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Achtung! Cthulhu: Guide to the Pacific Front
Publisher: Modiphius
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/19/2014 08:25:26
This supplement equips you to take your Achtung! Cthulhu adventures across the world to the Pacific Theatre, where ferocious battles in the Pacific islands and Southern Asia and the perils of jungle warfare are mixed with the emergence of ancient evils. Chapter 1: Welcome to the Pacific sets the ball rolling by setting the scene with a time-line of events pertinent to the Far East from 1854 right through to the events of the Second World War. Mostly historical, it is enlivened by snippets of information - often presented in the form of 'notes' apparently pinned to the page - that add colour and suggest ideas as wekk as adding further material about people and events of the times. It ends in April 1945, with a note that if you run the forthcoming Achtung! Cthulhu: Assault on the Mountains of Madness campaign, events in Europe from 1944 on are likely to be world-changing enough to disrupt matters here in the Pacific.

Chapter 2: The Land of the Rising Sun gives an introduction to Japan, a mysterious land that until the 1830s had deliberately isolated itself from the rest of the world. Since the succession of a new emperor, rapid changes turned the nation from feudalism and mediaeval standards of living to a modern technological country ready to take its place on the world stage. This is coupled with an aggressive military stance directed against China and Russia... and the development of many secret societies whose tentacles reach out through every part of Japanese society. This sets the background against which Japan enters the Second World War by attacking Pearl Harbour in December 1941, dragging the United States into the conflict.

Next, Chapter 3: The Balance of Power looks at the state of affairs in the Pacific region during the run up to World War Two, as well as giving a brief overview of how events unfold as time progresses. It's to be noted that few people had much idea of the situation there unless they have some connection with the area, this applies to Investigator characters as much as anyone else. Apart from China, Thailand and Japan, much of the region is under colonial control from elsewhere - and even a fair bit of China's territory is under Japanese control.

This is followed by Chapter 4: In Captivity, which expands on earlier references to the cruelty of the Japanese to those they invade as well as to prisoners of war. Although game mechanics are provided, it is probably best that characters do not find themselves in captivity.

Next comes Chapter 5: New Beginnings. This provides rules for generating characters who come from the Pacific region as well as providing appropriate new career paths and other material, with mechanics for both Call of Cthulhu and Savage Worlds. There are also additional military careers and training packages relevant to this theatre of war. Characters sorted, Chapter 6: The Whole Kit and Caboodle provides all the weapons and equipment that they could dream of, with Japanese weaponry included as well.

Chapter 7: The Best Laid Plans discusses the challenges of conducting combat operations in the Pacific region. This includes notes on Japanese combat doctrine and methods as well as the perils of jungle warfare... and as if that wasn't enough, Chapter 8: Exotic Beasts and Vile Beings provides plenty of wildlife and more hostile adversaries with plenty of detail of Chtulhu Mythos presence in the area. Piling more on, Chapter 9: Artefacts, Spells and Tomes delivers information on notable items and books that might be encoungtered and a few new spells to cast.

Then Chapter 10: The Many Faces of War provides a raft of NPCs from famous people to generic soldiers and civilians that the characters might encounter in the course of their adventures. Chapter 11: Adventure Seeds provides several ideas for plots to be run in the Pacific region, although they are just brief outlines and will require work before they can be played through. Finally, Chapter 12: Suggested Resources provides reference to books, films and other materials that can set the scene, provide further information or just get you into the right mood for a Pacific campaign.

Overall, this is a comprehensive introduction to a lesser-known aspect of the Second World War with sufficient Mythos involvement to keep any investigator intrigued.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu: Guide to the Pacific Front
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Legacies: The Sublime
Publisher: White Wolf
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/19/2014 02:52:51
Opening with a poster for a gig and an evocative piece of fiction, a tale about a young musician-mage who in desperation is directed by her future self to seek guidance from a strange old man, thus leading in to the concept of legacies as introduced in the core rulebook but now to be discussed at length in a book dedicated to the subject.

The Introduction: Reaching for the Supernal explains how whilst mages know that there's a lot more to the world than 'ordinary' folk (or Sleepers) might realise, they each have to find their own routes to understanding and mastering it. Fundamentally, working magic comes down to the mage's will and his soul but there are many images and theories used to explain it and various powers, called attainments, that mages can learn in their quest to mould their souls and work their wills. Many develop themselves, Awakened and having chosen an order, by training in a legacy or perhaps even creating their own. The legacies are so named because that is what they are, the legacy of an earlier mage's efforts to craft their own soul and master their magical powers.

This book describes, in considerable detail, some thirteen of these legacies which are all linked by in some way referring to 'the sublime'. Some are organised and widely-recognised in mage society, others chaotic or followed by but a few determined souls. Mages following these teachings aspire to become in some way sublime themselves. Perhaps they dream of becoming gods, wish to ascend to a better world or improve the one they live in. Maybe they'd like to wield magic unheard of by any of their peers. It is amazing enough to have one's soul Awaken to the Supernal World, but those mages who choose to follow a legacy seek to become exceptional even by Awakened standards. It taps into the essence of this game, the core concept of opening one's eyes to the realms of possibilities inherent iin the use of magic in a modern world.

The bulk of the book is given over to detailed discussion of each of the thirteen legacies presented herein. Most are available to player-character mages but two follow the so-called Left Hand Path, strands of knowledge so abhorrent that mage society recoils from such teachings and those who practice them. These can serve as outright enemies, rather than the political rivals others present in the continual dance that is the intrigue upon which mage society thrives.

For each legacy there is extensive discussion of the underlying philosophy: what kind of mage is attracted to it and will thrive in its ranks. There's the history and of course the attainments, the legacy-specific powers that practitioners gain. There are also details of what the typical adherent might look like and behave, and how they are regarded by and interact with the rest of mage society. Rites and rituals of the legacy and even story hooks and ideas based upon them are included. A neat item is a fully-developed sample character complete with backstory, quotes and stat block - a ready-made NPC should you require a member of that legacy.

The really fun thing about all these legacies, however, is the underlying philosophy, the theories by which each explains their magic. Studying these, and embracing the thought-patterns of your chosen legacy, will help you begin to think like your character.

After introducing such a wide variety of legacies - including a couple of really dark and destructive ones that are best followed by NPCs - there is an Appendix: Shaping the Soul that explains how to design your own legacy. As some of the legacies presented here are of recent origin, there are bound to be potential new ones springing up so if you fancy a go at writing your own philosophy of magic, here is your chance. Game mechanics are made clear, but the spark of imagination will be your own. As a player, this is a chance for your character to make their own original contribution to mage society. As a Storyteller, you can craft legacies to tell your own stories in your own way, devising allies and antagonists around a premise of your own devising.

As with the extant legacies, the whole process is embued with the underlying philosophy of magic. This drives the development of the new legacy, the relevant game mechanics follow later as a matter of course. Characters who carve their own paths in this manner may be consciously absorbed in the process or it may be a natural progression from the development of their interests as they progress as mages... for this is but the first step in actually creating a legacy, only time will tell if other mages will choose to follow. Creating a legacy should be a slow process, one of spiritual growth and change, not something done on a whim merely to create a more powerful character.

If you really want to get into a mage's mind, studying this work gives some insight, even if you do not choose to have your character join one of these legacies or have a go at creating one of his own. If you are the Storyteller there is plenty here to help you create a rich tapestry of mage society as a backdrop for your stories whilst the legacies may suggest some actual plots as well.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legacies: The Sublime
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Achtung! Cthulhu: Investigator's Guide
Publisher: Modiphius
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/17/2014 08:35:13
Aimed at players - whether of Call of Cthulhu or Savage Worlds - this book contains a wealth of material to help them understand the alternate history of a World War 2 with added Cthulhu Mythos elements, and hence to play their characters more convincingly.

Chapter 1: Welcome to the Secret War sets out the basic premise, beginning with a timeline of events running from November 1918 to April 1945. Despite comments about Mythos involvement, this is straight history... the weird bits get mixed in later! After all, to begin with the characters probably know nothing about it.

Next, Chapter 2: Keep the Home Fires Burning looks at life on the 'home front' - as opposed to the battlefield - telling how the war affected those not actively involved in combat just as much as it did those in uniform. There's a lot here from working life to fashion and food, even popular music of the day. Again this is historically accurate without the merest taint of Mythos, just as is intended for the game: ordinary folk got through the war without hearing about such things (much as it was only after the war that many Nazi atrocities were revealed). Chapter 3: Home Sweet Home continues this theme with a timeline of events in civilian life. A few suggestions about the style of adventures you might have on the home front are included, but this book is really for players rather than game masters (although they too ought to read it, it does not duplicate the contents of the Keeper's Guide to the Secret War). It all goes towards putting your adventures into context, however.

With the Home Front adequately covered, what of those who took up arms? Chapter 4: In the Service of One's Country gives an overview of the armed forces, intelligence and auxillary services mainly from an Allied point of view, although the German military machine is also covered. (Indeed, the whole book assumes characters will be drawn from Allied countries.)

Now that the scene has been comprehensively set, Chapter 5: Your Country Needs You! delves into the game mechanics involved in creating a WW2 Investigator character. There's an overview of the different nationalities from which he might come and a review of civilian and military occupations. Skills, pay scales, everything that you need to know about various occupations are included... and there's even a section on how to introduce a modicum of Mythos knowledge even before play begins by creating a bit of backstory to explain it - and perhaps explain why it's YOU and not someone else who gets embroiled in the sort of missions that are the basis of gameplay in this setting. For those intending military characters there is a review of the process of character generation under Call of Cthulhu rules, which in the original cater well for having a military background but are less good if you want your character to be in service when play begins. There's even a (somewhat inaccurate) note on the decorations he might have received. It also covers the civilian who has just enlisted (or who will do so during the course of the game). Unless you have a much-loved character which the game master agrees, it's recommended that you use these rules in conjunction with your chosen ruleset to generate your Achtung! Cthulhu character, as they've been written with the era and setting in mind.

Getting down to nuts and bolts, Chapter 6: Getting Your Hands Dirty introduces and explains new skills appropriate to this game, with Call of Cthulhu mechanics. Fear not, Chapter 7: The Savage Practice of War covers similar material under the Savage Worlds ruleset, if that is your game of choice. Chapter 8: Tools of the Trade mainly concentrates on weapons, with a wealth of detail about the different ones popular with various nations and units, complete with statistics for both rulesets.

To wind up, Chapter 9: Quick Play Guide summarises everything you need to know to create and play your character under either ruleset, and Chapter 10: Suggested Resources covers books, films and more that will enable you to understand the period better and get into the right mood.

Overall, this is an excellent introduction to playing in the Achtung! Cthulhu setting and ought to be read by players and referees alike.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu: Investigator's Guide
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Achtung! Cthulhu: Keeper's Guide
Publisher: Modiphius
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/16/2014 08:22:07
This tome is intended as the essential reference work for mixing the Cthulhu Mythos with World War Two - primarily aimed at the GM/Keeper but providing a lot of detailed background for anyone wishing to explore adventuring in a 'weird war' style.

After a brief Introduction by Chris Birch, instigator of the concept, it's on to Chapter 1: From the Shadows. With a brief piece of atmospheric fiction, it launches into an explanation of what this game is designed to present: an alternate history of WW2 in which the Nazis are attempting, through their known interest in the occult, to recruit the forces of the Mythos to aid their quest for world domination. Whilst most of the material is generic, specific game mechanics are provided for both Call of Cthulhu and Savage Worlds, with tags to indicate them in the text as well as game-specific chapters to deal with topics like combat, strategy and Sanity loss. It then jumps into a timeline from 1907 through to April 1945, weaving fact with fiction. It's illustrated with period photographs and snippets of information on various individuals and events - all laid out to give the impression of a dossier - and is designed so that you can set your action whenever you choose. Of course, later events may be somewhat different depending on the outcome of your group's adventures.

Next, Chapter 2: Inside the Reich deals with the notion that this is an historical horror game and hence delivers some (mostly) historical detail. This type of game works best when you have a good grasp of the real-world history on which your alternate history is based and covers developments in Germany from 1920 on. It looks at the potentials for playing German characters and issues the stark reminder that the Nazis were nasty enough without help from the Mythos. Not everyone will be comfortable playing a German character - although again it must be remembered that not all Germans were as evil as Hitler... war is not football, you do not get to choose which side you support. Notes here make a good job of picking their way through propaganda to give a clear picture of what the average German, especially the average German soldier, was really like. It is an interesting argument which boils down to the concept that the Nazis were not evil due to Mythos influences even in this game, they were evil enough to seek out and attempt to weaponise the Mythos.

Chapter 3: Might Makes Right? moves on from general discussion of German history to talk about the military. Everything is covered from organisation to uniforms to everyday life in the ranks, giving a good impression of the German war machine of the time. There's quite extensive discussion of prisoner-of-war camps which may come in useful should Allied player-characters fall into enemy hands! This chapter ends with a wide selection of sample stat blocks for both German and Allied military personnel. Many real-world units are included, complete with historical notes.

Chapter 4: The Other Secret War then looks at the Great Game, the role of intelligence agencies, spies, signal interception and the like that went on behind the scenes. Here the history and operations of the real-world British, French, American and German intelligence services are covered in quite some detail. The 'Secret War' that is the main thrust of Achtung! Cthulhu is handled in the following chapter, Chapter 5: Secret and Occult Societies. This details many such societies in different countries around the world, mixing known occultists with invented ones quite seamlessly. Organisations and individuals (all with dual stat blocks) provide a ready source of contacts and ideas for adventures, as do the more detailed accounts of some of the ongoing operations, particularly those conducted by the Germans.

Next comes Chapter 6: Planes, Trains and Things That Go Bang. It is much more than an equipment list, with notes on travel by air, sea and land - including border crossings other than the conventional stroll up and present your passport - as well as details of military vehicles and vessels (in enough detail to keep the average wargamer happy) and equipment. The equipment covered here is German, British and Allied equipment is covered in the Investigator's Guide. More esoteric devices invented by German occultists are also included here. Every item is, of course, provided with both Call of Cthulhu and Savage Worlds statistics.

Chapter 7: Into The Fray opens with the immortal words "In case you hadn't noticed, there's a war on" and proceeds to discuss the perils of attempting to run a conventional role-playing style adventure in a combat zone as well as translating common battlefield events into convenient role-playing terms so that if your characters get involved, for example, in an aerial dogfight, you now have the rules to make it all happen within the context of the game. Chapter 8: Rules of Savage Engagement provide additional Savage Worlds game mechanics for use in military combat situations. This being a Mythos game, there is also a table for Sanity loss for those who find themselves caught up in the horrors of war.

This is followed by Chapter 9: Artefacts and Tomes which looks at some of the potent items and books that are around, particularly in Germany, to threaten or entertain the inquisitive seeker of occult knowledge. Several are based on real items held to be of almost-mystical significance by the real-world Nazis, now neatly embuded with power for game purposes - the Blutfahne and the SS Totenkopfring for example. There's a good library of dark and dangerous tomes too, some will be familiar to Call of Cthulhu veterans, but here they are provided with Savage Worlds stats (get the CoC ones from the core rulebook). Now you have all that occult knowledge, Chapter 10: Deadly Illusions and Cursed Knowledge shows you how to use it - in particular, how to cast spells and use artefacts to their full potential, as well as how to use the Knowledge (Mythos) skill to good effect as you try to puzzle things out, preferably before going insane or getting eaten. Budding spellcasters will find a goodly grimoire of spells here. Most are standard ones, so presented only with Savage Worlds mechanics, but there are some new ones with the mechanics for both game systems provided. If that's not enough, Chapter 11: Horrors and Monstrosities provides a vast array of monsters and worse with which to bedevil investigators. There's also a good overview of the Cthulhu Mythos for those new to it.

Next is Chapter 12: Allies and Nemeses, which introduces a wide range of notable individuals the characters might have an opportunity to meet and interact with during the course of the game. Many are real-world historical figures, others feature in Achtung! Cthulhu adventures or feature in this alternate history. Yet others are examples of ordinary people whom they might encounter. There is also a collection of choice generic locations that might come in handy. And now you have people and places, all you need is Chapter 13: Adventure Seeds to start coming up for ways to use them. Some nice ideas here, but you'll have to flesh them out to make full scenarios of them.

Chapter 14: Quick Play Guide is a useful ready-reference for Call of Cthulhu Keepers as to where they can find all the rules they'll need (Savage Worlds referees have all the Cthulhu-related rules they need in this book, of course, and the Savage Worlds rulebook for everything else). Finally, Chapter 15: Suggested Resources provides inspirational references to books and films - even a list of museums you might want to visit.

Presented in a style that suggests a sheaf of government paperwork, adorned with annotations and clipped-in phots and sketches, this book is a masterful exposition of how to weave an alternate history around the Second World War, and should put even the newest Keeper/Referee in a position to run an Achtung! Cthulhu game well.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu: Keeper's Guide
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Mage: The Awakening
Publisher: White Wolf
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/15/2014 08:32:43
Mage: The Awakening is a tale of hidden powers, ones that are hidden in plain sight in a world almost our own, a tale that is yours to tell. It opens with the musings of own newly awoken to his powers, a guide to those going through the same process. Becoming a mage is much more than a career choice, but once awakened a life of study and training awaits. The basics are simple a mage taps into a higher power, drawing on an area that is inaccessible to most people, the original home of the soul from which most of us are irrevocably separated. But not mages. Hay can reach across the abyss between this higher plane and the ordinary world and drag mystical power back to do, well, pretty much whatever they want. The abyss is a bit of a problem, though. Therein lies madness, hence all the training, to be able to access power without going out of your head.

Once past this opening, we reach the Introduction, which explains the nature of the alternate reality of this game. It's a heady blend of power and wisdom, the power to work magic and the wisdom to know when it is right to do so. But power corrupts, that is one of the underlying themes of the game. Mages are not all virtuous, noble souls, few are good at sharing and they all like to get their own way. Ancient mysteries beckon, and this game is about the exploration of self as well as of solving them.

Chapter 1: Arcanus Mundus continues in similar vein, expending on the world-view, reality as it is viewed by mages (in as much as they agree about anything, that is!). The basic idea is that although we ordinary people may think that we understand the world, we are but sleepwalking through it and it is only mages who are awakened to its true reality. This may explain why mages tend to be an arrogant bunch, it also satisfies that feeling most of us have that there is some kind of underlying pattern or logic if we could only but see it. Get into this mindset and you begin to understand what makes mages in this game tick.

There are tales of the origins of magic as practised today, scoffed at by some and held to be literal historical truth by others. Then we hear how magic developed and the different strands that arose over time leading to the various factions through which the modern mage must navigate his way. The fundamental truth behind it all is that mages can bend reality to their will by force of mind alone - but it is a dangerous thing to do any many the mind, if not life, has been lost in this quest.

Mages refer to their discovery of their powers as Awakening, often a period of great stress as - to begin with - most are not even aware of what is taking place. Often it is more akin to going mad. Then it is a matter of learning about reality, understanding the strands of the tapestry - for until you understand them, how can you hope to manipulate them? The overall sweep of this chapter, however fanciful, has a coherence to it that leaves you feeling that this just might be real, creating a solid grounding for the alternate reality of the game... for if we did not dream we would not be role-players.

The discussion then moves on to details of the various factions and groupings, the philosophies and paths that mages can follow, the organisations and fellowships that they might join. Coverage is extensive: the intention is that you will be provided with all the information you need to make appropriate choices during character creation.

In Chapter 2: Character we find most of what we need to start building a mage character. For the rest, you will need the core World of Darkness rulebook. Here, though, is the process of creating characters along with the traits and systems necessary to perform the task. It is all about creating a rounded, realistic character - not just the most potent mage you can manage, but a believable individual to be your alter ego within the alternate reality of the game. The basis for the process is your concept of who your mage is, how he came to be awakened and what his intentions are now that he can wield magic.

The actual process of applying a mage template to a World of Darkness character is explained, but the main thrust of the discussion remains focussed on creating a detailed and rounded character who is a lot more than the magic he can wield. The option is also available to create a 'normal' character who has not yet awakened and include this pivotal moment in your game, or as a prelude to it which will be played out in full rather than treated as something that has happened already. Perhaps you will already know, from the previous chapter, which order and path you will choose, or this may still be open to discussion or even chance to decide as he awakens to his new capabilities.

Mechanically, everything is quite straightforward. You start with attributes - physical, social and mental - choosing which of these is your primary area of ability and so on, allocating dots as appropriate. Then you pick skills - these all the regular mundane things that the character knows how to do, be it ride a bike, cook a meal or construct a legal argument that will stand up in court. It is only then that you start to look at the magical aspects of path and order.

The discussion moves on to the differences between each path and each order, in both game mechanical and more philosophical terms. This enables you to think about your choices in terms of the sort of person you want your character to be as well as to enable you to fill out the character sheet appropriately. More follows - traits, merits, virtues, vices - to empower you to determine the style and substance of your brand-new mage.

If you have chosen to play out the character's Awakening in a prelude - usually played one-on-one with the Storyteller - there then follows all the details that the both of you need to make this happen. It is all about setting a scene, and as much about establishing who your character was and who he will become as the pivotal moment that changes him for the rest of his life. There is a lot more information to absorb, but character creation in this game s intended to be approached in a reflective and thoughtful manner - although once you are used to it the actual mechanics are relatively speedy to implement.

Next, Chapter 3: Magic - unsurprisingly the longest chapter in the book - delivers an extensive discussion of how magic works, covering both in-character magical theory and practical game mechanics. Yet it is more than mere spellcasting. Mages can sense things others cannot, they are aware of the active presence of supernatural beings or even operational spells even without trying. Once they pay attention, they can discern much, much more. The purpose of this chapter is to get you to think like your character does, do not just skim through in search of the mechanics of spellcasting and other powers but study it to gain an understanding of the nature of what your character can do. Because to cast a spell it is not sufficient to know it, the mage needs to imagine the effect that he desires to have upon reality before it can take place. This means that with sufficient knowledge and visualisation a mage can concoct new spells, even on the fly.

There are two types of magic: vulgar and improbable. The difference is in the appearance - is it obviously magic or can it be explained away as a natural (even if unlikely) occurrence? Wise mages are subtle, not letting on what they can do. To do otherwise risks a paradox, a rebellion of nature itself against what the mage is doing to it, and that has bad consequences for the mage himself. There are loads of examples and tables to help you figure this all out, although as they are mixed in with the discourse you do need to work through it all to be able to use the spells to effect. Both players and the Storyteller need to understand what is going on for this game to play well. It is complex, and intended to be so - in this game magic is the focus, rather than a useful tool to achieve other ends, even if in the course of a game mage characters will use their magic to achieve self or Storyteller set goals.

Once all the various procedures, processes and options involved in actually casting a spell have been detailed - and brought together in a useful summary of the sequence to be followed, marrying the mechanical bit of rolling dice with the concept of what the mage is trying to achieve, we move on to a vast list of existing spells. Of course, this is just the start. Any mage can 'improvise' if he has a clear vision of what effect he wishes to create, and if he likes the results can continue to hone it until it's a recognised spell that may be taught to others. The variety is great, but no mage can cast all of them - some are specific to a particular order and all require the caster to be able to cast spells using the specific arcana (areas of magic) involved in that particular spell. Mages develop their understanding of each Arcanum separately, thus giving a high degree of personalisation to their abilities. A neat point is that there are often several routes to achieving the same effect.

Appropriately, each Arcanum is discussed in turn, with an overview followed by an extensive list of spells in increasing order of power, complete with descriptions of what they do along with the game mechanics necessary to cast them. These are followed by a discussion of paradox and the fates that befall mages who manage to create it and various other matters - resonance, making magical items, fighting arcane duels and more - even creating your own spells from scratch. Players need to study Chapter 3 almost as intently as their characters study magic, or they will find themselves at a disadvantage, unable to wield magic as the game intends. Finally, Chapter 4: Storytelling and Antagonists looks at the art of running, rather than playing, the game. Unlike many game systems, however, players are actually encouraged to read this chapter rather than being told in no uncertain terms to keep out. It's intended to be a collaborative game, with Storyteller and players working together to tell a tale. This does not mean that the Storyteller has no secrets or does not provide enemies to work against them, but the general terms of what a Storyteller does is of use to all at the table in creating and maintaining the alternate reality of a Mage: The Awakening game.

You are referred to the appropriate chapter in the core rulebook for general advice in running the system. The material here supplements that advice and puts a particular Mage spin on it. It starts by looking at appropriate themes. It's an occult horror game, basically, but there are many directions in which your group can take it, depending on their interests. One common theme is that power corrupts - and if there is anyone with power, it's a mage! The central story, though, is that of the mages themselves. Take a wide view here, find out about family and friends work colleagues, people who knew the character before he awakened - and of course those who do not like him - and weave them all into stories that involve the character as a person, not just a mage nor a series of dots on a character sheet. Of such things are the most memorable games made. Mages are political animals, and even if intrigue is not a major strand in your plots the activities of other mages, especially the powerful ones, may have an impact on your party. Above all, create the alternate reality in which magic is real - let the players have a glimpse of the wonders that their characters behold and can create. There's loads of advice here to help you make this happen.

After detailing just some of the many threats that mages face in day-to-day life - from the political manoeuvring of other mages to other supernatural beings like werewolves and vampires to agents of governments and corporations who may be aware of their existence - the discussion moves on to actually running the game. The basic World of Darkness approach holds good: the characters settle in an area, get to know it and begin to make their mark in the hidden society that's just outside normal humans' understanding. Several broad themes and plotlines are suggested to get the Keeper going, but ultimately it will be up to them to devise a suitable situation with which the characters will interact. There's also advice on the mechanics of introducing and running the mighty powers that mages are heir to - something that can be quite a challenge to begin with, and detailed discussion of an array of adversaries and antagonists, beginning with other mages.

That's it for the main part of the book but there are some appendices. The first deals with Legacies, further knowledge and training more advanced mages may acquire often through ornate ritual and within fraternal organisations. Several are detailed here, but for those who really wish to delve, they are more fully covered in other books, or you can create your own, following the rules outlined here.

The second appendix presents a setting: the city of Boston. Not all mages are urban souls, but the New World of Darkness tends to base itself around cities and Boston has been selected as the exemplar for mage society. There's a bit of history and an overview of contemporary life including a rough sketchmap. However as it is based closely on the real Boston you will be able to find more detailed maps with ease should you require them.

There's a lot here, particularly pertaining to the underpinning intrigue that is rife in Awakened society Even if your game takes another path, that intrigue will be there in the background and the wise mage ignores it at his peril. A couple of atmospheric fictional snippets round off the book.

Visually it is quite a delight with some excellent line art that fuses magical and modern themes and highlights of gold - not always as legible as they might be. Ghost images occasionally occlude the text but not too badly, likewise there are some typos and jumblings of the text that a thorough proofread ought to have caught but you can generally work out what is intended. Overall it is a masterly presentation of an alternate reality so compelling that you begin to wonder if it might just be out there somewhere!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mage: The Awakening
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Achtung! Cthulhu: Trellborg Monstrosities - Call of Cthulhu
Publisher: Modiphius
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/09/2014 08:15:37
In this adventure, intrepid investigators are sent to the frozen wastes north of the Arctic Circle in 1943 to hunt for mysteries behind enemy lines in Norway and Finland. Resistance reports have alerted the British intelligence services to unusual activity - and the presence of a well-known German occultist - in the vicinity of the village of Trellborg in Finland.

After an outline of what is going on, the mission briefing is supplied in two versions: one for military characters (who could be the pre-generated ones provided) and one for non-military investigators - who will find themselves being sent on a crash course in winter survival, canoeing and Nordic skiing before they are sent on the mission. They also meet a mysterious specialist who will accompany them whose name is Seraph and who is indeed 'on the side of the angels'.

The adventure itself is a reasonably linear narrative that builds to an epic climax, but there's plenty of flexibility built in to give characters freedom of action. It involves an arduous journey deep into enemy territory and darn chilly to boot. Structured as a five-day mission, each day has several scenes that provide the main meat of the story. It all begins with the party being dropped off from a British submarine somewhere off the Norwegian coast and having to make their way ashore in canoes. Here they will meet the Norwegian resistance and make their way overland to the scene of the action. Well, that's the idea, but there are some perils along the route...

As the adventure unfolds there are plenty of opportunities for combat, an encounter with a bear, and a chance to learn quite a lot of Norse mythology - some real and some most convincingly invented for this story! There's a lot going on and no time to get bored although there is plenty to get scared about.

The adventure itself is followed by pre-generated characters, a collection of allies and adversaries (including a new Mythos monster) and a rules section that covers such essentials as Nordic skiing, canoeing and arctic survival, as well as new spells and equipment. This is followed by a handout - a multi-page work entitled Diary of a Madman which the characters ought to find along the way and which might provide them with some clues as to what is going on. It repays careful study.

It's an atmospheric and exciting adventure based on a novella written by the adventure author and also available from Modiphius. Indeed if you are running this adventure, the novella will give you added atmosphere and descriptive material.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu: Trellborg Monstrosities - Call of Cthulhu
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Achtung! Cthulhu: Heroes of the Sea - Call of Cthulhu
Publisher: Modiphius
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/08/2014 09:04:12
Set amidst the turmoil of the Dunkirk evacuations, this adventure sets the heroes against more than the Nazi hordes. Sent into Dunkirk just as most of the British were leaving, the intrepid investigators are in search of a missing secret agent who has vital intelligence regarding a threat known only as Operation Needle.

It opens with notes from the author about the delights and dangers of setting an adventure against the backdrop of World War 2 - to catch the excitement and make a good game without trivialising a time when many good people lost their lives - before launching into the background of the adventure itself. Section D, the characters' employer, does not know much about what their missing agent has discovered but are convinced that it's something that they need to know, hence the mission with which they will be tasked. This is followed by details of what is actually going on, a foul plot indeed to drown the escaping British troops by arcane means. The scene is set well, with copious details of the real history of Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of Dunkirk, complete with atmospheric illustrations, a comprehensive timeline of events and a map of the Dunkirk bridgehead. Even before you get to the adventure proper, there is plenty of scope for encounters that may prove hostile, even deadly, to the unwary.

Next comes the actual adventure, presented as five 'episodes' which can be played through as appropriate based on character actions. Scattered throughout are options galore to enable you to cope with just about anything that the characters might decide to do. There are even a couple of different ways to get them involved - what if they are Germans? Or the more traditional academic sort of investigators rather than soldiers/agents? Although the real timeline for Dunkirk is provided it is recommended that the Keeper be flexible and fit it around the adventure, rather than rushing the adventure to accommodate historical fact.

There is plenty for the investigators to do during the adventure, and despite the setting much is 'traditional' investigative fare although there are of course plenty of opportunities to engage in combat. There's even the chance to get aboard a U-Boat, whilst the investigation should take them beyond the confines of the waking world into a very strange realm indeed. The options continue thick and fast, with notes as to how to handle any eventuality from them solving the adventure before reaching Episode 4 to what to do if they get captured...

Four pre-generated characters are provided for groups who wish to dive straight in to the adventure. On the rules front there are some new skills and spells which might prove useful during the course of the game as well as notes on shell shock and how to handle guardposts and skirmishes effectively. Several tanks and other warlike vehicles that may be encountered are presented. Finally, some in-character resources in the shape of the initial briefing pack and loads of handouts - all very atmospheric and looking the part.

It's an exciting adventure, blending the Mythos skilfully with known history and delightfully open-ended, with good support for the Keeper whatever the investigators do; it would be difficult to derail the adventure, even if they might end up changing the course of the war! Of such things are good alternate histories made...

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu: Heroes of the Sea - Call of Cthulhu
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Achtung! Cthulhu: Three Kings - Call of Cthulhu
Publisher: Modiphius
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/01/2014 10:30:49
Achtung! Cthulhu is a setting for Lovecraftian role-playing in World War 2, and this is the first adventure in that setting. As if the world wasn't already tearing itself apart, what would be the impact of having the Cthulhu Mythos involved as well? With, of course, evil Nazi scientists trying to harness their powers...

The adventure is set in the summer of 1939 when the world was slowly realising that there was no escape from conflict (my mother, just about to go to university, was worried about the effect that a war would have on her social life!). Czechoslovakia has just been invaded by the Third Reich and although the UK is not yet officially at war they are receiving dire news from resistance figures and the new-born government-in-exile that a member of the resistance has information about atrocities being committed that would make wonderful propaganda when war does begin in earnest. So 'Section D' - a branch of the British Secret Intelligence Service has assembled a team to find out... you can either have your players generate appropriate characters using the Call of Cthulhu rules, or use the pre-generated ones supplied with the adventure.

Material is presented atmospherically with realistic-looking documents, indeed the adventure itself looks as if it escaped from wartime files (there's a printer-friendly one included in the PDF version to save on ink).

The underlying plot is laid out for the Keeper's eyes, and then there are several 'likely episodes' laid out for you, leaving the whole thing quite open-ended and allowing you to react to character actions and approaches to the investigation with ease. Each episode in turn has a number of scenes which may or may not take place as the action unfolds. Obviously, this is an adventure that repays thorough preparation, it would be quite hard to just pick it up and play. Loads of alternatives - beginning with ideas on how to use the adventure with less military-minded characters than the provided ones - are scattered throughout, so that you can tailor the adventure to suit the characters and how they want to go about matters without floundering and having to improvise too much. Even more impressive are all the little details - from local cuisine to likely languages spoken - that will help you to make the whole thing come to life in a shared alternate reality.

Put simply, the characters have to break into a castle and find out what's going on there. Of course, it never is that simple...

Support is good with stat blocks and notes about those who you might meet, details of roving patrols and how the castle is defended, maps (in both Keeper and player versions) as well as new rules from skills like parachuting to how best to handle capture of the characters (a real threat) and new occupations within the cloak and dagger world of intelligence operations. There's even a full Operational Briefing that, if your characters are Section D agents, can be handed directly to them repleate with maps, scribbled comments and SECRET stamps. Very atmospheric!

With the single caveat that some groups may not feel comfortable with an adventure set in World War 2, this is - for those groups who are happy with the situation - a straightforward yet exciting introduction to the concept of Cthulhu-meets-the-Nazis. Memorable adventure is to be had!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu: Three Kings - Call of Cthulhu
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Hub Federation Ground Forces
Publisher: Gypsy Knights Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/28/2014 08:25:53
In the Hub Federation, a key feature of Gypsy Knights Games's alternative Traveller universe, as well as a navy there are two types of ground forces - a Federation-wide force of Marines and individual planetary ground forces. This book deals with both, and is of most use if your game includes the Hub Federation as presented in this alternate setting. However, it could be retooled for any pocket empire that choses to organise its forces this way, and includes career tracks and equipment that could be useful whatever sort of game you are running where ground troops are involved.

The first part describes the Hub Federation Marines and then the various planetary ground forces - loads of detail here from history and structure down to uniforms and rank badges. Unlike the Hub Federation Navy, where fleets of British and German origin combined (and created a new force based on both traditions), the Hub Federation Marines were formed from a group of British Royal Marines and have insisted on retaining their traditions by and large intact. Each planetary force, however, has established their own and this is reflected in variations to a standard uniform for all of them. However I am left wondering why the Marines wear bearskin caps... something never worn by the Royal Marines, they are the sole preserve of the British Guards regiments! The Hub Federation Marines have also adopted the kilt, as an optional item of dress, due to the presence of the 'Royal Highland Marine Regiment' or Black Watch (again a bit of confusion - yes, there was a Black Watch or Royal Highland Regiment on the British books until the last round of mergers but they were never marines!). It makes a nice touch, especially the thought that the kilt may be worn into battle along with combat armour. Scary... and there's even an illustration to give the idea.

Next come all the details necessary for creating a character with a background in either Marines or a planetary ground force. There's a section on medals too, no pictures alas but names and terms of award. That's always something nice for players... I once ran a game at a convention in which success was rewarded by some medals, and was surprised that the players carefully noted the decorations they received on the pre-generated character sheets they'd been handed for the game! The career paths are detailed and comprehensive, with loads of tables to roll upon as you work your way through.

Then comes a selection of landing craft to get these ground-pounders where they need to go, followed by ground vehicles, aircraft and equipment for use when they get there. Atmospheric fiction and pictures are scattered throughout, and appendices contain reference to a notable past action - the Battle of Beol - and organisation charts. All in all, a good resource if you are using the Hub Federation in your game and want to know a bit about their ground forces.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hub Federation Ground Forces
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Hub Federation Navy
Publisher: Gypsy Knights Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/26/2014 07:57:16
At its simplest level, this is a sourcebook for the Hub Federation Navy and of great use if you are running a game in Gypsy Knights Games's alternate Traveller universe based around the Clement Sector. If so, you will find several other of their books invaluable including The Hub Federation and Clement Sector as well as, of course, the core Traveller rules from Mongoose. However, this would be a good basis for creating the naval forces for any pocket empire of your own devising, whereas the extensive naval career tables could enhance any game in which naval forces (or characters with naval backgrounds) are involved.

The first part of the book details the history and current organisation of the Hub Federation Navy - copious detail even down to their uniforms and rank badges! The Hub Federation Navy was formed after the wormhole back to Earth collapsed out of British Royal Navy and German Navy fleets that were in the Hub sub-sector at the time. (A US fleet was also present but declined the invitation to join the alliance.) Most things are now handled bilingually, with a deliberate attempt to combine the best of both naval traditions, although the 'official' language of the Navy is German. A new uniform was designed, in space black rather than navy blue, which includes features of both British and German uniforms. Descriptions are given of dress/service uniforms, working dress and combat dress and even officer's evening dress (mess dress). There are even a couple of illustrations and a rank chart to help you visualise the fine display. Female personnel dress exactly like males except that they are permitted skirts on shore billets (but not aboard ship).

The next section is about Characters and deals with those characters who would like a naval background. Whilst they can use the career paths presented later on, it is to be remembered (if you are playing this alternate setting as is) that the Hub Federation Navy is only some eleven years old so anyone wishing to have served more than three terms will have started in another navy - probably the German or British one. There is a Career Companion supplement which is ideally suited to dealing with characters of specific national navies. There are details of the Hub Federation Naval Academy and recruit training, as well as of progression thereafter through a naval career. This section ends with notes on the medals and other awards available to naval personnel... no pictures, alas, but good details of terms of award.

This is followed by the various career paths offered to members of the navy, which will empower detailed character generation and backstories... and could be used as an ongoing career track if you decide to run a game around serving members of the Hub Federation Navy rather than retired ones who are now off doing something else! There are loads of options available, not just the regular engineering, flight, support, etc., but naval intelligence, a 'command' track for bridge crew and possibly most interesting, 'senior command' and 'higher command' options for those seeking to command a naval vessel or even aiming for Admiral's rank.

Finally, Appendices detail the different classes of vessel in the navy and current fleet organisation complete with example squadrons and the present list of ships.

Overall, spectacular resource if you are running a navally-oriented game in the Clement Sector or if you have a character who has served in the Hub Federation Navy; and of some use - perhaps with adaptations - if your game is elsewhere but you like the amount of detail about naval careers in particular.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hub Federation Navy
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Hub Federation
Publisher: Gypsy Knights Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/24/2014 08:20:03
Placed firmly in Gypsy Knights Games's alternate Traveller universe, this book presents a discrete political unit that can be used as a basis and location for a range of adventures or even a whole campaign. It also provides a groundwork for using other Gypsy Knights Games books within the alternate setting, tying everything together neatly.

It begins by presenting the history of the Hub Federation, right back to pre-colonisation days when humans were exploring their own solar system and not much else. Then came the discovery of a starship drive based on quantum entanglement, the Zimm Drive, that could take a ship further and faster than hitherto imagined, roughly a parsec in a week. Moving out to the stars, a wormhole was discovered which led somewhere on the far side of the galaxy, opening near to an inhabitable solar system that was soon named The Hub as it was used as a base for exploring what lay beyond.

The next hundred years or so saw great expansion with many colonies being established. Some were independent, others beholden to whichever Earth government sponsored them. All manner of groups sponsored colonies, religious or philosophical groups seeking somewhere they could live out their ideas without interference, companies seeking to exploit natural resources and more soon scattered out from Hub across what in time became known as the Clement Sector. Trade flourished between the worlds, as well as back 'home' through the wormhole... until one day it just collapsed!

Nobody has yet discovered why the wormhole collapsed, but in the aftermath the President of Hub, one Fyodor Hauser, contacted the leaders of other worlds proposing an alliance to replace the former model of being governed from Earth. He also contacted the Admirals of various navies stationed nearby, some of them agreed to join but others did not. Likewise many worlds decided they'd be better off on their own, but several of the closest worlds joined the alliance. This was about ten years ago, and the year is now 2342.

If you do not want to use the alternate universe as is, you can abstract as much as you wish if you want to use these worlds, perhaps as a pocket empire somewhere on the fringes of known space.

Next we take a look at how the Hub Federation is governed. There is a small Senate, with each constituent world represented by a single Senator. Interestingly, it is completely left to each world to decide how that Senator is chosen. Then there is a President, whose role is as chief executive and commander-in-chief. The Senate is responsible for making laws, the President puts them into effect. The President is elected by the Senators from amongst their number with a term of office of ten years. The world for which he was a Senator must then find another to replace him.

The Federation governs at the highest level: common defense of the member worlds, a common currency, combatting interstellar crime, provision of a navy and the coordination of ground forces and diplomatic relations with other worlds. Everything else is left to individual worlds to deal with. The Hub military forces consist of the navy and marines, other worlds may have their own ground forces and limited naval ones - their ships may not be equipped with Zimm Drives and are limited to system defence roles.

On to wider matters, next comes a sub-sector map of the Hub sub-sector and UWPs of all its worlds, followed by greater detail of each of the member systems of the Hub Federation. (See the Hub Sub-sector Sourcebook for the other worlds.) Each comes with an astronomical overview of the system followed by more details of the inhabited world - its geography, atmosphere, government, laws, culture, etc. All the things the well-informed visitor might want to know. Although the governmental system is covered in each case, there's one omission: how they pick their Senator to represent them in the Hub Federation, however in most cases it can be deduced from the way in which the world itself is governed.

This makes a neat Pocket Empire, or the core of the known colonies if you are using the alternate setting. Ideas for adventures spawn quite readily as you read, and some specific suggestions are made as well. The work ends with an overview of technogical changes between regular Traveller and this alternate setting, mostly dealing with the ramifications of the Zimm Drive. Overall, a fascinating concept and well worth a look.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hub Federation
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Player's Secrets of Khourane (2e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/20/2014 08:16:42
Describing a beautiful coastal domain within the Birthright setting, this product provides all the information that you need to play the ruler of Khourane... or, if you are not running a classic Birthright game it provides a richly-detailed realm in which many an adventure may be had.

It opens with a personal letter, delivered in a rather soggy condition in a fancy flying scroll case, from the last ruler (or emira) to her successor, in which she speaks of various threats to the realm and warns about those who would do it harm. Next comes the history of Khourane from the earliest times right up to the present, followed by its geography and other pertinent details. There are thirteen provinces each with its own distinctive features - settlements, flora and fauna, resources and even local peculiarities - to assimilate.

This is followed by notes on culture, an ancient one as these are some of the lands first settled long ago. There is a fascinating 'Code of Colours' that attributes significance to the colour of an item you might choose to give to someone - get it right or cause untold embarassment (or amusement)!

Education is highly valued by the people of Khourane: they send their children to school as soon as they can walk for socialisation lessons in which they learn correct behaviour and good manners as well as get opportunities for directed play. From there aged around 4 they move on to more formal education, whilst being observed so that particular talents may be spotted early and nutured. Teachers are highly regarded, while the study of magic is regarded as the pinnacle of achievement. Life-long learning is well-supported too.

Government, religious festivals and other holidays follow, along with a map of the main city and a collection of notable NPCs who may help or hinder a new ruler's reign. The assets and holdings pertaining to the throne are also detailed including a magnificent cliff-top palace overlooking the sea. Finally there's a selection of rumours, secrets and plots to get your imagination going.

Whether you aim to rule or just visit, Khourane sounds a fascinating and exotic place.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Player's Secrets of Khourane (2e)
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Subsector Sourcebook 4: Sequoyah
Publisher: Gypsy Knights Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/19/2014 08:35:32
This sub-sector contains some ninteen inhabited solar systems, and the majority of the book is devoted to delivering an almost in-character 'travelogue' style guide to what is found there. Additional comments aimed at Referees and (to a lesser extent) players are found in grey boxed text throughout. Sequoyah sub-sector is part of the alternate Traveller universe setting of Clement Sector, although individual worlds or the whole sub-sector could be put anywhere you please in your own universe.

To start with, there is a map of the sub-sector, a list of UWPs for the inhabited systems and some general notes. As this alternate setting uses a Zimm Drive rather than regular Traveller Jump Drives (consider a Zimm Drive as roughly equivalent to Jump-2), comments include discussion of how far you can travel and how the systems in the sub-sector are grouped into 'regions' according to their accessibility.

Then each system is described in turn, beginning with an astronomical overview of the system describing all the planets within it before focussing down on the inhabited world which is probably the main focus of attention. Physical, atmospheric, hydrographical and geographical data set the scene, along with a planetary map, and this is followed by details of the population, government, laws, culture and notable cities. Other information is included as appropriate, especially noteworthy natural features, unusual customs or anything that a typical visitor might want to seek out.

There is a wide diversity of worlds both in natural details and in how they have been developed and run by human inhabitants. With the alternate setting being based on a fairly recent influx all the way from Earth (yes, the one you're sitting on reading this) through a wormhole which has now closed, many draw on fairly unadulterated heritages of wherever on Earth they came from, which makes for some interesting places and attitudes which yet have some familiarity to the reader. Even if you do not use this setting, it can make for an enjoyable visit although you may want to downplay some of the more overt references to each colony's origins. OK, so the folk on Bowemiwak may like barbeques and slow-roast pork, you just don't have to mention that they originated in Texas! In fact it can be quite fun NOT referencing the heritage, let the characters (or at least their players) deduce it for themselves.

The descriptions of different worlds spawn quite a few adventure ideas specific to that world as well as the more general ones involving exploration or trading. Some suggestions are also included in the grey box comments although they are mostly vague enough that it will not matter if players have read them - it's still up to the Referee to take the suggestion and detail an adventure around it.

It's a fascinating collection of worlds and visiting them makes for a splendid series of adventures. Whether or not you use the alternate universe, it is worth considing these worlds for inclusion in your game.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Subsector Sourcebook 4: Sequoyah
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Peel Colonies
Publisher: Gypsy Knights Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/17/2014 08:17:16
Although still part of Gypsy Knights Games's alternate Traveller universe setting, the Peel Colonies are not in the Clement Sector at all, but in the Ariel Sector coreward of it. As such they are very new colonies, having only been established for some fifty years or less. Moveover, most of the worlds have not been fully explored - at least, not on the ground, whatever surveys might have been done from orbit.

We start with a map of the Peel Sub-sector, which contains some eighteen systems although only seven are as yet inhabited. There's a list of UWPs and other information, and a bit of background about the sub-sector as a whole.

We then move on to look at each settled world in turn. Each is presented in a standard manner, beginning with an overview of the star system as a whole with a diagram and notes about every body in the system. There's a map of at least the main world (often some of the other planets as well, especially if they have been visited) followed by physical, atmospheric, hydrographic and geographical details. This can include notable natural features and even some of the more interesting native plants and animals. Next we get to hear about the people: government type, law and culture. This background is quite detailed: Referees will have to determine how much is known by outsiders, particular those who are planning a visit.

The worlds on offer are quite varied. There's Layla, a place dedicated to individual freedom with extensive participatory democracy. Their commitment to freedom is deeply held and based on religion (although of course, nobody is compelled to believe!). About the only thing wrong with the place is that it's on the chilly side!

The New Perth system is well blessed with planets, two of which are inhabited. It's a representative democracy, colonised by the Australian Government (yes, the one on Earth) which was technically a treaty violation. A lot of Australian slang and even the playing of Aussie Rules Football is popular, and there are even some imported Australian plants and animals to be found.

Peel, on the other hand, is under military dictatorship. The founder, Jacob Peel, established the place as a society devoid of religion (which he and his followers saw as a malign influence on society) and after many years of ruling the place personally - including mandatory nutritional guidelines and requirements to have lots of children - he'd turned power over to an elected parliament. In the course of time, other ideas came into play, and these eventually led to civil war. The military contrived a cease-fire, only to grab control for themselves.

And so it goes on with some quite fascinating worlds that should prove interesting to visit (if they'll give you a visa!). Neachdain is a world with few native land animals but plenty of amphibians run by the Technical Coalition on the remains of a failed Celtic-based colony. Alverca is a sparsely-inhabited world of 75% water with an elected President where they speak Portuguese. Rocroi is much drier and in its 11 years of operation has acquired a mere three thousand odd colonists governed by a self-appointed 'King'. Finally, Ariel is another wet world (73% water) whose inhabitants mostly farm or fish, with a complex system of delegated democracy based on the unusual origins as a joint Palestinian and Israeli settlement!

There are suggestions for character generation for those coming from these worlds, some adventure ideas and even random encounters for some of the unexplored regions of different worlds. Oh, and a bestiary of some of the more unusual wildlife. All in all, there's a splendid frontier feel to the sub-sector which gives a true urge to go exploring!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Peel Colonies
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Subsector Sourcebook 3: Hub
Publisher: Gypsy Knights Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/14/2014 08:31:02
This book presents a complete sub-sector, drawn from Gypsy Knights Games's Clement Sector alternative Traveller universe setting. The Hub sub-sector is a bit different from the others they've presented because it is home to the Hub Federation, a mult-world political body. Most of the rest of their worlds function independently in isolation from each other. At that, the Hub Federation involves six solar systems - not the giant galaxy-spanning Imperium of the official Traveller universe by any means!

First up is a subsector map, list of UWPs and an overview of the sub-sector as a whole. This explains the place of the Hub Federation in local politics, with the remaining thirteen systems remaining independent from it for various reasons - explained under their individual entries. If you want to read about the six Hub Federation worlds, though, you need to get the separate sourcebook The Hub Federation... this book deals with the rest of the sub-sector worlds.

So, on to the individual entries for each system. These begin with details of the system as a whole and then focus in on the inhabited world, starting with physical data then looking at the environment, culture, government, legal system and other details of interest to a visitor (or indeed a resident). There's a map and notes on major cities and other features. As you read through you will find 'grey boxes' of text which provide insights as to what might be really happening or ideas for adventures embedded into the world in question.

The worlds are quite diverse, ranging from a desert world with a democratic government through an ice world to one completely in the thrall of a quite repressive religion. There's quite a bit of background as to how each world came to be colonised and developed in the way that it did, and this works much more easily if you are using the Clement Sector alternate setting, although they could be modified for use in your own universe if preferred. Notes are provided to aid you if this is what you want to do, a nice feature.

Each world is quite distinctive, yet many seem to go out of their way to make it quite hard to visit them, meeting travellers with obstacles such as visa requirements and - of course - ensuring that they many not carry weapons during their visit. However, they are interesting and well described and have the potential to make for some memorable adventures...

Having absolutely no mention of the Hub Federation and its worlds does rather leave a hole, and if you want to use this as a sub-sector (rather than as individual worlds), purchase of The Hub Sector sourcebook is recommended.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Subsector Sourcebook 3: Hub
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