GURPS Traveller: Behind the Claw
GURPS Traveller: Behind the Claw Capsule Review by Graham Donald on 22/09/01
Style: 2 (Needs Work)
Substance: 5 (Excellent!)
Despite the disgraceful editing, give this one a look.
Product: GURPS Traveller: Behind the Claw
Author: Martin Dougherty & Neil Frier
Company/Publisher: Steve Jackson Games
Page count: 144
Year published: 1998
Comp copy?: no
Capsule Review by Graham Donald on 22/09/01
Genre tags: Science Fiction Far Future Space
The Spinward Marches were the first part of the Traveller Universe to be detailed, in the GDW book of that title. Thus it was wholly appropriate for Steve Jackson Games to make this region the subject of the second GURPS Traveller sourcebook.
The book is divided into four sections. The first section gives background information on the Domain of Deneb of which the Marches is a part. This information includes the organisation of government, armed forces, the names and logos of Megacorporations operating in the sector as well as other minor companies/mercenary units that operate in the region. The sidebars in this section give an outline of Imperial history from 1098 to 1120.
Part two of the book deals with both the other political powers in the region (Zhodani, Aslan, Darrians & Sword Worlders) and with the various minor races that exist in the Spinward Marches. One apparent minor race, the inhabitents of the planet Craw are not included in this list and no attempt is made to provide racial templates to enable a GM to create N/PC's. Sidebars in this section deal with the early history of the region (Ancients, Settlements & the first four Frontier Wars).
Following this material are the planetary descriptions, which are for the GM the most important part of the book. The authors (Martin Dougherty & Neil Frier) attempt to detail all of the planets in the Spinward Marches drawing on information previously published by GDW and the early Traveller licencees as well as their own imaginations. This approach works in some cases, however there are too many descriptions of the "I don't know why this planet was settled..." variety. In other cases (for example Craw) hints of interesting material are given out but not properly developed. Subsector maps are provided, but they are often not displayed in the same pages as the subsector information.
The final section of the book is for the Games Master only, it provides background information that would not be known by Player Characters, plot hooks for adventure generation, advice on how to 'flesh out' the setting and starship encounter tables. The last page before the index is a subsector map with page numbers for the start of each subsectors information.
Unfortunatly, in addition to the flaws noted above, the book appears to have been a rush job, evidenced by illustrations recycled from previous GURPS books (Terradyne, Space Atlas 4 & Space Adventures), several refences to turn to "(p.00)", an errata sheet bound into the book at publishing (More errata is listed on the Steve Jackson Games website) and the fact that the designations of red and amber zones were changed in the main text but not in the map key.
Hopefully at some point in the near future, Steve Jackson Games will either release a revised edition with the errata corrected, or better still release a second edition using the same format as Rim of Fire, which appears to be the standard model for any future sector books..
Despite these handicaps this book is still a very useful resource for Travller & GURPS Traveller GM's. It updates the timeline from the point at which the GURPS Traveller line diverges from MegaTraveller and provides a lot of information/plot hooks for the GM.
In terms of presentation I'll give this one a two out of five for publishing with uncorrected errata.
However this one deserves a five out of five for the amount of information contained.
Definitely one to buy.