Traveller 1977 - Making a Subsector With Book 03

Traveller (1977 edition) describes how a referee may create a game play area known as a subsector in Book 03: Worlds and Adventures. It is generally done as an 8x10 hex-grid but, interestingly, Book 03 does not spell out the exact size of a subsector and leaves it up to the referee’s discretion (but does suggest use of the 8x10 hex grid paper form in the back of the book.) A subsector is just a slice of the universe your game will take place in and will provide more than enough adventure for months of game play.

I have my own software for generating subsectors quickly, but I honestly prefer to roll them up by hand if I can find the time, so we’ll take things step by step here and do it the old-fashioned way.

For each hex (or square, or however you choose to specify it) you roll a d6 and on a 4+ you generate a world. Much has been written about the 50% chance of world occurence: mostly that it seems like the published Traveller maps didn’t use this same formula and it does not seem to match scientifically available data about the likelihood of the frequency of planetary occurence. We’ll just stick to the defaults, 4+ is good enough for us. Now I am going to use a text editor and software-based dice roller to make my life slightly easier. We’ll test for world occurence all at once across each column filling out the map:

10d6: [2, 1, 6, 5, 2, 3, 3, 4, 1, 6]

0103 *
0104 *
0108 *
0110 *

10d6: [2, 2, 5, 2, 3, 2, 3, 3, 5, 2]

0203 *
0209 *

10d6: [2, 1, 5, 6, 6, 4, 1, 3, 1, 2]

0303 *
0304 *
0305 *
0306 *

10d6: [2, 1, 1, 4, 3, 1, 3, 6, 3, 1]

0404 *
0408 *

10d6: [2, 5, 4, 6, 1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4]

0502 *
0503 *
0504 *
0510 *

10d6: [4, 1, 3, 6, 3, 4, 2, 4, 5, 1]

0601 *
0604 *
0606 *
0608 *
0609 *

10d6: [1, 1, 5, 1, 2, 1, 6, 6, 3, 2]

0703 *
0708 *
0709 *

10d6: [3, 2, 1, 1, 1, 2, 5, 2, 5, 1]

0807 *
0809 *

I originally planned to use the map generator at the Zhodani Base but ultimately decided to use Traveller Map’s poster maker.

For each occurence, I’ll generate a world name using my own random tables that are mishmash of three different world name generators. This gives me a mix of world name types and I like thinking that little clusters of worlds may have their own linguistic differences or similarities.

I then work through the checklist on page 12 of Book 03. There is an important 1977 errata correction for world generation: a world’s hydrographic percentage should be generated by rolling 2d6-7+atmosphere not size. Finally, in a weird bit of organizational structure, you have to jump back to the end of Book 02 to find the trade codes. If you are going to use Traveller Map to generate you subsector map image, you’ll find that their data checking tool complains about missing trade codes. Later Classic Traveller books (and Traveller game editions) created quite a few new trade codes. You’ll also find that Traveller 1977 has no concept of the population modifier, gas giant, asteroid belt numbers (PGB), allegiance” codes, or amber zones either. There are plenty of resources out there you can use to generate these details if you want them (see: Cepheus Engine SRD - Worlds) without having to buy every Traveller supplement under the sun.

So I worked through the many rolls on the Star Mapping And World Creation Checklist and I generated the 26 Universal World Profiles (UWP) for my various systems.

I then reviewed each code and made some minor referee’s discretion” alterations. For example Birdwood, Allenby, and Pershing use similar linguistic profiles for their names, had decent tech levels, connecting space lanes, and a general appearance of coordination - so I aligned the governments to create a little pocket empire. I thought about making changes to Beerxebi because they seem to have imposed military rule on Dagboryn but I wasn’t sure their tech level justified that. Then I observed that Isvear, Moltke, and Phin may have formed a manufacturing hub that produces starships that they then in turn sell to the neighboring systems.

Here are the resulting UWPs:

Birdwood      0103 C100455-9   
Allenby       0104 B557455-B  N
Nivelle       0108 C566240-9  S
Gohoth        0110 C67A302-6   
Pershing      0203 B479658-8  N
Rurlor        0209 B455846-8   
Quxeteor      0303 C995577-6   
Xecebi        0304 D645332-6  S
Dagtis        0305 E400403-7   
Dur           0306 B873168-9  N
Potiorek      0404 B657311-C   
Dagboryn      0408 A754565-9  N
Danilov       0502 A000423-G  N
Currie        0503 B677522-8   
Cadorna       0504 C310126-8   
Inbeis        0510 A366610-9  N
Errurron      0601 E653134-6   
Sarrail       0604 D130364-8  S
Moltke        0606 CAB5979-B   
Meranryl      0608 X454678-3   
Beerxebi      0609 A5455A6-9   
Gough         0703 EAC6678-2   
Phin          0708 B6759A9-9  N
Isvear        0709 B663435-A  N
Omzel         0807 C842134-7  S
Rut           0809 C477787-9   

Also, the map that I have generated for use:

Next up, I need to do a little world building for at least one world and possible a few connecting worlds. My plan is to start the game with a single character on a world, ideally without a ship. Have some daily adventures with this character, re-familiarize myself with the rules, and work them up towards owning or working on a starship.

September 7, 2022 · Traveller · world building · Campaigns · Travelling the Lanes


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