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Supplement 9: Campaign Guide
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/10/2015 09:06:23
Described as "A Referee's Essential Lifeline", this work is primarily aimed at the referee who doesn't have the time or inclination to prepare detailed adventures or campaigns of their own but who does want something other than a published adventure to run. The Introduction refers rather rudely to 'lazy' referees, but backpedals to include those whose real-world commitments intrude on game prep time as well. Even those who do like creating their own material can benefit - the well-spring of ideas may come up blank or they may need something in a hurry when (as is quite often the case) their carefully-prepared plot does not survive its first encounter with the players!

Two main campaign types are presented: the Automatic and the Semi-Automatic. An Automatic Campaign is almost self-generating, using the tables provided to give the characters things to do and complications to contend with. A Semi-Automatic campaign requires a little more input from the referee. Whatever you decide upon, you'll need a sub-sector to let the party loose in: either roll one up using the rules in the core rulebook or use one of the published ones.

The first section deals with the Automatic Campaign, which is handled via a sort of flowchart. This begins with the characters on a planet, seeking work. Once found, they make any necessary preparations then set off to wherever they need to be - possibly on another planet entirely - to do the job. When they get to their destination, they undertake the task, and then travel back again. At every opportunity, both planetside and travelling, there are options for random events - not necessarily connected to the task at hand - to occur; and once everything's over and done with, the party can rest and relax before the whole cycle begins again. There's a selection of random missions for you to use, or of course you can turn to 760 Patrons or the adventure suggestions in other supplements, depending on what you have available.

The next section, Planetside Events, provides copious events that can take place anything the characters are planetside. Using the above flowchart, they could be job hunting, preparing, travelling or even resting when one of these events occurs. Layered tables provide countless opportunities in both urban and rural settings. A few might be ignored by the party but most demand a response. Naturally, as in any such random system, you are free to choose the option that appeals most if you prefer - or if you really don't like what the dice rolled for you. There's even an option for unleashing a zombie apocalypse, complete with suggestions for alternative names for the 'zombies' as many players may baulk at the term. There are also a series of complications to be used when the party has found (or think they have) the patron or service for which they are looking.

This is followed by a Space Events section, which covers both things that might be encountered when travelling in the black and events that might take place on the ship in which the party is travelling. Again, there's plenty and enough here to make whole adventures of their own from, never mind being incidents occuring when the party is trying to do something else.

This is followed by a Life Events section: there's nothing like making the event personal to one or more members of the party. This is a shorter, but nonetheless potent section of the book. Really devious referees will also make use of characters' backstories to weave people and events from their past into whatever's going on.

The next section, Hooks, is rather interesting. It looks at ways other than a patron encounter to get the adventure rolling by bringing it to them rather than their going out to find it. Something to be used sparingly or players are liable to get fed up with the lack of perceived control they have over their characters' actions.

Then comes Campaign Generation, a detailed discourse on adventure design in general, and about adding depth and complexity to what is going on. It starts off by defining most Traveller adventures as being journeys or exploration. The journey is the classic patron-led adventure where the party has to go somewhere and do something to get paid (or gain some other award), the exploration is generally more character-led as they poke around a location - anything from a single place on a planet to an entire sub-sector - to see what they can find or in pursuit of some other end. All manner of conflicts, complications, time constraints and other things can then be stirred into the mix. It then moves on to discuss tips for referees, such as setting the tone and mood for the adventure. This section's advice is useful for those who like to write their own adventures or those starting with the Automatic Campaign system but wanting to inject a bit more originality into it.

Next is a section on World Building which talks about the creation of cities, villages and wilderness areas from scratch. Samples are provided in an appendix. There's a vast number of options here, many of which set potentials for adventure or provide a dynamic backdrop which may or may not affect what the party is up to but does give the feeling that there's a lot going on irrespective of what they are doing, a good way to build a feeling of reality into your game.

This is followed by a section on Investigation, a popular type of adventure. Whether it's a murder or other crime to solve or something else to uncover, there are some standard processes involved. Unlike the rest of the book, this section is more guidelines than tools for random(ish) generation: if you want to run an investigation you need to know what's really going on and supply appropriate clues to enable the party to find out.

Finally there's a copious collection of random events for just about every situation: things happening during a foot chase, graffiti on a wall, items on a table, random rooms, health events (even characters catch a cold!)... even one for what's on TV! Never be stumped again when the party asks an unexpected question. There are also some sample maps for different locations and a massive Appendix with ready-made examples of places and people to use as you see fit.

This is possibly the most comprehensive GM resource I've seen. Just about every section left me wanting to comment that it would be worth getting the book for that section alone. Whether you really are the lazy or time-strapped referee it's supposedly for or you have plenty of time to create adventures, you'll find this of interest and use as you spawn adventures ready for your next game. Unless you are really good at detail off the cuff, though, do the planning in advance... but this book will make it so much quicker and easier!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Supplement 9: Campaign Guide
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Supplement 8: Cybernetics
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/09/2015 08:22:24
This is an exciting new move for Traveller, the addition of 'cyberpunk'-style augmentation to the human (or indeed alien) body. Eminently sensible, too, it is likely that such modifications will be possible by the far future.

The Introduction looks at how the concept has changed over the years, with some of what early cyberpunk authors (in fiction as well as in games) imagined has been modified or even superseded by real-world developments (compare the modern World Wide Web with William Gibson's ideas about computer networks and hacking - or as he called it, decking... I still treasure an autographed copy of one of his books addressing me as a 'fellow decker'!), whilst other things imagined have yet to come to pass. The intention with this book, however, is to re-create some of the 1980s cyberpunk feel, especially in the rules and ideas presented for computing and cyberspace, and to enable some of the wilder comic-book concepts regarding enhancement and augmention when it comes to cybernetics. So the book comes in two parts: cybernetics and cyberspace, and it is up to individual referees to decide which (if any) of the material herein applies in their universe.

First up, Character Creation. This is aimed primarily at those who want their characters to already have cybernetic augmentations perhaps from an early stage in their pre-game career. So it presents a number of careers and options based on a character having cybernetic parts from the outset (or installed as he starts out in his chosen career, anyway) so that by the time he is ready for play the cybernetics really are a part of him. There's everything from super spies to ultimate fighting machines, but also more 'ordinary' characters who may have grown up in a society where cybernetics are the norm and even office workers have augmentations... and a wholly new career of 'cybenet', those who live and breathe the online life. The noble options are quite fun too, and even psions get a look-in.

OK, so vague table entries about enhancement are not enough. The next section, Before the Chrome, addresses that, beginning with a definition of cybernetics as the interface between organic systems and synthetic ones, anything from an artificial limb to full-blown cyborgs, enhancements and augmentations. There are four reasons why a character might have such cybernetics: because they're fashionable, through medical necessity, to serve the needs of a particular task or job, or because he lives in a society where cybernetics are all-pervasive and everybody has them. Such societies are unusual, and unlikely to be found lower that Tech Level 13; but they could be interesting places to visit! However, from TL 8 or so you can get like-for-like cybernetics, say a hand that works almost as well as your meat one did, but from TL 10 and above you will find spare parts that work better than whatever they replace. At TL 13 it is possible to transplant a living brain into a completely artificial body. There's plenty detail here about what you can get, how it's installed and how the Tech Level affects the quality and performance of your new parts. It also talks about traumatic needs - Traveller damage is normally expressed in terms of your Strength, Dexterity and Endurance rather than in actual damage to specific parts of the anatomy - and the disadvantages as well as the advantages of replacing part of your body.

This section ends with a brief note about biotechnology as opposed to mechanical spare parts, and then we move on to chapters looking at specific areas of the body and what you can get: limbs, body and head augmentations, a section on Chrome, Chips and Plug-Ins and finally weapons. If you cannot find what you need here, your imagination is working overtime... in each case, the biotech equivalent is mentioned although the main focus is mechanical. It's very human-centric, so if your Vargr has lost his tail there isn't a specific spare part for him although it should be quite straightforward to work from the examples here to come up with what he needs.

The second, and smaller, part of the book deals with Cyberspace. The significant difference between this and regular computing as you and I know it today is that it provides ways to visualise what is going on out there between your computer and the website or data store that you are accessing. This creates an interactive environment which can, of course, be manipulated... for good or evil depends in the main on your point of view. If you enjoy the 'netrunning' of the cyberpunk genre (for example as done in Cyberpunk, CyberSpace or Shadowrun) then this will be for you. If you are happier with more realistic hacking you may still find some of the mechanics useful even if you do not want the imagery.

The final section, Patrons, provides a number of potential patrons who can offer a party employment that in some way involves cybernetics. They all come in standard patron encounter format complete with six possible outcomes/twists, roll a D6 or pick whatever takes your fancy. Ideal if you need a quick adventure idea and several do not require the characters themselves to be 'cybered-up' to take the job... so you could even use them as a prelude to introducing material from this book into your game.

Cybernetics won't be for everyone, but if you do like the idea it's one way to make your Traveller universe a lot more than ordinary people who just happen to have access to FTL starships! Certainly worth a look...

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Supplement 8: Cybernetics
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Supplement 5-6: Vehicle Handbook
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/07/2015 08:40:16
Designed to replace Supplement 5: Civilian Vehicles and Supplement 6: Military Vehicles, this work presents a far slicker and more streamlined vehicle design system that can create virtually any planetside vehicle you care to name swiftly and efficiently. The idea is that it should be used for those vehicles that characters can interact with - you can drive a car or a truck, ride a bicycle, and so on - but the more massive ones like air craft carriers, cruise liners and supertankers ought to be regarded as scenery rather than designed to this level of detail. Perhaps not true to the 'gearhead' approach so beloved of Traveller players, but it is a viable option: design to an appropriate level of detail.

The first chapter is entitled Crash Course in Vehicle Design. This provides an overview of the vehicle design system. You start by determining three things: the Tech Level of the proposed vehicle, its chassis type and the number of spaces. The chassis type tells you what sort of vehicle it is, and the number of spaces determines how big it is - each 'space' being sufficient to transport a regular-sized human (or equivalent from an alien race, of course). After that, it is merely a case of applying modifications to describe the precise vehicle you are after. The modifications can, of course, include armour and weapons if you intend it to be a military vehicle.

A template is provided for recording your design, and this is followed by a whole bunch of rules to cover every aspect imaginable - animal-powered vehicles, sailboats, aircraft and more. Each vehicle has a 'shipping size' which is the notional amount of room they need when being transported on a starship. There's an abstraction for calculating the mass of a vehicle for those occasions when it might become important, as it isn't otherwise factored in to the design system.

Next comes more detailed information on each chassis type available, starting with bicycle, rickshaw, wagon and cart which are lumped together as animal/human powered wheeled vehicles. Then you get non-powered boats and ships (rowing boats and sailing ships), balloons, then light ground vehicles (motorbikes, cars and pick-up trucks) and then heavy ground vehicles (trucks and tanks, stuff like that). Trains have their own category, but other ground vehicles can be modified to travel on rails as well. Next are hovercraft, grav vehicles and helicopters, each subdivided into heavy and light versions, and so it goes on... airships, light and heavy aircraft, light and heavy jets, light and heavy aerodynes, and then on to walkers, ships and submersibles.

The next section looks at Adding Armour and Weapons to your vehicle. Everything has a base armour rating (a function of tech level and chassis) but depending on the use to which you want to put it, you might want more. Traveller players being Traveller players, they are also likely to want weapons so there's plenty of detail about different types, how they are mounted and auxillary things like fire control systems... This is followed by a neat section of Universal Modifications, which abstracts out things like wanting an exceptionally fast vehicle for its type and lets you add that without needing to provide a wealth of detail about how. Or you might want an autopilot, or an open top... the possibilities are quite vast. Communications, accommodation and other modifications fit in here as well.

Next comes Battle Dress. If you want to have a massive suit of powered armour, this is where you come to design it in all its glory. There are options for weapons and other systems, defence mechanisms and more.

This is followed by some Vehicle Design Examples to show you the system in action. These explain how they have been derived as well as presenting you with the finished article and, of course, its statistics. There's a good selection here, including old favourites like the air/raft, ranging from low to high tech levels and modes of operation. If you're not inclined to get to grips with the design system, you'll probably find something to suit your needs here. They are roughly grouped by use (civilian or military) and type (aircraft, ground vehicles, etc.), and this is the largest section of the book.

Finally, there are specialised listings of vehicles used by the various Third Imperium races and in specific locations or settings available within Mongoose Traveller. So if you play Judge Dredd, you can have a Lawmaster (if you can get it to work) created using this vehicle design system, along with a range of other iconic vehicles from Mega-City One; likewise there are vehicles specifically designed for Strontium Dog and Hammer's Slammers.

Overall it is an elegant vehicle design system and filled with a wealth of examples this book should prove a useful if not essential resource for all Traveller games.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Supplement 5-6: Vehicle Handbook
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Supplement 6: Military Vehicles
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/03/2015 07:55:58
However much you may spend your time out in the black, sometimes you need to go planetside and once there you may want to get around. If your purposes are military in nature, or you have a need to protect yourself, this book ought to be of use. It contains a detailed vehicle development system and a selection of pre-made vehicles from which you can choose whatever best suits your purposes.

The vehicle design system takes you step-by-step through the process. All vehicles in this book have been designed using this system, and it is suggested that if you want to use vehicles from the core rulebook you find the versions in here and use them instead. It's identical to the design process presented in Supplement 5: Civilian Vehicles but with a greater emphasis on things like armour and weapons, naturally, and with the numerous examples referring to military vehicles rather than civilian ones. Choices will be limited by Tech Level and by the intended function of the vehicle that you are designing.

If you'd rather pick a pre-made design, there are plenty to choose from, neatly organised into various categories: aircraft, grav vehicles, hybrids (which can operate in more than one terrain type, e.g. amphibious vehicles that can travel on land or in water), land vehicles, walkers, and watercraft. Grav vehicles are available from TL8, most of the others are available from TL1 through TL9-10... at higher levels most people use grav technology wherever they are trying to go. Each vehicle is presented with a brief description, a full set of statistics and in most cases an illustration as well. Naturally, these are fairly generic examples: if you like to use manufacturer names and models in your descriptions you will need to come up with those for yourself.

As you'd expect, these are all vehicles designed for combat - even the motorbike example has machine guns the rider can fire - and so might be of particular interest to mercenary groups equipping themselves for planetside tickets, or to those working out what vehicles may be used by the armed forces (and perhaps law enforcement) on a given planet. Like Supplement 5: Civilian Vehicles it's useful both if the party needs a particular mode of transportation or if you like to put real detail into the vehicles that they encounter during their travels. Sometimes a leather personnel carrier (i.e. your boot) is not enough, with this book you can ride in style to give battle.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Supplement 6: Military Vehicles
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Supplement 5: Civilian Vehicles
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/30/2015 09:48:44
Previous supplements have provided an abundance of spacecraft of all sizes, shapes and uses: now it is the turn of planetary transportation. This book presents nearly a hundred vehicles of various kinds that the party might use planetside, and if none is right for your needs there's a vehicle design system to let you create your own. The same system has been used to create the pre-made ones presented here, which include some from the core rulebook which have been done over with this system. It's recommended that you use these rather than the original versions, although the differences are not that great.

The different types of vehicle addressed are aircraft, grav vehicles, hybrid (i.e. multi-terrain) vehicles, land vehicles, walkers and watercraft. Most listings go up to Tech Level 9 or 10, whilst the grav vehicle ones start at TL8 - after all, if you have grav technology, you do not need to be too concerned about the surface over which you are travelling and will only want specialised vehicles for different terrains for sport/leisure use or when you have an extremely specific need best met by other than a grav vehicle.

First of all, however, the design process is laid out in detail. Like most Traveller design processes, it's something you go through step by step making various choices. It's all very clear and leaves you with a clear understanding of how planetside vehicles are defined - thus equipping you to comprehend each of the ones presented later, even if you do not want to create your own. If you do, of course, you now have the tools you need!

The collection of pre-made vehicles follows, each laid out in a standard format which begins with a brief description of its nature, appearance and uses followed by its statistics and usually a sketch. The range is wide, but generic - if you want different makes or brands of motorcycles, say, you will need to modify the single basic one to suit your needs. Familiar standbys like the air/raft appear, as well as vehicles from present and past (even a gypsy-style wagon). Aircraft include dirigibles and helicopters as well as prop-driven and jet aeroplanes, with canoes and submarines rounding out the watercraft section.

You might be questioning the need for such detail - well, it all depends on what you want to do in your game. If planetside transportation becomes significant, you need to know... I still recall a game some 30 years ago which involved a madcap rush across a planet to escape a revolution. All the party could find was an internal combustion land vehicle much like a contemporary car... and all we could muster skillswise was Jack-of-All-Trades 1 and a willingness to try to drive! Yet that low-tech game is still a stand-out memory of all the Traveller games I've ever played, including the scream from one player that brought around the heads of an entire convention hall, and of course the numerous retellings in bars thereafter. You may not be planning anything of that nature, but it illustrates just how wide a range of activities, and resources, a Traveller game can encompass. So even if you don't think you need such detail now, there may come a day... It all adds to the realism of your alternate reality if you can, when necessary, drill down to this level.

And yes, I was the player with J-o-T 1 and more courage than sense.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Supplement 5: Civilian Vehicles
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Bounties & Warrants
by Walter M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/26/2015 14:26:13
This is a must-buy for any budding (RPG) Strontium Dog GM's who want to cover a
wider range of bounty runs, use Specialist Equipment (weapons, armor, etc) and need
help with some familiar SD characters, both good & bad!

Random bounty tables of different complexity levels give you an idea on how to create
your own bounty runs. Stats on different characters give u a better knowledge on how
to flesh out ur own runs and with a range of various storylines, you'll be writing ur own
badass campaigns in no time!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bounties & Warrants
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Supplement 4: Central Supply Catalogue
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/26/2015 08:11:39
More than a mere 'supply catalogue', this book not only presents a vast array of items that Traveller characters might wish to have in their possession, it links them to Tech Level and provides the information a referee might need to decide whether or not each item is actually available. To this end, it begins with a lengthy discussion of what lies behind the bare numbers of a Tech Level, and looking to the dizzy heights of TL20 or beyond.

This initial discussion continues with a look at what Tech Level means within a society and how imports may exceed local Tech Level, often by quite a lot, although you'll probably need to import support personnel to keep high level items running as well. Also it may not be uniform: some areas such as transportation or communications may be higher (or lower) than the average TL of a world that appears in the records. The nature of society changes as TL increases as well, with more leisure time and the need for more sophisticated forms of entertainment as well as greater trade opportunities as it rises, with more people being engaged in activities other than day-to-day survival. There are also notes on low-tech versions of items, representing invention, prototyping and the creation of low-tech solutions to higher-tech problems. Likewise, a higher-tech version of a lower-tech item can be devised. All quite interesting and well worth a read if you want a realistic and varied approach to technology across your galaxy.

This all depends on being able to craft and to understand devices, and rules are provided to enable such cross-TL endeavours. Even once you have determined what is possible, the next question is how legal it might be... and that depends on what the item is, where you want to have it, who you might happen to be, and on a web of permits and restrictions that balance out the needs of local worlds and galactic society - the Imperium, if it exists in your universe - as a whole. Even if you have the correct paperwork, and the necessary funds, it may not be easy to actually find that particular item you're after... All this discussion is underpinned by the necessary game mechanics to enable you to administer the processes involved within your game. This section rounds out with some miscellaneous rules for computer hacking, sensor use, firing artillery and a selection of non-lethal weapon and drug use.

We then move on to the actual items in the catalogue, grouped as Personal and Light Support Weapons, Support and Artillery Weapons, Personal Protection, Survival and Field Equipement, Electronic and Medical Equipment and finally Subsistance and Living Expenses. This makes it easy to find what you're after, or allows you to browse to your heart's content in an area that interests you.

Each section starts with some general discussion of what's there before diving into actual items, which are ordered by TL (lowest to highest) and come with description, statistics and quite often an illustration... although at times you are left guessing as to which drawing in a picture refers to which item in the accompanying text! What's nice is the detail in things like ammunition type and accessories to go with your shiny new purchase. There are also some neat advertisements for specific products, although in general everything is kept pretty generic - a 'shotgun' rather than manufacturer and model details. Needless to say, personal weapons get far more coverage than any other items but there are some neat things tucked away within the survival and medical gear sections.

The discussions on how to handle Tech Level and associated material elevate this work above a mere equipment catalogue, but if it's a shopping spree you're after there is plenty to be had here.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Supplement 4: Central Supply Catalogue
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Supplement 3: Fighting Ships
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/25/2015 07:40:02
Following on from Supplement 2: Traders and Gunboats this book concentrates on warships, the large military vessels that keep the black safe for all citizens of the Imperium... or which might mix it up when pocket empires clash. Just how much use you'll have for them depends on the nature of your game, they may just be 'ships that pass in the night' as background to those for whom space travel is just the means to get to the next adventure, home to serving military, a time to reminisce for veterans, or something to be worried about for parties up to no good...

All ships have been designed using the rules in the Traveller core rulebook and Book 2: High Guard, some will be familiar, reworkings of old favourites whilst others are quite new. They are organised into five sections, making it easy to find the precise ship you want. The sections are Small Craft (basically carrier-borne fighters), Small Starships, Cruisers, Carriers, and Battleships.

Each vessel comes with a brief description outlining its role, full statistics, deckplans and quite often an artist's rendering as well. Even the largest ships show how necessary it is for military spacefarers to be able to do with very little space, and the smaller ones make present-day submarines look roomy! Anyone playing an ex-Navy character should note... and compared to the Marine barracks on those ships that have them, even a crew stateroom looks spacious.

The range of different vessels makes it easy to create your own battlegroups, and - like many aspects of the Traveller system - it would be easy to while away your time setting up navies, naming ships and devising their histories. If your mind is filled with images of movie starships, some of these come quite close - notably the Gionetti-class light cruiser, which looks rather like the Star Wars Imperial Star Destroyer. It might be fun to use the rules to build some of your favourite vessels from other spacefaring tales, too, using these ships as inspiration.

Even if your party does not have serving or retired military personnel amongst them, there are plenty of ways in which they might have occasion to interact with a warship - perhaps they are invited to a cocktail party with the Captain, or are evacuated from a world in the throes of civil war or natural disaster... just flipping through can spawn myriad ideas. Overall, this is another book that helps round out the background of your galaxy, making it come to life with more detail, ships that may only be seen in passing but which are every bit as 'real' as the one the characters are in.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Supplement 3: Fighting Ships
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Supplement 2: Traders & Gunboats
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/23/2015 07:26:44
Where would a traveller be without his starship? Stuck one one planet, that's where... and even if an adventure keeps the party planet-bound by choice or fate (or enemy action) at some point they are going to move on. It's integral to the game, it's not called Traveller for nothing! In the early days, there were just a handful of ships described, and nearly every party romped around the galaxy in a Type S scoutship or a Far Trader (and they are still popular choices), but just as if you look out of your window you'll see a vast selection of cars and trucks and other vehicles, so will the space of the far future be filled with a dizzying array of different vessels, large and small. Here's a selection. Some the party will see, some they will interact with in some manner, maybe one or two they can call home... others they might covet, or fear.

Organisation is good, to help you put your hands on just the ship that meets your needs. There are drones (unmanned vessels), small craft (non-Jump capable) divided into civil and military types, civilian ships, criminal vessels, auxiliaries (military vessels in the main but not warships), system defence boats and full-blown warships to choose from. All have been designed in accordance with the rules in the Traveller core rulebook and Book 2: High Guard.

Each ship (apart from the drones which only have descriptions and statistics) comes with a brief description, full statistics, deckplans and quite often a sketch as well. There's plenty to look at here, and just leafing through is fun. Some are familiar, re-workings of craft that have been seen before, and others are wholly new.

A lot of these ships, of course, are quite unsuitable for the average party of characters - that doesn't mean that they might not find that one of these 'unsuitable' vessels is all that they can lay their hands on! - and it will depend on what they are trying to do which of the more suitable ships will fit the bill. There are several cargo/trade ships for those who'd like to make their living as merchants, a few luxury yachts if they would prefer to travel in style, and a few more unusual ones like the Animal Class Safari Ship, designed to carry hunting parties to frontier worlds in search of exotic game... complete with facilities to bring specimens back for sale to collectors or zoos if the hunters don't want to kill them outright.

Many groups will head straight for the Criminal Ships section, and there are ships designed for piracy, smuggling and salvage operations (this last is not necessarily a criminal activity but...). Some of the Auxilliaries will interest those characters engaged in mercenary operations, the Light Assault Transport catches the eye, complete with drop-pods to launch troopers straight into battle if you don't want to send them down by shuttle. Groups who want to go into the passenge business might like the Type M Subsidised Liner, whilst if your game involves serving military personnel, any of the warships might be their home - and veterans may have served aboard in their past. And if not, who knows what the characters will encounter in their travels.

Overall it is a good selection of useful ships with which to populate your galaxy. Some the characters may come to know intimately or even call home, others will be no more than a blip on the sensor screen or something seen at a distance around a docking facility... but they add variety and the air of a galaxy where life goes on whatever the party is doing!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Supplement 2: Traders & Gunboats
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Supplement 1: 760 Patrons
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/22/2015 08:45:48
Right back to the origins of Traveller a standard mode of adventure has been the 'patron encounter' where someone turns up, gives the party a task and then the referee rolls a D6 to see what's really going on. This work continues that trend, its title harking back to the original Classic Traveller book 76 Patrons, but presents a bewilderingly vast array of people to meet and deal with during your travels, many of whom are not offering a job, at least not precisely.

The encounters are divided up based on social standing - reflecting the sort of people a given group of characters might meet depending on the places they frequent and who they are... but it's flexible enough that you can pick whatever seems right for you, or you can randomise it completely if preferred. All patrons are either protagonists or antagonists - the protagonists are disposed to work with the characters or to hire them, whilst the antagonists are generally putting obstacles in their way, causing problems or even wishing the party harm. Again, you can roll for the type of encounter, or just decide.

The patron types are Military, Spacer, Upper-Class, Middle-Class, Lower-Class, Mercenary or Wild Cards. Each type is associated with different career paths but while the encounter may be more likely if the characters have the appropriate background it's not a hard and fast rule, and of course the party is likely to be quite diverse unless you specifically set out to have a party composed solely of former Scouts, say, exploring the galaxy for their own ends after resigning from the IISS. Some encounters will require the party to have certain skills, or be in an appropriate place, but they have been designed to be as flexible as possible.

So, what do you do with all these encounters? Some may be as simple as describing who is sitting in the next booth at a bar. The party may even ignore them and move on - or interact and an adventure might come of it. Others will impact on what is already going on - for example a ship's medic who may be less than enchanted with his job and the party may either notice this or, if they require his services, suffer for it. The encounters are very open-ended, yet flipping through ought to spawn plenty of ideas.

One delightful example is a xenobiologist who is an expert on previously unknown lifeforms and planetary genetic evolution but he cannot seem to do his job at peak effi ciency when the marines and ground soldiers keep blasting and killing every foreign lifeform they stumble across - this reminds me of a real-world academic zoologist studying worms in the Falklands Islands who sat listening to reports of troop movements during the war between Britain and Argentina for the control of the islands and cursing whenever they came near his experimental plots! Many of the encounters have a similar air of realism which serves well to breathe life into your game: real people with their own concerns who don't just exist to interact with the party but have lives of their own.

The Wild Card patrols, the last lot presented, are the really strange ones. Knights in shining armour, faith healers, madmen and cannibals... even a deity or two (or are they delusional?). They are all certainly individuals that will make the party stand and stare. Time agents, hosts to parasits, serial killers, a courier who is about to drop dead but his message MUST get through... these and more are to be found here.

The good thing about this book is the diversity of potentially interesting people within its pages, the bad thing is that whilst vivid images are conjured up by reading them there remains to be quite a lot of work to do before you have a full-blown adventure ready to roll. Unlike the original 76 Patrons, few of the encounters present anything as simple as a job offer, they are more of the nature of 'here is this person, this is what he is doing and why' and it is left to the referee to decide how to weave them into the ongoing story. What this is good for is populating any location with an assotment of vivid realistic individuals. Adventure may or may not follow depending on the outcome of the interaction.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Supplement 1: 760 Patrons
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Signs & Portents 89
by Walter M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/21/2015 14:32:49
I luv all the Signs & Portrait mags, especially if they have Strontium Dog, Judge Dredd or Traveller
content; and this one was a treat. Along with the said content, the body of other games, excellent
writing by various authors and odd insights to games in general make this a good read for any
budding player of RPG's and tabletop wargames.

It's FREE ... get it NOW!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Signs & Portents 89
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Book 0: Introduction to Traveller
by Walter M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/21/2015 14:25:03
The fact that this PDF is FREE has to be major bonus as it covers the bulk of the gameplay rules in Traveller.

I've printed this off for my clubmates to get a good understanding of the genre and what is required for
players to enjoy the whole Traveller experience ... from creating characters, skills, tasks, die rolls for tests,
equipment, combat ... the list goes on!

As a 32-page introduction, this is the best Traveller notebook on the market! Get it NOW!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book 0: Introduction to Traveller
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Judge Dredd
by Gregory B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/20/2015 13:09:14
Great fun and real;y brings Mega-City One to life. The life path for going through the academy becomes an adventure in and of itself.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Judge Dredd
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Book 1: Mercenary Second Edition
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/19/2015 08:19:26
In this second look at mercenaries within Traveller the focus is again on those who hire out their services as combattants to anyone who can afford them. The Introduction muses on the role of mercenaries within the galaxy, and on how it is a viable campaign choice. There's also a glossary of mercenary slang: learn to talk the talk and who knows, you may be able to hire on and walk the walk too.

The first section, Career Options, looks at the formation of a mercenary. Most individuals intending such a career (and indeed many of those who come to it by chance) begin with service in an organised state-sponsored military force. However, here the character generation system is rolled back a little to present options for attending university or a military academy before enlisting, or entering any other career. Those wishing to go to a military academy must first decide if it's one for the army, the navy, marines, air force or wet navy - they'll get appropriate basic training as well as the other advantages of their academy education such as automatic entry to the chosen service with a strong likelihood of gaining a commission and the opportunity to attend flight school if it's an air force or naval academy. Both university and academy graduates may also attend medical school if they want to become doctors. There's a set of 'lifepath' events to use whilst the character is getting his education. Remember that connections made then are often life-long. It might be worth coordinating with other members of the party to see if they can share some background.

Some new skills - combat engineering, instruction and training, and interrogation - are presented followed by an extensive review of specialties pertaining to combat skills, something that has been requested by players ever since the first edition of this book came out. I'm a bit puzzled by the sentence "The various combat skills for hooting weapons are now divided into the following specialities", but have reached the conclusion that an 's' must have escaped and they're talking about shooting weapons, particularly as much of the discussion revolves around gun combat.

We then look at Careers in the Armed Forces. In advanced worlds that make use of grav technology, the distinction between the conventional arms of service that we are familiar with get blurred, and planetside military service is lumped together as 'Army', while on less developed worlds there may still be a difference between soldiers on land and those who take to the air or go to sea. Thus wet navy and air force careers are provided here for those who'd like such a background. There's also an addition events table for wartime use, which applies to any military service, as well as expanded event tables suitable for use in place of the ones in the core rulebook for Army and Marine careers. This section rounds out with notes on Medals and Awards and on Becoming a Mercenary. The medals listed are the standard ones familiar to all Traveller players, and they are well worth incorporating into your game - I still recall a rather shy character of mine who was soundly embarassed over his Starburst for Extreme Heroism by my referee!

Next comes a section called Better Combat Potential. This looks at a range of different types of weapons and how to use them to best effect, before moving on to discuss scaling combat. In Traveller there is scope for two sorts of combat, the personal level (as in an individual brawling) and the spacecraft level. There's also mass battle, discussed later on in the book, but that's really personal combat writ large. Individual characters are unlikely to have much effect on a spaceship without access to specialist destructive weaponry, and should a spaceship weapon target an individual... well, it's probably time to roll up a new character!

Getting down to the nitty-gritty, the next section is Building a Mercenary Force. This looks at every aspect from recruiting to structure and organisation and the sort of wages differently-skilled mercenaries ought to be able to command. There's a note on the concept of a mercenary licence - after all most worlds won't take the arrival of an organised armed force lightly (not 'likely', another of the rare but annoying typos!) - and details of the running costs of a mercenary unit. How much the characters will be involved in all this depends at what level they operate within the mercenary company, but it is useful background and adds an air of realism to what is going on. If you are abstracting this, perhaps to build the company that the characters will join, there are some useful tables to help generate the members of the unit quickly, and a pre-made sample company you can use (or use as an example).

The next section deals with Mercenary Tickets - the mechanism whereby a mercenary company hires out its services. A ticket is a specific mission contracted for between a client and a mercenary force, and they can be handled in a manner analogous to Patrons - there's a task to be performed, a reward for doing it and so on. Just like Patrons, tickets come in different forms depending on the sort of job that is to be done, and there are some 17 samples all ready to be undertaken, as well as plenty of hints on devising your own.

This is followed by a section Battles and Wars which looks at mass combat. The sort of mercenary company that's been discussed so far is more likely to fight a battle with a similar force than engage in brawls at an individual level, so this section offers game mechanics for handling it. Of course, individual characters will likely get a chance to fight at a personal level during the course of a battle, the system here copes with what is going on around him at a larger scale. The next section, Strongholds and Sieges, continues the theme of combat writ large, looking at how to construct, defend and attack structures... and, being Traveller, how to do so in non-Earthlike environments. In some ways, the system is reminiscent of that used to create a starship design, and it's not something that will appeal to all players. Some, however, will love it and it's another area that can provide hours of entertainment for when you cannot get a bunch of role-players together.

A section on Vehicles and Equipment follows - our mercenary company needs more than a base, after all, and this section discusses how to arm and equip them with everything from boots to tanks and aircraft. Finally, an Appendix lists every single firearm that has appeared in the Mongoose Traveller line to date with all pertinent details; and a second Appendix contains loads of generic mercenary personnel to round out your company's roster. The last Appendix shows what a light infantry unit needs depending on the Tech Level at which it will operate.

This is an elegant work, addessing the role and nature of mercenaries within Traveller well, and almost providing a 'game within a game' in which you can play around with the creation and operation of mercenary companies and engage in battle. This may be the core of your campaign, or something that goes on in the background, whichever, if you want mercenaries in your game, get this book.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book 1: Mercenary Second Edition
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Traveller Compendium 3
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/18/2015 09:08:06
This, the third collection of Traveller-related articles, concentrates more on additions to game mechanics and background materials than on new adventures. It is divided into different sections, which makes it fairly easy to track down whatever you are after... provided that you know it's there!

The first section is Rules. It starts with a piece on martial arts, presenting different 'styles' which characters may choose to train in by selecting one whenever they have the chance to gain Melee (unarmed) or Melee (any) during character creation. There are notes on a cestus as new equipment, adventure ideas based around martial arts tournaments and sample martial artist NPCs to fight. The next article is called On Assignment, and gives a glimpse of how things work in Mongoose Publishing office games during character creation, looking at how (if) characters can switch between assignments in a given career.

The next section is Starports. Here several are described in considerable detail, complete with plans and all manner of information that could easily lead to the odd side-adventure whilst visiting. The descriptions make it easy for you to describe what is there, and the plans are of good quality, crisp and clear. Whilst they are designated as being the starport in a specific place, it will be relatively easy to transplant them elsewhere as necessary to suit the needs of your game.

Next up, the Third Imperium. Here there is an article on Aslan Dynasties, showing how to create an Aslan clan and develop its history. It also takes a look at the many ways in which Aslan war amongst themselves. Another article tells of the Irklan, a human religious sect from a desert world with a tradition of survival and hand-to-hand combat training. There are a few formatting errors here, irksome rather than making the text unreadable, but it's a well-developed cult especially if you have characters who fancy being - or fighting - ninjas and similar martial artists. Notes provide for characters having a career as an Irklan or - possibly more likely - receiving training as an initiate once they have discovered the cult. And then there is a pirate vessel, the Resplendent Fury... if in the Gvurrdon sector, you'd better keep a wary eye out for them. Their base and notable personalities are included, as well as plot hooks.

This is followed by a section called Other Worlds. Here there is a vast selection of patrons for use in the 2300AD setting, and an article called Mutant Menace that describes two types of mutant, the phage and the shifter. Next comes a section on Vehicles, a collection of unusual vehicles that you might wish to add to your game - even a submarine or two and a 'tactical supression platform' used to quell riots. This is followed by a section on Aliens, which presents three alien races that might be encountered.

Then we get on to Adventures. Pride and Plasma Guns embroils the party in a noble's schemes, searching a starport for some fugitives and providing some memorable individuals who may play a recurring role in your game. The Price of Milk sees the party hired by another noble, annoyed that the day's shipment of milk had been stolen and so he'd had to drink his coffee black! If you have played Spinward Encounters, you might be interested in Further Adventures on 876-574 which is a collection of adventure hooks based on this backwoods planet. Derelict involves the party in investigating a derelict ship in a decaying orbit somewhere outsystem, while Mercy to the Fallen involves a member of the minor race Luriani, a performer who is in need of protection for a forthcoming tour... but wants to hire people who can play and form her band as well as look after her! The Ball Identity concerns someone who has lost his memory and wants the party to help him find out who he is.

The next section is called For Referees. This contains all manner of useful bits and pieces for referees including an extensive article on Jump Space, some words of wisdom on undercover missions and a rather dodgy piece called Where No Woman Has Gone Before, which trots out tired sexist comments about women in the role-playing hobby. Fortunately it's only a page long. There's also a scenario called The Star Dragon which provides an exotic new threat to present to your characters. There are Patrons at Court, handy if you move in such rarified circles, and Sealed Orders, an adventure for the senior crew of a small warship during the Fifth Frontier War. And, should there not be enough in this book to keep your campaign running for a while, there's an Adventure Generator which is rather fun to play with!

Finally, The Shipyard presents several new vessels, complete with plans (nice clear ones) and plenty of information to help you incorporate them into your game. There's a good range to add variety to encounters in the black or at a starport.

Another useful collection of items to enhance your game.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Traveller Compendium 3
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