This article originally appeared in the August 2013 issue.
Martin J. Dougherty; transl. Sascha Lübke, Daniel Mayer.
13Mann Verlag http://13mann.de
13Mann have produced a great line of Traveller products as German translations of several of the Mongoose books and Spinwärts-Marken is a terrific example of their high production values. This is a straight translation of The Spinward Marches volume and is essentially identical. Three obvious exceptions are that this comes in a hardcover, has glossy paper throughout, and there’s a black ribbon bookmark which extends some 10cm beyond the book. Possibly thanks to the fractionally larger cover, more of the cover illustration can be seen to the right hand side – the Droyne is more complete and the cargo on the ship’s ramp can be seen more clearly. Also on the cover, the silver metalled ‘The Third Imperium’ branding has become a bronze (or golden?) ‘Das Dritte Imperium’.
The interior text however is the same – an introduction to the Third Imperium; general notes on the Spinward Marches; individual sector world lists, maps and descriptions; and ideas for adventuring in the sector – although there are two extra pages in the German edition. This isn’t due to longer German words (e.g., strassenbahnhaltestelle vs tramstop) – until the end of the book the page count is identical. It’s because of a much superior index right at the end of the book. It’s more complete, includes all the worlds in the Spinward Marches sector and contains some 767 entries as opposed to just 188 in the original English edition.
The page layout of the book is slightly different, with the two column format retained and virtually all paragraph breaks the same as in the English volume, but instead of blank lines between each paragraph, the German text has no such spacing and instead uses indents for clarity. This gives a slightly denser looking text although this is marginally offset by the fractionally paler printing throughout the book. This is most obvious in the illustrations which are carried over from the English volume and in being ‘lightened’ become much clearer – the woman on page 7 (page 8 of The Spinward Marches), the Aslan on page 10 and the damaged starship on page 75 are good examples. It might, however, be argued that the desert scene on page 107 has become too bleached! On the other hand, the tables and maps have become somewhat lighter and opinions may differ on whether this is helpful or not. There are two additions to the artwork: on page 50 a larger version of the marine corporal from page 21 of the Core Rulebook and on page 37 the rogue from page 29 of the Core Rulebook. The “III” strapline at the top of each page has been redesigned to complement the front cover.
In terms of translation, most world names remain the same but some have been either translated directly (Lousy → Lausig, Riverland → Flussland, Iron → Eisen, Junction → Knotenpunkt, and Dawnworld → Morgenwelt are just some examples), or they’ve been adjusted for German spelling or pronunciation (Wurzburg → Würzburg, Egypt → Ägypten, Beck’s World → Becks Welt, and so on). On the other hand some worlds which might have been translated have remained with their English labels (Beater, Towers, Torment, Singer and perhaps even Nosea amongst others). Subsectors get the same treatment with Sword Worlds and Five Sisters becoming Schwertwelten and Fünf Schwestern respectively, while Jewell becomes Juwell and District 268 becoming Distrikt 268.
The opportunity has been taken to make some corrections to the original – for example the missing allegiance codes from the Sword Worlds subsector have returned and in the map of Trins-Schleier (Trin’s Veil) the world of ‘Tee-Tee-Tee’ gets its third ‘tee’ back. Anomalies in the English edition such as Andory in the Five Sisters world list appearing as Andor on the map get corrected in the German version but Dubarre in Darrian subsector’s world list remains Debarre on the map.
English speaking fans with a small knowledge of German will find much to enjoy here – from the high production values of a well-made book, through the development of their Traveller vocabulary. With a little adaptation for translation differences, the index is much more useful than its English counterpart, but of course that’s not the primary audience for this volume. For German-speaking players and Referees this is an invaluable book, particularly if adventuring in the official Traveller universe. Even in a homegrown setting this is a terrific source of ideas and adventure possibilities. This reviewer hopes to see much more of this quality from 13Mann.