Uranium Fever Review

Uranium Fever is the latest release from Stellagama Publishing and is available from Drivethru RPG for $5.99. It is available as a PDF and contains 49 pages; the product is partially aimed at Stellagama’s own sci-fi background ‘These Stars Are Ours’, but the content can be used perfectly well in any Cepheus Engine-compatible / 2D6 SF-RPG background or rules.

The book contains a comprehensive set of rules and source material for asteroid mining operations in space, aka ‘belting’. The book is broken down into four main sections:-

Belting in the 23rd Century

The Belters Career

Setting Claims and the Mining Area

Mining Ships and Hardware

Starting with the first few pages (9 pages) ‘Belting in the 23rd Century’ describes the background and history to mining in the 2200’s using the ‘These Stars Are Ours’ setting. This is a very detailed section and was interesting to read, with lots of information about the miners organisations (with some amusing pronunciations, such as ‘GOAT’ and ‘Tickle’) and how many small prospecting operations came into being. There is even a page and a half of mining slang that is used in 2260!

The belters career section (8 pages) follows the first chapter of the Cepheus Engine rules, but expands on the original belter career greatly. However, for completeness so you don’t have to refer back and forth between books, you are given the complete variant career rules. My favourite part are the new material mustering out benefits; three out of four of the potential benefits are some form of spacecraft ownership, being the 10-ton Kobold-class Gig, the 100-ton Bucca-class Prospector or the Coblynau-class subsidised miner. The latter two you receive a partnership, whereas the Gig is complete ownership. The final benefit are ship shares which can go towards the purchase of a ship. The three spacecraft are described in more detail later in the book.

Setting Claims and the Mining Area (13 pages) – starting with ‘Striking the Belt’, describes the actual makeup of asteroids, definitions, sizes and how to make a claim. Its pretty comprehensive stuff, for example the types of find are broken down into the types of yield and the amount in tons. It isn’t simply a job of picking an asteroid and start mining it, there are all sorts of legalities and this section covers this is great detail.

The final section ‘Mining Ships and Hardware’ (13 pages) is probably my overall favourite section of the book. Here you are presented with some variant ship rules with a rather nice table of ‘ship quirks’ that a spacecraft can acquire for every 10 years of service. Helps to give a ship some personality, I feel. There are three fully-described spacecraft, including deck plans and some lovely 3D illustrations by Ian Stead. You start with the TL9 10-ton Kobold-class Gig, next up is the TL11 100-ton Bucca-class Prospector and finally is the TL11 600-ton Coblynau-class Miner. The latter two are essentially ‘canisters’ in which several decks are located. To back up the spacecraft, the following section is ‘Tools of the Trade’; after all a miner isn’t a miner without a pick or in this case, its 23rd century-equivalent, the TL12 Plasma Drill! However most 23rd century mining is done by automated drone, so you get a page of mining drone specifications. To round off the book, what if the miner needs to venture outside? They’re going to need the right Vacc-suit so this section breaks down some specifications of different types.

Reading through the book, I think the authors have covered pretty much everything to do with belting and space-based mining operations. An ideal use for Uranium Fever would be for solo play, as you could quite easily set things up so that you can run some mining operations and trade rules. Add in a table of random encounters, you’ve got yourself an evenings gaming easily sorted. I can’t think of anything that has been missed as the book is very comprehensive without being overly onerous by introducing rules or information for the sake of it. The original Cepheus Engine rules have been enhanced and the right amount of extra information has made the book ‘balanced’ in all the right places. Along with some very high quality editing and some tasty art from Ian Stead (along with some stock art), this makes for a very fine purchase and useful addition to your games. Highly recommended! I would like to thank Omer Golan-Joel for kindly sending me a copy of Uranium Fever to review.

Posted in Cepheus Engine, Classic Traveller, Clement Sector, Mongoose Traveller, OGL | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Traveller HERO CDROM Review

Before I move onto the Traveller HERO CDROM review, I’d like to mention a few new releases:

Gypsy Knights Games have published ‘Manhunters: Bounty Hunters in Clement Sector’, out now on DTRPG for $9.99.

Stellagama Publishing have released ‘Uranium Fever‘, also available on DTRPG for $5.99.

I’ll be reviewing both products in the very near future!

General Observations:

The Traveller HERO CDROM is available from Far Future Enterprises for $35 and contains a lot of material that hasn’t been available to purchase for a number of years, previously released by Comstar / Avenger Enterprises. Ordering from the FFE website, it was delivered to my UK address in 8 days in a strong jiffy bag. It is presented in a DVD-style case with some gorgeous sleeve artwork by Bryan Gibson.

The CDROM contents can be best compiled into four groups:-

The Core Rules (5 PDFs)

Hero System References (8 PDFs)

The Golden Age Starships (8 PDFs)

The Supplements and Adventures (12 PDFs)

The Core Rulebooks

To kick off the contents of the CDROM, you have five books:

Core HERO1 Adventurers in Charted Space (163 pages)

Core HERO2 Adventure in Charted Space (159 pages)

Core HERO3 Starship Construction in Charted Space (12 pages)

Core HERO4 Starships in Charted Space (22 pages)

Core HERO5 Psionics in Charted Space (11 pages)

To use these rule books, you will need the HERO system rules, fifth edition although there is a supplement supplied elsewhere on the CDROM with advice how to convert to the sixth edition. You also get print versions of the HERO1 and HERO2 books if you want a copy in dead tree format.

The HERO System

I can only make observations about the Traveller HERO system from the perspective that I don’t own the rules set, so my perception of the system comes only from the stats that are provided in the books. Therefore, I’m comparing it – perhaps unfairly, against the Classic Traveller rules set. What I do see from the HERO rules set is that there are a lot more stats needed to describe an individual, creature, object, robot or vehicle. Unfortunately, this puts me off the system because I see things like from book 1, page 135, the description for a ‘Laser Pistol-16’.

LASER PISTOL-16 Effect: RKA 2 ½d6, AP, AF (3 shots), Inv. to Sight Shots: 32 Combat Modifiers: +1 OCV, +2 RMod STR Minimum: 6 Range: 320” Mass: 3 kg CR: 4000 Description: The Laser Pistol-16 is the TL16 version of the laser pistol. [Notes: Experimental Advanced Laser Pistol]

Laser Pistol-16: (Total: 95 Active Cost, 27 Real Cost) RKA 2 ½d6, 32 Charges (+¼), Invisible to Sight Group, Source Only (+¼), Autofire (3 shots; +¼), Armor Piercing (+½) (90 Active Points); OAF Fragile (-1 ¼), STR Minimum 6 (STR Min. Cannot Add/Subtract Damage; -1), Beam (-¼), Real Weapon (-¼), Limited Range (-¼) (Real Cost: 22) plus +2 with any single attack with one specific weapon (Real Cost: 2) plus +2 vs. Range (6 Active Points); OAF (-1) (Real Cost: 3). Total Cost: 27 points.

From what I understand about the HERO system is that everything has a ‘cost’, in points. So I what I started to notice reading through the book is the repeated line ‘Active Cost: <value>, Real Cost <value>’. I must admit I found this to be getting repetitive reading the same thing after several times. This combined with the lengthy descriptions of each ‘thing’, made for some heavy going working through the books.

The HERO system presents a bit of a paradox; the rules set is aimed at creating characters with extraordinary abilities, ie. in the mood of superhero’s. However, the Traveller HERO books are pitched to creating characters that are exactly like you would create in any of the GDW books, ie. ordinary people doing extraordinary things. To me this seems like a terrible contradiction. I’ve never played Superhero games, nor have any desire to play them. I’ve already preferred my characters to be ordinary people who through choice or not, try to do ‘heroic’ things. This contradiction in the Traveller HERO books seems to me to be a fatal flaw.

The books are based in the Traveller OTU, the Third Imperium. However, the books attempt to combine all the timelines from Classic Traveller, Mega Traveller, Traveller the New Era and Traveller: 1248 so that referees and players have a choice of what background and setting they can base their games in.

I must say that the amount of work the writers have done to combine all these settings is immense and they should be applauded for what they have achieved. Generally, through all the books, it makes for a very comprehensive source of background material; for example the combined Imperial timeline from 1105 to 1248 where each GDW / DGP / Comstar / JTAS product is listed with Imperial date.

The rule books are very text heavy and are only spaced with literally, one or two images over the entire edition, with the exception of a few deck plans for commonly-found starships. The layout and quality of writing is exemplary, just be prepared to thoroughly read the books as there is a huge amount of material presented.

Another example is the 63 pages (!) describing all the major and minor races that can be found in or near Imperial space – that makes for about 40% of the first book.

There are a few ‘oddities’; the GM Vault: World Generation system found in book 2, page 147 goes into great detail describing the World Data Format (which from what I can make out is the same or near as dammit as that in CT), but this is only mentioned at the very end, summarised in a three line paragraph, with one example. There is no example hex grid and half a page of blank space which could have been filled. Very strange.

The Golden Age Starships series; there are some inconsistencies with the deck plans, Book 5: Cutters and Shuttles features a couple of module deck plans, but the hex grid used is too prominent and has obscured the deck layout. I think the use of a hex grid instead of a square grid is a poor choice. At the back of each GAS book you get a minimum of a page of adventure seeds, roughly a paragraph per idea, though you get five pages of ideas in GAS7: LSP Modular Starship.

HERO System References

You are supplied with 8 PDFs:

HERO Fifth System Basics (1 page)

HERO Fifth Edition System Reference (1 page)

HERO Fifth Edition System Wikipedia (6 pages)

HERO Sixth Edition Character Conversion Summary (2 pages)

HERO System Basics (1 page)

HERO System Reference (1 page)

HERO System Wikipedia (6 pages)

Introduction to the Traveller HERO CD (1 page)

A few of the pages are more or less adverts for the system, or introductions to the product line. There isn’t enough here to get you started without the full HERO rules set (not included with the CDROM), even though the Wikipedia web prints will give you an idea of some of the rules terminology used in the other books.

The Golden Age Starships

This is an eclectic mix of ships, the smallest being the equivalent of a cargo pod up to (my personal favourite) the 300dTon LSP Modular Starship. The nice touch is that you get both Classic Traveller and HERO rules statistics, so there is a decent collection of craft for those of us that prefer CT.

Each book presents a short history of the ship, plenty of stats and variants and a set of scenario ideas, that range from 1 to 5 pages in total. The deck plans continue to use the hex grid (which I personally dislike), I think it makes the layout messy – but that must be my OCD… Probably the most archaic spacecraft described in the book is the Saturn 1B launch vehicle, dating from 1961 to 1975CE! Illustrations are minimal, except for deck plans for the major vehicles and transports. The GAS are the same as what was available in the Traveller 20 edition.

The list of books includes:

Golden Age Starships 1: Fast Courier (36 pages)

Golden Age Starships 2: Sword Worlds Patrol Cruiser (40 pages)

Golden Age Starships 3: Archaic Small Craft (42 pages)

Golden Age Starships 4: Ships Boats and Pinnaces (42 pages)

Golden Age Starships 5: Cutters and Shuttles (37 pages)

Golden Age Starships 6: Corsair (33 pages)

Golden Age Starships 7: LSP Modular Starship (31 pages)

Golden Age Starships 7: Armed Free Trader (27 pages)

The Supplements and Adventures

For me, along with the Golden Age Starships PDFs, represents the ‘value’ in owning the CDROM. However I was intrigued by the adventures mentioned in the Hero CD-ROM listing, having seen the titles mentioned somewhere many years ago and the publications never being available to purchase.

Sourcebook 1: Grand Fleet HERO (122 pages) details the Imperial Navy; it’s history, structure, personnel, capabilities, tactics, weapons, equipment and its opponents. You also get an appendix describing (in Hero stats) some of the more common types of ship, such as the Broadsword-class Mercenary Cruiser or Fiery-class Close Escort.

The Bowman Arm (27 pages) describes a group of ten worlds named for their locality to Bowman (District 268 / Spinward Marches 1132). It is designed as a lead-in to a line of books, focussing on each of the worlds in the Bowman Arm. However only two separate books were published, which are included in the HERO CDROM, Flexos (21 pages) and Datrillian (17 pages). The actual Bowman Arm also describes another world in the group, Walston. In many ways, these remind me of the Gypsy Knights Games ‘Quick Worlds’ series, with basic world data, environmental description, inhabitants and adventure seeds. The quality of the text is of a very high standard and sets the scene for events after the end of the Fifth Frontier War. However there is one flaw with the Bowman Arm map, which covers four subsectors namely Darrian, Sword Worlds, Five Sisters and District 268. It is of such low resolution that it is virtually unreadable. I’ve taken a look at Traveller Map and produced a snapshot which covers 95% of the same area. If you want to find the same region, the link on Traveller Map is here. I’ve also added a PDF of the image below if you want to download it, along with a Bowman Spinward World Data Sheet from Traveller Map.

Spinward Marches Supplement:Call of the Wild (46 pages) is an adventure set on the Sword Worlds system of Steel, involving a survey mission and a distress call… Both Hero and CT stats are provided.

Spinward Marches Supplement: Range War (57 pages) is also set on Steel and can be used as a follow up to Call of the Wild.

Special Supplement 1: Robots of Charted Space (77 pages) is a Hero edition-specific supplement that describes the various types of robots that can be found in and around the Imperium. You get some suggestions how to use robots in a game, history and manufacturers and the different types and classifications. Thirty-one standard robot types are listed, with full Hero stats.

Special Supplement 2: Robot Adventures (43 pages) is a collection of 22 scenarios with a robotic influence. It can be used with both Hero and CT. Each scenario is presented with players information, referees information and six possible outcome in the style of the CT Supplement 76 Patrons or the Gypsy Knights Games 21 Plots series.

Special Supplement 3: Patron Encounters (33 pages) contains 34 ready-made adventure seeds, again compatible with Hero and CT. it is divided into two predominant sections, starship required and starship not required. All adventure seeds have the same format again as the previous book, with six possible outcomes. The final few pages list some generic patrons and villains, with just Hero stats presented.

Special Supplement 4: One Crowded Hour (46 pages) is a full length adventure which can be used with Hero or CT, containing stats for both. Unfortunately the deck plans for the featured ship, the Duchess Selene, sufferers from the same problem as the Bowman Arm map, in that they are of a low resolution the layout is very difficult to read. The adventure takes place over the course of an hour game time, where the players have to save the ship they are aboard, which is on a collision course with a gas giant planet due to a course malfunction.

Special Supplement 5: Short Adventures (59 pages) is another collection of adventures broken down into five sections: Amber Zones, Mercenary Tickets, Patron Encounters, Linked Adventures and Generic Patrons and Villains. Some of the adventures do have 1D6 possible outcomes, whereas others are simply descriptions of the situation, background and resolution. Only the final section ‘Generic Patrons and Villians’ contains Hero stats, but the rest of the book is compatible with just about any SF RPG.

The final book in the list is TNE Operation Dominoes 1: Moonshadow (64 pages), which is set in the Traveller New Era timeline. It details the world of Tiniyd and presents two adventures where the players are sent to recon and strategic world, ruled by feuding psionic governments. Though there were actually four adventures in the series, only the first one is included in the CDROM which has been altered to include HERO game stats. Oddly enough, though there are no CT stats for the crew roster or some of the NPCs, there are some CT stats listed for some of the minor NPCs. Possibly an oversight in the conversion. The additional books are available as part of the Traveller New Era CDROM 2 from FFE which I took a brief look at back in 2011.

Overall Conclusions

The CDROM itself as supplied by FFE is a decent collection of PDFs with lots of reference and support material, for both Classic traveller and HERO 5th edition rules.

The impression I get from the PDFs themselves is that the quality of the editing and how four Imperial timelines (CT / MT / TNE / 1248) have been brought together is a fantastic piece of work. There is a ton of useful source material and wether you decide to use Hero or CT as your system, you’ll find plenty to help set you up for many gaming sessions. the lack of artwork is a downside (perhaps I’m too used to Gypsy Knights Games or Stellagama products now) and there are a few (previously-mentioned editing quirks) but there is a lot of text for you to read through. Unfortunately the HERO system is not for me, I find it too cumbersome and ‘bulky’ after the lightness and simplicity of Classic Traveller, but I know there are many fans of the HERO system. However I do think the CDROM is well worth purchasing, especially if you are a CT player and are looking for some additional gaming material.

Posted in Classic Traveller, Traveller TNE | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Fantasy Traveller Part 14 – Creating Magic Items

Building on the last part looking into using magic items, lets take a look at the process of creating them. Again, magic items are broken down into two halves – ‘complex’ magic items that contain spells or are simply more than enhanced weapons. The second type of item is the ‘simple’ magic item, where the Shaman tries to create an item that has an enhancement, such as a sword +1DM to hit.

Creating Magic Items

This should be pretty high-level stuff I reckon, so its a skill level 3 spell to cast. You need to expend the ‘create’ spell and the same amount of points as you would, for the additional spell that will be ‘added’ into the item. However you can expend multiple points for the added spell, but only one lot of create spell’s points.

For example, Ula wants to create a magic sword that will have three ‘Detect Magic’ spells built into it. This is a skill level -1 spell, costing 1 STR point a shot.

The Create Magic spell costs 3 STR points and 3 END points. Because it is convenient at the time, she decides to cast the Create Magic spell (3+3 points) and add two Detect Magic spells (1+1 STR), so the total number of points expended is 5 STR points and 3 END points. The success roll is made, so there is no waste in points.

However at a later date, she wants to add another Detect Magic spell to the same sword, so this time the points cost is 3 STR + 3 END points for the Create spell, plus 1 for the Detect Magic spell, total this time is 4 STR + 3 END. The sword has the three intended Detect Magic spells and she puts it out for sale at the local bazaar.

So you only have to expend enough points to create the magic item, but in stages and you add to it as you want. That way you don’t have to expend dangerous levels of points in trying to get the item you want to create. This adds to the impression to non-Shamans that magic items take a long time to create and expend a lot of effort.

Spell Description

Create Magic Item

Cost: 3 STR, 3 END plus the same amount of points rated for the spell being added to the item

A spell can be added to an item to make it magical. The creator determines the spell (which also determines the level of the item for detection purposes) and expends the points necessary to add the spell to the item. Multiple additions of the same or different spells can in theory be added to the item.

Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license

Creating Low Level Simple Magic Items

Another new skill level 3 spell, I’m proposing this method so that Shamans can create enhanced weapons. The Shaman casts the spell on the weapon and expends the necessary points. Note I have prefixed the number with a + or – sign, so the Shaman can create ‘negative’ weaponry.

To Hit / Damage Adjustments

+/-1 weapon – double weaponry points plus the casting amount (3 STR, 2 END) = 5 / 3 total

+/-2 weapon – double weaponry points plus the casting amount (3 STR, 2 END) = 7 / 3 total

+/-3 weapon – 6 points plus 3 STR and 3 END = 9 / 3 total

The success / failure roll still has to be made, if it fails then the points are simply expended and lost, with the item gaining no magical ability at that time, though its fine to try again at a later date. How much the Shaman charges for the creation of such items is entirely up to them. The spell description therefore reads:

Create Simple Magic Item

Cost: 3 STR, 2 END plus double the number of points STR to enhance the item

A weapon can be enhanced by expending enough points at the same time as casting the spell. For an item that you wish to increase its to hit or damage DM, then +1 would require an additional 2 STR points plus the cost above, a +2 item would require 4 additional points and a +3 item would require 6 additional STR points. Items above a +3 DM are virtually unheard of.

Now that we have a few extra spells, I’ll update the spell book in my previous article to include these and from part 13.

Posted in Classic Traveller | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The Last Titan

Whilst clearing out the garage a while ago (at the same time as coming across my old copy of ‘The Sorcerors Cave’ actually), I found one of my miniatures carefully packed away. Retrieving the box, I managed to grab a few shots before packing it away again as I was short of time clearing all the junk I had found.

I thought I would mention this as this particular miniature is quite significant for me; it was the last ever figure that I converted and painted, around 1992 and represents the pinnacle of the conversion jobs I used to do.

It still has some of the patches of white primer that I applied with the intention of fixing some minor chips and abrasions, but never got round to it. Twenty-five years later, the figure remains locked in time, those Citadel paints having long dried up.

I’ve done a bit of digging on the SOL (Stuff of Legends) which hosts scans of the Citadel catalogues, I recall buying at least two of these Reaver Titans from the Warhammer 40k Epic scale series. From the available parts, I chopped off two arms to get the shoulder mountings and fixed them to the rear of the titan with a mixture of Araldite glue and Milliput, which allowed me to have four hardpoints to attach weapons. Having access to a number of defunct 1/72 scale aircraft models, I ‘borrowed’ an ECM pod and at least an (I think) AIM-120 air-to-air missile. The rest of the scene was constructed from Milliput and various bits and pieces glued together.

I noticed that a missile or two has become detached, which a drop of superglue should sort out. The whole thing was a b*****d to transport to my mates and I think I moved it only once.

With a gap of a few years, I was painting and converting miniatures for nine years in total, I’m glad this has survived largely intact and hope to get a more detailed look at it soon.

Now, how much are Citadel paints again?

…Bloody hell…!

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The Fantasy Traveller Part 13 – Magic Items

For this part of of my ‘The Fantasy Traveller’ series of looking at using the Classic traveller system in a fantasy background, I’m going to take a look at magic items.

Magic items as everyone knows, are an integral part of most fantasy games. They typically offer some sort of enhancement or benefit to the bearer, be it an increase in abilities, a weapon, the ability to heal themselves or another or a way to summon some sort of deity to name a few.

So how do I want this to fit into the Classic Traveller game system? I think I’m going to approach it in this way; there are two types of magic item, simple objects which have a magical ability and shamanic magic items.

Trollcross image used under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported licence

Simple Magic Items

These are items that on the world of Grond, have some sort of magical enhancement that gives the bearer a benefit or bane. For example Thorrin’s mighty axe doubles the amount of damage rolled. As it is a double-bladed broadaxe, normally giving 4D+1 damage, the player rolls 17, thats 34 instant hits.

Or we have Barzil’s magic bow which can be used with a +3 to hit DM and gives a +1 point advantage to damage rolls.

Alternatively the referee can determine that the player thinks they have a positive adjustment to their fighting capabilities, but instead they have a negative effect such as -2 to all damage inflicted on an opponent. By using the CT format weapons charts and picking out what adjustments you want to give (or inflict), its quite easy to make up a magic item. For the world of Grond though, I’m going to keep such simple magic items to pretty low level values, such as +2 to hit or +2 damage as a rough maximum.

Shamanic Magic Items

As mentioned in my previous post of how magic works on the world of Grond, it isn’t an all-encompassing thing that is always there, but instead it fluctuates in strength and intensity. You have to roll for its success and depending on the result, it can have some very negative effects. So how does this help the Shaman? They are the only ones that can wield such magic items; to anyone else a stick is just a stick. To a Shaman, they would see the stick glowing with power and would be hot / cold / tingly to touch.

At the time, the Shaman would know it is magical, but wouldn’t necessarily know how powerful it is. I’m going to add three new spells based on the levels of ability a Shaman has. By casting it they can identify how powerful it is. If a magic item is level 1 and the Shaman successfully casts the spell, they can identify it and know its capabilities. If the item is of a higher level, the Shaman can’t identify anything about the item – it just remains a cloudy, indistinct object that is obviously magical. Higher levels of ability allow the Shaman to identify objects of the same or lower levels.

What the Item can do to Help the Shaman

Once identified successfully, the object can be used only by the Shaman according to what the item is imbued with. For example, it may contain the ‘Bright Light/Make Darkness’ spells that can be used without any points cost to the Shaman. By the same merit that a Barbarian can wield a +2 mighty hammer without knowing anything about magic, the Shaman should be able to use the magic item without prior knowledge of the spell or ability.

A few examples:

Mozzek the Unwise has Shamanic Magic skill -1. He finds a stone that appears to be magical and casts a Identify Magic Item spell on the object. Even though he has made the roll, the stone’s power eludes him so it doesn’t appear to be an item he can wield.

Not giving up, Mozzek decides to take the item to the local village Shaman named Ula (-3 skill) and see if she can see what the item is. After paying his fee, Ula successfully identifies it as an item that requires a -3 skill to wield and contains three Shatter Weapon / Harden Weapon spells. Because Mozzek only has -1 skill, he can’t wield the item – even though he knows what’s in the item. Only when has he reached sufficient skill level will he be able to wield the item.

That’s where I think I will draw the line where a Shaman can use a magic item; it must be ‘rated’ at the same level of skill as the person wielding it, for them to be able to use it. Because Shamanic magic can be more powerful than simple magic items, I think there has to be some sort of restriction.

However to keep the balance, magic items always ‘work’ – where an item contains a spell that would have a positive and negative effect, the item always works as intended. This requires the referee to specify exactly what the magic item can do. For example Mozzek has found a pointy stick (he finds a lot of magic items, old Mozzek does…!) which he has successfully identified as having two Cure Wounds spells, but always work in a negative way – ie. take points away. So Mozzek knows he can use this effectively as a weapon, rather than as something to heal with.

New Spell

Identify Magic Item (same name each skill level)

Cost: 1 STR (level 1), 2 STR (level 2), 3 STR (level 3)

Allows the caster to try and identify a magic item. Casting it at the intended level will reveal only if the item is of the same level, or lower. The caster must specify at what level they intend to cast the spell. Failure results in the item simply not revealing what it is, or implying that it may be of a higher level than what it actually is.

In the next part of this series, I’m going to look at creating magic items.

Posted in Classic Traveller | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Top Five Issues of White Dwarf

Over on Twitter, @DailyDwarf was posed an important question by @Smiffymark66:

Which started a little discussion amongst other gamers, so I got thinking about what are my five favourite issues of White Dwarf magazine? Rather than just posting the magazine covers, it was an excuse to write a blog post and briefly qualify why they are my favourite issues. I’m not going to rank them, because they are all in my top five for different reasons.

Favourite Cover

Got to be issue 46; two F-16 Falcons blasting past and unidentified alien spacecraft, that looks like its just appeared in low Earth orbit. Why has the ship appeared? Where is it from and what does it want? The scene I find so thought-provoking as to what is happening. The artist style reminds me of Angus McKie, but it is actually a piece by Gary Mayes. Dramatic and beautifully composed, a brilliant piece of artwork.

Favourite All-Round Issue

This one is issue 53; the first ever issue I bought back in May 1984. I was hooked – I read every single review (which included Traveller Book 6: Scouts) and that epic Warhammer Fantasy Battle (1st edition rules) scenario ‘Minas Tirith’, which depicts ‘The Battle of the Pelennor Fields’ from the Lord of the Rings. Of course there was the humour; Thrud the Barbarian and The Travellers, both of which would become firm favourites.

Favourite Scenario’s

Two issues come to mind, issue 56 has the adventure ‘The Last Log’ for Call of Cthulhu. What set this scenario apart for me was the utilisation of the Grenadier Miniatures Traveller Imperial Space Marines, with some Space 1999 ‘Eagle’ Transporters to create a gorgeous diorama. I have got some of these Space Marines somewhere…

The second scenario is the Traveller adventure ‘An Alien Werewolf in London’ in issue 62. The cover is pretty good as well (by Chris Achilleos, whose exemplary artwork has graced many a cover of WD), which to me implies a sort-of link to the Traveller adventure, depicting some sort of wolf-like creature about to attack an adventurer.

Favourite Article

The earliest issue that I own is issue 34, which was purchased when Games Workshop started selling off back issues at their Birmingham store, before they started to become more of a ‘house’ games shop and less emphasis was placed on other manufacturers games. Again, it’s something for the Traveller RPG; called ‘Droids’, it was a feature on robots by Andy Slack. What always catches my eye is the line art by Russ Nicholson (@RussNicholson), two robots starting a patrol on a flyer, streaking away from their base. Andy has contributed many quality articles to WD over the years, as has Russ artwork.

I wonder if anyone else has some favourites? If so please post to the comments boxes below!

Update 20th Feb:

Daily Dwarf has posted on his blog his top five WD issues here. Why not hop over to his blog and take a look?

Posted in Role Playing Games | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Wendys Naval Weekly Giga-Review

I’ve been compiling my list of reviews to do and checking back on any products that I haven’t had chance to take a look at. One ‘set’ is the ‘Wendy’s Naval Weekly…’ series by Gypsy Knights Games. I took a look at the first two in the series back in April 2017 with ‘Wendy’s Guide to the Fleets Double Review’.

…and I’ve got the latest three here:

(3) Wendy’s Guide to the Fleets of Franklin Subsector (released August 2017)

(4) Wendy’s Guide to the Fleets of Sequoyah Subsector (released November 2017)

(5) Wendy’s Guide to the Fleets of The Colonies (released January 2018)

All three books are currently available for $5.99 each as a watermarked PDF from Drivethru RPG, or you can purchase all five books in the series for a bundle price of $39.95. The earlier books in the series are also available in softcover dead tree format for around $20 each. Because all three books are broadly the same in format and content, I’m not going to review them in separate blog posts because of the risk of repeating myself across three articles. Instead, I’m going to review all three books in this single post and pick out the differences between each, so that you know what you are getting in each product.

Overall Format and Structure

All three books are presented with a gorgeous colour cover by Ian Stead, whose starship illustrations feature prominently throughout the book. Each book has been authored by Michael Johnson and Bradley Warnes has contributed additional character-scene artwork, which is of his usual high standard.

You then have a 8×10 hex map showing the location of the star systems located in that subsector. The aim of each book is to describe the composition and make up of each star systems navies and significant security forces. Dependent on the size of the colony / world, you get a brief historical background of the system and why you have the naval forces operating there. This forms the bulk of each book with along each background, you get a table (sometimes tables) of the type of ship right from capital-class sized ships down to patrol cruisers / cutters and its designated name. To break up the text, there are plenty of colour illustrations by Ian and Bradley which makes reading through each book a pleasure.

The System Navy Career path which is described across all three books, is an important part of the Naval Weekly books. Though the career path is exactly the same in all three books (with some minor changes in layout), the three common pages form the basis for the differences between each navies rank structure from earlier in each book. This helps to describe the individual differences between each navy described.

The final main section of each book contains a large or significant spacecraft that is related to one or more of the subsector’s systems, complete with deck plans.

Franklin Subsector – Featured Sections

The Franklin subsector covers key systems such as Franklin (of course), Chennai, Serapis, Vasynov and Minerva to name a few of the twenty systems. For example, Tal’Kalares has two distinct militaries that work together, but with different purposes; the first being in-system defence and the second (Her Majesty’s Royal Navy) performs outside-system duties such a striking against pirates or other colonial ambitions. Tal’Kalares doctrine is to protect shipping and protect against piracy – however it’s fleet seems to have a far greater capability than what is really needed. Does Tal’Kalares have ambitions that involve neighbouring systems? Only time will tell…! There is plenty of background material about command structure and dress code, so you will have no doubt who you are dealing with should you encounter a Tal’Kalares officer.

The Minervan Space Navy boasts a number of vessels, driven by their leader Blake Wofford – and he hates pirates! This chap seems to have a number of prejudices – hatred of pirates and has something against the New Perth Navy, which isn’t immediately obvious. Differing from Tal’Kalares, Minerva has a single fleet which is divided into squadrons. This gives them the flexibility to respond to complex situations and any threat to the system.

The Franklin Space Navy is the largest of the subsector, whose main strength lies in the deployment of four locally designed 10,000dTon monitors. Franklin sports a number construction programmes that are equal to some of the largest construction yards in other parts of the Clement Sector.

The spacecraft described in the latter part of the book is the Ledford-Class Frigate, which reputedly came into being initially as a sketch by the Crown Prince Luana. Twenty six years later the new 1000dTon warship was constructed, looking very much like the sketch by the young princess. Its a very nice looking ship; it has a streamlined shape, bulbous front half and manoeuvre engine nacelles at the back half. Though it can carry additional troops and a vehicle hangar, this has been at the expense of main offensive weapons. The book lists locations for weaponry, game specifications, colour and monochrome illustrations and the essential deck plans.

Sequoyah Subsector – Featured Sections

Major worlds of the Sequoyah subsector include Boone, Galawdewos, Selu, Sequoyah, Harrison and Dukagjin.

Boone is allied to and now home to the United States Space Navy (USSN) and historically has supported its fleet ever since the system was first settled. Pirates are really seen in this system, though it is not unknown. The fleet fields some pretty meaty spacecraft – including the Lexington class cruiser and Farragut class destroyers. The Lexington-class is described in detail at the back of the book.

Selu Station is maintained by the ‘Bridges Unlimited Security Fleet’ corporation, which is open to all visitors, which includes pirates. However attacks in-system are not permitted and the security fleet will deal with them harshly. In addition, because of the previous leasing agreement with the United States which is no longer in operation, the USSN occasionally visits Selu Station to ‘remind’ the BUSF that it is only leasing the moon where Selu Station is located.

The Sequoyah Defense Force retains a lot of links with the USSN, especially dealing with previous pirate threats. Fleet tactics involve patrols by some of the smaller vessels such as Frigates, but pirates beware that there might just be a larger cruiser in ding behind that moon nearby…!

The Harrison System Navy though the third-largest in the subsector, two-thirds of its ships are in need of modernisation. This isn’t just the ships themselves, personnel need training and support as well. Harrison feels it is being backed into a corner by resurgent powers in neighbouring systems, so it has signed a naval assistance agreement with the Hub Federation, which is allied to Harrisons own concerns and aims. Construction of new vessels has started, along with joint fleet exercises.

As mentioned earlier, the final part of the book describes the Lexington-class Cruiser, a 1800dTon starship that was designed by the same team that designed the Farragut-class Destroyer. The Lexington is a formidable ship, armed with Meson guns, fusion guns, beam lasers and missile launchers. Compared to the curved design of the Ledford-class frigate, it has a number of sharp corners and looks very much like a warship. Some of the turret shapes look very much like the big guns from a Second World War battleship. The deck plans have had to be split across three pages for some decks as the ship is so large!

The Colonies – Featured Sections

This is the last book in this series, because all parts of the Clement Sector fleet review have now been covered in this series of books. However I expect Gypsy Knights Games will be updating the books periodically.

The Colonies cover the ‘outback’ / frontier worlds on the edge of the more developed worlds of the Clement Sector. Piracy is a big problem in these systems, which include the Dade, Superior, Peel and Dawn subsectors. System defence in Dade is typically made up of colonists banding together employing Rucker-class merchants as defense ships, or even ships as small as customs cutters. Trading with the five settled worlds in the Dade subsector is not without great risk!

Superior is a little better, though Tupolev Station is maintained by the ‘Bridges Unlimited Security Fleet’ corporation rather than any national government fleet.

The Peel subsector hosts the system of New Perth, which is an economic powerhouse exporting vast quantities of ore and minerals. To protect this valuable asset, The New Perth Navy is one of the most modern in the subsector. Because of the vast distances sourcing ships from the core worlds, it is having to produce its own. This drives its core fleet doctrine of protecting its ore carriers, but some worlds fear that New Perth may have colonial ambitions.

The Colonies book has many more worlds and subsectors mentioned in the book, simply because many of the navies are much smaller than the worlds of the core subsectors.

The Australia-class Cruiser brings up the rear of the book, a product of the New Perth shipyards it is a 2000dTon ship it has compatible weaponry to the USSN Lexington-class cruiser. The ship’s shape reminds me of a crocodile – not to be messed with! Again, the deck plans cover several pages per level.

Overall Conclusions

All three books are packed with useful materials, plenty of suggestions for adventures (though there aren’t any scenario’s specifically described in the books – that isn’t what these books are about), a customised career path so you can develop a character from the Boone Space Defense Force or the Layla’s Defense Force and you get a capital ship in each product. The Clement Sector background is now well-developed and these products help to build upon the background already presented by showing what defensive forces are present in each system.

Some examples; In the ‘Sequoyah’ book, ‘Selu Station’ offers an interesting adventure starting point, described as being somewhere where pirates are allowed and can refuel but attacks aren’t permitted. With the USSN paying occasional visits, it reminds me a bit of Mos Eisley spaceport or some of the worlds in the Firefly ‘verse. Perhaps an idea for a future supplement GKG? ;o)

In the ‘Colonies’ book (Dade subsector) the Osiris System Defense Force can only field obsolete customs and excise cutters – a force ripe for help from the players as a pirate group has just moved in-system and has started attacking shipping… and with the table of ranks, there is a chance to rise to Fariq yet…! The players have been contacted to source spare parts for the cutters, which are now hard to find. Once sourced, they have to ship them to Osiris, but pirates have other ideas… and so on. So it’s pretty easy to pick out adventure hooks from all the books, which could be easily adapted for a nights session or slot into an ongoing campaign.

They are all written to GKG’s usual high standards of editing and formatting, though I did notice ‘…The Colonies’ book has a paragraph / heading font which looks a bit different to the other books. Not sure if its something to do with GoodReader on my iPad. Fleet listings can be a bit dry by simply listing lots of stuff – but the ‘Wendy’s…’ series avoids this trap by providing lots of background and history to why a fleet is what it is. I think my favourite (but only by a small margin) is the last book, ‘…The Colonies’ because the fleets are a bit smaller, a bit more raggedy and don’t have the support of the orbital facilities of many of the systems in the Franklin and Sequoyah subsectors.

These are very good books to own and will provide a referee with lots of supporting material for their Clement Sector campaigns – therefore I consider them to be highly recommended purchases! I would like to thank John Watts of Gypsy Knights Games for kindly sending me copies of the products for review.

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