Well, it finally arrived. I about burst a blood vessel on Friday when I got a little package from GDW containing none other than...Keepers of the Flame - the Regency Sourcebook. I was almost afraid to open it, lest I realize my greatest fears that it isn't up to par.
Thankfully, this was not the case. I've read through about 75 percent of the book so far, and I must say that I'm fairly impressed. Nilsen committed to a multiple-volume series in the introduction, a la the RCES campaign books. So we should be seeing a Regency Equipment Guide, Regency Personalities, Character Generation Rules, etc. To be fair, I think that Nilsen is correct that you can only do so much with 96 pages, but I think he has crammed in the information that most of us wanted. Namely, the modified sector data for the Spinward Marches, Deneb, coreward Trojan Reaches and coreward-spinward Reft Sector.
The RQS description was very nice. It gave me a very good feel for how the Quarantine Service operates and keeps virus in check. I look forward to character generation rules for RQS careers.
I refuse to be specific as I don't want to ruin anything for Traveller referees who want to keep one up on their players, but I will say that many of the questions about the Zhodani are at least in part satisfied by the RSB. At least we know there is a reason that the Zhos did not invade and crush the Regency during the last 70 years.
There is also preliminary information about the upcoming "Oklahoma Land Purchase" rush, Regency Style. Due to a stagnating economy, the Regency has cleared the way for expansion into the wilds. Watch out, RCES!!!
Suitable sections also describe the Aslan, Vargr, Darrians, Sword Worlds, Droyne/Chirper, Federation of Arden and Old/New Islands subcultures of the Regency. Nice write-ups were also provided for the psionic subculture and the nobility.
There's a very nice illustration of an age-accelerated Archduke Norris, who is dead long before 1202 by the way, but I daresay it looks like a well-done computer-modified version of one of the illustrations from one of the old DGP books.
The description of the new Regent is also good and fairly prophetically sets up the quest for a new Imperium. I think we can all read the writing on the wall about where this is headed.
The 45 subsectors in the book are very well written up in the RCES style. That is, no xboat lanes (there is a good explanation for why these no longer exist) and the maps are wrapped by important system information. I was pleased to discover that most of our RICE papers for the most part, will fit in nicely with what GDW wrote up. (Although they trashed my physiological description of the Gl'lu on Kubishush; I suppose I should issue an update!).
The one thing that did change greatly are tech levels and population levels. Dozens of worlds were greatly enhanced over the past 70 years. Vincennes is listed as an imminent TL-17 society. Efate has reached TL-15, Mora (TL-16), and many more.
There are some very nice ship designs in the back, including the TL-16 Darrian patrol cruiser and the Aslan Quarantine Cutter.
One of the most pleasing announcements in the book is that TNS reports will be returning to the pages of Challenge magazine. HOORAY!!!
I guess if I had any complaints, it'd be the few silly humorous items added in by Mr. Nilsen that we can probably call "Davisms." They're not on par with some of the more ridiculous Ithklur items (e.g., San*klaas; argh!), but they're borderline. I think I can forgive him his urge to throw in a little humor in a few select spots considering a job well done for the most part. Actually, I have to admit, a few of his Aslan and nobility quips made me laugh out loud.
All in all, I couldn't be more pleased. Though now I suppose I'm going to have to frantically wait once again for the inevitably delayed and double-delayed sequels to the RSB. For now, however, at least we have a good primer to get things going in the Regency.