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Free RPG Day 2015 – Kiviat Patrol Corvette for MgTrav

pic1959015_t As much as I want to, I usually end up missing  Free RPG Day. In the few times I have made it into a FLGS I am already too late for any of the more desirable stuff and, not being a D&D sorta guy, usually walk away empty handed. This year I was pleasantly surprised to see GypsyKnights Games offer a free Mongoose Traveller RPG download thru DriveThruRPG.

Ships of the Clement Sector 1: Kiviat-class Patrol Corvette is an 18-page product that is the first in the Ships of the Clement Sector line supporting GypsyKnights Clement Sector Alternate Traveller Universe (ATU). It features the outstanding artwork of Ian Stead who is my favorite Traveller ship artist. It also starts off with a bit of fiction to help set the mood. In addition to the background and ship form there is the Mongoose-obligatory deck plan that, though inspirational, is once again all-but-useless at the scale printed. There is also one character described.

Pros: ARTWORK! In addition to the cover one gets a color five-view page. The background is very useful for the referee; the fiction passable.

Cons: Deckplans. The character description is given but no references to which product was used to develop it.

Overall a very useful product; darn sight better than the usually poor Mongoose items.

A big THANK YOU to GypsyKnights Games for giving this away for  the 2015 Free RPG Day. You have sucked me in and I will be looking for opportunities to get the rest of the Ships of the Clement Sector series!

RPG Thursday – Traveller Aliens

Aliens have always had a weird place in My Traveller Universe (MTU). In Classic Traveller, most aliens are based on classic sic-fi tropes or stolen whole-cloth from other works. I listened to a recent episode of The Hydian Way (for FFG’s Edge of the Empire/Age of Rebellion RPG) where the topic was the cantina. They pointed out that in Star Wars (Episode 4 if you must) the cantina is really the only scene with aliens. The rest of the movie is very human-centric. Given I was playing Traveller at the same time as Star Wars, I think that subconsciously affected MTU. Surprisingly, this does not affect my boys who grew up with Ewoks and Jawas and Hutts and other Star Wars aliens who they see populating their Star Wars Universe as much as humans do.

As I have aged, I have come to see the dramatic value of aliens in MTU, and have occasionally tried to work them into my campaigns. With that thought in mind, I recently purchased Flynn’s Guide to Alien Creation for Mongoose Traveller. This short (34 page) pdf started with Universal World Profile and then uses directed 2d6 tables. In many ways, its not far off from the animal encounter builder in Classic Traveller. The result is a race that, though fairly well described, still have enough “unknown” that a referee can modify or embellish for a campaign.

Now, since the tables are random, the results one get may be a bit too random for some. In that case I can see using the table as a “directed builder” to capture all (or the most important) qualities to describe a new race.

Flynn’s Guide to Alien Creation is a good investment. The examples in the book can get a bit too repetitive (every step adds the one new quality while restating ALL the previous ones. As simple as it seems, this book is an invaluable addition to my Traveller library and will be getting much use preparing for the table.

 Image courtesy RPGGeek

Threat Tuesday – Un’er’s New Missile

NorK Missile Launch, June 2015

NorK AntiShip Missile Launch, June 2015

The world’s favorite naughty boy, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, showed off a some new naval toys this weekend. He watched a firepower demonstration where a “new” antiship cruise missile, which some in the press call the “KN-01″, was launched. The missile looks to be a near-copy of conventional Russian designs. If one looks close, you can see a radar reflector set up on the target (gotta make sure you get a hit for the big guy or you’ll end up a dead guy yourself).

For Harpoon 4 players, just use a Russian Kh-35 and see what it gets you!

Memoir Monday – The War Expands to the Pacific

Picked up the Memoir ’44 :Pacific Theater expansion pack this weekend for the boys. This is actually a good buy since it uses the American army and maps found in the base game. If you get other theater expansions you must also buy the map pack.

Wake Island was the first scenario played. Boys like it. They also like the special command rules which reflect the Samurai spirit and doctrine as well as the Gung-ho Marine attitude.

So far, Memoir ’44 is staying on the top of the must-play list for the summer. I think its going to be sooner-than-later when the other theater packs and maps arrive in the RockyMountainNavy household. This is not a bad thing; on the contrary the game is inspiring learning and study for the summer! (Image courtesy Days of Wonder)

Traveller Thursday – T5.09

Imagine my surprise this week when I got an email from Far Future Enterprises for my free downloadable copy of Traveller 5 (T5) version 5.09. Of course I immediately downloaded it!

Still working my way through it. At 759 pages its not light reading. These are my very early impressions:

  • Much better organized
  • An index!
  • Combat rules cleaned up
  • Lots of other errata incorporated

Most important is the organization. The original version was very hard to follow with tables being thrown in at seemingly random spots.

Will be working on trying out the chargen and combat systems, then onto the various Makers to see how they work out.

T5 remains more of a gamemaster/referee toolkit than a game playable as written. That said, I have already seen enough goodness that parts can be ported over or applied to either of my versions of the Outer Veil or Clement Sector settings.

Wargame Wednesday – Clement Sector Trillion Credit Squadron

Mongoose Traveller (MgT) Adventure 3: Trillion Credit Squadron is the naval campaign system for the MgT RPG. It provides rules for building entire navies.

Plugged in some Clement Sector, Hub Federation Universal World Profile (UWP) stats to see what one gets. For determining budget you take the planetary population times a “flat tax” and modify it by a “tax rate” that varies depending on times of Peace, Tension, or War. Population and Tech Level also determine naval shipyard capacity.

My initial analysis looks like the “flat tax” rate is too high. Hub would have a budget of over 4,000,000 MCr. and could build the equivalent of over 4,000 frigate-equivalents PER YEAR.

It becomes immediately apparent that these numbers are not in keeping with the “small-ship” setting of The Clement Sector. The Zimm drives limits starships to no larger than 5,000 tons. The setting documents also imply that the largest spacecraft being built in The Clement Sector is 20,000 tons.

Perhaps cut the “tax rate” by a factor of 100?

Traveller Tuesday – Clement Sector ATU

DrivethruRPG had a science fiction sale during the month of May and I splurged on several items. After watching from afar for awhile I invested in a series of books from Gypsy Knights Games (GKG). The Clement Sector is GKG’s alternate Traveller Universe (ATU) setting that uses the Mongoose Traveller (MgT) RPG rules.

The Clement Sector: A Setting for Traveller is the foundational setting book. The pdf version is 140 pages and provides a broad background of the setting including the history, politics, and religion. Sector and subsection maps with Universal World Profiles (UWP) for the entire sector is provided. Chargen uses the Traveller Main Book (TMB) with setting-specific expansions and changes. The major change is in technology with the “Zimm Drive” which effectively limits starships to under 2000 dTons solidly making The Clement Sector a small-ship setting. Five sample starships are provided, along with setting-tailored rule changes or modifications. Overall, The Clement Sector is directed to the referee and provides most of the necessary support to start adventuring in the Clement ATU.

Career Companion is a sourcebook (61 page pdf) focused on chargen and includes rules for uplifts and altrants (genetically modified humans). Most importantly are the ATU changes to the aging rules; in The Clement Sector the average human lifespan is 254 years. The other major chargen change from the base Traveller rules is SOC versus Wealth. Your SOC characteristic represents not your social status but your “apparent” wealth. This makes the characteristic fluid as one can change their SOC simply by spending more – or less – money each month on appearance, clothing, or lifestyle. Career Companion also includes new career tracks tailored for The Clement Sector as well as an advancement system. Career Companion is equally useful to the referee or players.

The Clement Sector Player’s Guide (115 page pdf) is in many ways an expanded Career Companion. It expands chargen by adding more background (languages, events for youth/teenage/collegiate life) as well as more career options. It also introduces Character Packages, a collection of directed career builders. New skills are also introduced. Like the title says, this item is aimed at the Players though referees will find it useful too.

The Anderson & Felix Guide to Naval Architecture (114 page pdf) is the shipbuilding bible for The Clement Sector. The book presents a ship design sequence that merges the adventure class ships from the TMB with Book 2: High Guard. Though not credited, I think even some of Adventure 3: Trillion Credit Squadron makes it not the tables. It also covers Small Craft and Pre-Granitic Drive spacecraft. My major criticism of this book is the lack of ship designs; indeed there is only one ship and one small craft presented.

The one interstellar polity in The Clement Sector is The Hub Federation. I purchased three Hub Federation-related items:

  • The Hub Federation (62 page pdf) provides players and referees background into the history, government, and worlds of the Hub Federation. Focus is on system details of the worlds. This is definitely an adventure-seed book for referees and an encyclopedic-reference for players.
  • Hub Federation Navy (95 page pdf) is the sourcebook for naval characters in the Hub Federation. Setting background specific to the Navy, including organization, uniforms, and fleet composition is provided. There is also an expanded chargen with additional career tracks . Surprisingly, though a navy-focused book, there is not one-single ship design in the entire product. GKG apparently is trying to get you to buy their Ships of the Clement Sector series instead. At least ONE design would have been appreciated!
  • Hub Federation Ground Forces (104 page pdf) is the sourcebook for army and marine characters. A little bit of flavor-fiction starts off this product, an item lacking in Hub Federation Navy. Like that product, history, organization, uniforms and expanded career tracks are presented. Unlike Hub Federation Navy, Ground Forces includes toys such as Assault Landers, a Strike Carrier (think marine assault ship), as well as vehicles and weapons. The addition of ships, vehicles, and weapons makes this a much more useful book than the navy one.

Taken together, these products are more than enough to start playing in the Clement Sector ATU. Although all the products have background and history, the level of detail is superficial enough to give referees lots of room to build their own setting within the broad brushstrokes GKG provides.

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