It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to review some of the latest Traveller-compatible material that has been released recently, so whilst sat at the water’s edge of one of the English lakes in the Lake District, I though I would put finger to touchscreen and write one.
Gypsy Knights Games ‘Subsector Sourcebook 3: Hub’ has been out for a while and is designed as a supplement to the book ‘Hub Federation’. It is using the background material that John Watts has been developing, setting the book in an alternate Traveller-compatible universe. The book is presented as a watermarked PDF, available from Drivethru RPG for $12.99. It contains 108 pages including cover, license and contents.
The book details thirteen systems within the Hub subsector, containing information about the system and planetary details, government, inhabitants, background history, colour system and planetary maps and cities. There is quite a variety of systems presented in the PDF; they range from worlds developed from its original Japanese settlers, another dominated by a religious dictatorship (the Caxtionists of Kingston) who has suspected military expansionist designs, a dictator who is looking to get into the drugs trade and a world dominated by health and safety concerns!
Indeed, I think there is potential for adventure hooks where the players could inadvertently uncover secret military plans by the Caxtonists for expansion and invasion of nearby worlds and the players have to alert friendly systems. Run-in’s with the authorities Firefly style come to mind…
There aren’t any specific scenario’s in the book, however the detail is in the description of the worlds and you’ll get plenty of ideas and adventure hooks from the backgrounds presented. For example, Hottinger has a prosperous TV/hologram industry based around the supernatural and a forested area of the planet. The players could be hired by a media company to investigate a missing production crew in a dark forest, reputed to be haunted by the lost souls of a forgotten race…
Some worlds get more detail than others but there is a reasonable balance; I would like to note that I feel John has done his research where the worlds settled by the Japanese are detailed. I should say that this is not from any personal authority or experience, they just feel authentic and look well-written.
Something that particularly struck me was the large number of graphics and maps in the book. There is plenty of colour throughout, which I do like, in comparison to early Gypsy Knights books. These range from images of spacecraft, scenes of distant worlds and of course the planetary maps in standard Traveller hex format. In addition, there is a printer-friendly subsector map at the back of the book along with a list of additional skills that residents of the Subsector worlds would already have. The images used are of a high quality, sourced from a number of artists.
Criticisms? Thankfully, very few. I’ve been reviewing Gypsy Knights products for well over a year and they’ve been gradually improving into a very fine line of materials for the busy referee. I don’t consider the book to have any major flaws, if there is one improvement I would like to see, that’s in the new style planetary map. The hex grid could do with a contrasting colour to the background such as black instead of white, where there is the map of an ice world for example. The one ‘weak’ world is Kohlisch, which is only two pages long. There does seem to be plenty of chances for adventure on this world, as it is the main two-hex link between the subsector and the next and a lot of traffic has to pass through. There are opportunities to smuggle goods, dodge the authorities or join in the mining operations where something unusual has been discovered at a recently opened mine…
Overall, the Hub Sourcebook is very good and I think it presents plenty of opportunities for setting up a campaign. I think the religious dictator’s interests could become a useful recurring theme for a campaign and become a thorn in the side of the players.
The book is good value and is available now via the link above.