04 March 2024

Review: GURPS Traveller Interstellar Wars

The final physical book published for the GURPS Traveller line, and the only one for Fourth Edition, GT Interstellar Wars provides us a look at the first contact between Terrans and Vilani and the centuries of conflict that followed. Published in 2006, I was reluctant to get a copy because of edition compatibility. Also, I prefer the 3rd Imperium era.

    A 240 page hard cover book, the full color nature is typical of post D&D 3rd Edition publications from established gaming publishers. The copy I am borrowing from Hiverlord is in good shape, and eminently readable. The illustrations are of high quality, and the text readable. SJ Games really does produce quality supplements, and this is no exception. It feels like a book that can see regular use for a while. The illustrations are a mixture of computer renderings of starships that were common for the GT line, and quality illustrations. The style differences are not enough to distract the reader and break immersion.

    Structurally, Interstellar Wars is laid out in a familiar manner. Sections on background, characters, and starships offer a logical structure for both an initial read-through and later reference.

    Chapter 1, pages 6-16, is an introduction to the setting, and a basic history and information, including introducing some Vilani terms, and describing both Terran and Imperial societies. Including the differences between our era and the Terran Confederation of the 23rd century and later.

    Chapter 2, pages 17-46, provides an overview of the entire period, from the near future, including unification of Earth under the UN, to the fall of Vland in 2303. Much of this is based on prior material, including Jon F. Ziegler's GT Rim of Fire, but explored in more detail. An important detail is the nature of ethnic background of Sharik Yanglia was noted, and now expanded as a minor Human Race.

    Chapters 3, 48-68, and 4, 69-93, are similar in desribing the Terran Confederation and the Vilani Imperium. Both offer notes on society, structure, and military operations. The Imperium chapter also has a section on subject races. Alongside the familiar Answerin, Bwaps, Geonee, Suerrat, Vegans, and Nugiiri, we meet the Anakundu and Dishaan as well. The military sections provide, if you ask me, a justification for the 3rd Imperium's Marines to use the cutlass, as well as the Draft in practice. Nice little nods, if you ask me.

    Chapter 5, pages 95-132, covers the setting. Nine subsectors of the Rim, in detail a few thousand years before the 3rd Imperium. This provides some interesting information about the worlds previously covered, but has far less information than either of the 3rd Edition. One notable item, is the starport classification has returned to the Traveller standards of A-E, instead of GURPS Space using Roman numerals. My description of Persapera/Sol (SR 2028) does work with the offical, but it's been a few thousand years. 

    Characters are chapter 6, pages 133-157, and that is almost entirely GURPS 4e. For the non GURPS player, the description of social standing is most useful, as are Vilani military titles. Notable, the Ziru Sirka's fleet uses impenetrable function titles.

    Chapters 7, 159-168, provides a primer on how Vilani technology and Terran differ and work together. It also provides that much-needed information on society. Vilani social engineering for stability means computers are always dedicated. It also notes the limits on technology in this era. Biotechnology is noticeably limited.

    Chapters 8, 9, and 10, pages 169-186, 187-218, and 219-227, are all linked, Chapter 8's focus on starships is more informative on operations. It includes skill checks, chrome for operations, and the like. It also has the all important speculative trade tables, and how to work that into the setting. Chapter 9 is starship design, and is a refinement of the 3rd Edition one in the core GT book, and GT starships. It also includes a variety of sample designs from 10 dton fighter to the 30,000 dton Indomitable-class battleship, featuring a meson spinal and Jump 3. It also provides another justification for the Detached Duty scout ship. Chapter 20 is starship combat, and is serviceable.

    Chapter 11, 228-238, covers campaigns. It offers a default "Terran Free Traders" campaign, and other campaigns. Options, detailed as a few paragraphs, include main fleet and commerce raiding naval campaigns, ground warfare, occupation duty, exploration, colonization, and diplomacy/espionage. The one page offers some great alternates, including playing through the entire war with a cast of characters, time travel from the 3rd Imperium (Ancients Device!), secret Psionic masters, and a crossover with GURPS Infinite Worlds. The remainder of the book is a useful index.

    Conclusions? The book is a worthy addition to the GT canon. It is obviously a product of when it was produced, and includes some things in the future history that have changed radically. However, that does not detract form it. The ideas are still good, and workable. If a player is in a GURPS 4e group, and wants to try the Traveller setting, this book would work for that. Don't get it if you have little interest in this era. I did find the nods to the established Traveller setting to be amusing, but slightly distracting, as well as the references to Mesopotamian culture that also came from Imperium. Notably, the name of the family that was the Apkallu Kibrat Aban Kushamii being Sharrukin and then Anglicized to Sargon, is a clue to which of the authors wrote that section. Or at least provided the idea. Most of them got me to crack a grin, or connect the mechanic.

Drye, Paul, et al. Interstellar Wars. Steve Jackson Games, 2006. 

No comments:

Post a Comment