Mongoose Traveller Supplement 7: 1,001 Characters
This article originally appeared in the April 2013 issue.
Traveller Supplement 7: 1,001 Characters. August Hahn
Mongoose Publishing http://www.mongoosepublishing.com
On the Shelf
As a “core” supplement, it sports the usual solid black cover with the Traveller-and-arrow logo, in yellow. The unnecessary but reasonable tagline is ‘Populating the Stars’.
This is Ye Olde Bygge Boke Of Speare-Chuckkers. Page after page of capsule descriptions of NPCs, all in the standard format of characteristics, skills, equipment, and about three lines of textual description.
On Closer Inspection
With the exception of the very last character in the book, there’s not much more than you’d gather in the initial impression. The introduction indicates that each of the characters is legal under the core rules, and notes that to give the referee some flexibility, level-0 and some cascade skills are left unspecified, the latter being listed as the cascade skill rather than the specific skill (e.g., ‘Gun Combat’ instead of ‘Gun Combat (Pistol)’). Equipment is also minimal, with only the equipment that would be important when meeting the character being specified.
At the end of each textual description, there is a ‘subtitle’, a short phrase that ostensibly describes the character, e.g., ‘popular leader’, ‘murderous thief’, ‘hard-nosed marine’, and so on.
The characters are grouped by broad type, with the type suggesting which books and/or supplements might be useful in expanding on the capsule to turn a NPC into a PC. Within the broad types, they are grouped by more specific roles, making it somewhat easier to select a character based on an already existing concept. The textual description is highly generic, another measure allowing the referee the flexibility to customize the character to the campaign. None of the characters really stand out as ‘interesting’, but the descriptions are generally good starting points for fleshing out a character concept.
The last character in the book is the exception that highlights the mediocrity of the remainder. Duke Enit Apalpa is a very-well fleshed-out character, with a history tied to the Spinward Marches in the Official Traveller Universe, a developed personality, goals, secrets, and so on. One could hold him up as an example of what might be done from one of the other characters, but a referee who could do so would probably not balk at creating the character from scratch, and would probably not choose to buy this volume.
I can’t say that this volume is really worth the $35; anyone with the core rulebook, programming skill in just about any third-generation language, and three hours of time could probably do almost as well. On the other hand, if you’re the kind of person who likes to have a box full of index cards with NPCs on them, and you haven't built up your box yet, this amounts to a ready-made one. Getting it as a download from DTRPG, at about half the price, might make more sense (unless you're the programmer above).