Preface by Mike Mikesh.
Preface: Beyond Charted Space
The Traveller game setting is somewhat introverted in two ways. First, the region of Charted Space is only about 500 parsecs across. This is tiny compared to the vastness of the rest of the galaxy. But with drives no better than jump-6, it’s a monumental struggle to enter such places as the galactic core, and nearly impossible to reach star clouds and clusters neighboring the Milky Way.
Second, while merchants and mercenaries are well supported in Traveller, exploration is not. In fact, it is possible the designers meant to discourage it, keeping adventurers close to home. Beyond the tight cluster of empires when the Great Rift is divided from the Lesser, there is nothing. In other settings, such as the Star Trek universe, unknown wonders continually beckon explorers ever outward. However, GDW has placed Six Major Races in local space and announced that no other races were found by explorers going thousands of parsecs in every direction.
Associated with this article are two maps, one the local arm, the other the whole galaxy. They were derived from contemporary radio mapping as depicted in the wall chart, Our Galaxy: The Milky Way by Astronomy Magazine. By presenting these maps, it is my hope to turn Traveller’s attention to the outer reaches. Here lie possibilities to challenge the imagination.
In the local arm map, a grid of sectors was too fine to use for that scale. I instead defined a “megasector” that is 10 sectors wide by 5 sectors deep. Included are the corner marks representing the area depicted in the 1981 black, red and white wall chart of Traveller space. Around that is a 1,000 parsec diameter circle approximating the area in which the Ancients flourished. The corridor used by the Zhodani in their Core Expeditions is also displayed.
No grid at all was used for the whole galaxy map, although I did include two axes with 1,000 parsec graduations. The shaded areas represent the regions of cursory explorations. This might more accurately be represented by several thin trails depicting the individual expeditions, for there have not been many.
What actually exists outside the limits of Charted Space hasn’t been officially addressed other than in the essay Starfarers, found on page 7 of the MegaTraveller Referee’s Manual. However, helpful rules extensions can be founding Third Imperium #5 in Unexplored Space. And a new book called Grand Exploration is being planned by the Digest Group.
Worlds with inhabitants (or at least ruins) will be encountered by explorers in these reaches with regularity. Most will be at pre-industrial levels. Those at higher tech levels are rare, while spacefaring races will be a very remarkable find. Meeting other explorers is also unlikely, but possible. These will either be Human, Aslan (Spinward), or Hiver (trailing).
Human settlements from Charted Space could be discovered. I say humans because that race seems to have little adversity to traveling enormous distances in establishing a new colony. The Nordic Solomanis that founded the Sword Swords is but one example. (For those interested, Jeff Swycaffer’s Concordat of Archive could be located out here somewhere. Without supporting explanation, the area may have been originally settled by a religious group of Vilani.)
And an encounter with a seventh major race can still occur. Although explorers have ventured out several kiloparsecs, it’s unlikely they visited all the sectors or even megasectors out that far.
It is with much hope that these maps will encourage thoughts of what lies beyond the map edge. This article was only to blaze the trail. The rest is up to the players of Traveller and its designers.