This review originally appeared at RPG.Net in May of 2012 and is reprinted here and in the July 2013 issue with the author’s permission.
The editor would like to extend his apologies to Gypsy Knights Games; the issue that this review appeared in gave the wrong URL for the company’s website.
21 Organizations. John Watts.
Gypsy Knights Games http://www.gypsyknightsgames.com
This standalone product works best with the Hub Worlds that form the mainstay of this Alternative Traveller Universe that Gypsy Knight Games has crafted for itself.
However, it is still possible with some modifications to make this suit any Traveller Universe but is really best suited a frontier generic Traveller Universe, if you are not going to adopt the Hub Worlds as your own. That said, what does this book offer... 21 Organizations (Foundations in the parlance of 2300AD) that dominate over the Hub Worlds that form the mainstay institutions outside of the formal realm of politics – and hence the great appeal of this book is that it is building a society among the different worlds of an interplanetary nature. All too often, in Traveller, we get careers which are translated into generic types like Navy, Scouts, even Security Forces, without getting a sense of the society behind those monoliths. Gypsy Knight Games has remedied this by offering these 21 samplings for their Alternate Traveller Universe (ATU). What’s more, you get a taste how careers differ in this ATU and I must say the much of the appeal of this booklet was in the different ways that is immediately familiar in most Traveller Universes, including the Third Imperium Campaign Setting and twist it around.
That said, the organizations are strictly of a Space Opera/Space Fantasy ilk, like much of official Traveller already is. And, that perhaps, is a bit of the downside, as Gypsy Knight Games, until now was able to straddle between Space Opera and Hard SF like the original Traveller – and I found these organizations a bit too soft for my liking. But, that is a matter of preference… so if you do run a soft Space Opera Traveller game – these will be perfect. Another drawback is the art, as it is largely drawn from computer art but does make the connection back to the text. And, lastly, because, this product is so closely tied to the Hub Federation, I would wonder why this could not have been an appendix of the Sourcebook.
I realize that there are some who enjoy, as I do, to pick the best parts and discard others of any supplement – so this will be very rich and fruitful pickings for any Traveller referee… as the descriptions lend themselves almost immediately to conjuring up adventures without needing the wholesale buy-in of getting the sector books – although, because of fine particularities of this ATU, it is better to pick up more than less. Gypsy Knight Games is well on its way in establishing a definite niche that brings the grittiness of Classic Traveller with rip-roaring adventure of contemporary Space Opera with a minimum of rules and fuss to a larger audience. So, if you like Traveller and cannot really make peace with the Official Traveller Universe nor like Space Opera on steroids (which is not a bad thing) – i.e. Twilight Sector… one of your better choices is to buy the Gypsy Knights line – and this book will prove invaluable in fleshing out those worlds into a fully realized system/polity as opposed to separate and isolated Quick Worlds.
And, as noted before even if you remain wedded to the OTU, as I am, these Sectors can extend beyond the area commonly thought of Charted Space, just as Paranoia Press gave us Beyond and the Vanguard Reaches – it is in this light, that once can easily incorporate these concepts into their game.
Keep up the excellent work! I look forward to 21 Organizations 2 – which hopefully will have a more Hard SF tilt to it.