Theta Borealis Sector
This article originally appeared in the September/October 2020 issue.
Borealis Sector. Bill Bledsaw et alia.
Group One (defunct)
Price varies (secondhand market)
Theta Borealis Sector is an “Approved For Use With Traveller” product from Group One. Published in 1981, it’s the sector in which all of Group One’s planetary products are based. From Mr. Collinson’s most excellent Traveller Bibliography (if you don’t have the bibliography … you really should) I quote “All the Group One adventures were set in this sector at the edge of charted space and pitted humans against empire building aliens, the Zerp.” and that’s all you really need to know about it, apart from the fact that it’s rubbish.
The booklet is 18 pages with a 17"×22" pull-out sector map. The map looks like it was screen printed two colour white and red. The sector is broken up into subsectors and each subsector hex is numbered as a sub sector, not a sector (probably because this was before anything else).
There are two pieces of poor art by Jeff Johnson; one piece is a whole page. It has 11 pages of subsector listings with name, subsector location, UWP, trade, bases and gas giant entries. The amount of worlds and the subsector total population is summarised at the end of each sub-sector listing.
Before the listings there are 8 library data entries of shipping lines, policies, and the “Zerp” that gives their physical description and characteristics range for STR, DEX, END etc. Jeff’s second art piece is a picture of one.
These entries are poor and uninspiring. It has a couple of policies that say there were established in 941, 1012 or 806, but nowhere does it give the current date, as an example of just being well … no.
There is an encounters table for each subsector or pair of subsectors which is basically ship, pirate or asteroid. There is a couple of sentences to describe a few merchant lines (the ship part), and a bit on the likelihood of finding Cr5,000 in ore in the asteroids.
Although this is a low-budget early 80’s product the production quality is quite good. The printing is good, the layout is ok, the paper quality is good, and the sector map stands up. However this is the only thing going for it because the content is rubbish.
Back in 1981 when this was released, the only thing about this would have saved you some dice rolling. Whether that would have been worth $6.95 (cover price) of effort is questionable (probably not); I expect now, and likely back then, almost anyone could do better.
You really have to be a completist to want to pay money for this. I mean really, just don’t bother. When I was collecting I probably picked this up for a couple of dollars, and it probably cost the same again in shipping (less than the cover price) and that was still too much. At a guess it’s rarity value would put it at multiple time it’s cover price nowadays, and it’s just not worth it.
There is a whole bunch of free stuff right here on Freelance Traveller that makes this pale into insignificance. Buying something current from any Traveller author, even poor ones, would still be better than this and much better value.