I’ve been compiling my list of reviews to do and checking back on any products that I haven’t had chance to take a look at. One ‘set’ is the ‘Wendy’s Naval Weekly…’ series by Gypsy Knights Games. I took a look at the first two in the series back in April 2017 with ‘Wendy’s Guide to the Fleets Double Review’.
…and I’ve got the latest three here:
(3) Wendy’s Guide to the Fleets of Franklin Subsector (released August 2017)
(4) Wendy’s Guide to the Fleets of Sequoyah Subsector (released November 2017)
(5) Wendy’s Guide to the Fleets of The Colonies (released January 2018)
All three books are currently available for $5.99 each as a watermarked PDF from Drivethru RPG, or you can purchase all five books in the series for a bundle price of $39.95. The earlier books in the series are also available in softcover dead tree format for around $20 each. Because all three books are broadly the same in format and content, I’m not going to review them in separate blog posts because of the risk of repeating myself across three articles. Instead, I’m going to review all three books in this single post and pick out the differences between each, so that you know what you are getting in each product.
Overall Format and Structure
All three books are presented with a gorgeous colour cover by Ian Stead, whose starship illustrations feature prominently throughout the book. Each book has been authored by Michael Johnson and Bradley Warnes has contributed additional character-scene artwork, which is of his usual high standard.
You then have a 8×10 hex map showing the location of the star systems located in that subsector. The aim of each book is to describe the composition and make up of each star systems navies and significant security forces. Dependent on the size of the colony / world, you get a brief historical background of the system and why you have the naval forces operating there. This forms the bulk of each book with along each background, you get a table (sometimes tables) of the type of ship right from capital-class sized ships down to patrol cruisers / cutters and its designated name. To break up the text, there are plenty of colour illustrations by Ian and Bradley which makes reading through each book a pleasure.
The System Navy Career path which is described across all three books, is an important part of the Naval Weekly books. Though the career path is exactly the same in all three books (with some minor changes in layout), the three common pages form the basis for the differences between each navies rank structure from earlier in each book. This helps to describe the individual differences between each navy described.
The final main section of each book contains a large or significant spacecraft that is related to one or more of the subsector’s systems, complete with deck plans.
Franklin Subsector – Featured Sections
The Franklin subsector covers key systems such as Franklin (of course), Chennai, Serapis, Vasynov and Minerva to name a few of the twenty systems. For example, Tal’Kalares has two distinct militaries that work together, but with different purposes; the first being in-system defence and the second (Her Majesty’s Royal Navy) performs outside-system duties such a striking against pirates or other colonial ambitions. Tal’Kalares doctrine is to protect shipping and protect against piracy – however it’s fleet seems to have a far greater capability than what is really needed. Does Tal’Kalares have ambitions that involve neighbouring systems? Only time will tell…! There is plenty of background material about command structure and dress code, so you will have no doubt who you are dealing with should you encounter a Tal’Kalares officer.
The Minervan Space Navy boasts a number of vessels, driven by their leader Blake Wofford – and he hates pirates! This chap seems to have a number of prejudices – hatred of pirates and has something against the New Perth Navy, which isn’t immediately obvious. Differing from Tal’Kalares, Minerva has a single fleet which is divided into squadrons. This gives them the flexibility to respond to complex situations and any threat to the system.
The Franklin Space Navy is the largest of the subsector, whose main strength lies in the deployment of four locally designed 10,000dTon monitors. Franklin sports a number construction programmes that are equal to some of the largest construction yards in other parts of the Clement Sector.
The spacecraft described in the latter part of the book is the Ledford-Class Frigate, which reputedly came into being initially as a sketch by the Crown Prince Luana. Twenty six years later the new 1000dTon warship was constructed, looking very much like the sketch by the young princess. Its a very nice looking ship; it has a streamlined shape, bulbous front half and manoeuvre engine nacelles at the back half. Though it can carry additional troops and a vehicle hangar, this has been at the expense of main offensive weapons. The book lists locations for weaponry, game specifications, colour and monochrome illustrations and the essential deck plans.
Sequoyah Subsector – Featured Sections
Major worlds of the Sequoyah subsector include Boone, Galawdewos, Selu, Sequoyah, Harrison and Dukagjin.
Boone is allied to and now home to the United States Space Navy (USSN) and historically has supported its fleet ever since the system was first settled. Pirates are really seen in this system, though it is not unknown. The fleet fields some pretty meaty spacecraft – including the Lexington class cruiser and Farragut class destroyers. The Lexington-class is described in detail at the back of the book.
Selu Station is maintained by the ‘Bridges Unlimited Security Fleet’ corporation, which is open to all visitors, which includes pirates. However attacks in-system are not permitted and the security fleet will deal with them harshly. In addition, because of the previous leasing agreement with the United States which is no longer in operation, the USSN occasionally visits Selu Station to ‘remind’ the BUSF that it is only leasing the moon where Selu Station is located.
The Sequoyah Defense Force retains a lot of links with the USSN, especially dealing with previous pirate threats. Fleet tactics involve patrols by some of the smaller vessels such as Frigates, but pirates beware that there might just be a larger cruiser in ding behind that moon nearby…!
The Harrison System Navy though the third-largest in the subsector, two-thirds of its ships are in need of modernisation. This isn’t just the ships themselves, personnel need training and support as well. Harrison feels it is being backed into a corner by resurgent powers in neighbouring systems, so it has signed a naval assistance agreement with the Hub Federation, which is allied to Harrisons own concerns and aims. Construction of new vessels has started, along with joint fleet exercises.
As mentioned earlier, the final part of the book describes the Lexington-class Cruiser, a 1800dTon starship that was designed by the same team that designed the Farragut-class Destroyer. The Lexington is a formidable ship, armed with Meson guns, fusion guns, beam lasers and missile launchers. Compared to the curved design of the Ledford-class frigate, it has a number of sharp corners and looks very much like a warship. Some of the turret shapes look very much like the big guns from a Second World War battleship. The deck plans have had to be split across three pages for some decks as the ship is so large!
The Colonies – Featured Sections
This is the last book in this series, because all parts of the Clement Sector fleet review have now been covered in this series of books. However I expect Gypsy Knights Games will be updating the books periodically.
The Colonies cover the ‘outback’ / frontier worlds on the edge of the more developed worlds of the Clement Sector. Piracy is a big problem in these systems, which include the Dade, Superior, Peel and Dawn subsectors. System defence in Dade is typically made up of colonists banding together employing Rucker-class merchants as defense ships, or even ships as small as customs cutters. Trading with the five settled worlds in the Dade subsector is not without great risk!
Superior is a little better, though Tupolev Station is maintained by the ‘Bridges Unlimited Security Fleet’ corporation rather than any national government fleet.
The Peel subsector hosts the system of New Perth, which is an economic powerhouse exporting vast quantities of ore and minerals. To protect this valuable asset, The New Perth Navy is one of the most modern in the subsector. Because of the vast distances sourcing ships from the core worlds, it is having to produce its own. This drives its core fleet doctrine of protecting its ore carriers, but some worlds fear that New Perth may have colonial ambitions.
The Colonies book has many more worlds and subsectors mentioned in the book, simply because many of the navies are much smaller than the worlds of the core subsectors.
The Australia-class Cruiser brings up the rear of the book, a product of the New Perth shipyards it is a 2000dTon ship it has compatible weaponry to the USSN Lexington-class cruiser. The ship’s shape reminds me of a crocodile – not to be messed with! Again, the deck plans cover several pages per level.
All three books are packed with useful materials, plenty of suggestions for adventures (though there aren’t any scenario’s specifically described in the books – that isn’t what these books are about), a customised career path so you can develop a character from the Boone Space Defense Force or the Layla’s Defense Force and you get a capital ship in each product. The Clement Sector background is now well-developed and these products help to build upon the background already presented by showing what defensive forces are present in each system.
Some examples; In the ‘Sequoyah’ book, ‘Selu Station’ offers an interesting adventure starting point, described as being somewhere where pirates are allowed and can refuel but attacks aren’t permitted. With the USSN paying occasional visits, it reminds me a bit of Mos Eisley spaceport or some of the worlds in the Firefly ‘verse. Perhaps an idea for a future supplement GKG? ;o)
In the ‘Colonies’ book (Dade subsector) the Osiris System Defense Force can only field obsolete customs and excise cutters – a force ripe for help from the players as a pirate group has just moved in-system and has started attacking shipping… and with the table of ranks, there is a chance to rise to Fariq yet…! The players have been contacted to source spare parts for the cutters, which are now hard to find. Once sourced, they have to ship them to Osiris, but pirates have other ideas… and so on. So it’s pretty easy to pick out adventure hooks from all the books, which could be easily adapted for a nights session or slot into an ongoing campaign.
They are all written to GKG’s usual high standards of editing and formatting, though I did notice ‘…The Colonies’ book has a paragraph / heading font which looks a bit different to the other books. Not sure if its something to do with GoodReader on my iPad. Fleet listings can be a bit dry by simply listing lots of stuff – but the ‘Wendy’s…’ series avoids this trap by providing lots of background and history to why a fleet is what it is. I think my favourite (but only by a small margin) is the last book, ‘…The Colonies’ because the fleets are a bit smaller, a bit more raggedy and don’t have the support of the orbital facilities of many of the systems in the Franklin and Sequoyah subsectors.
These are very good books to own and will provide a referee with lots of supporting material for their Clement Sector campaigns – therefore I consider them to be highly recommended purchases! I would like to thank John Watts of Gypsy Knights Games for kindly sending me copies of the products for review.