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Supplement 5-6: Vehicle Handbook
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/26/2012 12:09:00
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/04/26/tabletop-review-travell-
er-supplement-5-6-vehicles/

Back in 2009, Mongoose Publishing released two new supplements for their Traveller line – Civilian Vehicles and Military Vehicles, Supplements 5 and 6 respectively. I came to them late, and didn’t have much chance to use them before I discovered that they were in the process of rewriting them from the ground up.

It seems they were poorly received.

I read through them, and found the system presented in the original books to be deliciously complex. You measured volume in honest-to-god cubic meters. You worried about the total mass of the vehicle in comparison to the propulsion system you chose, and just how large a propulsion unit it was, and how much power it would need, and therefore how large a power unit you’d need to power it! And once you’d determined the armor it carried, and the weapons, and the people, and the cargo, you ran through the list of a dozen plus possible modifications or optional features for each item you’d picked. Then you ran the numbers and went back to the drawing board to tweak things so that your tank could, in fact, move. Or have enough fuel endurance to fight a battle.

It turns out, people – normal people, I should say – don’t like that sort of thing.

Aside from any mechanical (heh) issues with the system, and I’m assured that there were some, people balked at the complexity of the system. It wasn’t quite as thorough and math intensive as, say, GURPS: Vehicles 2nd Edition – the gold standard for vehicle design systems that have a degree in mechanical engineering as a prerequisite – but it was enough to turn them off entirely to what was, in all actuality, a perfectly serviceable little design system.

In addition to this, there were two volumes, one for civilian vehicles and the other for military – and they were the same design system! The only place they differed was in the list of pre-built vehicles in each one. Folks, understandably, cried “foul” at this, feeling like the people who read the fourth and subsequent books in Piers Anthony’s “Incarnations of Immortality” series – “Hey, this is the same stuff, repackaged! I’ve been taken for a fool!” They didn’t quite rise up in angry protest with pitchforks, but the response was, say, a touch cooler than tepid.

So, a new edition was put together. This time, the book was a single volume called Supplement 5-6. If you bought one of the earlier edition, you could return it to Mongoose and they’d give you the new one in trade. If you bought both of the prior editions, you got the new version, plus another book from the collection. Honorably done, Matt, and just plain good business sense.

Now, you’re wondering what I think of the new version. Let me begin by quoting the introduction in brief:

The new vehicle design system was created to be quick. With practice, you will be able to create small, basic vehicles in just a few minutes, allowing you to create vehicles, almost on the fly, during a game. Even a large, multi-turreted super-heavy battle tank will not take much longer than five minutes’ work.

The key to this is that the design system focuses on effect rather than components. You will not find complicated charts of different engines, reactors and other power systems – in terms of effect, we really do not care how a vehicle is propelled, we just need to know how fast it goes and what it can carry.

At the same time, you will find the system to be very elegant, taking into account changing Tech Levels that bring new forms of propulsion, new materials that are lighter and stronger and new control systems that require less crew. All of this is factored into the very simple system.

Creating vehicles in under five minutes? A laudable goal. No complicated charts of different engine types? I’ll admit, I paled at this, fearing that realism would be sacrificed at the altar of simplicity. So I went into it with more than a little trepidation, expecting the worst.

Happily, everything turned out okay.

The steps are very easy to follow, though the breadth of options will make some of them take longer than their brief description might imply: choose your chassis, choose chassis mods (if appropriate), add armor, add weapons, choose universal (as opposed to chassis-specific) mods, calculate stats.

A ground car can be had, at any tech level, in a matter of seconds complete with most of the details you’d care about, on either side of the GM’s screen, for play. The first time through the system, you read every option, and debate whether or not it would be valuable for the vehicle in question. On future builds, you start to build up a mental library of those options, and when they’ll be handy. As you build more and more complex vehicles, the time you invest definitely goes up – a quick grav tank I did in a back-of-a-napkin style while testing the system out took me closer to fifteen minutes, but it was the first time I’d really closely looked at the weapon and advanced armor rules. I’d argue that that’s still a fairly quick turn-around.

The system does gloss over power and mobility. You still have to consider things like tracks versus wheels versus anti-gravity, but they’re factored into the type of vehicle chassis you choose to work with.

The weapon list is a strange mix of oddly specific and maddeningly broad, for my tastes, and needed a bit more proofreading before the book was let out the door (the concept of a “destructive” weapon was omitted, unless you already have the Hammer’s Slammer’s sourcebooks, and have run into it there, for example) but provides you with a goodly selection of weapons to choose from, from a range of tech levels. The armor system is very nearly primitive in comparison, assigning a single number of points per facing, and a token bit of fluff in the name of the materials used at that particular tech level.

An area that does suffer in the simplification is weight. The vehicles wind up with a “shipping weight” that’s valuable for determining how much space they take up in a ship’s hold, but cargo is limited simply to “spaces” – and you’re left with not even a sentence telling you “as for how much weight you can carry in that cargo area, you’ll have to wing it…” It’s the biggest failing in the system that I’ve found yet.

Another failing of the book is in the build examples. I’ve talked to the author and it seems the examples were written fairly early in the process, and didn’t get updated correctly when core rules were changed after playtesting. They’ve been noted, and hopefully will be corrected for future printings and in the PDF versions.

An unexpected gem from this book, especially valuable if you’re intending a Mercenary campaign, or are keen on anime/manga style gaming, is a full set of rules for building custom Battle Dress – the long-standing Traveller version of light powered armor. It gives broad ability options for GMs to choose from, as well as adding flavor to a formerly just-barely-two-dimensional element of the Traveller universe.

The rest of the book is a huge collection of vehicles, both civilian and military this time, from a broad range of tech levels, and from a broad range of polities – Aslan, Vargr and the like from the Third Imperium, plus entries for the other universe books supported by Mongoose – Hammer’s Slammers, Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog, specifically.

So, should you buy it? If you’ve already purchased the original Supplement 5 and/or 6, you’d be foolish not to trade them in – especially as I think you only need to send them the covers to do so, meaning you can keep the meatier, juicier rules if you like that sort of thing. If you’re intending to play using the Mongoose Traveller rules, I think they’ll be hugely beneficial to you if your game is anything but primarily cerebral. If you gloss over things like ship specs or vehicle chases, you might be wasting your time with this one – or you might find that it opens your eyes to a whole new level of crunch to apply to your campaign.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Supplement 5-6: Vehicle Handbook
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Legend
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/18/2012 07:23:11
For just $1 you can buy into a near enough complete version (you'll probably want the Monsters book too) of one of the most flexible, intuitive and dynamic systems on the market. 'Nuff Said.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legend
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2300AD Core Rulebook Revised
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/18/2012 04:07:50
The appearance could have been improved with more art, etc, and there are some glaring editorial errors throughout (equations being mistyped, etc). Yet, all this said, this is an indispensable Traveller book and setting for any gamer who wants to get into a hard science, near future setting. The 'French Empire' conceit seems a little counterintuitive to me, but it's well grounded out in the future timeline explanations and the science of the game is generally pretty solid. Personally, I think the RPG world needs a strong 2300AD setting to ground out BladeRunner/Firefly type stories - and its great to see this game line return, regardless of anything else. I would hope they revisit the editing of the game before too long, however. Incidentally, my new Mac has the cover in white borders rather than black - what's up with that?

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
2300AD Core Rulebook Revised
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Vikings of Legend
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/18/2012 04:00:19
Near enough a little masterpiece - excellent with the Legend rules - and a very complete genre/setting book for an iconic historical adventuring culture. As with all the Legend supplements, concisely written and neatly presented.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vikings of Legend
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Arcania of Legend: Blood Magic
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/18/2012 03:57:28
Sexy magic. Of the type that makes classic sword and sorcery tales edgy. Very provocative as an overlay on existing magic systems (provided in the core Legend rules), but primarily used by GMs to provide NPCs rather than providing viable player options. Nevertheless, a nicely presented concise little supplement.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Arcania of Legend: Blood Magic
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Supplement 9: Campaign Guide
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/18/2012 03:53:54
Lots of charts and tables in this book - and while it is useful for it's stated purpose, it really works best in conjunction with other Supplements rather than as a standalone product. A solid tool - but not an indispensable one.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Supplement 9: Campaign Guide
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Armageddon 2089 Main Rulebook
by Jason J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/16/2012 22:02:04
While the product looks interesting it's completely unreadable. Dark grey text on a background of varying shades of grey is miserable. The first couple of pages (toc etc.) are ok, but after that, I can only read a couple of pages before my eyes want to cross.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Armageddon 2089 Main Rulebook
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Supplement 9: Campaign Guide
by John W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/11/2012 23:06:53
The Campaign Guide is, in my opinion, a lot of fun – it offers a long series of tables and suggestions for how to create a campaign (or a scenario or some other shorter section of action) by rolling on as many tables as might be desired. So, one might roll for a life event, then a patron roll, then a space flight event, then a planetary roll, a return spaceflight event, a home planet event and so forth. In each case, the roll provides an option which can then be implemented by the referee according to the specific makeup of the party.

Of course, this will not suit everyone: some people do not want tables of this sort but would prefer to use their own ideas; others will complain if this or that table or this or that result is not quite what the people involved want them to be. This is normal enough – I myself thought some of the events were a little too cinematic for the experience I want to have (e.g. passengers on a ship turn out to be devil-worshippers who aim to capture and eat everyone; characters suddenly taken over by alien parasites and so forth) but in that case I would simply roll again or substitute results of my own.

The best way to use this guide, then, is probably to use it either as a spur to invention or else, as the Guide itself recommends, as a means of generating automatic or semi-automatic campaigns. In that context, referees can choose some or all of the tables to help define events. It is not as if we are unfamiliar with looking up things in tables when playing Traveller and then interpreting the results.

I did not find the mistakes and errors pointed out by a previous reviewer.

The Guide occupies a halfway position between normal play and the solo supplement that we have had dangled before our eyes by Mongoose schedule for release some time later this year. The experience of Traveller, especially for the solo player, involves pursuing a number of sub-systems and it should be quite possible to link these together in some sort of coherent way. Players with imagination and time can do this for themselves in any case; those lacking either or both would welcome some guidelines that would link (for example), character generation with the finding of a merc ticket and then resolving the military action involved. I remember a story from Baxter’s Xeelee sequence (if memory serves) in which generations of young people are born on a moon on which they are destined to be thrown into the war and almost certainly slaughtered in scenes reminiscent of the worst excesses of the First World War. That would be a setting that could be used to support solo play: as characters are generated, they are tested out for different parts of the military service (through participating in missions) and build up to the big one when they go over the top. That would provide several hours of entertainment and, for me, that would be practical and well worth playing.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Supplement 9: Campaign Guide
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Vikings of Legend
by Ed B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/07/2012 23:10:32
I ordered this more to use as a handy research guide on the Vikings (in addition to other research materials) rather than with any specific gaming in mind. I found the book to be well-researched and surprisingly well detailed; the historical section is excellent, and most of the gaming ideas spring directly from the real culture. I particularly liked the separation of suggestions for uses in campaigns that were more historically bent or fantastically bent. While most of the non-gaming materials is available elsewhere (much of it free), this book saves you hours of time tracking it down, and the gaming material is both inventive and representative of the Viking culture of the period. This book gathers a lot of information between its covers, and I would recommend it for anyone doing a Northmen/Viking based campaign as well as anyone interested in the period who's interested in an informative primer. Well done!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vikings of Legend
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Armageddon 2089 Main Rulebook
by Carl A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/05/2012 18:45:14
I just started looking through the PDF and the text is very unusually difficult to make out against the background used. I'm not the kind of person who normally cares about fonts, but the one chosen is too thin for the background image used. It needs to be on a different background, maybe with the area the text is at screened at 50% opacity or something. I was hoping it was just the first few pages, but the whole book is like this. I'm glad I only paid $5.99, because any more and I'd demand a refund (first time ever on Drivethrurpg, too). I'm not sure I'll ever be able to read the rules enough to really decide if they are good or not, which is unfortunate, because the setting sounds good. Maybe if there was a printer friendly version without the background.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Armageddon 2089 Main Rulebook
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Legend
by Egil G. B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/30/2012 13:17:19
I give this a 5 star review, because I liked the original system (RuneQuest 2) and this looks like a version that has been improved for use with ebook-format.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legend
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Legend
by Samuel B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/25/2012 03:17:31
I had played RQ somewhere along the line but no so I'd remember it.

I am fairly new to GMing so am on the lookout for decent games to sink my teeth into. For only 66 pence ($1) I bought Legend and read it through. I have now set up a game, two of my three players have generated characters and soon we will be ready to go.

The rules need a certain amount of house-rules, but the book even says this is acceptable as Legend is rules only without setting so it can be bent and warped to your own needs.

I have the dead-tree version being delivered sometime soon too.

This is totally worth buying, and a great system to play with. Buy!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
2300AD Core Rulebook Revised
by Billiam B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/24/2012 20:44:32
I am really grateful for seeing the 2300AD source book, as it reminds me of a campaign setting which I used to think was excellent, whilst being visualised through the prism of the today's Traveller rules.

For Mongoose to fuse original (old-school) far-future Traveller with it's broad Foundation style brush strokes, with this, Earth's hands-on tentative steps into space, employing chunky, clunky gadgets and tank armour, seems, at first glance, almost heretical! Hats off to Mongoose for bravery.

One thing that Mongoose 2300AD does do well, is that it provides planet maps. Ace! The colony planets feel like solid, real places.

The addition of DNA modifications as a norm seems a little unnecessary, but this is tied up with the bio-tech Pentapods' contact with humanity, which just about works.

Where are the gun pictures? Surely the look and feel of the equipment is really important to distinguish this source book from the main Traveller setting? The descriptions are there, but show us some eye candy! ;) Otherwise the presentation is very good.

As a sourcebook for today's gamer, the potential for the 2300AD setting is HUGE, the supposedly gritty feel on the broad backdrop of newly settled worlds will make for a great campaign - and many styles of game are possible from espionage to battlefield war. Its whopping 312 pages are packed with background information and game material.

Even in the bundle this still feels a little pricey, one would hope that PDFs would be considerably cheaper than their printed-and-bound versions - or at least it would be good to have a deal which combines both.

General note: 2300AD is implicit in its need of the Traveller Core Rulebook. The introduction also suggests that Supplement 5: Vehicles and 6: High Guard "would also be useful".

In summary, 2300AD it's a bumper book with plenty of details about many of the colonies and enclaves in the 2300AD near-star sphere. How this fits with Mongoose's Traveller will be up to individual players to interpret. The good news is that if Mongoose Publishing don't produce more 2300AD products that there's the so many older GDW T2300/2300AD products out which can be "mined" for ideas.

-Billiam B.
http://bit.ly/rpgblog2300AD

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
2300AD Core Rulebook Revised
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Campaign 1: Secrets of the Ancients
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/24/2012 12:08:22
I haven't played Traveller in years, but this is an intriguing thing that RPG Now and the folks who make Traveller did -- offer a campaign setting for free! SOTA is based on an old "classic" Traveller supplement (oddly enough, also called "Secrets of the Ancients" :-) ), though in that case it wasn't a full-blown campaign so much as a small area adventure (like some of the old AD&D modules). This one presents a full up campaign similar to the kinds of things offered for Call of Cthulhu. There are a series of adventures the characters work through, learning more about what's REALLY going on in known space each step of the way, until, at the climax, they get the big reveal. It looks pretty well paced, with enough information to keep them involved and lead them to the next adventure, and even a few red herrings thrown in for fun (which could be parleyed by a witty GM into side adventures of their own), however the adventure is pretty linear and tends to force the players down a specific path to resolution. Again, a witty GM could probably overcome that and provide more links and options between the sub-adventures to allow the players to navigate a bit more freely between them, but given the steadily escalating nature of the events and opponents (always a problem with games that have "levels" for their characters), that may not be really desirable. Still, for the price, it's a great set-up and provides everything the GM and players need to start adventuring in the galaxy of Traveller; I highly recommend it. The production values are high, and there's plenty of material here for the players and the GM to mull over and digest. Even though it's offered for free, the designers didn't skimp on it at all. Based on the price alone, I'd probably give it a "four" or "five," but given the high production and design values and the price, this one really earns a "six!"

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Campaign 1: Secrets of the Ancients
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Supplement 12: Dynasty
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
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