Tinker, Spacer, Psion, Spy
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in Freelance Traveller’s December 2011 issue.
Spacer, Psion, Spy. John Lees.
Terra/Sol Games http://terrasolgames.com
Terra/Sol Games offers a set of career options for their Twilight Sector setting.
On the Shelf
The full-cover image looks like an illustration from a horror story mad scientist’s lab, mostly in “sea colors”. The Twilight Sector banner logo is at the top, with the title immediately below it. At the bottom is the author’s name and the Traveller Compatible Product logo.
The volume has a good heft; it’s not a massively-heavy tome, but there’s the promise of “good meat” in the weight. A perusal of the Table of Contents continues to be suggestive; not only does it list a dozen and a half careers, but it includes setting-relevant information (such as languages, longevity, and education), and “early life terms”. Each career has an illustrated page of narrative to convey the ‘flavor’ of the career, followed by the career tables in the standard Mongoose Traveller format (You MUST have the Traveller Main Book or equivalent), interspersed with explanatory sidebars.
On Closer Inspection
Not unreasonably, there’s a fairly close linkage between this book and the Twilight Sector main setting book (whose possession is very strongly recommended). Several new skills and benefits are presented, and several Traveller Main Book skills are modified. Many careers have variations in skills awarded or career events based on the Twilight Sector nation that the character is from. A small number have supplementary rules (such as the Purse Check for journalists). As a result, these careers can’t really be used outside the Twilight Sector setting without some careful tweaking by the referee. Nevertheless, there are some interesting careers developed in this volume, and if none of them are developed as extensively as in Mongoose’s career books (green stripes, e.g., High Guard, Dilettante, Scout, etc.), they are certainly developed well enough to be useful and interesting, even where they overlap with core careers.
(Oddly enough, while the Tinker, Spacer, and Spy (Espionage) careers are easy to find, there doesn’t seem to be any Psion career, nor discussion of psions and psionics as modifiers to other careers.)
Twilight Sector character generation rules have some significant differences from the standard Traveller rules (but these differences aren’t incompatible with core Traveller), and those differences are assumed as defaults for this volume. They are principally in determining when a character musters out for play, but they can also affect a character’s expected longevity and whether (and which) skills (and backstory) were acquired before the character reached age 18. Education and languages are also areas in which there are noticeable differences between core Traveller and the Twilight Sector setting.
A sad omission from the volume are adventures or adventure seeds based on the careers presented. The Twilight Sector setting is both rich enough and different enough from the core Traveller setting that such adventures would have been useful, both for further establishment of the ‘flavor’ of the career, and for showing (and possibly extending) the richness of the setting.
The production of this volume suffers one potentially serious flaw: the text in many of the tables is of a rather light weight, and doesn’t quite show up as well as it should when the background is grey. This makes the text unnecessarily difficult, though not impossible, to read.
If you are running a campaign in the Twilight Sector setting, this book is at least as much of a must-have as the extended career books are for core Traveller. For campaigns in other settings, it might not be as immediately useful for an inexperienced referee because of the needed tweaking, but having it can hardly be classified as a waste of money.