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21 Organizations
by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/30/2013 23:13:53
Continuing my look at Gypsy Knights Games and Traveller supplements, 21 Organizations is a strong outing into an area where Traveller has always excelled. It's not without some areas where it could be improved, but it's an excellent supplement nonetheless.

First, the downsides. No bookmarks of any kind. Very few adventure hooks or means by which a typical group of Traveller characters would get involved with the 21 organizations that are described.

But overall, the book is very detailed. From a colonial service to a crime syndicate gone (semi-)legit, the world of Traveller comes to life in a way that is fun and exciting. The clear implication of the work is that in the lawless space frontier, fortunes are made, then used to various purposes to consolidate its own power - the libertarian ethos of Traveller is thoroughly on display in these organizations.

Perhaps the strongest point of the book are the career paths for each organization. Various editions of Traveller have used these career paths in different ways, but the most important thing about them is that they show what characters in the setting - whether NPCs or PCs - experience, the types of mishaps and positive experiences they have while pursuing the organizations' goals.

If I wanted to improve the book, I could certainly put in a "current events" section detailing what specific thing each organization was pursuing and how the PCs could be employed for or against that goal. But overall, the career paths give a uniquely "Traveller" feel to how the 21 Organizations will fit into your setting and game.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
21 Organizations
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Dawn Adventures 1: The Subterranean Oceans of Argos Prime
by Mysterious B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/10/2013 13:17:57
An interesting adventure that is guaranteed to appeal to Space Opera and Hard SF enthusiasts alike yet accuse it being ruined by the other. Maintains the nice balance between hard and soft SF in a Traveller adventure that takes place in the ATU. Provides lots of cinematic details (not unsurprising as the writer is a screenwriter) that take you from this world and into a completely different world. Lots of stock and schlock villains/NPCs that are guaranteed to keep players amused for hours. It is geared toward organized sandbox play - in which the basic premise of the adventure is laid out but multiple possibilities reside in its execution and conclusion. Excellent job for GKG for tying so nicely together with their ATU. Look forward to more offerings. Only beef is the lack of character portraits and that it took a couple of re-readings (as any good adventure needs anyhow).

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dawn Adventures 1: The Subterranean Oceans of Argos Prime
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Subsector Sourcebook 3: Hub
by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/04/2013 21:28:11
This location supplement for Traveller has a great deal of potential, and the raw material to help GMs in many ways. However, it misses the mark of a truly great supplement with insufficient attention to how the product will be used at the table. Let's break it down.

Subsector Sourcebook 3 is meaty: At 108 pages, there is hardly one that doesn't contain information - this isn't a supplement that wastes a lot of time with artwork or frills. Many pieces of artwork I did spot were on pages all to themselves - easy to skip for those who want to print some or all of the sourcebook. The artwork of the planets seemed somewhat badly thought-out - if used on a tablet to display to the players (for that sf feel), there shouldn't be three of them to a page. If meant to print out, they shouldn't have a black background and dark colors. But they are a cool idea!

Most of the planets are simply catalogued as lists of organized facts - not in itself a bad idea, especially for Traveller. It may seem inconceivable to modern gamers, but in early Traveller editions, you didn't roll to see what information you could find about a planet using some kind of computer skill, you just picked up the book that told you what was in your computer and turned there and read it! (At the time everyone thought computers were going to be limited in the data they could effectively use.) I've found that when this mechanic gets used, it really makes things immersive, and preserves the mysteries of the setting. So at first I was excited, thinking that this supplement was taking this angle. When players asked what was up with a planet, I could just pass across a couple of pages of printout to them and let them discuss it among themselves. But...it doesn't actually take this approach. Out-of-character sidebars, and occasionally even out-of-character commentary in the planet descriptions themselves mean that I can't really take this approach at all.

I feel like the supplement was reaching for that classic Traveller feel of having extremely basic factual information on how big a planet is and how long the day is, and then letting players find out the rest themselves, but wasn't secure enough in this approach to really pursue it by separating GM information from "what's in your database" information.

Please don't take from the negative comments that I've made above that there is nothing in this supplement worth pursuing. It's a solid, thorough look at many planets in a subsector; the societies described are interesting and I would want players to explore them. The natural world is detailed and exciting. The hex maps are fun and beautiful. It certainly pushes hard for a classic Traveller feel! It isn't trying to "update" Traveller, it really pushes after the core idea of a Traveller setting - a broadly drawn sandbox with many interesting places to explore. Each planet has a couple of solid hooks - in another supplement, maybe I'd look for more, but that's not what Traveller planetary supplements have ever been really about. (Buy one of the Patrons books for that!) All my commentary above is trying to get at is how close to a bullseye Subsector 3 gets!

The one unmitigated negative is that almost inexcusably, the 108 pages of this supplement have no bookmarks, no hyperlinks, no use of the electronic format of any kind. I'd rate this a four-star supplement despite its flaws if this wasn't true. For a book whose main advantage is the systematic organization of data, the lack of these features is just a straight oversight.

In any event, Subsector 3: Hub fits right into the pantheon of classic Traveller location books. If you want to see what a Traveller location is like, this is a great place to start. You'll just need to work a bit harder to get it to your table.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Subsector Sourcebook 3: Hub
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Clement Sector
by Mysterious B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/13/2013 11:36:44
An excellent introduction, that can be best described as Traveller-lite, although one will still need the main Mongoose Rulebook or CT's LBB - this book introduces the Referee to the exciting worlds of this Alternate Traveller Universe. Essentially, providing sand for the sandbox play to come should they wish to invest in the further supplements that GKG produces. As such, it is a skeleton of a product but also carries with the muscle of the setting. So, for some this might be aberration or undead creature, but for others, it is logical continuity of an already fantastic line of products. Referees are encouraged to build their own games from the assumptions that flow from Traveller and this product - thus the sandbox. However, GKG has provided a rich backdrop that you will be wanting to learn more about this ATU - so, support them, and buy the other products of this fantastic company.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Clement Sector
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Atlas-class Wallpaper
by Benjamin M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/12/2013 20:38:09
This is a nice piece of art for the computer, and might have another use at times.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Atlas-class Wallpaper
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Cascadia Adventures 1: Save Our Ship
by Joshua L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/04/2013 20:53:55
I just finished running this adventure for some friends, part of an on-going Traveller adventure. It was a lot of fun for everyone. The 300 ton ship that is included is a great adventuring ship, and the plot and NPCs worked well. We didn't use the included PCs, since we had PCs of our own. From a GM's point of view, the adventure was easy to run, and the information I needed was all there. I had no trouble adding it to an ongoing adventure.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cascadia Adventures 1: Save Our Ship
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Dade Colonies
by William W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/17/2013 13:40:18
Just picked this up. Really cool, though fair warning, if you are older like I am, upon reading it you are likely to get a particular song stuck in your head. I recommend it for all Traveller GMs. The universe Mr. Watts is building is really coming together.
The book has some really nice artwork as well as top notch writing. The worlds are well thought out and seem real as if they are being reported on not merely created.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dade Colonies
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Dade Colonies
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/17/2013 11:33:59
Whilst a range of adventure types can be played in Traveller, one of the greatest delights can be exploring the universe and finding out about different planets. Here are five fairly new colonies (they've only been established ten years or less) for your party to drop in on.

The work starts off by detailing the Dade subsector and all 14 worlds therein, and then moves on to discuss the colonies. There were six originally, but one disappeared and nobody quite knows what happened to them.

For each extant colony, we read about the system in which it is located. Detail is quite spectacular even down to maps of the uninhabited planets never mind the one that's actually lived on, so parties who enjoy astrophysical exploration have plenty to point their sensors at. Then we get down to business with copious material on the inhabited world - maps, physical data, geography, even some notable flora and fauna. All you need to make a visit come to life.

First up is Dashwood. A very Greek-style democracy operates here with debate intended to find concensus on any issue with a vote if concensus cannot be reached. This results in political debate being a popular pastime even outside of the decision-making process. Laws are outwardly quite lax too, designed around a basic concept of personal responsibility... hmm, the average Traveller party is none too good at that, should make for an interesting visit.

Next is Arnemuiden. This system almost seems designed for space piracy, although the actual colony itself is law-abiding... abiding by the dictates of the Builder family who funded and founded the colony here, that is. Many weapons and most drugs (except alcohol) are illegal and it is said that the colony's gaol is not a nice place... not that your characters are going to transgress and see the inside of it, right? Personal privacy and personal space are seen as important, and woe on anyone who intrudes either physically or by prying into someone's affairs. The planet has a thick atmosphere at high pressure so most folk prefer to stay indoors when possible, with filter masks being required when outside.

The third colony is Osiris. The system's resource-rich. Here is another experiment in governance, based on the writings of Solon and based on time in the colony and land ownership - but while the more land you own the more votes you have, it also means you pay more tax! Newcomers (5 years or less resiodence) with no land cannot vote, but the taxman does not come calling either. Some laws are applied differently based on your status, others apply to all the same. Non-citizens - and that means vistors - have few rights, and may find that even if a crime is committed against them by a citizen that citizen will not be arrested. Status is very important, a caste system almost, and influences virtually all activities.

Next is Dade, the colony after which the whole sub-sector is named. Orisris and Dashwood are none too happy about this, even producing charts naming the area after themselves. Dade is a 'company planet' which is owned and operated by the Dade Development Corporation. There is little atmosphere so vacc suits are required except in the domed pressurised cities. No weapons heavier than a pistol may be carried, and concealed carry is banned. So are any substances that need to be set on fire, although alcohol and drugs you don't smoke are allowed. Law enforcement prefer, however, to deport visitors who break the rules rather than prosecute them.

The last colony is Sarawak, on the sole planet in a binary system. Seas are very salty here, thought to be the remnants of a larger ocean that is now gone. The single settlement is small - less than a thousand souls - and they govern themselves by everyone voting on any issue that needs to be decided. Anyone can vote, even visitors, provided they turn up on the town square when a vote is called. They don't believe in 'government' - the wellbeing of a society, they say, is the shared responsibility of everyone living in that society. There isn't much in the way of formal law, and no law enforcement except by people taking exception to whatever is going on... but they can get quite emphatic in their objection and execution may result!

There is a table for creating characters from any of these colonies, should you desire to do so; and quite a few ideas for adventure based around visitors to them. These include random encounters should you wish to wander around any of the planets holding colonies, rather than stay in the settlements. Finally, there's a bestiary, should you be interested in local wildlife.

In all, a fascinating and well-developed area just ripe for a visit. Where's my starship?

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Superior Colonies
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/30/2012 07:43:34
Space is big, really big... and there's room for many new places. Gypsy Knights Games have settled to develop their own sector, and all the worlds they've published so far are somewhere in it (although you can of course put them anywhere you like in YOUR Traveller universe). This latest offering is no different, and contains details of a whole sub-sector although there are but three colonies, and those recently-planted, within it.

The sub-sector is named Superior, as is the first planet to be colonised. It's in the Gichigami system, which is presented in full detail before we get down to a description of the colony itself and the world on which it is to be found. The entire population live in and around a single settlement called Valequez, and they arrived some six years ago following an individual called Esteban Chowler who left his homeworld in a dispute over genetic engineering. Chowler wants to improve mankind through genetic engineering and selective breeding but also wished to force the process forwards by euthanasing 'unfit' stock from the gene pool. As both the government and populace of his homewold, Chennai, found this unacceptable, he left and set up his own colony in which he intended to prove the merits of his theories.

Whilst Superior ostensibly welcomes visitors, it's essential to fit in - or at least appear to do so - with some ideas which will prove quite foreign to the average Traveller character! This should prove quite entertaining for the Referee, and fortunately off-worlds who transgress are generally banished rather than the worse fates that await indigeneous dissidents.

The second colony is named Tupolev, and is found in orbit around the world of that name in the Zhukovski system as it is far too hot and dry to live on. Exploration in search of the ores that Tupolev is rich in is conducted by remote vehicles. Tupolev Station is a 'company town' belonging to a corporation called Bridges Unlimited, and is somewhere most characters will feel at home: indeed it has been designed by the corporation to be the sort of place travellers, merchants and others will flock to in search of rest and relaxation! Provided it does not harm others, visitors can do pretty much what they please although company employees are far more restricted.

The final colony is that of Brunson, the third planet of the Fisher system. Here there is a large ocean with a single supercontinent. The atmosphere is breathable and temperatures at the equator quite balmy, although polar regions are chilly. Settlement was driven by religious belief, the colony being founded by one Arthur Kincaid who found an alien artefact through which God told him to set one up somewhere so far unvisited by sentient beings as a 'promised land' for him and his followers. Acting as God's spokesman, Kincaid remains the leader. Interestingly, it is left to the individual Referee to decide if Kincaid is a charlatan or a true prophet (or merely deluded). Suffice it to say that visitors are barely tolerated...

Suggestions for likely reasons to visit any of these colonies are given, as are random encounters if travelling on the surface of Brunson or Superior and a few native beasties. Overall, should your travels bring you into this sub-sector, you will have a few tales to tell on your return! A nice, well-developed resource.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Superior Colonies
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Cascadia Adventures 3: Fled
by Mysterious B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/15/2012 14:20:53
Fun little romp of an adventure involving a manhunt for a security expert who made off with the cash. Soon players are drawn web of intrigue and high politics. Which is when players go from a standard bounty hunting job to something darker. Players are directed in a pretty uni-linear path but through gentle nudges and prods - so I would not say that players are railroaded in any significant way but it still remains a One-Shot (max Two-Shot) adventure to be played over a single night (or as indicated two). Certainly, the Referee could expand this whole process out a great deal. So, the manhunt requires both problem solving skills and interactive role playing opportunities abound.

The author creatively pairs up pregens with NPCs creating a nice matrix and although not required - this adventure can be linked up with the previous Cascadia Adventures.

Where this adventure needs some improvement is the colour and description of NPCs and environs, as nothing in the adventure takes advantage really of the science fiction, aspect to the game - this could equally played as a Modern adventure without significant modifications. So, hopefully when these adventures are culled together in a single print form there more options and more futurist colour (i.e. Chrome) is added.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cascadia Adventures 3: Fled
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Cascadia Adventures 2: The Lost Girl
by Mysterious B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/15/2012 16:39:29
A nice little adventure that involves investigation of a missing young woman that can be played out over the course of a one-shot or a convention game, players will have an ample opportunity for a full range of actions but role playing is certainly advised over gun play. Not to say, that the players will not have the opportunity for a firefight but the opposition is easily over able to overcome any party’s weaponry. Nicely comes with pregens that play well into the storyline, as important contacts, in different locales is ascribed to each character pairing them up with a possible NPC helper. Adventure reminded a bit of Firefly and Dollhouse at the same time; which is not a bad thing, as I liked both series. High quality maps of important locales are provided. My only criticism, and that is beyond the writer’s control is that the OGL did not allow him to explore a darker and grittier narrative...but that can be for individual Referees to cater and make their own adventure out of the sketch provided. Another adventure is promised and hopefully we will see a few more plots twists and turns but if players often don the white hat, they will have to get their hands dirty in Classic Traveller traditions, if they are to save the day.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cascadia Adventures 2: The Lost Girl
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21 Plots III
by Mysterious B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/15/2012 16:38:27
Adventure seeds that give the 1D6 range of possibilities gives the Referee who is pressed to insert an encounter while busy preparing the main adventure for the game the following session are always handy. GKG has come up with 21 more seeds for the Referee to use with or just change the data to suit either a 3I or Home Brew campaign. The only thing that this is missing, as the plots series seem to be growing is an index (and better yet a cross index with previous offerings) of Who (Patron types), Where (locales), What (job, as described entailed) and WTF (what the job may actually be). However, I am given to understand that the publisher might be incorporating this idea at a future date. So, kudos again for GKGs for coming up with a believable and enjoyable set of adventure hooks that do not deal ultimate MacGuffins or recycle old Science Fiction tropes from familiar movies or TV shows. Looking forward to the ultimate assembled volume when it will be 21 to the power of 21 plots...

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
21 Plots III
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Subsector Sourcebook 4: Sequoyah
by Mysterious B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/08/2012 08:40:45
Yet another collection of worlds from the good folks at Gypsy Knight Games, however, this one is a marked shift from previous offerings… it is better than the previous Space Operish submissions (if that is your Schick then you still will have two Sectors to play with) – this subsector has a Hard SF foundation giving it almost a 2300AD feel. The worlds described could easily be ported over to 2300AD with minimal adjustments thus providing a new set of adventures for players to engage it.

The real question – how? Well, if you follow Gypsy Knights’ campaign setting – an unstable wormhole was discovered in Earth’s local neighborhood that allowed humanity to cross a vast distance in a short period of time and build up a civilization where the grass was greener. With the collapse of the wormhole, these isolated worlds fell back and created new polities somewhat derived from old Earth and somewhat new creations. And, this what makes Gypsy Knights’ products so great – they present entire worlds as wholes each replete with their own dating system, cultures, and history plus the obvious astrography for each system. Traveller tends to focus upon what is commonly referred to as the Main World but Gypsy Knight gives us the whole planetary system. Previous contributions, more or less followed the classic Traveller mold of having largely nice worlds (i.e. Earth-like and Earth-surrogates) with very few hellholes but this product outlines worlds that would be difficult to settle and present a real sense of a frontier.

Gypsy Knights is a company that is actively involved in learning throughout all its products delivering higher and higher quality products. Therefore, if you are looking to expand your Traveller game especially in the 2300AD direction without the baggage of the “official” history this product would product a convenient side step into a truly Alternative Traveller Universe. Complaints? Few… one of the things that the revised Mongoose version of 2300AD highlights is that even in 2300AD, the colonization of space will still include outposts, isolated colonies on potentially inhospitable places. This supplement wonderfully gives us the world but not so much the feeling of the frontier colony. One way to do this is merely have a system composed of a tin can (i.e. a Space Station) over an inhospitable world – its placement can be strategic (either military or resource-wise). Yes, colonies would try to make the best of it but essentially creating relationships of dependence between different worlds thus stitching the background more closely together.

A good Referee can already do this with this product but trade routes are not highlighted owing to the origin of this product being individual worlds that a Referee can select to their Traveller Universe and the desire of Gypsy Knights Games not to burden the reader with too much background (i.e. forcing players/Referees to adopt their history). This is a balancing act that they have managed to succeed in doing with this product. So, if want an excursion into Hard SF and do like the premise of lost Earth colonies growing up amongst the stars – then you should definitely check this product out. If your tastes veer more toward Space Opera and quasi fantastical settings – then the other Gypsy Knight products will give you an entire Sector to play in. However, this subsector, for me shows growing level maturity in their setting and is tune with the current market which is more Hard SF oriented than to have one dimensional worlds in which players enact the role of “tourists in trouble” rather than genuine Travellers. For contained within are hundreds of adventure seeds waiting to blossom into full fledged adventures/campaigns.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Subsector Sourcebook 4: Sequoyah
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Cascadia Adventures 1: Save Our Ship
by Mysterious B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/10/2012 11:59:19
A nice little adventure that involves search and rescue for a lost ship and an important personage. The adventure can be adapted to any Traveller setting but is best suited the Gypsy Knights own milieu for it fits hand and glove. That said there are plenty of interesting NPCs and offers also a non-violent or a violent solution which is commendable to the end of the adventure.

The drawback of the adventure is that it is rather linear best suited for Convention-style play and the PCs do not have character protraits - my ongoing beef with most game publishers - for my players choose characters as much on appearance as stats...it is a power trip fantasy that they are seeking and portraits do just that. Similarly, NPCs portraits are also absent. So, were it possible notch this review half a notch toward good. For it is good but not very good. There is some sandbox play but it is curtailed by meeting important NPCs which is fine.

Inclusion of the playtest notes as a separate PDF would have been a nice touch, as sometimes I got lost who is doing what to whom. But, overall an excellent first adventure that dovetails and uses effectively all GK Games published materials to date.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cascadia Adventures 1: Save Our Ship
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Hub Federation
by Gerald M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/03/2012 18:56:10
I just have too say this was amazing. I have not played your setting but just reading this setting can fire up all kinds of potential scenarios. You take Traveller to a new meaning and it is really nice to see these great alternatives to the OTU.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hub Federation
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