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Mongoose Traveller Supplement 3 - Fighting Ships

Traveller Supplement 3 - Fighting Ships. Bryan Steel and Stuart Machin
Mongoose Publishing http://www.mongoosepublishing.com
126pp, softcover
UKú15.00/US$24.95

Overall, the technical level of detail is comparable to the original CT fighting ships, although (I think) fewer designs are included, and (unlike the CT product) it has deck plans for all the ships. If you think deck plans are a complete waste of time, it'll have lots of wasted space for you. It doesn’t have the expository and fleet info that Fighting Ships of the Shattered Imperium had, but that was pretty setting specific, anyway.

I have not gone over the designs in any amount of detail, so any issues pertaining to design flaws can't be discussed in this review; but I can say I'm very satisfied with it, and would recommend it to most Traveller Refs, as well as most gearheads who like, or at least grudgingly tolerate (you know who you are) the MGT way of things.

The designs include some interesting new fighters that fill a couple of missing slots in the game's TOE. At least three have rather good potential for player interaction:

Bombardier-class Ground Attack Fighter
This fighter could be an opponent, or a very useful in-system hauler if bought as surplus. In a military or mercenary campaign they could well have this as a landing boat.
Carrier Support Fighter
As an encounter, and as a very useful auxiliary if the players are scavengers, or conversely, as an opponent if the players are scavenging, possibly where they shouldn't.
Constable-class System Defense Fighter
This is a useful GM ship that gives the players something to avoid, but which could be fought off with most player size ships. A good guardsman or cop as it were.
Gyro-class Turret Wing Fighter
This is a wonderfully quirky high tech military experiment. No doubt it'll offend someone for some observed shortcomings, but do remember: military boondoggles and disasters are at least as common as the wunderweapons (for every T-34 there is a KV-2). And some of them get deployed regardless of sense or sensibility (cf the F-104 ).

The Small Starships section brings two designs, one flawed:

Fleet Courier Communication Ship

This is a conceptually sound ship but with one big problem. It was only designed with one weeks fuel for the power plant if it uses its J6 capacity. What this means is that unless there is some kind of house rule about power requirements being minimized in jumpspace, it cannot operate after the jump – and may well lose power in Jumpspace. So…Houston, we have a problem.

My quick fix for the design (without any modification), is this: I see it as a not-quite-successful design, but quite capable if deployed as a J5 courier with the understanding that the J6 capacity is for utter emergencies only. Add text similar to the following to any library data:

"The ScX6 was produced by Quateroli Enterprises of Junction as the flagship of their new "pro-imperial line" . Unfortunately, due to production difficulties at the source it was unable to utilize the intended high performance Drake-Tallboy Rt2z-1104 M-drives . To meet deadlines, the design was approved for the Available and well tested, but unfortunately larger, R337-1006 Juliana-Gotard Grav impeller drive (aka "chatterbox"), effectively reducing its range to J5. A planned refit of the design to J6 specifications was intended, but has unfortunately been repeatedly tabled due to budgetary concerns".
-- Conway's Fighting Ships of the Third Imperium , 1108 edition

Or, if one wants an actual fix with minimum recalculation, one can use the nifty HG tech effects construction rules to upgrade the M drive and powerplants to +2 tech and use the saved space for powerplant fuel (the jump drive isn’t an option – it is already at max tech). It will increase the basic cost, but then again, crew efficiency may benefit from them not slowly dying in the Cold Chaos of Jumpspace...

Agashaam-class Destroyer
This is a nice size ship quite capable of absolutely putting down almost any civilian ship you like, as well as all the nifty paramilitary (and pirate) ships and gunboats in Supplement 2: Traders and Gunboats. This is an excellent response to players in their corsair or Merc Cruiser who insist on pummeling the system defense fighters and type T patrol ships which try to arrest them. Use it wisely. Historically, small destroyers are often the beatstick of choice in colonial operations, and it is far from unreasonable that one would be sent after local or paramilitary problems.

Both the Ghalalk-class Armored Cruiser and the Gionetti-class Light Cruiser are nice designs, and also make good battleships for a smaller ship campaign. The artwork for the Gionetti suggests that it can also stand in for a star destroyer in a smaller ship campaign.

The larger ships are a good selection of capital ships of the Carrier and Battleship types, as well as some hybrids like the Arakoine-class Strike Cruiser. The High Lightning-class Frontier Cruiser (renamed to Azhanti High Lightning-class) is there, again making a good show as the upper sized capital ship in a medium ship campaign, but the mapping scale inherent in an 8x11 book precludes its original use: a venue for on-ship miniatures combat - for that, the original "box o' paper" Azhanti will still be needed.

The Tigress... well, heck I think its cool. Your mileage may vary. I have no real practical use for the big ship deck plans, other than as general coolness and ogling, but the official write-ups are very useful. And there is always the possibility of an adventure in a mysteriously abandoned Plankwell or some such silliness. Plus, in a small ship universe, they make great "old empire" relics. One of my favorite Foundation and Empire stories (Asimov) is built around the political crisis that occurs when one of the Successor periphery states finds an intact first empire destroyer that is bigger than whole fleets at that time period.

It might have done with a few more ships between the destroyer and the Armored cruiser or AHL, but that's a minor issue. The AHL uses a few deckplans to represent many that are identical (good idea), and perhaps the Tigress could have used more of that. Layoutwise, its fine: it’s a catalog, and doesn’t need too much in the way of layout bells and whistles. I don't like the art, but that's me, and in my dog-headed opinion™, art is a fairly unimportant issue for most gaming products, as long as it doesn't actually make me heave - and this is quite competent art, and generally accurate to the deck plans. It’s just in a style I dislike.

I cannot and will not comment on typos, editing and layout issues: life is too busy for me to worry much about such stuff right now. Nothing jumped off the page and grabbed me though.

So: probably a C-/C if you hate deck plans; a B+/A depending on how critical you feel sparseness in the midrange (10k-50k) ships is.