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Aliens of the Rim

Editor’s note: This review was originally posted to the pre-magazine Freelance Traveller website in 1995, and reprinted in the October 2013 issue. The original review did not include a cover picture or publication data.

Aliens of the Rim. “B.” David Nilsen and Loren Wiseman
Game Designers’ Workshop http://www.farfuture.net
123pp., currently available in PDF only as part of TNE CD.

I’ve just picked up Aliens of the Rim and, frankly, I don’t think it deserves all the abuse heaped on it.

I don’t understand Dave’s sense of humour, but then I don’t understand most American comedy programs anyway. Or maybe I’m just getting old. Leaving aside the in-jokes, what’s left is a reasonable piece of work.

Artwork is OK-to-good, and certainly better than in several recent products.

Writing and production is better than many GDW products. I caught a couple of typos, but back in the early days of MegaTraveller this would have been an amazingly well-done book.

The multiple views of history are canonical. Even back in Classic Traveller times we had multiple views of alien races. (The Zhodani module was CT, not MT.) This just adds one more example to the list. Dave and Loren have managed to convey a deeper sense of the variety of social viewpoints in the Federation than the previous module did (while also plugging a few weak spots from that module).

As to the Ithklur fascination with old Terran motifs, this is a literary technique often used in science fiction. If you can accept the vast stability of the Imperial universe then this shouldn’t be a problem.

Regarding the “humans in rubber suits” issue: I didn’t get this impression. Instead, I thought that Dave/Loren is saying that although you might try to play an alien you are still a human, and so everything you see/think/do is filtered through your human viewpoint.

Given the arguments I’ve had with people (some here, some elsewhere) concerning human cultures I think this is optimistic: most people don’t really understand other human cultures.

The game rules are useful and mercifully brief. Character generation is fully covered. Suggestions for roleplaying are useful. I particularly liked the NPC motivations.

Well worth the money I paid.