Mongoose Traveller - Mercenary
Traveller Mercenary. Bryan Steele
Mongoose Publishing http://www.mongoosepublishing.com
Mongoose Publishing continues their release of books for their Traveller line that hearken back to the original Traveller. This book covers Army and Marine characters and military hardware.
On the Shelf
The Traveller logo is prominently displayed in the center of the black cover, this time in green, the color used to signify books intended to be of a more generic nature than those intended for the Original Traveller Universe. The cover includes a tagline "Laz Guns for Hire"; I feel this was not really needed but it doesn't really detract from the cover. One thing about the Traveller books; they don't look like anything else on the market right now and while some have derided the minimalist approach to cover graphics, I think that it gives the line brand recognition.
The book is organized well, things are easy to locate and the book is done in a readable font. Like all of the Traveller releases, the art is black and white (more accurately greyscale, which makes some of the pictures look a bit muddy. Actual black and white line art would probably be better) and is pretty good in most instances. Much of it is a definite improvement over the core book.
On Closer Inspection
I have to admit that I am no expert when it comes to modern military matters, let alone those of the far future, and that sort of thing is not my preferred type of Traveller to play or run. Nevertheless I found some useful stuff in this book. The first section after the Introduction contains expanded event tables for Army and Marine characters, using a "d66" roll rather than the 2d6 charts used in the core book; a lot more choices here, as the original tables were starting to get repetitive. Next, we launch into new options for Mercenary characters; this includes Wet Navy, Cadre, Commando, Guerilla, Security, Striker and Warmonger careers. A table for Wartime events is included. Many of the careers can be entered automatically if you have prior military experience. These generally look pretty good and allow for expanded options for military characters and, in a move I like, they do not overshadow the careers from the core book the way the original Mercenary characters could. There is a chapter that deals with new Skills and Specialties, including info on how to retrofit these new skills to core book characters; we see some old favorites like Recruiting and Instruction return here. There are chapters on Mercenary Tickets, Recruiting Unit members and New Combat Rules; the latter contain some interesting ideas on how to make combat more gritty and even a bit deadlier; not for everyone, but good for the science-fiction military genre A useful chapter on Military Headquarters and Bases follows, which again will probably never see use in my game but which would be an omission if not included here. And then we come to the New Equipment section. Still no TL6 submachine gun. In all, this chapter is useful and contains some gear that my characters might actually want. It does contain a number of items that are not OTU standard items, many of which were adapted from other sci-fi sources (contrary to certain popular beliefs, the MagRail weapons have been found in fiction and not just WH40K). This has caused some consternation among the purists; Mongoose intends this book to be more generic in nature, and while I applaud this decision, it might be a good idea in the future to clearly label non-OTU items or even put them in their own subsection.
Mercenary is a good book for those who want to run a military or merc campaign using Mongoose Traveller. It contains a considerable amount of useful material, such that I consider it worth the money I spent on it even though some of it won't get used in my game. While the hardcore military and ironmongery afficianado will probably find things to complain about, most of us won't really care about that; Mongoose has to make books that appeal to a more general audience.