Category Archives: Reviews

The Man-Kzin Wars

The Kzinti is a tiger-like alien race of warriors from the planet Kzin. They may look a bit like Aslan from Traveller, but they are not Aslan. The Kzinti males are intelligent but the females are not.

The Kzinti is a race created by the author Larry Niven. In this book he has written the first of three short stories. The other stories are written by Paul Anderson and Dean Ing.

The first story is about the first meeting between the Humans and  the Kzin. It doesn’t end well for one of the races…

The second story is about a Kzinti base at an old metal-poor star racing through the galaxy. The interesting thing about this story is that these old stars really exist. However, the story felt like it was set in a sandbox, to not upset the canon of Larry Niven’s work.

The third story is even worse. This is a sandbox. The human hero is stuck in some kind of zoo that was built by some kind of ancients.

Man Kzin Wars

But even though two of the stories are set in sandboxes, I enjoyed reading this book by three great authors.

Cirque – A great adventure for Traveller

A great adventure for Traveller, That is what it is. You may think that the idea of a circus in space is a rather unorthodox idea. I know I thought so in the beginning. I first thought is was a silly copy of the Roadshow Amber Zone (where the PCs are roadies for the rock-band Veedback) from JTAS #23. But Cirque is so much more.

Compared to the Roadshow Amber Zone, that was not more than an idea, Cirque is a 186 pages book full of adventures. The adventure starts at Rhylanor.  There are deckplans, NPCs, scenarios for every planet the circus visits and a  greater meta-plot for the entire adventure. The only Traveller adventure book that can be comparable to Cirque is the 154 pages The Traveller Adventure. (The Traveller adventure has a larger font size.)

Cirque

The first 59 pages of the book describes the circus and it’s ships, characters and animals in great detail. The rest of the book is about every planet the circus visits and what happens there.

This adventure started as a successful Kickstarter Project. The adventure is written for Traveller 5 but will work fine for any version of Traveller.

Order your copy of Cirque des Sirkas from Far Future Enterprises.

Six Guns Lasers – Finally

Look what I got in my mail today. Six Guns Lasers from Terra/Sol Games. A really good book by MJD that is useful for any Traveller Universe.

Six Guns Lasers

I have been waiting for this for a long time. Almost two years since this Kickstarter Project closed. Now it is finally here, and I am very happy.

In this book you find rules for Lasers, accessories for Laser Guns, six Laser Guns described, a short adventure and some other interesting stuff. It is 58 pages. The only problem I have seen so far is that the table of contents is offset by two pages. Not a big problem for an otherwise excellent book.

Update: You can now get it from DriveThruRPG.

The Chanur Saga

The Chanur Saga is not one book. It is three books in an omnibus edition. These books are written by C.J. Cherryh who also has written two more novels in this “universe” that is called the Compact.

For Traveller fans, the most interesting aspect of the books are the race called the Hani. There are lots of characteristics of the Hani that are a lot like the Aslan of Traveller.

  • First (the most obvious), the Hani are cat-folk.
  • Then, just like in Traveller, it is the females that are useful.
  • Just like in Traveller, there are clans that are run by males.

I asked C.J. Cherryh and Marc Miller about the influences between her books and Traveller.

C.J. Cherryh said that she never has heard of the Aslan. (So it’s just like H. Beam Piper and the Sword Worlds then, just a bit more recent).

Aslan or Hani ???

Anyway, these books are great. There are a few more races that are described. There is a map over the Compact. There are lots of ideas that can be used in Traveller. Making a subsector map over the Compact and using this as an ATU would also be possible.

The main characters are female Hani. They are the crew of the ship The Pride of Chanur. They find a Human male that has escaped from a race called the Kif (that are a bit like the Vargr). The Kif wants the human back. That is just the beginning. I shouldn’t post any more spoilers here.

Techbook: Chrome

Classic Traveller is inspired by Science Fiction before cyber-technology started to appear (with a few exceptions) in Science Fiction. So, in Classic Traveller there are no rules for cybertech.

There was a short article series in JTAS #02, #03 and #04 that talked about the differences between robots, cyborgs, androids, etc. We had to wait until the book 2300 AD Earth/Cybertech Sourcebook for 2300AD before GDW produced any good rules for cybertech, But this was for another RPG and not for Traveller and only 13 pages of that book was about different types of cybertech.

Cybertech might not fit well (if it is common) in the OTU. But for an ATU that needs a more modern feel, rules for cybertech are needed. Terra/Sol Games has produced a book that fills the gap; Techbook: Chrome.

Techbook: ChromeChrome is a well-known cyberpunk term, known from William Gibson’s Burning Chrome. It’s clever title for this book.

The book is written by John D. Lees, who Michel Cross wrote about in an earlier post.

The contents in the book are just what you expect, and more. There are rules covering Cybernetic Replacements and Biologicals and Accessories and Cyborgs and Cyrgeware.

Cybernetic Replacements is just what you expect it is. Biologicals is the same but these replacement are grown from organic tissue. You can buy biological upgrades and combine it with the cybertech. This can make your setting really feel like Bladerunner.

The Accessories section of the book are about improvements or additions of the body to add a function that a normal person doesn’t have. These can be both Cybernetic and Biological additions.

The Cyborg section of the book is about cyborgs. A cyborg is defined as an individual whose brain (and possibly other organs) have been placed in a robotic shell. This section of the book discusses lots of aspects of being a cyborg, including braincase, “food” and combat.

The section called Cyrgeware is about the ability to be able to change something (a function or appearance) within your body.

Most of the illustrations in the book are in grayscale and are really good. There are a few in color but only one (showing a sexy cyborg) except the cover is worth mentioning.

An alternative for this book would be 2300 AD Earth/Cybertech Sourcebook for 2300AD or Supplement 8: Cybernetics from Mongoose. But in my opinion, Techbook: Chrome is more interesting. It would be very useful in an ATU where you want cybertech to be more prominent.

Oh my God, it’s full of Tables!

I got Traveller5 from Marc Miller today. I have looked through it. It is huge! The rules seem clearer on some points than in other versions. There are lots of help for both experienced traveller players and for new. But new players may get scared since the book is so huge and some rules are quite complex.

The Charted Space that we know is used. I thought the book would have been more generic since I have read about the extended tech-level tables and sophont generation. But I still want to create my own ATU for Traveller5.

One thing that I just had to check was the planet creation rules. Was is like Book-3, T4 and T20 or like Book-6, MT and TNE. It’s on page 433. It is like Book-3, T4 and T20, Hydrographics = 2d-7+atmosphere. But in T5 a concept called Flux is used.

Traveller 5
My Traveller 5

I am Sir Berkatl of Hrun (Lishun 0312).  My TAS membership card is issued on Raoh (Gushemege 3004).