Everyone was so gung ho over D&D I couldn't get a campaign going. I tried offering a few one-shots to get everyone interested but even that didn't work. I eventually quit trying and put all the books away, taking them off the shelf from time to time and sighing "if only." It would be a few years before I actually ran a game.
So ... How Did It Go?
It was a lot of fun, but we were all learning and there were a few issues. It was enough to tell me I really liked the game in practice as well as theory and would run it over all others if given the choice. Anyway, I basically ran the '77 version of the game, with a few mods and house-rules.
As a game mechanic I really liked the range band based starship combat system, swiped from the '81 edition. Don't get me wrong! The grease-pencil using vector based system is really cool but not that easy to implement in a college dorm room with a make shift table.
I also used, after a time, the 12 additional "Other" classes from JTAS. They were pretty handy to have but rarely came into play.
No Third Imperium. As this setting didn't exist in the '77 edition, not having it didn't cause an issue with me. I was aware of it after a while, but I'd already established my own interstellar authority. The United Star Systems Alliance (yes I know, I was a college kid okay?) was a loose and rather contentious assembly of aligned systems. Much like the territories of the Old West, one could outrun trouble by staying on the move. Well, you could outrun for a while at least!
What I Liked About the Game
Besides the fact it was science-fiction and I really dug sci-fi?
Traveller has a great built in impetus to adventure. If you have a Merchant vessel, it's quite easy to get behind on payments if you only transport cargo and passengers. If you've been giving a Scout on detached duty, having the life support system flushed every week or two requires Credits, baby. The best way to get that kind of brass is to take side-jobs and ... oh, by the way? There is a someone whose fancy clothes and haughty air mark her as out of place in this seedy starport bar. She appears to really wish to speak with you and your band of misfits.
You can die in character generation. This is common knowledge now but, at the time, it was revolutionary. It also serves as a great balancing mechanism. Your PC gains skills with each term of service, but faces a chance of dying before ever getting to play. Even further, you may not get the skills you want.
Combat is deadly. Unless you have a truly exceptional character there is a very real possibility the first shot you take in combat will kill you. So, you want to avoid combat as much as you can. When you do get in a fight you'll want to think tactically, striking from a position of strength with the best weapons and maneuvers you can muster. As opposed to D&D, your PC will not be tempted to go into a backwater town and shoot up the place ... if they're smart they won't anyway.
Sky's the limit. You could build virtually any world you wanted, wrapping your own backdrop around the world. An Imperium? A Federation? An evil galactic Empire? Didn't matter what you wanted, you could make it if you so desired.