21 Starport Places is the latest release by writers John Watts and Tony Hicks from Gypsy Knights Games. Its available from Drivethru RPG for $8.99 as a PDF, or for $16.99 as a premium colour softcover book, both formats containing 79 pages. The book is written for Gypsy Knights Games background ‘Clement Sector’ and much of the history is written with this in mind. However, the text can easily be changed, along with dates to fit in with any OTU or ATU.
Just so the reader is aware, I’ll declare my involvement in creating the cover for the book, which is also reprinted on page 3 of the publication, though I have not had any other involvement with the book.
As the name suggests, the book covers 21 places that a visitor is likely to find at a starport; There is a good selection of places described, ranging from eateries, a trauma unit, hotels and hostelries, entertainments, starship repair facilities, amongst a number of others. Full deck plans are provided filling a full page and some covering several pages due to for example, multiple levels of the building. A useful scale is provided on each page, when I started to write this review, I was concerned how this would look when physically printed. I’ll discuss this later in relation to the soft cover book which I have a copy of. The deck plan artist Stephen Johnson deserves a medal for placing drawings of what must be hundreds of tables and chairs on the larger plans! Some of the places are huge – ranging from full starship repair facilities with several docking bays supporting up to 1200 dTon vehicles, all the way down to personal transports. The plans show the exact layout of the rooms in the store including tables, chairs, sinks, beds, vehicle docking bays, food counters and office furniture, to name a few.
Each establishments description contains information about what they sell, its history, notable personalities, how the store operates and room location details. An additional panel has full NPC stats for the owner of each store and a short piece of text about them and some background story fitting into the Clement Sector.
The text is very descriptive and well presented, with an average of one and a half pages per store. There are a few favourites; The ‘Lucky Horseshoe Casino’ has a full description how to play several card games. Not being a card player myself, I thought this was a nice touch for the writers to include. ‘236 Security and Lockdown Brig’ shows a lot of promise for a breakout scenario. ‘Arms Make the Man Weapons Shop’ – a raid / firefight would fit this one easily (‘we need guns… lots of guns’). ‘Clarkson Repair Services’… a disagreement could lead to a starship being held as payment, with the players being being hired to break the craft out…
There are a very small number of anolomies which I couldn’t work out. One of the hotels (‘The Kings Lodge’) has floor plans for the rooms but not the actual hotel itself, which seems odd and out of place when so many of the other floor plans show the entire establishment. ‘The Captains Guildhouse’ – membership costs 625,000 credits per year? Ow! Rich captains only need apply…
Though the text is well laid out with a few pieces of artwork to break up the three / four colour deck plans, there is one page I think could do with revising; ‘Foreign Nobility’ has a black and red FN logo on page 58 which takes up half a page. I reckon this could have been better served with another piece of art and wouldn’t do your inkjet printer any good if the page was printed.
I also have a copy of the soft cover book, which features a colour, glossy cover and is slightly larger than A4. With my artists head on (again) there is a slight ‘flatness’ to the depth of colour repoduction on the cover, but nothing detremental and the book looks and feels like a quality printed product. The text and layout translate very well to the printed version, as do the deck plan graphics. However there is one small problem with the deckplans, the key on the larger plans (which have been reduced to fit an A4 page) become so small as to be almost unreadable. This is a shame, as otherwise the plans look fantastic. However the description in the book has all the locations covered in full, so this does not present an issue with its use ability and the location numbers can be read clearly.
This book screams scenarios – it’s well written, lots of ideas and though it doesn’t have any specific scenario’s listed, plenty of ideas abound in the text. Aside from a few quirks, this is a very good, quality Traveller RPG supplement that I can heartily recommend.
I’d like to thank John Watts of Gypsy Knights Games for supplying me with the review copy of 21 Starport Places for review!