The Cepheus Engine. What is it? It is a new set of Traveller rules from Samardan Press that doesn’t say that it is Traveller. (But it is Traveller.)
The rules look very much like a cleaned up version of Classic Traveller, book 1-3 plus supplement-4 and selected parts from book 4 (PGMP and FGMP) and 5 (small ships). You can also find some bits of Mongoose Traveller in it. So far there is no setting except that a few aliens are named as an example.
Since the Cepheus Engine is a refined set of CT rules, you will recognize most of the rules and can quickly start using them.
First, the character generation and skills are similar to what you already know. Then psionics (important to us at the Zhodani Base) is also what you would expect.
Next in the equipment list you find a tech-level overview table, with the same tech-levels as in Traveller. The currency used is Credits. You can find familiar Traveller items like Fast Drug, TDX, and Air/Raft. The first internal book ends with a combat chapter.
Next book is about Starships, Travelling, Trade and Space Combat.
The Final book is the Referee’s book. In this book are the rules for generating worlds. (It is interesting to see that hydrographics is generated as in CT book-6. That is the same as in MongTrav.) There are rules for all sorts of encounters, including the familiar animal encounter tables from CT. There are also some short help about refereeing and adventures.
This is really the new rule-set we didn’t know we needed. This is proto-Traveller Deluxe.
For the so called “Small Press” (that we like here at the base) this is another option for publishing new supplements without loosing half of their income to Mongoose.
Some of us may remember Alan Dean Foster’s terrible Star Wars book The Splinter of the Minds Eye. But it was a long time since I read that book. What I still remember about it was that it didn’t really fit into the Star Wars canon very well. So maybe it was just that problem and it may not have been that poorly written.
Anyway, I decided to give his “The Damned” series a chance. A Call To Arms is the first book. The cover looked cool, but it turned out that the aliens in this book was quite poor warriors. Most aliens was quite poor at most things. They were like 0-points aliens from GURPS Aliens. All aliens had disadvantages. No aliens was good at warfare.
The reason given for the aliens to be bad at warfare was that an advanced race would (normally) have to abandon all sorts of violence to become an advances race. This is something that would normally happen in the race’s prehistory. This is a quite interesting idea.
The problem was that there was a big interstellar war going on… A race called the Amplitur wanted all other galactic races to join what they call the Amplitur Purpose. A number of races think this is a bad idea and has formed what they call the Weave. Neither side has any good soldiers. Then the Weave find the Earth… This is just the start of the book.
The book is really good and the different races are well describes. The plot is interesting. I think there are lots of ideas that can be mined for your Traveller setting here. This may even inspire you to come up with a new Traveller setting.
This book is the first one in The Damned Trilogy. I will try to find and read the other two.
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 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.