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Traveller Core Rulebook Beta Playtest $20.00
Publisher: Mongoose
by A. P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/05/2015 03:03:19

Second edition represents a marked departure away from the traditional, rules-heavy, refereed, simulationist approach to Sci-Fi gaming toward a mass-market, rules-light, game-mastered Sci-Fi in the Far Future(TM).

Boon and Bane dice work similarly to advantage/disadvantage dice in D&D 5E. What works well in a light setting like 5E is the harbinger of doom in Traveller. Billed as a system to simplify the referee's job, Bane and Boon dice actually limit player options without being much better than the traditional DM based system. For example, where before you could take multiple negative DMs to cut the time required for a task by several steps, you are now limited by the B&B system to one step only, since a player can only be affected by one bane dice at a time. I used that particular system just last week in my own game. Had I been playing this edition, I would've been incinerated by a jumpcusser's laser beam. The life of a famous drive engineer and his crew ended because he was magically prevented from speeding up his rolls by more than one step. Wait, though-- would I have been killed? Let's take a look at space combat!

Space combat is totally, 100% wrecked. Structure has been removed as a stat. As an example of the changes, the normal Free Trader now has a hull rating of 40. Weapon damage is, on the whole, the same as 1E. System hits are now restricted to critical hits exclusively. Where in 1E, you'd get through the hull and the armor, then start hitting systems and structure before actually destroying the ship, when you remove the hull in 2E, the ship is destroyed and beyond, and I quote, "any repair". That's right-- hull points are now health points. 1E's harrowing, highly-lethal, and most of all satisfying damage model has given way to what is essentially ground combat in space with more hit-points. Not only that, but good luck taking it as a prize. At least after a combat in 1E, you could take hull-less ships as heavily-damaged rewards, or for salvage, or something. Now you're just... out of luck? The fact that system hits are now essentially random means that power is more of an annoyance than anything in the combats I've run. While it could have been a welcome addition to the simulation of 1E, it seems like a pointless extra stat in a system that wants to be this light. Several ships cannot actually run their maneuver drives, jump drives, and basic ship systems in combat at the same time, as well. This is before weapons, you understand. I'd fix this, if there were any actually any ship construction mechanics in the core rulebook. Those are stripped out in favor of a multi-book "core collection" philosophy. The ghost of D&D whispers at our airlock again, friends.

Those are the two big complaints I have right now. Not the only ones. The skill mechanics aren't that good. A couple of skills were combined that made sense, but the progression is a little fast, and there's a hard limit on how far you can progress. EDU is now the most important stat bar none if you're playing a freeform game. Armor values on people have gone way up, without a corresponding increase in damage output. Combat in general is far less lethal. I mean really! This is a game where you can die during chargen. Why nerf the lethality? My friends and I have run a couple of sim combats and we're all kind of universally disappointed.

Now, it's not a total loss. I'll pick and choose some mechanics that I like as they are to use in my 1E games, particularly a certain clarification about the amount of mail available at a port, but I'm not going to be transitioning over to 2E as it stands now. 2E is tantalizingly close to being okay, but it's marred by some weird mechanics that can be fixed, and some big flaws that are working as designed and intended, according to the forums. I haven't posted there yet, but I plan to. I feel like a segment of the Traveller playerbase was left out of previous playtests by accident, and the exclusion of the serious side of the community let the book get to this current state. Like I said at the start, this book represents a design philosophy shift, not poor design. These would be good rules for a different game. They're bad rules for Traveller. If you're not on board with the present direction of the game, or willing to really push to try to change it, I wouldn't drop the cash on this.

[2 of 5 Stars!]
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Traveller Core Rulebook Beta Playtest
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