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Traveller Core Rulebook
 
$29.99
Average Rating:4.3 / 5
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Traveller Core Rulebook
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Traveller Core Rulebook
Publisher: Mongoose
by David G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/08/2021 16:48:16

The Traveller system has some very high points and some very low points when it comes to quality. For this reason I had a hard time rating this product.

Let's start at some of the high points.

The character creation is what I want out of a system, it made interesting characters and rooted them in the game in a better way than most tailored backstories. It deals with a problem that I have had at multiple gaming tables, which is non-veteran players take a long time to create a character and are often bored of the game before it begins. This character creation system is a game. There will be some that prefer handmade characters, but in general this was an improvement.

The threat that comes with violence, is intense and pushes players to take alternative routes to success besides yanking out their Gauss rifle and firing. This threat comes from the death spiral of temporary attribute loss from damage; however, this death spiral can be really intense, which lead to some amount of undo player paranoia. Even so we still fought things, it just was very discouraging to any murder hobboism. This is mostly a plus, but can lead to player cowardice if they are not prepared for character death.

Some middle of the road points

There is a great capacity for character differentiation, as this is a skill based system. There are sixty-seven skills on the character sheet, meaning that mathematically there should be a great amount of character diversity with it being rare that characters overlap much. Unfortunately, things are a bit more restricted; given that there are skills that are going to be commonly used and those that are rarely of benefit. After all if combat is common, the weapon skills will be focused by nearly all characters. If the game is predominantly in space it seems rare that seafarer will be used. Also, skills don't give the character new things to do, rather a greater capacity to do what they already can do without the addition of any interesting mechanics. This is not purely negative, it keeps the game simple and the character is significantly better at their favorite tasks, but this can make the player feel like their stuck in a groove, never to do anything else.

Money, Money everywhere. This is a game that greatly concerns itself with credits, they have decent trading rules and well documented ship costs. This is great, unless the players ever get a windfall and all those credit based drives disappear. This can lead to credit tracking to be a laborious task, instead of the "can we get into the black this month" tension that it was meant to be. At the end of the day, make sure there is at least one calculator at the table or trading can drag on as they add or subtract three or four multi-thousand credit sums by hand.

The Low Points

RPG rule books are not typically known for their masterful organization skills, Traveller takes the bad organization to a new level. "Hey Ref, how do I recover from damage again?" should not be a hard question to answer. I should be able to open up the book to the section on healing and read it off to the player who decided that they were incapable of doing the same. Table of contents, not overly surprised that I don't see a section on recovery. Flip to the back of the pdf for the index, there isn't one! Medic is a skill, I'll look there: a description of how to do first aid. By now every one who has a book is looking for it; I check combat, no dice. I'm using ctrl+f by this point I finally find it under: encounters and dangers. Why is it there? Why is there no index? Why does it feel like the earlier parts of the book are organized, somewhat, but then the writers just decided they had no idea how to organize the book and just threw it in where there was white space. It's not just healing, its most things beyond character creation. I have to ask one more question: beam and pulse laser turrets get a bonus to hit, its not listed in the weapon statistics, it is in a random table that was made for this purpose alone; why? Why, is there a separate table that isn't on the same page as the turrets statistics?

The art: I know this is subjective, but every person I have shown it to dislikes any art that shows a person (human or alien). The equipment and landscape scenes are normally approved of. The problem with the art may be the artist, but the consensus was that the art, like the rest of the book, was rushed, which greatly shows.

Ship design, I will not be discussion ship creation as that is High Guard so this will be mostly art critique. Why does this matter? While art quality is subjective, ship design is engineering. I should specify that most of the groups I play in are composed of engineers and computer scientists. So when we see asymmetric ship designs we have a decent idea on how poorly it's going to handle, etc. It got to the point that the Referee would try to avoid showing any kind of ship art, but it couldn't be avoided entirely, which lead to just about everyone being ejected from any kind of immersion. This point alone has spawned a number of jokes about how super advanced human civilizations are incapable of building functional spaceships.

Breaking Down the Rating

This is where I will attempt to explain why I have given this product the rating it currently has, to do this I will give a running tally of the products total star count, out of five, after each argument is provided.

First a three star is an average rating, so the rating tally will be starting at this point. - 3 stars

Character creation is amazing, this is what I would like to see become much more common in Role-Playing Games. Especially how this improved immersion. - 5 stars

Combat feels violent, dangerous, and non-trivial. - 6 stars

The skill based systems does little to differentiate Traveller from other skill based systems, which tend to be akin or more interesting. - 5.5 stars

Money management is done better than a number of games that I could mention; however, it can quickly become trivial if a large sum is acquired, or can bottleneck a game if the players are unlucky at trading. - 6 stars

The organization is terrible this is the kind of thing that without ctrl + f can put a game on pause for tens of minutes, even with ctrl + f the game is greatly slowed, killing tension, excitement, and the mood. Replacing it with irritation and arbitrary rules that no one can quite agree on. - 4 stars

Art is a subjective element to design, for this reason I feel that, even though I and my friends are not fond of it, this detail should not effect the rating as this is bad not terrible. - 4 stars

Ship design is integral to a space opera game, which this is typically played as. If the designers would have determined some method of ratifying the design without images then the ship art would be just art, thereby subjective; however, they did not find such a method. Therefore, the ship art also doubles as a three dimensional layout suggesting at a blueprint. In this light it can be found, by a table surrounded by engineering and computer science students, to be abjectly terrible and immersion breaking. - 3 stars

At the end of the day, I felt like taking off more stars for ship design, but I am to understand that this is not problematic for most. Then with our overall assessment of this game aligned with this breakdown, as long as ship art is hidden away, this is a game with high and lows that come out to average.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Traveller Core Rulebook
Publisher: Mongoose
by Edward C. O. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/09/2021 16:16:31

i bought both the PDF and physical copy so i will be speaking on the physical copy.

Traveller 2e by Mongoose is pretty interesting, personally, i have been looking for a sci-fi space opera like game, and this game fits the bill. the life path is definitely the most fun and interesting that i have ran so far.

a couple of issues about the book, this issue is fixed with the PDF search function but with the book it's no excuse. the lack of an Index is jarring, like who thought this was a good idea?

another issue with this book is that while it has a lot of great information to get you started, this book assumes you'll play as a human, if you want to play an alien race, you will need the other books to try to play as another species. another issue is that the information for a lot of other ruling and optional rules are in other books. i know it'll increase the size of the book and price, but i feel if it had at least the information from the Travellers Companion book, i feel this book would definitely be a must own for everyone.

the game itself is fantastic though! my player's and i ran a one shot where there ship is attacked by space pirates and they have to fight them off before help can arrive. it was tense, fun, and a lot player's died. they want to run the game again, so we are as of this writing, running a campaign with a new group of travellers.

overall, this game is fun, a lot of the issues are writing and information issue, but honestly despite my complaints, this is definitely a must have sci-fi rpg game to have! next to Cyberpunk or Shadowrun.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Traveller Core Rulebook
Publisher: Mongoose
by Che T. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/04/2021 16:37:01

Setting aside the cost (let's face it, Mongoose is here to make money, not friends), this is a playable version of Classic Traveller. I'm refereeing a crew who are happily pootling around a solar system doing stuff, and the rules are accessible for both the newbies and the 80s OG. The rule book is relatively simply laid out, with a minimal number of "hidden" rules that pop up in inaccessible parts.

Thus far my only criticism is the low-skill character-generation mechanism and the relatively high-stakes difficulty dynamic that forms the fundamentals of the game. Because characters never seem to muster out with greater than +2 on any skill, most realistic difficulty checks run at real-time (you can make tasks easier by slowing down an action) are 40-60 split on fail/pass...



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Traveller Core Rulebook
Publisher: Mongoose
by Morgan G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/30/2020 17:01:16

This book improves on the 1st edition of Traveller in many ways. The art is considerably better, and many of the careers look to be improved, with handy charts for navigating the complex character creation that Traveller has always used. It fixes many of the problems I had with 1e. So why 2 stars? Because it's $30 for less content than the 1e corebook, despite a higher pagecount. While the book has retained one of the quintessential traveller rules bits - world/universe creation - it has needlessly omitted starship design. This is a huge part of the utility of Traveller and vastly reduces the books value as a single volume RPG resource. This would be less irritating if the book didn't waste pages with overly designed tables (the weapon tables are tremendously inefficient wastes of space) and functional advertising for upcoming products that look like they'll be mandatory to get the same material we got in the 1e corebook.

Is it bad? That remains to be seen. The mechanics don't look like the same level of disaster that 1e's Vehicle books or Mercenary was, but in their incomplete state and the clear assumption that future supplements will be mandatory purchases, along with some issues related to the files (wonkiness with the printer friendly version, etc) ensures that I'll be looking elsewhere for my Space Opera fix.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Traveller Core Rulebook
Publisher: Mongoose
by Bruce O. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/17/2016 13:23:32

First i need to establish some bona fides. I have been playing Traveller since 1980. This is a great iteration of the game. It covers basic combat, vehicle combat, and ship combat. All the careers from the original are in there, including most from Citizens of the Imperium. World Building basics are in. The only thing missing from the original Little Black Books is Starship design. Gone are the complexities of some versions. This edition goes back to the original 2d6+skill, and adds a stat bonus. The digital version comes with an easy to read "printable version" which removes the art and saves memory. Overall i am loving it! And nobody dies in character generation.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Traveller Core Rulebook
Publisher: Mongoose
by stephanie m. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/09/2016 10:20:02

Really disappointed. I was an early adopter to the beta PDF. We were offered $20 off the final product (essentially pay half up front) and what we got was a poorly printed POD version on poor paper which caused colour fade and leakage. It also had a curved cover with heat/moisture wavy pages.

Turns out there's another version with the amendments at Mongoose. A print run with better paper for the same price. We werent told about this individually, the owner mentioned this on the forums (which i dont frequent) and after he'd taken the money. The first I knew of all this was when my inferior copy turned up in the post.

I feel ripped off and wont be buying mongoose stuff ever again.

If you really want this edition, DON'T buy it here. Go get the proper version for the same money at the publisher's website.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Traveller Core Rulebook
Publisher: Mongoose
by Fabian S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/20/2016 03:59:41

Traveller is definitely the best game at the things it tries to do. This edition of Mongoose's streamlined and accessible variant is no different. However, leaving out ship construction rules, one the THE most important elements for anyone trying to make the universe their own is an unforgivable mistake. Although I absolutely love the look and feel of this iteration and the rules have received some very welcome improvements, I cannot in good conscience recommend this for players with a similar use case as mine - namely play in a setting that is not the standard Traveller one.

I recommend picking up the first edition, which has fully featured starship construction rules.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Traveller Core Rulebook
Publisher: Mongoose
by Brandon O. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/01/2016 12:20:35

Bottom Line Up Front: Good game, but only for a certain kind of gamer. Needs an experienced GM. Has some usability issues from a production standpoint, but nothing deal-breaking.

I noticed that most of the reviews here were comparing this book to the previous edition of Traveller, and I wanted to give a review more aimed at gamers who are looking at getting into a new system, and how Traveller stacks up to comparable RPGs by other companies.

1. Characters: First off, the character creation is very complicated, but, since it is very specifically stated that it is meant to be carried out with the group, as part of the game itself, and not as pre-game prep work, I am not docking points for that. It seems like character creation would actually be quite fun to play through, rather than just an excercise in mutual homework. On the flip side, however, the career path system is very dice dependent. Access to professions, injuries, and what skills you learn are all dependant on dice rolls. This is great if you are trying to grow a character organically, but it means that it is very hard to build to a concept, as your aspiring doctor may flunk out of school, get arrested, and end up as a streetwise fence. This can also result in some characters being much more capable than others, with one player ending up as an ex-conscript with the shirt on his back and a bad leg, and the other could be a renaissance woman, with multiple successful careers behind her, a network of contacts accross the sector, and equipped with the finest of gear. Characters also don't advance with experience or levels, learning new skills is purely a function of time (and dice rolls).

2. Game Rules: Gameplay seems smooth, with the primary mechanic being roll 2d6. This is somewhat less random than the d20 system, but more than the White Wolf/Shadowrun roll for success on X many dice. Checks are very skill dependent, with your stats rarely providing more than +/- 1. This means that your character will tend to be good at fairly specific things, rather than having general areas of competence, but it also means you can have left-field skills, as your dumb thug can pick up enough ranks to become quite good at working on his car. On the fly modifiers are handled with a boon/bane system (roll 3d6, pick the best/worst 2), which cuts down on a lot of the mid-conflict math, but loses granularity for saying some circumstance is very/just a little (un)helpful. The skill system also includes some very handy rules, like linked skill checks for non-combat challenges and time bands for rushing/taking your time with a job. On the other hand, the equipment tables have a lot of redundant entries (ie, something with a better version that is just a little more expensive/higher tech). The computer equipment has an interesting rule about buying lower/higher tech versions, and similar rules should be created for other equipment.

3. Gamesmaster: For the GM, Traveller is quite a challenge. No exp or levels means no Challenge or Threat Ratings, meaning you have to eyeball everything you throw at your players without guidelines. For non-combat encounters, the static task difficulties help, but the highly random charecter creation means that what may be easy for one character is very hard for another. The relative lack of charatcer growth does mean, however, that once your have got a sense of what your players can handle it will only change slowly, if at all. Stats for NPCs and Worlds are presented as just strings of characters. If your players ever catch you flatfooted, you will not be able to just give them a monster or world straight out of the book, you will have to sit down and break down the numbers into a useful form. On the upside, Traveller does include a very nice ruleset for creating an entire space sector, complete with trade routes and politics in just a couple of hours (less as you get better with it), and its animal behavior tags are a really nice touch for adding some realism to wildlife encounters. It also includes a very interesting system for modelling supply and demand throughout a sector for (complete with instructions to kick back and let the players drive the pace as they use these rules to scour the sector for profits!) The book is pretty light on setting information, but inference and deduction from comments scattered throughout the book will give you enough to play within their world (if not to be a major part of it). The book also includes a sample sector which, while not ready to play out of the box, does give you a pretty good headstart for building your own adventures.

4. The Product: From a production standpoint, the game has numerous small issues. Typos are scattered throughout the book. Never common enough that it looks amateurish, they are noticeable. There is no index, and the table of contents is very sparse, although the PDF does include a more comprehensive set of bookmarks. On the other hand, there are no links in the document itself, and there are numerous layout choices that only make sense in the physical product (charts being on the opposite page from their rules, larger charts printed sideways). Finally, the order of the the different sections is very poor. Weapon qualities are not near the weapons table, they are buried in the combat section. Rules for space encounters, space missions, and asteroid mining aren't in the encounters or missions section, they are in between the stats for vehicles and the stats for spacecraft. Numerous similar placement choices make this book very hard to use a reference guide (although it does read quite smoothly just going from cover to cover). Reference would be especially difficult in the physcial form due to the aforementioned spartan table of contents/non existent index (The PDF bookmarks and Ctrl-F help a lot). The purchase here (DriveThruRPG.com, Apr 2016) also includes a number of peripherals, including a fillable PDF charcter sheet, but the sheet is buggy, with certain boxes being linked together (ie Filling in Weapon #1's weight will also put that value for Armour #1's weight, and vice versa). A Google search can find you fixed versions, but still it is a little disappointing.

5. Conclusion: In conclusion, Traveller is a system with a very specific appeal. If you are an experienced group of gamers, looking for a hands-off, "let's see where this goes," episodic experience you could do a lot worse than Traveller. You will have a great ride as you watch your character evolve through creation, and then take that character to explore and trade in a space that is filled with colourful, varied worlds, trying to keep up with the mortgage payments on your ship (or stay one hop ahead of the space repo-men!). If, however, you are new to RPGs, like to play specific characters, or looking for a sense of growth from your character, I suggest you look elsewhere. If you are a GM, you might want to pick this up on sale, just to plunder some of the rules/concepts like the sector generation system, and use those in other games. The product here could also use another sweep through Quality Control, just to clear out some of the bugs.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Traveller Core Rulebook
Publisher: Mongoose
by Shane M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/13/2016 15:11:48

An improvement on the 1st edition book, a lot of stuff that used to slow the game down or make it feel it bit odd has been removed or streamlined, making for a faster simpler game, yet with just as much depth as the old Traveller.

Skills have some minor tweaks with major relevance to game play (e.g. Athletics). Skill checking using Target Numbers rather than 8 all the time, and Boons and Banes bring this edition right up to date with some of the other games I currently play, but these changes feel natural to the system, and great to see a more integrated system across personal, vehicle and space combat.

Things I used to have culled from various supplements and published adventrures to help me run a campaign has been brought in, and cleared up, such as medkits, healing, kit, and computers, although there are no living traveller rules, which I use in our campaign.

The PDf works well across platforms including iPad (tried and tested in a gaming session).

Already got the print version on order. Highly recommended.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Traveller Core Rulebook
Publisher: Mongoose
by A customer [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/04/2016 12:22:15

I'm still going through the rules, but I am excited to play the new version. Everything that needed to be simplified is done so in a way that keeps to a common, understandable methodology. This makes it easier to run and for new players to pick-up.

One gripe. No ship construction rules at all, which I believe will be part of the High Guard supplement. I think this is a significant failing for a core rulebook. To me, it's like removing the magic section from the D&D Core Rulebook. Not everything needs to be in there, but there should have been at least basic guidelines to tweaking the ships provided in the book. It's really not worth transitioning or starting a new campaign until that supplement is released. Because of that, I can't recomend picking up this version to someone who only wants (or can afford) to purchase the main rulebook.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Traveller Core Rulebook
Publisher: Mongoose
by Marius F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/28/2016 07:39:54

Nice book with very clear explanations of the system.

Drawbacks:

  • No setting information
  • No infromation about configuring a ship, feels like must have information to play the gam.


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Traveller Core Rulebook
Publisher: Mongoose
by sam w. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/04/2016 09:15:20

An improvement in evert way from MGT1. Mechanics are completely cleaned up, the book layout and art brings in into the 21st century, and previously the "boring & long" space combat has been updated significantly.

I'd like to point out the sole item that people seem concerned about, starship construction rules being moved to the upcoming High Guard book (within a month or two), makes perfect sense and I view it as a positive change. I had never previously created a ship with just the core 1st edition traveller, due to ammendments and changes published in High Guard. In 2nd edition, they avoid this mistake by ensuring a full set of complete and verified construction rules in the book dedicated to such, rather than splitting them over two books.

For a more complete review, please see: http://www.rpg.net/reviews/archive/16/16668.phtml

This product is absolutely worth your time and money.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Traveller Core Rulebook
Publisher: Mongoose
by Edwin A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/01/2016 14:54:16

OK I read pretty much all of this, and it hasn't changed that much from 1.0. It's a cleanup, and there are some good rules added, but it's not fundamentally very different. I think pretty much everything (Mongoose) will be compatible with it.

In short, if you don't own Traveller, this is the book to buy. If you do own Mongoose 1.0 you probably don't need this unless you're running a campaign, and if you are, you probably will be enticed by something below. I'm looking forward to the other books and will definitely buy them.

caveat: I could be wrong about any of this, it's from memory.

New rules: damage from Falling/gravity heat/cold poisons, vacuum, radiation, etc. (LOTS on radiation) power requirements for ship systems ship critical hits, which may impact power requirements different repair rules (better engineer rolls use less spare parts, which are expensive) specific grapple rules Trade table is flattened. easier to make some money, but harder to score huge Passenger revenue is more varied and more profitable and therefore more attractive. Modernization overall (computers don't take huge amounts of space. cooler tech) Sensor rules are better defined and more interesting There's an included subsector (setting) which may be interesting, I didn't read it in detail More interesting non-weapon things to do in ship combat (engineer actions/maneuvering/sensor jamming/etc.) some of the skills have been rearranged and make more sense. (computers is now under electronics, for example.) Pre-career education (university or military academy) is available. Task chains are less swingy -> (can't give huge +/- to someone else by helping) I think the man combat stuff added some options: parry/dive for cover/dodge, but don't quote me on it ship maintenance costs now scale, can double-bunk. Ship construction (see below) is more granular, and has more options.

Cons: Ship construction is NOT included in this book, I had to extrapolate from some of the beta stuff and the ship examples, but the examples are playable. There are some neat ideas coming in future books based on the beta material (more updated computer and ship parts) Added boon/bane (roll 3d6 and take highest/lowest two) which was unnecessary I think. I just adjust DM as needed.

things I have not read: psionics (much) character generation tables (looks pretty similar though)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Traveller Core Rulebook
Publisher: Mongoose
by A customer [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/29/2016 23:59:02

Traveller Core Rulebook 2nd edition is in my opinion is a good buy and a great introduction to Traveller for a first time player. The layout is very good and the artwork is high quality.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Traveller Core Rulebook
Publisher: Mongoose
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/26/2016 08:40:17

So here it is in all its glory, the latest incarnation of Traveller, harking back to the original 'little black books' of 1977 but brought bang up to date with a ruleset honed by over 30 years of play, discussion and revision. It's nice to see a nod to the original even in the cover - the spaceship that's getting a hammering has Beowulf painted on the side! (Veterans will remember the radio message that graced the original ruleset, a mayday sent out by the Free Trader Beowulf pleading for assistance...)

The Introduction sets it all out. A science fiction game of the far future, with which you can run just about anything you can think of... although there's the well-established setting of the Third Imperium to visit if you don't have time or inclination to create your own universe. Or perhaps you want to bring a favourite science fiction TV show or film to life on your tabletop (or even a book, although they don't mention that for some reason). There's the usual explanation of role-playing, the part players and referee (the traditional Traveller term for a game master) play... and the intriguing reminder that Traveller contains several 'mini-games' such as world creation, trade, and even character creation that allow much of the game to run on 'autopilot', leaving referee and indeed players free to concentrate on the adventure to hand. Naturally, if the result of a die-roll in one of these mini-games doesn't suit, the referee should feel free to change it! Some campaign ideas are provided - broad sweeps, these: do you want to be engaged in trade or military exploits, would you prefer to explore uncharted swathes of space or perhaps the classic Traveller campaign that can involve a bit of all of these takes your fancy? Seeds sewn, this section rounds out with a list of other Traveller books, conventional terminology in gaming and a summary of what Tech Level is all about, with a couple of sentences illustrating each one from TL0 to TL14 (we are at TL7/TL8 if you're curious).

We then begin with Chapter 1: Traveller Creation in which we learn how to generate characters. Holding true to the original (in both senses of the word) Traveller concept in which the process begins with an 18-year-old ready to start his career - no doubt full of ideas about what he will accomplish - and then follows him through it acquiring both skills and a backstory to end with the fully-developed character ready for play. The whole process is fascinating of itself and from the initial inception of this game, many people (myself included!) have amused themselves generating characters without any real intention of using them in an actual game. The interesting thing about this process is that characters come out very realistic - the plans of that eager 18-year-old may or may not have worked out quite like he intended, just as happens in real life.

First of all you roll your character's characteristics, six values that describe your initial physical and mental capabilities, and then a little background based on which sort of planet he grew up which gives a few skills to start with. Then you start building a career in 4-year blocks with each one giving skills, other benefits (money or items) and events. You might choose (or be obliged) to have him change careers once or twice, he might be injured, he might even end up serving time in prison... all this before you decide to begin adventuring. There are always trade-offs: a military career gives you combat skills but if you put yourself in harm's way, you might get harmed, and so on. It's recommended that you generate a party together, taking opportunities to find links as you build your characters' pasts rather than setting out as a handful of complete strangers who inexplicably throw their lot in together and head out to see the universe. It's all human-centric - if you want to play an alien you'll have to wait for the appropriate supplement!

Chapter 2: Skills and Tasks looks at how you use those skills you've just determined that your character has. It describes the task resolution system, which is still based on the classic 'roll 2 dice against a Referee-set difficulty' but the use of modifiers other than those based on the character's own capabilities has been replaced by the use of extra 'boon' or 'bane' dice. These come into play when conditions are beneficial or adverse to the attempt being made. A third die is rolled. If conditions are favourable, the player discards the lowest roll and uses the other two dice to resolve the task as normal. If things are against him, he discards the highest die roll before resolving the task. Neat, and a lot easier than having to determine just how beneficial or otherwise the circumstances might be! The idea is that task difficulties and applicable modifiers ought to be fairly standard for any given task, all you need to decide is if the circumstances under which you are trying to accomplish it warrant a boon or a bane die to be added to your roll.

Next, Chapter 3 explores Combat in great detail. This is also based on the task resolution system, with specific refinements and options appropriate to fighting rather than any other activtiy. Combat is still deadly, and relatively speedy. Characters use their skill in the weapon they are using, and wield them in initiative-order sequence in combat rounds. The system has been streamlined and integrated with personal combat, vehicle combat and starship combat all working the same way. Brawls are not the only dangers to be faced in the far-future, however, so Chapter 4: Encounters and Dangers provides loads of hazards and the game mechanics necessary to deal with them. Environmental dangers abound... but fortunately there is also a section on healing. Animals (which may or may not be hostile) are also covered here with a broad outline of a system to create animals and encounters with them. Several examples are given - and it can be great fun thinking up exotic critters for the worlds the party visits in its travels. Animals, of course, are not the only beings they will encounter, so there is also a section about NPCs which includes quick generation of them and the sort of encounters that may be had... there's even a rudimentary patron encounter system here for generating really fast adventure seeds on the fly.

Next, Chapter 5: Equipment provides a vast array of items that the prudent Traveller ought to think about taking along with him. It starts, however, with a discussion of money in the far future, standards of living, encumberance and such like details, before presenting 'The Core Collection' - an illustrated catalogue of everything from weapons and armour to augments (bodily modifications), medical equipment, and survival gear. It's good-looking and realistic - some parts read like advertisements! - as well as providing the game mechanical information that you need.

The next chapter covers Vehicles - both the types of vehicle that you can have (starting fairly generic but with a very customisable design system) and how to conduct combat and chases using them. Oh, and how to mend the damage caused afterwards too! This chapter is about ground, sea and air vehicles of all sorts, spacecraft get two separate chapters next, one covering operations (everything from running costs and fuel to travel times and repairs and shipboard security) and the other devoted to space combat. This is handled more boardgame style, particularly for ship-to-ship combat, and also looks at boarding actions.

Now we know what to do with them, Chapter 9: Common Spacecraft presents an array of vessels ready for use. Many of them will be familiar to long-time Traveller players, but the presentation is spectactular, with ship statistics appear in a neat panel that gives you all you need to know, whilst deckplans have gone isometric. This gives a nice impression of what it would actually be like to wander around the ship in question and matches up well with the external views. They won't work so well as old-style deckplans for people who like to run combat aboard like a miniatures skirmish though. This has been addressed in the PDF version by supply a separate file of 2D deckplans for at least some of the ships listed. There's a good range of standard craft here from traders and scouts to liners and yachts.

Tucked away next is Chapter 10: Psionics. Not everyone likes to use them, so they are kept separate from the rest of character creation - you'll need to incorporate material from here if you do want to use psionics in your game, although some of the life events give opportunities to discover if a character is psionic or to get training. In the Third Imperium, psionics are frowned upon, indeed mostly illegal... but your universe may be completely different. This chapter gives you all you need to bring them in if you so wish.

Next comes another specialist area: Trade. Many Traveller games include trading - even if it's merely a means to fund your party's travel - and here are all the rules necessary to make it work, with a delightful layered approach that enables you to abstract it to a few die rolls or make it a prominent feature in your game depending on what you prefer.

Finally, there's a chapter on universe and world creation and an overview of the Sindal Subsector, which will be the 'home' of this edition of Traveller. World creation in itself can be as absorbing as character generation, and you can get very detailed if that's your delight. The Sindal Subsector includes several well-developed worlds, so there's somewhere to visit straight away.

Overall, this is a worthy successor to the books that have gone before, beautifully presented and with rules honed by the 30-odd years the core game mechanic has been around, updated and refined to suit contemporary styles yet with the same simple charm of the original little black books it all begin with!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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