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Mongoose Traveller 2nd Edition - Central Supply Catalogue

This review originally appeared on rpg-resource.org.uk in Jan. 2018, and was reprinted in the May/June 2018 issue.

Central Supply Catalogue. Matthew Sprange.
Mongoose Publishing http://www.mongoosepublishing.com
154pp., Hardbound and PDF

OK, so what can be said about just another equipment guide? The Introduction begins by explaining that it contains an updated collection of items from earlier editions of Traveller as well as new ones, it is not designed solely for use with the Third Imperium setting and indeed has things that don’t exist there, and that there are rules for item use, availability and even permits as well as the things themselves. However, with all that said, it’s still a shopaholic’s dream of everything the well-equipped Traveller might want or need—or wish he had picked up—during his travels.

After a full-page advert for an equipment store, Chapter 1: Equipment Availability looks at various ways in which the Referee can control how easy (or difficult) it is to get your hands on any item desired. Law Level is the obvious one; if an item isn’t legal it will at best be very hard to find and involve dealing with other than conventional retail outlets. However, even if an item’s legal that doesn’t mean to say every store stocks it, or even if they do carry it, do they have any right now when our Traveller wanders in looking for it. There’s a system for determining whether or not that item is there, better than just having the Referee make it up (not that there’s any reason why the Referee shouldn’t make it up; it’s his game after all). Availability can be modified when the item is illegal, with the party having to access the black market which may or may not have what they are after. There are various categories of item modelling how, just as in the real world, some items are only available (legally at any rate) to individuals with certain jobs or qualifications. Then follows a basic system for handling black market deals that go wrong, as in, the authorities notice what’s going on—this begins with investigation and goes right through to penalties handed down.

Next come more rules in Chapter 2: New Rules. This introduces a few new weapon traits and explains what they mean. Just a single page, then we are on to “The Travellers’ Aid Society Central Supply Collection”. This is semi-in-character, although rules bits do intrude a little… and it’s replete with loads of illustrations. The first part is devoted to Personal Protection—body armour, of course, in a wide range of styles including historical stuff and exotics designed to protect against fire and energy weapons and even one that protects against psionics. Naturally this includes both powered and unpowered suits, and a wide range of vacc suits. You can also get an electronics suite to add to the suit of your choice, other modifications and additions are also available… and that’s before you get to battle dress.

The next chapter is Survival Gear, which starts with parachutes and continues through atmospheric protection, cold- and hot-weather gear, underwater kit and the like—all these include both clothing and other equipment you need to survive and function in a range of extreme environments. Go mountaineering, venture into vacuum, or just make use of a range of survival items including a ‘fusion stile’ (did they mean ‘still’?) that produces potable water and an almost-edible gloop out of whatever organic material and liquids you load in. This section ends with wilderness housing, from tents to full-blown bases.

Next up, Electronics. This begins with vision and detection devices, then looks at communications, and a collection of gadgets and essentials. If you didn’t think a laser-emitting ring was a vital piece of equipment before you read this, it might just change your mind! Computers get an entire chapter to themselves, covering both hardware and software.

A chapter on Robots follows. There are rules for using them covering everything from how much damage they can take to programming them, and a variety of useful ones are presented. Do you want a protocol droid? Or a robotic assassin? Or even a sanitation droid to keep your living spaces clean and tidy? It will even wash your clothes for you! If you’d rather do your own work, head on to the next chapter of Tools, full of general hardware, toolkits and even welding torches.

Another essential in the next chapter, Medical Supplies. This looks at medical equipment and drugs and pharmaceuticals—some have, er, non-medical uses. Staying on a kind of medical theme, the next chapter is about Personal Augmentation. This allows for cybernetic or biotech upgrades (or replacements for lost body parts) to all parts of the body—but the treatments can be painful, and medics can get confused if they do not understand how a patient is augmented.

A chapter on Home Comforts (which include such interesting items as an alien cosplay kit and fully-animated miniature wargames) is followed by the large final section many Travellers will have been waiting for: Weapons! Starting with Close and Personal, there are sections on hand-held melee weapons, blade weapons (if you want a lightsaber, go for the arc-field weapon), other melee weapons, and shields. The next chaper is Self-Defence and looks at handguns, slugthrowing rifles, energy pistols and rifles, grenades, and archaic weapons. Then there’s a whole chapter devoted to Heavy Weapons of all sorts: man-portable, crew-served, vehicle-mounted, and rockets and missiles.

The last weapon chapter, titled For the Discerning Weapons Specialist, contains all manner of exotic items that don’t fit in the preceding categories. Bolas and boomerangs to backpack nukes. Then we move on to Ammunition and finally Sighting Aids and Accessories—some interesting odds and ends here.

This makes for a very comprehensive selection of items that the party might need, especially when equipping for exploration or military expeditions. Keep track of spending; it’s easy to rack up a hefty bill… and it can be embarassing when your ship gets repossessed because you haven’t paid your debts!