It is a really good story set in a universe that I love. The asteroid mining colony of Freeholm is experiencing some troubles… They hire some protection for their colony and it’s visitors. It gets really interesting and deadly.
However, this book needs some serious editing. I cannot believe that they released it in this state. There are not only lots of spelling and grammar errors. There are even parts of the book that are contradicting other parts of the book.
Quick Decks 2 from DSL Ironworks is a tool that helps you to quickly make deckplans for Traveller starships. However, when you start using it and see how good and useful it is, you will probably spend a lot of time using it to make pretty deckplans. The front cover of the product shows what you can use the resulting deckplans for.
In the example that I have done for this review there is a lounge with a bar in the front of the ship. Just outside the lounge are two “freshers”. (I thought that was needed outside the bar…) A wide corridor leads to the next section. In the corridor there is a first aid cabinets and a fire cabinets and a sofa. There are four staterooms connected to the corridor.
I used GIMP when I made the deckplan in this example, but any other good image editor will work fine. I set the grid to 100*100 pixels and the offset to x=75 and y=75 pixels, and then selected snap to grid. Then it was easy to import images from the pdf to gimp and fit them exactly where I wanted.
There are lots of components to choose from. There are the usual classic symbols and many more. There are premade staterooms, lounges, briefing rooms, libraries, laboratories, brigs, armories, barracks, barbettes, sensors, magazines, boarding equipments and more. With the armories and barracks I also want to build some Starship Troopers inspired deckplans.
In 2005 there was a discussion at the CotI boards about additional book-2 components. I suggested some of those we now see in this product. This product makes me happy, since it helps me to implement deckplans using my old ideas.
This is an inspiring product. You just want to build more and more deckplans with it. Another nice feature is that the pdf is layered, so that you can hide some of the components in the images. You can try it using the full size preview. This product is the second in a trilogy of deckplan tools. You might need them all if you are a serious deckplan designer.
The Fat Cat (tIG TPT-133 “Fat Cat” Logistics Transport) is an interesting ship from Fat Cat Games. It’s a 300 ton trader with an unorthodox design. 300 tons might be a nice compromise between the 200 ton far trader, that might seem too small and the 400 ton Subsidized Merchant that may be too big. This feels like it would be a perfect adventure ship. The design is done for Mongoose Traveller rules, but can easily be used with any Traveller rules. The design is for an unspecified ATU (that I think we will soon hear some more about), but can easily be used in the OTU.
The deckplans in the book are in black and white. The level of detail in them are better than what we are used to see in a CT product. The side views are really cool. I like that they have included images of humans to show the size. The descriptions of the deckplans are very good.
The CGI images are good but I think the texture on the ship is a bit boring. (I want to see serial numbers, name of the ship, company logo, warning markings, etc.) The darker images are the ones I like the best. The mirror effect on the landed ship is quite cool, since that is not what we are used to see. Showing humans with the landed craft is also a good idea.
In the last part of the book there is an example crew and 3 Patrons (adventure hooks). I like this, since I like adventure. Now it is easy to use the ship, either as an encounter or as a PCs ship to run some quick scenarios.
I like this product. It could serve as a template for what a product for a Traveller Starship should include. (I only missed a good index.)
You can get this now as a pdf at DriveThruRPG, but there is also a Kickstarter project for a printed (and updated) version. At the Kickstarter site, there is also a nice picture of the ship landed in water.
What has Mongoose done to the Sword Worlds? Do I need this book? These are the questions that I will try to answer here.
The cover of the book is quite cool, but it doesn’t look like the soldiers in the image are Sword Worlders at all. 😐
Interior art is not bad either. I just feel it is too much Viking themed, and not really showing the hi-tec spacefaring culture that I wanted to see. The deckplans are fine and the 3D rendering of the Jarl is ok. It can be seen in colour at Biomass Art.
There are a few contradictions in the introduction of the book. Are the Sword Worlds a dangerous place or a popular place to visit? Are there no physical differences from original Solomani or is the average male weight 105 kg, and the females pregnant for 10 months? Then there is also (a likely) bug in the naming rules, since the female surname possessive form is missing, but not the male possessive form.
How did they come up with the Army Ranking table? I don’t think that matches any Scandinavian army. (SWE, NOR, DEN)
There are 3 new careers. The first one is the Aesirist Church. This isn’t something that I like. It is too Viking themed. I will not use it in MTU. The next one is The Patrol. From old JTAS #18. This is a good idea to include. The third is Jäger Command. I think it should really be part of Marines or Army, as special forces.
The origin of sagamaal and the vocabulary makes some sense. Currency and exchange rate was a good thing to include. History is a bit messed up. It’s interesting but doesn’t match the previous publications.
In the Worlds chapter, the world listing of the subsector is missing the worlds outside the Sword Worlds. The atmosphere of Enos is explained in the same way as in the GURPS SW module. (To keep Traveller fun, these things should be ignored so that the referee can deal with in a different way.) Mithril matches the old adventure Mission on Mithril.
The equipment list is nice, but there are some items that are just too Viking themed. There are a nice selection of ships. Some parts of the encounter tables are fine, and the animals are interesting. The miniphants has been changed. They are not the same miniphants as in JTAS #16.
There are some proofreading errors (as usual). There are some extra-large apostrophes. There is a reference to a class III starport. (That is what a type C starport is called in GURPS.) There are some talk about the Border Worlds (that shouldn’t exist in 1105). I get an error message in the end of the pdf. Please Mongoose, do a better job!
So, I think that parts of the book is good, and other parts are not so good. You can buy it for the good parts. Maybe you like the other parts as well. The alternative would be to use JTAS #18 and read Space Viking for free, and form your own opinion about the Sword Worlds.
The idea is that a referee can use this (or the other books in this series) in his/her own universe to save some time when a more detailed world is needed. The referee can then change anything (e.g. the name of the planet or the UWP) to fit a planet in his/her own universe.
The planet Megara has a UWP of C9887B7-D. If you want to match it with a planet in the OTU, then maybe the planet Dakar in the Ilelish Sector is a good match. Dakar has a UWP of B9887BB-A. Any planet with a star-port between A-E, size 6-9, atm 8, hydro 8, pop 7-8, gov B, law 7-C and tech-level 6-D would probably work fine. It is actually impossible to create the UWP of Megara using classic rules. The tech-level is too high. But nothing in this pdf suggests that the tech-level must be this high. There is a maglev train, but that might be imported.
In this pdf, there are descriptions of the system with an image of the gas giant, and an overview image of the system. There are some general description of the planet Megara, and an isodecahedron map. Then there are some more specific descriptions of the planet and the people and cities and politics, and of the big herd animals called Betas. Finally there are a few adventure hooks.
What I would have wished for would have been some more detailed adventure hooks, an image of the Betas (and animal encounter tables), some notes on gas giant refuelling (since the gas giant is within the 100 solar diameters from the sun) and maybe some notes on the seasons due the the eccentric orbit.
There are also some other problems with this pdf. I hope Gypsy Knight Games (and other publishers) will learn from this constructive criticism and avoid such problems in the future.
The contents of Spinward Encounters are really really good. I love adventure, and this book is packed with them. There are 64 Patron type Adventures (4 for each subsector in the Spinward Marches), and 16 Amber Zone type adventures. Many of these are well thought out, and are a bit longer than a normal (classic) patron or amber zone. A nice thing about a few of the amber zones in the District 268 is that the referee can connect them into a mini campaign.
As a referee, you might think that only four adventures for each subsector makes this product a bit overpriced. But if you are playing in one of the two most popular subsectors (Regina or District 268), then it would be easy to lead your PCs into the five adjacent subsectors. Then you would have 24 useful patrons to play, and for Regina five extra Amber Zones, and for District 268 nine extra Amber Zones. If you play in any of the Vilis, Lanth, Sword Worlds or Lunion subsectors, then you can use 36 patrons if you let you PCs travel into neighbouring subsectors.
The problem with this book is that the layout is quite bad, and that there is no proper index. An index is something that would be very useful if you want to plan to integrate any part of the book into your campaign.
There are a few nice images in the book. I like the one with a Bwap and a Vargr on page 33. This image is probably meant to illustrate the patron at Jesedipere at page 16. As I said, the layout is quite bad… In this image you can spot the Serenity in the background. Maybe also in the image on page 27. That was a nice Easter egg. LOL!