In this, the second of my three ‘An In-Clement Christmas’ reviews, I’m going to take a look at ‘Ships of the Clement Sector 9: System Defense Boats’. This supplement is available from Drivethru RPG for $6.99 (at time of writing – normal price $9.99) as a watermarked PDF. It has a total of seventy pages including the cover and the download is 15.8Mb in size. The book has an attractive cover by Ian Stead – though the ships featured do remind me of the original ‘Flash Gordon’ spaceships from the series that was around in the 1930’s! I’m not that old… the series was repeated on the BBC channels in the 1980’s!
System Defence Boats (or SDB’s) are non-Zimm drive equipped spacecraft and hence have no ability to jump between systems. The book describes eight types of SDB’s that may be encountered whilst plying the spaceways. Some are operated by the Clement-sector authorities, or they could be operated in a civilian manner. SDB’s can be quite deadly; typically for an interplanetary craft some of the mass is taken up by the jump drive which in turn, there is less to allocate for other systems, such as weaponry. The SDB doesn’t have the jump (Clement Sector = Zimm) drive so more can be assigned to weapons, sensors, crew etc. SDB’s have been known to bring down larger jump-capable spacecraft in other versions of Traveller, so these are craft not to be dismissed!
Each of the following craft:-
Customs and Excise Cutter
Type 2 System Security Cutter
Rattlesnake-class Attack Craft
Antelope-class System Defense Boat
River-class System Defence Boat
…is broken down into a page description of the craft, a monochrome illustration / scene, an isometric view in line art, a page of stats in Mongoose Traveller format, the next page has another 3D view in greyscale and finally a page with the ships deck plans. Ship sizes range from 20dT for the security cutter upto 550dT for the Raptor-class Sloop. There is a good range of ships – particularly liked the Customs and Excise Cutter from a design point of view. I could see this being used almost ‘Elite’ (the computer game)-style for trading (even if it only has 3 tons of cargo space) inside a planetary system, perhaps if the players fell on hard times and they needed a craft to build up funds.
In addition, a ‘Zimm Module’ is detailed in the book. The Zimm module is an attachment that can be ‘clipped’ onto a suitably large craft and enables the ship to make interplanetary jumps between systems.
A now-familiar feature of Gypsy Knights Games supplements is the situational commentary, describing an a small segment of an event that links to the content of the book. These do help to break up the content of the book, which would otherwise be perceived as a dry spacecraft listings book. The text is excellent and there is plenty of it – I do like the backstory which is included with each spacecraft, it helps to make the vehicle more ‘rounded’ and not just something that has a set of deck plans and dry statistics. Though the book is lavishly decorated with plenty of high-quality artwork by Ian Stead, it would have been nice to see some of the 3D views in colour instead of in monochrome, even if its just to break up the book a little. Because there are plenty of craft in the book, you could set up a mini-scenario for the players just running just the craft in the book (converted to civilian use of course) for in-system exploration and trading.
The one page that does have a colour illustration describes an NPC that may be encountered. There is also a page with six brief adventure seeds linked to SDB’s in some way.
This is a really good book and brilliant value; perhaps because I enjoy spacecraft books anyway, but this is a very worthwhile addition to your Traveller library, Clement Sector or any other version of Traveller that you prefer to use. Many thanks to John Watts of Gypsy Knights Games for sending me a copy to review!