Welcome to the Zhodani Base Awards 2016! 2016 has been another good year for Traveller products. Lots of new stuff from the small publishers (and Mongoose).
The first category is “Best Cover“. The nominees are:
The winner of the “Best Cover” category of the Zhodani Base Awards 2016 is: Fate of the Kinunir from GDW.
There were lots of Traveller products with nice covers this year. Lots of love for all nice covers. Fate of the Kinunir combined a classic Traveller cover with a nice image. I really liked that.
Next category is “Best Fanzine or Online Magazine“. The nominees are:
The winner of the “Best Fanzine/Online Magazine” category of the Zhodani Base Awards 2016 is: Freelance Traveller
Freelance Traveller has once again proved that they are the best fanzine by publishing monthly issues with lots of good contents for free.
Freelance Traveller has won this category every year since 2011!
Next category is “Best Adventure“. The nominees are:
The winner of the “Best Adventure” category of the Zhodani Base Awards 2016 is: The Calixcuel Incident from Mongoose.
There were lots of fine Traveller Adventures for different settings published. This year Mongoose did a few really good ones. The Calixcuel Incident was in my opinion the best one.
Next category is “Best Ship or Deckplan“. The nominees are:
The winner of the “Best Ship or Deckplan” category of the Zhodani Base Awards 2016 is: Type S Scout/Courier from Moon Toad Publishing.
There were lots of fine ships for Traveller published this year. Moon Toad Publishing made the best one for this category and won.
I do love the classic Traveller ships.
Next category is “Best ATU Product“. The nominees are:
The winner of the “Best ATU Product” category of the Zhodani Base Awards 2016 is: The Space Patrol from Stellagama Publishing.
This category always make me happy since you can always find so many cool ideas. This year The Space Patrol win. Not only because it is really good, but also because it could have been useful for one of my own campaigns. (Unfortunately it was published a bit too late to help me.)
Next category is “Best OTU Product“. The nominees are:
The winner of the “Best OTU Product” category of the Zhodani Base Awards 2016 is: High Guard from Mongoose
Only products from Mongoose was nominated this year. I hope that will change next year. High Guard was the best one.
A final bonus category this year is “Best Free or Pay What You Want Traveller Product“. The nominees are:
The winner of the “Best Free or Pay What You Want Traveller Product” category of the Zhodani Base Awards 2016 is: Cepheus Engine from Samardan Press.
Cepheus Engine wins because it has enabled many other small publishers to produce cool Traveller products without being limited by the restrictions from Mongoose. Read my review here.
From The Ashes is a short supplement for the Cepheus Engine (‘CE’) and the Traveller SRD (‘SRD’) published by Stellagama Publishing written by Omer Golan-Joel. It covers five expansions characters united by the theme of character death and recovering from fatal injuries.
It firstly adjusts the usual meaning of ‘character death’ within normal play. If all three physical characteristics are reduced to zero, instead of rolling up a new character, From The Ashes provides straightforward rules for rushing a character to trauma surgery and recovering. But the devil is in the detail: there may be some permanent new injuries. This can add history to characters – the loss of a limb or eye makes them more interesting.
Secondly there is an adjustment to character generation, replacing the standard injury table which draws upon the definitions carefully established in the first expansion. It makes character injury during generation harsher but with more detail.
The supplement then provides for simple optional rules in combat for critical hit bonuses for Effect 6 hits, aligning hits against personnel with hits against vehicles. This does make the game generally more lethal.
Finally, two higher technology solutions to near-death injuries are presented: Cybernetic replacements at TL12, and complete body renewal at TL16. However, both come with possible serious side-effects in the spirit of the trauma rules.
At 15 pages total with 10 pages content, this is a very readable supplement that offers a variety of interesting expansions for characters who suffer from fatal injuries and have one last roll of the dice depending on the TL of their surroundings and the skill of the doctor operating. At the same time, character generation and combat get a bit more fatal. The result can be used by Referees to rescue NPCs from death but now they have one leg, or are blind, bitter and have history with the PCs.
But, of course, the primary aim is for PCs to have options to trade death for the possibility of an interesting set of scars.
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.
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.