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T5 Traveller5 Core Rules Book (759 pages) $75.00 $34.95
Average Rating:3.5 / 5
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T5 Traveller5 Core Rules Book (759 pages)
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T5 Traveller5 Core Rules Book (759 pages)
Publisher: Game Designers' Workshop (GDW)
by Andy H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/15/2017 13:21:32

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

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

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

The rules are a mess.

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

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

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

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

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



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
T5 Traveller5 Core Rules Book (759 pages)
Publisher: Game Designers' Workshop (GDW)
by Chet C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/19/2016 22:40:11

Rats! Accidentally deleted my original review, which went back to a week or three after publication. Let's just say that T5 does Traveller proud and it's once again what it was best: a toolbox filled with tools to create MY favorite sf rolegame.

I still bet Marc wishes he had the support group he had in 1977. It's hard to believe almost all of this came from one mind.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
T5 Traveller5 Core Rules Book (759 pages)
Publisher: Game Designers' Workshop (GDW)
by Carl A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/22/2015 23:37:58

Where to start? AS someone who has played various incarnations of Traveller, starting with Megatraveller when I was a kid, there are some interesting choices in this system that make me really want to like it. But I'm having a very hard time.

The Bad: The editing isn't very good. I expected problems when I started reading the table of contents and found errors in that. The page numbers haven't been updated since changes were made. For example, it says: Androids and Synthetics 124, but they are actually on page 92. The index might be better as it lists the correct page numbers, but there's no excuse for one of the first pages a new player sees to be wrong.

Another example is page 93, there is a section that has a line that looks like this (the entire line):

as The nest contains ach and as a sourc

That's clearly some sort of editing goof. Maybe multiple sentences blended together, but it is hard to tell what it should have been. For a PDF that costs this much, the editing needs to be top notch, and this certainly isn't.

The systems are overly complicated compared to previous versions. As an example of that there are 6 stats listed for humans, but sometimes they are Referenced as their abbreviation (Str for Strength), and sometimes as the order they appear in (C1 for Strength). Presumably this is because some of the stats can be replaced for different races. The inconsistency is annoying and needlessly complicates things. Some of the examples seem to have issues as well as after reading more I think they may have incorrectly applied their own modifiers, but I'd have to find the section again to verify this.

Maker systems. You want a gun? Build it using GunMaker. Want Armor? Build it through ArmorMaker. This sounds interesting, until you start going through them and realize this doesn't really help you as a Player to actually do anything useful. Just give a list of items with stats. A system like this should have just been an add-on optional thing rather than part of the core rules. Having a system to build start ships in a science fiction game make sense, but a nearly 20 page system just for building a gun? That's massive overkill.

The Good There is a thought toward legacies that I think is interesting. You roll 2d6 for each stat, and there are genetic stats, like Strength and Intelligence (but not Education or Social Standing). The first die rolled for genetic stats is your 'gene' and the second is how well you developed it. With this you can take any two characters and figure out an offspring's genetic predisposition. That's an interesting idea for a game to include.

Final Verdict: Skip this and keep with previous editions. They took the parts of previous editions that weren't great and expanded them to make them even more complicated and there is 0 payoff to this for both Players and Game Masters. I'm not sure how they thought that was a good idea.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
T5 Traveller5 Core Rules Book (759 pages)
Publisher: Game Designers' Workshop (GDW)
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/10/2015 05:12:07

Certainly an improvement from the unedited and flatly impenetrable version originally published from the kickstarter. The index is welcome, while the additional 50 pages or so are mainly used to provide clarification, a slightly tidier layout and a more logical organisation of the book. There is no linkable contents menu, however, which is also pretty vital for a pdf and the cover on my copy was missing still.

Certain rules clarifications that are now included make the accusation of it being ‘unplayable’ an overstatement, but it is still most likely to be an overwhelmingly complex book for casual gamers or those with any sort of aversion to maths. That said, I’m not sure that was ever the market for this game. For existing Traveller fans, there is a lot of material that will undoubtedly be useful for their games.

EDIT: Further to my original comments after reading through more fully (and it does take some reading!), there are some genuine gems within this book. I can see the logic - finally - of using a variable dice pool, roll-under system as opposed to the fixed 2D6 system used in Classic and Mongoose Traveller. Firstly, it meshes more tightly with the Characteristic scores used and secondly, it’s simply more open ended in terms of operating on a universal scale. The probability charts at the end of the book give a clear indication of your chances and, fully developed it looks pretty smooth.

Character generation is more involved than before with the role of education fully integrated and with differing paths for each career. You can also create a genetic legacy, while options for sophonts, clones and robots are fully detailed. The various ‘Maker’ sections have fuller explanations, along with starship and world designs. There are some interesting scientific asides as well as advice for running games throughout the text.

This is not a game for novices, and there are still lots of issues about editing throughout. But for Traveller fans, there is something of real worth and investment at the core. Recommended.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
T5 Traveller5 Core Rules Book (759 pages)
Publisher: Game Designers' Workshop (GDW)
by joel R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/24/2015 01:15:52

Amazingly deep system. Better layout and thought than the first effort. Worth the time and the money. Traveller 5 is what mongooses wishes it could be



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
T5 Traveller5 Core Rules Book (759 pages)
Publisher: Game Designers' Workshop (GDW)
by Stirling W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/26/2015 15:02:11

I've never been a huge fan of Traveller. Any game in which you can die rolling up a character has serious design flaws as far as I'm concerned. However, I bought the book as I'm a fan of SF roleplaying in general, and was hoping for some interesting game design ideas in the new book. However, this book seriously needs some editing love. When rolling up a a test mercenary character I found myself hunting for definitions of terms that don't show up until hundreds of pages after they are first used. There are tables forty pages apart that I kept having to flip between and mysterious notations in tables that I literally took hours to decipher.

At least my first attempt to roll up a character didn't die. No, he was crippled for life during his second term in the Marines...



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
T5 Traveller5 Core Rules Book (759 pages)
Publisher: Game Designers' Workshop (GDW)
by Richard C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/20/2015 19:53:27

I really like this edition/revision. It is quite an improvement over the original CDROM and book. All errata (of which there were 10 pages) is now included in the text and made a part of the main text (no underlining, pasting or redlining necessary). In addition, the text is much easier to search and/or make searchable and editable. A new index has been added that is vastly more detailed than the one provided by R. Eaglestone on the official Traveller forums. There is also more artwork. Marc and the team did an excellent job with this. I look forward to the release of the revised CDROM and new hardcopy.

I don't like how the book has been renamed "Traveller5.09" ("The 5.09 version of Traveller"). It seems kind of clumsy and, anyway, as a point release it should be named 5.1. 5.09 suggests something that is still in alpha stage (still being tested and not ready for everyday use). That's all computer terminology but I feel much better about this book than I did about the original pre-release text and the eventual first finished edition (FFE-050 and FFE-300).

If you don't have a copy, here's a great opportunity to get it! Thanks.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
T5 Traveller5 Core Rules Book (759 pages)
Publisher: Game Designers' Workshop (GDW)
by Philipp N. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/12/2015 00:57:16

I will not comment on the content of the book, because if you came here because of Traveller you know what you can expect and the book will deliver.

This comment is solely on the quality of the presentations as a PDF. The first page is white with black text and no red bar. - At least for me it is disturbing not to have the covers pages.

But my most important concern is: A 759 page book without PDF-bookmarks! The index might be okay and is surely helpful if I had an paper-book my hands.

But for PDF user this this is horrible, I would never be able to memorize all relevant pages for quickly looking up anything during the game. And eBook Reader are not known for quick browsing, especially on a PDF.

And yes I could print out the table of content and the index. Or I could make the bookmarks myself if the PDF was not edit-protected.

Also the table of content is wrong (Clones are at Page 96, Chimeras at 91, Basic Information has no page references at all and so on).

This is a sloppy PDF made without any love for the tree-saving reader.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
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