Thursday, 6 May 2021

Travellogue - Journal Software for Traveller, 2D6 SFRPG and more - WIP


This is an itch I've been meaning to scratch for years and have finally got around to doing something about. I've always liked the idea of (near) real-time-Traveller, playing Traveller so that one real day or hour represents one game day or hour. So Traveller almost becomes like an ARG, something that just exists alongside your own daily life. Now I'm not too fussed about the "real-time" bit, it's more the idea that if I have an idle moment I can quickly move an adventure (that is probably a part of a longer campaign) forward. How else could I hope to reproduce the DGP trip from the Spinward Marches to Core and Terra?

Over the years I've tried to do this in various ways - in a paper notebook, in Word, on blogging software or in a mobile phone notepad app, but none have done what I wanted - which was to be instantly available anytime, anywhere, quick and easy to use, and give me rapid situational awareness - where I was, what I was trying to do, and where I was trying to go.

So finally I've written a web app for it. I've also taken the opportunity to learn some Node.JS and Redis Key-Value store tech and I think it's a stack I can really work with.

The main screen on the app (see above and below) has four main sections:

  • At the top is your current status, what sector/subsector/system/world you are in, what day it is, how much cash you have, who's in the team, what ship you're on and what you are trying to do. Instantly you know what's going on. Key fields are also hyperlinked to Traveller Map and Traveller Wiki.
  • In the centre is the big text box to write your journal entry. This could be one line or a whole adventure write up. There are also buttons to increment the date, and if you want to keep track of time do that in the text.
  • At the bottom are all the previous journal entries, newest at the top, so you can see what you did the last few times - and all the way back to the start
  • At the right is the only thing that really makes it Traveller (or even SF) specific with not only quick links to the Traveller Map and Traveller Wiki, but also links to specific and collections of web based Traveller apps (e.g. NPC gen, mission gen, word gen), and a few embedded Javascript apps for the most common functions (space encounter, system generation, surface encounter etc). There's also a die-roller (including Fate and Flux dice)
I've been using it for a week or so, trying to cross the Spinward Marches from Regina to the Zhodani Consulate at Chronor, and apart form a few bugs it all working out really well and actually giving me some sense of journeying through Traveller space.

Although I'm writing it primarily as solo tool there is no reason why a GM shouldn't use it to help run and record an adventure, and no real reason why you shouldn't use it in non-Traveller space settings, or even beyond SF (just pretend Sector/Subsector means something else and ignore UWP!) I'm thinking about doing a Twilight 2000 Adventure next (and of course you can have multiple adventures running at the same time). A key thing, which I don't intend to change, is that there are no mandated mechanics in the system, ultimately it's just you writing things and updating fields.

So it's a work in progress, and probably a few months from Alpha yet, but hopefully I can get it opened up to Alpha and then Beta users as the year progresses. 

Whereas my much delayed Port2Jump app took a very simulation based approach and got very bogged down as a result, this is very much a narrative tool, and has been a lot easier to pull together as a result - all the really clever stuff is in your head.

Any thoughts as to the sense of the idea and interest in the app welcome, as well as wish lists of features!

Here are a couple more screenshots to whet your appetite.

In-built UWP description pop-up

In-built Cepheus based ship encounter pop-up