Friday, September 7, 2018

Product Reviews: Mongoose Publications' Traveller, 2nd Edition


Several months ago, I stumbled across the Traveller Starter Set at The Game Matrix.

I can't claim I've been a Traveller fan since it's initial release, but I can say I purchased the little black box...



...containing the three little booklets...


...within three years after it's debut publication.

Since then, I've collected most of the subsequent editions, ending with the GURPS and "T-20" versions.



I've seen Mongoose Publishing's version of Traveller for the past decade, flipped through some books at game stores, but nothing really motivated me to buy anything new.

So when I bought the Starter Kit on a whim, I didn't think it would lead to anything significant.

Yeah.

This turned out to be the gateway drug to reigniting my dormant interest in Traveller. 

I was impressed by the production quality, because in the past, I've found Mongoose Publication's quality control to be hit-or-miss.  This is Mongoose's second edition of Traveller, and they've done a lot to bring the game up to date from "The 80s With Starships!"

Misgivings aside, and not satisfied with the Starter Set, I purchased the 2nd Edition Core Rulebook.



This in turn, triggered a buying spree of both old and new Traveller material, starting with the Game Master's Screen.




Classic Traveller (starts in the year 1105 of the Imperial Calendar) primarily focused on the Spinward Marches of the Third Imperium.  So I decided to revisit this sector by buying the The Spinward Marches Book...



...along with the map...



...the Spinward Encounters Adventures Book...



...and the Tripwire campaign.



Now here's where my misgivings about quality control became justified.  While 2008 Edition of the Spinward Marches got decent reviews, I thought a lot of readers were pulling their punches.

While the content in every Third Imperium publication I bought was good, I found there was a complete lack of editorial oversight.

Just about every page, in every book contained a grammatical or syntax error.

It's as if the material was written then sent off to Mongoose Publications without anyone bothering to edit or review it.  

The number and consistency of errors made the material hard for me to enjoy reading.  But if you're more concerned about getting material for game mastering a session than you are about the proper use of written English, then Third Imperium books won't be a waste of your money.

These mixed feelings didn't stop me from buying material on the Spinward Marches' "next door neighbor," the Deneb Sector


After reading through all the new material--and hoarding my money for new purchases--I decided to "take a look back" and buy material (now out of print) I couldn't afford to when they were initially published.

For that "big picture" look, my first purchase was the Fifth Frontier War (which erupts in the year 1107).


Since player characters, or "travellers" as they're called in the game, journey around in starships, I thought getting the games Brilliant Lances...


...and Battle Rider would add to any game session.


The rules to both games are complex and actually set in post-Imperial collapse of The New Era (which starts in the year 1116)--but the counters look cool!

It's 1105 again, and Mongoose Publications continues to make products set in the Spinward Marches, like the introductory adventure High and Dry.



In this book, the travellers are given the chance to find and return an abandoned starship.

However, this is a classic case of "easier said, than done."

Most of Mongoose Publication's attention seems to be focused on The Great Rift, a vast volume of space with very few star systems--and refueling points.



There's even "rift-version" of the High and Dry adventure--Islands in the Rift.


In this case, not only will the travellers have to find and return a starship, but they'll have to contend with intrigue and skulduggery in the Old Islands and New Islands subsectors.

 Overall, I'm happy with all my out-of-print and up-to-date Traveller purchases.

Now all I need is some free time to "travel" among the tabletop stars...

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