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Megan Robertson's page

Pathfinder Society Member. 5,402 posts (5,699 including aliases). 497 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 Pathfinder Society character. 2 aliases.

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An RPG Resource Review

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Designed to replace Supplement 5: Civilian Vehicles and Supplement 6: Military Vehicles, this work presents a far slicker and more streamlined vehicle design system that can create virtually any planetside vehicle you care to name swiftly and efficiently. The idea is that it should be used for those vehicles that characters can interact with - you can drive a car or a truck, ride a bicycle, and so on - but the more massive ones like air craft carriers, cruise liners and supertankers ought to be regarded as scenery rather than designed to this level of detail. Perhaps not true to the 'gearhead' approach so beloved of Traveller players, but it is a viable option: design to an appropriate level of detail.

The first chapter is entitled Crash Course in Vehicle Design. This provides an overview of the vehicle design system. You start by determining three things: the Tech Level of the proposed vehicle, its chassis type and the number of spaces. The chassis type tells you what sort of vehicle it is, and the number of spaces determines how big it is - each 'space' being sufficient to transport a regular-sized human (or equivalent from an alien race, of course). After that, it is merely a case of applying modifications to describe the precise vehicle you are after. The modifications can, of course, include armour and weapons if you intend it to be a military vehicle.

A template is provided for recording your design, and this is followed by a whole bunch of rules to cover every aspect imaginable - animal-powered vehicles, sailboats, aircraft and more. Each vehicle has a 'shipping size' which is the notional amount of room they need when being transported on a starship. There's an abstraction for calculating the mass of a vehicle for those occasions when it might become important, as it isn't otherwise factored in to the design system.

Next comes more detailed information on each chassis type available, starting with bicycle, rickshaw, wagon and cart which are lumped together as animal/human powered wheeled vehicles. Then you get non-powered boats and ships (rowing boats and sailing ships), balloons, then light ground vehicles (motorbikes, cars and pick-up trucks) and then heavy ground vehicles (trucks and tanks, stuff like that). Trains have their own category, but other ground vehicles can be modified to travel on rails as well. Next are hovercraft, grav vehicles and helicopters, each subdivided into heavy and light versions, and so it goes on... airships, light and heavy aircraft, light and heavy jets, light and heavy aerodynes, and then on to walkers, ships and submersibles.

The next section looks at Adding Armour and Weapons to your vehicle. Everything has a base armour rating (a function of tech level and chassis) but depending on the use to which you want to put it, you might want more. Traveller players being Traveller players, they are also likely to want weapons so there's plenty of detail about different types, how they are mounted and auxillary things like fire control systems... This is followed by a neat section of Universal Modifications, which abstracts out things like wanting an exceptionally fast vehicle for its type and lets you add that without needing to provide a wealth of detail about how. Or you might want an autopilot, or an open top... the possibilities are quite vast. Communications, accommodation and other modifications fit in here as well.

Next comes Battle Dress. If you want to have a massive suit of powered armour, this is where you come to design it in all its glory. There are options for weapons and other systems, defence mechanisms and more.

This is followed by some Vehicle Design Examples to show you the system in action. These explain how they have been derived as well as presenting you with the finished article and, of course, its statistics. There's a good selection here, including old favourites like the air/raft, ranging from low to high tech levels and modes of operation. If you're not inclined to get to grips with the design system, you'll probably find something to suit your needs here. They are roughly grouped by use (civilian or military) and type (aircraft, ground vehicles, etc.), and this is the largest section of the book.

Finally, there are specialised listings of vehicles used by the various Third Imperium races and in specific locations or settings available within Mongoose Traveller. So if you play Judge Dredd, you can have a Lawmaster (if you can get it to work) created using this vehicle design system, along with a range of other iconic vehicles from Mega-City One; likewise there are vehicles specifically designed for Strontium Dog and Hammer's Slammers.

Overall it is an elegant vehicle design system and filled with a wealth of examples this book should prove a useful if not essential resource for all Traveller games.

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An RPG Resource Review


A mysterious forest, legends about an evil soceress who vanished completely but might now be coming back... is this enough to get your party to go and investigate? If not, perhaps they just happen to be travelling through the forest or have been hired to check the place out - a few hooks such as these are provided but in essence the adventure begins when the party enters the forest, no matter how they got there. Just where the forest might be located is left to you as well - it may even not be in Midgard if you are not using that setting.

A brief Adventure Background lets you know a little about what is going on, and then we're off, beginning with an encounter with a treant with obscure motives, but who could be quite helpful if handled the right way. If the party are there by chance, however, this encounter might prove rather baffling as the treant assumes they know what's going on! Fortunately, if the characters are too puzzled, other forest denizens have been provided who have a good understanding of the situation and are prepared to help out - indeed it's suggested that you use them to keep the plot flowing if it stalls due to the party being unsure about what they ought to be doing.

This is a location-based quest adventure. Each location is described and the events or encounteres associated with them given in detail, along with applicable monster stats. Interestingly, many enounters are with creatures subtly modified from 'book standard' to suit the shadow fey feel, stirges that can hide in shadow and the like. There are some nice illustrations embedded in the text and, in a neat move, they are provided in an 'Art and Maps' appendix if you like to show your players what their characters see.

The assumption is made that the characters will seek to prevent the Dusk Queen (as the evil sorceress terms herself) from making a return to her former power: in this case there's a fine cinematic end-battle to be had. The 'Art and Maps' section not only provides a one-page floor plan of the setting, there's also a full sectional battlemap for those who want to use miniatures or pawns for the climactic brawl. And there's a little hint about things to come in the promise of a sequel to this adventure...

This is a well-presented scenario, a little forced in the assumptions made about what the characters will do perhaps, but enjoyable nevertheless - and if the threat posed is presented well and the eerie menace of the setting played up, successful characters should have a feeling of real accomplishment, of having prevented a genuine menance developing in the area.

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An RPG Resource Review

****( )

However much you may spend your time out in the black, sometimes you need to go planetside and once there you may want to get around. If your purposes are military in nature, or you have a need to protect yourself, this book ought to be of use. It contains a detailed vehicle development system and a selection of pre-made vehicles from which you can choose whatever best suits your purposes.

The vehicle design system takes you step-by-step through the process. All vehicles in this book have been designed using this system, and it is suggested that if you want to use vehicles from the core rulebook you find the versions in here and use them instead. It's identical to the design process presented in Supplement 5: Civilian Vehicles but with a greater emphasis on things like armour and weapons, naturally, and with the numerous examples referring to military vehicles rather than civilian ones. Choices will be limited by Tech Level and by the intended function of the vehicle that you are designing.

If you'd rather pick a pre-made design, there are plenty to choose from, neatly organised into various categories: aircraft, grav vehicles, hybrids (which can operate in more than one terrain type, e.g. amphibious vehicles that can travel on land or in water), land vehicles, walkers, and watercraft. Grav vehicles are available from TL8, most of the others are available from TL1 through TL9-10... at higher levels most people use grav technology wherever they are trying to go. Each vehicle is presented with a brief description, a full set of statistics and in most cases an illustration as well. Naturally, these are fairly generic examples: if you like to use manufacturer names and models in your descriptions you will need to come up with those for yourself.

As you'd expect, these are all vehicles designed for combat - even the motorbike example has machine guns the rider can fire - and so might be of particular interest to mercenary groups equipping themselves for planetside tickets, or to those working out what vehicles may be used by the armed forces (and perhaps law enforcement) on a given planet. Like Supplement 5: Civilian Vehicles it's useful both if the party needs a particular mode of transportation or if you like to put real detail into the vehicles that they encounter during their travels. Sometimes a leather personnel carrier (i.e. your boot) is not enough, with this book you can ride in style to give battle.

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An RPG Resource Review

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Previous supplements have provided an abundance of spacecraft of all sizes, shapes and uses: now it is the turn of planetary transportation. This book presents nearly a hundred vehicles of various kinds that the party might use planetside, and if none is right for your needs there's a vehicle design system to let you create your own. The same system has been used to create the pre-made ones presented here, which include some from the core rulebook which have been done over with this system. It's recommended that you use these rather than the original versions, although the differences are not that great.

The different types of vehicle addressed are aircraft, grav vehicles, hybrid (i.e. multi-terrain) vehicles, land vehicles, walkers and watercraft. Most listings go up to Tech Level 9 or 10, whilst the grav vehicle ones start at TL8 - after all, if you have grav technology, you do not need to be too concerned about the surface over which you are travelling and will only want specialised vehicles for different terrains for sport/leisure use or when you have an extremely specific need best met by other than a grav vehicle.

First of all, however, the design process is laid out in detail. Like most Traveller design processes, it's something you go through step by step making various choices. It's all very clear and leaves you with a clear understanding of how planetside vehicles are defined - thus equipping you to comprehend each of the ones presented later, even if you do not want to create your own. If you do, of course, you now have the tools you need!

The collection of pre-made vehicles follows, each laid out in a standard format which begins with a brief description of its nature, appearance and uses followed by its statistics and usually a sketch. The range is wide, but generic - if you want different makes or brands of motorcycles, say, you will need to modify the single basic one to suit your needs. Familiar standbys like the air/raft appear, as well as vehicles from present and past (even a gypsy-style wagon). Aircraft include dirigibles and helicopters as well as prop-driven and jet aeroplanes, with canoes and submarines rounding out the watercraft section.

You might be questioning the need for such detail - well, it all depends on what you want to do in your game. If planetside transportation becomes significant, you need to know... I still recall a game some 30 years ago which involved a madcap rush across a planet to escape a revolution. All the party could find was an internal combustion land vehicle much like a contemporary car... and all we could muster skillswise was Jack-of-All-Trades 1 and a willingness to try to drive! Yet that low-tech game is still a stand-out memory of all the Traveller games I've ever played, including the scream from one player that brought around the heads of an entire convention hall, and of course the numerous retellings in bars thereafter. You may not be planning anything of that nature, but it illustrates just how wide a range of activities, and resources, a Traveller game can encompass. So even if you don't think you need such detail now, there may come a day... It all adds to the realism of your alternate reality if you can, when necessary, drill down to this level.

And yes, I was the player with J-o-T 1 and more courage than sense.

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An RPG Resource Review

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More than a mere 'supply catalogue', this book not only presents a vast array of items that Traveller characters might wish to have in their possession, it links them to Tech Level and provides the information a referee might need to decide whether or not each item is actually available. To this end, it begins with a lengthy discussion of what lies behind the bare numbers of a Tech Level, and looking to the dizzy heights of TL20 or beyond.

This initial discussion continues with a look at what Tech Level means within a society and how imports may exceed local Tech Level, often by quite a lot, although you'll probably need to import support personnel to keep high level items running as well. Also it may not be uniform: some areas such as transportation or communications may be higher (or lower) than the average TL of a world that appears in the records. The nature of society changes as TL increases as well, with more leisure time and the need for more sophisticated forms of entertainment as well as greater trade opportunities as it rises, with more people being engaged in activities other than day-to-day survival. There are also notes on low-tech versions of items, representing invention, prototyping and the creation of low-tech solutions to higher-tech problems. Likewise, a higher-tech version of a lower-tech item can be devised. All quite interesting and well worth a read if you want a realistic and varied approach to technology across your galaxy.

This all depends on being able to craft and to understand devices, and rules are provided to enable such cross-TL endeavours. Even once you have determined what is possible, the next question is how legal it might be... and that depends on what the item is, where you want to have it, who you might happen to be, and on a web of permits and restrictions that balance out the needs of local worlds and galactic society - the Imperium, if it exists in your universe - as a whole. Even if you have the correct paperwork, and the necessary funds, it may not be easy to actually find that particular item you're after... All this discussion is underpinned by the necessary game mechanics to enable you to administer the processes involved within your game. This section rounds out with some miscellaneous rules for computer hacking, sensor use, firing artillery and a selection of non-lethal weapon and drug use.

We then move on to the actual items in the catalogue, grouped as Personal and Light Support Weapons, Support and Artillery Weapons, Personal Protection, Survival and Field Equipement, Electronic and Medical Equipment and finally Subsistance and Living Expenses. This makes it easy to find what you're after, or allows you to browse to your heart's content in an area that interests you.

Each section starts with some general discussion of what's there before diving into actual items, which are ordered by TL (lowest to highest) and come with description, statistics and quite often an illustration... although at times you are left guessing as to which drawing in a picture refers to which item in the accompanying text! What's nice is the detail in things like ammunition type and accessories to go with your shiny new purchase. There are also some neat advertisements for specific products, although in general everything is kept pretty generic - a 'shotgun' rather than manufacturer and model details. Needless to say, personal weapons get far more coverage than any other items but there are some neat things tucked away within the survival and medical gear sections.

The discussions on how to handle Tech Level and associated material elevate this work above a mere equipment catalogue, but if it's a shopping spree you're after there is plenty to be had here.

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