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Book 4: Psion
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/04/2015 08:44:00

This book presents a comprehensive survey of psionics (the powers of the mind) within the Traveller game, with plenty of options as to how you can use them - assuming, that is, that you want to do so. In the Official Traveller Universe, they're frowned on in most places and strictly controlled where they are permitted, but you may choose to take a different view: and why not, it's your game after all.


The first section, Defining Psionics, sets the scene, reproducing the basic information and rules from the core rulebook. A chart shows how different technical levels of society view psionics as a general rule, with actual understanding of what is going on rare before TL6 or 7. This section provides a basic understanding of what is being discussed here, what psionics are all about.


Next, in Doors of Perception, there is more detailed discussion of how psionic abilities develop within an individual, how they are tested for and subsequently how the individual can be trained to use their abilities to best effect. The material here is based on the premise that everyone has some latent psionic ability, but that in many if not most of them it is miniscule. It also assumes that most if not all psionically-active people receive testing and training from some kind of institution. If you decide that psionics are openly accepted, it may even be possible to study and train at university, in a different setting the would-be psion may have to seek out an underground institute, an adventure in itself. An alternative route is via the practice of a religion that views psionic powers in a favourable light, or one might even find a mentor with which to train. Plenty of options for you to decide upon.


Then comes a section on Psion Careers. Naturally, there will be plenty of psions who do not follow a 'psion career' but are happy doing something else entirely, but especially in settings where psionics are accepted and may be practiced openly, there will be specific career paths open to them. Both the Babylon 5 and Judge Dredd settings published by Mongoose have their own distinct take on psion careers and if you are using either of those, leave this chapter aside and run with the relevant material there. Of the ones here, there are opportunities to become an agent either of an organisation responsible for controlling and policing psions or of one which uses psions as part of law enforcement, espionage or other activities. There are commercial and military options as well along with drifters, rogues, scolars, scouts, and specialist spacefarers. One really wierd one is the Temporal Agency, which monitors timelines, only of use if time travel is possible in your game, likewise there's the opportunity to work in an Interdimensional Agency if parallel worlds are possible. It's even possible to become the actual 'brain' of a spaceship, one career choice that is irreversable!


Next Psionic Powers goes into great detail about the actual powers a psion can develop, and introduces a lot of new ideas beyond the basics as found in the core rulebook or the first section of this book. There's also advice on how to devise new powers of your own. One neat set of powers are to do with ship handling, enabling the psion to 'fold' space and so travel the sort of distances the rest of us mere mortals use a Jump drive to cover!


And then comes the flip side, a section on Psionic Trauma. Psions can risk damaging themselves or even becoming insane through injudicious use of their powers, psionic attacks from someone else or even environmental phenomena... and it's not wise for psions to indulge in drug use (over and above the damage that substance abuse does to anyone). There are even FOUR whole pages of phobias to inflict on unlucky psions!


This is followed by a section on Psionic Equipment. It's quite surprising how much there is available for people whose power rests between their ears! Drugs, suppressors, detectors, enhancements... not to mention weapons and vehicles fine-tuned to their talents. The last section is more of the same, it discusses Mind Ships, that is, ships powered or at least controlled by the mind, and includes ships capable of both temporal and spatial travel.


It all depends on how you intend for psionics to be viewed and used in your game, but once you have decided that this book will help it all work both conceptually and in game mechanical terms. A good expansion to the core rules in this area.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book 4: Psion
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Book 3: Scout
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/03/2015 12:36:57

For those seeking an exciting career in service but who do not wish to join the armed forces, the Scouts provide a fascinating alternative, and if exploring and mapping space is your delight, this is the place for you. This book sets out to expand on the basic Scout career in the core rulebook, with a wealth of new options, equipment and ideas to build and play Scout characters, active or retired.


The first section is Creating a Scout Traveller. Begining with some words of explanation about the nature of Scouts, what they do and the organisation behind them (in general terms, the IISS of the Official Traveller Universe are detailed later on) and presents the five main branches of service in the Scouts: Contact, Courier, Exploration, Special Operations and Survey. Each branch has a different role and outlook, but characters may change between them (providing that they qualify) each re-enlistment. The Scouts are one of those organisations you never really retire from, even retired Scouts are often asked to do just one more mission... which can provide focus to a party which includes a former scout, and it pays well too. Of course, there are penalties for refusing. It's all in the original employment contract.


The next section is Scout Missions, and discusses the sort of tasks you can throw at the retired Scouts in your party. There's a lot of detail here, beginning with the ways in which retired Scouts are tracked and approached when a mission they'd be suitable for comes up, and continuing with plenty of material about the missions themselves including tables for you to generate such missions if you don't have a clear idea of what you want them to do... and just reading through ought to spawn some ideas and get your creative juices flowing. In time of war, retired Scouts are also needed for covert missions, so if a war is brewing you might want to consider that as a campaign concept. This section also has extensive information about Scout bases and the services that they can provide, a fully-detailed sample mission and quite a few serving and retired Scouts your characters might encounter.


This is followed by a section of Equipment and Ships. There's all manner of interesting and useful items designed to make the Scout's life easier. There are various ingenious land vehicles for on-planet use as well as details on an array of space-faring vessels that go far beyond the standard 'Scout ship' familiar to most Traveller players.


Next comes the section First Contact and Survey. Classic Scout operations, they also make for good adventures, and suggest possibilities for a game involving serving Scouts rather than retired ones. The Scouts have built up extensive protocols for making First Contact designed to minimise harm to all concerned, and there's plenty of information here to enable the running of a First Contact scenario. Survey is another good area in which to involve a party, and one that can be run almost as a background whilst they 'enjoy' other adventures during their travels. Detailed tables for determining what a Survey finds are included, for when you do not already have a system designed ready to be surveyed.


The nect section is about the IISS Scout Service, the 'official' one you'd find in the Imperium of the Official Traveller Universe. (If you prefer your own universe, it still may give you some good ideas.) Here you can learn everything about the Imperial Interstellar Scout Service and the Imperial Grand Survey (originally a separate body in its own right but now part of the IISS), organisation, operations, and facilities.


Finally, there is the Survival section. By their very nature, Scouts tend to be good at it and have amassed a lot of skills and knowledge about staying alive. This section mixes lore and game mechanics to enable the Referee to adjudicate any survival situation. Different environments are discussed and there's plenty to give the Referee some excellent ideas for survival scenarios.


Overall this is an excellent analysis and resource to make Scouts an important part of your Traveller universe, even more so if you have Scout characters in the party.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book 3: Scout
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Book 2: High Guard
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/02/2015 07:59:42

High Guard looks at virtually every aspect of the concept of a space navy that you can imagine, from an expanded character generation system for characters who have served (or even still are serving) in the navy to ship construction, space battles and naval adventures. If your Traveller game uses the 'Official Traveller Universe' the Imperial Navy will be a watchful presence any time the party ventures into the black, while if you have designed your own universe there's likely to be some form of military presence in space and this work will help you to create it. As well as the Imperial Navy, sub-sectors and even individual worlds may maintain their own navies to keep the space lanes open and defend against hostile incursions.


After an introduction that sets the scene, we move on to the first section, Creating a Navy Character. Based on the character creation processes in the core rulebook, this adds depth and variety to the Navy career allowing characters to attend Naval Academy before embarking on a career as a naval officer and to specialise in different branches of the service: Crewman, Engineering, Pilot, Gunnery, Command, Support, Small Craft Pilot, High Command, Naval Intelligence and Naval Research. All these are gone through in extensive detail. Characters can also choose to serve in the Imperial, subsector or planetary navies... and there's even a list of the medals that they might be awarded during their careers!


Next a section on Spacecraft Options begins the part of the book devoted to spaceship design. There's lots here to keep the would-be ship designer happy, covering everything from capital ships to small craft.


Once you have created all those vessels, the next section, Expanded Space Combat, enables you to test them against one another as it looks at every possible aspect of combat in the depths of interstellar space whether it is a battle between capital ships or a fast and furious brawl between single-pilot fighters.


Slightly confusingly, we then get back to ship construction with a section on Small Craft, which also gives plenty of examples of ready-made ones, and then on to a series of specimen capital ships - useful if you want one but do not have the time or inclination to go through the design process. Here, some of the deckplans are not well rendered, being rather cramped and blurry, making them difficult to read and only capable of giving an overview of the vessel concerned rather than the level of detail you will need if using them in a game.


Finally, there's a section on Naval Adventures. This looks at running a campaign where the characters are on active service, rather than independent adventurers with naval backgrounds. Several general ideas are presented and there's a random system for generating missions to use (or to gain inspiration from) as you design adventures.


Whether or not the party is still in the navy (or indeed has ever served), this book has its uses both in the ship design and combat sections and for providing a wealth of detail about the navy which will, of course, be at least there in the background even if it rarely features largely in your plots.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Book 2: High Guard
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Book 1: Mercenary
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/01/2015 08:55:32

Within the Traveller universe, many people - or at least, many player-characters - decide to earn their living utilising their combat skills. This book is aimed at the specialised mercenaries such as private military companies available for hire, and provides a wealth of detail for creating such characters and running mercenary operations. The Introduction explains this, and the role of mercenaries in Mongoose Traveller, in detail.


Then we move on to character generation, which starts with some enhancements to the military careers offered in the core rulebook. Now characters can begin their careers in the sort of navy that sails in boats or in the air force. There are also extended Mishap and Events tables for those who are in the army or the marines. This is followed by detailed information on creating a mercenary character. Here it's assumed that the would-be mercenary has already served some time in the military before choosing (or being forced) to leave and join an established mercenary group. This system is designed to allow the character to gain some experience in that trade through serving one or more standard terms before entering play. If you are intending a mercenary-focussed game, with the characters as active members of a mercenary group, you might want them to take at least one term as a mercenary to model their initial involvement in the profession and perhaps to establish their prior relationships with each other. There are several different areas of mercenary activity to choose from, depending on the sort of background you want your characters to have. These include being a guerilla as well as more 'legitimate' forms of mercenary activity which include security work as well as out-and-out combat units. There are even opportunities to become a gun-runner or arms dealer!


Next comes a section on new skills and specialties. Although they mostly have a mercenary aspect, most might be made available to any character. Suggestions are given for incorporating some of them into the Core Rulebook system if so desired for characters interested in mainstream military careers.


The next section is called Mercenary Tickets. This is the core of the system used to generate missions for mercenary characters - the Ticket is the contract that someone makes with their mercenary company for their services. It also serves as the mercenaries' legitimacy, much like letters of marque were all that distinguished between a privateer and a pirate... and your enemies may not take a blind bit of notice if they have decided that whoever hired you is a legitimate enemy or a terrorist organisation! However it does detail what the mercenaries are required to do and what they'll be paid for doing it. There's an entire set of game mechanics to model the process, well worth reading through for ideas even if you decide not to use it in its entirety. It also allows you to generate random tickets if you do not have a specific mission in mind. There are plenty of examples and explanations to help you keep the whole process on track.


Then comes a section called Recruiting Unit Members, which looks at the recruitment process in detail. Perhaps the characters have been sent to find new recruits for their mercenary group... but it also serves well as an aid to Referees wanting to create entire groups, whether to be other members of the group the party belongs to or the opposition (or even that bunch of mercs you run into every so often in your travels).


We then move onto a section of New Combat Rules. As well as enhancements to those in the core rulebook, there's an extensive unit-based system to model the larger battles that might occur in a mercenary campaign or indeed if war breaks out around the characters. This is followed by a section on Mercenary Headquarters and Military Bases. After all mercenaries - and indeed all military personnel - need somewhere to call home, and this section shows you how to provide such locations. They can also, of course, be the target of an attack! There's an interesting discussion of how such places have developed as technology levels have increased, so you can pick ones appropriate to the planet on which they are situated. Finally, there is a section of New Equipment - everything the well-povided-for mercenary might dream about!


This book fills an interesting and specialised niche - and is quite unlike the original Mercenary book of the original Traveller ruleset which contented itself with expanding on the army and marine careers. Even if you do not want to run mercenary campaigns, there's quite a lot of useful material - especially if you decide that the party might run into some mercenaries at some point in the campaign - which makes it worthy of consideration for inclusion in your library.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Book 1: Mercenary
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Book 0: Introduction to Traveller
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/29/2015 08:05:44

This book is a cut-down version of the Traveller ruleset, which enables you to take a look at the system before taking the plunge or to introduce new players to the game - at least, in terms of game mechanics and character generation. It's the sort of thing that might be quite handy to have with you at the table as a quick reference.


There's a very brief overview of what Traveller is, but a single page, before it launches into Character Creation. Here the character creation checklist is given along with the basics of generating characterists, deciding on a homeworld (to determine background skills) and then choosing a career to have pursued before the character turns to adventure and the game begins. It's all quite straightforward and would be clear apart from typo and layout issues that bedevil the entire book, at least the PDF version. Fortunately these are more annoying than actually making it impossible to read most of the time. The prior careers available are Army and Navy only, but these are presented to the same level of detail as in the Core Rulebook, so characters generated with this book will have no issues integrating with a party created using the more extensive choice to be found therein.


The next section is Skills and Tasks. Here the task resolution process is outlined, complete with a few examples and a probability chart (useful for Referees wishing to set an appropriate level of difficulty, or players interested in their chances of success). Then there's a run-through of the skills available, with notes on how and when they will be useful.


Then comes a section on Combat, which provides details of how a brawl is administered using this ruleset. It's somewhat curtailed in comparison with the Core Rulebook's treatment of the subject, but there's enough here for even a novice player to understand what is going on and make an effective contribution to the proceedings.


Finally, there's a section of Equipment. Again this is a cut-down version of what is available in the Core Rulebook, but there's sufficient to see a character armed, protected and with basic gear. There's a blank character sheet at the back once you are ready to give it a go.


As a basic introduction to the game this is all right, but it would be best used in conjunction with conversations with an established player when a newcomer to role-playing is concerned. In print, it is quite expensive for what you get (you would probably be better off just going straight for the Core Rulebook), but the PDF is free and so could be downloaded and given to someone who is thinking of joining an existing game so that they have some idea, at least from a game mechanics standpoint, of what they are getting into. Note that I have not seen the 'dead tree' version, so do not know if the botched type layout is there, but despite the PDF having been updated since its first release, they are still there at the time of writing this review - hence 3 stars, the actual content is worth 4!



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Book 0: Introduction to Traveller
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Traveller Main Rulebook
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/28/2015 09:05:45

Traveller has been around for a long time, with the three original 'little black books' appearing in 1977, and this incarnation of the ruleset recreates the excitement of the first, with the same simple and elegant ruleset underpinning everything, streamlined to meet contemporary gaming tastes.


It opens with introductory material including a bare-bones introduction to the concept of role-playing games, thoughts on suitable campaign types and a discussion of technology levels, which vary across known space. We then move directly into Character Creation, which as old hands will know, can be an absorbing pastime of itself never mind essential preparation for participating in an actual game. Starting by rolling characteristics, you then choose a homeworld and the career(s) your character has pursued before embarking on an adventuring career, the main purpose being to gain skills. It also builds a backstory for the character, who is generally quite a mature individual compared to other games. The backstory is based, like a lot of the career progression, on die rolls... and yes, it is possible to perish before you even start play! There's quite a wide range of careers available, over and above the predominantly military ones from the original game - as well as Navy, Marines, Army, Scouts and Merchants there are diverse careers like Entertainer, Rogue, Scholar, Agent (law enforcement), Drifter, Nobility and Citizen from which to choose. A neat addition is the 'skill package', a list of skills appropriate to the campaign type you want to play from which the characters take turn choosing skills that they lack, thus ensuring that the party can at least handle basic tasks that will arise. Add the mustering out benefits and you are ready to go. For those who do not like the basic system, there are variants such as point-buy characteristics and even skills, and details on generating alien characters. So far, a human has been assumed. This talks in general terms to begin with, but also introduces the standard Traveller races quite briefly, noting that each could fill a book by itself. (Over the course of time, these books have been brought out, you'll find them in the Third Imperium line.)


The next section is Skills and Tasks which opens with a explanation of 'Task Checks', the way in which actions are resolved. Most are either skill or characteristic based, with a standard 2d6 roll being modified according to the skills or other factors being brought to bear (brute strength, for example) and situational modifiers. For standard tasks, you need to get an 8 in total to succeed, but difficulty modifiers may be applied at the Referee's discretion to make it harder or more easy. There are plenty of examples, and these continue through the ensuing discussion of all the skills available and how they can be used to effect during the course of a game. This is followed by an extensive section on Combat, again well illustrated with examples and with a wide range of possible actions being presented.


Combat is not the only danger characters face, of course, and the next section - Encounters and Dangers - look at all manner of things other than brawls that could threaten life or limb or spoil your whole day - animals and environmental dangers (natural and unnatural), as well as how you heal, creating NPCs and more. The animals bit provides enough detail to let you invent strange critters to be encountered on the planets that you visit. Within the NPC section there are notes on giving them memorable personalities and a collection of ready-made Patrons to give the party something to do. This section rounds out with a wealth of random encounters and events that may be something going on in the background or else may turn into a complete adventure if not campaign.


Next comes a vast Equipment section which will let your character get his hands on virtually anything he might need for the forthcoming adventures. Not just weapons and armour (although there's plenty of those), there's all manner of stuff from drones to survival gear, medical equipment to communications and entertainment systems... you name it, it's probably there... apart from that necessity, a spaceship. This is dealt with comprehensively in the next section, Starship Design - again something that can be as much fun as creating characters. Examples are given, which can be used straight away if you do not wish to go through the whole process. Once you have a ship the following section, Starship Operations, explain the rules and concepts underlying its use, including operating costs and various dangers... and this is followed in turn by the Space Combat section.


The final sections deal with Psionics (powers of the mind, which you may or may not choose to allow in your game), Trade (with lots of tables to enable you to automate the process considerably yet model it fairly well) and finally World Creation. This provides an elegant system for devising planets in an awesome variety for the party to visit in their travels.


Well conceived and updated from the originals, this work recaptures all the excitement and sheer potential for adventure presented by those Little Black Books. A neat addition is little snippets of information scattered throughout in grey text boxes - anything from the tradition of Jump dimming to an adventure seed you could develop into a complete adventure - which are well worth ready. A worthy successor to the original Traveller which maintains its flavour, its essence, well.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Traveller Main Rulebook
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Referee's Aid 1: Among the Trojans
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/25/2015 13:03:26

This is a quite different adventure setting for Traveller, utilising the entirity of a solar system (which one doesn't really matter, just pick a suitable system in your universe) rather than seeing it as virtually empty space through which you travel merely to get to the 100D distance to turn on your Jump drive. The Introduction explains this, along with notes on what the party will need to get around there - any small vessel, which doesn't need to be Jump-capable, or even friends who have one and will give them a ride. The idea is that there's a fair bit of 'local' in-system traffic and characters will be able to hitch or pay for transportation if they do not have a suitable ship of their own.


The next section, Background Data, is a mix of some basic stuff about the Third Imperium (genuine background this, it does not impinge on what's going on here but is more of a vague backdrop) and a wealth of information about what is likely going on across a reasonably well-developed system from settlements on planets other than the mainworld, moons or indeed in space stations to more transient folk engaged in exploration, mining or salvage operations. There are also notes on what's to be found there: gas giants, asteroids, moons, and smaller rocky but airless planets.


Then there's a developed example, the Kendelsei Outsystem. Kendelsei itself is a gas giant around which a fair bit of spacefaring civilisation has built up separate from the main world and those who generally jump in to visit it. It's got quite a few moons, as gas giants tend to, as well as other planetoids clustered in its Trojan points. A neat thing is that everything here as astronomically sound as well as working in a game context.


The next section is Space Travel in the Outsystem which talks about the different sorts of vessels likely to be found there. This is followed by Adventuring in the Outsystem, a short section that crams quite a few ideas into a few short paragraphs.


Many people take the trouble to generate an entire system rather than just the main world, but then concentrate all their efforts and plots on that main world (with perhaps a refuelling stop at the gas giant). Now here are some ideas and resources to help you bring the rest of the system to life. As it is likely that people are not going to stay only on the main world, it adds added realism to your alternate reality - and there is plenty of scope for adventures in the outsystem as well.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Referee's Aid 1: Among the Trojans
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Borderland Profile: Tanith
by paul h. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/13/2015 18:11:06

The latest mini-supplement from Mongoose in the Borderlands Planet profile series, Tanith clocks in at 18 pages, though there’s only 14 pages of text, along with a couple of low-res grey-scale illustrations.


The planet of Tanith is heavily influenced by the mercenary trade, and as such the first page is dedicated totally to mercenary company operations and concepts. If you haven’t seen this in a previous supplement it’s actually good information. If you have (or say you’ve picked up a copy of Hub Federation Ground Forces from Gypsy Knight Games), then it’s mostly filler. But nicer than many other examples of filler out there.


While I haven’t purchased any previous system profile booklets in the series, I am very pleasantly surprised with the level of detail and backstory included here. Some of the older Traveller pieces detailed out the system, and MJD does the same here – which is great in my opinion! Now a referee has more to work with. Not only do you have a basic idea of what’s present in the system you have a history on the planet (Tanith), a listing of a refueling station located nearby owned by another stellar entity and a few lines about how the two don’t get along (i.e. potential plot points!). Furthermore they provide you with details on another planet in the system (about half a page worth) that you can use to provide more adventure opportunities for your players. And, if not, it’s always nice to have more, rather than less, detail about a system and its’ people and just why they might be there and what they are doing. The last page in this section (three full pages) has details on every other planet and anything of that might be of interest for a player to go investigate.


The following section provides more details on the port of Tanith, the surrounding region, some background on the operations and economics as well as a primer on local conditions. Since we are talking about a port of mercenaries there is plenty of info on what you might expect defensive wise on the ground, in orbit and what kind of ships you might encounter. I found it to be interesting to both a referee and player.


Since the supplement talks about Tanith being so friendly mercenaries, it’s only natural to write up a section on some of the denizens for (potential) hire. There are six pages dedicated to this, with each sample organization getting about three-quarters to one full page write-ups. Now some of that space is taken up by a TO&E listing (that’s table of organization and equipment), but for those that aren’t savvy on military structures or organizations it’s nice to have. And even if you are it makes for easy at-a-glance understanding of unit structures and capabilities. The additional verbiage on each unit just rounds out the whole thing.


The final five pages are devoted to potential adventure hooks. While none of the hooks go into great detail or provide things like d6 charts to generate enemies and loot, they do provide potential referee’s or players enough ideas upon which to build upon. And, in my mind at least, that’s half the battle. Sometimes getting the initial spark going is all that is needed. If you are the type of person that likes everything detailed out and handed to you, well, I think you might be disappointed with what’s here. But most everyone else should be quite pleased with it.


Aside from the low-res artwork there’s not much to complain about there. The information is presented well and in reasonable detail. It would be nice to see some further detail on things that do get mentioned. For example, remember the earlier detail about the fueling station operated by a potential rival being in-system? Just what kind of station or forces would be seen there? The high port is described as being little more than a mooring station for unstreamlined ships, and then it immediately goes into talking about how heavily armed with missile batteries, particle accelerator barbettes and a fighter squadron is also based there. So does that make it a 1,000 ton light battle station? A 5,000 ton space station? This trend continues into the mercenary company descriptions. Some information like troops being equipped with gauss rifles as standard gear is good, but descriptions of generic missile teams, or EW operators, or vehicles equipped with magazine-fed 180 rounds-per-minute mortars (but only carry 40 rounds onboard) kind of leave you hanging. If you did want to use one or two of the mercenary companies you don’t have the full unit descriptions available.


Overall I was very impressed with this, even with some of the information holes that seem to be there from my reading of it. The price point is very fair (another $2.99) for what you get. It’s a solid product for a fair price. And even if you aren’t looking to adventure in this area the information contained inside can be easily adapted to just about any Traveller setting or system.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Borderland Profile: Tanith
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Referee's Aid 7: Type-R Subsidised Merchant
by paul h. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/08/2015 21:11:36

The new series of ebooks has advanced to the venerable Type R Merchant, lovingly nicknamed the 'Fat Trader'. The booklet itself follows the same pattern as it's predecessors - the first part of the book gives background/source material, followed by sample operational information, deckplan, ship-walkthrough and some sample ship background material.


Other things also follow through - the low price of $2.99 for the supplement, the lifting of nearly all illustrations from the core rule book, and the same semi-res (not sure if it's low, and it's definitely not high) 3D deckplan layout.


Some new concepts/background material on freight handling are introduced here. First there is talk of 'specialist loading cradles' for ships that can auto-unload a ship, "many ships can be turned around in little more time than they take to get in and out of the cradle." There's additional mention of an overhead crane/gantry system to move cargo containers around inside the ship, "handlerbots" (prevalent at class C ports), and then having to use the slower internal crane at D and E ports. An assumption is that a "handlerbot" is a grav-capable piece of equipment, and it's already stated that it's a fully-automated piece of equipment. There is mention of cargo tie-downs for containers (1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100ton sized) and other cargo. Similar to what was in Firefly there is mention of small cargo mover that some ships purchase (Cr75,000) that also has the ability to move the container. The description listed later on indicates that this cargo vehicle is also called a handlerbot. There's nearly half a page background on containers in the book talking about various features and functionality. It's not super-detailed, but it's all interesting.


The next page is dedicated to speculative trade. The topics jump around pretty quickly, with no concept going much more than a paragraph. Most of it is pretty well known or discussed elsewhere (buy low, sell high, speculative trade, selling illegal goods, etc).


After the section on trade there's about two and a half pages going into more detail about the workings of the ship and the cargo holds, operational information nuggets, variations on the normal configuration (such as tankers) and a couple of paragraphs on converting the cargo hold to carry more passengers or for specialized missions, like science or whatnot. It's stated that some ships travel with holds depressurized to reduce the load on the ship's environment systems - except that there should be little load on them if nobody is going in/out of the bay. It does make more sense to keep them depressurized for security - except that means the containers and such are travelling in a vacuum (and unheated one at that) and we have absolutely no data on how well the containers can handle that environment for long periods.


Finally! A location of the mysterious third hardpoint! According to the explanation given, the two hardpoints (port and starboard) can take energy-based weapons but not any sort of weapon that requires ammunition as the standard designs have no provision for magazines. The third hardpoint is located exactly where the launch is carried. Which begs the question, if that is the case, is there really a hardpoint there? This is the first example I have heard of where an empty hardpoint is also used as an airlock/external craft docking clamp.


There's also some interesting verbiage regarding ammunition as a whole. CT missed the boat when it came to talking about the actual workings of the missile launcher. Just how many missiles at ready did a turret carry? Was it just one in the pipe? Or could you also store additional ones below in the hardpoint tonnage? This question has vexed many a player and also has generated a LOT of commentary over the various versions, including MGT's. Dougherty states clearly, Reloading is rather rare for most ships; a typical missile launcher carried one in launch position and two more ready to be autoloaded, which is plenty. So the answer to the perenial question, how to beat a Sicilain, err, I mean how many missiles are carried on-mount is canonically answered - three. The only other question raised here is the "two more ready to be autoloaded". Which, in my mind at least, means they aren't set up in a feed system. Of course, one could argue that since there is no adjacent magazine then of course they'd have to be manually loaded (from the two at ready in the hardpoint). I guess it would get rather crowded in there with a triple missile launcher in the turret and six missiles awaiting loading.


There's a short section on having players using the Type-R as their preferred means of campaign transport, but it's only about 1/3rd of a page in length and it's really not that useful of information to most players (too much success hauling cargo can ruin the referee's continual attempt to reduce the amount of gold they have earned). There's talk of giving them a 'very old' ship that requires more maintenance work (and costs) - except the rules really don't differentiate new from old as far as your maintenance costs go.


The last three sections are about operational costs, the 3D deckplan layout and explanation of the various ships environments and finally three sample ship descriptions. It's nice that some of the numbers have been broken out for you and how much it costs for X, while you can expect to make Y in return. Though some of the numbers are very useful (fuel costs Cr500/100). There is mention of the included low berths that the technology is pretty standard and freezing/revival is done by whoever has some medical training. And basically if you have complications or die, well, you shouldn't have been cheap and travelled in a low berth.


I've complained before and I'll complain again. The graphics are terrible quality. While the 3d res version is useful, zooming in just blurs things too much. The artwork is recycled low-res imagery from the core rulebook, and crammed onto the same page as the 3d deckplan is the one from the book. Though on this one "section 9. Engenering" is a type that made it through editing.


With the other systems, like the cargo deck, getting additional information and detail, why didn't the escape capsules get something similar? They are woefully ill explained and many designs don't even have them included. In the very first paragraph we get "The ship has one 20-ton launch and a full set of escape pods." And then... nothing. The design actually puts a pair of escape pods on the lower deck near engineering and escape pods in both port/starboard areas. Heck they even have dedicated escape pods in the crew-only section! Kind of what you'd expect from emergency equipment, but one would also (hopefully) expect more on their operation.


MGT is heading in the right direction with these supplements, but they consistently seem to miss the mark on some of the little things. While they are pretty inexpensive at $2.99 ea (for the ships at least), trying to cram all four deck plan illustrations on a single page makes no sense because there isn't a restriction on length. And if there were it would be very easy to get rid of easily two pages of filler illustrations that really do nothing for the book as a whole.


For the price it's definitely worth adding to your collection. With just a little more effort and thought they could easily put out a much better product. I guess the next real test is going to be the subsidized liner that we should be seeing shortly. I have high expectations, but sadly not much hope.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Referee's Aid 7: Type-R Subsidised Merchant
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Borderland Profile: Arunisiir
by Steven R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/08/2015 13:30:14

Came out just I was getting on to running 'Treasure Ship' in the 'Pirates of Drinax' campaign. First time I've bought a mini-book product like this. Lots of good info to help flesh out descriptions of the system and the actual planet itself. Pleased I bought it. Only thing I would have liked to see would be a chart/map of the system to accompany the text. Will keep an eye on any other profiles that come out. Would like to buy a hardback compilation of profiles like this in the future.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Borderland Profile: Arunisiir
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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.



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[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!]
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