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Mongoose Traveller - 760 Patrons

Traveller 760 Patrons. Bryan Steele
Mongoose Publishing http://www.mongoosepublishing.com
176pp, softcover
UKú15.00/US$29.95

Mongoose Publishing's final Traveller release for July 2008 continues to echo its Classic Traveller predecessor.

On the Shelf

The look of the core rulebook - jet black, with the word Traveller and a stripe-with-arrowhead - returns, but rather than using the red of the core rule book, the color chosen is yellow, hearkening back to the Classic Traveller 76 Patrons supplement.

Initial Impressions

760 Patrons brings the customer a page and a half of introductory material, including an explanation of the organization of the remainder of the book and a die-rolling table that can be used to start the process of generating an encounter.  The remainder of the book is the 760 patrons of the title, grouped by a general classification (e.g., Navy, Drifter, Scholar, Security, et cetera), and then by whether they are considered 'Protagonist' or 'Antagonist' (which terms are explained in the introductory material, and basically mean that the encountered patron will be predisposed to work with, or against (respectively), the party's interests).  Each section contains 20 Protagonists and 20 Antagonists, and each patron's entry contains a brief paragraph of description that can be given to the players, and a small amount of referee's information, up to six one-sentence descriptions of what the patron's true motivations are.

On Closer Inspection

There really isn't much to this book beyond the initial impressions - what you see is what you get, with no real hidden depths.  There are a number of patrons who could arguably be said to be misplaced, but the case could equally well be made that the 'more appropriate' section for such patrons is filled with patrons who are better matches for the section.

There are two sections of patrons whose inclusion should be considered questionable: A section of "Mercenary" patrons, given that the Mercenary supplemental rules have not yet been released, and a section of "Wild Cards", which includes among more reasonable encounters not otherwise classifiable such problematical personalities as time-travellers, obvious 'pulp heroes', divine beings, and other personalities not generally considered by the longstanding Traveller community as being part of the Traveller tropes.  It should be noted that the (mild) objection to the section on Mercenaries will be dropped upon the actual release of the planned Mercenary rules supplement.

Production quality is as good as the previous Mongoose Traveller releases; there are a few tables in the early part of the book that use the FF Scala Sans font throughout, while later tables use Times Roman for the actual table data.  The Times Roman is actually somewhat easier to read, but inconsistent with the look of the rest of the book.

Summary

This is definitely a Referees Only product; a player really can't make use of it, and knowing the contents could be a "spoiler" for a session where the referee uses it.  It will be more useful to the less-experienced (or more pressed-for-time) referee than to the experienced referee or one who does extensive pre-planning, but even the latter can find this a handy tool for those times when the party heads off in unexpected directions.