Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mongoose Traveller: The Spinward Marches

The Spinward Marches is the original setting for Traveller, and has gotten more attention over the years than any other setting for the game. From its first appearance (I think) in Adventure 1: Kinunir, to the original Spinward Marches little black book (LBB) supplement, to Behind the Claw for GURPS Traveller, to the pdf only New Era 1248 Spinward States sourcebook, this setting has gotten a lot of attention over the years. Probably more than any other sci-fi setting created for gaming.

Now, with the release of Mongoose Traveller, we return for yet another look at the Imperial frontier. It's appropriate that with the new rules being an update to the original rules, that the new The Spinward Marches sourcebook returns to Imperial Year 1105, the beginning date for material originally published by GDW back in the late seventies.

Unlike most other more recent looks at the region, there is an evident attempt to keep the secrets of the Traveller Universe secret. It's often assumed that most readers are fully aware of such things, which has the unfortunate effect of spoiling them for new players who might otherwise have been able to enjoy playing through the original adventures. This new supplement doesn't make that mistake. With a few minor exceptions, the information available in the book is information that would be readily available to any traveller living in the Spinward Marches in 1105. Those of us who know what happens in the next few years according to classic canon can see hints of what is to come, but those hints won't spoil things for people new to the setting.

This lack of "inside information" doesn't make it any less useful to gamemasters new to the setting. There's a solid bedrock of information here as to how the Imperium in general works, with enough specific details concerning the Spinward Marches, that should allow them to take their campaign in whatever direction they choose. If they do want to follow the classic canon, then they can purchase The classic Traveller compilations from Far Future Enterprises that include the adventures and articles that developed the original timeline. They don't have to do that though, as there's plenty of information here to allow them to take things in their own direction.

In any case, this is a useful setting book that players can read without actually spoiling things. That's rare in any game.

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