Career Book 1
This article originally appeared in the September 2013 issue.
Book 1. Richard Hazlewood.
Spica Publishing http://spicapublishing.co.uk
40pp., softcover or PDF
US$12.50/UKú6.05 (softcover, Lulu)
US$6.99/UKú4.47 (PDF, DriveThruRPG)
Spica Publishing expands the character generation career options.
On the Shelf
Forty pages isn’t very large, so shelving this volume spine-out will cause it to be lost among other books. The cover is black, with a central panel about two-fifth of the cover in height, and extending almost edge-to-edge, depicting three characters in a desert landscape. Above the picture is a medium-blue (New Yorkers will recognize the color as “Con Ed blue”) stripe extending from the left edge almost to the right edge, with Spica’s logo on it; below the picture is a similar stripe bearing the title. At the bottom, lined up with the right edge of the lower stripe, but on the black area below, is the Traveller Compatible logo. The stock is good quality, with a finish that could be considered glossy, but not high-gloss.
There is very little explanatory text; most of what exists is in the one-page Introduction, which basically explains that you need the Traveller Main Book (TMB) from Mongoose, and why. Following the Introduction is a section of alternative Mishap and Event tables for several of the TMB careers. The revised Mishap tables are 2d6 rather than TMB’s 1d6, and the Event tables are d66 rather than 2d6, thus offering more choice—though there is no discussion of why the author felt the standard tables to be inadequate. Each career’s revised tables fits on a single page. Following the career event tables are two pages of Life and Unusual Events tables, each of which is d66 rather than the single 2d6 table in TMB; again, there is no discussion of why these should be preferred over Mongoose’s. I am generally in the camp that says that “more choice is better”, but I also acknowledge the possibility of too much choice and the potential that dithering over such choice might lead to wasting time. In this case, I don’t disapprove of the new tables; I disapprove only of the lack of discussion of why.
The following section should be considered the real meat of the book; each of eight new careers is presented on two pages, similar to the TMB presentation of a career. Each career follows the pattern set by Mongoose in the TMB—three career paths, each with specific skills, supplementing three general tables open to all characters in the career. The Mishap and Events tables are the expanded 2d6/d66 versions. An experienced referee could probably come up with ways to use these careers in a campaign; it’s less clear whether a less-experienced (or rookie) referee could do so. I could thus wish that an extra page had been devoted to each new career, providing a character overview, adventure seed ideas, and/or suggestions for integrating a character from the career into a campaign.
The remainder of the book is some pre-generated characters; these are just raw data—stats, skills, and equipment (which includes Contacts/Rivals/Allies/Enemies). No suggestion of career-ending mishaps or life events has been included, and no personality profile—really, nothing to inspire the referee or the players to “get into” the characters.
I can’t really be more than lukewarm about this; there’s just too much that could have—and, in my opinion, should have—been included to really make the idea behind this book ‘pop’. On the other hand, accepting the limitations, the author has done a credible job, though the proofreader could have used a bit more practice. For those reasons, I’d rate the PDF a better value than the print-on-demand edition.