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See How They Run
by Jeffrey Z. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/11/2021 17:08:43

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2021 issue of Freelance Traveller.

So far, Timothy Collinson has managed to make every adventure he’s written interesting just to read, never mind play (which I hope someday to be able to actually do!). See How They Run is no different; it starts with the following teaser:

“Small merchant ships are a common sight in Known Space, and the Zhodani have their share of traders plying the spacelanes even if they’re less well known to the Imperials. One such crew has their work cut out for them to make their way in District 268 where they’ll never be quite sure of their reception at the next world.”

There is no question that the Zhodani are under-represented as protagonists in Traveller adventures to date; that Mr Collinson is willing to attempt to do so – and that he pulls it off as well as he does here – speaks well to his imagination, his writing skills, and his ability to develop and organize adventures.*

    • It should be noted that Mr Collinson has run all of his adventures at least once, at TravCon in the UK, with all indications being that they have been well-received. This speaks well additionally to his ability to run an adventure.*

The author states that the intent of the adventure, as suggested by the title, is to loosely connect with his previous adventure, Three Blind Mice. The connection is not explicit nor actually a part of this adventure, but rather an opportunity set up by the presence of the PCs in the area, after it concludes. One need not be familiar with Three Blind Mice to play and enjoy See How They Run.

This adventure centers on a Zhodani free trader, whose crew are Zhodani Intendants (Zhodani SOC A), led by an Aspirant (the lowest Zhodani noble rank, SOC B). They are exploring (and hoping to expand Zhodani influence in) what the Imperium calls District 268 in the Spinward Marches sector. The adventure is written to the Mongoose Traveller 2nd edition Core Rulebook, and the author strongly recommends that the referee be familiar with the material in Alien Module 4: Zhodani (which will require some minor adjustment, as it was written for 1st edition rules). Other volumes cited as helpful are Spinward Marches, Supplement 4: Central Supply Catalogue, and Supplement 13: Starport Encounters, and some of the psionic talents come from the author’s article in Freelance Traveller #56 (August 2014).

It is likely that many Traveller players, on hearing “Zhodani”, will assume that this adventure focusses on psionics. Mr Collinson explicitly states that it does not – but also notes that because psionics are so fundamental to Zhodani society, it is neither unexpected nor improper to view everything through a psionics “lens”, and there is no question that psionics will be useful during the adventure.

The characters provided each have their own personalities and issues; in spite of being Zhodani and psionically-capable, they are most definitely not “psionic supermen” in either the hero or villain mode. Rather, they are people, with their own flaws, motivations, and personalities, and skill sets that just happen to include psionics. This adventure does not demonize the Zhodani, as was common in early Classic Traveller material; it offers the players and the referee the opportunity to present them in a more sympathetic light.

If you choose not to use the provided characters, Mr Collinson provides a psionic talent package, conceptually similar to the skills packages that Mongoose provides in their adventures; these packages consist of skills/talents that need to be “covered” in the adventure, and can be divided among the characters to ensure coverage and that no character is “left out” of the action.

This adventure, like the author’s other adventures, is structured as “Acts” and “Scenes”, with each Act focusing on a particular thematic line, with the Scenes providing the dramatic development within the theme. Act One can be viewed as ‘scene-setting’; there are no real options beyond the refueling scene. Act Two is the ‘meat’ of the adventure; there are several scenes that may be played out in any order, or omitted entirely. This Act, however, will provide much of the information required for the established mission of the ship and crew. The activities that are outlined in each of the scenes are widely varied, and present opportunities for the players to develop their characters and put their own stamp on them. They will be able to present themselves positively, and they may need to face situations where they cannot even reduce negative perceptions. In any case, the emphasis is very definitely on role-playing and character development. Act Three is an opportunity for the PCs to “close out” some events from Acts One and Two, hopefully to satisfactory conclusions.

The folio is rounded out with a wide variety of “prep” information – lists of NPCs, Library Data, possible encounters, possible seeds for future adventures that could be incorporated into the PCs’ activities, capsule summaries of the PCs, a table – very useful – of which characters have what skill, background information such as the PC’s route from the Consulate to District 268, a list of worlds and how accepting of psionics they are, some guidelines for playing Zhodani characters, conversions of PCs and NPCs to Cepheus Engine, a list of potentially useful task checks, and even a page where the referee can jot quick notes on equipment, actions, and encounters for each PC.

Overall, this is a well-written and well-organized adventure, suitable for a single session (as at a convention) or as the basis for a longer campaign. One might argue that Mr Collinson goes overboard in providing information and detail that isn’t really needed, but it’s easier to ignore information that isn’t needed than it is to generate it “on the fly” when you suddenly realize that it was omitted. Adding this to your collection of pre-generated adventure would certainly not be wasting your money.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
See How They Run
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Patron Encounters
by Jeffrey Z. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/11/2021 14:45:16

This article originally appeared in the November 2013 issue of Freelance Traveller.

Experienced Traveller referees, or those who read Freelance Traveller, who purchase this volume so many years after its release will feel like they’ve found an old friend. For little more than a dime each (a bit over 6p each if you insist on British money), you get thirty-four adventure seeds in the familiar format.

Most of the seeds have both Player Information and Referee Information, but in a few cases, everything is on the table and the “Referee Information” is no more than the list of the possible “roll 1D (1d6)” outcomes. There is a wide range of possibilities in the jobs, including three where the PCs are ‘victims’ (in the sense that they have no control over whether to get involved).

The seeds are presented in a two-column format, easy to read. On any given page, there’s never more than one seed per column, but many are of odd lengths (leaving unused white space in both columns), and some have left ‘The referee should determine the subsequent events’ line dangling at the top of a column or the first sentence on a page (effectively wasting the column). A bit more time and effort (and, admittedly, money) devoted to editing and layout might have allowed a few more seeds to make it into this volume at no increase in page count.

Nevertheless, you do get good value for the price; Martin and his “recruiting agents” have come up with a good set of seeds with interesting twists.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Patron Encounters
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Great Rift Adventure 3: Flatlined
by Jeffrey Z. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/10/2021 22:37:33

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2019 issue of Freelance Traveller.

The reviewer received this as part of the deliverables for the Great Rift Kickstarter.

Most Traveller adventures start out with the characters having knowledge of their own capabilities, and a selection of useful equipment, often with the opportunity to acquire more, and a general idea of what they’ll be up against.

“Flatlined” is different. The player-characters start by waking up from cold sleep (low berth), with partial amnesia, and no possessions at all. They are in a ship – or a small craft; they don’t know which, yet – that seems to have crashed. So now what?

The introduction to this adventure specifically calls out the flexibility built in to this adventure, noting that the described events is only one way that things could go. This is not going to be a blast-any-obstacle adventure; resources (and information) will be strictly limited in several ways, so the player-characters will have to creatively think their way out of their many problems.

The referee, on the other hand, has plenty of information available, including the story behind the player-characters’ presence in this adventure (which won’t really be relevant if this is played as a one-off at a convention, but could have implications if used as an Episode in an ongoing campaign).

The craft that the player-characters find themselves on is an in-system “Smallhauler”, not a starship, and is well-described (including the damage that it sustained in its crash). There is the usual specification sheet and isometric-view deckplan; top-view playmat plans might be useful in the early part of the adventure, before the player-characters make their way out – as they will have to, since the crashed craft is sinking.

In addition to resource limitations, the player-characters will discover that there are time limitations, as well, due in part to a beastie that is profiled in the module and which can be quite nasty. On the other hand, taking some time to learn about them could make it easier to deal with the problems they pose… provided that you don’t take enough time for them to deal with the problems you pose.

This adventure has the player-characters moving from crisis to crisis, often under-informed and lacking resources. At key points, the referee should want the player-characters to react fast, rather than taking time to think – and the actions they end up taking could well define what options will be available later in the adventure.

There is no real denouement; once the adventure is “over”, the player-characters will still be in a difficult situation and lacking resources, though they will be in a better position to get help.

There are a number of characters profiled; the player-characters should not be told everything about those they encounter, but should be allowed to form their own opinions based on their incomplete knowledge and the way the characters react to them, to each other, and to the situation.

All in all, an interesting concept for an adventure, and one that need not be associated with a Rift campaign – pretty much any backwater area away from trade routes can serve. For the referee who likes to have pregenerated adventures on hand, this is a definite buy; the creative referee who rarely uses pregens can still mine this one for ideas to incorporate into self-gens. Players who dislike having adventures spoiled by preknowledge should, of course, avoid this.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Great Rift Adventure 3: Flatlined
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Great Rift Adventure 2: Deepnight Endeavour
by Jeffrey Z. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/10/2021 22:32:45

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2019 issue of Freelance Traveller.

The reviewer received this as part of the deliverables for the Great Rift Kickstarter.

As with Rift Adventure 1: Islands in the Rift (reviewed September/October 2018), this adventure can be played without the rest of the Great Rift set, and while one certainly needs the Core Rulebook, no other volumes are called out as required – or even suggested – to support this adventure.

The adventure is written very ‘loosely’; the PCs are given enough information in the briefing to know where the Deepnight Endeavour might be (or, alternatively, they’ve managed to gather the clues on their own), and a visit to the location to see what might be learned about the ship’s fate isn’t an unreasonable course of action. Beyond that, the ultimate “goal” of the mission is mostly the decision of the player-characters.

The section on actually running the adventure is only seven pages; the rest is all of the details that the referee needs to know about the ship and all aboard it. That detail is pretty extensive; there’s enough there that I could easily see this adventure being run as a multi-party/multi-point-of-view/multi-referee effort, similar to – or possible on a larger scale than – that done by Timothy Collinson and Steve E. at TravCon (UK) in 2015 (‘Generation X’ and ‘Rendezvous with Karma’).

Two pages give you an overview of the adventure and the company behind it; they’re all you’d really need to decide if you’re interested in actually running the adventure.

You get a full twenty pages of information on the ship and its operations; packaged slightly differently, this would be viable as a product by itself. The deckplans provided are the now-standard Mongoose 2nd Edition isometric views, which is something of a shame, as it’s almost inevitable that you’ll want playmats/maps suitable for miniatures.

The situation the characters find themselves in is decidedly not normal, however, and seven pages tell the referee just how ‘not-normal’ the situation is. Fair warning: what you get reads a lot like an outline for a Zombie Apocalypse novel. There are a couple of aspects that bother my suspension-of-disbelief, but if I ‘step back’ and consider it rationally, instead of just overreacting to the fact that the Zombie Apocalypse has been overdone in popular literature to the point of nausea, I really can’t say that it’s any more suspenders-of-disbelief-breaking than psionics is.

A further ten pages are used to describe the crewpeople that the characters will be in a position to encounter. There are profiles for about ten named characters, including motivations, and some ‘generic’ profiles for unnamed characters that can serve as ‘spear chuckers’, ‘red shirts’, or what-have-you. As written, the crew is mixed human and Vargr; there’s no reason that other aliens, comparable in stats and attitude to humans and Vargr, couldn’t be substituted. Some of the information should not be given to players other than the one actually playing the character (in a multi-party scenario), but the character should be played within the limits of motivation and attitude set forth here, and it may thus be possible for someone to discern the hidden information, at least in part.

Finally, there is one page of weapon information, one with a key to reading the deckplans, and five or six of additional detail about the actual situation and how the ship is affected (and thus differs from the theoretical ship described in the twenty pages mentioned earlier), including likely tasks that characters may face.

Overall, a good adventure, and worth having if you’re the type of referee that likes to have a wide variety of pre-generated adventures on hand. (Players, as usual, should avoid this if they don’t want it spoiled when/if they find themselves playing it.) Mr Dougherty has shown over several years of writing for various editions of Traveller that he ‘gets it’, and this adventure only reinforces that.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Great Rift Adventure 2: Deepnight Endeavour
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Great Rift Adventure 1: Islands in the Rift
by Jeffrey Z. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/10/2021 22:27:59

This review originally appeared in the January/February 2019 issue of Freelance Traveller.

The Author received this as part of the deliverables for the Great Rift Kickstarter.

Although this adventure is included in the Great Rift Kickstarter, it has been written such that you don’t actually need the other books of the Great Rift set to run – although having them will be helpful for providing additional background beyond what is strictly necessary to understand for this adventure, and potentially offering the player-characters options for “side trips” or further adventures. Specific references to other Traveller materials (second edition assumed) include the Core Rulebook or High Guard, and the Deep Space Exploration Handbook.

The player-characters are tasked with recovering a ship and shepherding it across the Islands Cluster, two subsectors in the center of the Great Rift. It’s not a simple problem of ship navigation; the Islands Cluster is a cauldron of shifting alliances at odds with each other, in situations that are often just short of open war. Additionally, the PCs will have to contend with biased and incomplete presentation of information, opposition, and a mission complication.

This volume is very definitely targeted to the referee; players should consider themselves discouraged from reading it.

The Introduction, consisting of three pages of text and one page of maps (the two Island subsectors), provides the referee with the needed background of the region, including historical information and the origins of the adventure mission. This information is presented as being accurate, and it is specifically noted that referee’s discretion is to be used in presenting it to the player-characters – both in terms of what to present and when, and how accurately (e.g., completeness and bias) to present it.

The next two pages, the Travellers’ Briefing (Chapter One), is information that should be presented by the referee to the player-characters as a mission briefing. This covers an overly-brief summary of the current situation in the Islands, essentially from the Imperial point-of-view, and a mission overview, for recovering the Perfect Stranger, last known to be on Amondiage, and transporting it to the Imperial representative at Zuflucht, at the other end of the Islands. The player-characters will have limited resources (even more limited if they don’t have their own transportation), and may not be able to draw on even those resources under certain circumstances.

Chapter Two provides information on the Perfect Stranger, a 400-ton Type R Subsidized Merchant heavily modified for extended range and duration, consonant with its true mission of intelligence gathering, and sufficient to get to any star in the Islands (albeit slowly; she still mounts the standard Jump-1 drive).

Chapters Three through Six provide information and activities covering the first part of the mission, from arrival at Amondiage to acquisition of the ship to starting the journey to Zuflucht. There is a proposed route that the player-characters will use if they’re playing it safe and sensible, but there are also some places where they might be able to skip a stop if they’re willing to cut into the buffer provided by the extended-range/duration mods.

Chapter Seven offers a couple of exceptional impediments that can be run somewhere along the route. There are notes on how the referee should handle them at various worlds along the route, and what the player-characters should expect depending on their actions.

Chapters Eight through Ten cover the remainder of the trip to Zuflucht, much as the early part was covered in Chapters Three through Six. There are fewer stops on this leg, and thus less to happen – but what does happen can be just as important as the earlier complications.

Chapter Eleven is a single page with a couple of weapons specifically mentioned in the adventure; these are Islands versions of similar items that may be found elsewhere.

Chapter Twelve provides a page of index-card profiles of opposition the player-characters will encounter in a couple of ‘key’ incidents.

Overall, this is an interesting-looking adventure, good for use as a short, self-contained campaign. Recommended buy for referees looking to stock up on pregenerated adventures; players should probably avoid this unless you don’t care about spoilers.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Great Rift Adventure 1: Islands in the Rift
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The Great Rift
by Jeffrey Z. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/10/2021 22:20:57

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2018 issue of Freelance Traveller.

Note: The reviewer received his copy as part of the deliverable for the Great Rift Kickstarter.

The Great Rift is an important astrographic feature in the Third Imperium setting for Traveller, and with the release of this book and the other books that are part of the Great Rift Kickstarter, it finally gets a bit of attention.

The introductory material gives a broad astrographic overview of Charted Space, and how the system of rifts shapes it, from the galactic inter-arm gulfs down to the miniature ‘rifts’ that separate the Jump-1 mains. Following this is a discussion about exploring rifts, with a shout-out to TravellerMap.com. This section also discusses the difficulties of operating around the fringes of a rift, where there may be worlds that are accessible only with high-jump ships, and also the logistics of actual rift crossings.

The next section is the first that focusses specifically on the Great Rift, the so-called “claw” that the Spinward Marches is “behind”. This section discusses two “well-known” crossings of the rift, the Jump-5 Aslan route through Riftspan Reaches, and a Jump-4 route through Reft Sector’s Islands subsectors. An brief summary of the Aslan crossing and a somewhat more detailed overview of the Islands crossing are given, and hints about other crossings and rumored in-rift installations are summarized.

Some areas of the Imperium—and in fact of Charted Space generally—have sentient species, extant and extinct, that are peculiar to that area; the Rift is no exception. Three races are described, one extinct, one that (unusually for Mr Dougherty) pretty much breaks my suspension of disbelief, and one that has enough information provided to be usable as player-characters (much like a “Contact!” article from the original Journal of the Travellers’ Aid Society, or a Club Room article in Freelance Traveller). The pictures of the playable race are clear, but do look like Poser art, and there is no human figure or silhouette to use as comparison.

Although the Rift is mostly empty space, even more so that the areas with denser stellar distribution, there are still things of interest. Chapter Four, Features of the Great Rift, touches on some of those, including a neutron star (complete with a quite unusual set of accompanying satellites), a trio consisting of two black holes and a large star, several areas where Jump “doesn’t work right”, and some (possibly mythical) oddballs, including a habitable planet orbiting a brown dwarf, a rogue gas giant moving at high (sublight) speed, a derelict spaceship, and a region of apparently sourceless gravity.

No sourcebook discussing an area of space would be complete without a stellar atlas of the region, and this volume is no exception. Two complete sectors, Corridor and Riftspan Reaches, are presented, rounding out the volume; each sector gets an overview of the sector as a whole, plus subsector-by-subsector listings of the worlds therein, each with a subsector overview and quick profile of the most significant worlds in each subsector. Accompanying this material are inserts and sidebars presenting significant or interesting companies, fauna, vehicles, spacecraft, and starships. (Notable by omission is Reft Sector; this wasn’t included in the Great Rift sourcebook because it gets an entire separate sourcebook of its own.)

A definite buy, but you’ll want to get the entire Great Rift set, not just this book.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Great Rift
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Great Rift Adventure 3: Flatlined
by Michael M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/11/2021 03:34:04

A fine little adventure, perfect for one-shots and easily adapted for other systems. (I run it with Cypher e.g.) If you’re looking for a good SciFi survival story/sandbox with a Pitch Black or Alien vibe, this should be your choice. It’s not groundbreaking or out of the box, but delivers what it promises. Solid designed, straightforward (with enough room for the players to make their choices), and easy to be prepared.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Great Rift Adventure 3: Flatlined
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Central Supply Catalogue
by David G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/08/2021 21:17:24

I have broken this review down into the good, the bad, and split (ugly but redeemable).

Note: I just got done playing Pirates of Drinax, a friend refereed it for me, this is the perspective from which I will be reviewing the Central Supply Catalogue.

The Good

Between the Core, Central Supply Catalog (this book), and High Guard you will have the required triumvirate to play a typical game of Traveller.

This book provides a large, practically essential, catalog of equipment that is a great aid when playing a game of Traveller.

This book remembers to consider game economy more than many games, this can lead to the world having a consistent feeling that can be lacking in other works.

This book considers things beyond weapons and other items of war.

The Split

The equipment rarely gives a new thing to do, it almost always gives a bonus to something the character could already do. This is an interesting predicament, as this is a skill based system if a character has a skill to do something gear can help this; however, this can also make gear dull, as it is either needed to utilize a skill, or adds a small plus to a skill. This can lead to gear being something that is placed on a character sheet modifiers noted and forgotten.

There is a decent amount of equipment that feels fringe, yet there were things that we couldn't find that didn't seem like fringe asks. This seems strange as we were playing Pirates of Drinax, with modifications, which is their big campaign; it seems they would at least furnish equipment for that.

The Bad

There isn't much in the way of creative equipment, I see weapons from this and that sci-fi book, movie, or show. Traveller has been around for a long time, and I know many would say that Traveller inspired these other works. However, Traveller isn't D&D it is definitely known, but it doesn't have this large pop-culture effect; because of this, I feel that this is at best a weak argument. Also, Mongoose has not been making this game the entire time, nor is their room to sit on one's laurels when creating a game.

Organization is not great, armor and other protective gear, which is combative gear, is on the opposite end from weapons. Sections are monoliths making things hard to find things, but there is an index, so if you know the name you can find it. Then again if you're looking for a type of item you're going to have to go digging.

The setup of the items effects are a mess, some things are well displayed such as: name, tech level, and weight. Weapons are better described than most as they also show damage, magazine size, and traits. However, it is so frequent that there are important rules expressed in the description of the item. This can make gear a pain to reference as every item of text must be read to make sure that nothing is missed, this is not good in the middle of combat.

There is also this strange opinion that there are rules maintained in the heading of each subcategory that can abbreviate the language for each piece of gear. This would work well, if there was a greater ability to discern when an item comes from a certain category, without adding much extra verbiage in small margins, and if it was easy to find the place where the category specific rules were listed. At least they always seem to be at the beginning of their subcategory, but to make things worse you have to dig through super-categories to find the subcategories. This makes for an issue of having to dig through disorganized rules that the index doesn't help with.

The high end equipment is almost completely lacking for diversity; as the idea seems to be, the nice expensive gear will do everything that a few less expensive items but will do it better. This leads to tapering gear diversity, and with clever players, this can lead to rapid gear improvement as old gear can be sold to sponsor better gear as the band of options converges into a single item for that category.

This book, which is about as essential as the Core Rules, isn't part of the Core Rules. Mongoose seems to have decided that because they have a few items in the Core they can treat this like an expansion. Rather the situation is the players can get a starting character equipped and then they will quickly run out of gear, and in a game where character progression comes from a slow skill improvement process and gear this isn't an acceptable situation.

Breaking Down the Rating

This is where I will attempt to explain why I have given this product the rating it currently has, to do this I will give a running tally of the products total star count, out of five, after each argument is provided.

First a three star is an average rating, so the rating tally will be starting at this point. - 3 stars

This is functionally a necessary book if one wants to play, let alone run, a game of Traveller. While this is annoying this is not a negative or a positive for the product itself. - 3 stars

This books equipment can be almost essential to play in a smooth game of Traveller; otherwise, the referee has to build most things themselves, which with economical concerns is a lot of work. - 4 stars

This book respects game economy, mostly, which helps allow for trader type games. - 5 stars

The book has equipment that is useful for things beyond combat, or weird little trinkets. - 6 stars

The equipment is not imaginative or that interesting. These are the kinds of things that referees would likely have made on their own, if left to their own devices. This saves the referee some time, but doesn't help with developing a milieu. - 5.5 stars

The equipment options can be eclectic at times, which is strange as it is also not innovative or world building. The catalog reminds me as if it was a collection of refuse on sale from a Star Wars junkyard. This is largely copies from things that I love and recognize, but it lacks the interest of the setting of those originals, a cheap copy of them. This call to nostalgia is damaged as it is all combined without consideration to how they combine. - 5 stars

The organization is painful, it slows things down and lends itself to incorrectly utilize gear. This is because the player has to track down all of the rules impacting their gear, it isn't in one place nor is there a reference given to help find all the related rules. The player must instead have read the entire book and remember where all to look for the rules, there are some patterns but they require the player to remember a significant amount of details to follow. - 3 stars

There is a singular destination for each equipment type if there is a high end, this lack of diversity or lack of progression is disappointing for a book that is dedicated to equipment. There are interesting modifications, such as ammo that effects some things but this is typically a small modifier that must be bought over and over again. There also tends not to be enough room on the character sheet for these items, this often leads to frustration. - 2 stars

This comes down to this book does not perform well at the table. It seems to have a great amount of possibilities until the players started using it for a while, there were options that were straight down better. This lead to a situation were after a certain amount of time players will have little to purchase, making the book useless later in the game, but essential for early game. This terminal effect, and aggravation that trying to get small efficiency gains, lead to this book being given a poor score.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Central Supply Catalogue
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Traveller Core Rulebook
by David G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/08/2021 16:48:16

The Traveller system has some very high points and some very low points when it comes to quality. For this reason I had a hard time rating this product.

Let's start at some of the high points.

The character creation is what I want out of a system, it made interesting characters and rooted them in the game in a better way than most tailored backstories. It deals with a problem that I have had at multiple gaming tables, which is non-veteran players take a long time to create a character and are often bored of the game before it begins. This character creation system is a game. There will be some that prefer handmade characters, but in general this was an improvement.

The threat that comes with violence, is intense and pushes players to take alternative routes to success besides yanking out their Gauss rifle and firing. This threat comes from the death spiral of temporary attribute loss from damage; however, this death spiral can be really intense, which lead to some amount of undo player paranoia. Even so we still fought things, it just was very discouraging to any murder hobboism. This is mostly a plus, but can lead to player cowardice if they are not prepared for character death.

Some middle of the road points

There is a great capacity for character differentiation, as this is a skill based system. There are sixty-seven skills on the character sheet, meaning that mathematically there should be a great amount of character diversity with it being rare that characters overlap much. Unfortunately, things are a bit more restricted; given that there are skills that are going to be commonly used and those that are rarely of benefit. After all if combat is common, the weapon skills will be focused by nearly all characters. If the game is predominantly in space it seems rare that seafarer will be used. Also, skills don't give the character new things to do, rather a greater capacity to do what they already can do without the addition of any interesting mechanics. This is not purely negative, it keeps the game simple and the character is significantly better at their favorite tasks, but this can make the player feel like their stuck in a groove, never to do anything else.

Money, Money everywhere. This is a game that greatly concerns itself with credits, they have decent trading rules and well documented ship costs. This is great, unless the players ever get a windfall and all those credit based drives disappear. This can lead to credit tracking to be a laborious task, instead of the "can we get into the black this month" tension that it was meant to be. At the end of the day, make sure there is at least one calculator at the table or trading can drag on as they add or subtract three or four multi-thousand credit sums by hand.

The Low Points

RPG rule books are not typically known for their masterful organization skills, Traveller takes the bad organization to a new level. "Hey Ref, how do I recover from damage again?" should not be a hard question to answer. I should be able to open up the book to the section on healing and read it off to the player who decided that they were incapable of doing the same. Table of contents, not overly surprised that I don't see a section on recovery. Flip to the back of the pdf for the index, there isn't one! Medic is a skill, I'll look there: a description of how to do first aid. By now every one who has a book is looking for it; I check combat, no dice. I'm using ctrl+f by this point I finally find it under: encounters and dangers. Why is it there? Why is there no index? Why does it feel like the earlier parts of the book are organized, somewhat, but then the writers just decided they had no idea how to organize the book and just threw it in where there was white space. It's not just healing, its most things beyond character creation. I have to ask one more question: beam and pulse laser turrets get a bonus to hit, its not listed in the weapon statistics, it is in a random table that was made for this purpose alone; why? Why, is there a separate table that isn't on the same page as the turrets statistics?

The art: I know this is subjective, but every person I have shown it to dislikes any art that shows a person (human or alien). The equipment and landscape scenes are normally approved of. The problem with the art may be the artist, but the consensus was that the art, like the rest of the book, was rushed, which greatly shows.

Ship design, I will not be discussion ship creation as that is High Guard so this will be mostly art critique. Why does this matter? While art quality is subjective, ship design is engineering. I should specify that most of the groups I play in are composed of engineers and computer scientists. So when we see asymmetric ship designs we have a decent idea on how poorly it's going to handle, etc. It got to the point that the Referee would try to avoid showing any kind of ship art, but it couldn't be avoided entirely, which lead to just about everyone being ejected from any kind of immersion. This point alone has spawned a number of jokes about how super advanced human civilizations are incapable of building functional spaceships.

Breaking Down the Rating

This is where I will attempt to explain why I have given this product the rating it currently has, to do this I will give a running tally of the products total star count, out of five, after each argument is provided.

First a three star is an average rating, so the rating tally will be starting at this point. - 3 stars

Character creation is amazing, this is what I would like to see become much more common in Role-Playing Games. Especially how this improved immersion. - 5 stars

Combat feels violent, dangerous, and non-trivial. - 6 stars

The skill based systems does little to differentiate Traveller from other skill based systems, which tend to be akin or more interesting. - 5.5 stars

Money management is done better than a number of games that I could mention; however, it can quickly become trivial if a large sum is acquired, or can bottleneck a game if the players are unlucky at trading. - 6 stars

The organization is terrible this is the kind of thing that without ctrl + f can put a game on pause for tens of minutes, even with ctrl + f the game is greatly slowed, killing tension, excitement, and the mood. Replacing it with irritation and arbitrary rules that no one can quite agree on. - 4 stars

Art is a subjective element to design, for this reason I feel that, even though I and my friends are not fond of it, this detail should not effect the rating as this is bad not terrible. - 4 stars

Ship design is integral to a space opera game, which this is typically played as. If the designers would have determined some method of ratifying the design without images then the ship art would be just art, thereby subjective; however, they did not find such a method. Therefore, the ship art also doubles as a three dimensional layout suggesting at a blueprint. In this light it can be found, by a table surrounded by engineering and computer science students, to be abjectly terrible and immersion breaking. - 3 stars

At the end of the day, I felt like taking off more stars for ship design, but I am to understand that this is not problematic for most. Then with our overall assessment of this game aligned with this breakdown, as long as ship art is hidden away, this is a game with high and lows that come out to average.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Traveller Core Rulebook
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High Guard
by David G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/17/2021 12:38:43

I have decided to break this review down into good, split, and problematic. As a note: I just got done playing Pirates of Drinax, a friend refereed it for me, this is the perspective from which I have used High Guard the most.

The Good

This book brings a significantly sized ship catalog. Between the Core, Central Supply Catalog, and High Guard (this book) you will have the required triumvirate to play a typical game of Traveller.

The Split

There are many options when it comes to designing your own ship, that is once you have the basics: hull, j-drive, m-drive, fuel, etc. which have few customization options. However, few of these options are particularly exciting; there are things such as mining equipment, great if your a miner, and some interesting cargo hold expansion solutions. But, outside of that there are options that have little to no mechanical effect, such as holographic hull or game room. In the end the ship will be closer to what was desired, but we never could get a ship that truly felt personalized to us, no matter how long we tinkered with it. There is a degree of modification, but it is within a tight band of what is provided.

The ship catalog is large and provides deck plans, which are in isometric view. This can be good and bad, it helps with lining up what is below on a multi-level ship, but is very hard to use. These simply are not good for using as a game grid. They do provide some 2D maps, but they are only of the most common ships from the Core and not part of this product.

The book discusses mining, my tables haven't used mining yet. So I will not speak to its material, but at least they include this, unlike some other important details discussed in the next section.

The Problematic

No boarding, the Core says that boarding will be discussed in High Guard; I haven't found this. Maybe it went missing in the disorganization that is this gaming product as a whole, but I haven't seen hide nor hair of it. This would have been greatly helpful while playing Pirates Drinax, after all you are playing as a pirate.

Fleet combat is broken for smaller vessels. There was a fight with multiple ships that we the players got ourselves into while fighting for Drinax, not finale, we decided we would like to try fleet combat. We quickly learned that our ships did as much damage as they ever did, but each ship only had a tenth of the hull points and the percentile armor didn't make up for it at all. Ships that would have been hard to handle beaome tissue paper as long as you got the first shot off. The system was completely unbalanced, it was so bad that after the first shot we had killed an enemy ship while still having some weapon systems that hadn't fired. It was so bad that players and referee all said, nearly simultaneously, that we should backtrack and fight the battle from square one using the normal system. I have never seen players so quickly give up a kill.

There is little in the way of interesting sci-fi ideas. So much of space operas, which Traveller is, are about interesting ideas that push the limit. Star Trek and Start Wars had revolutionary ideas that has lead to some modern technological devices. If you think that I'm being to hard on Traveller because I'm comparing it to movies, let's look at Cyberpunk. It's not even a space opera, rather a neo-futurist dystopia setting, it has had ideas that have become reality and still has enough creative juice to push the limit. Now, not all sci-fi has to push the technological bubble, but can instead question, the question can be about as diverse as the authors and their audience. That doesn't seem to happen here, either this is more of a setup with a space setting or its gone even deeper and is questioning what is sci-fi. Either way I really want to see something that sets this setting apart. Why am I saying this here? Because sci-fi loves tech, if a sci-fi setting's tech doesn't distinguish it from other sci-fi settings there are few other staples left to fall on.

Ship design, its just bad. It's true the only design that we're truly given is the ship's art that comes with each stat block. After all a ship isn't just a collection of components, its also how you connect those components that make it work. This is where being an engineering student, who runs for and plays with mostly STEM students and graduates, becomes a problem for Traveller. Most of these ship shapes do not work, this goes back to many people thinking that the moment drag and air resistance are gone they can do what ever they want. Things couldn't be further from the truth than this. The moment designs become asymmetric making the ship move in a consistent desirable way becomes difficult. Long and slender beams focus strain into themselves, making a stress point.

There are places were there are obvious errors. Such an example is in the weapon bay section, where as far as I can tell the large weapons bay has the same damage and traits as the medium weapons bay while requiring more power, tonnage, and credits.

Unorganized rules make this book hard to use as a reference during a game. Rules tend to be smattered around in clumps and clusters, with a lose fungible logic that can be truly hard to follow and near impossible to look up quickly mid game session.

Conclusion

This game book has potential and is practically essential for playing Traveller, but it is missing edits, organization, and entire sections it was advertised to have.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
High Guard
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MgT Traveller Character Sheet
by Edward C. O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/19/2021 17:42:40

i like this sheet than the official sheet, personally, the official sheets seems... bland? i don't know they don't stand out nor have character if you pardon the pun.

i like the flow chart here better as well, much clearer than the text.

worth the investment!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
MgT Traveller Character Sheet
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A Warrior's Soul
by Wayne Y. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/12/2021 18:52:07

Bordering on melodrama (which seems Aslan-appropriate) this tale starts as a duel for honour on the harsh frontier and quickly becomes even more compelling.

Similar to Michael J., I would love this as a more fleshed out novel. This story has great potential to lead into a patron encounter as well.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Warrior's Soul
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Traveller: Makergod
by Luis F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/11/2021 05:36:09

This adventure was so good I purchased the other three from this author, also set in the Reach. Great info on a pretty significant planet close to Drinax (if you are playing Pirates of Drinax). The artwork is pretty top notch and the highguard for the raider's ship is also great!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Traveller: Makergod
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The Mystery of BT-SHT 365
by Luis F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/11/2021 05:30:35

Great adventure, and only for $2! This can be standalone or, like I did, incorporated into a Pirates of Drinax campagin. Hope the series continues.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Mystery of BT-SHT 365
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Traveller Core Rulebook
by Edward C. O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/09/2021 16:16:31

i bought both the PDF and physical copy so i will be speaking on the physical copy.

Traveller 2e by Mongoose is pretty interesting, personally, i have been looking for a sci-fi space opera like game, and this game fits the bill. the life path is definitely the most fun and interesting that i have ran so far.

a couple of issues about the book, this issue is fixed with the PDF search function but with the book it's no excuse. the lack of an Index is jarring, like who thought this was a good idea?

another issue with this book is that while it has a lot of great information to get you started, this book assumes you'll play as a human, if you want to play an alien race, you will need the other books to try to play as another species. another issue is that the information for a lot of other ruling and optional rules are in other books. i know it'll increase the size of the book and price, but i feel if it had at least the information from the Travellers Companion book, i feel this book would definitely be a must own for everyone.

the game itself is fantastic though! my player's and i ran a one shot where there ship is attacked by space pirates and they have to fight them off before help can arrive. it was tense, fun, and a lot player's died. they want to run the game again, so we are as of this writing, running a campaign with a new group of travellers.

overall, this game is fun, a lot of the issues are writing and information issue, but honestly despite my complaints, this is definitely a must have sci-fi rpg game to have! next to Cyberpunk or Shadowrun.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Traveller Core Rulebook
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