The Evening Star
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2021 issue.
Evening Star. Robert W. Warfield.
R. Warfield Game Design and Marketing No website found
33pp., Digest/A5 paper booklet
Price varies on secondhand market
Editor’s note: We found two cover images, both cropped from photos of the product at Wayne’s Books. It is not clear which printing of the product is reviewed here, so both covers are shown.
The Evening Star is an early Traveller supplement published in 1979, 5 years after the first 1,000 copies of the original Dungeons and Dragons (although D&D only probably really hit its start with an additional 3,000 copies printed in 1975), and only 2 years after the first issue of LBBs of Classic Traveller in 1977. I’ll take that into account within the review, having said that the best adventures stand the test of time.
1979 was also the publication date for 1st edition High Guard so my guess is that Robert didn’t have a copy when he wrote The Evening Star as his supplement is written from a small ship, pre-Imperium Traveller Universe. Book 2: Starships only go up to 5,000 tons, and “The Imperium a Traveller Campaign” article only appeared in issue 9 of Different Worlds in August 1980, although Robert does have an Imperium Consulate with marines in battledress.
The first page of the book is a how to use the Evening Star in play aimed at Referees with tips on how to use the place. As this is early in the emergence of the RPG industry it’s entirely understandable as experienced RPG Referees being few and far between at the time. Robert is trying to help new referees in how to use his product and integrate it into their own campaign.
We then get the history and construction of the Evening Star, which is basically a hollowed out cylindrical asteroid turned into the place to be seen “the most famous entertainment spot throughout known space” that has the full status of an independent world and all the diplomatic privileges that goes with it. Transportation within it is dated; bicycle, electric scooter or bubble car, however Robert was quite forward looking in other ways everyone has access to the datanet though home terminals or pocket computers … I know!, And the Datanet has access to music, Tri-D shows, a library of two million books, provides home learning for the kids and financial transactions along with calls and email, as well as general computer facilities. Not bad for 1979.
The map that is provided in with the book, which looks like something run though an old bander copier, which it could well have been, connects north edge to south edge so that the Evening Star is a cylinder with the buildings on it’s inner surface. One of the things I found interesting is that Robert lets us know that there are no addresses as such in the Star. If you need directions whoever you ask will just point to where the building is.
We then get a detail of the Star, Organisations, Social clubs, Guilds, Other organisations, including one who is suspected of being terrorists, the legal system, the police and armed forces and regulations on incoming and outgoing from the Star.
There’s a scenario provided but it’s real barebones railroad stuff. The PC’s are bodyguards until they are gassed and the client is kidnapped and they have to get them back. You couldn’t run this at the table as is. You’ll have to work hard and put in some more detail for it to be workable, or for the PCs to find the client within the Star with hints you’ll have to detail and more to make it playable.
Then we have the descriptions of the shops and stores and their NPCs and how they can help or hinder the Players. Some of these are quite interesting, some are slightly bland, but there is a fair splattering of stuff the PCs will want to get, or have, or go to.
Overall I’d say this is a “Village of Hommlet” type thing for Traveller. It would work as a home base for the PCs to start and come back to after every adventure. For me to use this I’d want to put this as just one space habitat within a star system and then adjust to make it fit, but what I’d probably more likely do it just strip it for ideas that I can place individually around my Traveller universe.
It’s a 70’s early Traveller supplement, and it doesn’t stand up too well after 42 years. There is much better stuff out there, and all sorts of examples, free and pay what you want pdfs along with Benedikt Schwarz’s “Finding Your Way Around the Starport” in Freelance Traveller that will give you a much better idea of how you might want to set-up a space habitat home base for your players (if that’s what you want). The Evening Star is only available on the second-hand market and I haven’t seen one on offer for years so its price is likely to be high. Also watch out for knockoff re-prints. I’ve got a copy and I don’t think mine is an original; its condition is too good. Shame, but then I didn’t spend a fortune on it. If you’re not a completist then spend your money on something else that’s going to give you much better value at your table.