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Traveller Compendium 2
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Traveller Compendium 2
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Traveller Compendium 2
Publisher: Mongoose
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/16/2015 09:10:18

This second compilation of Traveller material draws on more than Signs and Portents (the Mongoose Publishing e-zine), wtih material from the Living Traveller campaign as well. It's better organised than the first volume, with nine full adventures followed by a collection of shorter 'scenario hooks' and then an array of more general articles.

The adventures start with an update of a real classic, the adventure Annic Nova that first was seen back in the days of Classic Traveller, where the party explores an alien vessel found drifting in space. This is followed by a wide-ranging selection that can send your party to low tech worlds, to test games software, to foil terrorist attacks, and avoid space collisions amongst others. Whatever sort of adventures you prefer, there's likely to be at least one that appeals - and however much you prefer writing your own there's always that week when there is no time to prepare for the next game session!

The 'scenario hooks' are similarly inventive although as each is only a couple of paragraphs long, you'll need to put in a fair bit of effort to turn them into full-blown adventures. Included in this section are an assortment of well-detailed NPCs who themselves might spawn an adventure and who certainly will make colourful additions to whatever is going on. They are a series of 'old flames' designed to be people the characters knew (and loved) in the past... but for each, now, there are a range of options as to how they feel and what they will do with the individual who once was the object of their affections. These are followed by a selection of patrons who might have something of advantage to offer the party - aid, a job - and who can be added to the rich panoply of people that they interact with in their travels.

The final selection of articles opens with one on keeping your ship's finances straight. Utterly boring to some, but vital to those who enjoy the merchantile aspects possible in Traveller with all the trade rules... not to mention that if you get them wrong the bank may come after the party, irrespective of whether they prefer adventuring or trading! Even if you don't want to indulge in bookkeeping, reading this is still recommended, even if only for ideas about what a purser might do aboard ship. This leads rather neatly into another piece called The Flying Money Pit, in which a party down on its luck somehow ends up with title to a somewhat decrepit starship - it's a kind of campaign outline with plenty of suggestions as to how to weave a plotline around the acquisition and repair of this vessel, not to mention paying off all the debts accrued. There's also a piece on mass battles, a set of glorious ingame reasons why a particular character is missing to use when a player fails to turn up for the game, notes on how to weave banks into your campaign (see comments on finances above), the concept of parallel dimensions, rules for the availability of, well, whatever the characters are trying to get hold of, a detailed rundown of a company called SuSAG (again familiar to long-time players), and some strange lifeforms and even stranger items to encounter. Finally, there's a new career of a Xenologist - someone who studies flora and fauna across the galaxy (and one of my favourite careers when not the starship cook, as it happens!).

Overall, a fine selection of material to enhance any game. Some of the illustrations - especially deckplans - could be crisper than the rather blurry JPEG images used, but that's about the only complaint. Just about everything is useful and can add to your Traveller game.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
Traveller Compendium 2
Publisher: Mongoose
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/31/2012 07:53:05

Oriignally published at:

Mongoose Publishing provides regular, free content to supplement your Traveller game each time they release an issue of Signs & Portents magazine. If you’ve not kept up with them, periodically they release the Traveller-related content from these issues in a single volume under the title Compendium. Compendium 2 is the second of these collections, and compiles a significant number of adventures with additional rules and campaign ideas.

The first 140 pages are dedicated to adventures that you can drop right into your Traveller universe. Most excitingly for me, as a player from back when the game was first released by GDW in the late ‘70’s, several of these adventures are based on adventures originally released for Classic Traveller.

The first adventure, Annic Nova, is a classic, doubtless inspired by A. C. Clarke’s “Rama” novels – it pits the players against the unknown with an alien space ship to explore and perhaps tame. The sheer size of the ship contributes to the amount of information provided by the adventure, but it is well laid out, and explained thoroughly. The standard caveat for GMs – to read the whole adventure before you run it – is especially important with Annic Nova.

Otherworld Blues is a much more modern adventure – at least on the surface, with the players called upon to test a new online game system. For all that it’s couched in terms of modern MMOs, the underlying goings-on are as old as time itself, and a nice twist on an old idea.

Following on from Otherworld, Old Acquaintances serves as a sequel to the former, if it worked well at your table, with the players moving up from online gaming to high-technology training software testing and validation. Perfectly acceptable as a stand-alone adventure, it does dovetail nicely with the contacts made in Otherworld, and plays best as a sequel.

The Thing in the Pit is a psychological horror adventure, based on an old TV show, but rooted in paranoia and civil unrest. It will probably challenge your players more than any combat-oriented adventure ever could, but will require a very role-play intensive group of players to really enjoy it to the fullest. It can also lead to one of the most satisfying scenarios that a role-player can hope to find himself in – one where personal sacrifice can make him a hero.

Continuing in the suspense/horror vein, Death Station gives the players a space station that has gone off-line and no longer communicating with anyone to explore. Another game that will let you play with the player’s heads, and if you were to follow off of The Thing with this game – another resuscitation of a Classic Traveller adventure – your players would be extra-sensitive, and perhaps even more likely to build the tension for themselves.

Alien culture is at the center of the adventure Of Dust Spice and Dewclaws, giving the players a chance to be introduced to the Aslan, or, if they have a previous connection, a hook into the adventure. This is a fairly straight-forward recovery mission, with the party being hired to return a misplaced cargo of some value lest the ship’s captain lose face, with dire consequences. It can be played out like a police procedural, with all the twists and turns inherent in that genre, plus the added twist of interacting with aliens who are touchy about personal honor. A good one, all things considered.

Taking a turn into survival adventure, Spinward Fenderbender has the players escorting an expensive and somewhat dubious cargo between worlds when the liner they’re travelling on is hit by another ship. Designed around a party of space-savvy characters, don’t spring this one on just any party – there are some skills that are essential to success. Players must escape their wounded ship, secure their cargo, get through all the red tape associated with the experience, a few twists and double-crosses, and see it through to the final destination.

More high-tension adventure is in order in A Festive Occasion, with the players befriending, and then being put in a position to rescue a local noble when he is kidnaped by terrorists. This adventure will serve agents and other investigator types well, as well as allowing some combat oriented characters to shine at the same time. It’s a very old idea, packaged nicely for a high-tech Traveller game. It’s very time sensitive, but allows for modifications to suit your own game’s timeline as well.

Rescue on Ruie is a classic action movie plot – a corporate magnate pays the players to rescue his son, taken prisoner in a political move. This one is going to be all about the combat, so may not be appropriate for your standard crew of misfits on a freighter game, but for those who have some skills with survival and weapons, it will be a refreshing change from adventures based around trade. It even comes with it’s own sequel plot hooks built into the conclusion of the adventure.

Many pre-built adventures suffer from being too combat or action focused. A Helping Hand doesn’t provide fully written-out adventures, but does provide some ideas for how to build greater roleplaying into your roleplaying. Does your crew have someone qualified to be a doctor? He might be seen as a miracle worker on a low-tech world full of people in need. If your players are ecologically minded, they can be pulled into an adventure utterly without profit motive, helping to clean up a natural preserve. They can become heroes in the eyes of dozens of school children by picking up the slack when another freighter captain backs out on his offer to take the kids into orbit and show them how a spaceship works. All of these ideas blossomed in my mind as I read them, and I saw huge potential for a great session that didn’t have to involve attack rolls at all, and would leave you with plenty of hooks to loop back around to in the future.

Full to the top with adventures, the compendium then gives you more hooks in the manner of Old Flames and A Friend In Need, with a list of possible former relationships, from all perspectives, be they now enemy or ally, and patrons to drive new adventures, be they hiring the crew, or calling upon an old friendship to do them a favor.

Rules are provided to better flesh out the process of running and, more to the point financing, a ship. This dovetails nicely into yet another adventure – one that can take your unlucky crew, none of whom mustered out with any ship shares, into the space travel business, with a ship that comes for free, but not free of entanglements. The whole course of the adventure serves to get them back into flying trim, for all that it’s called The Flying Money Pit.

Now really done with adventures, the book spends time on alternative rules, as well as new items to slot into your campaign. Rules are presented for how to handle large-scale battles without all the extra die rolls associated with individual combat. Working with the above merchant article and adventure are ideas for how to keep every single party from going rogue and skipping out on their enormous bank loan. Extra-dimensional travel is discussed, as well as ideas for how to explain why a particular character isn’t involved in this week’s adventure. Optional rules for equipment availability are presented, as well as new and exotic equipment in the Space Bazaar. The SuSAG corporation is presented at some length, and a quartet of new “aliens” are presented – think Terminator, Planet of the Apes, Gothic Horror and Zombie Apocalypse and you’ll have them pegged. And it closes out with a new career option, the Xenologist, less a scientist than Steve Irwin in space. Included are new animal rules and rules for being an animal trainer.

It’s a huge amount of information, and together can add a great deal of spice to your campaign. It’s all available in pieces in the various Signs and Portents magazines that the articles are culled from, but the price is well worth it for the work of collecting it all in one place.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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