Mongoose Traveller: The Third Imperium: Borderland Profile: Tanith
This article originally appeared in the September 2015 issue.
Profile: Tanith. Martin J. Dougherty
Mongoose Publishing http://www.mongoosepublishing.com
A mini-supplement in the Borderlands Planet profile series, Tanith clocks in at a total of 18 pages, though there’s only 14 pages of text, along with a couple of low-res grey-scale illustrations.
The planet of Tanith is heavily influenced by the mercenary trade, and as such the first page is dedicated totally to mercenary company operations and concepts. If you haven’t seen or read information related to mercenary companies elsewhere, the information presented within is actually pretty good and useful to both players and referees. While it is possible to provide too much information, I’ve always appreciated the author who errs on the side of too much rather than too little. If you are looking for similar background information, pick up a copy of the Hub Federation Ground Forces book from Gypsy Knights Games.
Tanith was the first of the Mongoose Borderlands system profile booklets that I have purchased. They’ve released a few already in the series, and while this was my first exposure to the work, I am very pleasantly surprised with the level of detail and backstory included here. I always appreciated the work that was put into detailing out an entire system (common in some of the older Traveller supplements). The author, a long-time contributor to the Traveller universe, does the same here. Since I’m a big fan of more I think this is great, and I hope that Mongoose continues with this format. Now the busy referee has less work to do without having to spend the time rolling or detailing out a system for those annoying PCs who never seem to be able to stay on the carefully laid-out plot line! In addition to being provided a basic idea of what’s present in the system the reader is given a short history on the planet (Tanith), a description on some refueling stations located in the system that are owned and operated by another stellar entity, plus a small bit of information regarding the relationship between the two entities (hint: they don’t always get along… can you say potential plot points?). Furthermore, they provide you with details on another planet in the system (about half a page worth) that you can use to provide more adventure opportunities for your players. It’s always nice to have more, rather than less, detail about a system and its’ people and just why they might be there and what they are doing. The last page in this section (three full pages) has details on every other planet and anything of that might be of interest for a player to go investigate.
The following section provides more details on the port of Tanith itself, the region immediately surrounding the port, and some background on the operations and economics of the port as well as a primer on local planetary conditions. Since we are talking about a port of mercenaries there is plenty of info on what you might expect defensive wise on the ground, in orbit and what kind of ships you might encounter. I found it to be interesting to both a referee and player.
Since the supplement talks about Tanith being so friendly to mercenaries, it’s seems natural to include a section on some of the local denizens for (potential) hire. There are six pages dedicated to this, with each organization getting about three-quarters to one full page write-up. Now some of that space is taken up by a TO&E listing (that’s table of organization and equipment), but for those that aren’t savvy on military structures or organizations it’s nice to have. And even if you are it makes for easy at-a-glance understanding of unit structures and capabilities. The additional verbiage on each unit just rounds out the whole thing.
The final five pages are devoted to potential adventure hooks. While none of the hooks go into great detail or provide things like d6 charts to generate enemies and loot, they do provide referees or players enough ideas to build upon. And, in my mind at least, that’s half the battle. Sometimes getting the initial spark going is all that is needed. If you are the type of person that likes everything detailed out and handed to you, well, I think you might be disappointed with what’s here. But most everyone else should be quite pleased with it.
Aside from the low-res artwork, there’s not much to complain about. The information is presented well and in reasonable detail. It would be nice to see some further detail on things that do get mentioned. For example, remember the earlier detail about the fueling station operated by a potential rival being in-system? Just what kind of station or forces would be seen there? The high port is described as being little more than a mooring station for unstreamlined ships, and then it immediately goes into talking about how heavily armed with missile batteries, particle accelerator barbettes and a fighter squadron is also based there. So does that make it a 1,000 ton light battle station? A 5,000 ton space station? This trend continues into the mercenary company descriptions. Some information like troops being equipped with gauss rifles as standard gear is good, but descriptions of generic missile teams, or EW operators, or vehicles equipped with magazine-fed 180 rounds-per-minute mortars (but only carry 40 rounds onboard) kind of leave you hanging. If you did want to use one or two of the mercenary companies you don’t have the full unit descriptions available.
Overall I was very impressed with this, even with some of the informational holes that seem to be there from my reading of it. The price point is very fair for what you get. It’s a solid product for a fair price. And even if you aren’t looking to adventure in this area the information contained inside can be easily adapted to just about any Traveller setting or system.