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    Techbook: Chrome
    by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/18/2012 09:42:41

    Techbook: Chrome (written by John D Lees) is a book for the Traveller system designed to fit in with the Twilight Sector setting. It is published by Terra/Sol Games. Being somewhat unfamiliar with the Twilight Sector setting, it was with some trepidation that I opened my pdf copy of Techbook: Chrome. The first thing that struck me was the font used for the titles on the front cover, being in brighter colours than the cover art itself. The text evokes the heyday of space opera, with the bright colours and blocky font used in everything from Star Wars to Star Trek. This contrasts nicely with the cover illustration, a murky image composed largely of silhouettes with glowing eyes with one robed man with a mechanical arm thrown into sharp relief in the foreground. I can see that the artwork would not be to all tastes, but to me it helps set the tone for the book. The only issue I have with the cover is that the man’s face seems strange (although, having read further, I suppose he could be a mutant). Upon opening the book (or scrolling past the front cover in my case) we find a an excellent inside cover which explains clearly and concisely what to expect from Techbook: Chrome. It describes itself as “An alternative take on cybernetics, with rules for bionics and other bio-replacements, cyborgs and cyrgeware thrown in for good measure.” In all honesty, I did not have the faintest clue what to expect from cyrgeware (or, for that matter, how to say it) until approaching one hundred and twenty-five pages into this one hundred and thirty-six page book. Other than that, I was quite taken by the neat and simple arrangement on the inside cover (barring the legal bit and the credits, of course). Personally, I feel that more rpg rulebooks, including supplements and adventures, could do with a simple, brief synopsis of the main cut-and-thrust of the book on the inside cover. It makes it easier to understand what you’re getting yourself into. For instance, two similar vampire-themed games with similar covers and titles could prevent unnecessary confusion by providing a simple synopsis on the inside cover. That way, fans of “the game of deep and personal horror and descent into madness” wouldn’t accidentally purchase the rulebook for “the game of administering righteous beatdown to werewolves”. Obviously that is a fictional example, but the principle still applies. The next page is the table of contents, which is laid out in a very simple and easy-to-read manner. The retro-futuristic font from the front cover is used here alongside a printed circuit-board design running down the left-hand side, which serves to subtly steer it away from the extreme and almost satirical retro-futurism of the Fallout series to something with a little more depth and seriousness. The table of contents seems to suggest a book that, while not taking itself too seriously, is clearly a book that can be used to play some very serious games. Having already read it all the way through at the time of writing, I can safely say that this is the general feel flavour of the entire book. On the same double-page spread is the Author’s Note. The artwork above it reflects the same light-hearted yet capable of genuine gravity feeling evoked by the rest of the book, showing two screaming faces apparently being merged (or torn from one another; I cannot tell) through streams of ones and zeroes. The design itself is flamboyant and perhaps a little silly, but the expressions on the two faces show genuine feeling, apparently a mixture of fear, pain and loathing. The Author’s Note itself cites many works featuring cybernetics (or their equivalents) as the forefathers of modern cybernetics in fiction, ranging from the works of Edgar Allen Poe to the Six-Million Dollar Man. The next page is where the fun really begins, however, and boy does it start with a bang. “The Social Acceptance of Cybernetics in the Twilight Sector.” Boom. There you go. Right in the deep end. I don’t know about you, but I think that this is probably the best place for a setting expansion book to start. This is the real meat of any roleplaying game: how do the characters interact with this stuff? In Twilight Sector, there is no single easy answer. The bulk of society views cybernetics and bionics with somewhere between unease and veiled hostility due to the constant presence of mutants in society, and their general dehumanisation by non-mutants. Doesn’t sound like it makes sense? Well, the mutant issue has spiralled so far out of control that any augmentation of any kind likely to put the user at an advantage to the rest of society is treated with blinkered fear and superstition. It’s during this section that we are treated to our first proper example of the bizarre and brilliant sense of humour employed by Mr Lees in Techbook: Chrome. The first inset textbox in the entire book is graced with the delightful subtitle Doctor Techlove, or how I stopped Kvetching and learned to embrace the Chrome. I must confess that it took me approaching four readings of the section to pick up on the Doctor Strangelove reference (I haven’t seen it; so sue me), although I laughed out loud when I finally twigged. The chapter tackles a host of sociological issues regarding cybernetics, as well as dipping into mutations and the implications of obvious cybernetic enhancements. In this, Terra/Sol Games show that the Twilight Sector setting has a very grown-up approach to prejudice, in that the general human populace neither recognises nor understands many of the prejudices of the twenty-first century yet indulges in irrational and hysterical behaviour to a similar degree. A second inset is provided later in the same chapter detailing the attitudes of a sample of subcultures regarding cybernetics, bionics and cyrgeware. While not particularly surprising or strange in their views, the sample subcultures do add an extra layer of complexity to the sociological issues surrounding enhancement, replacement and augmentation. The next main heading in this chapter is “Social Acceptance of Chrome in Other Settings”. For people like me who have an almost pathological inability to run any setting as it is written in the book, this section is invaluable. Even if you generally choose to run your game set in the Twilight Sector, it is still reasonable for the characters to leave the Twilight Sector at various times, so this section is still useful even for setting purists. The rest of the chapter deals with the different uses of Tech levels in the Twilight Sector, including details on Maintech, Sliptech and Retrotech worlds. The entire section is highly informative and doesn’t hesitate to discuss the meaning of each term in great depth, adding considerable flavour to the setting. It’s at this point that we start reaching the first main system-specific sections, being a list of the useful skills for Chromers (people who use cybernetics or any of the augmentations in Techbook: Chrome) and the mechanical effects of general cybernetic limbs. Speaking of cybernetic limbs… Chapter two deals with cybernetic replacements. Chapter three deals with sensory cybernetics. Chapter four deals with cybernetic limbs. I’ve grouped these together in the review because, to me at least, they are all thematically similar. It is extremely difficult to talk about one of these without dragging in at least one other, although the same could probably be said of the rest of the book. I feel that this is a clear testament to the closely planned style of the book. Information is rarely duplicated anywhere, but instead referenced. Chapter two starts much the same as chapter one, throwing us right in at the deep end. The moment you turn the page (or scroll, in my case), you immediately find yourself flung into the overview of constructing cybernetics, implanting them at the hospital, self-implantation, making your own cybernetics, details on organic cybernetics… There is enough information here to settle even the most pedantic of arguments. However, for those of us who do not use the Traveller system, the artwork is where this chapter really shines. Sadly there are only two illustrations in this setting, but they are both highly evocative. The first is a full-page line drawing of an arm-wrestle in some sort of space tavern, featuring a man with a Mk 23 cyber-arm (according to the caption) having it forcibly ripped from the socket due to overexertion (Overstress, to use the technical rules term). The second is a considerably smaller piece depicting a man undergoing surgery on some form of automated surgical machine. The Cybernetic sensory Replacement chapter is really mainly a list of numbers and values that are really mainly for the Traveller system. However, I feel confident that I could reasonably modify the rules given with relatively little effort to fit anything from D20 to World of Darkness. And I intend to. CyberLimbs are the focus of the fourth chapter, and again are primarily a list of different values and attribute adjustments. Once again these are of limited value to a non-Traveller player, but the sheer richness and variety of the information included means that this functions equally well as a setting book compared to its function as a supplement. CyberLimb replacement covers everything you’d expect and more, going so far as to include options for tentacles, tails, finelimbs, oversized limbs, partially organic limbs and even limb enhancements. The next chapter delves even further into the realms of the obscure. Now we get as far as reconstruction, partial limbs (replacing only a hand, for instance), cybernetic organs, cybernetic interchangeability and even sub-torso replacements, cybernetics used to replace the vast bulk of the Chromer’s body. It is here again that the quirky John Lees humour appears again, offering us such upgrades as the “Genital Sweet [sic]”, misspelling intentional. Conversely, it is during the cybernetic interchangeability section that the artwork once again drops a real doozy. This time it is a line drawing of a face staring directly towards the reader, having one ear and one eye either removed or fitted. The final chapters on biological replacements, cyborgs, accessories and cyrgeware are really rather similar to the previous chapters in terms of their makeup, consisting of large blocks of rules-heavy text interleaved quite elegantly with snippets of information about the setting, painting an ever-more complex view of the Twilight Sector. As a non-Traveller player, I must admit that wading through Traveller-specific rules can start to drain after a while, but it is entirely worth it for the rich setting detail. Sadly the hilarious flashes of comic genius are few and far between here, but it is a credit to the author that despite his talent for the humorous, Techbook: Chrome stands on its own two (or more, knowing Chromers) feet even without the comedic interludes and subheadings. A special mention is probably worth making for Cyrgeware. I brought it up as it has been mentioned again and again throughout the book, but is only explained in the final chapter. Cyrgeware (said “surge-ware”) is the method of introducing nanites to the body to modify body chemistry, composition or abilities. In all honesty, despite the continuously excellent artwork and high level of detail, I felt that cyrgeware was perhaps a little last-minute as an addition. The effects and implications of cyrgeware are not discussed as thoroughly as the other technologies in the book, which was a little disappointing. However, as I was less attracted to cyrgeware, this didn’t affect my enjoyment of Techbook: Chrome unduly. Substance: 4.5/5. Consistently informative. Techbook: Chrome was diligent and meticulous in its explanations of the technology available for bodily enhancement and replacement in the Twilight Sector. Despite the Traveller-specific rules I feel that other GMs would benefit from this book. Style: 4/5. The writing style was quite the most enjoyable I have encountered in a role-playing game book for some time. The artwork was similarly excellent, although there was one strangely cartoon-y drawing in the section on healing tanks that seemed to jar with the overall tone. Other than that, I feel that a little more of the excellent artwork would not have gone amiss. Overall: 8.5/10. A must-have resource for any Traveller GM, and well worth the money for any hard sci-fi GM with any ability at system conversions. Perhaps a little more work on the last chapter and a little more artwork, and Techbook: Chrome could be the best rpg book I read this year.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Techbook: Chrome
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    Twilight Sector Podcast
    by colin t. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/07/2012 04:55:42

    Interesting.

    Been very over due that a podcast be based on a Traveller setting and even with a couple of actual play podcasts out there none actually add to the setting nor pointedly highlight a setting beyond mentioning they use the core rules.

    Had to download this twice after having some problems playing it the first time round but I recommend you give this a listening to, you won't regret it especially as its currently free!

    Be sure to post your thoughts on it so we can get more episodes and maybe even get your ideas across so they can highlight the bits you're interested in!



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Twilight Sector Podcast
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    Techbook: Chrome
    by Mysterious B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/10/2012 17:48:23

    In some ways, that this represents a superior book for Mongoose Traveller, it is hoped that it can get into dead tree soon (reminding you that Mongoose Traveller is not your Granddaddy’s Traveller – although, the Mongoose Cybernetics supplement allows one to play in their Dad’s game). This is a fresh, innovative and truly remarkable take on cybernetics that is thoroughly modern yet grounded in Space Opera. It also seems that Terra Sol is outgrowing the Traveller incubator and developing into a new game in its own right. (If your game is more Hard SF then just appropriate the parts you need or rely on the already excellent book that Mongoose put out as the motto of Terra Sol Games is Space Opera to the power of 10 – this supplement lives up to that slogan. Buy this book, if your game is Space Opera in need of modernization. Do not buy this book, if you content to slough through the Golden Age classics. But, you will not know what you are missing.



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    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Techbook: Chrome
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    Setting Update Beta
    by Mysterious B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/26/2012 13:58:28

    TSG's distillation of the freebies that appear on their website. It is nice to have all together in one place. Lots of useful little tidbits that make the future seem more believable yet not really that radically different than our own time. However, one point out that although a lot of the stuff in this supplement started out as free it has gone through a rewrite most of the stuff to bring it up to publication standards and not websitefree stuff standards. Thus, maintaining TSG high standard and commitment to a quality product. It also has added a whole bunch of adventure seeds, a map for Hero's Park etc. At $1.99 it's really cheap and it will be lucky if will cover my art costs for the project which is exceptional. All it all - well worth the $1.99 unless you want to keep referring back to the website and those extras do not add value to your Traveller game. However, I would beg to differ, as TSG is a company that keeps improving.



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    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Setting Update Beta
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    The Starfarer's Gazette #2
    by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/08/2012 10:10:24

    Do you ever flick through style mags (even if furtively) or catch a lifestyle show on TV? Even if you hold yourself aloof - you like more important things, you say, you ARE a role-player after all.... admit it, there's something fascinating about reading of people, places and things... (and if you are a role-player, you can always claim its research material!).

    So, it's likely that the genre is going to survive into the far future, isn't it?

    Perhaps this issue fell through a timewarp back to our time - because in a delightful conceit, the main body of this product is written as if it were a real magazine from the far future! Sidebars and notes attend to the detail that Referees might require, but it is easy to imagine your character leafing through this while waiting for a haircut or enjoying a coffee (or as my character just had to do, hanging about some starport funcionary's office for the better part of a day to replace his ID that had been stolen by some Zhodani mind-police... long story which I won't go into here!).

    So, perhaps you are looking for an interesting or profitable destination. Not sure I'd recommend Dryborough, a town on a backwater planet in the Edge system that's on the, well, edge of civilisation. But if you are considering it, read the article by someone who's been there. Learn what it's like and be prepared if, for any reason, the place shows up on your itenerary.

    Then there are some tall tales set on this planet, suitable for retelling over a tall cold one in the starport bar of your choice. Imaginative Referees might want to use them as lures to get the gullible to investigate whatever adventure is planned, may even be inspired by the tale to create the adventure that started it... after all, I still remember standing in the bar at a convention listening to a fellow telling such a tall tale about a Traveller adventure involving a mad dash across a planet in a stolen Porshe, when another chap started correcting the detail. "How do you know?" asked the storyteller. "Well," said the other guy, "I was the Referee." (I kept quite. I played the driver of the Porshe!) Of such thing are legends made... read these, then go make your own!

    The tales are followed by notes on companies and people to be found in the Edge system, and even some 'product reviews' of items that you might encounter, use, even want to purchase whilst there. Or not... but devious Referees may find ways to sucker the gullible into making the purchase if they haven't read these handy reviews.

    The magazine rounds up with a detailed gazetteer, maps and notes on some locals, even a timeline history of the place, local attitudes... and for Referees who decide that Edge is going to feature in their campaign, a complete adventure outline.

    This is an excellent resource that really makes the planet come alive - it's a real place in some alternate reality. Who knows, one of my characters may go there, my next lot of Traveller characters very likely shall!



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    The Starfarer's Gazette #2
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    Ancient Trails, Witness to History
    by Mysterious B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/18/2012 15:08:42

    This is another exhilarating chapter in the Ancient Trails campaign arc for Terra Sol Games and expresses some of the best Traveller writing that I have seen in a long time. The truth of the matter is the fact this is free and can be used in a One-Two Shot makes it perfect for the aspiring Referee or seasoned one needing a quick adventure. Only rudimentary fluency with the Terra Sol (sub) sector is needed to playing this game thus making this the perfect generic Traveller adventure that can be plunked into any Traveller Universe. It is big on description i.e. role playing opportunities rather than roll playing that makes it also highly desirable even if you do not play Traveller but are looking for an excellent SF RPG.



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    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Ancient Trails, Witness to History
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    Somnium Mundus: Audio Enhancements
    by Malcolm B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/21/2012 07:17:39

    I think it's a great idea to bring rpgs to life with sound bites, one I have been toying with for years. Some of these generic sounds could be used in multiple situations so their use isn't limited to the setting. Perhaps you might do some more generic sound packs - busy spaceport, street sounds, onboard spaceship sounds etc. There's plenty of scope.



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    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Somnium Mundus: Audio Enhancements
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    Twilight Sector Beyond the Open Door
    by Boris C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/04/2012 13:15:20

    Excellent Lovecraftian tale set in the far future in another part of the galaxy in a world much like our own. It begins with an investigation in which the fate of the Terra Sol subsector (publishers insist on calling it a Sector...) is in the hands as they uncover an ancient and terrifying evil. Shades of cyberspace, cthulhu,Victoriana and classic Traveller come to play. Audio enhancements make the adventure all the more enjoyable. Look forward to future adventures.

    Only drawback is that everything takes place on one world - even though the world is balkanized and the nations bear uncanny resemblance to certain archetypes, as a Space Opera, I would have got the players to other worlds more. That said, Traveller has a long history of single world adventures.

    Highly recommended for those looking for a creepy adventure set in Traveller universe albeit with Terra Sol trimmings. I know they market it as an ATU, but, I could easily see elements of this adventure creeping into my 2300AD game.



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    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Twilight Sector Beyond the Open Door
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    Netherell
    by Arthur R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/24/2011 22:22:33

    The strength of this publication is manifold, because of how a GM can use this at the table. I read through the book and imagined three separate campaigns. One Science Fiction, another Sword & Sorcery, and another as a truly Weird Fantasy. These settings are dependent on the origin and viewpoint of the PC's, and I imagine there would be some pretty interesting scenarios if the GM allows natives and 'galactic PCs' in the same party. The flexibility is in part due to the overall transparency of transition between describing science fiction and fantasy elements in the setting.

    I love this setting, for many reasons. I always wanted to use the Traveller RPG, but as a kid, my limited gaming dollars went to material that prominently featured the artwork of Erol Otus as oppose to those LBBs. I picked up the new edition of the rules, but have yet to use them. This setting will let me try a game system I've never used before, experiment with fantasy tropes that I'm far too familiar with, and inspire me to introduce the weird and fantastic back into my game.

    I would highly recommend this setting to anyone that appreciates speculative science fiction. I think this setting fits nicely in the context of 'Old School Renaissance'.

    I would have given this 5 stars, but there are some issues with the table of contents. The Factions chapter is actually on page 111, right in the middle of the gazetteer, and not on page 125 as indicated by the TOC. There are several glaring spelling and grammar errors. A PDF document needs bookmarks to main entries, at minimum.



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    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Netherell
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    Six Guns Rescue Organizations
    by Mysterious B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/06/2011 08:57:40

    Traveller has long suffered from many gaps with Referees having to make do and create their own workarounds. One of those gaps is what is the future's equivalent of the Coast Guard. Part of you, might think the Scouts whereas, others, say Navy and still others COACC. But, as everything does revolve essentially around a profit, why not the business of saving lives?

    In steps Terra-Sol Games with an excellent Six Guns Supplement that highlights different rescue organizations of the Twilight Sector (although, these can easily be adapted to any Traveller milieux). Some gear is thrown in for good measure. And, the Chargen for a typical rescue organization.

    Lastly, TSG was good enough to throw in some details of their FTL system. While this is specific to their variant, still gives some thoughts for Referees who might be toying with leaving the OTU or at least expanding experimental technologies available to the OTU.



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    Six Guns Rescue Organizations
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    Netherell
    by Mysterious B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/13/2011 13:15:37

    An excellent product that expands and builds upon the Twilight Sector by adding Fantasy as unexplained tech (psionics) to the equation. This supplement does a great job in plausibly adding more careers (rooted in Fantasy tropes) and depth the what is already shaping up to be the best Alternative Traveller Universe. The art is absolutely phenomenal and Mongoose (whose rules engine this game uses) should take heed, as Terra Sol Games (TSG) is now raising the bar for Traveller art and hire these guys. Furthermore, it takes Traveller where it has only lightly treaded before...realms of transhumanism and also cutting edge SF especially, if you love the angle of fantastical explanations rooted in science. If you liked TSG other Twilight Sector offerings - you are bound to love this one.



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    Netherell
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    Tinker, Spacer, Psion, Spy
    by Mysterious B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/13/2011 13:12:03

    Excellent product that expands and builds upon the Twilight Sector. Adding more careers and depth the what is already shaping up to be the best Alternative Traveller Universe. The art is absolutely phenomenal and Mongoose (whose rules engine this game uses) should take heed, as Terra Sol Games (TSG) is now raising the bar for Traveller art and hire these guys. Furthermore, it takes Traveller where it has only lightly treaded before...realms of transhumanism and also cutting edge SF. If you liked TSG other Twilight Sector offerings - you are bound to love this one.



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    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Tinker, Spacer, Psion, Spy
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    Six Guns Gauss Weapons
    by Alan T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/03/2011 02:21:22

    Another excellent product from Mr Dougherty. I particularly like the "customer testimonial" on page 8. Easily transferrable to other versions and settings of traveller as well as similar games.



    Rating:
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    Six Guns Gauss Weapons
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    The Starfarer's Gazette #1
    by Alan T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/03/2011 02:15:54

    A useful magazine Valediction Freeport is useable in a wide variety of settings and its characters easily transferrable to other locations.Eridani Aerospace & SLS a couple of usefull companies. In general Starfarers Gazette shows promise to be at least as good as the Journal



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    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    The Starfarer's Gazette #1
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    Six Guns Gauss Weapons
    by Daniel H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/07/2011 10:51:08

    The bottom line: As long as Terra/Sol maintains the standards set with "Gauss Weapons", I'll buy any other entries in the "Six Guns" series without hesitation.

    "Gauss Weapons" starts off with a few pages delving into the whats and hows of electromagnetically accelerated personal slug throwing weapons, including more detailed descriptions of the standard Traveller rules for these weapons (including a whole page on the batteries!) and additional rules and equipment options to make things more interesting. (This includes accessories and different types of ammunition that would work in any Traveller setting.)

    The remaining 2/3 of the book is like a magazine review of a series of gauss weapons, from pistols and carbines up to assault rifles. These reviews include pictures, expert testimonials and opinions, and statistics (both "real world" sounding and actual rules). This section is quite amusing in many places, with comments like "such-and-such manufacturer markets this as a 'prestige weapon'...". Though the "fluff" references "Twilight Sector" specific corporations, there is nothing setting specific about the weapons themselves, and they would trivially drop into any other Traveller setting.

    The final page of content contains a quick reference sheet of all of the relevant Mongoose Traveller statistics for the included weapons.



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    Six Guns Gauss Weapons
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