Well, its now Boxing Day (aka the 26th of December) here in the UK and after much rushing around for the past week to get ready for Christmas, its now time to settle down with a bit of blogging and reviewing. I’m going to start off with a biggie; the latest release from Gypsy Knights Games – ‘Ships of the Clement Sector 16: Rucker-class Merchant’. I’ll start with a declaration, though I haven’t had a hand in the writing of the book, I was originally commissioned by John Watts of GKG to come up with a design for the Rucker-class and produce some artwork back in 2012 (including covers for ‘Save our Ship’ and ‘The Lost Girl’). Though only one image of mine has been used from the original set I produced for GKG in this book, this review should be read in the context of what input I originally had.
The book was released at the end of November on Drivethru RPG and is available for $7.99 as a watermarked PDF, containing 65 pages. Ian Stead has been commissioned by GKG to produce some new artwork along with some variants of the original design. This is a book that has substantially more content than other books in the ‘Ships of the Clement Sector’ series, hence the slightly more expensive price. The book is compatible with the Cepheus-Engine rules by Samardan Publishing.
The book starts with the usual few pages with a descriptive scene involving a dodgy deal and a bunch of dodgy Russians, which involves a Rucker-class. The next section describes the development of the Rucker and how it has become the most commonly-seen light merchant spacecraft in the Clement Sector. Being a 300dTon design, because of its flexibility it has gradually been developed into a number of variants and types. Rucker’s can be found in various states of maintenance and condition and because they are so common, spares are plentiful – you could quite rightly consider the Rucker as the Type A Free-Trader of the Clement Sector. It’s shape allows it to land on planetary surfaces, but it only has enough streamlining to allow landings, but it is not aerodynamically efficient. The next eight pages break down the deck arrangements which include colour illustrations by Ian Stead and deck plans by Michael Johnson.
Following the next four pages of a descriptive scene, is the passenger version of the Rucker. The author Michael Johnson hasn’t skirted on the amount of text around this version as you get the full background of what makes this variant different to the standard version plus a ship specification page and deck plans. This version, in addition to the eight crew, accommodates up to 6 high-passage and 24 middle passage passengers.
The next variant is the (pure) cargo variant of the Rucker. All passenger facilities have been removed to get the maximum amount of cargo-carrying capability from the hull. By stripping out the passenger facilities, a total of 114 tons of available cargo space is achieved.
An unusual version of the Rucker, is the casino variant; this is a truly luxurious craft to board, with an increase in the number of high passage staterooms and accommodation for hospitality staff. The ship can be found outside the jurisdiction of worlds that do not allow gambling.
The next six pages describe the escort / system security variant. Many worlds cannot afford specialist military ships and repurpose Rucker’s to provide a cheap alternative. Equipped with additional armaments, they are used extensively for shipping patrols and pirate interdiction as the Rucker can accommodate up to three hardpoints.
The Rucker can carry a ships boat which is accessed at the rear of the craft and you get a two-page description (with deck plans) of the vehicle.
The final (and in my opinion the most bonkers variant!) Rucker type is the missile ship. The front section is converted to accommodate a number of (double-digit!) launch bays for missiles with additional stocks of ammunition (288 missiles!). You really do not want to pick a fight with one of these; the theory being that these missile ships would tie up a number of their opponents weaponry by dealing with the missiles, whilst other ships could attack. Even a number of small ships could quite effectively attack a larger military craft by employing Rucker missile ships.
The next ten pages describe an example crew of a Rucker-class merchant vessel (the ‘MV Wucker’), with illustrations by Bradley Warnes for each of the nine crew and NPC stats. The final couple of pages list twelve adventure seeds (six each for trader and military) to suit whatever variant of the Rucker the players are using.
This is an absolutely cracking book; despite the slightly higher-than-normal price compared to other books in the same SOCS series, you get a huge amount of high-quality content. Ian Stead, Bradley Warnes and Michael Johnson have all done a brilliant job of illustrating the book. Michael has written an interesting and engaging book that builds on the single standard version of a trader to include a number of useful variants. These variants will help to supply a number of adventure seeds for referees, expanding on what is supplied in the book. If you’re adventuring in the Clement Sector, this is an essential purchase as at one time or another, you’re going to come across a Rucker-class merchant. Let’s hope it’s not the bonkers missile ship with a trigger-happy captain challenging you…!
I would like to pass on my many thanks to John Watts of Gypsy Knights Games for kindly supplying me with a copy to review. In my next post, I’ll be posting a few images showing some different views of the Rucker along with my own Rucker and crew!
The seond part of the Rucker feature can be found here – SOCS16 Rucker-class Merchant Review Part 2!
Update August 2019: I’ve posted a quick review of the print book which is available to read here.