This article originally appeared in the September 2010 issue of Freelance Traveller.
Reign of Discordia, the Traveller Edition is a conversion of the Gun Metal Games True20 setting of the same name. This edition is released under Mongoose’s Flaming Cobra imprint, as an alternate setting for the Mongoose Traveller ruleset.
On the Shelf
A maroon cover is graced with a large picture whose style is not atypical of “pulp” SF. The product title is at the top in a white, square/blocky but readable font, and the Traveller name-and-arrow logo is below the picture.
Reign of Discordia is inarguably a setting book; this core volume is quite definitely rules-light. There is one-half of one column on one page that describes what the referee and players need to be aware of when using other Traveller material, and more isn’t needed. The rest of the book is chock full of source material, covering well what any referee will want to know about a setting, with very little wasted verbiage.
On Closer Inspection
While the hardest of hard-core gearheads might find this volume lacking in crunchy goodness, just about anyone else will find the depth and breadth of the material here more than adequate. An introduction by the author outlines what his goals were in the creation of Reign of Discordia and its translation to Traveller.
Setting-historical background, including discussion of key technologies, follows, providing a good overview of the setting.
This is followed by twenty-nine pages of world descriptions, averaging two worlds per page, grouped by ownership. Few of the worlds profiled are complete nonentities, and none of them are merely generated UWPs to fill in blank spaces on a map—if nothing else, the available information serves to underline a setting enigma.
Eight pages of racial descriptions, each at about the level of an early JTAS “Contact!” article, give the reader an overview of the various major races of the setting (and “major” here refers to raw political hegemonic power, rather than some arbitrary theoretical technological criterion, as in the OTU setting).
Nine pages of equipment follow, some of which may have “standard Traveller” equivalents, some not. There is a paragraph or two on a minor modification of the rules; plasma weapons in Reign of Discordia do have non-negligible recoil.
Fifteen pages of organizational profiles covers organizations of all of the major races, and the background (religious, commercial, political, criminal, etc.) of each. Two pages of “one-line” NPCs are included at the end of this section.
The next fifty-three pages are starships, in the form that we’ve come to know from other Mongoose Traveller items—a stat block and brief description, followed by deck plans—and, as usual, the plans are not in a miniatures-useful scale (and on the larger ships, it’s virtually impossible to discern the deck plan 1.5m squares). These ships represent both current construction and remnant Empire construction.
Six pages (including the aforementioned one-half of one column on using other Traveller products) give some useful information and ideas for running campaigns in Reign of Discordia.
Nine pages outline Rover’s Beacon, a spaceport suitable for use as an adventure setting, rather than just a place to bring a starship to for fuel. These are immediately followed by fifteen pages of an adventure which begins and ends there. Finally, a page of one-line NPCs for the adventure, and a one-page index round out the volume.
Artwork is neither simple drawings nor fully photorealistic, though there is a strong sense of three-dimensionality to it.
The choice of body font could have been better; Rockwell, being both slab-serif and monoline (all strokes the same thickness) appears quite heavy, even in the unbolded form, and is more difficult to read in large blocks than would be a more common text font such as Times or Bookman.
Reign of Discordia is quite definitely an interesting alternative to the standard Third Imperium setting. Adventures for all tastes, from military to mercantile to political, are accommodated by the setting, in such a way as to allow the PCs to Make a Difference. Although common space opera tropes can be found throughout the setting, Mr Drader has managed to avoid leaving the reader with a "ho-hum, it's been done before, just a new coat of paint over the same old same old" feeling.
If you are looking for a post-imperial space opera setting, you could do far worse than purchasing this book; money spent on this is most definitely not wasted.