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Buch 0: Eine Einführung

This article originally appeared in the September 2013 issue.

Buch 0: Eine Einführung. Gareth Hanrahan; Transl. Bernadette Klein et al.
13Mann Verlag http://13mann.de
32pp., softcover

Buch 0 is 13Mann’s direct translation of Book 0: An Introduction to Traveller into the German language. It’s essentially identical save for the shortening of the subtitle, and a matte cover instead of gloss. Both have softcovers in the usual black and red trim, both are 32 pages, and both provide ‘cut down’ basics of Traveller character generation aimed at players rather than Referees. Or perhaps, more likely, aimed at harried Referees with players clamouring to get started and not enough rulebooks to go round! In short, it’s brief, to the point and does what it says on the cover in providing an introduction to Traveller or ‘Science-Fiction Abenteuer in der fernen Zukunft’.

Like 13Mann’s Spinwärts-Marken (The Spinward Marches), the pictures and perhaps the text block too, are printed a little lighter than their English counterparts. This shows up most obviously in the Character form on page 32 and isn’t a problem, but is much improved in the limited edition Grundregelwerk (Core Rulebook). Note that the form also includes the parentheses for cascade skills (as does the English Book 0 version of the form, but unlike the English Core Rulebook). In other areas, layout has been made much clearer such as the ‘Probability of Success’ table on page 16 now in three columns as it should be rather than twelve! Also, errors have been corrected such as printing glitches in the English volume on page 13 where the multiplication symbol turned into either a box or a star.

One thing users should be aware of is an occasional slight confusion between commas and full-stops in numbers. In Europe except Ireland and the UK, commas are used as decimal points and full stops (or periods) as thousand markers—a complete reversal of UK/US usage. In general, this is followed throughout the book, but not always. This isn’t generally a problem, particularly if you’re aware of it, but be warned!

For the most part – virtually all of Buch 0 – the order of text is identical to Book 0. Just occasionally paragraphs have been moved to help layout (for example ‘Gegenproben’, ‘Opposed Checks’ on page 17). Artwork, too, varies a little. While the original has a few illustrations, there are three additional pictures in the German edition: two new: a pilot in his cockpit, a vargr and human soldier advancing, and one of a medikit taken from page 93 of the English Core Rulebook. In addition, the image of a saurian beast and distant spaceship on page 27 has been exchanged for a soldier firing his weapon (which can be found in darker form on page 62 of the English Core Rulebook).

Just like Book 0, not all skills are listed, so you won’t find the sciences, Battle Dress, Jack-of-all-Trades, Language and several others mentioned. Like the English volume it’s really only covering those shown in the two example careers: Planetare Streitkräfte (Army) and Raumflotte (Navy), although having said that it is possible to pick up Persuade and Steward in the Events of each career respectively and then discover there’s no explanation of them. Mustering Out benefits struggle in the same way with Antigrav and Beiboot (Air/Raft and Ship’s Boat) as possibilities, but with no explanation. In both cases, players or Referees would need the Grundregelwerk (the German Core Rulebook) for the detail. Other minor lapses mean that in some lists the English alphabetical order has been retained, for example, in the homeworld (Heimatwelt) list. Just occasionally, the actual tables have been revised so, for example, in the Army mustering out benefits tables a roll of 6 offers a choice of Combat Implant or +1 END rather than only the latter, Navy mustering out offers Air/Raft or a Ship Share for a roll of 1 and Ship’s Boat or Two Ship Shares for a roll of 6. In actual fact, this brings the German volume into line with the Core Rulebook (although the correction introduces the missing entries noted above).

To be fair, these are minor criticisms in what’s a great addition to 13Mann’s line of Traveller books. Providing its limitations are known German players may find it helpful to get started, Referees may find it useful to relieve the pressure on the main rules at character creation time, equipment selection, or during combat. It would also serve as a relatively modest way of English speakers wishing to develop their abilities in German or getting to know the sometimes rather specialised Traveller vocabulary. German speakers with no knowledge of Traveller may find it a helpful introduction to Traveller to see if they want to go further.