword and scroll en saltire over a starburst.

Tech Level:

13-15; most likely 13-14, as the Empire-Federation War seemed to indicate the Empire was a tech level or two behind the Foible Federation.

Tech peculiarities:

Jump Fuel Consumption -- 1%/Jump instead of 10% (local Traveller convention to allow long-range cruising)

Possiblility of TL18-20 alien Forerunner artifacts, called "K-tech".

No use of nuclear weapons or nuclear dampers -- used meteor impacts for mass-destruction planetary bombardments, and K-tech artifact ships (K-ships) as planet/systemkillers. Fusion reactor technology had been reverse-engineered from K-tech, and had skipped fission.

Personal weapons fleshed out considerably from other SF games (primarily McEwan's Starguard!), with emphasis on high-tech energy (improved lasers, plasma weapons), explosive (grenades and launchers), and melee (mono-edge blades, exotic materials, neural-effect) weapons.

Heavier versions of powered armor than stock Battle Dress (which in Imperial practice was called "scout armor"): Light (4x boost), Medium (8x boost), and Heavy (16x boost), with protection and built-in weapons in proportion. (Wayne had a soft spot for Starship Troopers - Heinlein's original novel, not the angsty neo-Nazi movie version.)

Forcefield "shields" used for ship armor, especially on K-ships. (Presumably, shields were reverse-engineered from K-tech. Unclear whether shields were used at smaller scales (vehicle or personal), though Wayne did some speculating on how to run personal shield belts/packs a la Dune.)


Near-absolute techno-feudal monarchy, limited only by tradition. Outside of the Imperial Core subsector itself, the Empire's hand was very light -- Imperial player-characters in the frontiers had great freedom of action.

The first law of Imperial polity was that no Imperial world or system could be allowed to secede; the Empire had been built on the ruins of a former Galactic civilization and was determined to never again crumble into another Long Night.

This was complicated by the "Alphane Question"; the para-human Alphane had long ago been the Imperial power in this region and very much wanted to revive their Empire. The Empire had cut the Alphane quite a bit of slack, but did not trust them with any more autonomy than they already had.

Attitude towards Psionics:

Officially, highly illegal (with the exception of the Alphane, who had a long tradition of psionic "wizardry"), with all the prejudices and liabilities of stock Traveller. This was all tied up with the Alphane Question; in the past the Alphane had used their psionic abilities for their own advancement within the Empire; popular distrust and hostility of psis among non-Alphane reduced the chances of Alphane skullduggery.

In practice, the Empire tried to keep a monopoly on psionics for intelligence/covert ops, and kept up the anti-psi attitudes to keep down the threat of "rogue psis". Outside of the Imperial Core subsector itself, psis could operate relatively freely so long as they didn't get too blatant.

Alphane worlds (which contained the only "overground" Psionics Institutes) were the big exception; here, psis could operate completely in the open. (However, whether Alphane psis would deign to train non-Alphane was another matter).

Special Character types:

All services had an "elite" branch requiring a second Enlistment roll and with bonus skill rolls.

Service Elite Branch
Army Rangers
Navy Special Ops (presumably Navy insertion/extraction/support for Marine Commandoes)
Marines Commandoes (presumably issued the heavier powered armor)
Scouts First-in Scouts
Merchants Trade Pioneers (a blend of Merchant and Scout)
Other Imperial Death's Head Cybercommandoes (cyborg-enhanced covert operatives)

Characters of Soc 10 appended the title "Esquire" to their names.

Alien races:

Pre-defined; originally Wayne had defined 22 possible aliens, but these proved too unwieldy and he soon trimmed them down to 6, using the six standard space-opera alien forms (parahuman, furry, scaly, avian, insectoid, and AWAP -- "As Weird As Possible") as a pattern:

Name Type Description
Alphane parahuman/ psionic "Dark Elves in Space", a not-quite-human people you associate with at your own risk.
M'ran furry "Saber-toothed Caterpillars", six-legged, four-tentacled big cats, very touchy. Appearance apparently based on D&D Displacer Beasts.
Chakala scaly Upright turtles with brightly-pattened shells which function as natural armor. (They can even use a plasma weapon without special protection other than a helmet and gauntlets.) Generally mellow, but will finish a fight once started.
Yrexi avian Giant kiwi birds with arms; kind of high-strung.
N'nurcc insectoid Giant preying mantises with manipulator hands; cool and selfish pragmatists.
Hex AWAP Crystalline colony creatures; a "single character" in six telepathically-connected bodies. Immune to radiation & hard vacuum, "see" by radar, "hear" by radio, and are all a little wacko.

Based on the rule-of-thumb of "one alien race per subsector", the Empire had room for three more without becoming overcrowded.


A "battleship navy", based around a battle line of huge lumbering hulks of capital ships fighting "hammer-and-tongs" at close range with primarily beam weapons (missiles were considered a secondary weapon because of ammunition logistics on long deployments). No use of fighters (armed Pinnaces used instead where needed).

Think "British Navy" of the late Victorian-WWI era.

Fleet performance: : Jump-3/Maneuver-3 for large ships; Maneuver 4+ for small ships; specialized Jump-4 to 6 couriers available. Low agility, depending on armor and shields to absorb damage -- "Hard to hurt instead of hard to hit."

Ship Classes (defined primarily by size):
Warship Type Tonnage
DE Destroyer Escort 1000t
DD Destroyer 2000t
DL Frigate 5000t
CL Light Cruiser 10000t
CA Heavy Cruiser 20000t
CB Battle Cruiser 30000t
BB Battleship 40000t
BBB Capital Ship 50000t

(The size ranges appear to be based on WW2 "Wet Navy" classifications, and are typical of "big ships" in the pre-3I days.)

According to Wayne's recently-rediscovered campaign notes, the Empire divided its ships into "small" and "large" instead of along destroyer/cruiser/capital ship lines. Large ships (CA/CB/BB/BBBs) were built on the "Death Star" model - heavily-armored, lumbering spheres with minimum fleet performance and agility; under High Guard they would probably have a spinal mount. Small ships (CLs and below, the vast majority of which were DD/DEs) were faster and sleeker, but less protected. All ships had at least 50% of their weaponry in beam weapons, with turrets organized into large batteries as there was very little need to defend against small craft.

K-Ships -- TL18-20 Forerunner ships (salvaged artifacts; less than half a dozen in existence) of widely-varying size and superior capabilities, all kept under direct Imperial Family control in the Core. Effectively Star Trek-level wild cards.

At least two K-ships were "Deathstars", artificial minimal-sized planets with esoteric weapons including Singularity Generators (gravitic-projection weapons similar in effect to meson guns but using a quantum black hole instead of meson decay) and Nova Triggers (planet/system killer; could destablize a star to megaflare, but had a severe range limit); though not general knowledge, the Imperial Capital World of Imperia was actually the largest known K-ship.

Estimated fleet size was about 25 BC/BB/BBBs, 40 CAs, 20 CLs, and 5-600 DE/DD/DLs, divided among 10 fleets (one per subsector and one extra Imperial Guard fleet in the Core that also included all existing K-ships). The organization and doctrine has been reconstructed in overview.

Ground Forces:

Imperial doctrine emphasized planetary blockade and assault, so the Empire emphasized its ground forces and jump-troop capability. Imperial capital ships carried large (reinforced company to battalion-size) contingents of Imperial Marines for landing parties in force.

Imperial Marines and Commandoes were all protected forces/jump troops, equipped with heavy powered armor bristling with built-in weapons; they handled the "strike from space", either for commando raids or to establish the initial spacehead for follow-on forces.

The Imperial Army fielded space-mobile grav armored and mechanized units, plus special-forces Rangers equipped similar to the Marines. Rangers & Marines had more speed and initial strike punch, but Army had much greater endurance for extended operations. (Think Starship Troopers for the Marines and Rangers and Hammer's Slammers for the regular Army.) Planetary levies and mercenary companies provided most of the lower-tech and light troops.

First-in Scouts and Trade Pioneers also fielded small armed units, primarily for security purposes and/or landing parties in high-threat situations. These were equipped up to light powered armor (standard Trav Battle Dress), but rarely exceeded a squad or section.

Imperial ground forces were organized on a variant of the Square called "four-plus-one"; each unit was composed of four line sub-units plus one (heavy-weapons) support sub-unit. Mercenaries (and some planetary levies) were organized any way they damn well pleased - binary, triangular, square, pentonic, you name it.

Local Conventions: Special Ship-combat Rules

When a ship was hit in combat, characters aboard could be hit by "blow-through" damage from the ship-sized weapon. A starship-combat "Hit" did 10D damage to any character in the compartment hit; this damage was cut by half (to 5D) if the character was wearing personal armor. Cloth protected against missile hit blow-through, Reflec against laser hits, and Battle Dress against both. (A lot of characters started refitting their vacc suits with Cloth + Reflec layers in case the ship got bounced; especially after having to scrape up the remains after a blow-through hit.)

Ships had a Structural Integrity rating (effectively "hit points"); every 10 tons of ship was one Structural Integrity point. Each ship-weapon hit did one SI point of damage to the ship's structure; if a ship reached zero SI points, it had lost structural integrity and could not attempt to maneuver without tearing itself apart.

General Campaign "Feel":

Very serious, with a high casualty rate -- Wayne had come from GMing high-powered, high-lethality D&D campaigns, and approached his gaming fairly seriously, with a somewhat subtle and weird sense of humor.

Player-characters regularly found themselves in over their head, compounded by Wayne's liking for Byzantine behind-the-scenes covert ops and complex puzzle scenarios.

Campaign Arcs:

Shaw's Folly: The kickoff free-trader campaign, which promptly took a 36-hex misjump into the Foible Federation, compounded by the fact that the Type A's captain was an Imperial Intelligence deep-cover "operative" with secret orders. When the ship was intercepted about two systems later, the captain tried to shoot it out with a Federation carrier task force with predictable results.

Damn Pit Spiders! A surface expedition for a source of speculative trade goods goes very sour, courtesy of a Carnivore/Trapper infesting the Outback between the starport and the source.

The Low Crusade: How not to loot a "primitive" planet. A one-shot convention scenario Wayne ran as a "pickup game", recruiting players from Open Gaming and the hotel corridors. Worthy of Knights of the Dinner Table.

Rooning: The Empire pays well for K-tech or any pre-Long Night tech salvaged from frontier worlds on the Imperial Verge; such freelance salvagers/tech pirates are called "Rooners".