Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Mail Room: Cepheus Modern

Cehpeus Modern is an interesting mod to the Cepheus Light system to cover modern gaming using the 2d6 style of sci-fi roleplaying system. I picked this up because a complete set of animal rules were in here, they had a vehicle combat system, some magic and cybernetics, and I liked the tight feel to this set of rules.

Light and Fast

I liked that this was a bottom-floor sort of modern-game, really basic and fast with familiar rules. If I wanted to play out an action scene or quick scenario from a movie, this feels really good and I could get in and going quick with a pretty good sized cast of disposable cast members. I wanted to have this to go along with the Solo play system for the Cepheus Engine in order to cover modern scenarios without the sci-fi flavor of the basic rules.

If I want to play a scene in a modern war, heist, action, monster, or other movie this set of rules really fits my needs. I can spin up the 5-6 person cast in about 30 minutes. I can get playing quick, the rules fit in my head, and that is a good thing.

Not as Zero-Based and Specialized

One interesting point is the rules are not as focused on zero-based skills as the basic Cepheus Engine or even M2E Traveller. I feel this is a result of the bounded accuracy style balancing that has been implemented in the newer editions that keeps skill bonuses down to lower numbers, and splits out a lot of skills into specialty areas that force you to specialize. Cepheus Modern feels more old-school with less skills, higher skill levels, and a faster advancement track.

There are no real broken-out specialty skills here, just a basic list of broad skill areas of knowledge. One engineering skill, one pilot skill, one gun combat skill, and so on. I feel this is good for a lighter-weight game as I spend a lot of time in M2E Traveller going over skill lists, picking specialties, and looking up what covers what. A broad skill list with specialties allows greater character customization and also keeps skill levels down through more choices, so M2E Traveller (and also Cepheus Engine) are better "character builder" games in my feeling.

More Career Options Wanted

I wanted more options for careers in a modern setting. I know, this is OGL, write your own! I just may do that. Specifically, I wanted entertainer, technology, industry, and politician careers. Something more than just business and rogue for non-military career options. But yes I know, having more careers would take away from the light-and-fast nature of the game. But still, I wanted a little balance between military and non-military background options for a modern setting. I just may write these up since it seems simple enough.

Vehicle Rules Improvements

One odd side-effect of the vehicle rules were car chases with pistols and SMG shootouts did not really have a chance to affect the vehicles or passengers. You need a weapon capable of "vehicle damage" that rolls against a vehicle's protection value in order to get onto the damage tables, which include chances for blow-out tires or passenger hits.

I would handle this two ways. Firing at passengers is full cover (-2), if from a moving vehicle -1) and if at a moving vehicle (-1) so a -4 DRM total. Or, just use the normal vehicle targeting and combat rules but give most projectile weapons a AV of d3 so they can affect smaller cars and get table results. There is also the possibility of called shots to tires and other areas with smaller weapons as well.

Perfect for Solo

I like this rules set for quick one-off modern scenarios with the Solo rules, even using this for more sci-fi games when running a "monster in space" type scenario. In that type of game, a pilot is "the pilot in the movie" and same goes for "the engineer" and "the doctor." In a quick game, I am not interested in complicated character builds, detailed histories, and I am more interested in broader roles and faster character generation.

There is a Cepheus Light game available and I may want to check that out, since that is what this rules set is based on, and that seems to be a lighter version of the base sci-fi game. There is a difference between a full-game, such as M2E Traveller and Cepheus Engine, and the lighter faster-to-play options such as Cepheus Modern and Cepheus Light - and I am a fan of both rules styles. There are times I want deep and complex, and other times I want light and fast. I like having the option to switch styles and keep everything mostly compatible and working the same.

I like this set of rules and the entire product line, all of this feels like it is perfect for me at this moment and my moods. I can dive into deeper games where characters are rich and complex, or I can go fast and loose with something quick and rocket through a play session without too much investment and time. Overall, a great mix of rules and options for complexity, and I am happy with my purchases here.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Traveller: Ship Diversity

One thing I like about Traveller's starships is they are so diverse and cool. You could design anything in any shape and still have it work within the default setting or one of your own. With the default ships given in the basic rules - you still have a wide variety of designs, shapes, and concepts all coming together for a fun and diverse mix of styles and shapes.

You see this design ethos tend to standardize itself in sci-fi movies. In Star Trek, all ships tend to follow the same design theory. You have engine sponsons, large upper disks, small main hulls, and a general flat deck design. Star Wars is a bit more diverse, but you still end up with the same flat desk cruisers and small ships, with a wider variety of fighter shapes. There are a couple different styles of ships in Traveller for a fun mix of hulls and design concepts, and you see those come together nicely and in a seamless blend.

Flat Deck Ships

These are your typical flat-deck designs, you land on a planet, and the decks are aligned parallel to the ground. Walk-in and walk off. A lot of games and sci-fi assume this design since it is very familiar, and makes starships seem like space trucks. And this is also cheaper to film since you are not dealing with an orientation change when you film people getting in and out.

Antigravity is very important with flat deck ships, since acceleration would force everyone to the "back" of the ship in the opposite direction of the thrust.

Space Stations

I like the laboratory ship design in the book, it is a spinning wheel type ship and very cool. Not many other sci-fi games have starships that look like space stations and this game celebrates them. This is also one of those classic designs from one of the old Traveller adventures, and it is good to see it held up as an example of a cool design. It reminds me of movies like Interstellar and that just makes me smile.

You need antigravity in these ships when they are accelerating, because you run into the same "forced back" issue as flat deck ships (unless there is a second and third opposing floor set on the ring). When stationary, they can minimize the energy needed to maintain artificial gravity by rotating the ring. With solar panels I bet these ships could have incredible endurance sitting in one place and still maintain a comfortable living environment.

Stacked Hulls

Stacked hulls are starships with decks arranged like a loaf of bread. If you landed on a planet (if you could) half of the deck would be pointing down and the other half up in the air, and without artificial gravity everyone would fall to one side. These types of ships were popular also in the original Star Frontiers game, and that threw our expectations since we had assumed a more flat deck style coming from games like Space Opera.

Stacked hulls get around the problem of not having anti-gravity if all you have is 1G acceleration. You accelerate towards a point in space at 1G and keep the decks down, and everyone inside has normal gravity due to acceleration. Mid-point, you flip the ship so the engines point at the destination (something which all Traveller ships do anyways no matter what thrust rating), and fire off the engines at 1G of deceleration and all of a sudden you have normal gravity going towards the "floor" again. Without antigravity, this is how you do space travel, and stacked hulls make this possible.

Older ships in my games are nearly all stacked hulls from pre anti-gravity days, and these still see use. Hey, space is expensive and if you can re-use old ones for in-system work, who cares? That is why we pay you spacers the big bucks, now deal with our lowest bid contract. Just be thankful we didn't pay more money for a new ship since that would be coming out of your pay.

Hey, economics and cheap business practices don't go away just because we are in the future.

Not All the Best Stuff

This one I love. Most of the ships in the basic rulebook are Jump-1 and Jump-2 designs, with only a couple being Jump-3. Thrusts are similarly contained to low numbers. All the designs assume a TL12 baseline, and there are no Jump-6 and very few Thrust-6 ships in the book. I like this, and for the most part the universe should be a lower tech level than the maximum, and the maximum TL designs should be limited to very rare ship designs and specific situations. Not even if a world has billions of people should you assume the TL of its cultures is TL15. You should not walk into a starport, even the best one, and see shelves full of TL15 ship parts waiting for installation and purchase.

Like all technology, only certain militaries and governments are going to have the best stuff. And in a backwater sector or lower-tech game, you may never see the best stuff come around.

High-tech ship parts and personal gear are your "magic items" in a sci-fi game with a range of technology levels. Keep the baseline to "just what works" and keep the good stuff out of reach for rewards and goals. None of this great high-tech stuff should be purchasable, only on black markets and then that is even risky and could be a setup or swindle. Some high-tech gear should ideally be of alien design and require specialized knowledge (or an alien who understands it) to maintain and use.

Our sci-fi RPGs suffered from this "arms race" style of problem where the technology level and utility of starship parts kept increasing, and after a while starship combat and operations became unfun or total-destruction-or-nothing. Like those episodes of Star Trek where you can sit there in your ship and talk about problems, knowing nothing rules-wise can affect you. It got boring quick, and devolved into gotcha situations.


I love the maps of the ships, and seeing them done in perspective is very cool. I love the idea of a sci-fi game with standardized ships. You know what to expect, the ships themselves become "knowable" and familiar, and surprises are still possible with tweaked designs but there is still an element of similar design in custom jobs.

Sometimes I feel sci-fi properties go overboard with custom ship designs just to look cool or be different. I like the classic Star Wars ships, and seeing them reused and come up again and again is very cool and hits my nostalgia button. However, there is a point where there feels like too many ships in that universe, every time we see a movie there are different ones, and I something in the back of my mind tells me they need to build these things on an assembly line and standardize. They must all be going broke.

Traveller, assuming a game that says "90% of the ships are standard designs," takes on a coolness factor where these things are mass produced and you get what you get. I can't go to a car company and say "I need an SUV, and I need it custom designed..." Well, if I were Elon Musk I could, but for most people, no, you buy a car from what's out there - new or used. If 90% of the ships made were "the ones that worked" and those are the ones from the book, that is what you are going to find and be using most of the time.

And that makes the special and unique ships out there rare and notable, which is a good thing because once you see something special, you get that wonder and surprise back. If everything is special, nothing is special.

Fun Classics

I like this version of the game and the updated take on back to the basics. This is hitting the right notes for me, and seeing these old friends come back and be celebrated again warms my gamer heart. The diversity of designs is also cool, and it is fun to see even movies made today reflect these designs and give us a new look inside them. No other sci-fi game really does that as well, and this is like seeing an old friend again who is doing just fine.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Mail Room: Cepheus Engine RPG

So someone went and took the M1E Traveller SRD and built a numbers-filed-off sci-fi game out of it that is functionally equivalent to M1E Traveller? This is what I love about OGL games, once one goes away (as that license did with M2E Traveller), a new game can be made to keep to flame going.

And thus, an OGL game like Traveller is born, but the strange part is, this is not Traveller. This is more generic hard-science roleplaying and a toolkit to take anywhere, develop new games with, and I am betting it goes new places from this point forward.

As Basic Fantasy, Mutant Future, and Labyrinth Lord became their own similar-yet-unique things, so shall this.

I am still loving and playing M2E Traveller, so why would I be interested in this? Because is is OGL and a lot of OSR in a sci-fi package. It feels rules-light. It pushes my M2E Traveller experience more back towards the 3rd Imperium, which honestly is the strength of that setting (but I still like DIY settings).

But the fact I like DIY settings makes me interested in this. With this, I could take my DIY setting and publish the thing. Spin up worlds, design ships, and get it published and share. It is a potent argument for putting my DIY ideas here while keeping M2E Traveller more tied to the official setting.

A Modern Option

Cepheus Engine RPG has a "modern" game as a pay-what-you-want option made out of the rules, which honestly the original Traveller made the house rules for my brother and I for our Car Wars RPG campaign forever in the 1980's. We used Car Wars for the vehicle rules, and Traveller for the interpersonal rules. It was a natural fit because the skill systems, 2d6 to-hit systems, and everything worked so damn well together. To have a OGL modern rules set just like the original Traveller system takes me back to my Car Wars days, and one of the best campaigns I have ever run.

It also held up very well, dealing with mutants, superheroes, vehicle battles, tanks, jet fighters, spy missions, intrigue, advancement, monsters, magic, and anything we could throw at it by the end of that game.

Want a superpower? Flight is a skill, rated from 0 to 5, and we made a speed chart. Armor powers? The same, but with a protection value on a chart. Want magic? A school of magic is a skill, such as evocation, rated with a skill level from 0 to 5, with damages and effects rated on a chart. It worked, and it worked damn well. The 2d6 Traveller-like system is a very versatile and expressive system and I love that is has escaped into the wild via the OGL.

I would love to even see a fantasy game based on this. I have the freedom to write one, if I wish. I could take OGL parts from OGL games, mash everything together, and come up with a mutant hybrid 2d6 fantasy game. A post-apocalyptic game. A superhero game. Whatever I want I get with the OGL, even if I make it myself and share.

People forget this. While I love my shiny new editions, and M2E Traveller feels a lot a like like 5th Edition D&D to me with its polish and speed of play, my OGL books will always be treasured for the dreams they came from, and the dreams and adventures they will continue to give humanity for all time.

OGL games are gifts to the world.

Celebrate them and cherish them, and it is great to see the birth of another.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Our Shortest Traveller Campaign

I think my brother and I were kids at the time, about 10 years old, and we played the Annic Nova adventure (out of Double Adventures 1) as we just got into Traveller. I was refereeing and my brother was playing. The adventure looked cool, a mysterious ship abandoned for some reason with plenty of mysteries to unfold. How this ended didn't work out how we planned.

Spooky Ship, not a Dungeon

Like most kids of the time, combat was fun and exciting. We ran modules as-is and rarely expanded upon them, having this expectation that the module writers knew better than us and paying for a module meant we were going to be entertained - no matter what our expectations were.

Yes, that is a recipe for disaster. We were kids.

Looking back, yes we were wrong and our expectations were out of line. We expected everything to be action-packed and a blast of a good time, and our expectations were kind of set by the excellent Star Frontiers game, which defined a huge part of our childhoods. Grab a laser and blast monsters! Play cool aliens! Explore lost worlds! Hack computers and robots! Fight the evil bug-eyed aliens!

That Star Frontiers campaign lasted 40 years. Such is the power of childhood memories.

So, Traveller and Annic Nova. I have a better appreciation for this adventure now, and I can think of a million better ways to have run this. Add some strange monsters, and maybe a surface installation down on the planet below to explore. Add some monsters or strange goings on. Fragments of ship's logs and a crew being slowly driven into madness. Space pirates looking to take the ship without knowing what they are getting into.

This ship is really cool and a great set for a lot of different ideas.

How It Really Ended

Explore the ship, fly it back to the starport, and sell it. Earn 5 million credits (or was it 25, it has been a while...?) and sit on a pile of money. Campaign over.

I know, we were kids, but millions of credits seemed like being a billionaire to us! You can buy any weapon or piece of gear! A small army of mercenaries! The PCs were rich!

I know, that many MCR is not exactly rich in the context of Traveller, but our young minds could not process what to do with all that money so that is where the campaign kind of ended. We were trained by the D&D model of wealth, where with 5 million GP you could hire an army of red dragons and genies with wish rings to ride around on them. You won. The rich were invincible.

Yes, we were stupid and young.

Still Good Advice

A game can become unplayable if the Travellers become too powerful.
This comes from page 4, book 3, in the scenario book The Fall of Tinath for the starter set of Traveller I got the other day. There is a paragraph here saying the same thing, as a referee, you need to keep the players hungry, looking for money, never dropping huge buckets of wealth upon them, avoid the "battle cruiser mentality," and make sure special powers and other perks are paced out throughout the campaign (and even lost at times) instead of making the game about a mad collection of wealth and special powers.

Sounds like many of the Pathfinder or D&D games I have run, in fact.

Too much wealth can ruin a game. Too many cool powers can ruin a game. Battleship Me and All My Friends can ruin a game.

Missing the Point

Part of my brain says, "You are missing the point!" No matter how much money you have Traveller is still a pretty deadly game. A stray shot or a bad starship encounter later, and it is, "Game over, man." It is all about immersion, the stories, the personalities, the factions, the plots, aliens, criminals, colony governments (and the people in them), and the unexplored universe.

Yes, having 5 billion credits makes a lot of this pointless.

But you should be ready for the day the PCs have five billion credits. Perhaps a title of nobility is bestowed upon the character, and all of a sudden a lot of factions and governments come looking for financial backing for colony projects, expeditions, infrastructure projects through monster-infested colony sites, and even backing a war with cash for later profits. There are two universal truths in our world that are helpful to remember:
Money does not solve problems.
Money creates problems.
Jealous rivals? Being labeled the reason why the subsector is so poor? Governments who see your rich wallet as a threat to subsector stability? Criminals and pirates looking for a quick paycheck for kidnapping, piracy, theft, or raiding your assets? A hostile press creating all sorts of lies about you, unless, of course, you support them? Politicians who would label you an enemy if you didn't pay up and support their side? The other side that hates you now that you do? A totalitarian regime seeking to end your character's influence and claim your resources and colony investments? Tax-happy planets wanting you to pay your fair share? Terrorist/pirate factions seizing your subsector investments "for the people" or themselves? Other companies wanting to know "where you stand" on expensive conflicts that hurt their businesses? Alien factions looking for "support" and a voice?

All jealous and greedy people need are a reason, and greed and envy are great reasons.

You look at the richest places in today's world and how many problems money creates, and you realize that maybe money isn't such a big problem after all, but an opportunity for trouble that can write thousands of interesting stories.

No to Invincibles, Yes to Fun

The advice is good not to let a party gather so many powers they have an answer to everything. It is good to keep players hungry. No invincible superheroes. Yes struggling spacers.

However, I feel it is very important to start the players out seeing the consequences of their goals. Put some conflicts in the universe that affect them that are caused by greed and envy, where money and the lust for power is sending the people of the universe to their deaths over "who owns what?" It is a pointless, greedy, negative theme for a sci-fi game where normally the ideals of Star Trek or Star Wars push characters into "greater good" feelings.

Traveller isn't really about the greater good. It is a universe sandbox. You could play this like Grand Theft Auto with lasers and bug-eyed aliens and hit all the right points. Money and greed should be constant themes, because a player's goals should be reflected in the universe around them.

Show them the consequences of greed early. Set the tone. Keep them hungry. Let them choose sides.

If they want to join in and celebrate greed and backstabbing, let them.

If they want to fight against greed for a greater good and unity, let them.

The hidden end-game in Traveller plays out nicely as a wealthy faction the PCs control that finds out how much the subsector loves or hates them. Or both.

And the next generation of PCs can start after that story ends. Is there peace in the subsector? War? Economic opportunity? A subsector depression? Piracy? Revolution? Is it time to explore new frontiers? Write the history of one era, and move on to the next.

Tomorrow, Yesterday, and Today

Part of the mistake we made as kids was not to see this, and not make this an option. The universe felt empty and who cared? It was a different time, and there were other games with built-in motivations that captured our imaginations. The pre-made universes of other games gave us instant starting points and places to jump in..

But today, I like dreaming and I like creating. I like a more open sandbox in which to play in. I want blank canvases for my ideas instead of pre-made posters with copyrighted content.

I look back and wonder what if? I read this new edition and my mind explores infinite possibilities. Those thoughts come back and I want to share what went wrong, what our mistakes were, and how I would have done things differently. How maybe there wasn't any good options given how the games were written back then, and how the games today have learned from those mistakes. Also, I like reflecting on history and our world and using that for stories in this world.

Part of what I like about Traveller is that the game is simple, yet it has enough defined parts that work together that become limitations to explore within. It is not a generic game such as FATE where anything goes and it is more about story and less about interesting parts. You have a toy box, some rules on how all this works together, and an open sandbox to play in.

M2E Traveller: Specialty Skills

First off, I am going to call Mongoose's second Traveller edition M2E Traveller just to keep it short and let people know what I am talking about. There are a lot of great editions, but from what I see M2E Traveller is the most D&D 5th Edition version of Traveller out there and I like the streamlined and simplified focus of this version of the game very much.

I still have a good collection of M1E Traveller books, and those can for the most part be used with little modification as I hear. I am happy with this purchase and look forward to diving in deeper.

Specialty Skills

I was so confused about these and how you gained skill levels, and then I watched a couple Youtube videos and all was explained.

When you get a level zero skill in a skill with specialties, set all specialty levels of that skill to zero. If you get a skill level in that skill, increase one of the specialties. If you get the semi-rare "Skill 1" choice where you set the skill level to 1, or if you have it at 1 nothing happens in a specialty skill - set one of the specialty skill levels to 1 (or if they are all 1 or higher, nothing happens).

In short, specialty skills branch out one skill into several areas and are all raised separately. Setting them all to zero when you first get a level zero skill is the special case; otherwise, raise them separately and independently as your character gains skills in character creation.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Adios Adsense!

Why I enabled this here is a mystery. Consider the following:
  • Ad-blocking is a security measure, one which I use.
  • I have seen ads used to push malware, browser hijacks, and viruses.
  • Ads are a privacy issue.
  • Everyone blocks them anyways.
  • I make at-most zero to one pennies a month with this on.

How stupid was I? I bought into the hype, you know, what could it hurt? See if this pans out. Ugh, not for me. I am out.

Adios. Goodbye. Ad embedding is a dying business model that just irritates your customers and readers. I am so happy to have turned this off, and please, enjoy the articles here in peace and quiet from now on.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Mail Room: Traveller RPG Box Set

This one I bought out of nostalgia, and I am glad I did. It has been a while since I wrote here, but I keep seeing clicks and hits, so I know there are people that miss me. First off, why I have been away.

My brother passed away. We played pen-and-paper games together for over 40 years.

Traveller was one of those.

So the last year I have been getting my life in order, boxing up 40 years of history and putting those in the garage, and wondering if I would ever return to these worlds. So here I am. Prime Day and a random purchase later an I am part of the way back.

I am not playing, but reading these days, and dreaming. I suppose dreaming is still important, thinking about the what-ifs, and the places never went to and never explored. Pieces of our imaginations which shall live on for as long as we are here, and forever if we choose to share. So share I shall.

First Glance: Basic Game, Basic Gear, no Ship Design

The boxed set focuses on the basic game, with a collection of classic ships, gear, and parts to get you started. No ship design is included, as that is in the High Guard book. Note the original Traveller little black books had a version of ship design that was different than the old-school High Guard's, so that is a difference here. Do I mind?

At first I did, and after a while of thinking about it I didn't. Some of the reviews I seen said their groups got along well without ship design, and stuck with the generous collection of classic designs shown here. I like the sort of "these are standard production designs and what were made" sort of game universe because it starts you out small. The designs are known and become familiar, like the iconic X-Wing or TIE Fighters of Star Wars. You get to know the ships inside and out, even the map layouts provided for each (nice job).

Besides, why waste the space on a cut-down ship design rules set? When if that is what you want, buy the expansion book and avoid repeating the cut-down rules here. I agree with this decision, and for a basic starting game it feels right for me.

Similarly, the gear is pretty generous, but sticks to the standards of what you would expect and gives a good collection to play with without going on for hundreds of pages. You get a good selection here to start with and I feel it gives you plenty of room to come up with your own additions. Some games I feel give you too much and your creativity feels restricted by choice paralysis.

Also, what you get in this box set is equivalent to the basic rule book, so you lose nothing by buying either - except (as I hear in some reviews) information on the default Traveller Imperium setting.

No Imperium and a Starter Sector

The default Third Imeprium setting is mentioned but not included. What you get instead is a scenario book and a sector map with only one subsector filled in - the rest is up for you to create and explore. Wow. Bold move here, and I actually love this. I love this so much I feel I have been waiting for this version for most of the time I have known Traveller. This setting is technically in the Imperium, but there is nothing stopping you from saying "no it's not" and picking one world as the stereotypical Human homeworld and saying "go explore!"

You could create a new map with "future Earth" as the center system and say "go explore!"

No Imperium needed. I love the lore and history of the original setting, but for new players and a new edition this feels right. For a player coming back and my imagination needing a jump start this feels right.

The Imperium is there if you want it, or feel free to ignore it. I like this a lot, and this is close to my feeling of the original Traveller in the first place, it is a hard sci-fi game where you go out and shoot lasers, explore planets, run cargo, meet new civilizations, and generally fly around and do whatever.

You could say Earth or "starting world X" is the only human planet and if we meet a planet with a population code, make up an alien race and go. First contact, trade, war, diplomatic intrigue, galactic rebellion, star federation, evil empire, or whatever makes you happy. You were one of the first to bump into them now play!

This really is an exciting and fresh and also faithful if you want it setup, and I like it a great deal. Nothing is overwhelming and the starting space is small enough you can wrap your head around it, fly around, and get into all sorts of trouble before you head off into uncharted space.

Cyberpunk Bug-Eyed Aliens

The themes of a cyberpunk-style feel plus the inclusion of bug-eyed aliens in the scenario book surprised me. This feels different, the technology is updated from the classic 1950's style bubble-helmet style of old, the 1970's evolution, and the "computers weigh tons" editions of the past. This game feels thoroughly modern, sort of like an Interstellar meets Aliens meets Blade Runner 2049 level of technology for me, if you are familiar with those movies. It is a harder-edged sci-fi than a Star Wars and not as technology magic as Star Trek, so it really fits my idea of a more grounded type of sci-fi where science and engineering are needed to save the day.

Bug eyed aliens? Yes, the scenario book has them, and this feels like it opens the door for them in the game, which is different than my expectations for classic Traveller. I could see throwing in blob monsters, bug monsters, floating amoebas, psionic starfish, brain creatures, space zombies, silicate rock monsters, fish men, space vampires, or any other sort of classic sci-fi race or monster in the game and call it good. The game's lore seems more relaxed, and I would definitely pick up a "monster book" with ideas if they had one. I would also include many more monsters in this game if I were to run it. The door is open.

Cyberpunk? Oddly enough I get that sort of vibe from this game. They have implants and other gear and even A-I intelligences. I am like, if bug-eyed aliens are in, then adding cyberpunk elements to the game feels like a unique and fun combination for a fresh take like this game. Plus augments give power gamers a way to work on their characters with new powers and abilities, so it adds to the tactical and character-building aspect to the game.

I would even add foam-rubber faced aliens with strange skin colors (or talking anthro-animal races) to the mix if it were up to me. This would be the trifecta of "modern sci-fi B movie" goodness for me without wandering into the big sci-fi tent pole universes' territory.

I do find the combination of cyberpunk versus bug-eyed aliens (with an explore as you go universe) to be a fun game to run with this and one I wished I had the chance to run back in the day.

Boxed Set Notes

It is worth noting the boxed set comes at a price premium over the basic rule book. You get maps, dice, and the scenario book, which add to the value considering you get all of the material in the core book plus all this. I like the focused nature of this product though and that made it worth the price of a AAA game (typically the standard edition) for me.

Also, the books are full color - which is a huge plus. The art isn't always eye-popping, which is a minus. The supporting material, like the starship maps and gear pictures, are very welcome and help set the visuals for the game nicely. Good presentation overall, mixed levels of art quality, and nice full color printing.

Overall, Worthy

In my feeling this is a worthy update to the system, more colorful, visual, and updated for the times while still keeping the original game's feeling of hard sci-fi. I like the modern twists and additions, the nods to classic sci-fi, and they feel at home here. I like what Mongoose has done, how this game has evolved, and how it is keeping up with the times instead of standing against the old editions (which are still out there and playable just as well). If you like those, play those!

This game, this edition, feels like is speaks to me, and the movies and experiences I see in sci-fi movies and TV shows. It does so without needing a licenced universe, and you are free to do and pull in whatever you want and play. You could use this as a sort of generic "D&D for space" sort of universe where the classic Traveller elements (tech, ships, rules, gear and feel) hold together stories and space maps that go off in a million unexplored directions. Your universe can be as big or as small as you want, even down to just playing in the Earth's collection of planets without FTL travel. You can use the Imperium, or not.

It feels like a perfect blank-slate open-ended sci-fi game, and that excites my imagination.

More hopefully soon as I dive in and enjoy this updated take on a classic. My summer reading and dreams of a thousand stars are finally here.