This is Free Trader Beowulf, calling anyone. . .Mayday, Mayday. . . we are under attack. . . main drive is gone. . turret number one not responding . . . Mayday. . . losing cabin pressure fast. . .calling anyone. . .please help. . . This is Free Trader Beowulf. . . Mayday. . .

TYPE J FROM TRAVELLER

Traveller was the first role playing game (RPG) I ever played (way back in 1978). It was my favorite back then, and it is still one of my favorites. Now called Classic Traveller to distinguish it from its later incarnations (MegaTraveller, TravellerTNE, Marc Millerís TravellerT4, TravellerT20, and GURPS Traveller), it provides a simple yet sufficiently detailed (at least for me) gaming system.

Type J"Traveller covers a unique facet of future society: the concept that expanding technology will enable man to reach the stars, and to populate the worlds which orbit them. Nonetheless, communication will be reduced to the level of the 18th Century, reduced to the speed of transportation. The result will be a large (bordering ultimately on infinite) universe, ripe for the bold adventurer's travels." - Traveller, Volume 1, 1977.

In Traveller the basic ship involved in free trade is called the "free trader". Variations on the basic ship have resulted in variations in the name. The type R subsized merchant, partly because of its size and partly because of its subsidy, is called the "fat trader". The type A2 "far trader" derives its name from its jump-2 capability, twice what a standard free trader can do. Type Js involved in trade are often called "low traders".

Type J
Type J "Low Trader" dirtside

The origin of the name "low trader" presumably refers to the fact that passengers who braved travel on type Js had to be carried in low berths due to the limited space available. Others maintain that the name derives from the type Js reputation of being in the "small package trade" (a euphemism for smuggling). Since patrol ships and customs inspectors frequently stopped type Js that seemed "out of place", smugglers who wanted to avoid interception kept a "low profile", hence the term "low trade" or "low trader" for ships engaged in "low trade".

Type J
Type J "Low Trader" dirtside

The "low trader" and its mining/prospecting variant, the "seeker", are both conversions of the common type S scout/courier. Externally type Js are identically to the type S, with the only difference being the type J's dorsal cargo bay doors.

Type J
Type J "Low Trader" dirtside

Converting a type S into a type J requires removal of two of the four staterooms and conversion of the remaining two staterooms into four half-sized staterooms. The ship retains its original jump drive-A, maneuver drive-A, and power plant-A, which makes it theoretically capable of jump-2 and 2G acceleration. The bridge retains the scout/courier's Model/1bis computer and one ton of fire control for its single hardpoint. A single pulse laser is fitted; on "seekers" this is used as a mining cutter, but on "low traders" this becomes defensive armament. The three ton forward cargo compartment is retained, and the hull retains its streamlining. Two 10 ton capacity ore bays are formed from fuel tankage, hull space and instrumentation, reducing fuel tankage to thirty tons. Many "low traders" use dismountable tanks in the bays to increase fuel tankage back to 40 tons, but at a reduction of cargo capacity to five tons per bay. With normal tankage the ship can achieve jump-1. With the dismountable tanks full, the ship can achieve jump-2.

Type J
1/72 Scale Model of Type J by Steve Whitting

About the Model: The 1/72 scale model featured in the above photos was designed using the "Seeker" deck plans from Traveller Supplement 7: Traders And Gunboats, several drawings from the MegaTraveller rulebooks and a detailed illustration from Issue No. 66 of Challenge magazine. The model was almost entirely scratchbuilt using heavy pasteboard for the hull with wooden dowels for the landing gear and a wooden ball for the turret. The windows were cut from clear acetate. The only styrene plastic parts were two pilot seats scavanged from a 1/72 military jet model. The model was finished using flat model paints. The crew members are 1/72 scale flight crew figures painted to resemble trader types. The finished model measures over 20 inches long. The model was photographed outdoors in late afternoon with a Nikon F2 Photomic SLR using Kodak Gold 200 speed film (the bottom photo was taken indoors with a Polaroid Spectra). The background "sky" was painted in after scanning using Corel Photohouse.

Credits: Some information provided above about the type J was taken from Traveller Supplement 7: Traders And Gunboats, originally published by Game Designers' Workshop, 1980.

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