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Traveller Core Rulebook Beta Playtest
by A. P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/05/2015 03:03:19
Second edition represents a marked departure away from the traditional, rules-heavy, refereed, simulationist approach to Sci-Fi gaming toward a mass-market, rules-light, game-mastered Sci-Fi in the Far Future(TM).

Boon and Bane dice work similarly to advantage/disadvantage dice in D&D 5E. What works well in a light setting like 5E is the harbinger of doom in Traveller. Billed as a system to simplify the referee's job, Bane and Boon dice actually limit player options without being much better than the traditional DM based system. For example, where before you could take multiple negative DMs to cut the time required for a task by several steps, you are now limited by the B&B system to one step only, since a player can only be affected by one bane dice at a time. I used that particular system just last week in my own game. Had I been playing this edition, I would've been incinerated by a jumpcusser's laser beam. The life of a famous drive engineer and his crew ended because he was magically prevented from speeding up his rolls by more than one step. Wait, though-- would I have been killed? Let's take a look at space combat!

Space combat is totally, 100% wrecked. Structure has been removed as a stat. As an example of the changes, the normal Free Trader now has a hull rating of 40. Weapon damage is, on the whole, the same as 1E. System hits are now restricted to critical hits exclusively. Where in 1E, you'd get through the hull and the armor, then start hitting systems and structure before actually destroying the ship, when you remove the hull in 2E, the ship is destroyed and beyond, and I quote, "any repair". That's right-- hull points are now health points. 1E's harrowing, highly-lethal, and most of all satisfying damage model has given way to what is essentially ground combat in space with more hit-points. Not only that, but good luck taking it as a prize. At least after a combat in 1E, you could take hull-less ships as heavily-damaged rewards, or for salvage, or something. Now you're just... out of luck? The fact that system hits are now essentially random means that power is more of an annoyance than anything in the combats I've run. While it could have been a welcome addition to the simulation of 1E, it seems like a pointless extra stat in a system that wants to be this light. Several ships cannot actually run their maneuver drives, jump drives, and basic ship systems in combat at the same time, as well. This is before weapons, you understand. I'd fix this, if there were any actually any ship construction mechanics in the core rulebook. Those are stripped out in favor of a multi-book "core collection" philosophy. The ghost of D&D whispers at our airlock again, friends.

Those are the two big complaints I have right now. Not the only ones. The skill mechanics aren't that good. A couple of skills were combined that made sense, but the progression is a little fast, and there's a hard limit on how far you can progress. EDU is now the most important stat bar none if you're playing a freeform game. Armor values on people have gone way up, without a corresponding increase in damage output. Combat in general is far less lethal. I mean really! This is a game where you can die during chargen. Why nerf the lethality? My friends and I have run a couple of sim combats and we're all kind of universally disappointed.

Now, it's not a total loss. I'll pick and choose some mechanics that I like as they are to use in my 1E games, particularly a certain clarification about the amount of mail available at a port, but I'm not going to be transitioning over to 2E as it stands now. 2E is tantalizingly close to being okay, but it's marred by some weird mechanics that can be fixed, and some big flaws that are working as designed and intended, according to the forums. I haven't posted there yet, but I plan to. I feel like a segment of the Traveller playerbase was left out of previous playtests by accident, and the exclusion of the serious side of the community let the book get to this current state. Like I said at the start, this book represents a design philosophy shift, not poor design. These would be good rules for a different game. They're bad rules for Traveller. If you're not on board with the present direction of the game, or willing to really push to try to change it, I wouldn't drop the cash on this.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Traveller Core Rulebook Beta Playtest
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Book 4: Psion
by Dale W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/29/2015 10:43:53
An interesting look at the psionic gifts which provide many versions of them that, until this book, were only available to and the definition of the Zhodani. Well worth the purchase if psionics are something you intend to add to your Traveller Universe.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Book 4: Psion
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Supplement 7: 1,001 Characters
by David B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/15/2015 20:36:31
Well presented book with all sorts of good ideas for NPC's. This one, as a supplement, is not "required" but I believe is a must have for any GM's collection. Even IF you do not use the NPC's as described you can use it for a spring board of ideas.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Supplement 7: 1,001 Characters
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Special Supplement 3: Vehicle Upgrade Manual
by David B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/15/2015 20:34:12
Good addition to the vehicle rules. To me it was somewhat useful others may find it invaluable depending on your campaign style. On the whole i do recommend it to all GM's.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Special Supplement 3: Vehicle Upgrade Manual
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Special Supplement 4: Rescue Ops
by David B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/15/2015 20:31:27
This was an excellent source book for rescue ops. If your characters like to play fire fighters or medics or just gem themselves into that sort of situations this book is for them. I recommend it to GM's for the technical data and equipment listings with in.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Special Supplement 4: Rescue Ops
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Referee's Aid 4: A Guide to Star Systems
by David B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/15/2015 20:29:02
Awful. Has nothing of interest to the gamer it is just one long document about how stars are. This is not a better or improved system generation setup. Do NOT waste your money on it.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Referee's Aid 4: A Guide to Star Systems
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Supplement 10: Merchants and Cruisers
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/10/2015 10:30:20
In the far future, it's reasonable to expect a vast array of ships to be plying the space lanes - just stand beside a busy road and see just how many different vehicles go by! - so this book provides a collection of different ships and ideas for variants to ensure that it's never boring out in the black or at a space port in your Traveller universe.

The Introduction explains how the ships have all been designed using the rules in the core rulebook and in Book 2: High Guard - so they'll be systemically compatible with anything you design or have taken from other books. The rest of the book is divided up into logical groups to make it easier to find what you want just when you need it.

The first section is Small Craft, being anything from fighters and shuttles to specialised ships for boarding actions or even planetary assault. These are followed by sections on Military Craft, Scout Vessels, and Civilian Ships; then more exotic vessels in sections devoted to Aslan, Darrian and Vargr ships. The military craft presented here are the smaller ones like patrol cruisers and support vessels, whilst the scout ones include those used on covert activities as well as more regular Scout missions. Civilian ships in clude not just merchants but passenger liners and even an interstellar casino!

For each ship, you get a short description of its appearance and uses, a full stat-block and a deck plan. These are nice, neat, clear plans - with the added bonus of each one has the legend explaining the symbols beside it. This coupled with most ships covering either one or two pages means that PDF users can print out the relevant pages for ships they want to use without having to refer to the rest of the book. There are occasional sketches of external appearance as well, nice for people who want to know what they can see when they look out of a porthole/use a view screen!

The 'alien' vessels do have a slightly different feel to them: Darrians like personal space, Aslan ships generally have a shrine and so on. The odd typo and some of the deck plans (especially for some reason in the Civilian Ships section) being less than clear about what's where notwithstanding, this is a very useful work for anyone who delights in the variety of ships to be encountered out in the black.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Supplement 10: Merchants and Cruisers
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Book 0: Introduction to Traveller
by Michael J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/09/2015 15:30:06
A surprisingly complete set of the Traveler character rules. Unlike the original edition, where 3 out of five characters died during set up, everybody survives basic training and learning their careers. Except for space ship design and planet building, you have all you need to play the game.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book 0: Introduction to Traveller
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SITREP 2: Aster
by David T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/07/2015 16:10:20
Having purchased Sitrep 1, I bought this for the weapon and equipment 'review' section at the back and am well pleased.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
SITREP 2: Aster
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SITREP 1: Callia
by David T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/07/2015 16:08:36
Whilst I do not consider it expensive it does lack detail of the world. However I did like the bonus detail on
sundry weapons and equipment.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
SITREP 1: Callia
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Special Supplement 3: Vehicle Upgrade Manual
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/04/2015 07:42:53
What with Supplement 5-6: The Vehicle Design Handbook and Special Supplement 1: Biotech Vehicles you might have thought that vehicle design was a done deal... but no, here's some more! This book presents three new types of chassis (the ekranoplan, the rocket plane and the ornithopter) and a wealth of new rules for things like vehicle maintenance and design flaws, not to mention lots of other stuff.

We start off with a section of New Chassis Types. There's a brief description of what an ekranoplan actually is - something like an aircraft but relying on ground effect (I think I need to do more research before I understand this!) - and then a whole bunch of variations and features on the theme for you to choose from. Rocket planes (which are capable of lifting off from a standing start rather than belting down a runway) and ornithopters (which flap like birds) are given similar treatment.

Next is a section on Universal Modifications. These may be applied to any vehicle type when you want that feature or effect, and there's quite a lot of them. Perhaps you want to instal a complete command centre in your vehicle (the sort of facilities you need to coordinate rescues or police/military activity), maybe you want a winch or drone racks... or perhaps you want the entire vehicle to be capable of being air-dropped from something even larger. Just reading through the options gives plenty of ideas. Maybe you need to sweep mines or withstand pressure... or just want a touch of luxury.

Not everything works perfectly, of course, so the next section is Quirks and Flaws. Quirks are flavour - like a nasty smell you cannot trace - while flaws can have an in-game effect resulting from poor design or manufacture of the vehicle. If you forsee a lot of hanger time for your creation (or want to avoid it!) head on over to the next section, Maintenance. This provides rules for keeping vehicles in tip-top condition... and what might happen if you don't!

If you want it big, then the section on Designing Ultra-Heavy Vehicles is for you. The Vehicle Handbook was aimed at smaller vehicles, ones on a more personal scale, rather than really enormous ones... yet sometimes that may be what you need. The suggestion here is to build in sections, using the appropriate rules for making heavy vehicles of the appropriate type, and stick them together. This is followed by a section on Weapons, providing even more options for offenseive armament.

The next section covers Vehicles as Robots and Drones. As I write, driverless cars are just about a technical possibility (they're still working on ethical and legal aspects), so in the far future it is likely that virtually any vehicle can be fitted with a robot brain and made autonomous, or operated by a remote controller as a drone. There's even a possibility of a cyborg vehicle, using a sentient brain as controller - something like Anne McCaffrey's brainships - or an artificial intelligence like Keith Laumer's bolos.

Finally, there's a selection of ready-designed vehicles which demonstrate these rules in action, or which can be used in your game straight off. These just scratch at the surface of course, but they give an indication of what is possible. If you enjoy designing vehicles, you'll want to add this book to your resources... and even if you are not a serious gearhead, it provides lots of ideas about vehicle types and capabilities even if you don't want to go through the complete design process.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Special Supplement 3: Vehicle Upgrade Manual
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Special Supplement 1: Biotech Vehicles
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/03/2015 07:28:14
This short PDF supplement packs a lot in, providing the wherewithall to create 'biotech' vehicles using the standard vehicle design system presented in earlier supplements (originally Supplement 5: Civilian Vehicles and Supplement 6: Military Vehicles, later revised and published as Supplement 5-6: The Vehicle Handbook). As this system concentrated on the end result of your design, rather than the means of accomplishing it, creating compatible living vehicles is not too difficult.

Science-fiction is full of biotech constructs, living creatures which fulfil roles normally occupied by inanimate objects. If you play the 2300AD setting, the Pentapod race uses living starships and vehicles already, or you may want to recreate something you have read about or seen on screen. Used in conjunction with The Vehicle Handbook, you can now do so.

As the vehicle design system is effects-based, most of the work is done using it, and this book highlights the differences due to your design being a biotech one rather than a standard 'rustbucket'. To start with, they are pricey - double the cost of conventional vehicles. You can make most every type of vehicle but its to be noted that they need a 'structure type' as well as the chassis type in the standard design system. Here, you need to decide if the creature is a vertebrate or an invertebrate (i.e. does it have an internal skeleton?). Invertebrate-based vehicles are a little cheaper but they are a bit more vulnerable to damage - a bit odd, ask a cockroach, one of the most durable creatures around and an invertebrate!

Other differences include metabolic type (endothermic or exothermic) and environmental limitations, as well as range and fuel... your biotech vehicle needs to be fed whether or not it's going anywhere! Depending on what they eat, their performance varies - and if your vehicle is a carnivore you will probably have to hunt for it, whilst a photosynthetic vehicle has unlimited range in daylight although it is comparatively slow-moving and may grind to a halt if driven too far at night!

Most biotech vehicles are fairly stupid but some have limited, animal intelligence and can follow simple directions rather than be guided by someone. The supplement also covers defensive capabilities, sensors and even the ability to self-repair when damaged. As for weapons, you can mount normal ones whilst some biotech vehicles have quite novel ones of their own.

Finally, there's a sample biotech vehicle, an airship, to play with. If the idea appeals, however, you'll soon be rooting through novels and films for inspiration - I'm thinking of John Varley's Titan right now, which presented one of Saturn's moons as a construct filled with strange creatures, often filling the roles we'd use machines to fill... It is an interesting concept, and one which will allow you to create some truly alien vehicles, the sort of thing that reminds players that their characters are in an alternate reality.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Special Supplement 1: Biotech Vehicles
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Supplement 14: Space Stations
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/31/2015 08:09:42
As soon as a civilisation ventures forth from its original planet, it's going to start building space stations - even we here on Earth have, despite not having developed interplanetary travel yet! In the starfaring community of the far future envisioned by Traveller, it's likely that most inhabited systems will have space stations as well as settlements planetside. Indeed, they may be the main habitations in some systems, for example when the main world is resource-rich but not suitable for major long-term colonisation. They are also good places on which to have adventures!

The first chapter, Space Station Design, dives straight in to present a system for creating space stations with the customary wealth of tables and options to enable you to custom-design the space station that you want. Most are built in the orbit that they will occupy once completed, with components being delivered and bolted together in space. There's a checklist to work through, beginning with the essential decision of whether you wish to have artificial gravity or to spin your station to generate gravity within it. Then you need to decide on a configuration and size, and it goes on from there. An important consideration is the orbit in which it will be situated, which will depend on the use to which it will be put - and also determine what facilities need to be provided. It may also be necessary (or at least prudent) to arm the station.

Once these basics have been determined the next chapter, Station Equipment, comes into play. This looks at the various uses to which the station may be put and the equipment that will have to be installed. Perhaps mining operations are conducted from the station, or - especially if the station is located in an asteroid belt - ore is brought there to be refined. There are likely to be facilities such as shops and entertainment for visitors and residents, docking facilities for visiting ships and maybe even a dockyard for ship repair or construction. Communications and sensor gear will be required and so on.

Now that the station has been constructed and equipped, turn to the Combat and Operations chapter to find out how to run (and defend) your brand-new station. This provides the details you need if there's a combat involving the station itself - generally defensive actions as they are fairly easy to hit but unlikely to mount attacks. In terms of more peaceful operations, space stations work pretty much like starports and you may wish to refer to Supplement 13: Starport Encounters as well as the material here. Due to size limitations, ships wishing to dock may be limited as to how long they can stay or may even have to hang around waiting for a berth to become available.

The next chapter, Space Station Generation, provides tables to aid in determining what stations are present in a given system and what they are doing there. Amred with that information you can then loop back to the first chapter and design those for which you need that level of detail - after all, if your party is not interested in asteroid mining, just knowing that there is a refinery station in the asteroid belt is sufficient, but if their business (or your plot) takes them there, you will need a lot more information about it. This chapter also provides plenty of inspiration about what sort of space stations there may be in a system - from naval bases to commercial operations, Imperial consultates, scout bases, pirate havens and much, much more. I once played in a campaign where an entire sub-sector was embroiled in a war and the party - rather than working for one side or the other as the Referee had intended - set up a 'neutral zone' entertainment facility space station where members of either faction were welcome as long as they left their dispute outside!

Next up, for the budding traders, there's a chapter Maintaining Trade, which actually goes well beyond actual trading to look at the economics of running a space station. It's quite fascinating, and easy to imagine a campaign based around keeping a station operational - cutting deals, dealing with problems and so on. This is followed by a chapter called Docks and Yards which goes into detail about the operation and economics of docking and shipyard facilities. If you run a construction yard, there are two options: build ships to contract or build speculatively and hope someone will purchase them. There's plenty of detail here to facilitate either kind of shipbuilding.

This is followed by Agave, a chapter detailing a complete system in which planets are at best harsh and mostly incapable of supporting life, so most inhabitants live on space stations instead. There's a history and description of the system, notes on military and other significant groups, places of interest to visit - and several Patron Encounters that could lead to a series of adventures here. This chapter ends with notes on several other possibilities if you want a station-rich system... these are just ideas and you'll have to flesh them out for yourself.

Finally, Space Stations is a chapter of ready-made stations that you can drop into your game wherever the need arises. There are descriptions, plans, illustrations and full statistics for an antique station, a research station, a manufacturing station, a trading station, a mining station, a construction station, a fleet station, a defence station, an interdiction station, and an X-boat hub station. The plans are somewhat uninformative and sketchy and the illustrations also leave something to be desired - with each station getting two or three virtually identical ones supposedly showing it from different angles.

The usefulness of this will depend on what's important in your game. In many games, even if you visit a space station there is no need for this level of detail, the Referee can just describe the areas as needed. If you want to base your game on a station though, this material will come in very handy! And, like every system in Traveller, there's the potential for using the design system on its own as a form of 'gearheading'.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Supplement 14: Space Stations
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Supplement 12: Dynasty
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/30/2015 08:44:06
This supplement offers up a whole new way of playing Traveller, as well as ways in which to enrich your Traveller universe with a deeper complex history than ever before. To start with, the Introduction provides an overview of the scope of the book and presents a wider definition of a 'dynasty' than the typical concept of a succession of rulers from a single family - here it can refer to any group which gains and retains power from generation to generation, it could be a corporation or an association of like-minded individuals.

The first chapter is Creating the Core Dynasty. This can be done by one of three methods: rolling lots of dice, a point-buy system or by building it around your own group of powerful player-characters. Each dynasty will have rankings in certain characteristics which define what it is and how it behaves, ranging from how cleverly it behaves through how greedy it is and including things like is it militaristic and how popular it is, as well as how much attention it pays to its own history and traditions. If you are going to roll them randomly, each one has a value generated on 2d6. Point-buy makes high values extremely costly. Although it's suggested that the point-buy version is suited to Referees who want to keep a tight control on things, there's no real indication as to how, and a flat 100 points is given as how much you have to play with without any pointers as to how to vary that depending on the outcomes you wish to achieve.

Once you have those basic characteristics, you then need to sort out how that dynasty came to be, choosing things like a power base (the starting point - a noble family may choose an estate as their origin, a corporation may have a headquarters and so on...) and an archtype which determines something about the nature of the dynasty - a religious faith operates somewhat differently from a conglomerate or a military syndicate... or of course you can be traditional and establish a ruling family. You also need to decide (or roll) on how the dynasty is run - a single leader, or some kind of management team, with various options for both. Each choice confers certain bonuses and restraints on the fledgling dynasty. The chapter ends with brief notes on how to adapt the process for when your party of player-characters decides to establish its own dynasty.

The next chapter, Background and Historic Events, enables you to detail how the fledgling dynasty rose to prominence. This covers the first 100 years or so of its existance (but is skipped in the case of player-characters creating their own dynasty, their adventures to this point substitute for 'historic events'). Depending on the sort of dynasty it is, there are tables to roll on to determine what happened, as well as a general table of events that can happen irrespective of the nature of the dynasty being created.

This is followed by Through the Generations, a chapter that talks about what happens to the dynasty's resources and assets as time passes, enabling you to create a rich history of its rise and fall over a considerable period of time. There are optional 'goals' for the dynasty to aim for, quite grandiose and hard to obtain but conferring significant advantage if you manage to achieve them... but penalties are incurred if you fail. There are also threats and obstacles that beset any dynasty to contend with, and decade events that happen like it or not... sometimes a dynasty will fade or even fail completely and vanish from all but the most obscure histories, others will be strengthened or will even grow and flourish on the galactic stage.

The next chapter, Pawns, Schemes and Gambits, continues this theme. This contains a variety of tests and mini-games that model a single dynasty's growth and development as it seeks to influence the galaxy around it. Unlike character actions which are quick, these can take months or years to resolve. It can get quite complex but repays careful study if you want to get the most out of it.

Up until now, we've been discussing a single dynasty pretty much in isolation, but the next chapter - called When Dynasties Clash - goes some way to redress this, with some more mini-games that deal with dynastic interactions. This chapter in particular provides scope for a whole new way of playing Traveller - each player creating and running their own dynasty rather than a single character. It could also provide a meta-game background against which a more traditional campaign involving a party of characters - perhaps in the employ of one of the dynasties involved - is played out. Again it is quite involved mechanically, but the potential is here for some quite epic interactions - hostile takeovers to all-out war and quite a few 'dirty tricks' along the way. Some actions can be resolved quite quickly, others will take months or years before the outcome is known.

Next is Heroes and Villains... for these are not faceless organisations but ones headed by individuals. Whose name rings through the ages as a typical leader of a dynasty, an outstanding paragon who exemplefies its core character or an out-and-out rogue who flew in the face of all its values? In essence this is a specialised variant on character creation, to enable you to generate these notable figures - and perhaps even play them as a critical moment in dynastic history is played out. Special dynastic life event tables are provided, and the character may also use the appropriate ones for the career(s) that he has chosen to pursue. Perhaps these characters could be scions of different dynasties thrown together by some quirk of fate or design... or they might hail from the same dynasty and be in competition to become its next leader. Plenty of potential here for novel campaigns and adventures!

The final chapter, Roleplaying Traveller: Dynasty, looks at a whole raft of ideas about how you can incorporate the material in this book into your game. It includes ideas for adventures, and a collection of ready-made dynasties which serve as good examples or which can pop up as rivals, allies or enemies to your own or player-generated dynasties.

This can be classed as a game-changer: it widens the whole scope of Traveller from the individual character to larger groups which can occupy centre stage or mutter along in the background as you choose. There is plenty of potential here to add an epic dimension to your game... and like most things Traveller, much of it can occupy spare time when you are not actually role-playing if you fancy creating dynasties and using the rules to model their growth, conflict and eventual decline (or triumph) by yourself!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Supplement 12: Dynasty
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Supplement 11: Animal Encounters
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/28/2015 07:38:57
This book takes a look at a long-neglected aspect of Traveller which is, after all, a space exploration game: the creatures that you may encounter on other worlds. If you take the premise that life has developed on multiple planets (which given the sheer number of 'habitable' ones is pretty obvious), that life is not going to be identical wherever you go. Indeed, having exotic (to our eyes) lifeforms is part of the 'otherness' of visiting different planets during the course of your game - and if so inclined you can weave them into your plotline, anything from specimen-collecting or hunting trips to being attacked by some savage beast you didn't even know existed.

When not playing engineers or the ship's chef, I quite often play a 'xenobiologist' whose very reason for being out in the black is to study the flora and fauna on the worlds he visits. If your game is one about exploration or colonisation, you are going to need to know about the creatures on the planets you investigate. Even if your game involves trade, or war, or going for a holiday, it may become important. Robert Heinlein, in his book Tunnel in the Sky gives a wonderful example when a survival instructor says "Beware of the stobor". His students spend ages looking for a stobor before they realise that it's not an actual creature but the concept of an unknown animal that might well be dangerous that they are being warned about!

The introduction begins with a discussion of what an 'animal' is and how animals behave... they are not cute, furry, people! Animals react to circumstances, they are not sentient, and respond to scary situations with a flight or fight response rather than a reasoned one. As general points of animal psychology are discussed, ways in which to make use of them within your game are suggested in a neat and useful manner.

Next comes A Walk on the Wild Side, a chapter which provides a comprehensive animal creation system. Based on a series of tables in typical Traveller fashion, it is designed to enable you to create believeable alien animals with little effort, complete with all that you need to use them in play. Animals evolve to fill particular niches, so you need to decide early on in the process what sort of terrain your creature will be found in - this may, of course, be dictated by other aspects of the adventure you are planning. The creature will fall into one of several classifications (avian, reptile, insect, mammal, and so on), and will have appropriate modes of locomotion and behaviours to go along with it. Like many such systems, you can have hours of innocent fun just rolling up animals even if you have no specific use for them right now. Whilst this book is about animals, you do have the option of 'fungals' - now most people lump fungi in with plants rather than animals, but there is certainly biological evidence to view them as a third kingdom, and here they might be able to move around. You can use the same section if you want a few self-mobile plants... why not, this is alien biology we're talking about, after all!

Now, there are lots of interesting things you can do with the animals you create, but this being a role-playing game combat is never far away, so the next chapter is When Animals Attack. It provides numerous tables to allow you to set up animal encounters based on terrain type. Of course, these encounters do not need to involve conflict if that's not what you want. Wherever you plot takes the game, there will be some options for random encounters - or you may choose to set them up in advance as part of your story. This section is also replete with little snippets of ideas and events that add more life to the proceedings - interactions, events and so on, all helping you to create the air of 'otherness' that reminds the players that their characters are not in their home town any more. This is, due to the multitude of options, the largest part of the book.

Finally, The Galactic Menagerie provides an array of ready-designed critters for you to let loose, or at least to serve as examples for your own designs. There are also some charts to allow you to modify creatures depending on the environment in which they are to be found - so you can have a tropic rain forest or open plains version of a given animal, similar enough that the relationship can be discerned but different enough to be distinct... and of course, fitting in with wherever it is that they live.

Overall, this provides a good and comprehensive if mechanistic way to come up with animals to be found on all those worlds that are out there for your Travellers to explore. A few examples of how to take a creature from fiction and slot it in to the system, so that you can generate the essential statistics to use it in your game, would have been a useful addition... and I do wonder what they all taste like and how you cook them!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Supplement 11: Animal Encounters
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