I’ll start this posting with a quick mention of this months Freelance Traveller magazine, which has a great review of the printed version of the ‘Cascadia Adventures‘ by Gypsy Knights Games. There are some very complimentary comments about the artwork I produced for the books, in ‘Critics’ Corner’. Timothy Collinson – if you’re reading this, thank you!
Ian Stead of Moon Toad Publishing has sent me a copy of one of his latest releases, the ‘Ship Book: Panga-class Merchant’ to take a look at. The book is 49 pages long (including one page open game license and one blank page at the end of the book) and describes the Panga-class merchant spacecraft along with its several variants. The book is Mongoose Traveller RPG-compatible and can be used in any compatible Traveller setting. It can be picked up from Drivethru RPG for the very reasonable price of $7.65.
So what do you get? An incredibly-detailed ship book, covering the basic variant, which is still being debated whether the craft has been a successful design or not. It has some similarity to the Broadsword-class mercenary cruiser, in that it’s basic shape is a sphere, though a squashed one at that. The design has a total of five decks, though only three are used and the lower two are used as fuel tanks. The design is unusual in that partly to make up for its poor performance and limited cargo capacity, it can mate with a ‘pod’ that extends its capabilities and performance. There are a number of variants for these pods (freighter, assault, passenger and survey) and are worth considering if you are a captain of a Panga-class spacecraft.
The book is broken down into the following sections; the first five pages cover an introduction and history of the Panga design, a description about the Panga pods followed by a brief description of the main users of the Panga type and finally a single page (non-Traveller) covers the descriptive specification. Then the meaty interior description lists the five decks that make up the Panga craft. This is extremely thorough, including what you would find in the ships lockers and all the locations in the ship. The next eight pages describe some example vessels and a 76-Patrons style adventure, with plenty of colour illustrations.The next two pages show a blueprint-style set of deck plans and isometric views (in full colour) of the ship itself. Personally, I’m not so keen on the blueprint style (I can’t stand the Apple iOS7 style with light blue lettering on white) but it is a nice touch to show the deck plans in a different way.
The next eighteen pages list full Mongoose Traveller specifications along with deck plans for the standard Panga, variants and the pods. The deck plans are gorgeous (black on white) and are clear and well laid-out. The next five pages list some new equipment, including full specs for a new ATV, which for those of a certain generation reminds me of the missile-ATV from the popular Gerry Anderson series ‘UFO’. I had a die-cast ‘Dinky’ toy when I was a kid and loved its ability to fire missiles across the living room at my brother…! The final six pages are broken down into three spacecraft record sheets with details filled in for the three Panga variants.
The way that the ship is described certainly gives the craft a lot of character – I could quite easily see a bunch of PCs using one of these, with all its quirks and oddities!
The book is filled to the brim with with plenty of high-quality monochrome, line and colour artwork as you come to expect from Ian. In the supplied scenario for one of the example ships, a nice touch is the character UPPs with images for each of the characters (by Bradley Warnes) shown as ID cards (‘multi-passes’… a mention from the Fifth Element?) The level of detail that Ian has gone to covering the variants and associated equipment of the Panga-class craft, makes you feel that you are getting your money’s worth by buying the book. In addition, you get a number of JPEG images showing isometric views of the Panga in a blueprint-style illustration, plus deck plans that can be printed in 15mm scale. There is very little white space, Ian taking the opportunity to fill just about every bit of the book with an illustration or view of the Panga, inside and out.
Negatives? Only a few, I spotted a few typos and one or two paragraphs are slightly misaligned, but these are really minor (I am being picky here) and most certainly do not detract from the value that you feel you are getting from the book.
The Panga-class merchant ship book is an excellent book to own, Ian has done his best to feel that you are getting plenty of value from purchasing the book and I can highly recommend it. My thanks to Ian Stead of Moon Toad Publishing for kindly supplying me with a copy to review.