Dale at Jon Brazer Enterprises kindly asked me to review a copy of the Traveller supplement ‘D66 Compendium’, a compliation of previously released individually D66 lists in one document. The principle behind the D66 series is to provide a readily available set of lists that can be picked up and fit into a gaming session. The compendium covers a wide range of subjects and is divided up into five chapters; ‘Ships’, ‘Planets and Bases’, ‘People and Groups’, ‘Tech’ and ‘Character/NPC Names’. Though the back cover states that the Mongoose Traveller rules are required, the compendium, which is 52 pages in length, can in fact be used with any edition of Traveller.
Each clearly-presented list gives 36 choices in the standard D66 format. If you’re not familiar with D66, because Traveller uses a standard D6, to generate long lists, two D6’s are rolled. The first nominated die becomes the first number, the second D6 becomes the second number, giving 36 possible combinations.
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The first chapter ‘Ships’, contains eight lists of ship names, split into alphabetical order. Included in the eight lists, there are lists for pirate ship names and personal ship names. The next list is ‘Damage to Abandoned Ships’. There are some useful (and amusing!) situations – such as the party arrives and find that their ship has been cut cleanly in half! Imagine if Han Solo ran back to the Millenium Falcon at Mos Eisley spaceport and found the ship like that…! Or, the ship is undamaged but completely dissassembled! Let the party work that one out!
The ‘Ship Quirks’ and ‘Things that could happen a ship’ lists – these would be useful in making a journey more interesting, there are some entertaining situations that could form the basis of an evenings play (with a little prior adaptation on the referees part), such as a ‘ghostly figure seen in the low berth hold’. Some lists of ‘standard’ enounters can be a bit dry and repetitive (such as what you may find in the basic versions of rulebooks), these can help to spice up and bring a degree of humour to an encounter. It does require the referee to think on their feet and adapt the encounter to the current situation, but I do think this is something that makes a good RPG session.
The Cargoes ‘one’ and ‘two’ lists – these could be integrated where Travellers are using the trading rules from the original books. I reckon, with a bit of modification, a ‘special’ entry could be added, which requires additional rolls on the two tables. With additional preparation, prices could be assigned to the lists of goods which can then be fitted into the trading rules. In addition, I’d suggest some sort of ‘illegality’ level to the item, so that if the item is immediately dodgy (such as ‘Battle Dresses’) then it would increase your chances of an Imperial violation and inspection by the authorities. I’m thinking along the lines how the trading rules worked in the 8/16-bit micro space trading game ‘Elite’ here, which was reputed to have been based on Traveller and shares many aspects. For example, trading in Narcotics immediately increased your chances of being picked up by the police Viper ships and attacked.
The four lists of planet and moon names, are more ‘generic’ rather than the Vilani names which a Traveller would find within the Third Imperium, which is fine. However, perhaps an additional list of Vilani system/planet names could have been added to keep in with a lot of the system names used in the Traveller game, but this ommision does not detract from the usefulness of the product. The list ‘Objects Orbiting a Planet’ could also be used to extend ship encounters during trading and provide a framework to help build a wider encounter/evenings gaming. There are two lists of space station names, a table of exotic atmospheres, a list of planetary govenments, which expands the table from Classic Traveller: Book 3. My suggestion is to use the other lists in this section to help provide an additional level of detail to the trading rules in book 3. The remaining lists in this section are ‘Unusual Local Laws’, ‘Planets Main Industries’ and ‘Spaceport City Names’. Though I don’t think the ‘City Smells’, ‘Bar Names’ and ‘Drink Names’, could be used in the trading context, they certainly add to the ‘flavour’ of the environment and set the scene for the players.
The next section – ‘People and Names’, is a much broader set of lists, that I think would be more useful when preparing an adventure. For example ‘Megacorp and Shipping Company Names’, ‘Planetary Survey Teams’ and ‘Grafitti’ (which I think is a bit random!) There are some excellent mercenary company names such as ‘Storm Front Military’ or ‘White Wolf League’. Lists of ’emblems and tattoos’ and ‘organised crime names’ help to complete this section.
The next section ‘Tech’ has some potential adventure seeds. The lists of robot names and current instructions could be adapted into encounters for the party, for example in the same way that a ‘reaction’ roll would be made in some games, the current instruction list could be used in the same way, to determine how the robot ‘reacts’ in the encounter. The next set of lists, ‘Robot Manufacturers and Tools’, ‘Personal Gun Names’, ‘Gun Manufacturers Names’, ‘Vehicle Manufacturers and Models’ adds further colour to the kit and equipment Travellers are likely to use.
The final section ‘Character/NPC names’ contains useful male and female first and last names for the following racial groups:- Vilani, Solomani, Zhodani and Sword Worlds. The final three lists are made up from Aslan, Vargr and Droyne names in the way that they are pronounced.
Currently, the product is priced at $7.99 and is available from Drivethru RPG / RPGNow link. Individual lists have previously been available for 50cents or $1 each, which combined into the compendium offers fantastic value.
Overall, I can heartily recommend the D66 Compendium, it offers a great deal of content, plenty of variety, pleasant to read and is reasonably priced. I’d like to say a big thanks to Dale at Jon Brazer Enterprises for the opportunity to review the product.