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Spinward Encounters
by Dale W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/25/2015 10:53:21
For the developing campaign this is indeed an excellent source for one-up adventures. Since my campaign is well developed already, it was kind of a let down as to it usefulness, but all in all a good purchase nonetheless.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Spinward Encounters
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Borderland Profile: Arunisiir
by James B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/21/2015 23:24:44
This is certainly worth the price, and author MJD packs a lot of useful local background information into a small text. While the art is so-so and there is no planetary map, that does not detract greatly from the value to those GMs looking to expand the local Aslan plot hook in Drinax 2 or to set other adventures there. Both planetary and system geo-political information is given in detail, though alas there is no room for key NPCs. A Darrian red herring (or not) in system is an interesting twist also.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Borderland Profile: Arunisiir
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The Borderland
by Francis F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/15/2015 09:20:44
One of the best Traveller authors out there falls short with this effort sadly. Many players like myself are eager to carry on from the Pirates campaign and have more detail on the subsector, then to have a product which seems to be a subsector guide deliberately not want to provide detail? To be sure there are some broad strokes, a promise of further development and one system developed a bit but overall it is a rehash of general material from other products and what seems like filler to push up the page count. Honestly would advise others to pass on this product as there is not much value to be had therein.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
The Borderland
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The Borderland
by David T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/12/2015 13:40:18
Argh! I rushed to purchase this product as I like the other author's works I have and didn't read the reviews first.

It is extremely disappointing to get a rehash of other material for over a fiver, I've upped it from 1 to 2 stars
because of the description of all the bodies of the Exocet system.

I'm puzzled why anyone would build a mercenary legion at TL9, when Polycarapace and ACR's come in at TL10
and why there are only 3 sentients in a platoon, if it's an error I'm surprised at it getting past editing.

Sorry big disappointment for me

David

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
The Borderland
by Tim C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/08/2015 10:02:55
I don't generally review my purchases, but this was poor enough to make me want to leave a note for other purchasers. I bought this pdf because I'm looking to run Pirates of Drinax with my group, and the idea of a sourcebook tightly focused on the main area of focus sounded extremely useful. Unfortunately, it's absolutely useless.

Up to page 10, we get an overview of the Trojan Reaches as a whole. Possibly necessary for those who haven't purchased the Trojan Reaches sourcebook, but entirely redundant for those that have, and doubly redundant if you have the free Pirates of Drinax campaign.

Pages 11-19 cover groups active in the area. Again, mostly rehashing material. There are a few new/interesting bits - details of Imperial fleet deployments in the area, the Grand Duchy of Requille (although one fleet is deployed to Bastion which - alas! - isn't on my map of the Trojan Reaches?). However, this section suffers from a frustrating lack of detail on some groups, and a major canon clash with the Drinax campaign. Some interesting sounding groups are mentioned - apparently, there exists a Borderland Alliance and a Noraxx Confederation, both local political groupings of stars. Unfortunately, we get no clues as to whom the members of these groups might be, or what they might be doing which could interest our players. I know GM freedom to customise is a good thing, but I want more than just the name of the groups.

The canon clash arises because the Imperium apparently deploys significant forces to Realgar to counter the pirate threat from Theev - think Space Tortuga. Sounds great, but the fact that the Imperium doesn't know the location of Theev is a significant plot point in PoD. The first scenario published specifically includes the location of Theev as a reward for the players, and even more damningly, the sixth scenario is all about the Imperium sending a punitive fleet to search for the pirate world! Obviously, I'll throw this bit out, but it just shows a lack of care and attention, given that I imagine most GM's purchasing this will be looking at PoD.

There's a couple of pages of detailed writeup for one particular system, which mostly seems to be fairly dry planetology descriptions. There seems to have been a drive in recent Traveller publishing to hammer home the point that systems are larger than their mainworld. Valid point; but I'll take a paragraph of cool description and a hook for a cool thing we could do over two pages of dry rockballs every day.

The rest of the book is just generic setting advice which would work equally well in any subsector in the OTU; hell, in any setting. It's not badly written; it just has no relevance to what the book is supposed to be about.

Severe disappointment. My hope is that the follow ups for Wildeman et al. will

- cut down on the endless rehashing of existing material
- undergo some checks to make sure they don't clash with PoD
- provide us with some details/plot hooks for the worlds in question.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
The Borderland
by James B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/03/2015 12:37:20
Although it contains a decent overview and maps of the handful of worlds that make up the subsector, and with great technical and background attention to one particular system, The Borderland is merely filler from pp 25-37, over 25% of the book. Page upon page of descriptive but frustratingly generic information about types of worlds, roles of various ships and organization and type of military units, sometimes having no place in the setting presented, serve only to repeat information presented elsewhere (cf. Core Rules, Mercenary, High Guard). The background detail and NPCs presented in some of the author's other works (ex. Fiddler's Green) are absent-in fact, not a single individual personage (such as a pirate, Imperial noble, local planetary leader or infamous free trader) is named in the entire text. While one might argue that that level of detail is up to the individual referee, a little extra creativity about local color would have definitely made this a more attractive product.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Referee's Aid 4: A Guide to Star Systems
by Simon E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/02/2015 16:47:49
The book contains what I call "narrative" discussion of what is in a star system rather than science-based tables on how to generate the details of worlds and moons in a system.
Example: a very thin atmosphere is like being on top of Everest (0.3 atm pressure) - you won't die instantly, but you will get light headed in a few hours and need medical assistance.

Well, all of that is true, but I can work that out for myself being a science nerd (as most Traveller referees are in my experience). So if a prospective Traveller referee is weak at science then they may find this useful, but for me it was the least useful book I have bought from Mongoose.

For me, as a Referee Aid, it was one star. However, I can see that it might be useful to let some of my less-scientific players read bits - but that usually means that I have been too lazy to verbally describe the world during play.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Referee's Aid 4: A Guide to Star Systems
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Referee's Aid 1: Among the Trojans
by Hoyle A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/20/2015 15:16:28
This is a well produced and interesting setting. It covers an outer system including a gas giant, several small planetoids and both trailing and leading trojan asteroid clusters. Each of these has its own culture, and complex links to the other locations.

The idea here is that the inner system can exist in line with your canon or canon-esque universe, with this outer system surrounding it. It does put some pressures on which canon world you choose, but this is easy to work with. I always strive for intra-system variety and the idea that there are complex populated environments which are otherwise undocumented is quite interesting to me. The premise is that the "normal guidebooks" and standard trade for a system don't bother with the outer system.

What this does NOT include is any kind of plot, plot hooks or timeline. That is, it is not an adventure module. For me, this is fine since I like to come up with my own story, but if you require this level of guidance, you might be best served elsewhere. There are a lot of kernels to work with though, in the style of "There's a settlement of folks that live down in the valley. They come up to trade but not much else. no one is really sure when they got here or why, but the rumor is..." (apologies to the writers for my paraphrasing)

This is a rich setting and feels very much alive. It immediately gave me new ideas for my ongoing campaign, and I feel that I will be able to insert this into an existing system as designed. My only worry is that this will now be the most interesting place in my campaign, and I have to find a way to keep the players there long enough to notice!

The bad:
The list price seems a bit high for only 21 pages, even though they are dense.
I'd have liked to have a detailed system map.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Referee's Aid 1: Among the Trojans
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Referee's Aid 3: Type-A Free Trader
by paul h. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/18/2015 17:25:58
I picked up the Free Trader supplement up the day I saw it was available. The price was the same as the previous one (Scout/Courier), a reasonable $2.99. Mongoose has said that the price point is the regular one, but DrivethruRPG has it listed for $4.99, but on sale at $2.99. A minor labeling discrepancy I suppose.

The supplement comes in at a decent 16 pages. The first two are dedicated towards the cover and internal index. The rest of the pages are dedicated to text and illustrations. The external ship image (which takes up about 2/3rds of a page) comes straight from the Core rulebook. The other images are 3D deck plans (more on those later). The external image doesn’t do much for the reader since its not new art, nor is it even high-quality art. I think more readers would have appreciated some color artwork here. There are some wonderful versions of the free trader out there that would have been a better use of the space, though I do understand that this was probably already paid for, and keeping costs down is something every publisher and business has to take into account.

The introduction runs about 2 and a half pages (excluding artwork). There’s a general overview of trade within the 3rd Imperium, some background on the concept of the free trader and how they fit within the overall trade dynamics and some background on mail and minor cargo movement to smaller, backwater worlds. In my copy there is some odd editing/spacing of the second paragraph of the introduction. I don’t know if that’s part of the master copy or just mine. In regards to the mail portion of the introduction, it’s not clear if what was written was meant to be canonical or not. The idea of exactly how the mail system works is spread out through a number of books, and at no point is much print space given over to ‘splainin it to Lucy. The core books refer to mail containers, being 5 Dton’s in displacement, and each one can net the carrier Cr25,000 for delivery (that’s somewhat of an assumption. The book just states that’s the rate for a single container, with no mention of what occurs if 2 or more are needed). The supplement states that each time the mail ship services a port of call it receives a flat Cr25,000. However, if we go all the way back to Book 2, from Classic Traveller, the explanation for mail in the supplement makes more sense. In Book 2, the Cr25,000 fee is paid (per single Dton, up to 5 Dton’s) on a per-trip basis. I believe that this is simply something that gets muddled in not only the translation, but also because it’s spread out over multiple books and supplements.
The last portion of the introduction is a half-page on the concepts of jump mains and the differences in service. Vessels capable of J-2, J-3 or higher tend to avoid individual planets and instead service the long-haul, time-sensitive market. They bypass worlds and service larger ports in clusters, or make the jump between systems that lower jump-capable vessels cannot. All information that is contained elsewhere in the books, but it’s nice to see it wrapped up and placed in a supplement where it has total relevance.

The next section talks about the various Free Trader models, their history and how they go about making their presence known in the universe. There’s a nice nod to why the Free Trader is considered a tramp freighter. It’s cheap (relatively speaking) and easy to operate, which is why it’s seen all over the Imperium, most especially in the smaller markets and remote worlds. This section also touches on passenger traffic and some of the concepts that need to be considered when hauling people rather than crates around.

The revenue and overhead section is chock full of tasty ideas and numbers that will still the beating heart of any player or referee who likes to see and understand the underlying numbers related to space craft operations. There’s a very good example of what happens when you try to go too cheap on not paying your monthly maintenance costs. The remaining portion of the section discusses the revenue aspects of a Free Trader. There are even a few paragraphs in there on what a ship’s owner might make if they were to charter their ship out to someone else.

At this point we get to the next section – the deckplans and a description of the ship and its innards. There are four pages in this section, two each for the Free Trader and Far Trader. As with the previous supplement (Scout/Courier) we have a 3-d deckplan viewed from a somewhat overhead view, though not directly overhead. The plans for the Free Trader seem to be a duplicate for the deckplans listed in the Core Rulebook. It’s at this point where I think far more could have been done. First off, with the Free Trader, on the upper deck there is a cabin that has no label attached to it. It should be labeled as a crew cabin. It would have been nicer to see more views of the ship, perhaps with a side view showing the decks stacked properly on one another. Since they are so faithfully rendered, the deckplans carry over the inherent flaw – there is a single ladder going between the upper and lower decks (and it also doubles as access to the upper turret). This is, however, explained away in the supplement. It would seem that in reality there would be no way you could ever sell high-passage aboard a freighter that requires people to climb up a cramped ladder to gain access to their cabin and cramped spaces. Ah, reality!
At this point I’m not sure where the author got the deck plans for the A2 variant, also referred to as the Far Trader. Going back to classic Traveller, the Far Trader had a definitively different look to it than the Free Trader. The deckplan provided in the supplement is NOT what is listed in the core rule book or, to the best of my recollection, any of the various versions of the Far Trader published in previous editions. Not that there is anything wrong with introduction new variants. But it did strike me as very odd that the Free Trader was a faithful representation of the previous Free Traders, but the Far Trader was absolutely not. Fortunately the description of the ship does acknowledge the variation. One thing between the A1 and A2 is the mention and placement of weaponry. For the A1 there is mention that turrets can be fitted, but nowhere on the deckplan does it show where they are mounted. The A2 discusses placing them on opposite’s sides of the hull and the deckplans list where they would be mounted if they were to be placed.
The final two pages are dedicated to three different ship examples – a classic Free Trader, a somewhat modified A2 Far Trader (modified to primarily carry mail in a detachable pod) and an A2 modified to be a naval auxiliary/armed transport for a system navy. Each of the descriptions only has about 1/3rd of a page with which to build the narrative for the specific ship.

Conclusion
Overall I’m pleased with the direction that the supplements are taking. Personally I would not mind spending a little bit more money to get a more enhanced product. In general I think my chief complaint (and it’s not all that strong of one) is that what is there seems so close to what should be there. I would say about half of all gamers equally value the content (rules, tables, etc) with the story (side notes, explanations, history, etc). Both supplements feel like they are getting so close to rounding out the stories, but leave off the final few chapters. I’d really like for the supplements to finish the stories they are telling, at least as far as buying more into the descriptions and explanations.

The artwork definitely needs more work. Greyscale images make perfect sense when it comes to printing because color = more money. But when you are talking electrons the argument goes out the window. I fervently hope that the publishers hear this and understand that many gamers don’t mind spending more to get more. I’d also like to see the deckplans be published in a higher resolution format, ideally with a better angle (or multiple) to get a better feel for the ship. Again, we are talking electrons here, so adding in a few additional megabytes for more and better illustrations costs next to nothing for distribution.

I suspect we’ll be seeing more supplements coming, sooner rather than later with the speed that this one was released. While I haven’t purchased the Subsidized Trader from Moon Toad Publishing and artist Ian Stead, I suspect his supplement will give Mongoose a run for their money. He’s included excellent artwork in his publications to date and I think he sets a high bar for them to compete against. We, the players who purchase and keep the gaming community alive, can only benefit from a competition for our scarce game dollars. Ideally we get a good market where everyone is happy with the content. Ideally!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Referee's Aid 3: Type-A Free Trader
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Legend
by Paxton K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/06/2015 19:18:25
Once again Mongoose more than delivers.
Normally reviews begin with the Pros. Legend is best covered with the Cons first.

Cons: Clunky. It could stand some streamlining and the system tends to use unconventional rules when a more standard method would have worked. This tends to make the game a little hard to relate to. It kinda reminds me of some of the problems with Basic and Advanced D&D. I know that has been a revival of old style games and you are looking for that Legends "quirkiness" will be no problem.
OK that really covers everything negative that I have to say and honestly these problems are easy enough to rework.

Pros: Legend feels more like a frame work than "rules" for a setting. It is very hard for RPGs that are not intended to represent some "elements" of a setting. If Gnoll is on the language list for Elves and not Dwarves, a statement has been made about the relationship of the three races. This tendency is very light in Legend and the few rules that "imply" a Legend world are easily changed.
As a matter of fact, Legend seems to have been written with the understanding that they will be modified and this modification is simple to do.
Legend really is more than just "classless". It also is very customizable without suffering the problems that "generic" rules can cause.

The next major Pro is it is Open Game License and it is even encourage to make suppliments and settings that the creator can sell!
This point is a real consideration. I ran a campaign for 3 years and all of the players and myself had 100s of pages of material that simply could not be published, let alone sold. This should seriously be considered for players who like long term campaigns.

I have been looking for something to replace Mongoose's version of Conan. Trust me, I love Mongoose's version; but, again, Conan is copyrighted and I wanted Conan without the copyright. I have bought just about every game on this sight that tried to do their own version and they just seemed silly compared to Mongoose's work.
What I was really looking for was any game that kept magic to an "oddity" like Howard treated it. I put off legend thinking that magic was very interwoven into its frame work. Legend contains several systems for magic. Any or all can be used or not used at all without changing the game balance. Almost every other game that claimed to be "like" Howard still required a good bit to keep the game balanced. Also most of them had their equipment a little more standard fantasy, not the more Classical Age". Legend rides the border and it customizable to easily back up or move ahead tech wise.

I am not going to say the cliché that for less than a dollar, you can't go wrong. But for the price, Legend is something that any gamer should add to their collection. It is worth so much more. Knowing what I know now, I would have gladly paid just about any price for it.

In conclusion, it is not perfect; but this is more a strength than a weakness because it can be used to create "your world" or modified to play in your favorite setting.

I think this may be the most under rated game on the market. It delivers what a lot of games promise; but don't really deliver on.

It's a dollar. Buy it. I think it will spark something in you to create and that is what RPGs are suppose to be all about.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legend
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Referee's Aid 2: The Type-S Scout/Courier
by Robert J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/06/2015 08:28:27
I can’t believe there are not even ship stats for this. It is useless and I'm glad I didn't pay $4.99 for it.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Referee's Aid 2: The Type-S Scout/Courier
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Referee's Aid 2: The Type-S Scout/Courier
by paul h. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/05/2015 20:46:31
I agree with the previous review - the supplement is 'ok' for the price point of $2.99. Most of the description contained in the book is already known or published elsewhere. It's nice that the author spent some time giving the ship more character, but there are little tidbits that probably don't quite belong, such as multiple references to the tiny nature of the ship and the violence that may occur from stressed out crewmembers. The problem with that idea is that MOST ships in Traveller are cramped like this one, and if crewmembers who sign up for space duty have such a difficult time, how are passengers who are paying huge sums going to feel?

The first five pages are devoted to explaining about the history of the scout ship, some background on the duties of scouts and their ships, how an individual might be awarded a scout ship for service, and finally some text relating to missions and such.

The next three pages are given to the ship itself, including the deckplan. It kind of sucks that it's greyscale and also relatively low-res if you zoom in for details. With a pdf you really aren't limited size wise, so a cleaner image would have been nice. There's a passage in this section related to control of the scout in an atmosphere without power. It's the first real mention I can recall of what happens with a ship that loses it's power in an atmosphere - in this case without power or steering surfaces you are screwed unless your engineer can get your gravitics back online. Though it would have been nice to read about thrusters that an ace pilot might be able to use to pull up the nose or stop the flat-spin.

There are a couple of illustrations, with two of them being recycled from Scouts and Core Rule book. The relatively new one is a 3-D isometric layout of the scoutship. It's not bad, but a couple of complaints about it. First since it's being viewed from an angle, some of the illustration is hidden from view. Second the description of the book (and possibly the 3-D layout) doesn't quite jive with the layout plan that has existed from the Core Rule book (and is copied onto the page). In the description of the bridge it says there are two workstations. The 3-D view cuts off the rear workstation view, so one cannot see if the artist drew them there or not. But the deckplan shows four. I would have hoped also for a better layout, showing the decks from multiple angles. Even an extra page (or two) devoted towards this or variants would have been quite welcome (and better suited towards a $4.99 price point).

The last few pages are given over to some sample ships. Not bad, but more or less filler. The Cat Ship is definitely filler, but provides, perhaps, an interesting nugget for a referee to use.

I hope that Mongoose will do a better job on a supplement like this if they do another one on some of the other ships (Free Trader seems like a natural to me). There's really no excuse to scrimp so much on content when you aren't killing a tree to get this out to the public. And please, lets get better with illustrations and artwork!

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Referee's Aid 2: The Type-S Scout/Courier
by Philip W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/05/2015 18:39:53
The product is OK only. I think that it is very light in content and that a lot more effort could be put into it. For a product with a full price of $4.99 (I actually paid $2.99 when it was on special) I would have expected a lot more.

The 3 D artwork along side the traditional deck plan is good. It gives a real living sense of this little starship. I like this aspect of the product and would like to see more in future. This is where Mongoose really had a chance to shine, but alas, they seem to have fallen short. Black and white artwork belongs in the 1990's. We live in the 21st century with tablets, computers with PDF readers and colour printers. I have said this once and will say it again -

THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR NOT USING COLOUR.

The external drawing of the Type S end of the ebook gives a good sense of the external view of the starship. The drawing on page 6 looks nothing like it. It appears a lot bigger and is confusing for the reader.

So here are my recommendations:

Use colour in your artwork.

Consider 3D modelling software when doing artwork. Many folios of historical WW2 fighting ships have been done this way - they are more expensive but they do look good.

Provide more written content.

My rating - two stars -(not a total disaster but found wanting)

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
The Trojan Reach
by James B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/01/2015 00:51:36
Superbly written with depth and flair. However-it is wholly-contained in the Aslan alien supplement by the same author and should not be purchased by those who have that work.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Trojan Reach
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I am Mongoose, and so can you!
by Dom P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/23/2015 17:11:23
This is an exceptionally interesting and well considered book. If you have ANY inkling of going into the complex world of RPG business then this is mandatory reading. Whether you are going to establish your own TSR like behemoth of a company or just thinking about self publishing a simple supplement our scenario this book offers important and clear advice.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
I am Mongoose, and so can you!
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