Traveller Product Reviews

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Traveller is a registered trademark of FarFuture Enterprises.
Portions of this material are Copyright © 1977-1996 FarFuture Enterprises.
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Last Updated: 22 August, 1996

Aliens Of The Rim: A Dissenting View

Date: Wed, 5 Apr 1995 01:27:55 -0400
From: Rob Prior <Rob_Prior@nynet.nybe.north-york.on.ca>
To: Multiple recipients of list <traveller@MPGN.COM>
Subject: Aliens of the Rim: A Dissenting View

I've just picked up Aliens of the Rim and, frankly, I don't think that it deserves all the abuse heaped on it.

I don't understand Dave's sense of humour, but then I don't understand most American comedy programs anyway. Or maybe I'm just getting old. Leaving aside the in-jokes, what's left is a reasonable piece of work.

Artwork is OK-to-good, and certainly better than in several recent products.

Writing and production is better than many GDW products. I caught a couple of typos, but back in the early days of Megatraveller this would have been an amazingly well-done book.

Briefly (because it's past midnight), I'll comment on previous reviews. Tomorrow I'll send a more complete one of my own.

The multiple views of history are canonical. Even back in Classic Traveller times we had multiple views of alien races. (The Zhodani modules was CT, not MT.) This just adds one more example to the list. Dave and Loren have managed to convey a deeper sense of the variety of social viewpoints in the Federation than the previous module did (while also plugging a few weak spots from that module).

As to the Ithklur fascination with old Terran motifs, this is a literary technique often used in science fiction. If you can accept the vast stability of the Imperial universe then this shouldn't be a problem.

Regarding the "humans in rubber suits" issue: I didn't get this impression. Instead, I thought that Dave/Loren is saying that although you might _try_ to play an alien you are still a human, and so everything you see/think/do is filtered through your human viewpoint.

Given the arguments I've had with people (some here, some elsewhere) concerning human cultures I think this is optimistic: most people don't really understand other human cultures.

The game rules are useful and mercifully brief. Character generation is fully covered. Suggestions for roleplaying are useful. I particularly liked the NPC motivations.

Well worth the money I paid.

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Regency Sourcebook

Date: Mon, 2 Oct 1995 09:44:51 -0700
From: Christopher_Griffen@dmcwave.com (Christopher Griffen)
To: traveller@MPGN.COM
Subject: Regency Sourcebook is here!

*** SPOILER ALERT: Do not read this if you don't want to know anything about the RSB ahead of time. ***

Well, it finally arrived. I about burst a blood vessel on Friday when I got a little package from GDW containing none other than...THE REGENCY SOURCEBOOK. I was almost afraid to open it, lest I realize my greatest fears that it isn't up to par.

Thankfully, this was not the case. I've read through about 75 percent of the book so far, and I must say that I'm fairly impressed. Nilsen committed to a multiple-volume series in the introduction, a la the RCES campaign books. So we should be seeing a Regency Equipment Guide, Regency Personalities, Character Generation Rules, etc. To be fair, I think that Nilsen is correct that you can only do so much with 96 pages, but I think he has crammed in the information that most of us wanted. Namely, the modified sector data for the Spinward Marches, Deneb, coreward Trojan Reaches and coreward-spinward Reft Sector.

The RQS description was very nice. It gave me a very good feel for how the Quarantine Service operates and keeps virus in check. I look forward to character generation rules for RQS careers.

I refuse to be specific as I don't want to ruin anything for Traveller referees who want to keep one up on their players, but I will say that many of the questions about the Zhodani are at least in part satisfied by the RSB. At least we know there _is_ a reason that the Zhos did not invade and crush the Regency during the last 70 years.

There is also preliminary information about the upcoming "Oklahoma Land Purchase" rush, Regency Style. Due to a stagnating economy, the Regency has cleared the way for expansion into the wilds. Watch out, RCES!!!

Suitable sections also describe the Aslan, Vargr, Darrians, Sword Worlds, Droyne/Chirper, Federation of Arden and Old/New Islands subcultures of the Regency. Nice write-ups were also provided for the psionic subculture and the nobility.

There's a very nice illustration of an age-accelerated Archduke Norris, who is dead long before 1202 by the way, but I daresay it looks like a well-done computer-modified version of one of the illustrations from one of the old DGP books.

The description of the new Regent is also good and fairly prophetically sets up the quest for a new Imperium. I think we can all read the writing on the wall about where this is headed.

The 45 subsectors in the book are very well written up in the RCES style. That is, no xboat lanes (there is a good explanation for why these no longer exist) and the maps are wrapped by important system information. I was pleased to discover that most of our RICE papers for the most part, will fit in nicely with what GDW wrote up. (Although they trashed my physiological description of the Gl'lu on Kubishush; I suppose I should issue an update!).

The one thing that _did_ change greatly are tech levels and population levels. _Dozens_ of worlds were greatly enhanced over the past 70 years. Vincennes is listed as an imminent TL-17 society. Efate has reached TL-15, Mora (TL-16), and many more.

There are some very nice ship designs in the back, including the TL-16 Darrian patrol cruiser and the Aslan Quarantine Cutter.

One of the most pleasing announcements in the book is that TNS reports will be returning to the pages of Challenge magazine. HOORAY!!!

I guess if I had any complaints, it'd be the few silly humorous items added in by Mr. Nilsen that we can probably call "Davisms." They're not on par with some of the more ridiculous Ithklur items (e.g., San Klaas; argh!), but they're borderline. I think I can forgive him his urge to throw in a little humor in a few select spots considering a job well done for the most part. Actually, I have to admit, a few of his Aslan and nobility quips made me laugh out loud.

All in all, I couldn't be more pleased. Though now I suppose I'm going to have to frantically wait once again for the inevitably delayed and double-delayed sequels to the RSB. For now, however, at least we have a good primer to get things going in the Regency.

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Traveller

Date: Sat, 6 May 1995 23:39:50 -0400
From: Derek Wildstar <wildstar@qrc.com>
To: Multiple recipients of list <traveller@MPGN.COM>
Subject: Re: Traveller info

> I'm interested in buying a SF RPG and I've been considering Traveller (or
> MegaTraveller).  Could you write to me and explain the difference between
> Traveller, The New Era and MegaTraveller, with a description of each?

Though I'll undoubtedly attract quite a number of flames (this is very nearly a religious issue here), here's my opinion:

The Traveller story actually begins in 1977, with a game called Traveller (no "Mega" no "New Era", just Traveller). As a late-seventies RPG, Traveller was very advanced for its time, and was quite successful; a good deal of support materials were produced, and a rather rich, detailed background universe was developed.

Though it had a number of blemishes, inconsistencies, and other minor problems, Traveller was not only one of the first (if not _THE_ first) hard-SF role-playing games, but it was also the best. It would probably be fair to say that this original game has had as profund an effect on Science-Fiction roleplaying as Dungeons and Dragons did on the fantasy role-playing genre (the persons responsible [and yes, that includes you, Loren] should feel justifiably proud, and take a bow).

This original game, now generally called "Classic Traveller" (or sometimes just "the Black Books" - the rules were a series of small black books), is long out of print, and generally available only at collectors' prices.

The original game was updated and modernized as MegaTraveller. The game mechanics were updated, and an excellent "task system" were added, while remaining relatively true to the original game system. While characters could move easily from "Classic" to "Mega" Traveller, not so for starship designs or other hardware, and the official background universe was updated, placing it in the throes of a violent civil war (called the "Rebellion" for reasons which have never been very clear).

Unfortunately, MegaTraveller itself is riddled with logical and typographic errors, as well as misformatted tables and other production problems. Compounding these troubles is explanitory text and "design sequence" flowcharts that never rise above 'fair' except where they were lifted from the original Traveller books, and providing that they weren't mistranscribed in the process (those responsible should hang their heads in shame).

The end result is a set of rules which is not very beginner-friendly at all; those who knew the original rules, or who had someone to teach them, managed MegaTraveller fairly well. I don't recommend MegaTraveller, unless you can get it at a bargain price, or know someone who can point out the errata and explain the confusing sections.

Traveller: The New Era is GDW's current Traveller product. In some ways, it can be considered an entirely new start: the original Traveller game rules have been scrapped in favor of the Twilight: 2000 system; and the official game universe is set after a complete collapse of interstellar society, functionally severing it from the previous game universe.

In my opinion, the "tone" of the game has altered as well; there is a heavy emphasis on combat and combat-oriented operations with a corresponding simplification into well-defined "black" (opponents) and "white" (the 'good guys', including the player-characters). Classic hard-SF, which provided much of the inspiration for the original Traveller game, has much less of an influence on Traveller: The New Era, which can probably be more accurately described as Space Fantasy, rather than Science Fiction.

While there are a few more typos than should have been allowed to go to the printers', the basic rulebook is solid (though rather bloated at 384 pages) with a very few exceptions. The suppliment Fire, Fusion, and Steel contains another 160 pages of starship, vehicle, and equipment rules which do not appear in the main rulebook. If you intend to make space combat a major part of your game, you will also need Brilliant Lances, since the space combat rules in the T:TNE rulebook have a number of flaws that severly impact playability.

If you're going to create your own background universe, this is about all the material you will need, although a few additional items (Battle Rider, with rules for managing larger space battles, and Striker 2 for land battles) may be useful, depending on the type of campaign you are contemplating. If, however, you intend to use GDW's official campaign universe, there are many more books you can purchase.

Recommendation: Avoid MegaTraveller; if your choice is between the two, definitely choose Traveller: The New Era. HOWEVER, the Twilight: 2000 rules system that T:TNE is based on is one that people either like or dislike, there's relatively little middle ground. If possible, play a session or two before spending your money. Another possibility for a SF role-playing game is Steve Jackson's GURPS and GURPS Space (and associated sourcebooks).

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Vampire Fleets

Date: Fri, 2 Jun 1995 16:05:17 -0400
From: JEFF ZEITLIN <jeff.zeitlin@execnet.com>
To: Multiple recipients of list <traveller@MPGN.COM>
Subject: Comments: Vampire Fleets

I picked it up yesterday from (plug plug) The Compleat Strategist, on East 33d st just of Fifth, in the Rotten Apple. I was disappointed to see that it did not rate posting on their "Coming/Came attractions" board - the first TNE product that wasn't so featured. OTOH, I was told that they had come in that day, so they may simply not have had time tp update the display...

Anyway, the first thing I saw was the cover - not an unreasonable thing to expect to see first. That was slightly disappointing. It was the same "sinister face made of circuit tracings" that has been prominent in the black-and-white ads in previous products The colorization of the picture, however, seemed to be designed to obscure the circuit-tracing nature of the portrait. The titling font was also not what was used in the ads. Oh, well, I think consistency in this would have been nice, but let's look at the contents - they're more important.

The book is organized into six sections - three sections of game source material, each of which is followed by a section of adventure source material. The three adventures dovetail into a single campaign, and each adventure uses Virus as a principal NPC. Each section of game source material provides useful/needed background information for the adventure material immediately following, and the adventure material provides a reasonable insight into the game source material.

The third section of game source material contains an extended design sequence for creating robots, optionally including a "personality" for Virus-infected (NPC) robots. No provisions for creating a Virus-PC are included, although the book does "stop short of saying [that it is] impossible". I have not compared this sequence with any other extant robot-creation sequences, though I do note that it is conceptually compatible with the general FFS sequence for designing vehicles (I don't remember what, if anything, existed in FFS for robots...).

As befits the general topic, there is much opportunity for a party of PCs to interact with Virus on an extended-time basis, and in several modes. The focus, as with most TNE material to date, is on a Coalition-based campaign, and information on converting to a Pocket Empire or Regency campaign is sketchy at best. Hiver involvement in this aspect of the Coalition campaign has been downplayed to a point I find difficult to accept, given what we have been told before - if anything, I would have expected a much higher level of Hiver participation, as it is the Hivers who best survived the spread of Virus, and who would have the most knowledge of it.

The general feel of the book seems to imply that Virus is a major danger to the Coalition - something that we intellectually knew before, perhaps, but previous material did not make it appear to be as much of a threat as this book does. I hope I haven't discovered a "discontinuity check". For what it's worth, the calendar appeared to be in mid-1202, and there are two _dated_ quotations that may lock GDW into a timetable - one extends Coalition rights to all sentients, including artificials, in 1204, and one indicates that contact with the Regency will be made in or by 1206 - with distinct implications that it will _not_ be an open-arms-buddy-buddy-how-nice-we're-not-alone celebration. Loren, where's the Regency sourcebook for this period immediately prior to contact, fercryinoutloud?

For those who have been keeping up with Challenge magazine and other GDW source material on the New Era, there is other clear evidence that the Coalition is becoming much more active outside the AO, or that the AO itself is expanding.

Overall, I feel it is well-presented. There is reason within to cause players and PCs to possibly re-think their most-likely- -black-and-white-Virus-is-EVIL views, just like the CT Zhodani alien module did for the most-likely-black-and-white-Zhodani- -and-psionics-are-EVIL views back then. It's a decent read in and of itself (if you're like me - YMMV otherwise). My primary complaint is that it is perhaps a little _too_ focussed on the Coalition interaction with Virus - I'd have liked to see additional sections briefly discussing the differences between the Coalition approach toward Virus and the Regency attitude, and the incidents that shaped them. As it stands, this is definitely a Coalition sourcebook, and less desirable to a Pocket Empire or Regency campaign.

On a Five-Best scale, I give it a 3.5-to-4.0 for Coalition GMs, subtract about 0.5 for a Pocket Empire GM, and subtract 1.0-to-1.25 for a Regency GM.

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A Review of Marc Miller's Traveller

By Joseph E. Walsh <ransom@iconnect.net>

The following is my review of the fourth edition of the Traveller rules, entitled "Marc Miller's Traveller," abbreviated T4. The review begins with an overview of the entire system. Following that, there is a chapter-by-chapter review. Finally, I give some general feelings, a numerical rating for the work, and a recommendation.

System Overview: T4 has errors; some are serious, most are not. T4 is not TNE Second Edition; the only thing it has in common with TNE is the starship systems (and even that has been changed from FF&S). T4 truly is, as IG claimed, "Classic Traveller (CT) updated based on 20 years of RPG experience." Take "The Traveller Book (TTB)," add a new task system, some more character classes, a new die-rolling convention or two (1/2 dice, X- targets instead of X+ targets), a consolidated and updated skills listing, and the aforementioned modified TNE starship creation system, and you'll have the essence of T4.

The book begins with a short history of the Traveller game, outlining the early years, MegaTraveller, Traveller: The New Era, and the fall of GDW and and FFE/IG's subsequent actions. It's a good (if short) summary, and those new to the Traveller system will probably get a good feeling from knowing the system they're buying has such a long history. Also included in this section is a sort of Mission Statement for Traveller, stating Marc Miller's desire to return to a simpler gaming system while allowing for increasing complexity for those who desire such, through additional materials.

Chapter 1 (What's in this Book)

This material is mostly pulled from TTB. Topics include, "What is a Role- Playing Game," how to referee, etc. In short, this is the section included in every RPG ever made.

Chapter 2 (Character Generation)

The new system is a cross between the basic and advanced CT systems. For example, careers are resolved in four-year terms, but the character now receives four skills per term instead of one (plus possible additional skills for commission and promotions). This, coupled with the pre-career schooling options and four to seven initial skills make for characters well able to compete with the best characters generated under any previous Traveller system. There are eight schooling options and ten main careers, allowing for a wide variety of characters to be created.

There are other differences between the T4 and CT systems. Under T4, there are no longer survival throws. Instead, a throw is made for injury. If an injury results, the character is discharged honorably from service, is healed, then begins his or her adventuring career. A minor difference is a change in terminology from "Reenlistment" to "Continuance," which has less of a military connotation.

Unfortunately, this section has many typos (as do almost all sections of the book). Worse, there is a serious error: the mustering out rules do not match the character generation tables. The rules state that the character recieves additional rolls on the Cash or Benefits tables based on his or her rank achieved. Rank 1-2 yields one additional roll, Rank 3-4 yields two rolls, and 5-6 yields three rolls. Yet on the character generation tables, ranks proceed from E1 to E10, and from O1 to O10 (or O7 in one case). While CT afficianados will know what is meant by ranks 1 through 6, new players will undoubtedly be unable to reconcile the text with the tables.

There is another error in this section. In the services portion of character generation, the skill tables do not have cluster/cascade skills listed in bold (they ARE listed in bold in the schools/colleges section, though). This will confuse people at first, until they memorize which are clusters/cascades and which are not.

Overall, the characters generated under this system will have more skills and higher characteristic scores than those generated under any previous system. Whether this is good, bad, or indifferent depends on the individual. I personally like the new system.

Chapter 3 (Skills)

The skills list is about the right size,giving players enough skills to easily differentiate their characters without giving so many that it becomes unwieldy. The skill descriptions are good, providing enough detail to give referees an idea of which situations each skill will be useful in.

The Skills List and the Skills Descriptions are supposed to have some skills in italics, which is to connote those skills which may be used at level-0. Unfortunately, no skills are listed in italics. However, the skills descriptions do note which skills may be used at level-0 by use of the word "default" in the heading. This is not as convenient as the promised italics, but that is not a serious error.

Chapter 4 (Tasks)

This chapter is only two pages long, which I count as point in T4's favor. Many games are plagued by overly complex task systems that list dozens of die modifiers. This task system does not succumb to that failed methodology.

The only thing controversial about the Task System is its reliance on 1/2 dice. That is, in some situations it will be necessary to throw a number of dice, designating one as a "half die." The roll made on this die will be halved (rounding up). Some players do not like this method any more than I enjoy an overly complex task system. Overall, I think this may cause some slight decrease in sales, but I think the rest of the system is robust enough that those who really want to play Traveller will put up with the 1/2 die rolls.

Chapter 5 (Ground Combat)

The combat section looks good. 8 pages of text, one page of tables, and it covers just about everything you'd want it to (in a basic book), from hand-to-hand to artillery, tanks, robots, and other forms of ground combat. It is possible to cover all of this (in a basic way) in 8 short pages because of the robust task system. I'm impressed.

You can still tell Traveller has its roots in wargaming. The original rules shine through in this section, and their flavor is retained. However, the consolidating effects of having a task system has vastly simplified the combat rules over what appeared in CT. Once you memorize the task system, combat will go very quickly.

The only error I found in the section is in the discussion of explosives. They don't mention whether a grenade is thrown at a target HEX or a target INDIVIDUAL. Since the system uses range bands, I guess I can see why they didn't mention it. But, it'll be hard for inexperienced players to resolve hand grenade attacks. They can figure damage, but not to-hit. Most will probably be able to puzzle it out though.

Here is a list of things I like about the combat system:

  1. Multiple actions: A character can now make a number of actions each round up to his or her related characteristic score, but at a penalty. A person with Strength 8 can make 8 Brawling attacks per round, for instance, but each attack will have relatively little chance of succeeding (unless the character is very highly skilled).
  2. Called Shots: You can do a called shot for increased damage (two kinds), decrease damage (two kinds), or to disarm.
  3. "Holding" your actions is covered well.
  4. Special Rules: In addition to the Tactics Pool and Endurance rules that are familiar to most of us, there are also Strength and Dexterity Pools. Strength pools allow one to increase the damage done by non-ranged attacks. Dexterity pools allow one to avoid being hit by non-ranged attacks (no dodging bullets, darn it![G]).
  5. Initiative: Initiative is done more logically (I got a taste of this in the Starship Battles game, and it works well) now. The side that wins the initiative moves LAST but attacks FIRST. That way, they can react to the other side's movement, then fire attack before the other side does. This is more playable than realistic, but from experience, I know it does work well.

Chapters 6 (Equipment) and 7 (Vehicles)

The equipment sections (comprising the Eqiuipment and Vehicles chapters) are well-done, and have fewer typos than the first few chapters (the character creation chapter has the most typos). There is a sampling of equipment given in these chapters, much the same as that given in The Traveller Book. The full list, of course, will be in the Central Supply Catalog supplement.

There are also side-bars giving some examples of specific models of vehicles with very detailed descriptions and specifications. I like this. (BTW, the book uses side-bars the way they should be used: sparingly.)

The basic equipment section has a few new items in it (including a non-lethal weapon and a not-very-lethal weapon, both commonly used for personal protection a la mace/pepper spray and stun guns).

The pictures given of various pieces of equipment are well-chosen. The text is well-written and informative. I usually skip equipment sections until I need a specific item, but this one has some gems in it that make it worth reading.

Overall, the equipment chapters were done well.

Chapters 8 (Spacecraft), 9 (Space Travel), and 10 (Space Combat)

We all know about the starship design sequence (developed by Guy "Wildstar" Garnett, and dubbed the Quick Ship Design System (QSDS)), so I won't go into that, except to say that IG, in attempting to squeeze this last-minute-change into the book was forced to put the tables in completely out of order. The Hull Table, although it should be consulted first, is on the third page. The Thrust Plate Potential table appears a few pages later than the Thrust Plate Drives table, even though those tables should be consulted together.

More seriously, IG left out two critical tables, making it impossible to use the QSDS system to design jump-capable ships. This is the only other serious error that has been found in the T4 rule book.

The section on travelling, "Lesser Known Aspects of Space Travel," etc. are all pretty much right from The Traveller Book. The big news is the space combat system. For you space combat fans, please remember that this, like all the systems in the book, is the BASIC system. You won't be stuck with it.

That said, the Basic Ship Combat system is excellent for those of us who are fans of ship combat, but who don't want something that takes all day. This system is simple, smooth, and streamlined. It is actually easier than the Traveller Starship Combat system alpha-tested at Gen-Con. It's a stand-and-blast sort of system, in short. I applaud the inclusion of this system. IG and FFE did the right thing.

I look forward to the release of the system shown at Gen-Con, but this will do for now. More importantly, this system will allow newbies to jump right in and engage in starship battles. It will whet their appetites for the (two? three?) more complex ship combat systems to come.

Chapter 11 (Psionics)

This is mostly straight out of "The Traveller Book," with the notable addition of a Psionicist prior service! That's right, there is a somewhat- hidden 11th character type in T4! (I was rather surprised to run across the generation table in the Psionics chapter.)

Also included is a Telekinetic Damage chart, which shows just how lethal such a skill can be. The maximum damage listed is 33D!!

Chapter 12 (World Generation)

This is almost completely a copy of the same chapter from TTB. Since there are no major changes, there's nothing to review. Sadly, there are no forms provided for use with this section.

Chapter 13 (Encounters)

This is a combination of the Encounters and Animal Encounters chapters from TTB. The notable exception is an inclusion of short (1/2 to 4/5-column) descriptions of each of the major and minor races of Traveller. Also included is a bit of info on including aliens in a Traveller campaign (administering them, role-playing them, creating new ones, etc.). Interestingly, the example encounter table from TTB was used. In TTB and in T4, it is labelled as the encounter table for Regina, which won't be contacted for quite some time after Milieu 0. That one will probably confuse some newbies! "Where the heck is Regina on the Core Subsector Grid? Eh, I'll just call one of these unnamed planets Regina. What could it hurt?" ;)

Chapter 14 (Referee's Introduction)

Once again, this is mostly taken from the Introduction in TTB. Also included is the Character Experience section, which has much better allowances for skill improvement, learning new skills, and improving characteristics (somewhat like the system I proposed on the Traveller Mailing List several months ago).

Chapter 15 (Running Adventures and Campaigns)

This stuff is right out of TTB's "Referee's Guide to Adventuring," right down to the well-known "basics, push, pull, gimmick, enigma" method. Once again, not much to review here.

Chapter 16 (Trade and Commerce)

This is right out of Book 7, Merchant Prince. We're back to trade goods being designated C-9 Ag Ni Cr 7,000. I'd hoped for something more, but I guess that, like the space combat enthusiasts, I'll have to wait for the appropriate supplement.

Chapter 17 (Exit Visa)

Exit Visa is one of the adventures that was included in TTB. It has been updated to make sense under the setting and rules of T4 (ie, different equipment, different date, etc.), but is otherwise very similar to the original.

Chapter 18 (Rubicon Cross)

This is a completely new adventure. It is a well-crafted scenario, and should serve well as a means of getting new referees and players excited about Traveller.

Sadly, unlike TTB, no other adventures were included. Also, no mention was made of "Basic Traveller Activities," which in TTB offered a list of suggested solo activities for players and referees to engage in between sessions.

The Rest of the Book

The final few pages include: Core Subsector data, Core Subsector Grid, the Traveller character sheet, some Library Data (right out of TTB, once again) and a pretty good Index.

Forms

On page 13, in the "What's in this Book" section, they kept the paragraph on forms from The Traveller Book:

        "Scattered throughout several chapters are various prepared
        forms.  One is used to record the specifics of the character,
        for instance.  Another records data about a starship.  The
        forms provided are intended for use by the referee and the
        players as they generate information during the game. They
        have been printed on the page for maximum ease of photocopying.
        Once two copies have been made, they can be positioned side
        by side on the photocopier and multiple copies can be run off."

This is almost completely wrong. Yes, there is a character sheet. It takes up a whole page. Making two copies, as they suggest, makes no sense for ease of further copying, since it takes up a whole page and not 1/2 page as in CT. Furthermore, the starship form is tiny, about 3 inches by 4 inches. It is toward the binding on the page, and the page has other information on it which you would not want to copy. Hardly suitable for copying unless you go to rather more effort than should be required.

I have found no other forms in the book. Most notably missing are the Sector Map Grid and the Sector Data Form.

IG or someone else should rush a Forms Pack to the market, so that players and referees who don't have the CT forms can more easily keep records, generate sectors, etc.

Rating the T4 Book

My overall score for T4, if it had been completely error-free: 100 out of a possible 100. (This assumes no typos, no other errors, and the inclusion of better/more forms.) [That is, I think the ideas behind the book are rock-solid.]

My overall score for T4, if it had been without the errors in chapters 2 and 8 (character generation and ship design), but otherwise unchanged: 95 out of a possible 100. [Meaning that all of the errors I have found, excepting those in Chapters 2 and 8, are trivial, saying only to the reader that IG was sloppy and/or rushed in preparing the book.]

My overall score for T4, errors and all: 85 out of 100. [Meaning that the errors in chapters 2 and 8 are serious enough to knock their score down considerably, but they still recieve a solid "B" grade.]

My Recommendation:

Read the book and make your own decision, above all. I've tried to give people a feel for the system, but there's nothing like seeing it for yourself. That said:

If you are a fan of CT and would like to see new products for your favorite game, this is probably the system for you. The plethora of new products planned for T4 will almost certainly satisfy every type of player.

If you are a fan of MT but wish it hadn't been done quite the way it was, this may be the CT update you've been wishing for since 1987.

If you are a fan of TNE, this is probably not what you are looking for. If you like TNE's starship systems a lot, but like some of the things about CT and MT, you may enjoy T4. But if you think TNE is the best incarnation of Traveller you've seen yet, you probably won't like T4. (This one is an almost uneducated guess, as I have never played TNE and I've only read the rulebook for it once. But, comments from TNE players at Gen-Con, while perhaps not representative of all TNE players, concur with my opinion expressed above.)

Conclusion

I believe T4 to be a worthy successor to the Traveller name. There are only two serious problems with the book: mustering out, and the lack of the promised italics in the skills listing. Neither of these, however, should significantly affect the playability, and therefore sales, of the game. A simple, one-page errata sheet will clear up both of these errors. Clearly, that is far better than GDW did with MegaTraveller.

This ends my initial review of T4. I hope it has been informative for those who haven't had a chance to look at the game yet. When you do see it, please post your own opinion of Marc Miller's Traveller to the Traveller Mailing List.

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