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Technical Manual 1: Reprieve-class Escape Pod

This article originally appeared in the March 2013 issue of Freelance Traveller.

Technical Manual 1: Reprieve-class Escape Pod. Donovan Lambertus
DSL Ironworks. http://dsl-ironworks.blogspot.com
22pp., softcover/PDF.
US$5.00 PDF/US$12 Softcover

Space travel is, of course, not without its dangers. Traveller has long provided for survival equipment from the humble rescue bubble, through the ordinary vacc suit, to fully fledged lifeboats. The Reprieve-class, however, offers something more substantial than a bubble or a vacc suit which can keep a traveller alive for up to a week (longer with Fast drug) and even re-enter a planet’s atmosphere. It’s a quarter-ton pod shaped like a 2.75m tall upside down cola can and contains an acceleration couch along with the required fuel, systems and equipment. In minimum power mode battery life can be extended to 48 hours but in a stellar system, solar panels can extend this to two years.

This is the first in a proposed series from DSL Ironworks which is planning to examine a small craft such as this in some detail, the book also suggests it will be a companion to a forthcoming series of ‘Captain’s Manuals’ which will detail specific classes of starships. If the quality here is anything to go by, then this reviewer for one is looking forward to both these series with some anticipation. The volume is branded as part of the ‘Foreven Free Sector’ line.

The 22 pages (plus a page of Open Game Licence and a page advert for the Quick Decks 1: Starter Pack from the same publisher) contain a well-produced and well thought out ‘technical manual’ describing the development history of the pod, a consideration of its utility compared to other rescue devices in various situations, the design and construction of the pod, and its operation and usage. Throughout the book are sidebars of fiction snippets giving testimonies of various characters who have had to use them. You have to feel for the poor soul who, through use of Fast drug and the extended life support of a vacc suit once the pod life support gave out, managed a record 451 days in this claustrophobic space! These add great flavour to a book which could otherwise be rather dry. Two particularly useful pages detail the survival equipment the pod contains and some random malfunction and damage tables. Finally, there’s a page of four adventure seeds – although it won’t take an able Referee long to think of a multitude of others – and a ‘Quick Reference Data Sheet’ with all the vital statistics laid out clearly.

The artwork all through the book is glorious. Attractive colour renders from a cut away of the contents of a pod, to a rather forlorn looking traveller sitting on a recently used pod afloat in some deserted looking ocean. We can only hope help is on its way! The cover shows a terrific image of a pod undergoing atmospheric re-entry and judging from the sky in both pictures, is a depiction from just moments before the previously mentioned illustration.

The layout and proof-reading are of a high standard and with availability in print and PDF format (or both) it should suit the needs of just about any Traveller referee. The volume will be hugely useful in such a wide variety of situations – from players kitting out a starship with some cool gear to Referees wanting plot hooks, atmosphere, or possibly even entire adventures. If you’re travelling and have to abandon ship, you’ll want a Reprieve-class pod; if you’re Travelling, you’ll want this book!