Category Archives: Reviews

The Bronze Case

The short Mongoose Traveller adventure ‘The Bronze Case’ by Richard Hazlewood was published by Stellagama Publishing in May 2016. On the surface, the adventure concerns the transport of a Bronze Case through local areas on a backwater planet after the players respond to a struggle in their hotel in the middle of the night. But Hazlewood is also interested in involving the players in the politics of local gangs, industrial espionage, a climactic car chase, and the promise of a reward to intrigued player characters. Hazlewood and Stellagama Publishing aim to provide a Referee with everything he or she needs for a quick side adventure on a local world. It can easily fit into an on-going Traveller campaign.

The adventure is structured to clearly present each encounter or scene in the story in chronological order. No Traveller era is mandated, just a suggested world profile where the adventure might take place. The local gang politics and local history are generic enough to slot into many worlds. The Referee is provided with full character profiles for all important NPCs, and detailed references to the Mongoose rules for vehicles, equipment and other props needed for the story. The different encounters provide detailed advice to the Referee to deal with common player responses to the situation.

The Bronze Case takes place in a world where the law level has recently been raised to 9 as the result of local political developments which give rise to the complications with gangs in the adventure. Although the broad history is detailed, the local police force culture is not, but this leaves the Referee free to fill in details. At the beginning of the adventure we are introduced to an alluring woman who wants help dealing with a mysterious attack in the middle of the night. It is completely up to the players to respond – or the adventure ends at the beginning! Some good Refereeing may be needed to get this started without railroading the players; but this is an age old problem for all Referees. When the players respond they are drawn into her circumstance, and are made an offer of money to help. The apparently simple problem is to help “Amy” get a case to a particular facility. What is not revealed immediately is who is after it and why – but the Referee receives a full briefing on the background of gang territory and the local politics that produced the current situation. The climax is a vehicle chase and possible fire fight to overcome thugs who want the case for themselves. The ever-present threat of rival interest in the case keeps the story moving and provides motivation for the players to see the adventure through.

The layout is simple but effective. Castellani’s illustrations of “Amy” set a suitable action mood for the story. While there are only two graphics, the layout provides a Referee with easy access to all of the information needed. The short nature of the adventure means after one read-through, the Referee is ready for a session.

Image used with permission from Stellagama Publishing

Hazlewood and Stellagama Publishing have successfully presented here a quick-paced side adventure with everything a Referee needs to run it. For those Referees who play other versions of Traveller, the information provided is easily enough to quickly convert to other Traveller systems. If successfully navigated, players will be rewarded with interesting contacts, and a Referee is free to flesh out further details in store for players’ return to the planet.

The Mote in God’s Eye

The Mote in God’s Eye is a classic Science Fiction book by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. When I read it on the bus home from work, one person (that I don’t know) started talking to me about the book. That is very unusual behavior in Sweden.

The book is about the first contact with an  alien race (the Moties) that lives in a star-system in the Coalsack Nebula. They don’t have FTL drives, but the humans does. Their location in the nebula has prevented them from inventing an FTL drive, but other than that they are very clever.

The Mote

The book is mainly about how the humans learn more about this race and eventually their secrets.

The Moties are not only clever. They are also very interesting in other ways. They are asymmetric. Just like the Droyne, they are divided into different castes that physically look different from each other.

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.