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The Great Rift
Publisher: Mongoose
by Jeffrey Z. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/10/2021 22:20:57

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2018 issue of Freelance Traveller.

Note: The reviewer received his copy as part of the deliverable for the Great Rift Kickstarter.

The Great Rift is an important astrographic feature in the Third Imperium setting for Traveller, and with the release of this book and the other books that are part of the Great Rift Kickstarter, it finally gets a bit of attention.

The introductory material gives a broad astrographic overview of Charted Space, and how the system of rifts shapes it, from the galactic inter-arm gulfs down to the miniature ‘rifts’ that separate the Jump-1 mains. Following this is a discussion about exploring rifts, with a shout-out to This section also discusses the difficulties of operating around the fringes of a rift, where there may be worlds that are accessible only with high-jump ships, and also the logistics of actual rift crossings.

The next section is the first that focusses specifically on the Great Rift, the so-called “claw” that the Spinward Marches is “behind”. This section discusses two “well-known” crossings of the rift, the Jump-5 Aslan route through Riftspan Reaches, and a Jump-4 route through Reft Sector’s Islands subsectors. An brief summary of the Aslan crossing and a somewhat more detailed overview of the Islands crossing are given, and hints about other crossings and rumored in-rift installations are summarized.

Some areas of the Imperium—and in fact of Charted Space generally—have sentient species, extant and extinct, that are peculiar to that area; the Rift is no exception. Three races are described, one extinct, one that (unusually for Mr Dougherty) pretty much breaks my suspension of disbelief, and one that has enough information provided to be usable as player-characters (much like a “Contact!” article from the original Journal of the Travellers’ Aid Society, or a Club Room article in Freelance Traveller). The pictures of the playable race are clear, but do look like Poser art, and there is no human figure or silhouette to use as comparison.

Although the Rift is mostly empty space, even more so that the areas with denser stellar distribution, there are still things of interest. Chapter Four, Features of the Great Rift, touches on some of those, including a neutron star (complete with a quite unusual set of accompanying satellites), a trio consisting of two black holes and a large star, several areas where Jump “doesn’t work right”, and some (possibly mythical) oddballs, including a habitable planet orbiting a brown dwarf, a rogue gas giant moving at high (sublight) speed, a derelict spaceship, and a region of apparently sourceless gravity.

No sourcebook discussing an area of space would be complete without a stellar atlas of the region, and this volume is no exception. Two complete sectors, Corridor and Riftspan Reaches, are presented, rounding out the volume; each sector gets an overview of the sector as a whole, plus subsector-by-subsector listings of the worlds therein, each with a subsector overview and quick profile of the most significant worlds in each subsector. Accompanying this material are inserts and sidebars presenting significant or interesting companies, fauna, vehicles, spacecraft, and starships. (Notable by omission is Reft Sector; this wasn’t included in the Great Rift sourcebook because it gets an entire separate sourcebook of its own.)

A definite buy, but you’ll want to get the entire Great Rift set, not just this book.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Great Rift
Publisher: Mongoose
by Jeremiah E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/31/2017 16:10:58

I backed the Kickstarter. This is my first Kickstarter from Mongoose and I am impressed with the quality and quantity of material in this product. If you are a Traveller fan, I highly recommend this product.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Great Rift
Publisher: Mongoose
by Alex G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/29/2017 12:06:08

This Mongoose Traveller pack is huge, and its topic is stellar rifts - the vast, empty spaces between spurs of the Galaxy, and between regions of the galaxy where the stars are more densely populated. In particular, one rift stands out - The Great Rift, that region of empty space light years across, after which the book is named, and which is the topic of most of this pack.

This is the pack for explorers and Travellers crossing, among others, the vast expanse that is The Great Rift.

So, then, what does this ambitious Traveller pack contain?

There are, at least in the PDF bundle currently available, ten PDFs. The first four are listed Books - Book 1 - The Great Rift; Book 2 - Reft; Book 3 - Touchstone / Afawahisa (a sector book for those two sectors); and Book 4 - DSE Handbook.

The rest are maps and Sector Maps - one of a solar system called the Phobetor System, found in Touchstone Sector; and Sector Maps of Afawahisa, Corridor, Reft, the Riftspan Reaches and finally Touchstone.

Book 1 introduces the concept of Rifts, and details the expeditions which traversed them, the explorations which have been conducted, the weird phenomena that occur in Rifts such as Shoals, Reefs, Deeps and one horror story about a unique Jumpspace phenomenon called The Fischer Trench, which could give experienced players nightmares.

The people who cross the Rifts are detailed, and they include native species who have never been found outside the Great Rift, and a rare gigantic spaceborn alien species which has made Riftspace its home. Basically, think of Gormundganders from Star Trek: Discovery.

The rest of Book 1 is a detailed, canon look at Corridor and The Riftspan Reaches Sectors. The subsector maps include locations of the anomalies listed in "Features of The Great Rift," and both sides of the Rift are explored in detail, so expect a lot of Aslan worlds and subsector names to feature heavily. The Corridor and Riftspan Reaches PDF Sector Maps, of course, are directly linked to Book One.

Books Two and Three cover, respectively, Reft, Touchstone and Afawahisa. The map on p. 3 of Book 1 shows these Sectors' positions in the Great Rift relative to one another and to such familiar Sectors as The Spinward Marches, The Trojan Reach, The Beyond and Foreven Sectors.

As with Book One, these books have detailed Sector Maps tying in to each; Reft with Book Two, and Touchstone and Afawahisa with Book Three. Each sector's history is listed, followed by detailed subsector-by-subsector descriptions. Reft has the Islands, and an unfolding tragedy of cultural contamination; Touchstone has the Imperium, the Aslan, the occasional Zhodani expedition, Droyne, Darrians, Vargr, plus native species, disturbing ancient relics and a number of very old secrets, plus the Phobetor star system which has its own separate map; and Afawahisa is similar, but with more Aslan influences, more and different mysteries to solve, and some truly, terrifyingly empty subsectors which would be death traps for a starship that Misjumps into them.

Did I mention the colour? Each map and illustration is in colour. The planet illustrations are stunning.

Book Four, DSE Handbook, is worth the price of the whole bundle alone. Ever since the first edition Mongoose Publishing edition of Book 3: Scout came out, Traveller fans have been crying out for a detailed Star System Creation book.

Book Four, DSE Handbook, is that book.

DSE stands for Deep Space Exploration, and that is the theme of this book. DSE Handbook covers the processes involved in exploring strange new worlds, from conducting the initial surveys of the targeted hex down to the first tentative footsteps on a planet's surface. Book Four covers exploration itself, followed by a detailed look at phenomena such as black holes, neutron stars, novas, supernovas, nebulae, anomalies, rogue objects and so on.

The next section is Expanded Star System Creation, going into the level of detail that Traveller players and Referees have been lusting after since Book 3: Scout.

Book Four rounds off with lists of new sorts of High Guard technology which give naval architects even more options than before, for ships designed for the deepest kind of deep space exploration.

Speaking of new ships, new spacegoing vessels and starships feature in the four books, including Jump-6 ships. Further, there are also stats for vehicles, animals and alien sophont species.

To summarise, calling this book "lavish" would be an understatement. It is a sumptuously detailed sourcebook for the Great Rift and other Rifts, filled with strange civilisations, ancient mysteries, wonders to satiate desires both subtle and gross, and horrors to chill one to the bone. If a Referee wishes to run campaigns based on exploration and trading with worlds which are off the map, this is the pack to buy yourself (along with the Core Rulebook, Central Supply Catalogue, Vehicle Handbook and High Guard, naturally).

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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