This is the latest in the now long-line of Traveller compatible products from Gypsy Knights Games, detailing systems and worlds that provide a useful background for referees.
Cascadia is a complete subsector, detailing 20 complete inhabited worlds in a ‘compendium’ format across 171 pages. Twelve of the worlds have been published previously in the ‘Quick Worlds’ series, which have been bolstered with the addition of another eight previously unpublished worlds. It is available as a watermarked PDF from DriveThru RPG for a very reasonable $19.99.
I’ll start with the cover: a very attractive image, a spacecraft hanging in the misty blue skies of a distant world, a moon in the background. Very simple but atmospheric.
After the introduction pages, the reader is presented with a contents page and a subsector map (white on black background). The next page has a breakdown of all the world’s UWP’s in standard Traveller format. Unfortunately there seems to have been a problem with the formatting and the tabs have gone a little awry, resulting in a snaking list. The same also appears on the contents page, a simple formatting problem that makes these two pages look a little untidy.
The book then progresses into describing the worlds of Cascadia; There is an average of about eight pages of text per system data, system map, each systems physical data, a Traveller format icosahedron planetary map, geographic description, population including government, legal and cultural info, city data, population and any other interesting information that is particular to the system. The text is easy to read and there is enough information about each system to inspire a referee to anything from an evenings play or several sessions. I do have one concern in the system maps; though useful showing the orbits of each planet in the system, the text labels for each planet are far too small. I had to increase the zoom level in Adobe PDF to 200% to make the planetary data readable. I hope this is something that can corrected in a future release as it detracts from what is otherwise a well laid-out, quality product.
The system descriptions are broken up with a variety of good-quality colour graphics through the book, by artists including Ian Stead and Algol Online from Can Stock Photo’s.
To give you an idea of the variety of systems in the book, here is a breakdown;
Megara and Nyahururu are two systems ruled by dictatorships. I reviewed Megara back in August if you want to look at it in more detail.
Fairfax details remnants of a disappeared race.
Monroe is a high-population bureaucracy.
Catalunya is a system with a Latin/Spanish background.
Roskilde, a system ruled by a charismatic religious leader.
Hendershot is described as an agricultural planet.
Gutierrez, the foreboding mountainous world.
Slaren, a planet whose primary export is beer (sounds like a fantastic world to visit!).
Gagnon, the benevolent dictatorship.
Chance, a world dedicated to gambling.
Two ice worlds are described in Campbell and Joseon.
There are two with some interesting cultural customs (Kyiv and Dimme).
Another two systems that have tight government controls on the populace (Antryl and Tlix).
The subsector world, Cascadia which is a high population democracy.
Marlowe, an asteroid belt.
Talca, a world ruled by scientists.
Finally Yangon, a desert world.
Each system benefits from close and detailed reading. For example, remote mining and refuelling stations are mentioned, which helps the referee to plan a session not just around the main world, but also travelling through the entire system, where encounters can be built-in. Gas giants are described with their orbits and distances. The final page in the book is another subsector map, but with black text on a white background, suitable for printing.
My favourite has to be Chance (the gambling world), which I reviewed back in July here. I think the weakest system detailed in the book is Catalunya; it has a very detailed cultural background, but it lacks adventure hooks.
Overall, there is a massive amount of variety in this book, though pitched as a Traveller-compatible product it can be used for the basis of a campaign, or short individual gaming sessions for almost any sci-fi RPG. I should note that a revised version of SS1 is being made available at the moment with the addition of some typo corrections and some credits. Highly recommended.