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OGL Steampunk
by Mark L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/09/2016 15:28:34

I took advantage of a price reduction on this title since I'm working on adding some steampunk technology to a game in a fantasy setting.


The information provided is extensive, filling up a 300+ page book with a variety of characters, options, mechs and such to keep any fan of the theme happy while creating and designing various PCs and equipment for a campaign. The contents are well organized and easy to understand.


The only thing that disappointed me was an issue with the geration of the pdf that appears to have prevented many of the graphics from being included on the pages. Large sections of some pages are blank, outlined by text in a way that the reader can tell some type of graphic is intended to be placed there. The missing graphics don't detract from the information provided, but I'd be interested to see the images that are missing, if only to support the descriptions outlining those areas.


The ideas presented in the book will be handy in adding steampunk elements to any existing setting in addition to setting up and running a game solely based on the contents.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
OGL Steampunk
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Legend
by James L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/09/2016 10:28:47

For $1 it's hard to go wrong with this! I also commend Mongoose for publishing this under the OGL, it has allowed for other BRP-based games such as the new Delta Green. While this volume doesn't include any monsters, it could certainly be used for human-centric/exclusive games, and would work well for Game of Thrones. While I'm not the biggest fan of hit locations, it does add some grit to combat, which again could be used very well for low-fantasy and very deadly games.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Legend
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Traveller Core Rulebook
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
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Traveller Core Rulebook
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!]
2300AD: Atlas of the French Arm
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/28/2016 13:28:06

In the French Arm, you'll find the oldest, richest colonies, many of big enough and strong enough to survive as nations in their own right. Here is a mammoth work, atlas and gazetteer and source of many an adventure idea, to fuel your party's explorations and adventures here.


Exploring the French Arm, the first chapter, gives an overview of the history and current state of affairs. It all paints a picture of a living dynamic area, with various tensions and problems arising, being resolved or then fading away again, layering to create the present-day situation. It also shows how the use of languages has followed, with both French and English being useful for the would-be spacefarer.


This follows on naturally into the next section, Conflict on the French Arm. To start with, things were peaceful with exploration rather than conflict occupying people's minds, but of late things have become more contentious. Many conflicts have their origin in squabbles back on Earth that have spilled over to space, with colonies perpetuating the differences begun on Earth and indeed sometimes acting as their proxies. There have also been minor skirmishes as different factions and groups have butted heads. Most recently, however, the source of conflict has come to the Arm with the ever-mounting threat posed by the Kaefers.


Next is a chapter on Organisations, those extra-governmental entities that have a profound effect along the French Arm, influencing policies and decision making across over a dozen systems and countless worlds. Many are commercial in nature, massive corporations that rival governments in scope and influence. Some are 'private security companies' - mercenaries for hire, in other words. There are also those organisations lumped together under the term 'foundations' being any non-governmental, non-commercial group. Several dedicate themselves to 'pure science' or so the PR goes, although they're not backwards in monetising their discoveries. And of course there are terrorists, outlaws and organised crime, pushing their 'cause' or merely lining their own pockets at everyone else's expense. In some way, most of these will impact on anyone visiting the French Arm - suppliers, employers, enemies or allies... or just names in a news bulletin.


Then comes a chapter entitled Libertines. These are the folk who occupy a niche on the spacelanes equivalent to where Romany or Gypsies or Travellers fit in on Earth. It's a fascinating web of relationships and concepts, wrapped up and living in space, roving the French Arm although they are actually more prevalent in the Chinese Arm. Families are at the core of their culture, with ships crewed and run by extended families, some of whom we meet here. In similar vein the next chapter deals with the Belters, those fiercely independent souls who mine asteroid belts for whatever valuable materials they can find.


Next we hear of Mysteries of the French Arm. The tall tales you hear in spacer bars. Strange ruins predating exploration. Unidentified alien objects, some being actual artefacts, others glimpses in the distance... and this leads neatly in to a chapter on Intelligent Life, there being at least three known non-human intelligent races to be found in the French Arm - the Pentapods, the Kaefers and the Arbors.


Scene now set we move on to the Atlas proper. In the fairly large volume of space there are but twelve inhabited colony worlds, with many systems lacking really habitable worlds although many sport outposts. There's a quite lengthy discourse on 'planetology', the science of describing star systems, showing what the various descriptors applied in the Atlas to follow mean. First up, however, are the Outposts - small settlements that are not fully-fledged colonies in their own right but which serve as way-stations on the route to someplace else or which have other purposes.


The listing of outposts is followed by a chapter on Colonies, which introduces the twelve colony worlds. They then get a chapter apiece, with all the information you need to understand what they'd be like to visit in the course of your adventures. For each, there is system data, notes on each planet and the settlements upon them, then the history, native wildlife and more about the mainworld that is the colony itself. Maps, weather charts, a wealth of detail to enable your party to visit or even settle there.


This raises the question: is this a book for all players or the referee alone? The answer is, probably a bit of both. Most of the information here could be researched by an interested character, some at least will be covered in a normal education or is the sort of thing you pick up if you pay attention to documentaries and travel shows. It's possibly best to restrict access a bit, but when direct enquiries are made be open about the information that answers that enquiry... but no more. Make players work for the information, but provide it when they do.


Finally there is a chapter called Exploratory Worlds. This provides details of just a few of the worlds that have charted but barely visited yet - ideal for a game in which exploration of new worlds is to be a feature. There's enough here to get you started and plenty of scope to develop them however you wish.


In short, this is a massive and excellent resource for anyone planning games set in the French Arm. It makes you want to take ship and visit forthwith...



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
2300AD: Atlas of the French Arm
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2300AD: Ships of the French Arm
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/26/2016 10:02:04

The idea of this book is to enable you to populate the spacelanes and starports of the French Arm with an array of different ships which the party might interact with in some way during their adventures. Perhaps it is just a stray blip on a sensor screen or someone parked on a neighbouring pad, or they may get the chance to visit (voluntarily or otherwise) - hence deckplans are included - or maybe even serve aboard for a while. It's all part of the rich diversity of life that this game presents, making it appear 'real' - after all, not every ship you'd be likely to see is going to be the same, no more than every car you see on the road is identical to the rest! It is estimated that there are about 12,000 spacecraft in the French Arm, of which some 2,500 are actual starships capable of travelling between systems. Few, however, are in private hands, most belong to governments, companies or other organisations.


First, though, there is a chapter on Starship Operations. The design system used here is slightly different from that in the 2300AD core rules, in particular reaction drive systems and interface travel have been altered which has brought about changes to the time it takes a given craft to reach orbit from the planetary surfce, so new tables are presented so that you can calculate timings. There are also notes on ortillery fire, fuel costs and the way in which ship data is presented in the rest of the book, with an explanation of terms used.


The following chapters provide a range of example ships in considerable detail that really makes them seem real. First off are Interface Vessels and Small Craft, followed by Drop Pods, Lifeboats and Life Pods, Military Starships, Civilian Starships, Commercial Ships, Liners, Couriet Ships, Mining and Survey Ships, Robots, Missiles and Drones, Surface Probes and finally Unknown Vessels. Each vessel comes with background notes, exterior view sketch, full statistics and deckplans, so whatever your needs, it's likely that you will find something appropriate here.


The 'Unknown Vessels' section is a little different. Here, three distinct yet unidentified vessels are described in terms of sensor readings, observations and the tall tales told in spacer bars. Make of them what you may, or leave them as something mysterious that the party might spot in their travels...


Overall, this is a useful book to have to hand to make the spacelanes of the French Arm come to life in your game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
2300AD: Ships of the French Arm
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2300AD: Libreville - Corruption in the Core Worlds
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/25/2016 13:37:28

Libreville is an Earth city that will be familiar to anyone with thoughts of leaving the planet - it's the base of the Beanstalk and has several spaceports nearby, as well as being a major shipping centre and port for Earth water-based transportation. Just about every corporation and foundation has offices there as well, but whilst this massive city has areas of great wealth there are also some appalling slums. This book is both a sourcebook for Libreville and its surroundings and a full-blown adventure. There are also sample vehicles, spaceships, robots, non-players and random encounters relevant to Libreville which you can use whenever your plot takes the party there.


The first chapter, History, contains just that, the story of how Libreville came to occupy the prominance it has today. Africa survived the wars of the 21st century relatively unscathed, but without the steady stream of aid from the West many nations struggled until South Africa - now under the name Azania - and Mozambique began to flourish and France started taking an interest and brought many former colonies back into its sphere of influence. This included Gabon, in which Libraville is to be found, which is now a full department of Metropolitan France, represented in the French Chamber of Deputies and with all citizens being considered as French.


This is followed by a chapter on Geography, including maps, weather patterns and notes on wildlife (including game stats, should your party wish to mix it with a hippo or an elephant). There are also some details of police equipment and vehicles - now, are the Gendarmes Gabonaise more or less scary than a hippo? Maybe your party will find out!


We then move on to Life in the City. French public relations firms describe Libreville as a Xanadu on the Atlantic, but it's not quite as idyllic as this might suggest. It is a place of extremes, with the abject poverty of the 'Mudville' slums contrasting with enclaves run as gated compounds by corporations for their employees and the central business district where their offices and the residences of the truly wealthy are to be found. There's a map and description, along with some sample spaceplanes and aircraft to be found in the ports outside the city. There's even a sample bus from the city streets, a taxi and a dustcart - familiar sights to any resident or visitor. There's material about surveillance and advertising, common trends and fashions, all manner of little details that will help you bring the place to life. Ideas for encounters and even more detail of what's to be found downtown and in corporate enclaves add to this information, and Mudville life is covered as well.


An added dimension comes from the final two 'sourcebook' chapters: Politics and Power, and Personalities. Here we learn how Libreville is governed, administered and policed, as well as about the major corporate players. There are also foundations and other non-commercial enterprises and of course criminal gangs, organised crime and other less desirable groups. The Personalities chapter presents a host of notable individuals which the party will hear about on the news, even if they never get to meet them... but plenty of ideas are provided to embroil the party in their affairs.


Finally comes the adventure, Mud Sticks. Violence in Mudville is on the rise and the party is hired to investigate. The whole thing hangs together well although it's admittedly rather linear, chasing from clue to clue. You might want to mix things up a bit if you feel it railroads the characters excessively. There's a lot here, loads of people to talk to and the odd opportunity to brawl, although this is the sort of urban adventure where brawling tends to be frowned upon, although infiltration skills will come into play.


Everything is very atmospheric, you can almost feel the African sun and smell the jungle (and urban) smells. Groups which like urban intrigues will find this an interesting place in which to become involved, and anyone leaving (or arriving) on Earth is likely to at least pass through. Make this sprawling city a vivid feature of your game, you now have the tools to make it so.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
2300AD: Libreville - Corruption in the Core Worlds
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2300AD: Hard Suits, Combat Walkers and Battlesuits
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/24/2016 10:26:56

Opening with a short fiction piece from a battle scene, the Introduction gives definitions: a battlesuit is clam-shell-style unpowered armour (perhaps with an assistive exoskeleton), a hardsuit is a humanoid suit of powered combat armour with enhanced capabilities, and a combat walker ia a lightweight non-humanoid walking vehicle. OK, now we've got that straight, on to the meat of the book. As to be expected, this is no mere catalogue of what's available, it is packed with design information to allow you to create your own 'mechs'.


With admirable consistency with the rest of the Traveller ruleset, walker and suit design follows a straightforward process beginning with choosing a chassis type and the Tech Level at which you are building, then adding in armour, modifications, weapons and utility packs. You'll end up knowing how much your creation costs and even how much space it takes up should you need to ship it as cargo.


At every step there is a range of options - different chassis types, modifications that can be made, and equipment that can be added... although even in the future, the problem of waste collection has not be solved and it is highly advisable to go before suiting up for a mission! Naturally, there's an extensive list of weapons that can be attached to your system.


If you need a suit in a hurry (or feel daunted by the process to create a custom one) there is a selection of 'standard' models from which you can choose. As you become more confident, or see the need, you can adapt your suit or walker or create a new one to meet your requirements.


Perhaps a bit of a niche market, but if you will be engaging in lots of combat on the ground, this is an elegant addition to the game that is well worth a look.



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
2300AD: Hard Suits, Combat Walkers and Battlesuits
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2300AD: Black as Pitch
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/23/2016 09:53:20

This adventure is the third and final part of the Grendelssaga, which began with Rescue Run and continued with Salvage Rights. It really only works if you have run the preceding two adventures in the trilogy, as too much of the plot relies on the party having been involved in earlier events. Against a background of renewed exploration on Grendel which the party are not invited to participate in, they instead are invited to RebCo to dicuss a job offer... a rather interesting one which will land them back on Grendel anyway!


As one might expect, their path will not be a smooth one - and plenty detail is supplied to enable the Referee to manage events. Once they get there, the excitement is not over and there are considerable opportunities for interaction with both humans and Pentapods as well as some major exploration... and plenty of action and combat too, so this should prove entertaining for virtually all groups. For those interested in alien races, this adventure provides a prime opportunity to learn hitherto unguessed-at things about Pentapods.


As ever, there is masses of additional material - equipment, weapons, vehicles, locations, alien species and more - which is not just useful here but may play a role in your own adventures. There is also an appendix giving more information about Pentapods as well as others covering various factions (human and Pentapod) which again provide fertile ground for further adventure.


Taken as a whole, the Grendelsaga makes for an excellent adventure, and it is far better to run all three components together. Again, better proofreading would have improved this book, but the sheer wealth of information rounding out this particular corner of known space makes this book and the whole series fascinating and invaluable.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
2300AD: Black as Pitch
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2300AD: Rescue Run
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/22/2016 07:54:08

In the Queen Alice star system, most people live on Beowulf... but this adventure, the first in a series of three, takes the party to the next planet out, Grendel. This is a largely unexplored planet, regarded as uninhabitable, but it is home to a university research station studying the violent weather and emergent life forms on Grendel. As well as the adventure, this work serves as a sourcebook for Grendel and the research station itself.


The adventure itself concerns the evacuation of the research station - normally scheduled for the cold season only the contractors who normally ship the staff home have gone out of business, and the local authorities are more concerned with an alert concering potential Kaefer raiders than in picking up a handful of academics. If the party has a suitable vessel, they are hired to do the job in that, if they do not they will get given a court order to take a ship belonging to the former contractor (whose employees are still waiting on back pay and are likely to object).


There are background notes on the staff at the research station and on the trip to get them... including some potential problems that might arise on the way. Once there, the party are welcomed - the station has already suffered storm damage and the staff are eager to leave... although there is another storm coming and they will have to stay overnight and leave in the morning.


The descriptions are highly-detailed and there's a wealth of information here (although at least one 'see page XX' that hasn't been picked up in proofreading!) on the station and on the planet Grendel, as well as an assortment of survival gear that may be of use.


It's a taut little adventure with plenty of opportunity for interaction, but short on opportunities for combat. In some ways, it is a scene-setter for things to come, and possibly should have been included with the next adventure (Salvage Rights) rather than as a stand-alone, but it could make an interesting side-adventure if you are using it on its own. There are some suggestions for follow-up adventures as well, and if you do intend to run Salvage Rights this is a well-nigh essential percursor.



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
2300AD: Rescue Run
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2300AD: French Arm Adventures
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/21/2016 10:04:36

This book contains three adventures and ancillary material about the worlds on which they are set. The adventures are based on ones originally released by Game Designer's Workshop for their 2300AD game - Beanstalk, Kafer Dawn and Energy Curve - which have been retooled for the Mongoose Traveller ruleset. It is recommended that the introductory adventure Tricolore's Shadow be played first, but as I don't have a copy I cannot comment on that.


There's a nice map of the French Arm, then it's on to the first adventure, Beanstalk. There is a lot of supporting material explaining the nature of the Beanstalk itself and the planet of Beta Canum where it is to be found - plenty of history and background that makes the place come to life and suggests further ideas for adventure even after this one is done. Beta Canum has four continents - the French Continent, the British Continent, the German Continent, and the Southern Continent, and there is also an alien embassy, the Pentapod Enclave. All of these are described in considerable detail.


Scene set, we move on to sections entitled The Actors and The Drama. The Actors provides details of leading NPCs and The Drama consists of three separate but linked scenarios concerning the Beanstalk. These are followed by further materials: suggestions for follow-up adventures, technical data about beanstalk operation and other matters.


The adventures themselves involve the party working as troubleshooters for Rebco sampling air around the Beanstalk, getting involved in a dispute over foodstuffs produced by British and French companies and trying to survive when the Beanstalk gets sabotaged... Each can be run as a standalone adventure or they can be run in sequence.


Next comes Kafer Dawn (which for some reason suddenly becomes Kaefer Dawn...). In this, the party are mercenaries on the planet Aurore and get embroiled in the growing war with the Kafer (or Kaefer), an alien race that is not inclined to share space with any other colonists. There is background on Aurore, its capital Tanstaafl and the Kafer themselves, ideas for adventuring on Aurore and three scenarios to get you going. There's a lot to keep characters who enjoy the mercenary life busy.


The third adventure is Energy Curve. This is not as well introduced as the others, everything's a bit muddled and a thorough read-through is recommended to understand precisely what is going on as - unlike the others in this book - you cannot get an overview at a glance. It involves a downed exploration vessel and the fight for survival on an unknown planet that ensues. There is masses of opportunity for exploration and interaction in this one, a fascinating and challenging adventure that lasts the better part of a year (game time).


Finally, there are a couple of appendices, one on the Pentapods and one about technology. Overall, there is a wealth of resources here over and above the adventures themselves, although there is a rather jumbled air to the whole thing with disparate adventures suited to at least three different parties (if not groups of players - people who like exploring may find less fun exploring new worlds or troubleshooting in a fairly civilised environment where gunplay is frowned upon, and vice versa). But there's plenty of material here and well worth reading as you build your knowledge of the French Arm and mine it for opportunities to adventure.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
2300AD: French Arm Adventures
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2300AD: Tools for Frontier Living
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/19/2016 14:14:15

Much of Traveller 2300AD is about life on the frontier, and this book begins by attempting to bring some of that flavour across, with a piece of fiction about farm life and some explanations. For example, frontier living is a mix of primitive and advanced technology, and knowledge across the entirety of known space is fairly consistant. Hence the Technology Level of a frontier world is more a reflection of what they can make there, the manufacturing capabilities, than what they actually understand there. They can usually get hold of higher-tech items, provided they are willing to pay for them. Attitudes are different, too, the sort of people who make good colonists have a somewhat different approach to life that those who remain on core worlds. Sketches of sample colonial settlements illustrate this discussion on what the colonies are actually like, and it all makes fascinating reading.


Next comes a chapter on Colonies and Colony Design. The colonisation process is described in detail. Once a potential colony world is discovered, first in are survey teams, who begin with orbital surveys and then land, staying for five to ten years looking round a new planet then once it is deemed suitable the pathfinders arrive and spend another five years setting up basic infrastructure before the actual colonists turn up. There's masses of detail here, enough to inform the development of a campaign about establishing a colony, if that takes your fancy, and this includes apposite rules information.


This is followed by Outposts and Outpost Design, where 'outposts' are defined as small-scale facilities established in deep space, on asteroids, or inhospitable worlds. These are not intended to be self-sufficient of themselves, although they may be components of a large whole. The same concepts can be used in creating colony precursors, a nucleus about which a colony can develop and eventually become self-sufficient. Deep space or asteroid based outposts are often zero or low gravity, those on planets have gravity of course but may be on airless worlds (or those with an inhospitable atmosphere). Again there's plenty of detail - and illustrations of sample outposts - to enable you to incorporate them into your game.


Next comes a chapter on Frontier Agriculture. Virtually every colony tries to farm for at least their own use if not for export. Most of the time, crops of Earth origin need genetic modification to be able to thrive on other worlds. Animals may or may not need this, depending on whether you can grow crops that they can eat... but they likely will have to be protected from local wildlife. Sometimes, said wildlife can be tamed and farmed itself, should they be edible or otherwise useful. Greenhouses, hydroponics and aquaculture (fish farming) are also discussed.


Everyone needs somewhere to live, so the next chapter discusses Structures. This primarily covers imported structures, rather than those built using local materials, although these are covered as well, with the rules and costings you'll need. Many are modular in form, and often come pre-fitted according to their intended purpose. This is followed by a chapter on Power Systems.


Then a chapter on Animals opens with some fiction from an exo-veterinary surgeon, describing her life as a colonial veterinarian. Much of the material here covers exported Earth animals and their adaptations to colonial living, but we also hear about creatures native to the colony worlds. There's also costings and rules for animals here.


Next we take a look at Clothing and Protective Gear. Now we get to the sort of 'shopping list' I'd been expecting when I opened this book - in fact the discussions talked about above were a delightful surprise! Of course, listings of stuff your characters can purchase are always useful. In many groups, shopping ranks highly amongst preferred activities - generally only combat and carousing get more interest from them. There's everything from smart and budget street clothes to armour and specialised outfits in this chapter.


The chapter on Medical Technology opens with quite an impassioned tirade from a medical doctor who resents those who think the technology is taking over and doing most of the work. The trained medical mind still has its place. However there's plenty of equipment listed here to supplement such trained minds. There is also a list of drugs, not all of them medical... some are 'recreational' or have other uses besides healing.


The gear theme continues with a chapter of Exploratory Equipment, everything from backpacks and tents to mapping equipment and even snowshoes. This is followed by Tools and Industrial Equipment - everything from the multitool in your pocket to fabricators and explosives. Then on to Computers, Communicators and Personal Electronics. This in particular shows the difference between 2300AD colonies and their earlier counterparts. Even the most primitive appearing colony has access to cutting edge computing power. Similar in nature are the Sensors and Scopes which follow. This group of chapters rounds off with Miscellaneous Equipment and Consumer Goods - autokitchens, makeup kits and even a composting toilet.


Next, out into space beginning with Space Equipment. This is the stuff you really don't want to fail! It includes rescue equipment, beacons and satellites here, before moving on to Spacesuit Design. If you have a mind to, you can get down and dirty with custom designing every detail of the suit on which your life will depend. In similar vein, the following chapter deals with Aquatic Equipment, with dive gear, boats and other items useful if you intend taking to the water.


There's a chapter on Police and Security Equipment, plenty of useful stuff here whichever side of the law you may happen to be on. Then comes the Weapons chapter, unsurprisingly one of the longer chapters in the whole book. There's plenty here to keep your gun-bunnies happy.


The final section of the book is mostly transportation, although the chapter on Robots and Drones provides robots (and drones, of course) for many purposes. Following this fascinating read, there are chapters on Walkers, Vehicles and Starships and Spacecraft.


With the material herein, your Travellers should not want for anything that they might need as they roam the worlds or settle down to build a colony.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
2300AD: Tools for Frontier Living
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2300AD Core Rulebook Revised
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/16/2016 11:34:42

The original Traveller 2300 (from Game Designer's Workshop) had little to do with Traveller proper, being set far earlier and having a different ruleset. In this revisualisation by Mongoose Publishing, the ruleset is brought in line with the rest of their Traveller product, but the original setting and flavour is kept intact... and some cunning additional rules are added to enable it all to work well.


The Introduction explains the setting clearly. The date is 2300AD, as in but 300 years into the future, human beings have left Earth and colonised some 20-odd habitable plants in other solar systems... and the single SF element is the faster-than-light 'Stutterwarp' drive that got them there. Earth nation-states still exist, so colonies regard themselves as being French or Australian or... rather than 'of Earth', although some large corporations and other groups wield as much clout as nation-states. Five alien races have been encountered, with varying levels of hostility. Although now core Traveller rules are being used, this is NOT Traveller per se, it is more realistic, probably a bit more gritty - and yet it's still a game of adventure and exploration.


The first chapter, Background, covers the history that got us to 2300AD. It's not quite the same as the original 2300AD game, but it is pretty close. Starting at the year 2000, it appears things went from bad to worse, with 2000-2089 being regarded as Twilight, a time little understood, not least because of widescale destruction of records during (perhaps because of) a nuclear war the origins of which have been lost. This caused considerable damage to much of Europe, Russia, North America, China and India, though France somehow managed to remain relatively unscathed. The war was followed by further devastation from several pandemics, possibly caused by bio-weapons. Eventually France started taking an interest in space travel and slowly some semblance of civilisation returned... leading to renewed scientific endeavour and a new age of exploration. Of course this wasn't completely peaceful and reading about the various squabbles shows how the current state of affairs developed.


Next, Core Worlds introduces the sort of life to be lived on the core worlds of Earth and Tirane (in the Alpha Centuri system), but which can also be found the more advanced urban areas of long-settled colony worlds. Life can be luxurious, at least if you're a knowledge worker, but far too many are unemployed and scrabbling for anything that they can get. There's a surveillance culture that many from outside find oppressive and restrictive, the payback being security and convenience. There's a lot of cultural homogeneity - one of the reasons many people decide they want to move on out to the stars. This overview leads into a more detailed look at Earth, the rest of this solar system, and Tirane.


Then comes a chapter Frontier Worlds, which provides similar information on what life is like out in the colonies, and details what they are like. One interesting feature is Planetary Adaptation Syndrome: human beings are designed for Earth and even the most Earth-like world just isn't the same. You have to adapt to live there and it may not be easy, even with DNA theraphy and drugs to assist. This is a good place for a discussion of disease, as people do not have natural defences against the bugs on a new planet either. There's a good overview of all the current colonies, so read through and decide where you want to visit first... or maybe even settle. Plaetary Adaptation Syndrome means that most people do not flit from world to world all the time, a key difference from mainstream Traveller.


The final part of the setting information is a chapter on Foundations, Corporations and Terrorists. Not everything revolves around nation-states, so here we meet some of the other major players, with plenty of detail and examples. Characters might end up working for one such entity, or opposed to it... they are certainly likely to interact in some way if only by purchasing a corporation's products or hearing about the latest terrorist outrage on the news.


Then we get into rules territory, with a chapter detailing Character Generation. It is similar to the system presented in the core Traveller rulebook (which you need to possess to play this particular game line) but with differences based on this setting, so read through carefully as you decide on what your character will be. Again, wonderfully-detailed characters result, complete with the outline of a backstory to explain how they reached their current state as you start play - it's quite a distraction, you want to sit creating characters instead of getting on with reading the rest of the book!


This is followed by Alien Races. Most of this is quite general and could be regarded as what a well-educated human being might know about them. The implication is, however, that aliens will be NPCs, so the Referee may choose to restrict access to this material. No rules for creating alien characters are provided.


Next comes Cybernetics and DNA Modifications. Herein you will find all the rules you need to allow characters to take advantage of these augmentations. Beware, most places in the Core Worlds don't like people who have had their DNA changed! Material here provides for a fairly 'low-cyber' style of game. If you want more, try Mongoose Traveller Supplement 8: Cybernetics - the advantage of sharing a common ruleset! The really interesting bit is the discussion of DNA modification, a new introduction to the ruleset.


Then we move on to the Science and Technology chapter, which covers the current state of play in the biological sciences, computers and information security, mechanical telepathy (this sounds... interesting) and transportation. Robots and drones and materials science are alos mentioned. Then we get a bit more practical with chapters of Equipment, Weapons and Armour, Robots and Drones, a spot of Cortex Hacking, and Vehicles.


Next we move on to Starship Design - the concepts and rules - followed by Starships, Spacecraft and Space Stations (loads of examples), Space Travel and Space Combat and finally Starship Encounters. Loads of information, all honed to this setting yet fitting in to the underlying ruleset. We then turn to NPCs and Animals, with plenty of samples of both.


Finally, there's the 2300AD Referee's Guide. This provides additional guidelines and a wealth of ideas about the sort of campaigns that you can run - exploration, trade, combat (ground or space), or maybe you fancy a party of troubleshooters or an anti-terrorist spin on things. There's also an extensive list of sources you might use for inspiration: fiction, films, TV shows and more. There's a calendar for the year 2300AD, and the Near Star List used to set up space for this game. Interestingly, it's the original 1988 one used in Traveller 2300 - it maintains the flavour of the setting better than contemporary knowledge of what's out there!


Overall this is a masterful blending of a very original setting with an established ruleset and - with the good range of supplements available - makes for some interesting gaming.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
2300AD Core Rulebook Revised
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Traveller Core Rulebook
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
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Traveller Core Rulebook
by Customer Name Withheld [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!]
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