Traveller (Mongoose version)
From Mongoose Publishing
By Ron McClung
Mongoose Publishing, through a license with Far Future Enterprises, has released a new version of Traveller with the intent on making it the basis of their new house system for future sci-fi lines. Based on the Classic Traveller (CT) system, the designer Gareth Hanrahan has updated the game for the 21st century RPG market.
The 190-page, hardback book is done in the traditional minimalist black cover. It contains all the basics to create a character complete with characteristics and skills as well as the core system, psionics, equipment, basic vehicles, spacecraft and space combat. At the end are sections on encounters and world creation.
The task resolution system is drawn from the original system, using 2 six-sided dice to roll for everything. The base task difficulty is 8 and the complexity of the task determines the modifiers. Tasks are defined in terms of their modifiers, i.e. very difficult is -4. If the total of skills, dice and modifiers are greater than or equal to 8, the task check is successful. This is the core mechanic the entire system is based on.
For fans of CT, the system is more streamlined and consistent. The designer restructured the subsystems in CT together to create a much easier and intuitive system. To those new to Traveller, it is a system without a lot of flare and complexities. The elegance in the game is its simplicity.
Character generation is very engaging. A character has six statistics called characteristics – Strength, Dexterity, Endurance, Intelligence, Education, and Social Standing – that are rolled with 2 six-sided dice. There are also skills a character gains from his career. The one aspect that is probably one of the more attractive parts of the game is the career system. Based on the CT concept of careers and terms, it creates an encapsulated history of the character as well as gives the character its starting characteristic bonuses, skills, and equipment.
Also included are Psionic Powers and the seventh characteristic, Psionic Strength. Psionic characters have access to talents, which are like skills. To learn talents, one must be trained and make a successful Psionic Strength test. My one complaint related to this is that the character sheet provided does not have a place in which to write psionic powers.
Many of the classic races of Traveller are included. Aside from standard humans, there are the lion-like Aslan, the winged Droyne, the truly alien Hivers, the four-legged K’kree, the canine Vargr, and the noble Zhodani. Another one of the more attractive aspects of Traveller in general is the variety and depth of their races.
What are missing, as any Traveller fans are familiar with, are the details of the game universe. Traveller was originally meant to be a generic sci-fi RPG, so game masters (GMs) can insert their players into any sci-fi subgenre. For Mongoose, the system is intended to be the basis of their new sci-fi RPG line. This will include Traveller-powered versions of Starship Troopers, Strontium Dog, Hammer’s Slammers, and Judge Dredd.
Pro: Simplicity and elegance of the system as well as adaptability to any sci-fi universe.
Con: Cost. The book is $40, and under 200 pages.
From: Mongoose Publishing
Type of Game: RPG
Written by: Gareth Hanrahan
Contributing Authors: Chris Longhurst, Marc Miller, Loren Wiseman, John Harshman, Frank Chadwick, Darryl Hany.
Game Design by: Marc Miller
Additional Art by: Leonardo Barzio, McLean Kendree, Rich Longmore, Carlos Nunez de Castro Torres, Robin Everett-McGuirl, Travis Liechssenrig
Number of Pages: 188
Game Components Included: One hard back book
Retail Price: $39.95 (US)
Item Number: MGP3800
Number ISBN: 1906103330
Reviewed by: Ron McClung