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DC1 Hellsgate
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/16/2017 08:08:53

Opening with a 'supermarket tabloid' with a couple of weird headlines - two-headed mutant animals and alien invasions no less - the introduction soon explains (in somewhat less sensationalist terms) the background to what is actually going on and what needs to be investigated. Basically, a newly-launched communications satellite has gone wonky, and strange things have begun to happen in Mexico.

The Referee's Introduction goes into a bit more detail, as well as giving warning of a couple of devious plot twists that you will be springing on the party during the course of the adventure. There's some historical background linking in two separate groups of Dark Ones whose conflicting objectives merely add to the fun. The adventure synopsis describes how the whole thing kicks off with a mysterious stranger arriving on the doorstep in the middle of the night... followed by a more official approach from NASA seeking the party's help in their investigations. Accepting the offer at least makes getting to Mexico easy. Then it's just a matter of closing the odd dimensional gate and evading the notice of dire and ancient evil...

The first encounter - the mysterious stranger one - is supposed to involve just one party member, and various suggestions are made as to how to pull that off. Choose a player who is good at describing what his character has experienced, or let the rest of the players witness the encounter, as it definitely brings the weirder elements of this game out in force. During this encounter, an extraterrestial asks for help, or so it seems. Before the party has much time to reflect on this a NASA astronaut comes round to hire them to investigate just why that wonky satellite is beaming high-powered transmissions to Mexico, or at least, to find out what's going on in Mexico as a result. Some investigations follow, but soon the chance for action will present itself.

Starting in a run-down village, the party will be led - or taken - to Chichen Itza, a famous archaeological site that's now been taken over by dark minions, almost buried in darktek, and with assorted cultists who have (they think) resurrected ancient Mayan rituals hanging around. The map provided with the PDF really needs to be printed out and stuck together to make sense - I think it must have been provided as a poster in the original print version, but there's a lot to explore in the main pyramid in Chichen Itza, including a maze that draws on Mayan legends well. Eventually, the party ought to find a dimensional gate and will need to shut it down before worse befalls...

... and then they discover that's only the start of their problems!

This is a well-constructed and devious adventure that requires thinking as well as fighting to succeed. Like any investigation-heavy adventure, the party will need to pick up on certain things, but the way it is constructed makes it quite easy to lead them in the right direction without making it feel too much like railroading. It should prove a memorable episode in your group's adventures, one that is quite out of this world...



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DC1 Hellsgate
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DC1 Heart of Darkness
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/13/2017 08:24:05

This is a massive adventure that centres on a fabulous giant black opal called the Heart of Darkness... which has just been stolen from a museum. Several contending factions are trying to get their hands on it - some for good motives, some who want to further the ambitions of the dark ones, and maybe some who just plain think it's valuable - and the party ends up in the middle of it all, chasing clues around the entire world.

The introduction begins by recounting the stone's history, or at least the rumours and legends that can be gleaned about it. Then the Referee's Introduction provides more detail, not for player eyes of course. It explains the adventure's structure which is non-linear, with five locations that can be visited in any order and the groups or individuals who will interact with the party. There's an extensive section called Research Results which can be shared with the party as their investigation proceeds, and one of Referee Resources with extensive background, ideas for further adventures and repercussions, and more. Then we get to hear the REAL story of the Heart of Darkness...

Various suggestions are made as to how you can get the party involved: pick the one you know will intrigue them the most or invent one of your own. Once they're off, with or without the support of a major corporation that for some reason is interested in the location of the Heart of Darkness, each of the five main locations is discussed in detail, with major NPCs to talk to, places to visit and so on. Sometimes conversations will result, other places a brawl may break out or something else less civilised...

Eventually, as everything comes together, there's an epic conclusion, very cinematic, with a massive fight involving all interested parties (and some good hints for the Referee to help him run a fight scene with 90+ NPCs in it without making the party feel like spectators). Some excellent ideas for continuing adventures are provided at the end.

This is the sweeping epic adventure that defines the Dark Conspiracy game. It's something a party can get their teeth into, and which their players will reminisce about for years to come.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DC1 Heart of Darkness
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DC1 Darktek
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/12/2017 08:19:22

The idea behind this book is that, whilst some reasonable speculation had been made in the core rules about the technology of the first few decades of the 21st century, there was a need for some truly weird and off-the-wall stuff to reflect the alien otherness brought into the world by the various dark forces that the party is trying to defeat. They shouldn't look like they tooled up in local stores. Even though not all the predictions about normal human technology were completely accurate, we can at least look at the world around us (or go online) to come up with what the party has access to... but we still need a spin for the aliens' and dark minions' gear. Some of this stuff has been 'acquired' by government agencies or corporations, whether to combat the Dark Ones or further their own ends.

A section titled The Nature of Darktek sets out to explain how the Dark Ones view the universe differently from human beings and that their technology is grounded in their philosophy. Their view is empathic rather than analytic, and organic rather than seeing a definite and distict difference between that which is alive and that which is not. Most of their stuff isn't available for sale anywhere, to acquire it the party will have to find, steal or capture it. And there is a cost to using it, due to its rather unpleasant nature. It can corrupt the user quite easily, something the Referee has to be on the alert for... to use, of course, against the party! Many such items draw their power from the user, who is then afflicted with the desire to consume massive amounts of fresh raw meat to restore themselves. They can also make the user more visible to the Dark Ones or even more vulnerable to psychic attack... and some graft themselves to the user and require surgery to be removed! So use with caution, if at all.

We then move on to the listings, which are grouped by function: biologic devices, electronic devices, weapons, vehicles, robots, miscellaneous items, and consumer goods. Therein, items are presented alphabetically and tagged as to who produced or dreamed them up in the first place. The biologic devices are suitably creepy, but the electronic ones fall far short of developments that have actually taken place over the intervening years since this book was written (of course, you could always say that the Dark Ones happen to be less advanced in this area...). The quality of the other entries is similarly mixed, with excellent alien items and more variable human-produced ones.

Everything is illustrated in line art and has a description explaining what it is and what it does. A bonus is several full-page colour illustrations showing items in use complete with explanatory notes as to what is going on in the scene depicted.

Whilst you could use these items for 'window dressing' to highlight the difference between the real world and the Dark Conspiracy one, they can also be used as plot devices or indeed the inspiration for an entire adventure. Something strange is found, then the party tries to figure out what it is and what it does. Or something has been seen at a distance that triggers an investigation... Some excellent flavour material, well worth a look!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DC1 Darktek
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DC1 New Orleans
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/10/2017 08:21:42

This is a massive adventure set in New Orleans. Like everywhere, the city is in a bad way, but there's worse... a terrible source of evil deep in the heart of the swamp outside New Orleans which is transforming the environment to its own tastes, and taking over people to serve as its minions. Just to make matters worse, those combatting this evil are doing so for their own purposes, purposes that don't include the well-being of the citizens of New Orleans. Enter the party, summoned by a strange missive from a contact who has disappeared by the time they arrive in New Orleans.

After a brief explanation of what's really going on and the actual letter the contact sent, we begin with details of how to get the party to New Orleans in the first place from wherever they are. This then moves on to a quite comprehensive overview of the city itself, which will be useful whenever you want to run a game set there, irrespective of whether or not you run this adventure.

We then get down to business with details of the contact's neighbourhood, his house (in enough detail to facilitate the party searching it) and the information that can be gleaned from the neighbours. As the investigation proceeds, useful locations and people are presented so that the party may interact with them. While the resources are excellent, there is an assumption that the party will conduct their investigation in a certain manner and reach the given conclusions as to where to go next... and apparently all roads lead to a horrifying trip through the sewers.

Unfortunately that smelly romp doesn't yield much in the way of information - although there are a few useful snippets - and the party will have to continue their search elsewhere. Several likely places are presented in detail, and again there are loads of people to meet and information to gather. Eventually they ought to end up at a sprawling mansion from which the 'evil' emanates...

There's a brief note on ending the adventure, which assumes that the party was completely successful, and some thoughts about further adventures. Plenty of scope for those! There's also a large section of Referee Resources to help you run the adventure to best effect.

Overall it's a good adventure with lots going on, a good mix of investigation and more physical action - with scope to vary the balance depending on the group's preferences. The investigative path as outlined rather predicates the party's actions, but provided you have studied the material thoroughly you should be able to accommodate them going off on their own and ensure that they get to see and hear what they need to in order to complete the adventure. It also provides a good grounding in New Orleans which you may choose to use over and over again in other adventures. This should provide good entertainment over several game sessions.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DC1 New Orleans
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DC1 Tampete - GDW 2201
by Kevin O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/10/2017 03:49:56

Like Ian D mentioned, this product is a gem, well worth the money. Brought to you by the two people behind the "Remnants" comic http://www.remnants-comic.com and featuring some art from the same person responsible for the art in the comic, Tampete brings something sorely lacking in the DC, a city setting for your campaign. The only other city setting is New Centennial City from the 2nd Ed. Sin City set of adventure books.

To quote my own post about this book from the Dark Conspiracy the RPG forum, "...the volume of material in this sourcebook really does make it a sourcebook that you would use for long term campaigns. New Dark Minions, Dark Lords, Dark Tek, some new careers (some specifically for Tampete but I think they could be converted easily enough), new proto-dimensions, tables for urban encounters, darkling activity, demongrounds, merchants and more, 101 plot seeds and a glossary. This sourcebook provides lots of material and in my opinion can hold it's own against any of the original sourcebooks."

Artwork is generally of a much better standard than a lot of the art in DC products released in the 1990s, the layout starts with an overview and follows through from a description of the areas making up Tampete to overviews of factions & personalities, Dark adversaries, new proto-dimensions and then an appendix with many of the things I mentioned in the paragraph above. Then to finish the product the authors have included a glossary and a four page index. The book is liberally sprinkled with artwork, headers featuring images reminiscent of the headers from the old Demonground ezine and some centrespread art that would not look out of place on a GM's screen.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DC1 Tampete - GDW 2201
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DC1 Dark Conspiracy, 1st edition rulebook
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/05/2017 08:37:21

This work is made up of two sections: one for Players that covers the setting, character generation and the rules of the game; and one for Referees that delves more deeply into what's really going on in the setting, provides advice on creating adventures and campaigns, introduces some monsters and strage devices to enliven your game. Needless to say this requires great restraint on the part of players to stay out of Referee territory and probably drives those who intend to both play and referee quite demented. Such is the fun of single core rulebooks.

The Players section starts by looking at the setting. It's a very near future Earth where just about everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. Runaway population growth, a global economic collapse, giant corporations wielding more power than democratically-elected governments... but before you look out the window to ask what's different from reality, there's an ancient unspeakable evil stalking the Earth as well, underpinning everything else that's gone wrong. The player-characters are amongst the few that realise that this evil exists and are trying to combat it. After a brief explanation of what a role-playing game is, we move on to character creation.

Characters are described, as usual, by a combination of innate abilities and learned skills. The process can seem a bit complex, as skills are built up through charting the character's life story to date. The advantage of this is that you have a ready-made background to draw upon when playing your character - and to help you through the process a detailed Character Generation Worksheet is provided. Actually, creating characters can become quite entertaining in its own right, as well as a necessary precursor to play - and there are some examples and even fully-generated characters to either use or be inspired by as you create your own character. Most skills come from the career(s) your character pursues in 4-year terms from age 18 to whenever you start playing him (this can be determined by die roll or you can choose). Each career has certain core and optional skills and there is also scope to add other skills as hobbies. Characters in the armed forces can advance in rank, and transfer to the reserves after a period of full-time service. It all makes for realistic, rounded characters... my current character is a US Army officer who likes birdwatching, and a longstanding one in my past was an Olympic judo champion (not that it did him much good when it came to combat!) and another was a professor of psychology.

A system for building a network of contacts is provided along with detailed information on possible careers, and then it's on to the rules for task resolution and, of course, combat. The game mechanic uses d10s and d6s, and skills are rated 0-10, so to succeed in using one you basically roll under or equal to the level of skill that you have. Difficulty levels and the use of Empathy (this game's psychic powers) muddy the issue somewhat, but it's fairly straightforward to get the hang of things and there are ample examples to help. There's also a section on the world as is currently known, the stuff that the player-characters would know about the state of the world that they live in.

Combat, of course, takes a lot of space to explain and covers many different areas from unarmed brawling through the use of melee weapons and firearms, and going right on up to vehicular combat. Damage, disease, other types of injury and healing are also covered. It looks daunting at first, but soon becomes clear with some study and practice. There's even a section on space travel which is mostly based around the Space Shuttle, which was in operation when this book was written. Robots also get their section, somewhat limited in the light of what's around today.

That's it for Players, we now move on to the Referee section. This is packed with good advice for running games in general and Dark Conspiracy in particular. Tbere is a lot more detailed background material explaining what the current state of affairs actually is and how it came to be that way. Perhaps the players will come to understand some of this in time but it's certainly not general knowledge - indeed few if any human beings are privy to all of it. There's plenty of rich flavour to help you convey what the Earth is like wherever it is that the characters have gone. Advice on running campaigns and adventures is filled with atmosphere and how to generate feelings of paranoia as well as more general advice on suiting the plots to the characters (and their players) so that everyone feels involved in the shared story. Notes on sample encounters, grouped depending on where the party is, provide some instant material to throw into an ongoing adventure, and there is advice on generating and playing NPCs, along with some sample ones. A selection of 'beasties' is the stuff of nightmare, most seem to have more eyes and/or tentacles than is natural. Unspeakable alien races follow, then a whole section on DarkTek, inventions by (or at least inspired by) the alien invaders. These tend to mix technology and biological elements in an unnerving manner.

Finally, there is a fully-developed adventure and several adventure ideas to get you off to a flying start. The adventure is called Ravening Wolves and begins when one or more characters has a very disturbing dream... action and investigation follow as the party tracks down why. The story ideas are all based on the sort of stories you might find in supermarket tabloids (or the Fortean Times) and any could lead to some exciting investigation-based adventures. After all, in a game like this, you have to find the enemy before you can defeat them...

Throughout, illustrations are distinctive: somewhere between cartoons and woodcut, suiting the subject matter admirably. There is a large number of useful charts and summaries at the end, plenty of reference material about equipment and more, which should come in handy for ready-reference. This is where you find the equipment details for everything the characters might wish to carry, although you may want to supplement this with real-world catalogues of weapons, camping gear, electronics and so on especially if you want to run your game in our near future rather than the one envisaged some twenty-odd years ago when this book was written.

Overall, this stands the test of time well. It's still a great game, if you want to explore imaginary conspiracies lurking just beneath a world not too different from the one in which you live, reasonably realistic without being over-detailed or ultra-gritty... and great fun to play!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DC1  Dark Conspiracy, 1st edition rulebook
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DC Gear-Up!
by Ian D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/03/2017 11:55:46

Wow! One of the best gear books ever.

If you want gear and equipment for your Dark Conspiracy game then get this.

Great price with some great equipment lists.

Top AAAA++++++++

P.S But this and the Tampete sourcebook and you'll have a blast.

Props to the author , great job Sir!

Lets hope the next DC sourcebook is not far away. I'll buy it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DC Gear-Up!
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DC1 Tampete - GDW 2201
by Ian D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/03/2017 11:49:36
**What a Gem!. So glad I bought it.

**This is definitely what was needed for DC! Best product I've bought on RPG Now. AAAAA++++++ 254 pages of quality which can really revitalise your Dark Conspiracy game!

**A good mixed selection of art which adds to the overall atmosphere ,illustrations are like those found in a good graphic novel. The game tables are cool (there's lots of 'em) from Weather tables to Dirty J's lunch menu , Yum! to gun smuggling tables, Oh Yes.

Information on Tampete is very good , plot hooks. Story bits and hooks adds to the atmosphere. The book is bursting with info to enhance game play. Clearly a labour of love from the authors. Bravo lads!.**

**Let's hope there's more stuff like this to come. I'd def buy it!.

P.S another good product for Dark Conspiracy on Rpg Now is is DC Gear-Up! which as the title says and tons of gear and equipment to your DC games.

**"It's a dark world"



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DC1 Tampete - GDW 2201
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CT- B01-Characters and Combat
by Jason S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/29/2017 21:46:22

Good digital reproduction of a classic. The first hard SF space opera that became the standard by which all future science fictions games would be judged. Intelligent and efficient description only hampered by formatting that shows its age. Good buy.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
CT- B01-Characters and Combat
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CT-X The Encyclopedia of Dagudashaag
by Jae C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/22/2017 12:52:46

The authors and editors are happy for you to download this massive PDF for FREE. No, seriously just put a 0 in the payment and download. Any payments will go to GDW as a thank you for making this source book available not the people who produced it.

Please feel free to download for FREE and if you want to say a thank you to GDW for making this available on Drivethru, make a payment after.

Please drop us a comment or a review and encourage your fellow Traveller players to download as we would like to make so-called 'civilised' Dagudashaag Sector as popular as the 'wild frontier' Spinward Marches.

ENJOY!!!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
CT-X The Encyclopedia of Dagudashaag
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T4 Marc Miller's Traveller
by Paxton K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/20/2017 06:53:02
I was playing D&D when a friend got the two book boxed set of Traveller for Christmas. I still have them. Owned all the "small" books, Mega, TNE and 2300. Even still have my copies of Twilight 2000 and its various incarnations. Absolutely, adored Space 1889. Unfortunately, 1889 occured WAY before the current Steampunk movement... Much like AD&D, Traveller seemed to suffer as they added to its universe; but I loved the suppliments. I remember rolling up Aslan names for the hell of it! Still waiting on the Basic expansion of Rogues... The "updated" versions of Traveller helped. There were other SF games; but I really loved the basic concept of Traveller. It was gritty SF were the super high tech "future" never really materialized was great. It wasn't the Star Wars RPG that I though of when I first watched Firefly!!! I couldn't imagine at the time that Wheaton had not played Traveller. If you have never played Traveller, T4 could be a rough start. The original 3 books summed up everything and was completely playable from characters, planets amd startships. T4 covers characters and worlds pretty well; but is completely sloppy with starships. I don't mean building them. I mean basic information. It does provide a ship generation system. It is poorly explained and even the sample ships lack important details. That all being said, I feel it was worth the price from Drivethru. I am reluctant to pick up any of the T4 supplements; although they may have the missing information. Likewise the equipment section seems minimal and sometimes contradictory. It does provide enough examples that one could calculate up some equipment from the examples given. Combat retained the old school feel with a few simple updates that helped with the original very lethal to sometimes ineffective of the original. (In the original rules, a hit from an SMG did as many dice of damage as a player had during generation. This meant likely death and almost guarnteed incapacitation. I also remember a fight where a player with a Body Pistol battled an unarmed guard. The player finally won after 4 minutes or so of game time because of the depletion of the guards endurance from exhastion and multiple wounds.) I have read some criticism of the skill resolution system. Its not perfect; but it works really well. One complaint was with the use of "half die". I recommend a six sider broke into three sections. Some of the "new" ideas for Traveller is the notion that players could set a "target" age for generation and a much more flexible system for generating skills and attributes. It still doesn't make "super" characters except with the "Traveller Luck"; but does make much more playable ones. Setting wise, they did not try to make one, so a favorite one or original can be used. This can be handy for those who aren't interested in reading vollumes of Imperial history! It can also be cool for someone who wants the old "there is an Imperium, don't worry about it". I would have probably given this a 4 star; but the typos abound and the organization of some parts a little confusing. It is a solid game, especially if you are comfortable with using rules as guidelines and building from there. I also thought of a 2 star; but it works and they didn't break anything... Bottom line, it could be useful if you are playing another set of Traveller rules or if you have never played and want a taste to see if the Traveller universe is for you.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
T4  Marc Miller's Traveller
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CT-A12-Secret of the Ancients
by Philip C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/19/2017 18:40:41

An exact copy of the original material. Good to complete a collection and an interesting adventure completing the Traveller mythology.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
CT-A12-Secret of the Ancients
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Ebook: Fate of the Kinunir
by Philip C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/19/2017 18:37:10

I wanted very much to like this book since I am a huge fan of the original Traveller but all I could think of was "who really wrote this crap". Supposedly the author had over 100 writing credits when he did this but there were so many inconsistancies that I frequently lost track. For example, the first officer is described as a nerdy science type who has never been on a starship before. Later the captain can't tell how old she is because she is a spacer. Later still our nerd disarms a soldier with her combat training removes the magazine and gives him the weapon back and then turns around and laughs at the guard when he tries to shoot her in the back and can't because he doesn't notice there is no magazine in HIS weapon and when he does apparently doesn't have a spare.

The worst sin is that this was supposed to explain what happened to the Kinunir but instead added a lot more that wasn't in the original adventure, left out a few things that were and expects a planet full of rioting people to not talk about the ship that caused the riot when anyone else stopped by.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Ebook: Fate of the Kinunir
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CT-X The Encyclopedia of Dagudashaag
by Jae C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/18/2017 16:29:11

This supplement was provided for free via the travellerrpg website and recieved the following comments when released:

This file is 382 pages of absolute gold for free.

So overwhelmingly good! Latest T5 style world stats and comprehensive library data. So much to explore, and so many directions a Referee could let players take an adventure easily because of its comprehensive nature.

Magnificent!

Go get yourselves a copy and read, if you can not think of at least one adventure from each letter or even each subsector then you should hang your head in shame. People, religions, companies, worlds and lifeforms its all there just waiting to come to life in the Rimward Galactic Province. Go explore, get mugged, make a fortune, lose a fortune, have an adventure or two.

it is indeed a fabulous piece of work - thank you

I downloaded it and am impressed with the amount of detail and the quality of the work.

This is the right way to do a sector book.

A separate FREE Referee's Guide to the Sector - 'For Your Eyes Only' can be downloaded for free from http://wiki.travellerrpg.com/For_your_eyes_only



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
CT-X The Encyclopedia of Dagudashaag
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T5 Traveller5 Core Rules Book (759 pages)
by Andy H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/15/2017 13:21:32

For me, I really want to like and recommend this product. I've been a fan of Traveller since the first small box, as it was the first actual role-playing game I ever purchased. That being said, I realize that I am somewhat biased, but Traveller5 is really hard to recommend to all but the most die-hard Traveller aficionados.

I’ll start with the positive. Traveller5 is greatly updated and expanded compared to previous versions/editions. The basic rules have been adapted to allow for more flexibility for characters or other intelligent beings that deviate from the human norm. This flexibility can cause some confusion, as a previous reviewer noted when sometimes attributes were written “Str C2 End” instead of the just saying “Str Dex End” – this allows for beings without a specific Dex stat to make the specific check. There are even sections on genetics for your character! The expansion also continues with a good system for the quality of items, which manages to apply to everything from a hand tool to a starship drive. Finally you have the notion that a higher tech level civilization can actually make a better power plant or jump drive, for example – no longer does a TL15 civilization necessarily build the same component with the same characteristics as a TL9 civilization. There are also accommodations for prototype and experimental versions available at earlier tech levels. Many tech level tables have been greatly expanded to show systems that are possible well beyond the Imperial norm of TL15. And other Traveller rules of the past that sometimes caused a chuckle (remember Murphy’s Rules in Space Gamer magazine?) have been corrected or modified: you don’t die in character creation any more. Taken all around, there is a lot of good new material here and a lot of positive changes.

But that brings us to the negative. To be fair, much of what is negative is viewed as such because there have been so many positive features added or revised that those which remain as they were, or are missing entirely, seem jarring. But let us firstly address the elephant in the room, and the primary reason is Travller5 is so hard to recommend:

The rules are a mess.

It is more than typos or charts in the wrong places or the like: it is more the overall impact that it has on the reader. There are over 700 pages in the PDF, and yet most sections read as if there was an editor behind the scenes doing their utmost to cut down the word and page count. It means most concepts are, at best, about half-explained. It means that the reader has to go over and over sections, refer to charts, refer to examples (if any are given), to try to figure out what is really being said or what the intent of the rule or system might be. You then add to that obtuse style a number of other problems, such as no references to charts. So it may explain a system on one page, perhaps give you an example, and you’ll know from both the text and the example that you’re missing something . . . which you’ll find on a chart three pages later. Then you’ll flip back at try to figure it out, as it may not be obvious . . . because the example (if you have one) could be wrong. The example may mysteriously make a different roll (is it a typo? Did you miss it on the chart?) or completely miss a whole selection of modifiers that really leaves you wondering (again) what the original intent might be. Here’s an example from the section on “How Jump Works”:

On page 338, it talks about the Astrogation task, and gives the table at the top of the page. So far so good, but part of the task is that the number of dice is modified by Stellar Density . . . which isn’t even explained on that page, it’s much later in a section on generating subsectors and the like. The text below on the page, though, never makes mention of Stellar Density as a modifier at all. Even the example given doesn’t use that modifier. As a reader you know something isn’t right from reading the text: given the example as written, a jump of 6 parsecs is effectively impossible (average roll of 7 dice, including the uncertainty die, is 24.5, meaning that a character would have to have an Int of 12 and Astrogation skill of 13 just to make it half of the time) for a player, and a TL15 computer would fail most of the time too (at TL16 you could get an artificially intelligent computer which would still fail). If you factor in Stellar Density from the chart, that makes it reasonable (reduces it to 4 dice, or an average of 14, which the computer could do most of the time). And then it gets odd: a character who, because of the uncertainty die, is not certain that their roll might be successful, is encouraged to “verify” the task. But to do so takes 24 hours and adds to the difficulty of the task, meaning you’re far less likely to succeed at the verification than you are at the original task. So you take much longer, and have a much higher chance to fail . . . why would you do that?

And what is really not mentioned there either is that the fuel requirements of the old Traveller are unchanged so if you fail an astrogation task, and wind up jumping in to deep space . . . you’re dead. There may be jump-9 technology, but that just means 90% of your ship is taken up for fuel. You can now link jump drives together, too . . .but that doesn’t help you for fuel, so if you link two jump-4 drives together you’d still need 80% of your ship’s tonnage in fuel.

Astute readers then note that, even with stellar density modifiers, the astrogation task for all of those higher order jump drives is effectively impossible (except across rifts or extra galactic distances). How do the rules address that? With an egregious hand wave: “without making any criticism of the Astrogator, most higher order jump Astrogation tasks fail.” A basic, “yeah we can’t explain it to you, but it works exactly the same way as a TL9 jump drive and has the same limitations as jump-1, so you figure it out.” The book is chock full of other advanced technologies that aren’t explained, so it seems really incongruous to say they’re all governed by the same mechanic, except when you get really advanced that mechanic doesn’t work, so you just flit about randomly.

Not all of the rule sections or systems are this bad, nor are they all incomplete to this same degree. But the overall effect is that the reader is forced to go over and over sections, read the whole thing, go back and revisit, and otherwise spend an inordinate amount of time simply deciphering some systems. Some things are fixable with errata it’s true – hey on page 340 where it talks about jump mishaps I don’t think the injury diagnosis / first aid table is supposed to be at the top of the page, you could correct some examples and add modifiers, and so forth. But even if you fixed all of those things there were still be areas that would require quite an investment in time to read and re-read, and still some systems that would be fodder for a 21st century version of “Murphy’s Rules.” If you’ve experience with Traveller, you can get through this, although you did likely expect more from a PDF that costs this much. If you’re not, start with one of the older Traveller versions – they won’t be as complete, or as novel, in some areas, but it will give you a strong foundation in what to expect to perhaps enable you to overcome the later shortcomings of Traveller5.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
T5 Traveller5 Core Rules Book (759 pages)
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