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Supplement 12: Dynasty
 
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Supplement 12: Dynasty
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Supplement 12: Dynasty
Publisher: Mongoose
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/30/2015 08:44:06
This supplement offers up a whole new way of playing Traveller, as well as ways in which to enrich your Traveller universe with a deeper complex history than ever before. To start with, the Introduction provides an overview of the scope of the book and presents a wider definition of a 'dynasty' than the typical concept of a succession of rulers from a single family - here it can refer to any group which gains and retains power from generation to generation, it could be a corporation or an association of like-minded individuals.

The first chapter is Creating the Core Dynasty. This can be done by one of three methods: rolling lots of dice, a point-buy system or by building it around your own group of powerful player-characters. Each dynasty will have rankings in certain characteristics which define what it is and how it behaves, ranging from how cleverly it behaves through how greedy it is and including things like is it militaristic and how popular it is, as well as how much attention it pays to its own history and traditions. If you are going to roll them randomly, each one has a value generated on 2d6. Point-buy makes high values extremely costly. Although it's suggested that the point-buy version is suited to Referees who want to keep a tight control on things, there's no real indication as to how, and a flat 100 points is given as how much you have to play with without any pointers as to how to vary that depending on the outcomes you wish to achieve.

Once you have those basic characteristics, you then need to sort out how that dynasty came to be, choosing things like a power base (the starting point - a noble family may choose an estate as their origin, a corporation may have a headquarters and so on...) and an archtype which determines something about the nature of the dynasty - a religious faith operates somewhat differently from a conglomerate or a military syndicate... or of course you can be traditional and establish a ruling family. You also need to decide (or roll) on how the dynasty is run - a single leader, or some kind of management team, with various options for both. Each choice confers certain bonuses and restraints on the fledgling dynasty. The chapter ends with brief notes on how to adapt the process for when your party of player-characters decides to establish its own dynasty.

The next chapter, Background and Historic Events, enables you to detail how the fledgling dynasty rose to prominence. This covers the first 100 years or so of its existance (but is skipped in the case of player-characters creating their own dynasty, their adventures to this point substitute for 'historic events'). Depending on the sort of dynasty it is, there are tables to roll on to determine what happened, as well as a general table of events that can happen irrespective of the nature of the dynasty being created.

This is followed by Through the Generations, a chapter that talks about what happens to the dynasty's resources and assets as time passes, enabling you to create a rich history of its rise and fall over a considerable period of time. There are optional 'goals' for the dynasty to aim for, quite grandiose and hard to obtain but conferring significant advantage if you manage to achieve them... but penalties are incurred if you fail. There are also threats and obstacles that beset any dynasty to contend with, and decade events that happen like it or not... sometimes a dynasty will fade or even fail completely and vanish from all but the most obscure histories, others will be strengthened or will even grow and flourish on the galactic stage.

The next chapter, Pawns, Schemes and Gambits, continues this theme. This contains a variety of tests and mini-games that model a single dynasty's growth and development as it seeks to influence the galaxy around it. Unlike character actions which are quick, these can take months or years to resolve. It can get quite complex but repays careful study if you want to get the most out of it.

Up until now, we've been discussing a single dynasty pretty much in isolation, but the next chapter - called When Dynasties Clash - goes some way to redress this, with some more mini-games that deal with dynastic interactions. This chapter in particular provides scope for a whole new way of playing Traveller - each player creating and running their own dynasty rather than a single character. It could also provide a meta-game background against which a more traditional campaign involving a party of characters - perhaps in the employ of one of the dynasties involved - is played out. Again it is quite involved mechanically, but the potential is here for some quite epic interactions - hostile takeovers to all-out war and quite a few 'dirty tricks' along the way. Some actions can be resolved quite quickly, others will take months or years before the outcome is known.

Next is Heroes and Villains... for these are not faceless organisations but ones headed by individuals. Whose name rings through the ages as a typical leader of a dynasty, an outstanding paragon who exemplefies its core character or an out-and-out rogue who flew in the face of all its values? In essence this is a specialised variant on character creation, to enable you to generate these notable figures - and perhaps even play them as a critical moment in dynastic history is played out. Special dynastic life event tables are provided, and the character may also use the appropriate ones for the career(s) that he has chosen to pursue. Perhaps these characters could be scions of different dynasties thrown together by some quirk of fate or design... or they might hail from the same dynasty and be in competition to become its next leader. Plenty of potential here for novel campaigns and adventures!

The final chapter, Roleplaying Traveller: Dynasty, looks at a whole raft of ideas about how you can incorporate the material in this book into your game. It includes ideas for adventures, and a collection of ready-made dynasties which serve as good examples or which can pop up as rivals, allies or enemies to your own or player-generated dynasties.

This can be classed as a game-changer: it widens the whole scope of Traveller from the individual character to larger groups which can occupy centre stage or mutter along in the background as you choose. There is plenty of potential here to add an epic dimension to your game... and like most things Traveller, much of it can occupy spare time when you are not actually role-playing if you fancy creating dynasties and using the rules to model their growth, conflict and eventual decline (or triumph) by yourself!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Supplement 12: Dynasty
Publisher: Mongoose
by chris m. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/23/2012 17:21:47
An awesome dynastic game, its a completely independent game that seamlessly includes rules for players creating their own dynasty. worth every penny!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Supplement 12: Dynasty
Publisher: Mongoose
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/02/2012 07:51:55
Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/01/02/tabletop-review-supplem-
ent-12-dynasty-traveller/

One of the strengths of a long-running RPG series is that, over time, rules that were only briefly covered or considered peripheral in the core are eventually taken aside and given real consideration.

In the early days of Traveller for example, world creation was quite utilitarian. You had a system. It had a primary world that had some statistics to help define it. Maybe there was a naval base, maybe a gas giant. All that really mattered was that one, main world. Then they released the Scouts book, and provided hardcore geeks (like me) with the tools we needed to generate whole systems – what kind of star is it, how far out is the habitable zone, how many gas giants are there, could any of their moons support life? It gave you a level of optional depth to work from that had been lacking.

I was expecting Supplement 12: Dynasty, to be the same sort of addition. Advertised as, “A complete guide on founding, growing and running your own world in Traveller,” I fully anticipated a very traditional supplement: one that took the base rules for generating worlds and systems from the Core Rules and blew it up into a fully-fleshed out system.

Instead what I found was a totally new game that just happens to take place in the same universe.

Most RPGs, by their very nature, are character focused. You take on the “role” of a character that you “play” throughout the “game”. It’s right there on the tin. Different situations will, of course, cause the focus to zoom in or out. All of the characters are on a space ship, and a fight begins. The focus is now less on the individual characters and more on the ship to ship combat. In fantasy games, maybe you’re running a castle or a keep, and need to protect it from the hordes of goblins. The combat becomes one of armies instead of individuals.

Dynasty takes that zoom out feature, and goes two levels bigger. The focus is not on individuals, nor ships, nor even armadas. No, in a Dynasty game, you play the entire dynasty as a cohesive whole, with “dynasty” redefined to include criminal syndicates, religious sects, mercantile operations, military groups and noble houses, just to name a few. New characteristics are derived for you to use to describe your dynasty, including Cleverness, Greed, Loyalty, Militarism, Population, Scheming, Tenacity and Tradition. Same concepts, just on a different scale entirely.


At the end of the chapter on creating a dynasty, a few brief paragraphs dictate how you can take a currently running Traveller campaign that has hit a certain level of competence (high skill levels, high social standings, a significant number of allies and contacts, and 10 million credits in liquid funds) and form a dynasty. This is the first instance of specifically zooming between the levels of focus, and while it is brief, it does allow the players to skip the dice rolling and go straight into a Dynasty game with a point buy system based on the competence of their characters.

The game is intended to still be effectively a roleplaying game, with the role being that of the dynasty as a whole. The time scale dilates as well, giving you turns (generations, in Dynasty parlance) that are thirty years long. During these turns, you can have all manner of machinations going on, coups de etat, pandemics, rebellions, inventions, and all other manner of large-scale events, which impact your stats and future direction. The rules are full of ideas for what the various types of dynasties can do with their resources, how long those operations take, and how to resolve the results.

A chapter is devoted to conflict between dynasties as well, with five self-described mini-games (Crime Spree, Hostile Takeover, Public Malice, Space War and Waging War) and rules on how they are resolved. This gives you tools to determine the results of dynasties clashing against one another.

In my opinion, the most interesting part of the rules starts in the chapter called Heroes and Villains. This chapter is about taking your dynasties and extracting individuals out of them, at different points in time, and playing those characters using the traditional Traveller rules. Remember, dynasties are based on generations, so your characters might not last more than one or two generations before they’ve passed on, leaving the reins in other, capable hands. As the book suggests, you might find yourself playing the children and even great-great-grandchildren of your original PCs.

This section gives special die modifiers for characteristics based on what sort of dynasty you’re from, as well as preferential treatment for certain career paths. A nice addition is the specialized Life Event tables by the type of dynasty your new character is from – and the Life Event table has always been on of the weakest ones to me, so anything that spices it up is a bonus.

The book closes with a chapter that is targeted at both players and GMs, on how to role-play dynasties. It’s very helpful in wrapping your brain around this new way of looking at the things you took for granted as being “bigger than you” in the original game, as well as how to make the game stay interesting for all involved. Also included are some sample dynasties for you to use as allies or enemies of your player’s new dynasty.

Drawbacks include the presence of a scant dozen images, and very few examples. As this really does include a totally new game, it would have definitely benefited from an example of play as well, to give players and GMs something to build upon. Because that extensive example is absent, I suspect that most will require multiple readings before a real understanding of how best to use the game can be acquired.

Dynasty wasn’t remotely the book I was looking for when I picked it up. It went head and shoulders above what I’d expected in terms of details, but in a direction I never expected that it would go. I’m not sure it’s the sort of book you’ll want early on (unless, like me, you suffer from a need to complete collections), but it may be the book you wind up needing if you have a series of successful campaigns under your belt, and are looking to change the scale of your games to reflect, “what happens after you win.”

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Supplement 12: Dynasty
Publisher: Mongoose
by Ben H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/31/2011 19:31:21
I am not currently running a Traveller campain, but even so I have found this book useful to potray major factions in an Empire or simular large area. The "stats" in the book could be used (with a little work) to represent large bodies in other systems. If you need/want a way of representing Mega-Corporations, Noble Houses or other simular organizations and your current system doesn't quite match what you want, you might want to give this one a gander

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Supplement 12: Dynasty
Publisher: Mongoose
by Jacob R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/14/2011 00:29:02
Mongoose scores a smash hit with their latest supplement for Traveller. Included in the book are complete rules for creating and running "dynasties," or powerful organizations that serve as bases for campaigns. Additionally, there are expanded rules for regular character creation and several new "mini-games."

Enough material is provided so that this book may be used as a stand-alone game. It can be played solo or in groups. This alone makes it more than worth the price.

As is now par for the course, there are glaring proofreading and editing errors. In general these are easily overlooked, but there are instances where incorrect information is given in rules tables. Alert readers should be able to catch any of these before they present a problem, but so should have the editorial staff.

As a matter of full disclosure, I am a freelance writer who occasionally contributes to Mongoose' Traveller line. I certainly feel that I can be objective in any review, however.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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