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Reach Adventure 2: Theories of Everything
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/17/2018 09:52:58

This adventure starts at Marduk (where the first adventure of this series took place) and involves a lot of time spent in Jump as the party travels to the Borite system. Although shipboard skills are useful there's plenty for everyone to do aboard the laboratory ship Insight III. If you did play Marooned at Marduk, this could be something the party does to pass time/earn some credits whilst their newly-acquired ship gets a well-needed refit. If you haven't, there's a suggestion for a compelling reason why the party might abandon their existing ship and take up this opportunity, or if they don't have a ship this presents an interesting job opportunity with good pay.

The Referee's Information provides background about the Sindal subsector, Marduk and Borite. Most of this can be discovered by the party if they trouble to do any research in the library data or talk to the right people, it's up to you how much you want to share. We then find out about the Insight III, which is built as a ring and is incapable of making landing on a planet - they have their own pinnace for that purpose. The reason for the ring structure is to generate some gravity when they are running an experiment that might be affected by the usual artificial gravity generation methods. It is Jump-capable however. Crew requirements are at least one pilot, a navigator, a medic and two engineers, but there's some wiggle-room in precisely what you have - in many such ships one of the scientists is capable of filling the role of medic, for example. A full specification and deck plans are provided.

The Insight III is joint-owned by the scientists aboard, many think that's the only reason that they've stayed together this long. Certainly, the ship is disorganised and its residents a quarrelsome bunch. There are four scientists, an engineer (who also cooks) and a pilot (who owns the pinnace) aboard when the party encounters them. Full details of each individual are provided, and just reading through them is entertaining - a diverse bunch! Between them they can just about manage to operate their ship, but only at the expense of pulling people away from their studies. Treat this as a 'flying ivory tower' and you get the picture.

The adventure begins when the party encounter one of the scientists - who has written a popular book about Jump which they may even have read - and offers to buy lunch if they will listen to a proposition. Basically, he'd like them to join the Insight III for a few weeks as they travel the area conducting their experiments. In return for helping out around ship, they'll get board and lodging, pocket money, and passage back to Marduk (if wanted) as well as either a cash sum or purchase of the spares they need if they need to have their ship repaired. Assuming they accept, they'll be taken up to the research ship to meet the others and learn more about the mission - they've been hired to do some surveying in the local area beginning with studies here on Marduk - ocean life and geology - then they intend to go to Borite to do more geology and explore some ruins, thence to Noricum for more geology and archaeology, and ending at Thebus. The eclectic nature of the studies reflects the diverse interests of the scientists.

There will be several weeks of Jump travel, in which the main interest will be the dynamics between the scientists who are a quarrelsome lot at times - it makes for interesting role-playing especially for the Referee! For each location visited, there are ideas for how the investigations might pan out with plenty of opportunity for the party to get involved in the action... and of course there is something else thrown in which disrupts the entire schedule and makes this in to a proper adventure for anyone, not just those who enjoy pottering around exploring ruins and taking samples. This involves a tricky rescue of a badly-damaged spacecraft... with, of course, added complications. Real edge-of-the-seat stuff!

Possible outcomes and consequences are laid out clearly, but there's potential for several tense scenes along the way and it's possible to end this in a bloodbath if things don't work out amicably. A sneaky adventure that turns out as a moderately peaceful interlude and ends with a nail-biting scramble to survive! There's also potential - if you like more unusual styles of adventure - of continuing with the laboratory ship or even of using the scientists (or your own ones) as player-characters.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Reach Adventure 2: Theories of Everything
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Reach Adventure 1: Marooned on Marduk
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/15/2018 08:11:10

This adventure is set on a planet called Marduk which is in the Sindal Sector referenced in the Mongoose Traveller II Core Rulebook. It's a bit of a backwater on a major trade route, the sort of place you pass through rather than go to. It has a Highport in orbit, and the action takes place when the party take a shuttle to the Downport... the reason why they do this is left open, although one suggestion is given, which could lead to further adventures.

There's a fair bit of Referee information, much of which may be shared as seen fit - if people consult library files or ask around a bit, most likely. It should help you make the place come alive a bit. Remember, Marduk is not within the Imperium, so the party may find that they are a bit outside of their comfort zone, although it's close enough that much will be familiar. There isn't very much here beyond the confines of the Downport's Star Town, apparently the indigenous people on the populated islands are not very friendly and the main continents are mostly inhabited by Downport folk who farm fresh produce for the starport.

The adventure proper begins when the party takes the shuttle to the Downport, although if they and you want they can explore the delights of the Highport first. A few other people are also taking the trip. It's not allowed to take your own transport to the surface, so dissuade anyone who suggests that. Enough of a 'big stick' is provided in notes on how to deal with errant transports that only the most foolhardy parties will try it... and even if they do, there's scope to weave this adventure in anyway. Neat! The trip ought to take the better part of three hours.

Unfortunately, the next system along (Oghma) is home to a fairly low-tech bunch of raiders who are just about Jump-capable, and today is the day they've embarked on their most daring raid yet, an attack on the Highport. The shuttle the party is on gets caught up in this, getting damaged sufficiently that it crashes. What was a jaunt planetside turns rapidly into a survival exercise...

The opposition may include raiders following up on the downed shuttle, the weather, and the local wildlife. There are also some locals - the native types who do not like contact with outsiders. It may descend into a brawl very quickly (which the party is likely to loose) or saner heads may prevail with running away or trying to communicate as better tactics. Hopefully the adventure ends when a rescue shuttle turns up, although it may be a mad dash across country to get to it.

That's it. A quite short adventure, but one in which the party have free reign to do what they please - remebering of course that every action has its consequences, never more so than here. Everything is well-developed and atmospheric, however, and could provide a nice side-adventure. Hopefully the party will not be marooned for too long!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Reach Adventure 1: Marooned on Marduk
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Marches Adventure 1: High and Dry
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/14/2018 10:49:08

Many groups of Travellers want - if not outright need - a starship. This adventure, which would make a good campaign starter, provides the opportunity to not only give them one, but give them a good adventure as they acquire it. Interestingly, it's possible to complete the adventure without any combat - there's plenty of action to keep them busy, it just doesn't have to involve a brawl. That said, there are plenty of opportunities in which a fight could break out if the group so chooses...

It all begins with the offer of a ship. So it does help if the party has the necessary skills to pilot one, plot a course, and run the engines. Other than that, the party may include any backgrounds or skillsets. If one is a former Scout and has rolled a ship as a mustering out benefit, that's peachy, just tell him to report to the local Scout Officer to arrange for it. Otherwise one of the party's contacts has arranged for them to have one but they will have to fetch it for themselves - or if another party member has ownership or shares in a ship, use that ship instead only, again, for some reason it's elsewhere and has to be fetched.

The intention is that the adventure begins on Flammarion in the Bowman Arm, in District 268 of the Spinward Main. It's an interesting enough region to knock around in, and frequent reference is made to a campaign called Project Steel which is quite hard to find - there are copies on Amazon, although I don't believe it ever was released in PDF - seeing as it was released by ComStar Games/Avenger before Mongoose Publishing acquired the Traveller licence and others who had licences at the time lost them. Hopefully it will be reissued one day as it would make a good follow-on to this adventure. But I digress...

There is some background about the Bowman Arm and the various places to visit therein, especially a planet called Walston which is where the Scoutship IISS S001642-C, known as the Highndry is to be found, along with an explanation of why it's there. The explanation given to the party is that it suffered a major breakdown of its electronics on Walston and needs to be patched up and brought back to Flammarion for repair. In return, their expenses will be covered and once it is fixed they will receive the ship on a standard IISS 'detached-duty' contract. The notes cover the trip - it's not merely a question of making a couple of Jumps, good atmosphere building and reality here, also it gives a new group time to get to know each other - and finally the arrival on Walston.

Of course, this is where the fun starts. The ship is not at the starport on Walston. The party has got to find it before they can make an attempt at fixing it. Fortunately, there's plenty of information to find out by asking around in the local Star Town and beyond... they will even be offered assistance in retrieving their ship if they'd be kind enough to undertake the task its previous crew had contracted to do.

It all makes for a fascinating adventure, and an excellent start to a campaign. The level of detail at every stage is considerable and creates an excellent air of reality, a sense that there are lots of things going on that have nothing to do with the party and which would be taking place even if they weren't there. It's all part of creating a living alternate reality in which you and your group can immerse yourselves every time you play.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Marches Adventure 1: High and Dry
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Traveller Referee's Screen
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/13/2018 12:15:58

The usual: pretty picture for the players and all manner of useful charts on the referee's side.

Despite the picture of a starship bridge that's rather reminiscent of the Space Shuttle's controls on the cover, the pictures your players get to gaze at are a circular galaxy viewed almost edge-on, a spiral galaxy viewed from above, someone engaged in an EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity or spacewalk), and an interstellar dust cloud. The astronomical features are delightful images, the sort you get from the Hubble telescope. The fellow on EVA appears to be a contemporary astronaut judging by his space suit, but it's a nice picture nevertheless.

Meanwhile the Referee can refer to a range of useful tables (although do you really want him looking up radiation damage?) - timeframes, encounter ranges, healing, weapon traits, vehicular actions, turn sequence and the like. It should save a lot of looking-up in the heat of battle.

Useful, as well as a place to hide your notes and your secret die-rolls, but nothing remarkable. If you Referee regularly, it's worth picking up.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Traveller Referee's Screen
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High Guard: Deployment Shuttle
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/12/2018 07:40:53

This short work not only introduces and specifies a useful (if specialised) space vehicle, the deployment shuttle, but also explores some of the uses to which it might be put in times of peace and of war. Several variants of the standard build are discussed, and the operations of Marine Assault Forces, which often use them, examined. Quite a lot packed in... and there's more! Several ideas for their use in your campaign, whether the party is riding in one or it is advancing on their vessel, are also included.

The deployment shuttle is optimised to get people where they need to be, on the ground or in space. As such it is very fast-moving, and capable of operating in atmosphere as well as in vacuum. It requires a crew of two, as well as whoever is being transported (up to 36 individuals), and can operate for up to four weeks although as there are only basic facilties aboard this is not recommended. Most missions are but hours long. There's a detailed description, full statistics, and a plan of the standard craft.

Next comes a discussion of typical operations carried out using a deployment shuttle. Whilst it can be used for standard personnel transfer on orbit or from ground to space, its main function is to deliver troops in combat situations. This can be an opposed landing groundside or a boarding action in space. They are also popular for spaceside activities such as customs or other inspections of ships arriving in system - they can force entry if it is not granted, and can cope with such as environmental contamination. Various tactics are discussed in considerable detail for the ground landing options, useful if you are planning mercenary operations or indeed if the party serves in regular military forces.

The following chapter discusses Marine Assault Forces. A deployment shuttle is large enough to contain a standard Marine platoon (35 people), plus an additional specialist or other individual felt necessary for the operation at hand. Standard armament and operating protocols for the Marines are covered - including plenty about that iconic weapon, the cutlass - and then we move on to the next chapter which covers Boarding Actions and Inspections, the other in-space role of a deployment shuttle.

Next comes some common variants of the standard deployment shuttle with notes on their uses. These include medical variants, reconnaissance, fighter control and space rescue craft (these last being illustrated painted in colours corresponding to vehicles used on the TV show Thunderbirds!). They can also be used for holding or transporting (or even executing) prisoners, surveying and patrol work.

Finally, there are some missions. One involves a hazardous survey job, another sends the party to investigate why a colony has gone 'dark', and the third is a 'decapitation strike' - a raid that takes out the enemy leadership directly. All will need work before you can run them, but plenty of interesting background is provided.

This is a useful vessel to have in your universe, one that the party is likely to encounter at some time even if they never ride in one.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
High Guard: Deployment Shuttle
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Central Supply Catalogue
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/11/2018 08:44:02

OK, so what can be said about just another equipment guide? The Introduction begins by explaining that it contains an updated collection of items from earlier editions of Traveller as well as new ones, it is not designed solely for use with the Third Imperium setting and indeed has things that don't exist there, and that there are rules for item use, availability and even permits as well as the things themselves. However, with all that said, it's still a shopaholic's dream of everything the well-equipped Traveller might want or need - or wish he had picked up - during his travels.

After a full-page advert for an equipment store, Chapter 1: Equipment Availability looks at various ways in which the Referee can control how easy (or difficult) it is to get your hands on any item desired. Law Level is the obvious one, if an item isn't legal it will at best be very hard to find and involve dealing with other than conventional retail outlets. However, even if an item's legal that doesn't mean to say every store stocks it, or even if they do carry it, do they have any right now when our Traveller wanders in looking for it. There's a system for determining whether or not that item is there, better than just having the Referee make it up (not that there's no reason why the Referee shouldn't make it up, it's his game after all). Availability can be modified when the item is illegal, with the party having to access the black market which may or may not have what they are after. There are various categories of item modelling how, just as in the real world, some items are only available (legally at any rate) to individuals with certain jobs or qualifications. Then follows a basic system for handling black market deals that go wrong, as in, the authorities notice what's going on - this begins with investigation and goes right through to penalties handed down.

Next come more rules in Chapter 2: New Rules. This introduces a few new weapon traits and explains what they mean. Just a single page, then we are on to "The Travellers' Aid Society Central Supply Collection". This is semi-in-character, although rules bits do intrude a little... and it's replete with loads of illustrations. The first part is devoted to Personal Protection - body armour, of course, in a wide range of styles including historical stuff and exotics designed to protect against fire and energy weapons and even one that protects the wearer against psionics. Naturally this includes both powered and unpowered suits, and a wide range of vacc suits. You can also get an electronics suite to add to the suit of your choice, other modifications and additions are also available... and that's before you get to battle dress.

The next chapter is Survival Gear, which starts with parachutes and continues through atmospheric protection, cold- and hot-weather gear, underwater kit and the like - all these include both clothing and other equipment you need to survive and function in a range of extreme environments. Go mountaineering, venture into vacuum, or just make use of a range of survival items including a 'fusion stile' (did they mean 'still'?) that produces potable water and an almost-edible gloop out of whatever organic material and liquids you load in. This section ends with wilderness housing, from tents to full-blown bases.

Next up, Electronics. This begins with vision and detection devices, then looks at communications, and a collection of gadgets and essentials. If you didn't think a laser-emitting ring was a vital piece of equipment before you read this, it might just change your mind! Computers get an entire chapter to themselves, which includes both hardware and software.

A chapter on Robots follows. There are rules for using them covering everything from how much damage they can take to programming them, and a variety of useful ones are presented. Do you want a protocol droid? Or a robotic assassin? Or even a sanitation droid to keep your living spaces clean and tidy? It will even wash your clothes for you! If you'd rather do your own work, head on to the next chapter of Tools, full of general hardware, toolkits and even welding torches.

Another essential in the next chapter, Medical Supplies. This looks at medical equipment and drugs and pharmaceuticals - some have, er, non-medical uses. Staying on a kind of medical theme, the next chapter is about Personal Augmentation. This allows for cybernetic or biotech upgrades (or replacements for lost body parts) to all parts of the body - but the treatments can be painful, and medics can get confused if they do not understand how a patient is augmented.

A chapter on Home Comforts (which include such interesting items as an alien cosplay kit and fully-animated miniature wargames) is followed by the large final section many Travellers will have been waiting for: Weapons! Starting with Close and Personal, there are sections on hand-held melee weapons, blade weapons (if you want a lightsaber, go for the arc-field weapon), other melee weapons, and shields. The next chaper is Self-Defence and looks at handguns, slugthrowing rifles, energy pistols and rifles, grenades, and archaic weapons. Then there's a whole chapter devoted to Heavy Weapons of all sorts: man-portable, crew-served, vehicle-mounted, and rockets and missiles.

The last weapon chapter is titled For the Discerning Weapons Specialist and contains all manner of exotic items that don't fit in the preceeding categories. Bolas and boomerangs to backpack nukes. Then we move on to Ammunition and finally Sighting Aids and Accessorties - some interesting odds and ends here.

This makes for a very comprehenive selection of items that the party might need, especially when equipping for exploration or military expeditions. Keep track of spending, it's easy to rack up a hefty bill... and it can be embarassing when your spaceship gets repossessed because you haven't paid your debts!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Central Supply Catalogue
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The Great Rift
by Jeremiah E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/31/2017 16:10:58

I backed the Kickstarter. This is my first Kickstarter from Mongoose and I am impressed with the quality and quantity of material in this product. If you are a Traveller fan, I highly recommend this product.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Great Rift
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The Great Rift
by Alex G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/29/2017 12:06:08

This Mongoose Traveller pack is huge, and its topic is stellar rifts - the vast, empty spaces between spurs of the Galaxy, and between regions of the galaxy where the stars are more densely populated. In particular, one rift stands out - The Great Rift, that region of empty space light years across, after which the book is named, and which is the topic of most of this pack.

This is the pack for explorers and Travellers crossing, among others, the vast expanse that is The Great Rift.

So, then, what does this ambitious Traveller pack contain?

There are, at least in the PDF bundle currently available, ten PDFs. The first four are listed Books - Book 1 - The Great Rift; Book 2 - Reft; Book 3 - Touchstone / Afawahisa (a sector book for those two sectors); and Book 4 - DSE Handbook.

The rest are maps and Sector Maps - one of a solar system called the Phobetor System, found in Touchstone Sector; and Sector Maps of Afawahisa, Corridor, Reft, the Riftspan Reaches and finally Touchstone.

Book 1 introduces the concept of Rifts, and details the expeditions which traversed them, the explorations which have been conducted, the weird phenomena that occur in Rifts such as Shoals, Reefs, Deeps and one horror story about a unique Jumpspace phenomenon called The Fischer Trench, which could give experienced players nightmares.

The people who cross the Rifts are detailed, and they include native species who have never been found outside the Great Rift, and a rare gigantic spaceborn alien species which has made Riftspace its home. Basically, think of Gormundganders from Star Trek: Discovery.

The rest of Book 1 is a detailed, canon look at Corridor and The Riftspan Reaches Sectors. The subsector maps include locations of the anomalies listed in "Features of The Great Rift," and both sides of the Rift are explored in detail, so expect a lot of Aslan worlds and subsector names to feature heavily. The Corridor and Riftspan Reaches PDF Sector Maps, of course, are directly linked to Book One.

Books Two and Three cover, respectively, Reft, Touchstone and Afawahisa. The map on p. 3 of Book 1 shows these Sectors' positions in the Great Rift relative to one another and to such familiar Sectors as The Spinward Marches, The Trojan Reach, The Beyond and Foreven Sectors.

As with Book One, these books have detailed Sector Maps tying in to each; Reft with Book Two, and Touchstone and Afawahisa with Book Three. Each sector's history is listed, followed by detailed subsector-by-subsector descriptions. Reft has the Islands, and an unfolding tragedy of cultural contamination; Touchstone has the Imperium, the Aslan, the occasional Zhodani expedition, Droyne, Darrians, Vargr, plus native species, disturbing ancient relics and a number of very old secrets, plus the Phobetor star system which has its own separate map; and Afawahisa is similar, but with more Aslan influences, more and different mysteries to solve, and some truly, terrifyingly empty subsectors which would be death traps for a starship that Misjumps into them.

Did I mention the colour? Each map and illustration is in colour. The planet illustrations are stunning.

Book Four, DSE Handbook, is worth the price of the whole bundle alone. Ever since the first edition Mongoose Publishing edition of Book 3: Scout came out, Traveller fans have been crying out for a detailed Star System Creation book.

Book Four, DSE Handbook, is that book.

DSE stands for Deep Space Exploration, and that is the theme of this book. DSE Handbook covers the processes involved in exploring strange new worlds, from conducting the initial surveys of the targeted hex down to the first tentative footsteps on a planet's surface. Book Four covers exploration itself, followed by a detailed look at phenomena such as black holes, neutron stars, novas, supernovas, nebulae, anomalies, rogue objects and so on.

The next section is Expanded Star System Creation, going into the level of detail that Traveller players and Referees have been lusting after since Book 3: Scout.

Book Four rounds off with lists of new sorts of High Guard technology which give naval architects even more options than before, for ships designed for the deepest kind of deep space exploration.

Speaking of new ships, new spacegoing vessels and starships feature in the four books, including Jump-6 ships. Further, there are also stats for vehicles, animals and alien sophont species.

To summarise, calling this book "lavish" would be an understatement. It is a sumptuously detailed sourcebook for the Great Rift and other Rifts, filled with strange civilisations, ancient mysteries, wonders to satiate desires both subtle and gross, and horrors to chill one to the bone. If a Referee wishes to run campaigns based on exploration and trading with worlds which are off the map, this is the pack to buy yourself (along with the Core Rulebook, Central Supply Catalogue, Vehicle Handbook and High Guard, naturally).



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vehicle Handbook
by Jens G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/03/2017 14:56:01

Excellent purchase, I need more. Give me like ... steam punk airships and stuff



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vehicle Handbook
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MGP4051 Victory at Sea Counter Sheets
by Robert H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/25/2017 12:56:23

Counters are ok. Not the best quality. Easily downloaded. Cheaper than buying one miniature for the game. Good way to try the rules without spending big bucks.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
MGP4051 Victory at Sea Counter Sheets
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Flashbacks
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/06/2017 19:19:12

Paranoia's wild and crazy, and not every adventure's gonna be everyone, but it's a lot of fun as a con game or a one shot break between longer campaigns. Doing so avoids the fatigue that comes from attempting to run a serious, long term adventure with it, while maximizing the silly stress relief.

I highly suggest running 'em with the various handout packs that have been created for it over the years. Asking players to fill out customer satisfaction surveys for their deaths never gets old!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Flashbacks
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Paranoia Forms Pack
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/16/2017 05:44:47

Paranoia: Forms Pack consists of a pad of 60-some color sheets. The pad is the same size as the Paranoia rulebooks, and fits in the boxed set. Besides the character sheet, the forms consist of, and have five copies of:

  • ALPHA COMPLEX IDENTITY FORM - 1 page, identical to the wipe-off character sheet in the boxed set
  • ACCUSATION OF TREASON / TERMINATION PERMIT REQUEST - 2 pages
  • XP POINT ASYNCHRONOUS CLAIM REQUISITION - 3 pages
  • CEREBRAL CORTECH ISSUE REPORT - 3 pages
  • SECTOR TRAVEL PERMIT - 3 pages

Forms can distract play by diverting attention, but they can greatly enhance the chaos of the game. Rather than handing a player and waiting for him to fill it out, give the sheets out without the intention of them being filled out. Start off by giving only the first page of a form, then call them out when they haven't filled out the other pages. Or give one page per player, and demand a copy of each form per player. Design a subplot (or adventure) where the players find out the previous troubleshooter party was terminated because they didn't have the right form. The players now must scrounge, threaten, or even turn to the black market or Secret Societies for remaining form or pages. Then there's the ol' giving out the wrong form and demanding the correct one, as well as scribbling Secret Society messages or other important information on the back of a form. And, if you can't think of what to do when the Computer icon shows up on the Computer die, give out (or demand) a form.

The PDF contains the same forms as the physical product. The PDF replicates the entire pad, however, meaning that it's sixty-pages plus a cover page long, rather than only having one copy of each form. You might still want the PDF, since you can then print out all the sheets, hand them to the Team Leader, and have him distribute all five copies of each form to all six Troubleshooters. Should be a little surreal when coming to generating characters. Then have the Team Leader berate the troubleshooters for submitting A5-sized forms on letter-sized paper. Then berate the Team Leader for submitting five copies of A5-sized forms on letter-sized paper. And execute him (after he's executed the rest of the troubleshooters for filling out the forms incorrectly, of course).

The character sheet can also be found on the Mongoose website, in the downloads section. This sheet is a form-fillable PDF.

Have a nice daycycle, Citizen.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Paranoia Forms Pack
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Paranoia Interactive Screen
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/14/2017 03:09:40

INTRODUCT-I-ONN: I usually find gamemaster screens a waste of money. One side has reference sheets I rarely use, and the other side has art that nobody cares about.

INSERT TONGUE HERE: Rather cleverly, though, one side of the Paranoia screen is actually a play area where, during the combat phase, players place their cards on various areas of the screen for both a bonus as well as side effect. Play? I meant more like slam since some slots are better than others. This, of course, means quick play, fast thinking, and hilarity ensuing. The spots have cryptic "labels", such as HELP, CONTROL, and the ever-present INSERT TONGUE HERE -- and, if a certain one of the spaces is selected, the spaces have entirely different meanings, though still related to their unhelpful labels. (I'm not sure how well this plays with the screen at its usual vertical standing, so I'll assume you just lay it flat.) A sheet included with the gamemaster screen explains these effects, such as TROUBLESHOOTER IS TERMINATED, START SINGING THE BATTLE HYMN OF ALPHA COMPLEX, and TROUBLESHOOTER GETS INJECTED WITH HAPPY DRUGS. I would have preferred the sheet itself printed on stiffer paper.

ITEMS OF QUESTIONABLE PROVIDENCE: The gamemaster's side, meanwhile, is part obligatory reference sheets, and another part new material.

The reference sections are: /// PART ONE: DETERMINING NODE >>> Add STAT plus SKILL. NODE Difficulty levels. /// PART TWO: ACHIEVEMENT REWARD LEVELS >>> How much XP for what mission level of achievement. /// PART THREE: IMPROVEMENT >>> XP cost to recover or increase moxie, boost stat, boost skill, acquire new specialist skill. /// PART FOUR: INCREASING SECURITY CLEARANCE >>> You're not cleared for that. /// PART FIVE: EQUIPMENT >>> XP cost for various equipment. Equipment obtained at each level of security clearance.

The new material are lists of ideas the gamemaster may find handy. These ideas are categorized into groups. /// PART SIX: CONSPIRATORIAL MOTIVATION >>> SINISTER / COERCED / IDEALOGICAL /// PART SEVEN: ALPHA COMPLEX LOCATIONS >>> DANGEROUS / UNPLEASANT / ABOVE YOUR SECURITY CLEARANCE /// PART EIGHT: ITEMS OF QUESTIONABLE PROVENANCE >>> TREASONOUS / EQUALLY QUESTIONABLE UTILITY / BIZARRE /// PART NINE: ACHIEVEMENTS >>> SOCIAL ENGINEERING / VIGOROUS TROUBLESHOOTING / WHIMSEY OF THE HIGH PROGRAMMERS

Here're some examples of these lists. Which part they belong to is left as an exercise to the reader.

OVERMEDICATED AND HALLUCINATING / HACKED CEREBRAL CORTEX / OLD-SCHOOL BOMB-THROWING COMMIE WARBOT FOUNDRY / LOYALTY CHOIR PRACTICE HALL / STATELY PLEASURE-DOME DATA DISK JUST FULL OF SECRETS / LEFT BOOT. RATTING NOISE SUGGESTS A SECRET COMPARTMENT IN THE HEEL / BRAIN IN A JAR. DEMONSTRATE EXCESSIVE LOYALTY. / TRUST NO ONE! / DO 500 JUMPING JACKS

PDF VS. PHYSICAL PRODUCT: With the PDF, you could make a flat playing surface for the Action cards, and separate reference sheets for the GM, either as a gamemaster's screen, or other reference use. Plus, you wouldn't want to get that pristine gamemaster screen touched by those grubby player hands, would you? Review the Discussion comments to the PDF, though. Personally, I'd pick up the physical product.

CONCLUS-I-ONN: The Paranoia Gamemaster screen is certainly cleverer than other gamemaster screens, and a useful game aid for those who want even more [REDACTED] with their Paranoia.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Paranoia Interactive Screen
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Paranoia Red Clearance Edition
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/12/2017 22:34:56

INTRODUCT-I-ION

I'll admit that I was backer #1 for the Mongoose Paranoia KickStarter campaign -- and dropped my pledge several days later. None of the original game designers? No James Holloway art? Cards?? I was quite happy with my first edition Paranoia, with its Falls from Great Height chart and specialized skill trees. And, I'd like to think that Paranoia isn't a game where you know all the rules. It's an atmosphere you create with the game as a framework. So, with that level of skepticism, I passed on the KickStarter, thinking that I pretty much had a High Programmer's trove of Paranoia, from first edition through XP.

Well, you know how dangerous thinking is with Paranoia.

OUT OF THE BOX

The boxed set comes with three softcover digest sized books: Player Handbook, Gamemasters Handbook, and Mission Book. Additional Player Handbooks can be purchased separately. The set also has 110 cards, four regular dice, one Computer die, and six wipe-off character sheets. The graphic design and art are perfectly fine (and the books are entirely in color), with the artwork a splended "next generation" of uncomfortableness suited for the complex of Paranoia.

PLAYERS HANDBOOK

The Player's Handbook covers character generation, basic actions, moxie, and combat. The game is appropriately rules-light and don't expect the gamemaster to follow them, either.

Character Generation: You have Attributes, and you have Skills. Random generation? Spending points? You may have remembered the Amber roleplaying game (okay, you didn't), where you bid against the other players to rank your ability score against them. Well, Paranoia has another "meta-generation" mechanic, where you screw your buddy before your character is made. Starting with the player to the left of the gamemaster, you pick a Skill (not Attribute) at level 1. Okay. Except that the player to that player's left gets the same Skill at NEGATIVE level 1. Then, it's that person's turn to pick a different Skill at +1. Once every player has a +1 and -1 Skill level, it goes to +2 and -2. Then +3 and -3. You get the idea. And, nope, you can't select a skill you already have (no adding a positive to your negative skill), and, double-nope, the direction of skill chargen is to the left, you're not going to get back at the player who gave you the NEGATIVE skill level -- at least not yet!

Okay, you do, thank The Computer. From the Skills you will generate your Attribute values, except that, yep, the player to the left, the same player who's received all these negative skill levels, gets to assign the values to the attributes. And, also, before you met your frienemies, you picked three adjectives to describe your character, such as "handsome, brave, loyal", and that player to your left gets to change one of the adjectives to its opposite. So you could be "ugly, brave, loyal", "handsome, chicken-hearted, loyal" or even "handsome, brave, traitorous filthy terrorist mutant scumbag". (Oh, and any rumors you have have heard about ditching Communists for Terrorists are untrue. Report to re-education for brainscrubbing.)

You can, of course, create characters in the boring conventional way (or use, gasp, pre-gens). Players can improve their stats by burning their Moxie and even Clone lives, but tell 'em later, once you and your bretherin find your comfort (or at least dead traitor) zone with the system. (I think the record number of clone executions in a briefing I've had was five. For a single player.)

Basic Action: Roll dice. Specifically, the GM tells you what Attribute and Skill, equipment, and other modifiers you will use, and you roll that number of dice. This is called your NODE, which is short for "Number of Dice [You're still not cleared for that]". For every five or six, you succeed. You need blah number of successes depending on the difficulty level. Huzzah! But, wait. What if your total number of dice is negative because your CHUTZPAH attribute is 0 and your STEALTH skill is -3 and you're sneaking past two Blue IntSec guards with neuro whips and too much free time? The Computer, in its infinite glory, encourages troubleshooters to try new challenges, and allows you to still roll the absolute value (hah! you thought you'd only use it once in that other RPG) of dice. Except that, for every one through four, you subtract a success. Huzzah! Oh, and did we mention that The Computer has blessed you with an additional credit-free die you roll with the six replaced with an icon of our beloved Computer (and not a Ghostbusters symbol)? The result of rolling this icon is that you lose one Moxie of stress and also [you're not cleared for that]. And the regular dice you roll are a combination of white high-programmer plastic with black infrared pips, so make sure you don't touch the white part when rolling the dice.

Moxie: So we've mentioned Moxie twice, and it's (ugh) hit points. But it's roleplaying hit points! Much like Call of Cthulhu's Sanity Points, where the more earnest players would say, "Hey, pass the Necronomicon", when you run out of Moxie (you can also spend it on stuff like rolling an extra die and [you're not cleared for that]), you can play one of your adjectives to the hilt, or the GM can roll your roleplay on the Losing It table. (Strangely enough, the text says that when you've lost all your Moxie, you may feel "All-consuming hatred of something or someone in the immediate area" which seemed to be SOP for most Paranoia players I've encountered even before combat.) You can regain Moxie through stimulants, spending XP, or activating a new clone. (You gain XP through surviving missions, achieving other objectives, and other Alpha Complex carrot sticks. You can spend XP on Moxie, Equipment, Clearance Level and... what happened to credits? What do you mean by "credits", Citizen??)

Combat: Combat consists of rolling a number of dice based on your VIOLENCE and GUNS, and saying "I hit it". Well, not just that. Each combat, player will receive a hand of shiny color cards, called Action Cards, typically one hand of four for the entire combat. Each round, each player chooses an Action card. After every player places their card face-down, the GM counts down, from high to low, and a player reveals his Action card at the Action Order number on the card. Okay, not just that. A player claims his Action card is at such-and-such a number (preferably higher than the other player pointing his laser barrel at them), and any other player may challenge him. If the challenger is wrong, the challenger loses an Action card. If the challenger is right, the challenging player immediately gets to make an action (so can have more than one action during a combat round), and the challenged player discards the card and takes a Basic Action at the end of the round. (So look forward to claims and challenge cards when players only have Action Order 0 cards in their hands!) You can always perform a Basic Action instead of playing and discarding what's written on the card. Yes, I do think that player wielding a Megaphone that lets him to act at Action Order CHUTZPAH +3 works in tandem with his laser pistol (until somebody like the GM gets tired of it and shoots him). Equipment cards and Mutant Powers cards are also Action cards. (Although they have no Action Order number, I suppose you could use your Secret Society and Bonus Duty cards as Action cards if your real-life Chutzpah was high enough...). And some of the Action cards are Reactions, used only during another player's turn (including GM). You can still play Paranoia with just Basic Action roll. But I think the cards do a good job as inspiration to do crazy things you might not think of at the moment. The cards certainly don't restrict options during combat. (Myself, I'm thinking of sticking post-its over the text of each card to encourage good roleplaying.) Paranoia also has wounds, which are entirely different from hit points (of course not). For every additional success rolled during combat, the target suffers a wound. Wound states are Hurt, Injured, Maimed, and Dead. Sadly, "vaporized" is no longer a status (and the Falling From Great Heights table seems to be misplaced), but, hey, there's always that computer icon on the red die when that character is out of Moxie...

GAMEMASTERS HANDBOOK

Much like previous editions of Paranoia, the boxed set does a very good job of providing the gamemaster helpful advice -- including for breaking rules -- to help him run a game of Paranoia. The handbook also tells us about Alpha Complex: Alpha Complex itself, The Computer, DAIVs, the Cerebral Cortech and Data Feed ("All data is recorded and stored. Not analyzed, however."), XP points (treason stars are still used, but gasp credits are now gone -- and, yes, Free Enterprise has something to say about that!), while service groups and societies have pretty much been relegated to a mention. Wait. Credits are gone?? Among other changes, Paranoia uses XP instead of credits to purchase equipment, luxuries, and higher security clearance levels. DAIVs are Deviant Artificial Intelligent Viruses, which the Computer is naturally afraid of, and will shut down entire sectors to get rid of. And, of course, DAIVs can infect a clone's Cerebral Cortech and Data Feed. The Cerebral Cortech and Data Feed is a HUD-slash-augmented virtual reality that every clone has (specifically every clone has Cerebral Coretech hardware on the inside of his skull). It's a useful way for the Computer to transmit data, and slow burn way for the Computer to helpfully interfere with troubleshooter activity. Alpha Complex does have "dead zones" which a gamemaster can conveniently use whenever troubleshooters need to or otherwise can do treasononus acts, like Secret Society shenanigans. Speaking of which...

About a fourth of the book are the secret societies (including Communist, which I though was announced as [REDACTED]). Personally, I thought the Secret Societies didn't get enough attention in previous editions (about half a page in first, second, and XP editions). Here, the gamemaster is provided specific tasks he can drop into an adventure, and bennies he can hand out to secret society members. We're also given some paragraphs of several High Programmers involved in their secret societies, as well as an "alignment graph" so gamemasters have a high-level view of how the secret societies have overlapping and opposing interests.

With Paranoia being a rules-light game system with its own uniquely absurd atmosphere, the Gamemasters Handbook also encourages you to modify and even relegate to heresay and rumor any aspect of Alpha Complex that you wish. It shouldn't be too difficult to bring back CBay (or, at least, Free Enterprise's attempts to bring it back!) or the ever-popular tongue-tattoo ID. ("Show me your ID." "NYAAAHH..." Fun times.)

MISSION BOOK

Although conventionally last, this book actually should be read first. The book consists of three related missions, and a new version of the classic White Wash scenario. The first mission actually starts the players at Infrared level (completely with bossy Red troubleshooter), and gradually introduces the game mechanics. Given Paranoia's rules-light game system, a gradual introduction isn't necessary, but not all gaming groups will be used to its game style, and it's novel for regular Paranoia players to play as Infrareds. The next two missions are of the more conventional SNAFU side. I did feel that, compared to first edition Paranoia adventures I own, NPCs took a greater role in the missions, and the missions were not as detailed as other adventures (not that a rules-light game system has to be). The missions do have more involvement by Secret Societies, which I felt was overlooked in adventures from previous editions. So, overall, while relatively lightweight, you do get four missions versus one in (some) previous versions.

CARDS

One reason I overlooked the KS was that I thought the cards were going to be the focus of the game. They're not. Think of them as mini-supplements, player inspiration, that sort of thing. Whee.

EQUIPMENT CARDS: The boxed set comes with twenty-two Equipment cards. Paranoia has three categories of equipment: Regular, Non-Standard, and R&D. Regular equipment, such as laser pistols and armor, don't have cards, nor does R&D equipment (you know what this stuff is). Non-Standard equipment includes combat-oriented stuff like The Minigun and Grenade X3, with some odd but usefull stuff like a Friction Enhancer and Fake Moustache. Their Action Order (see Combat) is an attribute plus a number, such as CHUTZPAH + 4 for the Fake Moustache. The add NODE dice based on their level, such as SMALL Level 1 for the aforementioned Fake Moustache. Equipment cards have additional text, which can be easily covered up with a small Yellow clearance Post-It if the Gamemaster so desires. In the meta-spirite of Paranoia, you could make additional Equipment Cards, hand them to players you don't like, then, later in the game after they've used the cards, question them why their Equipment Cards look like some gamer scrawled on them when they shoule using official shiny color Paranoia boxed set cards.

SECRET SOCIETIES: The boxed set comes with fifteen Secret Society cards, two printed with "NO SECRET SOCIETY" and two of the Computer's own Internal Security Secret Society (yep, it's official). During character generation, the Gamemaster deals each player a card. This assists character conflict, since each player will be in a different Secret Society (the Gamemaster Handbook's Secret Society chapter does give suggestions for faction play.) If you do enjoy factions (always fun to root out the competing splinter group, or participate in a friendly competition against your fellow Death Leopards), just make photocopies or use the PDF version. Use treasonous Magic the Gathering cards as backs, slip the card and photocopy into the card sleeve, slip the secret message from the player's Secret Society also into the card sleeve, maybe or not maybe tell the player that he has a secret message, and have his secret society chew him out when he doesn't find it. The cards are essentially player aids, to give them something sneaky to do. That's always a good thing.

BONUS DUTY: A set of six cards, either the team leader or The Computer assigns the role of each party member to their duty during the mission: Team Leader, Science Officer, Happiness Officer, Combat Officer, Equipment Officer, and Loyalty Officer. Again, these cards are player aids, assisting overt roleplay, as troubleshooters obstrusively abuse their role to annoy their fellow party members.

YOU ARE NUMBER ONE: A single pretty card that the troubleshooters will compete for to be The Computer's special [REDACTED] to receive special treatment from NPCs and The Computer. Use arbitrarily. Reassign favor when warranted and/or bored.

PDF SECTOR vs. PROCESSED DEAD ORGANIC MATTER WITH SPLENDED BINDING

Paranoia also comes in PDF format, but the cards and computer die make me recommend the boxed set. The Players Handbook, GM handbook, and Mission Book are separate books so there's none of that icky sharing stuff (at least between the GM and the riff-raff). The boxed set also comes with wipe-off character cards, or you can download an editable PDF from the Mongoose website. You're entirely welcome, citizen.

CONCLUSION

Paranoia's latest incarnation is a streamlined, rules-light, game system with new mechanics that should be easy to follow, and additional ideas you can add or ignore at your leisure. The missions were, imo, a little light, but, considering how much I ignored and faked my way through earlier edition adventures, I'm not going to worry about that. There is nothing to worry about. The Computer has everything under [REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED].



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Paranoia Red Clearance Edition
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MPS Complura-Class Hospital Ship
by Wayne G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/01/2017 17:35:42

Demonstrating the versatility of the Complura-Class MPS (Multi Purpose Ship), the Hospital Ship variant can handle minor crises upon arrival in system. It is equivalent to a metropolitan 21st-century hospital in scope, but mobile and Jump-capable as well.

It's always the minor details that catch my attention. I particularly enjoyed the section on laboratory equipment. The d66 table of nasty diseases has dozens of ailments to afflict your players and NPCs.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
MPS Complura-Class Hospital Ship
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