The Terran Trade Authority RPG
The Terran Trade Authority Handbook: Local Space 2200ad
This review was originally posted to the Traveller Mailing List in 2006, and reprinted in the March/April 2019 issue.
1) The Terran Trade Authority Roleplaying Game.
Scott Agnew et al.
2) The Terran Trade Authority Handbook: Local Space 2200ad. Jeffrey Lilly et al.
Morrigan Press (no website found)
1) 416pp., softcover
2) 168pp., softcover
Price and condition vary; available via Amazon Marketplace.
The Terran Trade Authority RPG
This is Morrigan’s second title in their attempt to restore the Terran Trade Authority to our shops and bookshelves. Their first effort, Spacecraft 2100-2200 ad, was packed with errata and typos, and I am pleased to say that this book is an improvement on that front. Having said that much of the initial history section is simply a cut and paste from the earlier title. Consequently you get the same duplicated paragraph in the text, and the Alphans still feel compelled to declare “was” on Proxima rather than “war”. There are other typos as well that demonstrate that Morrigan still has not fully grasped the concept of proofreading.
The first thing that struck me on receipt of the book was its size. Its dimensions are only 15cm by 23cm. The original TTA books were all large hardbound books, and this smallish soft cover doesn’t really inspire. There is a nice CGI piece of artwork on the cover, but that’s pretty much the limit of the high level artwork. Frankly, for a product based on some fairly impressive artwork books, it’s disappointing to see the artwork here. There are a number of black and white ink drawings, which look like they have been badly photocopied prior to inclusion in the book. There are also several instances of CGI artwork that has been shrunk down, to fit on the small pages, and converted to grey. Needless to say such artwork does not adapt well to this format, and you get some pretty grey and indistinct images. There are a number of anatomically correct drawings of the species concerned, and these are pretty good, plus a number of conceptual artwork sketches, which at least help you picture the races concerned.
The new things in the book are detailed descriptions of the three known spacefaring races (Humans, Alphans and Proximans) and their home systems, which are good. However, Traveller players may groan a little when they read that apparently all three races come from the same genetic heritage somewhere in the past (hopefully this won’t be the Ancients all over again). There is also a new section which gives an overview of some of the biggest corporations in known space, plus a quick mention of some of the smaller ones. Sure enough, Morrigan is mentioned as a large corporation in the TTA future.
A bit of a treat is a foreword by Stewart Cowley, which is nice, and gives a little more insight into the creative process behind the original four books.
The rest of the book largely concerns the Omni RPG system, which I gather is the set of house rules used by Morrigan. It uses a system of skills and character quirks as a part of its game mechanics; however I’ll leave a detailed breakdown of the rules to a more gearhead-orientated reviewer. The book contains all the equipment and stats that you’d expect for an RPG, plus several of the classic ships converted into game stats.
Frankly, in many ways this book is the worst of all worlds. It doesn’t add a lot to the universe background. It’s all either cut and paste from the first book, or taken more or less directly from the original TTA material. Fans of the artwork are going to be seriously disappointed with all the small, badly copied, pieces of artwork. RPG gamers will find that a small soft cover book is awkward and annoying for use in an RPG. Larger hardcover books are far easier to leave open on specific pages for quick reference during a gaming session.
In summary, there is some new material on the Alphans, Proximans, and humans, plus some fleshing out of the solar systems and some of the TTA corporate world. Other than that, the artwork is generally poor, the history is recycled from the originals or the first book, and the book size is inconvenient for use in RPG play. This book should only be purchased by folk who are keen to run a campaign in the TTA universe. All the good artwork will be appearing in the artwork books, and I have a feeling that we’ll be seeing all the history and new material about the TTA Universe again and again and again in later books.
The TTA Handbook: Local Space 2200 ad
The TTA Handbook, Local Space 2200 ad arrived today, and I thought I’d share some first impressions. Firstly, it’s a roughly 15cm by 23cm softcover book, the same dimensions as the TTA RPG. It has a pleasant CGI generated cover, and is about half the thickness of the TTA RPG book.
I had been led to believe that it was just going to contain the new material from the TTA RPG, without all the Rules and game stuff; however, there has been some work done on this title to make it more than just that. For example, rather that give us a cut and paste of the History section from the RPG and Spacecraft books, a more streamlined introduction has made for an easier read. It also omits the intro by Cowley to be found at the front of the TTA RPG. The book reproduces all race and stellar system information on the Proximans, Alphans and Humans, and includes anatomically correct pictures as well. It also reproduces other parts of the RPG's new info such as the descriptions of Corporations and the Mektech robots created by Cowley.
New material appears in this book, which is to say some of the old material which originally appeared in Spacecraft 2000 - 2100 ad, and which did not appear in the new Spacecraft 2100 - 2200 ad. The Skybase and Nomad entries appear here, as do several of the unknown object entries (though one is reproduced from the TTA RPG). While I was really pleased to see these entries, I was also really disappointed to see them in this book. The reason for this is that it reproduces almost all of the poorly copied artwork from the RPG book.
All of the starship and unknown object illustrations must have been large, colour, CGI artwork. This has been shrunk down to fit the small format of the book, and turned into generally bad black and white pictures. The CGI artwork of the various planets, in particular, does not fare well in this process. With the exception of the skybase, NOMAD and some Unknown Object pictures, all the artwork is reproduced from the TTA RPG. They really should have saved the unknown objects for an artwork book, because they are not displayed to advantage here at all. It’s also a sad fact that the proofreading issues that have plagued this series crop up again. Unknown Wreck: Sol, for example, has a sadly garbled paragraph that detracts from the writeup significantly.
This book is not a game supplement, and it’s definitely not an artwork book. Instead it is more of an expansion to the TTA universe background for people who don’t want to buy the TTA RPG for the same information. If you want the fantastic pictures that Cowley’s original books contained, this book is not for you. If you want a supplement for the Roleplaying Game, this book is not for you. If you want more detail on the TTA Universe, and don’t want to buy the RPG, then this might be for you. Perhaps.
Essentially a repackaging of the new information from the TTA RPG, potential buyers would do well to click on the Amazon link to that product, and read the reviews submitted there. Once you’ve done that you should be in a position to decide if you want to purchase this product.