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21 Starport Places

This review originally appeared on RPG.Net in September 2013, and is reprinted here and in the November 2013 issue with permission.

21 Starport Places. John Watts and Tony Hicks.
Gypsy Knights Games http://www.gypsyknightsgames.com
96pp., Softcover and/or PDF
US$16.99/UKú10.67 Softcover or both; US$8.99/UKú5.65 PDF

There now have been quite a few supplements created for Starports in Traveller, ranging from Cargonaut’s CT Starport Planetfall which builds upon Gamelords’ Startown Liberty to Mongoose’s Starports (which builds upon MJD’s independent work), but, they have remained a conundrum for most Referees, as a silent debate in the Traveller community was waged: are they akin to airports or seaports? When one thinks about it, it does become important to embellish different worlds with unique and memorable places, and this exactly what Gypsy Knights Games has done here with 21 Starport Places. Although the product is tied into their Clement Sector ATU, the locations are easily usable in any campaign. The typical starport encounter usually revolves meeting in the recognizable Starport/Startown bar when the proverbial old man and farm boy sit down beside you to ask for passage or some such thing. There is no reason why this should be the norm, and this product proves it by not following that tired old trope.

Along with copious nicely drawn floor plans of the 21 locales, major NPCs for each, and detailed description that include plenty of adventure seeds, this product comes with excellent art and mood. My favorite places include the boxing hall and Short Stay Capsule Hotel. Some of these are very American, perhaps tongue in cheek to those of us who rebel against Traveller as being classed as “Yanks in Space,” or, perhaps, the author’s own group preferences – for who says there will not be biscuit places in the far future, given SJG’s infatuation with burger joints. As the title implies, there are 21 locales and that is both a boon and a curse.

Though these are 21 locales that I may not have thought of, I would have liked to see some of the more traditional darker locales covered: lounges, bars, holo-brothels, warehouse districts and hangars—parts of a Starport that good Referees, as usual, can wing it (but knowing Gypsy Knight Games there is probably a 21 More Starport Places in offing). It is these darker and seedier places that will push the OGL that Traveller sorely lacks. As Traveller is best when it neither too light nor too dark, reflecting that life is always a shade of grey – where good guys/gals sometimes are compelled to do bad things in the name of the greater good. Another problem, which there is no way around it, is that the book is dominated by floor plans and while many in Traveller community (including, myself) have yearned for floor/deck plans for years, Mongoose Traveller products are taking this to such an extreme that I am starting get fatigue by books overburdened with endless floor plans. I do not criticize Gypsy Knight Games for their inclusion, and, indeed there is no other way but they do take up a significant amount of space over, say, art which is something that I would like to see more of. However, art is expensive and very hard to get right.

In conclusion, Gypsy Knight Games’ resolution of the debate (what is a Starport?) is that it is a small urban conglomeration growing up around the landing areas, akin to a seaport littered throughout with useful services for players as well as traditional hives of scum and villainy. This product is highly recommended to round out descriptions of Starports for Traveller or any SFRPG.