Supplement 14: Space Stations
This review originally appeared on rpg.net in March 2015, and refers to the out-of-print paperbound edition. It was reprinted in the March/April 2020 issue.
14: Space Stations. Barnes Thomas
Mongoose Publishing http://www.mongoosepublishing.com
This book represents another colossal waste of resources aimed at a non-existent audience. For here we have 54 pages out of a book 98 pages devoted to deckplans and mediocre illustrations of different stations that really have had no place in the Traveller universe. And, with the first 34 pages dealing with the economics of running a space station. And, the 20 or so pages in-between dealing with detailing a station in a non-important system.
The economics of running the station are dry and uninspiring reading – it could have been written by someone who designs software not games to inspire the imagination. While the rules are fairly solid and playable – the question begs who would want to. It is geared toward perhaps the solo player who wants to be a space station administrator. When I think of space stations – I think of Babylon 5 or Deep Space 9 – this reminded me of the life of the Last Stop Gas Station. Hardly the life of high adventure among the stars.
The next portion as I said was a bit of colourful prose, not quite, purple but adequate devoted to a single station. Once again, there is a feeling that out of the myriad of mood pieces that one could invoke, why was the author so uninspiring? Old time players, might know about FASA’s King Richard – that is positively riveting compared to this work. The author could have summarized much of what was said in a few pages and then move on to more exciting alternative stations. No, the author wanted to explore alternatives by presenting more deckplans and uninspiring art for space stations for the next and largest of the sections.
Ok, Mongoose, Traveller fans were clamouring for deckplans – but you have gone overboard – and once again they are the boring 2D deckplans that might have been fine in the 1970s – but now, in 2015, they are not quaint but antiquated and boring. And, the deckplans really do not have the Traveller vibe, which is gritty, hard SF with Space Opera undertones. These are uninspiring, made all the more uninspiring by poor printing which, gives a dirty or bad photocopier look to the art.
I really tried to find something that I could like about this supplement, but only came up with “it would make a good magazine article”. I am sorry, but if Mongoose continues to produce items like this, they will lose the core Traveller audience who keeps on waiting for the quality curve to turn around. Sadly, it has turned around, but opting for mediocrity. And, the fact that these are some of the first printed books that Mongoose has released in a long time in no way rescues the brand; rather, I fear it might sink the brand.