If you are into science fiction and space opera roleplaying games the latest Bundle of Holding may be of interest to you. For about $15 you get everything you need to run a campaign in the collapsed Third Imperium.
The Starter Collection includes the core rulebook, Survival Margin, the World Tamer’s Handbook, Vampire Fleets and the TNE Player’s Forms. If you pay more than the threshold of $26 you also get the Bonus Collection which contains Keepers of the Flame and the Regency Combat Vehicle Guide, Path of Tears, Smash & Grab, the Reformation Coalition Equipment Guide, the Star Vikings character collection, Aliens of the Rim, and last but not least the TNE Referee’s screen.
10% of your payment will be donated to Human Rights Watch. So you’re not only getting a great game, but you’re also donating to a good cause.
TNE is not uncontroversial though. In this edition of the game they ditched the original rules system and replaced it with a version of GDW’s inhouse system. A lot of fans also weren’t that happy with the post-apocalyptic nature of the setting.
But in my opinion TNE is one of the best editions of Traveller. The rules system works pretty well, and the setting solves one of Traveller’s biggest problems: the overwhelming scope and history of the Third Imperium setting. With the New Era GDW basically scraped the slate clean. The focus is on smaller polities trying to survive the aftermath of the rebellion and the threat of the Virus. But if you wished you could always run a more traditional game set into another era after all.
You can learn more about this bundle on the official Bundle of Holding blog.
If you haven’t been living under a rock you’ve at least heard of one of his games: Stars Without Number, Silent Legions, Godbound, Other Dust, just to name a few. I first heard about about him when suddenly everyone started to talk about that exciting new (and free!) science fiction roleplaying game, which combined sandbox gaming, with OD&D combat and a Traveller-like skill system. This game was Stars Without Number.
Over the last few years Kevin has successfully kickstarted a couple of games which have two things in common: 1) OD&D-like rules and 2) advice and tables to help the GM to run sandbox campaign. Some of his games also make use of a skill system reminiscent of classic Traveller. On top of that especially the more recent books are just gorgeous and Kevin also made the artwork used available for free and under a CC license as well, so that other small publishers can use it in their own work. Have I mentioned that most (if not all) of his games are also available in a free edition? That means you can basically get the whole game for free, before deciding if the deluxe version is for you. That level of generosity is unprecedented.
One of the main selling points for me is the sandbox advice included in the books. Since I first read about sandbox campaigns I wanted to run one myself, but it always felt like a very daunting task. The GM chapters in SWN, Silent Legions, etc. not only give you advice on how to run the game in general but also gives specific advice on how to run a sandbox. The included tables and rules for factions, etc. make the GM’s job much easier. Suddenly the idea of running a sandbox campaign doesn’t sound that bad anymore.
If you haven’t done so, I recommend you check out Kevin Crawford’s work. He recently successfully kickstarted the revised edition of Stars Without Number which should be out in early 2018. But you can already have a look at the beta version for free. I did mention that Kevin is incredibly generous, didn’t I?
Unfortunately I haven’t really had the chance to either run or play one of his games. This is a real bummer since I enjoy reading his games so much. In my regular gaming group science fiction and post-apoc games are a tough sell, so SWN and Other Dust are probably off the table, but Godbound and especially Silent Legion should be a better fit for my players…
Sometimes I don’t know what’s going on in the minds of the people working at Mongoose. Recently they released the digital version of a Starter Set for their 2nd Edition Traveller game – or as they call it “New Traveller”. There will be a boxed set in the near future. So far, so good. Unfortunately this starter set sets you back $39.99 for the PDF version, and I don’t really want to know what the printed version will cost.
Starter Sets are made to get new players interested in a game. They are usually inexpensive and include simplified rules for newbie players and GMs alike. Especially FFG has released a couple of great Star Wars Starter Sets which provided you with a lot of bang for your buck. Wizards of the Coast has done so as well with their D&D Starter Sets.
To Mongoose’s credit I have to mention that their Starter Set basically includes the complete Core Rules. It’s not simplified or restricted in any way. BUT in my opinion this defeats the purpose of a starter set. Their core rules book is sold at their website for £35.99 which is about $46. If the upcoming boxed set is similarly priced, it will cost about $60. Wow, that’s a lot of dough.
In my opinion a Traveller Starter Set should consist of a boxed set including dice, a couple of pregenerated characters, simplified rules in small booklets (reminiscent of the LBBs), perhaps a map of the Spinward Marches and a couple of deckplans. And all this should be sold for a more reasonable price.
What are your thoughts on Mongoose’s latest Traveller product? Do you think it was the right move or another bad decision? Please share your thoughts below.