Category Archives: Reviews

Sword Worlds revisited by Mongoose

Sword Worlds from Mongoose
Sword Worlds from Mongoose

What has Mongoose done to the Sword Worlds? Do I need this book? These are the questions that I will try to answer here.

The cover of the book is quite cool, but it doesn’t look like the soldiers in the image are Sword Worlders at all. 😐

Interior art is not bad either. I just feel it is too much Viking themed, and not really showing the hi-tec spacefaring culture that I wanted to see. The deckplans are fine and the 3D rendering of the Jarl is ok. It can be seen in colour at Biomass Art.

There are a few contradictions in the introduction of the book. Are the Sword Worlds a dangerous place or a popular place to visit? Are there no physical differences from original Solomani or is the average male weight 105 kg, and the females pregnant for 10 months? Then there is also (a likely) bug in the naming rules, since the female surname possessive form is missing, but not the male possessive form.

How did they come up with the Army Ranking table? I don’t think that matches any Scandinavian army. (SWE, NOR, DEN)

There are 3 new careers. The first one is the Aesirist Church. This isn’t something that I like. It is too Viking themed. I will not use it in MTU. The next one is The Patrol. From old JTAS #18. This is a good idea to include. The third is Jäger Command. I think it should really be part of Marines or Army, as special forces.

The origin of sagamaal and the vocabulary makes some sense. Currency and exchange rate was a good thing to include. History is a bit messed up. It’s interesting but doesn’t match the previous publications.

In the Worlds chapter, the world listing of the subsector is missing the worlds outside the Sword Worlds. The atmosphere of Enos is explained in the same way as in the GURPS SW module. (To keep Traveller fun, these things should be ignored so that the referee can deal with in a different way.) Mithril matches the old adventure Mission on Mithril.

The equipment list is nice, but there are some items that are just too Viking themed. There are a nice selection of ships. Some parts of the encounter tables are fine, and the animals are interesting. The miniphants has been changed. They are not the same miniphants as in JTAS #16.

There are some proofreading errors (as usual). There are some extra-large apostrophes. There is a reference to a class III starport. (That is what a type C starport is called in GURPS.) There are some talk about the Border Worlds (that shouldn’t exist in 1105). I get an error message in the end of the pdf. Please Mongoose, do a better job!

So, I think that parts of the book is good, and other parts are not so good. You can buy it for the good parts. Maybe you like the other parts as well. The alternative would be to use JTAS #18 and read Space Viking for free, and form your own opinion about the Sword Worlds.

Megara – For the blood thirsty

Megara is the 12:th of the “Quick Worlds” from Gypsy Knights Games. This might not be the most interesting one in the series, but it is still a useful one.

Megara

The idea is that a referee can use this (or the other books in this series) in his/her own universe to save some time when a more detailed world is needed. The referee can then change anything (e.g. the name of the planet or the UWP) to fit a planet in his/her own universe.

The planet Megara has a UWP of C9887B7-D. If you want to match it with a planet in the OTU, then maybe the planet Dakar in the Ilelish Sector is a good match. Dakar has a UWP of B9887BB-A. Any planet with a star-port between A-E, size 6-9, atm 8, hydro 8, pop 7-8, gov B, law 7-C and tech-level 6-D would probably work fine. It is actually impossible to create the UWP of Megara using classic rules. The tech-level is too high. But nothing in this pdf suggests that the tech-level must be this high. There is a maglev train, but that might be imported.

In this pdf, there are descriptions of the system with an image of the gas giant, and an overview image of the system. There are some general description of the planet Megara, and an isodecahedron map. Then there are some more specific descriptions of the planet and the people and cities and politics, and of the big herd animals called Betas. Finally there are a few adventure hooks.

What I would have wished for would have been some more detailed adventure hooks, an image of the Betas (and animal encounter tables), some notes on gas giant refuelling (since the gas giant is within the 100 solar diameters from the sun) and maybe some notes on the seasons due the the eccentric orbit.

There are also some other problems with this pdf. I hope Gypsy Knight Games (and other publishers) will learn from this constructive criticism and avoid such problems in the future.

Continue reading Megara – For the blood thirsty

Spinward Encounters – Adventures in the Spinward Marches

The contents of Spinward Encounters are really really good. I love adventure, and this book is packed with them. There are 64 Patron type Adventures (4 for each subsector in the Spinward Marches), and 16 Amber Zone type adventures. Many of these are well thought out, and are a bit longer than a normal (classic) patron or amber zone. A nice thing about a few of the amber zones in the District 268 is that the referee can connect them into a mini campaign.

Spinward Encounters

As a referee, you might think that only four adventures for each subsector makes this product a bit overpriced. But if you are playing in one of the two most popular subsectors (Regina or District 268), then it would be easy to lead your PCs into the five adjacent subsectors. Then you would have 24 useful patrons to play, and for Regina five extra Amber Zones, and for District 268 nine extra Amber Zones. If you play in any of the Vilis, Lanth, Sword Worlds or Lunion subsectors, then you can use 36 patrons if you let you PCs travel into neighbouring subsectors.

The problem with this book is that the layout is quite bad, and that there is no proper index. An index is something that would be very useful if you want to plan to integrate any part of the book into your campaign.

There are a few nice images in the book. I like the one with a Bwap and a Vargr on page 33. This image is probably meant to illustrate the patron at Jesedipere at page 16. As I said, the layout is quite bad… In this image you can spot the Serenity in the background. Maybe also in the image on page 27. That was a nice Easter egg. LOL!

Continue reading Spinward Encounters – Adventures in the Spinward Marches

The Pretty Penny – A Pretty Deck-plan

This product is a deck-plan of the Type M Subsidized Merchant “HIMS The Pretty Penny” from Scrying Eye Games.

Front Cover

It is the second deck-plan of about 20 that they have planned to release. I hope they do the Shivva Patrol Frigate. 😕

You can also get an air/raft in the same style for free.

The scale is 25 mm/square. The side of a square is 5 ft.  This fits a number of counters, card board heroes and miniatures nicely. But it doesn’t match the classic scale exactly (but close enough). It also makes the deck-plan of the ship quite large. The ship is fitted within 19 pages that you have to assemble yourself. It would have been nice if there was a hi-res image-file includes as well, so you could print it out on a large printer/plotter.

There are lots of details in the images. This is very nice compared to the standard classic deck-plans. Now you can see how everything will fit, and where all the rubbish will end up… Have a look at the engineering work station below. 🙂

Work Station

The need for deck-plans has always been there. In my group, and in other groups that I have played in, we have always used deck-plans. Even though there might not be any combat within the ship, it is always nice to see where your character lives and works. If there is combat within the ship, a deck-plan is a must.

Combat can be solved using standard traveller rules, or using special on-board rules like Snapshot.

Even though this is a very nice product, I will not use it. The reason for this is that my group is quite tainted by what the March Harrier from the Traveller Adventure looked like. The March Harrier is a type R. (The classic type M is a 600-ton Subsidized Liner.) There are a number of elevators in this ship. Where is the Launch? This is not the same ship. It doesn’t match the March Harrier. But for a new group it would probably be very nice to have this pretty deck-plan on their gaming table.

This is what I think a classic type R should look like.

Traveller Inspiration: Free e-books

Traveller was first published 1977, and was inspired by even older science fiction. While this means that the computer rules used in traveller might feel a bit obsolete, it also means that for some of the books it was inspired by, the copyright has expired. (The computer rules are quite easy to ignore or modify anyway, so that doesn’t matter much.)

At Project Gutenberg, some works that has inspired traveller can be downloaded in several formats that will fit your e-book reader. It is also possible to read them directly on the web.

Here is a suggestion of five books for you to download:

1, Space Viking by H. Beam Piper

In Space Viking, there is a group of planets called Sword Worlds that are named after legendary swords. Doesn’t that seem familiar… The image below of the spherical ships  is from the book. They look a lot like the Mercenary Cruisers from traveller.

2, Deathworld by Harry Harrison

Jason dinAlt is the hero of the Deathworld books. In the Traveller Supplement 1, 1001 Characters, you can find his stats as hero #3, the Rapscallion Gambler. Jason dinAlt is skilled in gambling and also has a psionic talent, that can help his gambling. In Traveller, gambling is a skill, and psionics isn’t impossible.

3, Gambler’s World by Keith Laumer

Jame Retief is a Diplomat for the Corps Diplomatique Terrestrienne. In Traveller Supplement 4, Citizens of the Imperium you can find his stats as hero #5.

4, A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Hero #1 of the Traveller Supplement 1 is John Carter. In the Solomani Rim (0239), there is a small planet named Barsoom.

5, Triplanetary by E. E. Smith

Triplanetary is a Lensman prequels. Kimball Kinnison of the Lensman series is hero #2 in the Traveller Supplement 1. GDW also published a game called Triplanetary before they published Traveller.

Mercenary Cruiser?

Image from Project Gutenberg. Copyright expired.

Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein

Yet another book that I recently read was Stranger in a Strange Land (the 1991 version), by Robert Heinlein. I bought this at the Fantasy Centre last time I was in London.

This is one book that I know I ought to have read a lot earlier, but as always there is never time enough to do everything I want to. Since this is one of the most well known books by Heinlein I felt that I had to read it. It is also important since this is the book where the word “grok” was invented.

The first part of the book is very interesting. The human Valentine Michael Smith, who has been raised by martians has problems with the Terran humans and their rules and cultural values. The martian ways of doing things are very different. This can be an inspiration when dealing with aliens in Traveller.

The second part of the book is just a religious rambling (with lots of sex). For me this part of the book was just silly, but others have founded religions based on it. 😮

Heinlein

Image from wikimedia. License: GNU Free Documentation

Finally, there is the Ultra-Condensed version. 😉