#RPGThursday – Rucker Patrol

Two RPG items I got over the holidays were Ships of the Clement Sector 16: Rucker Class Merchant (Gypsy Knights Games) and The Space Patrol (Stellagama Publishing). Long-time Traveller RPG fan Alegis Downport already posted his views of each so I direct your attention to his excellent comments (Rucker / Space Patrol) and will just add a few more thoughts of my own.

pic3293444_mdMake sure you read both parts of Alegis Downport’s comments on the Rucker since he had a very intimate hand in the creation of the ship. There is nothing more I can add except to heartily endorse all the kudos he gives to Gypsy Knights Games for bringing Ships of the Clement Sector 16: Rucker Class Merchant to market. SotCS 16 continues a great line of useful products from Gypsy Knights Games that are at home in any Traveller RPG setting. Thanks to Alegis Downport, users of the ship now have even more thought-seeds for adventure.

pic3238660_mdMy praise for The Space Patrol is a bit more reserved. The Zhodani Base named The Space Patrol their “Best ATU Setting” for 2016. As much as I like Zho, I must respectfully disagree. Although I find The Space Patrol a very interesting career and a welcome addition to any setting, I feel that pic3217789_mdOrbital: 2100 (Zozer Games) is a much better example of how to take the original Traveller 2d6 sci-fi system (as detailed in Cepheus Engine) and use it to make an exciting Alternate Traveller Universe. I also feel that The Space Patrol suffers from some poor formatting decisions (like more-that-a-few tables that cross pages) that make it feel a bit too DTP-like in an era where small publishers (like Gypsy Knights Games) push out very high quality products. But don’t get me wrong – The Space Patrol is a great addition to any Traveller/2d6 Sci-Fi/Cepheus Engine setting and should be in everyones collection. I just wouldn’t have given it the coveted ATU Setting of the Year. 

All images courtesy RPGGeek.

Ships of the Clement Sector 16: Rucker Class Merchant, ©2016 Gypsy Knights Games.

The Space Patrol, by Richard Hazelwood, ©2016 Stellagama Publishing.

Orbital: 2100 – A Solar System Setting for the Cepheus Engine, by Paul Elliot, ©2016 Zozer Games.

#TravellerRPG #Solo #ClementSector

IN PREPARATION for some travel time this year, I picked up Star Trader: A Solo Trading Game for Traveller designed by Paul Elliott and published by Zozer Games in 2013. Star Trader (ST) lays out a system using Mongoose Traveller 1st Edition rules to play a solo trading campaign. The system uses a 10-step “Trading Checklist” to direct the player through play. ST also has modified Ship Encounters tables and an alternate space combat resolution system to speed play.The focus of ST is trade, and therefore the Trading Checklist focuses on the time from just after arrival to departure with a bit of extra fluff covering encounters while in/outbound to a planet and situations in Jump Space.

The solo-play approach got me thinking about expanding the Trading Checklist. In doing so, I drew upon the Traveller Main Book (Mongoose Traveller 1st Edition) and several Clement Sector setting materials, especially the Clement Sector Core Setting Book, Second Edition (Gypsy Knights Games). After a bit of some work, I came up with CSTravSolo that includes Outbound, In Zimm Space, and Inbound procedures. My checklist is not intended to be exhaustive; rather, it is a compilation of common skill checks with modifiers. Think of it as a guide for play!

A great advantage of the Traveller RPG series is that the “game” is actually made up of numerous “sub-games.” The most famous is Character Generation (CharGen) which (in)famously is known for having a chance for the character to die during the process. The combat procedure in Classic Traveller spun off skirmish games (Snapshot or Azhanti High Lightning) as well as a full-up miniatures battle game (Striker). The space combat system went through several versions including Mayday and Trillion Credit Squadron.  ST continues this trend by expanding upon the “trade” sub-game.

The Solo Traveller RPG project provided a great opportunity to dig a bit deeper into the Clement Sector setting. In addition to the Core Setting Book, there is great information provided in the other books of the line, especially the Subsector Guides. The Clement Sector, as an Alternate Traveller Universe (ATU), does not follow all the rules or conventions of Mongoose Traveller’s Third Imperium. Indeed, the wrinkles it introduces make it more appealing to me than the retreaded materials that Mongoose seemingly specializes in.

I will be honest and state that I purposely did not try to use Mongoose Traveller Second Edition since they do not support the Open Game License (OGL). Gypsy Knights Games has been working to change their products from Mongoose Traveller First Edition into OGL before the 1st Edition license expires. My solo project showed me that their product line is very rich and provides great adventure support.

Traveller Tuesday – Clement Sector ATU

DrivethruRPG had a science fiction sale during the month of May and I splurged on several items. After watching from afar for awhile I invested in a series of books from Gypsy Knights Games (GKG). The Clement Sector is GKG’s alternate Traveller Universe (ATU) setting that uses the Mongoose Traveller (MgT) RPG rules.

The Clement Sector: A Setting for Traveller is the foundational setting book. The pdf version is 140 pages and provides a broad background of the setting including the history, politics, and religion. Sector and subsection maps with Universal World Profiles (UWP) for the entire sector is provided. Chargen uses the Traveller Main Book (TMB) with setting-specific expansions and changes. The major change is in technology with the “Zimm Drive” which effectively limits starships to under 2000 dTons solidly making The Clement Sector a small-ship setting. Five sample starships are provided, along with setting-tailored rule changes or modifications. Overall, The Clement Sector is directed to the referee and provides most of the necessary support to start adventuring in the Clement ATU.

Career Companion is a sourcebook (61 page pdf) focused on chargen and includes rules for uplifts and altrants (genetically modified humans). Most importantly are the ATU changes to the aging rules; in The Clement Sector the average human lifespan is 254 years. The other major chargen change from the base Traveller rules is SOC versus Wealth. Your SOC characteristic represents not your social status but your “apparent” wealth. This makes the characteristic fluid as one can change their SOC simply by spending more – or less – money each month on appearance, clothing, or lifestyle. Career Companion also includes new career tracks tailored for The Clement Sector as well as an advancement system. Career Companion is equally useful to the referee or players.

The Clement Sector Player’s Guide (115 page pdf) is in many ways an expanded Career Companion. It expands chargen by adding more background (languages, events for youth/teenage/collegiate life) as well as more career options. It also introduces Character Packages, a collection of directed career builders. New skills are also introduced. Like the title says, this item is aimed at the Players though referees will find it useful too.

The Anderson & Felix Guide to Naval Architecture (114 page pdf) is the shipbuilding bible for The Clement Sector. The book presents a ship design sequence that merges the adventure class ships from the TMB with Book 2: High Guard. Though not credited, I think even some of Adventure 3: Trillion Credit Squadron makes it not the tables. It also covers Small Craft and Pre-Granitic Drive spacecraft. My major criticism of this book is the lack of ship designs; indeed there is only one ship and one small craft presented.

The one interstellar polity in The Clement Sector is The Hub Federation. I purchased three Hub Federation-related items:

  • The Hub Federation (62 page pdf) provides players and referees background into the history, government, and worlds of the Hub Federation. Focus is on system details of the worlds. This is definitely an adventure-seed book for referees and an encyclopedic-reference for players.
  • Hub Federation Navy (95 page pdf) is the sourcebook for naval characters in the Hub Federation. Setting background specific to the Navy, including organization, uniforms, and fleet composition is provided. There is also an expanded chargen with additional career tracks . Surprisingly, though a navy-focused book, there is not one-single ship design in the entire product. GKG apparently is trying to get you to buy their Ships of the Clement Sector series instead. At least ONE design would have been appreciated!
  • Hub Federation Ground Forces (104 page pdf) is the sourcebook for army and marine characters. A little bit of flavor-fiction starts off this product, an item lacking in Hub Federation Navy. Like that product, history, organization, uniforms and expanded career tracks are presented. Unlike Hub Federation Navy, Ground Forces includes toys such as Assault Landers, a Strike Carrier (think marine assault ship), as well as vehicles and weapons. The addition of ships, vehicles, and weapons makes this a much more useful book than the navy one.

Taken together, these products are more than enough to start playing in the Clement Sector ATU. Although all the products have background and history, the level of detail is superficial enough to give referees lots of room to build their own setting within the broad brushstrokes GKG provides.

Clement Sector ATU

DrivethruRPG is having a SciFi sale this month. Picked up several of Gypsy Knight Games Clement Sector Alternate Traveller Universe (ATU) setting books. The Clement Sector sourcebook details the basic of the setting. The Hub Federation sourcebook, along with Hub Federation Navy and Hub Federation Ground Forces provide the background of the one political polity in the sector. I also picked up the Anderson & Felix Guide to Naval Architecture which is a rules compilation book that collates the ship construction rules in a streamlined fashion and includes the ATU rules tweaks for this setting.

Overall I like the setting; the Zimm Drive limits movement to Jump-2 and forces a small-ship setting. I like that Gypsy Knights has left a lot of the sector unsettled and open for adventure. The background in the books does get a bit repetitive but I have to remember that each does have to stand on its own too.  In some ways I like Ground Forces best because it has a bit of flavor text that help the reader get the feel of the setting. I do wish the authors could settle on a writing voice; sometimes it sounds like the author is “in setting” followed by a line that states the reader should consult another rulebook.

Definite buy…when on sale.