Excerpts from GURPS Traveller
(From Chapter 1: The Universe of the Third Imperium, p. 9)
The known interstellar community encompasses thousands of worlds, many of them inhabited, and not all by humaniti. The number of intelligent life-forms that have been contacted is quite high; within the Imperium itself, over 100 intelligent species have been identified. When regions beyond the Imperial boundaries are included, the total number rises to well over 400 hundred.
Major and Minor Races: A superficial classification system for the various intelligent races has been created, based on empirical evidence, and to some extent on tradition. In general, the dominant races of known space are those which have achieved faster-than-light travel by themselves, rather than receiving it through contact with starfaring civilizations. These dominant races are called major races; all others are called minor races. Thus, the term major race has become attached to any race that achieves FTL flight on its own, regardless of its prominence. There are sound reasons for the mixing of these two concepts: races which developed FTL rapidly expanded into space, spreading their influence across the stars. Slower races were contacted before they had a chance to discover the FTL secret and emerged into a universe already controlled by the major races. Indeed, the shock of being found by a superior race (often superior only in their knowledge of FTL technology) may demoralize that race as a whole, causing them to reluctantly accept a secondary role in interstellar society. The classification scheme is, of course, simplistic, but the major races tend to perpetuate it since it works to their advantage.
The Six Races
Similar to the major/minor race division is the concept of the Six Races. The origin of the term is uncertain, but it appears independently in Aslan, Vargr, and Centaur sources. There is some disagreement as to the proper identification of the Six, but most commentators agree that all must be major races. The most common definition was once Aslan, Centaurs, Hive, Vargr, Zhodani, and Imperials (both Solomani and Vilani). The confirmation (in 790, Imperial date) of multiple worlds inhabited by the Droyne, and of archeological evidence that they possessed FTL travel before the entry of any of the modern dominant races into space, gave new weight to the Six Races concept. With the inclusion of the Droyne, Humaniti could be neatly categorized as one race, clearing the way for a classification that included six truly distinct races: Aslan, Centaurs, Droyne, Hive, Humans, and Vargr.
Aslan are roughly Human-sized and are descended from four-limbed, upright, bipedal carnivore/pouncer stock. The earliest Terran explorers saw in them a vague resemblance to the Terran lion, and they have been described (by Terrans, at least, and by some others) as lion-like ever since, although there is very little true similarity. They are, of course, native to their own biosphere, and no more related to a lion than they are to an eggplant.
Centaurs (they call themselves the K'kree) are among the most massive of the major races, and are the only examples of the major races descended from herbivores. K'kree are conservative, gregarious with their own kind (to the point of distress if isolated) and claustrophobic. These characteristics derive from their evolutionary origins as herd animals.
Droyne are a small race, both in stature and in dominion, with only limited settlements on a small number of worlds. The history of their evolution is a puzzle, as their home world is not known with certainty. The Droyne have no empires, and actually rule only a few worlds. In some few cases, they possess the technology to produce sophisticated machinery, including jump drives and starships, but they seem content to stay on their own worlds.
Humaniti (old spelling: Humanity) is a special case. Originally evolved on Terra, Humans were disseminated over nearly fifty worlds about 300,000 years ago by an unknown agency. These various examples of Humaniti then independently developed. Unlike non-Human races, individual Human races are classified as major or minor. Three Human races (the Solomani of Terra, the Vilani of the First Imperium, and the Zhodani far to spinward) are major races. The nearly forty other races of Humaniti are all minor.
Vargr are an intelligent race genetically manipulated from carnivore/chaser stock by the same Ancients who disseminated Humaniti to the stars. Vargr have long suffered from an inability to organize themselves (to any degree or for any length of time) beyond the star system level, and their empires tend to rise and fall with regularity. Vargr have an intense racial pride, and are easily insulted. They are prone to enter into fights without regard for possible consequences.
Hivers (a Human term applied to them - their own name for themselves has no spoken equivalent) are the most obviously alien of the major races: They are descended from omnivore gatherer/scavenger stock, and are unique in that they attained a form of agriculture before they became sentient. They exhibit a sixfold radial symmetry. The body has an internal skeleton consisting of a series of rings supporting the limbs, while a fused carapace protects the brain and internal organs. Hivers themselves are highly individualistic (the term "hive" is an early misconception) while driven by curiosity, parental instinct, and a desire to maintain the unity and uniformity of their race both within and outside their Federation.
(From Chapter 2: Details of a Universe, p. 13)
It is often said that the Imperium rules the space between worlds and leaves the dirt to the worlds themselves, but that is (as with most sayings) a simplification. In point of fact, the Imperium governs all things it chooses to govern, which includes the space between the worlds within its boundaries, but also includes many worlds themselves, and a great many places besides. The Imperium controls and/or regulates:
If this sounds vague and open to interpretation, it is. If it sounds undemocratic, it is. It does make for a relatively quiet and profitable climate for the empire as a whole, however.
It could be said that all Imperial government is military government, because the ultimate threat the Imperium can hold over anyone's head (literally and figuratively) is military. The Imperial Navy, the Imperial Marines, and (to a lesser extent) the Imperial Army are the "Big Stick" behind all Imperial control. However, the Imperium has vast economic, technological, and political resources that can be brought to bear as well, and these are not inconsequential.
75 points (From Chapter 3: Characters, p. 97)
Many campaigns will focus on the crew of the futuristic equivalent of a tramp steamer, moving from place to place and eking out a living on the edge of the frontier. A keen eye for a bargain, and a sharp sense of profit and loss (and, in some places, a quick draw!) are vital job skills.
Attributes: ST 10 , DX 10 , IQ 13 , HT 10 .
(From Appendix 1: Starships, p. 132)
The Beowulf class is the most common design of Free Trader, at least in the frontier regions of the Imperium and the surrounding client states. Huge megacorporate transports dominate mercantile service in the Imperial core regions. These little freighters fill the irregular and small-lot needs of the less habitated fringes, while keeping overhead and crew administration needs to a minimum.
There are numerous formal variants, and a myriad of individual modifications, which means that the deck plan layout presented is subject to considerable change. The Beowulf's most serious limitation is that it is only capable of Jump-1, meaning that it is restricted to the "mains," as the numerous J-1 routes throughout known space are called.
Crew: Captain/Pilot (Leadership and Tactics), Navigator (Astrogation), Sensor/Commo Operator (Electronics Operation [Sensors] and [Communica-tions]), Steward (Savoir-Faire) and two Engineers (Engineering and Mechanic). One of the crew will serve double duty as a pilot for the enclosed air/raft usually carried aboard in the cargo hold.
200-ton SL Hull, DR 100, Basic Bridge, Engineering, 16 Maneuver, 4 Jump, 20 Fuel, 5 Low Berths (capacity 20), 10 Staterooms, Utility, 2 Fuel Processors, 2 Turrets, 69 cargo (+6 in turrets).
Statistics: EMass 256.45, LMass 631.45, Cost MCr28.8552, HP 22,500. Hull Size Modifier: +8.