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Sword Worlds
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Sword Worlds
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Sword Worlds
Publisher: Mongoose
by P-O B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/17/2012 15:53:11

Originally published at:

What has Mongoose done to the Sword Worlds? Do I need this book? These are the questions that I will try to answer here.

The cover of the book is quite cool, but it doesn’t look like the soldiers in the image are Sword Worlders at all.

Interior art is not bad either. I just feel it is too much Viking themed, and not really showing the hi-tec spacefaring culture that I wanted to see. The deckplans are fine and the 3D rendering of the Jarl is ok. It can be seen in colour at Biomass Art.

There are a few contradictions in the introduction of the book. Are the Sword Worlds a dangerous place or a popular place to visit? Are there no physical differences from original Solomani or is the average male weight 105 kg, and the females pregnant for 10 months? Then there is also (a likely) bug in the naming rules, since the female surname possessive form is missing, but not the male possessive form.

How did the come up with the Army Ranking table? I don’t think that matches any Scandinavian army.

There are 3 new careers. The first one is the Aesirist Church. This isn’t something that I like. It is too Viking themed. I will not use it in MTU. The next one is The Patrol. From old JTAS #18. This is a good idea to include. The third is Jäger Command. I think it should really be part of Marines or Army, as special forces.

The origin of sagamaal and the vocabulary makes some sense. Currency and exchange rate was a good thing to include. History is a bit messed up. It’s interesting but doesn’t match the previous publications.

In the Worlds chapter, the world listing of the subsector is missing the worlds outside the Sword Worlds. The atmosphere of Enos is explained in the same way as in the GURPS SW module. (To keep Traveller fun, these things should be ignored so that the referee can deal with in a different way.) Mithril matches the old adventure Mission on Mithril.

The equipment list is nice, but there are some items that are just too Viking themed. There is a nice selection of ships. Some parts of the encounter tables are fine, and the animal are interesting. The miniphants has been changed. They are not the same miniphants as in JTAS #16.

There are some proofreading errors (as usual). There are some extra-large apostrophes. There is a reference to a class III starport. (That is what a type C starport is called in GURPS.) There are some talk about the border worlds (that shouldn’t exist in 1105). I get an error message in the end of the pdf. Please Mongoose, do a better job!

So, I think that parts of the book is good, and other parts are not so good. You can buy it for the good parts. Maybe you like the other parts as well. The alternative would be to use JTAS #18 and read Space Viking for free, and form your own opinion about the Sword Worlds.

[3 of 5 Stars!]
Sword Worlds
Publisher: Mongoose
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/07/2012 14:02:00

Originally published at:

So, you want to play some Traveller, but you’re not too keen on the usual tropes. Not a merchant ship plying trade across the Imperium – not enough macho. Not really interested in the Imperium at all, now you mention it – a little too staid, too laid back. Not enough opportunities for plundering.

Mongoose Publishing’s Alien Module 4: Sword Worlds might be just your cup of tea, then. Based, sometimes loosely, sometimes blatantly on H. Beam Piper’s Space Viking saga, this add-on to the Traveller product list will give you all of the details you need to create characters in the tiny empire that was founded by Scandinavian colonists hundreds of years ago.

The book spends a good deal of time – a healthy eighteen pages – on character building, including modifications to the standard career paths available to any Traveller player, as well as adding several new, Sword Worlds-specific paths including the religious Aesirist Church, the Confederation Patrol – an interplanetary police force, and the elite Jager Kommand – part Marine Corps, part Byzantine Viking guard. Even going with the traditional roles, you’ll get specific instructions on how you’ll be set apart from an Imperial with the same general career.

The next section of the book involves the culture of the Sword Worlds. They are, to a modern eye, primitive – no matter how hard the author tries to make you think they aren’t, and to defend the generally misogynist character of the Svaerbonir – the Sword Worlders or “swordies” for short. They hold onto a very male dominated culture, with women in a very specific set of roles, in some ways very like the Aslan from Alien Module 1. This grates more in a branch of humanity, however, than it does in a wholly made-up race. Your mileage may vary, but be prepared for the general dichotomy between men and women to loom large in Sword Worlds games.

The most interesting part of this section is the one that deals with some particulars, entitled “10 Points of Great Interest Within the Sword Worlds” and details mercenary units, beer, clothing, sports and terrorist organizations and even a group akin in many ways to the Roma or Gypsies. These are the kinds of things that lend a real distinction and flavor to games run in the Sword Worlds.

The two dozen worlds that comprise the Sword Worlds are broken out in some little depth, with points of interest and distinctive locations on the world, ecology or historical information that would be relevant either to visitors or to the GM in finding hooks for adventure. This section constitutes twenty-six pages of fairly dense text, and yet I think it could have benefited from being longer still. Worlds are large places, and in a page a piece, it is hard to do more than hit the highlights. Some will see this as a blessing, giving the GM additional room to improvise, but I like the idea of a canon world description that goes into some depth.

The equipment section briefly details the general tech levels of the Sword Worlds in a number of areas before delving into specific gear that is relevant to the region. Again, this adds a localizing flavor to the game, when you’re not just wearing “ballistic cloth” but a Brynja – a high-tech variation on ringmail, or you’re wielding a Riddare automatic rifle. So much more interesting than an ACR, or even a generic 4mm Gauss Rifle.

This section includes vehicles that are Sword Worlds specific, but I couldn’t wait for the next section – because space ship designs really are my favorite part of Traveller. And the material presents five ships, from fighters to large-scale warships, all with a distinct flare and decidedly non-Imperial silhouette. These are complete with deck plans, as are most ships in the Mongoose Traveller library.

A section on Encounters provides specific tables for encounters on Sword World worlds, including a handful of sample patrons. The level of detail is solid on these, and they’ll help to provide the flavor of the Sword Worlds in some of the first encounters that the players will role play against. They close the section with a series of pre-built NPCs to suit many different adventure opportunities, and the stats for various native animals for the worlds in question.

The book closes with a section of classified information, with a handful of plots and potential hooks to bring more adventure to your players.

The material is solid, as we’ve seen in many of the previous Alien Modules from Mongoose. The Sword Worlds are a tantalizing place to stage a game, given the general military bent of the people, and the relatively low technology (topping out at TL 12) of the game that you’ll find there. Players who tend to play female characters, regardless of their own gender, may find the Sword Worlds inherently limiting to them, if not outright hostile, but as this is only a game, those sorts of attitudes can be softened if not entirely abandoned by a sympathetic GM.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
Sword Worlds
Publisher: Mongoose
by Cos M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/30/2011 17:11:47

An enjoyable read that expands on Sword World canon. Some surprises about their culture that will add favour to any Traveller Campaign.

The usual information about equipment and starships has been provided for the gearhead referees. Personally would have liked more on their ships.

Overall worth a purchase.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
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