The next morning, he and Harkaman took an aircar and went to look at the city at the forks of the river. It was completely new, in the sense that it had been built since the collapse of Federation civilization and the loss of civilized technologies. It was huddled on a long, irregularly triangular mound, evidently to raise it above flood-level. Generations of labor must have gone into it. To the eyes of a civilization using contragravity and powered equipment it wasn't at all impressive. Fifty to a hundred men with adequate equipment could have gotten the thing up in a summer. It was only by forcing himself to think in terms of spadeful after spadeful of earth, cartload after cartload creaking behind straining beasts, timber after timber cut with axes and dressed with adzes, stone after stone and brick after brick, that he could appreciate it. They even had it walled, with a palisade of tree-trunks behind which earth and rocks had been banked, and along the river were docks, at which boats were moored. The locals simply called it Tradetown.
- Space Viking, 1963
H. Beam Piper
Okay, so I lied. I was going to talk about encounters this week, until I noticed just how much there is to say about tech levels in Classic Traveller. There are some interesting assumptions in Book Three, not the least of which is that interstellar travel and contra-gravity become possible in what should be the near future for Earth (despite the assessment of a tech level of 5 in Book Two). While this might seem somewhat incongruous, it becomes even more curious when you realize that the world generation system results in wildly disparate tech levels for different star systems, right next to one another. A lot of ink has been spilled over this since 1977, most of it trying to point out how "it ought not work that way."
However, the relatively imminent development of interstellar travel combined with worlds with different tech levels matches Space Viking to a "t" - and also the Demon Prince series by Jack Vance, or King David's Spaceship by Jerry Pournelle, and even the Polesotechnic League stories of Poul Anderson. The concept of fallen star empires slowly rebuilding, with humans striving for something more, is a powerful theme. So powerful, in fact, that a lot of campaigns were built around this back in 1977.
What makes this more interesting is incorporating the OSR idea that it is okay to leave descriptions relatively sparse so as to allow for later inspiration or improvisation - the UPP system for stars and planets fits this very nicely. Combined with different tech levels, and the referee can find a myriad different reasons why things are the way they are. Between 1977 and now, the biggest mistake seems to have been to assume that the Traveller rules and background setting can be used for "reverse-engineering" how things actually work. Unfortunately, this has mostly led to debacles over money, credits, trading, and whether or not markets could or should get regulated in the future. This was and is boring.