Ships of the Clement Sector 8 – Berlin Class Colonial Destroyer Review

I’ve always liked spacecraft identification manuals, ever since I’ve owned a copy of ‘Spacecraft 2000-2100AD’, the first of the TTA books. So when John Watts of Gypsy Knights Games sent me a copy of ‘Ships of the Clement Sector 8: Berlin Class Destroyer’ I eagerly looked forward to getting my teeth into reading it whilst on holiday.

Something to me that sets spacecraft identification books apart from each other is the descriptive background of a craft. Its history, how it came into being, how it performs and notable actions during service. The TTA books having this style always seemed to catch my imagination and I’ve returned to them over and over again for some years.

This is why I’ve particularly enjoyed reading this, one of the latest ‘Ship…’ books by Gypsy Knights Games as it nicely balances these elements for me, along with the practical elements of deck plans and specifications. The book is 38 pages long including cover and obligatory open game license page. It is available from the fine Drivethru RPG store for a very reasonable $4.99 in PDF format.

The ship itself is a 1200dTon destroyer built and employed by the German Navy. A number these were in service in the Clement Sector at the time of the conduit collapse and have been integrated into the Hub Federation Navy.

Berlin Class Destroyer

The book is broken down into a main background story of the ship, specifications and deck plans, monochrome and colour illustrations of the ship (by Ian Stead) displaying various views (top, side, front) along with its service craft details. This content is interspersed with a running storyline or a mercenary units last, almost desperate job to capture one of these destroyers and the action taking place. This helps to present a page of adventure seeds and a mercenary NPC, backed up with colour graphics by Bradley Warnes. The destroyer itself looks like it could ‘do the job’, with a large number of hardpoints dotted around the hull and four particle beam weapons as its main armament. I did wonder at the number of marines the ship is supposed to carry, at around thirty. Would this be enough to be effective in the variety of actions the ship is supposed to support? Then again, I don’t have any point of reference to compare against, so I will bow to the writers guidance on this.

It’s a book that feels nicely balanced – the running storyline has enough ‘meat’ to engage you and the specifications and deck plans (by Michael Johnson) are well detailed. I suppose what has made this ship stand out for me in comparison to other ships of the navies is by having the background linked to a mercenary action and to make use of the book not restricting it to the players being part of a navy. It simply feels like a book that I’ve enjoyed more than some others. The illustrations are excellent – all the contributing artists have produced some beautiful pieces of artwork – if anything the quality is of a greater level of detail than in previous releases.

A thoroughly enjoyable book – well worth purchasing for use in your campaign! I would like to thank John Watts of Gypsy Knights Games for kindly sending me a copy to review.

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Introduction to Clement Sector

Well, I’m on holiday at last after an incredibly busy period at work helping move most of the IT facilities for my employer to a new building. I’m just starting to write this review whilst sat in the cottage garden I’ve booked for my wife and I (and pet greyhound Millie) not far from the coast near Whitby, in the east of England so some chill out time and catching up with Traveller RPG reviews and blogging is well overdue.

Gypsy Knights Games have just added their latest title Introduction to the Clement Sector at the bargain price of free, available for download at Drivethru RPG, which you can’t really argue with! It’s designed to give potential players and referees an overview of the ATU of the Clement Sector should they wish to invest in some of the GKG products.

Introduction to the Clement Sector

The book is 29 pages long including cover and open game license legalities. The book starts with a 7 page introduction to the Clement Sector, a timeline of major recent events and background to the Zimm-drive, the equivalent to the jump drive in Third-Imperium Traveller. If I was to give an overview of how Clement sector ‘feels’, I would say a cross between 2300AD, Classic Traveller and the TV series Firefly. 2300AD in that interstellar travel is possible but with limitations and many technologies are not too far removed from us in the early 21st century; Classic Traveller because humans are the dominant (well, only) intelligent creatures in the known universe and Firefly because you have a number of technologically advanced core worlds and a large number of outlying ‘frontier’ worlds where many adventures can be set. This introductory section also describes the background and practicalities to the Zimm-drive, because this works in a different way to the OTU Traveller jump drive. There is a ship size limit of 2-5000 tons and range of 2.4 parsecs, though most ships keep to 2 parsecs for reliable travel. I think this limitation helps keep the ‘feel’ of the setting within reasonable limits in that humans have had interstellar capabilities for a few hundred years, have made use of it and expanded into space, but realised its limitations.

The background has been developed by John Watts and a small team of writers and there are a large number of books, adventures and supplements with which to jump into the Clement Sector. There are two pages dedicated to describing the current titles in print, which I reckon will become quickly out of date due to the frequent number of releases that Gypsy Knights Games have.!I should note though that the list will probably get updated every so often, GKG are very good in tracking down typo’s and making amendments to make sure their books are as up to date as possible. If you subscribe to the Drivethru RPG alerts, you’ll get these amendments notified through email.

There are a couple of pages of FAQ’s interspersed with some nice colour images, which is then followed by a short adventure using materials from two publications ’21 Plots: Misbehave’ and ‘Dade Colonies’ which forms a nice complete adventure with a detailed background of one of the planets that can be found in the Clement Sector.

Overall, this is a good introduction to the background of the Clement Sector and why you should invest in it as a backdrop for your adventures. Its heavily world / technology orientated; if I was to add anything, perhaps a page or two on the careers and peoples of the Clement Sector, especially as there are some excellent books available from GKG to support the background. I think this would have balanced the book out a bit more – but as I mentioned earlier, the book is free and you’re getting a free adventure for the deal, so its all good!

I’d like to thank John Watts of Gypsy Knights Games for informing me of this latest release.

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The Art of Homeworld Review

A bit of a diversion for this post and something very special. I’ve been waiting to get hold of a copy of the art book ‘The Art of Homeworld’. Gearbox Software obtained the license to re-issue the classic game, in its original format and an enhanced high-definition version. Along with the game (which first found support for its re-issuing on Kickstarter), Gearbox have published a large-format hardback book with drawings, colour plates and development images from Homeworld and Homeworld: 2 with a commentary about the inception and development of the game. I’ve been watching for its release in the UK for some time and last Sunday I noticed that there were a few copies available to purchase from Amazon UK for £39.99 excluding delivery. I jumped on it like a ton of bricks and was delivered on the 5th of May.

  

The commentary is provided by Rob Cunningham and Aaron Kambeitz throughout the book and describes the inspiration for the spacecraft designs, notably the late great Peter Elson and the artists of the Terran Trade Authority Handbooks. The book is broken into sections featuring many of the concept designs for the ships and vehicles used in the game, based on the Kushan and Taiidan. The minor races (such as the Bentusi and Turanic Raiders) are also featured.

  
The book is huge – over 230 pages in total. It is lavishly illustrated with line art drawings and colour concept drawings on heavy quality paper. If you are looking for inspiration for spacecraft designs, you’ll find it here as there are plenty of variations, developments and revisions of the many designs some of which did or didn’t find their way into the final game.

You can see the influence of the TTA books in the design and decal colouration of the ships, which is borne out by the description of the programmers and artists.

  
The book doesn’t have any images from the game, which in some ways is a slight omission in my opinion – it would have been nice to have a few colour plates to compare the final electronic versions with the hand-drawn originals. However it doesn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of the book.

If you’re interested in a little game history, art or design inspiration or just love spacecraft in general, this is a fantastic book and despite the steep price, is well worth purchasing.

Overall rating – 9.5/10.

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21 Villians Review

I’ve took the day off tomorrow (Friday 8th May) so I can stay up through the night to watch the general election results come through. Well, sort of – my wife wants to so I see it as an opportunity to stay up and get some blogging done! Real life is a bit bonkers at the moment, I’ve got the culmination of a couple of years work coming up with a major work project which is taking up most of my time, hence the lack of updates recently. Something that I’m introducing from this review onwards is a rating out of 10 to help summarise the review of a book. I’ve considered introducing it for a while but wasn’t sure on how many marks I should use – out of 10 seems the best compromise.

Anyway, Gypsy Knights Games kindly sent me a copy of 21 Villains to take a look at. It’s the first of a line of books they’ve released detailing some of the characters you are likely to meet that operate on the wrong side of the law. Its available from Drivethru RPG for the very reasonable price of $4.99 for the PDF, however during the month of May there is a special ‘science fiction month’ promotion where 15% discount is already applied (promotional price $4.24). It’s a 46-page book describing as the name suggests, 21 ‘Villains’ or low-lifes / evil characters (whatever you want to call them) that you can throw at your characters as part of an adventure or campaign.

The format of the book remains the same for each of the characters; their personal statistics, profession, age and languages, equipment, skills and a description of the characters background and personality. Bradley Warnes has provided the artwork throughout the book and an image of each of the characters can be found at some part of the characters pages. Typically, two pages cover all the details of a character – though not all of a page is filled with their background (I hate white space!) However I should counter this minor criticism by looking closely at each piece of text. The description of each character is nicely balanced and I feel that you get enough insight into a characters background and personality, without it being restrictive when utilising the character in your own adventure.

21 Villains

There are a decent range of miscreants in the book; thugs, politicians, professionals, drug/crime lords, military and the odd pirate. There are some nasty pieces of work in the book, but also some that may prove to be useful allies – it all depends down to the players and how they make use of such encounters (and of course, how evil the referee is feeling!)

The artwork is of Bradley Warnes’s usual high standard, each character depicted in a suitable (colour) scene. Any major criticisms? None really, though the book is pitched within the GKG ‘Clement Sector’ setting its contents can be easily be adapted for any Traveller RPG setting. It’s a nicely balanced book in that you aren’t over powered with a huge amount of crammed writing and the images break the text up in the right places.

Do I have a favourite character? Probably Nurita Metzker – who sounds like a downright nasty piece of work. A pirate who employs ruthless tactics and has developed quite a reputation for dealing with her enemies.

It’s nice to see GKG expanding the Clement Sector in lots of different directions (hardware, worlds, personalities, adventures) and this is a recommended addition to their ATU. I’d like to thank John Watts of Gypsy Knights Games for sending me a copy to review.

Overall Rating – 8/10.

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Grand Safari Review

Happy New Year everyone! For this first post of 2015, I want to spend a bit more time on one of Gypsy Knights Games’s recent releases, ‘ Grand Safari’. I felt on my last post that a mini-review wouldn’t do the book justice so he’s something a bit more substantial.
 
Grand Safari is a 154-page book available from Drivethru RPG
for $9.99 for the PDF or $19.99 for the PDF / softcover book combo. The book is part-adventure / part-supplement based in GKG’s Traveller RPG ATU. The book is split into the following sections:
 
1. Introduction
2. Pre-generated characters
3. Getting started and skills day
4. The adventures (numbering six)
5. Planetary descriptions
6. NPC descriptions
7. Spacecraft and vehicle descriptions
8. Additional adventure ideas
 
The introduction obviously sets things up for the adventure locations and how to make best use of the book. You’ll need some additional GKG supplements namely the ‘Clement Sector’, ‘Dade Colonies’ and ’21 More Organisations’ which are also available from Drivethru RPG. The aim of Grand Safari is for the PCs to take part in a series of linked adventures set in a largely unexplored region of the Clement Sector, named the Hannibal subsector.
 
Grand Safari

The pre-generated characters each have their own page giving full stats, a descriptive background and a colour illustration by Bradley Warnes. The next section describes how to start the adventure, who the ‘Gentlemans Club of Dashwood’ are and the first ‘adventure’, ‘Skills Day’ which are a series of tests for the players to build up their ‘Safari Points’ which are the measure for the players ultimate success in the safari. Skills Day could take some time to run – if you have lots of players there will be a great deal of dice rolling, but it instills competition between the players.

The actual adventures are quite short in description – an average of one or two pages each. However because of the way the book is structured, there isn’t any need for much more content than this. Again, success is measured by the awarding of ‘safari points’ – there are some straightforward tasks and some with a few twists…!

The planetary descriptions section form the majority content of the book and this is no bad thing; you have a complete subsector of unexplored worlds or systems which only have minimal surveys to plunder for adventures. The subsector forms the basis for the adventures in the book so you glean all the additional setting information from here. You get a full planetary system overview with orbits and hydrographic data. There is also a number of enounter / random event tables plus stats (and some illustrations) of the creatures that can be found on the world. There are a decent array of worlds to explore – nineteen in total, covering ninety pages.

The next section covers significant NPCs and the ships crew of the ‘MV Livingstone’ – the starship the players use for the safari. Full deck plans are provided for the MV Livingstone – an 800dT Atlas-class freighter along with an ocean-going safari ship suitable for use on water worlds.

The final page contains descriptions for three additional adventures set in the Hannibal subsector.

I’m thoroughly impressed with Grand Safari – there is plenty of adventure content, supplementary material that can be used within and outside the game – for any other game sessions the referee may be running. Its well written, there are some gorgeous illustrations of the significant persons and creatures and I only found one typo which I’m certain will be updated by GKG very soon (they have a habit of making corrections and improvements and send these to purchasers on a quick turnaround). This is a highly recommended supplement for the Traveller RPG referee – go and buy it!

Finally, I’d like to thank John Watts of Gypsy Knights Games for kindly sending me a copy of Grand Safari to review.

In other news, the winners of the Zhodani Base ’76 Patrons’ contest have been published – 23 entries were submitted including one from me, though I didn’t win there are some really good entries and I suggest you check them out!

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Alegis Downport : 2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,500 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 58 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Presents for the Christmas Traveller

Now that Christmas is upon us, here are some mini-reviews of a few products for the Traveller player and referee. I originally intended Gypsy Knights Games ‘Grand Safari’ to be reviewed here but rather than doing it a dis-service with a short review, I’m going to look at it in more depth next week.

Gypsy Knights Games – Hub Federation Ground Forces

This is quite a weighty tome released by GKG and written by Michael Johnson to supplement their Clement Sector ATU. It goes into a great deal of depth starting with the planetary defence force structure and marines, before moving onto the character generation checklist. The next thirty pages cover the specialist career tracks that can be followed by PCs, with the next section covering about thirty pages of vehicles and a final appendix describing various battles and actions the ground forces have been involved in.

Hub Federation Ground Forces

My gut reaction when reading this book was to compare it to Hub Federation Navy and where I felt left wanting for more background material in the Navy book, ‘Ground Forces’ more than made up for any gaps in content. The character development is extremely detailed illustrating a variety of situations along with the example character career track. There is a very fine section on additional vehicles illustrated by Bradley Warnes, which includes the 24th century version of the ‘Jeep’, two hovertanks, a hover APC and a single seat fighter. Bradley Warnes figure artwork is as usual exemplary as is the spacecraft artwork by Ian Stead and deck plans by the author Michael Johnson. As previous recent GKG releases, the sections are interspersed with extracts of commentary from specific events of situations, which is a nice touch. There aren’t any adventure seeds, however there is plenty of background and situations described so I don’t consider this to be even a minor flaw with the book.

An excellent book and worth picking up – 104 pages priced at $9.99 from Drivethru RPG as a watermarked PDF or special offer at $19.99 for the softcover and PDF.

Moving swiftly on ‘Ships of Clement Sector 6: Jinsokuna Chirashi-class (Swift-Flyer) Yacht‘, describes a 400dT yacht that serves a variety of roles. Everything from a standard yacht, to favourite of pirates, to ship featured in a hit holovid programme called ‘Superpirate’. The design of the ship (illustrations by Ian Stead) is immediately recognisable as something that wouldn’t look out of place in a Japanese anime cartoon! There are lots of small wings and protrusions and the whole shape reminds me of a manga robot with its arms outstretched in front of it. However the design gives the impression of something that you wouldn’t want to mess with in the spacelanes.

Ships of Clement Sector 6: Jinsokuna Chirashi-class Yacht

Full descriptions for the three decks of the ship along with stats are provided, along with deck plans covering the four variants of the ship. When I initially looked at the book, it did give the impression of being a bit repetitive as on first glance, the differences between the four variants appeared minimal. However, closely reading the floor plans and stats, you do notice the differences and there is definite value in GKG providing these extra stats and you have craft that can be used in a variety of situations, straight away. Another interesting addition is the inclusion of NPCs and ship stats for the holivid ‘Superpirate’ plus a number of adventure seeds. The only issue I have with the book is that some of the isometric views of the ship could have been a bit bigger on a couple of pages, to fill up some of the white space. However the Swift-Flyer is a great adventuring ship that is a worthy addition to the GKG ‘Ships of the Clement Sector’ line and I can see a number of players groups picking this as their starship. 64 pages priced at $4.99 from Drivethru RPG

A final mention on the GKG front, the latest addition to the ‘Ships of the Clement Sector’ series – ‘Perth Class Frigate’ has just been released for $4.99, so I’ll be taking a look at this over the next week.

The last item that I want to mention (rather than review) is the Traveller 2015 calendar – which a dozen artists (including myself) have contributed artwork and the whole project was pulled together by Ian Stead.

Traveller Calendar 2015

Originally instigated by Andrew Boulton, this years calendars profits will go towards Bryan Gibson’s funeral expenses, Bryan a veteran Traveller artist sadly passed away earlier this year. A PDF version is available from Drivethru RPG for $2.68 (reduced from $4.00) or the dead tree version that you can hang proudly on the wall from lulu.com for £17.74.

I’d like to thank John Watts of Gypsy Knights Games for forwarding me copies of the books above for review and to Ian Stead a copy of the Traveller 2015 calendar PDF. Whatever you are doing or however you may be celebrating the festive season, I hope you have an enjoyable time! Merry Christmas!

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